The Website and the 280,000

It has been a lot of work, but we are finally ready to début our NEW WEBSITE! Over the last few months we’ve done a lot more than just change a few fonts and page colors. We started a process that not only transformed our site but the entire way in which we present what we do. Don’t worry, I don’t intend to throw around a lot of clichés about reinventing myself, or finding my inner muse. And this is definitely not some midlife crisis, my wife and business partner, Nicole, has clearly forbidden me from having one of those. I have a great life, family, and career that I love very much. But, I needed to reevaluate. I needed to sit back and really look at all my images, look at what I was doing versus what I want to be doing and let others into my circle to lend a new viewpoint and some helpful guidance.

By doing this, I’ve learned a lot about myself as a photographer, artist and as a person.

Earlier this year, Nicole and I were shocked to find out that two photographers we knew and respected called it quits. They just couldn’t make it in this business anymore. The thought of being something else or doing something else other than nature photography has never occurred to me.  Nicole and I had a very frank and lengthy discussion, our conclusion – this not going to happen to us. But, we had to stand back and ask ourselves “were we doing the things we needed to do to make sure it wouldn’t?”

The problem with being an artist is you want to go out, create, make and be inspired, not maintain, manage and balance the books. Let’s face it, if I have to choose between sitting at the desk recoding my website, or going exploring through my favorite swamp with camera in hand, we all know I will be wet and muddy (and happy) that day. Putting off that choice for a day may be okay, but the day turns into a week, and the week turns into a month, and you see where I am going. We had a website with a portfolio of images that reflected the photographer I was 6 years ago, not the photographer I am today.

280,000. That was my number.

That is what I had to go through in my Lightroom library. Because each day when I went out to create and make, I would come home with lots of memory cards full of images. That night I would download them, but I put the keywording and organizing on the big “to-do” list instead of just posting the images and getting my work out there. When you run your own business, especially as a photographer, you always put your clients first. The assignments, the workshops, the deadlines, their questions, they all come before your personal portfolio and projects. I always thought of sorting my images as something I needed to do on my time and I never wanted to take the time away from everything else going on that needed to get done. I realized my time was also a business and I needed to do it.

What this all adds up to: 280,000…plus.

We knew we needed to remake the site. We knew I had a huge backlog of images that weren’t on the site and we knew we needed a business makeover. So we asked for help. Fast forward to today: Here we are after a lot of meetings at Starbucks, hours spent pouring over images, coding web pages, redesigning every visual facet of our business and learning more about ourselves, about myself. Because the process of going through the “280K” taught me something, I am not the photographer I was, and the photographer I am today is not necessarily the photographer I will be tomorrow. And that’s what is so cool about this career.

I am really happy with where we are now. But, the process continues, because I am really excited to see who the photographer is that I will become.

A huge thank you to the two wonderful women who have partnered with me in this process, Nicole and Sharonne. Not just in making the new site a reality, but in dragging me kicking and screaming (on the inside only) through the process.

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Through the Lens

Growing up, I was always drawing. My preferred mediums were pencil, charcoal, pen and ink, basically anything that would produce black and white works. But when I jumped into photography, I gravitated towards color, shooting very little if any black and white. I think the first intentional black and whites I did were back in 2008 on a trip to Moab. The light and landscape are a natural for this medium. Then I rediscovered it again on our trip last summer, something about the small towns and western landscape just stirred up my original love for black and white.

In going through the lot of “280K” plus images, we had an original goal of 5 portfolios. Somewhere in the process though, trends started to emerge, we dropped some, added others, producing the 6 portfolios we have on the site now. One of the most pleasant surprises for me was how much I liked my “Black and White” portfolio, and how it took me back to my high school art classes and all the black and white work I did then. So much so that I even dug my portfolio out of storage to show my wife and son. Adam had no idea the kind of art I had done before photography.

This image was shot in Alaska on a Canon 7D with a Tamron 18-270 @ 18mm. 1/320 and f16. Processed (as are all my black and whites) using a combo of Lightroom and Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2. I don’t really use any of the presets in Silver Efex, the key for me on a lot of my B&W’s is working with the Structure slider usually starting at +30 all the way up to +80, but also working the individual sliders for highlights, midtones, and shadows.

On the Headphones

It’s Not My Time by 3 Doors Down

My tastes in music is pretty eclectic, but I do tend to lean toward the darker and heavier tunes. A little more upbeat than my usual taste this song was a nice backdrop to what I was writing above.

On the Plate

Loaded Cheese Fries. This is a concoction we have worked out over the past two years. It’s a really easy recipe:

Step 1: Go to 5 Guys burgers and fries. Order your burger and fries. Get an extra order of fries. The cook will ask you if you are crazy – that’s a lot of fries. Explain you are making cheese fries out of the extras, they will think you rock and may even chuck in a few extra fries!

Step 2: Two days later when you are actually hungry again (their burgers are freaking huge), put leftover fries on a cookie sheet, chuck in the oven at 375 for about ten minutes to crisp up.

Step 3: Cover those fries in cheese (we like pepper jack and cheddar), bacon, diced jalapenos, scallions, and cilantro. Chuck back in the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese.

Step 4: Go into food coma for next 12 hours then exercise extra every day for the next week to get over the guilt of eating this… but it is so worth it.

On Tap

Founders All Day IPA. IPA’s are usually my beer of choice, and this is a good one. Good taste, hoppy aroma, but not real bitter as far as IPA’s go. On tap at IBG this month.

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