Podcasts, Have You Tried Them?

MoosePodcastI don’t know about you, but I like to listen to Podcasts as a way to Self-Improvement, and Professional Development. There are several that I like; and am always on the lookout for others. One that I really enjoy is: “Moose Podcast” by Photographer Moose Peterson. Moose is an artist that creates amazing images. Maybe even more impressive to me – than his images – is the research and learning that he does prior to ever pressing the shutter button. I recently did a review of his top podcast episodes (according to iTunes) by month in 2019 between May and November, and here they are:

May: Episode #135 “For Competition” ~ The general concept here is, “Who are you taking the photographs for?” Are you doing it for others approval, or to win competitions, or are you taking pictures for yourself, always trying to get better?

June: Episode #137 “Grave With The Ends Knocked Out” ~ The general concept here is, “Have you hit a wall with your photography? or are you in a rut with your photography? What can you do to get out from under those things.”

July: Episode #141 “Road Trip” ~ The general concept here is, “Preparing for a photo road trip” Great tips based on lots of experience. Get off the main path is a big one. Make sure you pack some “fun” in the bag!

August: Episode #146 “Imagination Needs Fuel” ~ The general concept here is, the idea of “What fuels your imagination?” Passion. Learning. Looking at other photographs. Letting go of fears.

September: Episode #153 “Complacency” ~ The general concept here is, “When your photography isn’t growing” Ideas for getting through complacency. Shoot outside your comfort zone, is one idea. Photograph in a different subject area. Shoot what excites you.

October: Episode #158 “Answer Why” ~ The general concept here is, “Are you moving forward with no direction?” Why did I get the equipment I did; why do I shoot the subjects I do; Why do I listen to certain Podcasts; Why do I like certain locations? Take a deeper dive into your “Why” and learn more about yourself and why you photograph.

November: Episode #161 “Photography Goals” ~ The general concept here is, “Move your photography forward” Work towards goals with personal projects. Short term (next 5 days) – midterm (build a body of work towards a project) – longterm goals (i.e. Documentaries).

There is a thread of ideas for making you a better photographer that weaves through all of these episodes, which is interesting; and probably why they are top ranked episodes from the past half year.  Listen to these episodes, soak the advice in…I bet your images will improve; and so will your motivation in photography.

Excitement Overload

“Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Yourself” ~ Tim Wallace. This is a quote that helped me to decide to register for, and attend a Photography Conference half way across the country last Summer with the goal of taking my photography and business to new heights! Think Big! I am pleased to announce that I will be attending Photoshop World again this year ~ made possible through a grant from the Central Minnesota Arts Board, thanks to funds provided by the McKnight Foundation. The images included here represent just some of the reasons I just had to go back!

I had to make a commitment of time, money, and effort to do this. I had to be Bold and Brave. Taking off to Orlando on my own….making all the correct time sensitive logistical actions; attending a huge conference where no one really knew me (there were three guys there that I had met previously at other conferences).

I went down there armed with a set of goals for during and after the conference. One of the goals was to introduce myself (Be Myself) to specific people (not easy for an Introvert)….I accomplished that goal….and more. I met others that were not on the list at that time.

The second part of my goal was to be open to whatever experiences presented themselves at the conference. One of those most memorable moments is shown in this pic that shows a panel of photographers.

L to R: Dave Black, Tim Wallace, Glyn Dewis, Lindsey Adler.

I don’t think that that session was even in the original schedule, but it ended up being probably my favorite session, a casual discussion with fantastic photographers. It was an early evening session after all the other sessions of the day. It was after this presentation that I met Glyn Dewis, third from the left, and we became quick friends. The thing about Glyn was that he was so engaged in our conversation. Not looking at his watch, or looking for someone walking by as a way to move on (like can happen at big events) He was truly Present…it’s something that I really remember and appreciated! There were other great moments: meeting Tim Wallace, second from left, and having a bit of a chat after one of his talks (Tim Wallace!) This man is a First Class guy. Yes, the work he does is simply- ‘off the charts’; beyond that, I am more amazed by his dedication as a husband and Dad to his family. I really like that!; having Rick Sammon recognize me – by name – in the gathering areas and actually stop to talk with me and thank me for being so supportive on-line. (Rick is often referred to as ‘The Godfather Of Photography’; but I think he should be called ‘The Prospector’ or ‘The Miner’ because when he goes on Photography outings/trips, he always comes back with Gold!

Recognizing an opportunity to sit and talk with Dave Black 1:1 about creative visualization 🤓 – even if it meant missing a scheduled session (that WAS my session!). It’s interesting that I actually visualized this scenario playing out – and then it did! I called my wife and told her, ‘you won’t believe what just happened’; talking to Scott Kelby in the hallway; meeting Moose Peterson; even shaking the hand of Dave Clayton at the very end of the Conference! That’s why I needed to get back!

This was one of the slides used during Moose Peterson’s talk. This image is so spectacular in my opinion.

I had some downtime one evening, so I went around the hotel to see what kind of images I could make with my iPhone. This is a staircase on one end that led to a restaurant.

One afternoon, I ventured away from the hotel to find someplace interesting for lunch. Miller’s Ale House was that place. It was a long walk, but so worth it. It had kind of an open air Island feel to it. I will go back this year.

One of the great things on the Exhibit floor was this display that was set up to look like an old Filling Station. They had models posing in front it and people were crowding around to get their photos. I honestly waited until the models were gone and got close ups of the props 🤓 – no lie!

The big opening and closing ceremonies had a Beetle Mania vibe to them…and it so awesome and memorable!

I am so glad that I decided to be bold, brave, and myself. I was able to meet personal goals and meet people that I would end up communicating with throughout the rest of the year, including as recent as tonight!


“Sharpen The Saw” Top 5 Professional Development Podcast Episodes.

Sharpen the Saw is a piece of advice from the late Stephen Covey, actually, it is the Seventh Habit from my favorite personal development book of all, “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.” The idea behind sharpening the saw is to seek continuous improvement and renewal professionally and personally.

One way that I do this is to listen to the wisdom of others through Podcasts. The podcast that I want to talk about today is: “The Picturing Success” Podcast hosted by Rick Sammon, and Larry Becker. These two guys interview the best photographers in the world. They have been in the industry a long time and therefore have a lot of amazing contacts. The podcast is about the art and business of photography.

The episodes are very informative, as both of these guys are educators when it comes right down to it. Rick travels the world leading photo workshops, giving talks to huge audiences; writing books; recording training videos, and doing podcasts. Larry is a very successful trainer in many areas, including Photoshop, and a gear review Guru. He currently is very involved in video work – helping still photographers add video to their tool box; and of course is involved in teaching through podcasts and his own work at LarryBecker.tv

I recently re-listened to the Top 5 most popular podcasts from 2018 as ranked by iTunes. (Not sure if they are actually the Top 5, but maybe so!) and wanted to share with you a snippet of who they are interviewing and some of the topics:

5) Lewis Kemper. Episode 62 posted on Aug 16, 2018. Lewis is a photographer that worked with Ansel Adams! What an experience and opportunity that must have been! Lewis actually inspired Rick to use a tripod back in the day. He also gave Landscape Photography tips (hint hint: he once worked with Ansel Adams!) see his work at: https://www.lewiskemper.com

4) Scott Bourne. Episode 63 posted on Aug 20, 2018. Scott is a Wildlife Photographer – specializing in birds, Author, Lecturer, and is Senior Advisor with Skylum Software, photography software. There is much much more to Scott, I will let you explore that. The podcast episode gave a good review of the Skylum software, what’s going on, what’s coming up, etc. See his work at: https://scottbourne.online/portfolio-2/

3) Kevin Newsome. Episode 30 posted Apr 26, 2018. Kevin has over 30 years of experience experience as a portrait and event photographer in the Tampa area. He talked about keeping things fresh in the industry and keeping ahead of the crowd. Some advice: Do the work; keep changing; be creative. See his work at: newsomesstudio.com/senior-pictures-photographer-tampa/

2) Unmesh Dinda. Episode 90 posted on Dec 24, 2018. Unmesh is a commercial retouched and Photoshop Educator based in India. He has a popular Facebook page and YouTube channel called, “PiXimperfect.” His YouTube channel has 300 videos on Photoshop and Lightroom. In the podcast, he gave many helpful editing tips; and ways to ruin an image. See his work at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMrvLMUITAlmCHMOhx88PYQ/featured?disable_polymer=1

1) Scott Kelby. Episode 18 posted on Mar 15, 2018. Scott does so much and is so much to so many in the industry that I will use the condensed “about me” from his website. Scott is a Photographer, award-winning authorand the original “Photoshop Guy” as well as the CEO of KelbyOne, an online educational community for photographers, Photoshop and Lightroom users (and I would add…for creatives in general). In the podcast, Scott urged beginners to learn these three things: Exposure, Shutterspeed, ISO. He also gave a lot of great advice on getting great Landscape images. See his work at: https://scottkelby.com

So, if you feel like you need to “sharpen the saw”, and who doesn’t? Please check out this podcast. Their website is at: https://picturingsuccess.com and the podcast can be found on the website, on iTunes, and on Spotify.

Life Is A Mystery!

Saturday, February 16 was a day that just kept taking so many interesting and wonderful unplanned directions.

The events of the day were really kicked off by something that happened (or didn’t happen) on Valentine’s Day. I had been scheduled to drive out to Morris to attend my son’s College Choir concert. The weather was so sketchy, especially out in West Central Minnesota – that I decided not to drive out (much to my dismay).

So, because I had some items to deliver to Gunnar and his girlfriend that I wasn’t able to deliver on Thursday, we made arrangements Friday night to meet them in Alexandria on Saturday morning.

That brings us to what turned out to be an amazing Saturday, one for the books….and the kind of day that you just can’t plan and have it play out the way it did! I woke up Saturday morning and took a look at my Instagram feed to see what the latest was. This is what was on my page:

This was quite unexpected. Glyn is a recently made friend who is from England. I listen regularly to the Podcast that he does with Dave Clayton, called ‘He Shoots He Draws’ – a Photography and Graphic Design Podcast. After their Friday episode, I posted a positive message about this particular episode, and then woke up Saturday to this post. I should have known this Saturday was going to be interesting!

We made arrangements to meet our son and his girlfriend in Alexandria mid-morning for brunch at Perkins. That went well, and it was wonderful seeing them, even for such a brief time. After the items we had brought were transferred to their car and good-byes were said – we were in our way NW.

At some point a short while later, we received a message from our friend Trina saying that she had seen Gunnar and Kaitlyn at Wal Mart. We also received a message from Gunnar saying that they had seen Trina. Apparently Gunnar had mentioned our plans to go Cross Country Skiing at Glendalough State Park. Trina told us that she was actually driving up to that same area to visit another mutual friend, Jody and that we should get together that evening. We were planning to meet our Sister-In-Law and her three kids at Glendalough, and had been invited to go back to Fergus Falls afterwards for Chili. We had declined because it would be going in a different direction than where our hotel was for the night.

In the meantime, Trina and Jody had talked and must have talked about where we were headed. It turned out that Jody and her husband and two of their kids were already on their way to a ski area, that was much hillier than where we were going – so they decided to come to Glendalough as well! So now our group of three had grown to seven, and finally to 11!

Carrie on the left, with her friend Jodi at Glendalough S.P.

When we arrived at the Trail Head parking lot (which was surprisingly full), we got out of the truck, started walking to the building to see where we could rent skis for others in our group. Carrie turned to me and said, “look who’s here.” She was referring to a van that had signage on its side for “Minnesota Trails and Rides”….a paper for which I was the Editor for once upon a time….a job that I was, let’s say, “let go” from once upon a time.

There has always been some level of disappointment for me, with the way that job ended, and so now suddenly, I was thinking that my boss and publisher, Dave would be there. What was I going to say when we inevitably came face to face at this small trail head, some 15 years later? We got inside the building and discovered that there was a ski event going on. There was a women at a desk signing people in….”are you here for the race?” She asked. We were somewhat confused about what to do and to what was going on at this point! It was then that I saw a poster for the event on the wall that featured a headshot of Dave, my former boss/publisher. My first thought was it was an event that he was organizing. Well, as it turned out….I read closer and discovered that it was a Memorial Race for Dave! He had died suddenly last year at this time. Wow! I had NO idea. And here we were “randomly” at this park, on this day, there to ski.

We finally got all organized and were fortunate that the Sons Of Norway were there for the event, and were loaning ski equipment at no charge. We had a great time on a nice flat trail.

Shortly after I created this image, my phone pinged with a message. I had “checked-in” on Facebook before we hit the trail and our friend Linda had seen the image. Her message said that I should call Paul. I waited until I got back as I was almost done with the trail.

Paul and I became friends back in 1987 when we were both students at Fergus Falls Community College. I got back to the truck, and before we got going, I gave Paul a call. It turned out that he lives nearby, and was wondering if we had time to meet. He mentioned that maybe we could meet at a certain place in the nearby town, called the Shoreline. I told him that is exactly where we were already going as we had just made plans to go there for hot chocolate. Now, I haven’t seen Paul and Linda for just over 12 years! Yet another great unexpected occurrence on this day. We enjoyed a great talk over appetizers and hot chocolate….talked a lot about ancestry, and it turns out that his wife and our sister-in-law are related! Paul told me that when he heard that we were at Glendalough SP; he assumed it was because of Dave’s memorial (knowing that I had worked for him). It also turns out that Linda was also related to Dave. I hope we can meet again soon!

So in one last interesting turn, we were invited to meet with Jody and Trina at Jody’s house for supper…Sister-in-Law, Leisha and her kids were also invited and so we all went there for a great spaghetti meal. There we were….friends and family enjoying each other’s company. Five of the kids roughly the same age hanging out; High School friends catching up; spending time with family…..what a day!

If You Are Going Anyway…

My son went off to college a few years ago and he became a part of both the Symphonic Winds, and the Concert Choir. We do not miss any of his concerts, unless it just can’t be helped, like if he is on a European Tour, or something like that!

It didn’t take more than a concert or two before I realized that I needed to, and wanted to – be making images with my Canon! I quickly offered my services and it has been a wonderful three years so far.

This is a piece that I hade made of a special event that the Choir was involved in. I was able to get a live action group photo during the performance.

I also had this created for the Choir Director to hang in his office.

So in doing this I get to create images and experience great music while doing so. And, I was going to be there anyway…

Make Time For Yourself

In the day to day “grind” we are always trying to fit more in, do more, do it faster, more, more, more! Starting today, try to be more mindful about making time for yourself….to re-charge the batteries.

Go for a walk. Look up and notice the clouds in the sky; the tree branches. Enjoy it, soak it in – create an image that you can look back on, and even share with others.

You might be surprised at what you see when you slow down and start noticing.

Another thing you can do to help yourself is to slow down enough to sit down and read a real book! Try some professional development like I did with this book: “Evolution of An Image” by Rick Sammon.

I hope that you will now take some time for yourself, and discover something new! Jay

Getting Back To It

Here I am trying once again at starting up my blog posts! I have not given up, that is for sure. Actually, in the time since I last posted, I did some deep thinking about my photography and had some lengthy discussions with several people about where I am going photographically. The original theme of this blog is about how I “balance” family life and photography (with several other items mixed in!)

Here is one example. Easter time, coloring eggs with the family….once we had a bunch of them done, we paused so that I could get some images like this.

At this time of year, it is cold out there. I like to be mindful of the image opportunities this creates!

There! I did a new blog post. Let me know if you would like me to talk about something related to keeping balanced in your family and photography. Jay

Where Has The Time Gone?

Wow, it has been nearly a year since my last blog post….I wrote that one – called, “The Art of the Selfie” after we had returned from an epic RV road trip through 11 Western States last Summer. I have been thinking about this drought in writing a lot lately, and so one day I challenged my friend Jim (who wants to start writing, but can’t find the right time); that he and I need to each write a blog post within the next two weeks.  Today might mark that point so here I am!

I want to share with you some of what I’ve been doing photographically last year, so in this post I will feature things I did in the Fall. It was an interesting year. Our son experienced and made it through his “Senior Year” in H.S., that kept us pretty busy, and me pretty busy taking pictures at Band/Choir events; Fall Musical etc.  I also focused on my own health last year, and so without going into details…a lot of spare time was dedicated to that adventure! So, without further build-up, here are some images and comments on how I balanced family life and photography last Fall:

I guess I started the pics out with a selfie…I just can’t control myself! Last Summer after our road trip we still had time for going to see “The Music Man” at the Guthrie in Minneapolis, including a nice dinner out afterwards. And, we had time left in the Summer to attend a couple of County Fairs.

And….well this one I just wanted to show that I had discovered another Great Grand Parent’s grave site.  I am on a self-assignment to get images of the markers of each Grandparent all the way back as far as I can. This one was tricky to find as his name was Fred Hanson and he was buried in an area with lots of Scandinavians! The other photo shows a car at a car show in Grey Eagle, MN on Labor Day weekend. I grew up in this little town and was thrilled to see that they were having a car show when we were there. This car is the kind my dad had, only dad’s was brown…..wish I had Dad’s car!


I was at a State Conference for work last Fall – and while on my way to dinner one night, I literally came to a “Fork in the Road”. Was it foreshadowing something? Maybe! The next picture of 139…represents something I found while metal detecting…something I started to do more of in this past year, I’m still not sure what the thing is. The third image is from a paid gig I was fortunate to do covering a couple of Log Rolling events in Minneapolis. That was different and lots of fun.

Senior Year for Gunnar and his girlfriend Kaitlyn. I was busy in late Summer and most of Fall with taking Senior Pictures for these two and several others. I really enjoyed that. The third picture is from a Football Pep band activity last Fall. I will certainly miss seeing the kids in this group this coming Fall; but on the other hand, we will get to see them participate in Music at the U of M Morris.

Once again, I participated in the Black Hills Photography Shootout in Rapid City, SD. We got to do a shoot with a guy that danced in competitions, it was very very cool.  This Fall we found ourselves at the Princeton HS Pool several times. We were there to cheer on  Kaitlyn in the Fall. She did a great job and will be swimming at UM Morris.

The picture on the left represents my Mom’s arm holding a panoramic photo – that took years ago – up against that same land today, and how it has changed so much that it is unrecognizable. The farm in the photo is the farm that her dad built for his bride so they could start a family out on the prairie in North Dakota. The picture on the right represents some work I did with family portraiture.  This was a great family to work with.


This final image represents the Fall Musical, “Aida”. Gunnar played Pharoah. This was an all-consuming photo shoot for me. I shot dress rehearsal; and one Live performance; and then also did head shots of each of the principal actors and group shots of all the various groupings. I provided pics for marketing on Social Media, and for in the lobby during the event.  I even ended up making a book of images out of all this! Thanks for reading all the way to the end.

Be sure to check out my website for more images: My Website



The Art of the Selfie

Selfie of Carrie and I at the beginning of our Route 66 experience. Selfie of Carrie and I at the beginning of our Route 66 experience.

From oxforddictionaries.com: Definition of selfie in English:

noun (plural selfies)


A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media: occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself everyday isn’t necessary.
So, what camp are you in? Do you like Selfies…or despise them? I know that there are pretty strong feelings either way…which is silly if you stop and think about it.  The Selfie is a form of Self Portrait photography. I think that it is a good way for people to get creative with their photos. It brings people together….”hey let’s take a selfie!” Even calling out, “Selfie!” with a small group of people around causes most or all to smile and have a good time for a fleeting moment…and I think that is a good thing.
When people find themselves at a special location and/or a special situation, they want to take a selfie to record the memory.  I got to experience this firsthand on a recent road trip, and while I was at the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore. There were so many people there. While we were looking at the amazing vistas of the South Rim, I was inspired to focus on getting pictures of people taking selfies!  Yes, I am a photographer, and, yes, I was at the Grand Canyon for the first time.  I was also with four other people in my group – and several hundred others.  I got some shots from the tourist railing spots, but I realized that, yes the Canyon is awesome…but there is another story here. I announced to my teenage son that I was going to start focusing specifically on people that were doing selfies. He was kind of against the whole selfie thing – especially the use of selfie sticks; however in a short time he was helping me locate potential selfie subjects!
Girls, I hope that you realize that there is a rather deep drop off right behind you! Please practice safe selfie-ing…
Cool Dad of the day! It’s interesting to watch the body language of people doing Selfies..not to mention the selfie taking techniques that people use.
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Close quarters selfie taking.
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These couples seem like professionals. Look at the body positioning and the selfie stick positioning…..Please don’t try this at home…these people are professionals. One thing I like about this self assignment is that the backgrounds behind these people are pretty spectacular!
Grammond-4115 Grammond-4110
Moving on to Mount Rushmore……Hey – guy in the red shirt, everyone is looking the other way!  Look at the technique the guy (Luigi) – on the right is using….a low angle….the reason is that Mount Rushmore is towering over them from behind.
Selfies and selfie sticks are a thing now, so just embrace it and try it for yourself if you haven’t already!  Maybe I’ll catch you with my camera someday and you might end up in a coffee table book! Jay

Five Reasons To Like Zucchini

Photo on 8-17-15 at 11.06 PM

I was trying to come up with an idea for a blog post, so I asked my wife Carrie what I should blog about….she replied, “Zucchini”. She was joking, but it made sense in that we have so much of it right now! So in the spirit of creativity, I said, “o.k.” so here we go.

According to Wikipedia, Zucchini is also referred to as Courgette. It is a Summer Squash that can reach one meter in length.

Five Reasons To Like Zucchini

  1. For  those of you that are Zucchini Geeks/Foodie Geeks….in a culinary context, Zucchini is treated as a vegetable. However, Botanically – it is considered a fruit! What a conundrum this must cause you!
  2. In France, zucchini is a key ingredient in ratatouille, a stew of summer fruits and vegetables prepared in olive oil and cooked for an extended time over low heat. The dish, originating near present-day Nice, is served as a side dish or on its own at lunch with bread. And who doesn’t like the movie, “Ratatouille“!
  3. Zucchini Pasta …..wait,  that’s a thing? Sign me up!
  4. There’s an App for that! Zucchini App  “Zucchini Bread is life often required”…what? I’m guessing it’s not doing well on itunes!
  5. Last, but certainly NOT least:  Zucchini Bread

Well, there you have it!  The photo was taken on my kitchen table using the camera on my MacBook Pro, with extra lighting assist from the Ott Light.

Check out my website for Gand Canyon images, coming soon!   Jay