Archive for 'Shop Talk':

Gulf Photo Plus :: Dubai :: March 1st – 6th

February 1, 2010 | • Resources • Workshop News

I’m excited to be part of Gulf Photo Plus again this year. I could go on and on and on about the event.  It’s simply one of the most unique series of workshops I’ve seen. There are six solid days of workshops that go from morning ’till night with lots of special events.

The image above is part of a project I’ll be showing for the first time and it will only be shown as prints this year.  There will be a showing of this work later this year in Atlanta.

Normally I would give you all of the details about the conference and what to do in Dubai but David Hobby has done it for me!  :)

For those of you in Europe, Northern Africa, the Middle East, or Asia, this is a must attend photography event. I’m equally excited and nervous about an intensive two day, on location, class that I’ll be teaching. No lecture. No power point presentation. Just get on a bus and shoot for two days! It’s going to kick my butt. In addition to this class I’ll be teaching a few OneLight’s and a one day Photo 101 class.

Cheers, Zack

Where Umbrellas Dare Not Go :: Flying Silks

January 25, 2010 | • Gear & Gadgets

Do you ever need something larger than an umbrella or softbox? Not quite sure if you are wanting to deal with a massive Octabank? Try a 12×12′ silk! Tie it up to some stands like these Matthews Tall Boys and presto! Gorgeous light.

Did you click on the links? Expensive aren’t they? Not to rent!

PITA to carry around, set up, and use? Absolutely. Worth the pain in the ass it is to carry around, set up, and use? Absolutely. Want to do it on your own? Absolutely not. Bring a friend or two.

Silk’s are great because they cut ambient light, you can blow flash into them, you can use them as background material, they look cool blowing around in videos, etc, etc, etc.  Octa’s are cool because you can blow flash into them. (crickets) No etc, etc, etc. after talking about big octa’s. Don’t get me wrong, octabanks are amazing light modifiers.  LOVE them!  But if you need something that is just as much a pain in the a$$ to set up, sand bag, and move around as a large octa is, then consider using a silk.  I prefer the 12×12′ as it is really versatile at that size. I think we are paying about $25 a day to rent two silks.  That’s an affordable solution to a modifier that can do a number of things.

I can’t show the goods from today’s shoot but here is one that I really like from today showing the silk flying in the air like it just don’t care.

Cheers, Zack

Black Rob :: An Audio Experiment

January 24, 2010 | • Gear & Gadgets GOYA

As we get deeper into video production I know that one skill I really need to work on is audio capture and editing. I headed out this evening with a Sennheiser ME-67 and an Edirol audio recorder. Big thanks to Marc for letting me borrow the recorder. The recording comes after the story.

Meg was in Little Five Points to purchase some props and wardrobe for a shoot we have next week. I met her there and walked around recording sounds of cars, people, etc. Someone called out to me;

“What in the hell is that thing? Is that a gun or something?”

The ME-67 is about 14 inches long and is kind of menacing looking in the dark. Black Rob (as he’s known on the streets) was just making sure nothing crazy was about to go down. He started asking me about recording equipment and I started asking about his life.

I recorded Rob without the aid of headphones. I scurried out of the studio too quickly today and left my headphones behind. Always a great thing to do when trying to learn how to capture audio. Luckily the Edirol recorder has a nice level readout so I just kept my eye on that while recording.

I came home needing some music to lay under the recording I had made. Meg disappeared into Loretta (her recording studio) to create an original song just for me. She reappeared at 5am. I had cut all the parts out of the recording that I wanted and got to work in Apple’s Soundtrack Pro. This is the first time I’ve used the program and it was the first time Meg used ProTools.  We’ve both been sliding down a steep learning curve.  

I’m sure you audio guys and gals would have some opinions on this. I would love to hear them.

Listen to the final project for the day

Cheers, Zack

Mych :: Teaching This Technique In March

January 19, 2010 | • Workshop GOYA Misc. Photos

Did some testing with Mych (pronounced Mike) this week.  He has an amazing range of emotions.

Shot with a silver 86″ para on the cyc wall.  I’ll be teaching this technique at Gulf Photo Plus in Dubai at the beginning of March and again at Photoshop World in Orlando at the end of March.

Cheers, Zack

Cavalia :: Controlling The Work You Show

My dear friend, Marc Climie, often says…

“Let your work determine your clients. Don’t let your clients determine your work.”

In order to live by that philosophy you have to be very careful what work you show to the world through your site, blog, and book.  If you don’t want to shoot family portraits, then don’t show family portraits. If you hate selective color photographs (as you should) then don’t show them.  Here is a good scenario…

You want to shoot portraits of bands and musicians for press kits and promo work. You are a struggling photographer just trying to get started and you get a call from a friend of a friend and they would love for you to shoot their family portraits. You need the work so you agree to it and, hopefully, you do a kick ass job.  You just shot the best family portraits of your life. What do you do with them?

Continue reading and seeing after the jump ::


VisionMongers :: Give The Gift of Encouragement Contest

December 1, 2009 | • Resources News

I’ve just read the best book about being a photographer that I’ve ever read. It is the new book VisionMongers by photographer David duChemin.

I don’t even know where to start with my review of this book. I do have to say for the sake of full disclosure that I am one of 9 photographers profiled as a case study.  I know that there will be some folks who discount my review of this book because I have a few pages in it.  So for those of you who may feel this way, please buy this book and rip those pages out and throw them in the trash. Hopefully the majority of you know that I don’t jump up and down and scream from the rooftops about anything but I am about this book.

To do a full review of this book will take me a week to put my thoughts about it into words. VisionMongers isn’t a “how to” book.  There is no formula to follow.  There aren’t 10 easy steps to becoming a full time photographer.  This isn’t a “follow your heart and be passionate and go get ’em tiger” book either. It is more philosophy than ….

Look, this review is stupid so I’m going to stop and get into the meat of this blog post.  I’ll do a better review later.

I only made it through the introduction of this book when I got on the phone with the publisher, Peachpit, to ask for 10 copies to give away on the blog here.  Seriously, it hit me right between the eyes from the first five pages and it kept hitting me there until the end.  So Peachpit sent 10 copies to give away.  Then I thought that many emerging photographers will not buy this book because it doesn’t tell you a damn thing about what lens to use, what settings are best, how to use a softbox, the best way to handle post production, etc.  This book has nothing to do with how to make photographs.  It’s all about why we make photographs.  It’s all about the demons inside that keep us up at night fretting with this “thing” that we have to do because we have no other choice but do it or die trying.

So if folks aren’t going to buy this because it has nothing to do with camera settings I thought I would give a OneLight DVD away with the copy of the book.  Then I started thinking about other resources that have been super helpful and inspiring to me as a photographer and to me as a business person.  So I got 10 copies of Drew Gardner’s Location Lighting DVD because I have watched that a number of times this year and it has been a massive inspiration to me.  So VisionMongers, a OneLight DVD, and Drew’s DVD.  Oh yeah then there’s this, and that, and the other… So I started making phone calls and this is what is going into each of 10 gift boxes.  These are hand picked resources that have been a help to me this year.

1 year membership to

6 month membership to ShootQ

VisionMongers by David duChemin

The Moment it Clicks by Joe McNally

Trade Secret Cards by Chase Jarvis

Location Lighting with Drew Gardner DVD

Sessions with Joey L DVD

Best Business Practices for Photographers by John Harrington

OneLight DVD

That brings the retail value for each package to $1,100 plus change.

There are a few other things that are going to be added to each gift box that no one will know about until they are opened!  And, well, we might just get Willy Wonka on one or two of them. Who knows? :)

Here is the thing… It’s the holidays.  It’s the time to give and not receive.  So you CAN NOT win this for yourself.  You are going to win this for someone you know and give this package to them on (insert the big day of your holiday choice here.)  Like… Christmas morning or something. Right? All inclusive we are around here. :)

How to win ::

We love stories around here.  We want to hear the story of someone you know who would really, really, really be blessed by this gift of encouragement.  Someone who lies awake at night dreaming of becoming a photographer.  Someone who is doing all they can to make this dream happen but they just aren’t there yet.  Maybe they are just learning and dreaming about it.  Maybe they are 1 year into it and are having a hard time.  Someone you know needs a big ass package like this to help them get through the winter months and keep going.  Every single person listed above knows about this contest and are personally interested in giving this stuff away to someone who will appreciate it, love it, and RUN with it!

Maybe it is your spouse. Your friend. A photo student. You know someone who will jump with joy to get this package and YOU want to give it to them.  Maybe you can’t even afford a single book on this list and it would be a blessing to YOU to be able to gift this to a loved one.  We only regret that we can’t give 1,000 of these packages away.  We only have 10.

You figure out who it needs to go to and tell us their story in 750 words or less (or there about) and email us at  You have until midnight December 10th to write in to us.  Include a link to their blog, their site, their flickr account, whatever.  If they don’t have a link, no worries.  Send in their story all the same!

Who better to chose the top 20 stories than our two brand new interns?  Two folks trying to get this madness of photography turned into a dream and turned into a vocation.  So Robin and Rhonda are going to pick the top 20.  One more intern may be added to the mix soon as well.  Then on December 11th we as a studio will pick the top 10 and start packing the boxes.

Once we have the top 10 chosen we will notify the winners by email.  The “winners” are the person who wrote in.  We will be shipping the winning packages on the 15th.  It will be the winner’s job to wrap it up and hide this away until big holiday morning of your choice.  Like, Christmas morning, or whatever.  Get it?  Got it?  You have until the 10th.  Let us know.

Happy Holidays everyone.  We love you a lot.

Cheers, Zack

PS – Buy VisionMongers.  I swear I don’t make a red cent off of it. I have no motives other than to say you have to read this book. Just buy it. Seriously.  I’ll do a better review soon.

PPS – Legal stuff about winning contests and stuff and stuff and legal mumbo jumbo and stuff and responsibilities and stuff. Blah, blah, blah. Not valid on the moon.

PPPS – If you write in about yourself in third person to try to win this for yourself then your teeth will rot, your transmission will blow up, and Jesus will know about it.  Just sayin’.  😛

Photography Critique :: Episode 12

November 4, 2009 | • Critique

Welcome to episode 12 of Photography Critique. We take a look at four sites and I do my best to stay on track, make my point, and move on. Trying to take your critique of our critique to heart as best I can! Still can’t stop gabbing though. Hour and 12 on this one. I’m proud of this one. Hope you enjoy it as well!

Some really interesting discussion has formed around our last episode of Photography Critique.  

I’m glad if we can give some pointers here and there but I think we ruffled some feathers and have started a discussion a bit deeper than how to edit your work.  We’ve had a number of people recently stumble across us so I want to go over our own in-house rules for this critique thing that we do.

#1 – We only critique work that has been submitted to us.  We do not do any drive-by critiques. If you send your site to us you know it will possibly end up on this blog and be the topic of a public discussion. If you want to be added to the list just email me your URL. Send it to critique @

#2 – I DO NOT name names in text or give links to the work we critique. The reason we do this is so “John Doe Photography” can submit his work and know that nothing on my blog will show up in a search engine. I ask that all readers cross posting these critiques respect this as well.  Do not give a link to the person’s work AND a link to this blog. This is to keep possible negative critiques out of the reach from perspective clients researching said John Doe photographer.

#3 – Meg and I do this for the community at large and we have fun with it.  We will not get academic with these critiques. At times we have something serious to say or something technical to share but you are going to get the EXACT same critique on this blog as if you came to our house, sat down at our dining room table, and showed us your work. We would offer you a drink and go through your work exactly as we do on this site. Smart ass comments and all.

#4 – Speaking of smart ass comments… We make them. We hope we are not offending anyone but if we think something looks funny then chances are other people are going to come along and think something similar.  If we add a stupid caption to a photo it is because it’s so easy to do. Remember this… You can’t stand around your work and explain it to people as they see it. Once your site goes out in the world you have zero control over what people are going to think of your work. Meg and I are going to give you an off the cuff honest idea of what may be thought of your work.  Like it or love it or leave it.  If we laugh at one of your pictures it may be due to the fact that it is funny.  The rub happens when your intention was to make a serious photo.  We aren’t so jaded and cynical that we make fun of everything but you may not see it until it’s pointed out. 

#5 – I am looking at your site as though I’m a photo editor, art director, or general public client. Would I hire you? Would I love your work? Would I hate it? Would I laugh at it? Would I think it is original or dated or boring? If so, I’ll tell you. But my goal is to not leave you there. If I feel I can speak to the work and give suggestions to make it better then I most certainly will give you my opinion in how I feel it can be made better.  I will do all I can to point out your strengths as well.  I’m not here just to try and bring people down. I do these things in hopes that it helps.

Meg is looking at your work as Meghan “General Public” Arias.  She’s not trained in photography. She’s not a shooter. She’s not an editor. She likes being the detached third party.  That’s not to say she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.  She’s a smart girl and has some interesting opinions on the work.  I should know, she has opinions about mine all the time!  😉

#6 – I’m going to do my best to not make a critique personal.  I’m looking at your photography. Not you. But at 1am I know I’ll make a joke and step on toes. Please know that we aren’t trying to be jerks. We’re dorks.

#7 – Whatever we say here… we would say it to your face.  We don’t hide behind the Internet.   

#8 – Most days… I have to listen to myself because I sure as hell don’t have it figured out and I’m just as guilty of the flaws I’m so quick to point out to others. Have you seen my sites? They suck right now. Suck. The only thing that lets me sleep through the night is I know they suck right now because I’m too busy shooting to be building a web site. Just note that I suck too.   

Rules for you…

#1 – Don’t take it personal.  You have to divorce yourself from your work to get an honest assessment of it. If you don’t you can’t grow. Your family and friends may absolutely love, love, love your photography. Heck, your clients may be head over heals about that selective colored heart over the belly button with no less than 17 actions thrown on top of it. Fine. People are happy with Wal-Mart portraits too but that doesn’t mean they are good. There are higher goals to reach in this craft and that is the point of view I’m coming from. Let Wal-Mart produce the crap. Individual photographers need to push on to better work.

#2 – Understand we are just one tiny voice in a sea of thousands. Take what we say with a grain of salt because you could show your work to another photographer the same day you show it to us and you will get a whole different take on it.  Gather several TRUSTED voices together and then filter it down through your own brain to find out what needs to happen.

#3 – I can’t stress enough that Meg and I do not take ourselves seriously.  We kindly request you do the same.  

#4 – ALWAYS let us know how we can do this better.  Speak up. Talk about it. We are all growing up in this ever changing industry together.  It’s a pretty damn fun place to be. I’m glad you are here and I’m glad to be a part of it. 

How’d we do on this one?

Cheers, Zack 

One From Austin ::


Just finished my 2nd day of teaching this week in Texas. Tonight I’m in Austin. We wrapped up at 2:30am. I’m beat but I wanted to share at least one from the OneLight… even though this one is TwoLights. :)

Cheers, Zack

Photography Critique :: Episode 11

October 11, 2009 | • Critique

We are back with another episode of Photography Critique! In this episode we cover four sites in 56 minutes. We take a look at the work of a child portrait photographer, two live music photographers, and finally a commercial photographer. I made sure to spend some time talking about the technical aspects of becoming a better photographer as well as the pitfalls of following a photographer you admire just. a. little. too. much. I also wonder what the state of grad schools are these days.

We hope you enjoy! Now that our life is finding some sort of order again after the birth of our son, Hawke, we will be having these episodes back on the blog on a more regular basis. Our goal for now is one a month. If you are just joining us on this blog you can find past episodes of Photography Critique here…

Episodes 1 – 10 of Photography Critique

Also, point your iTunes podcast feed to this link to have them downloaded automatically to your playlist!


Cheers, Zack

Running To Stand Still? + LA Workshop Images ::


I keep telling myself… “I just need to make it through November.” If meetings this week go as planned then I may need to start saying… “I just need to make it through December.” Am I running to stand still? Nope. I’m running to grow.

I’m thankful for work. I’m thankful for my wife supporting my work. I’m thankful for the community I’m surrounded with. I’m thankful for opportunities to connect, share, and learn.

All that said, I’m at that point where I wonder if I’m biting off more than I can chew. I’m really glad to be at this point because it means my field is growing and that means I get to bring more people on board. As I grow, others grow as well. We all grow together.

Things I have to get done around these here parts…

• The “Call To Action” update blog post. I’m totally slacking on that one. Sorry! • I have a draft called “Get A Grip” that helps you put stuff together and rig things to other things. I like things. I hope you do too. • October 11th will be our next episode of Critique! Thanks for keeping us to the fire on that one everyone! • I have to tell you all about my experience at the Vincent Laforet 5dMkII workshop. An eye opener. I was like, “Whoa.”

Coming up… I’m teaching the many uses of white seamless at PhotoPlus in NYC later this month. Hope to see you there.

Here’s some pics from last week’s LA workshop. Well, one of them. That was a double header. Big ups to Marc D’Amour for making the LA workshops run like German trains. If you are unfamiliar with the way in which German trains run then let me be the one to instruct you that, according to my high school German teacher, they run real güt.

Know when to turn your light off… Apologies to the synagogue. I had to tag something. It washes off.


We were in Hollywood so all I had to say was… “Cue the birds! And…. Birds in 3… 2… 1… Birds! —- Aaaaannnnnnddd… CUT!” Yes. I’m a dork.


Ok lighting folks… Take a look at the next two photos. One of these was shot in the afternoon and one was shot at night. I was demonstrating that off camera lighting is predictable and can be replicated over and over and over again no matter where you are. Which is which?


More to come?

• The Seattle workshop was amazing. Seriously. Big thanks to the Boone brothers and Chase Jarvis and images and thoughts to come from that. You know, one of these days. I still haven’t put images up from the Australia OneLights. I’m so effing behind on blogging. But you know, it’s not like I’m curing cancer with this thing!

• I twittered about thinking about thoughts while flying home from Seattle. I’ve given myself a deadline of 2/10/2010 to get our new brand off the ground. I wish there were 20 months in the year so I could have until 20/10/2010. I know what I’m going to be doing this winter. It better not be comparing myself to others! Update – It took me until 1/2011 to get it done. Branding takes time.


Oh… Crap. This the wind beneath my wings today…

Cheers, Zack

Street Portraits :: NYC 09/2009 :: Video + Stills

I’ve been talking with some folks and the topic of street portraits came up. Some are scared to death to approach strangers on the street. I understand the feeling completely but there are times you have to get over your anxiety about talking to strangers and pursue what it is you want to do. While I was in NYC a few weeks ago I decided to practice what I preach. I gave myself the assignment of shooting 10 portraits of 10 strangers in 10 hours. I had to sandwich these in between other shoots I had on the books while I was there. I approached 15 people and 9 accepted my request.

For those of you who have expressed your concerns about approaching strangers lemme give you some advice.

1) Read David duChemin’s book Within The Frame. David talks in depth about pursuing and expressing your vision where people, places, and culture are concerned. It’s a fantastic book with lots of technical and philosophical meat to dig your teeth into.

2) Get over talking to strangers. I know your mom told you not to but seriously, it’s ok. You will be amazed at how many people open themselves up to you. It’s a great experience for them and for you.

3) Don’t try to approach people who are on their way somewhere. Find someone just hanging out. You won’t be interrupting their schedule.

4) Guys, know your limit with approaching females. Some of you are suave and can do it with style. Dorks like me look like we are just trying a bad pick-up line. Know your limit. Ladies, well, y’all have it easy. Talk to anyone you want. :)

4) As David writes in his book, be kind, smile, and extend warmth and friendship to the folks you meet.

5) Many will tell you “no”. Many will say yes. Listen to what Janet said in the video above. She had not had a portrait made of her in 35 years! She wouldn’t have one getting shipped to her if someone had not simply asked to take a portrait of her.Anyway, here are my portraits. They aren’t the most amazing portraits I’ve ever shot but I’m glad I put myself out there. I met some great people I would have otherwise never talked to.

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NYC street portrait half_spacer.jpg Cheers, Zack

Call To Action :: Who's flyin'? Who's sittin'? :: Send Me Your Links!

September 14, 2009 | • Philosophy


If you have been following the call to action posts lately, then you know this is the week to get your service projects wrapped up and delivered.  I would love to hear your stories. Email your stories and/or links about your service project to me at service @ zackarias [dot] com and I will compile them into one blog post to share with everyone else.

I know some have already shared your stories or links in the comments of other blog entries. Can you send them again to the email address above so I can sort them out quickly? Thank you!!!If you’ve been sittin’… Don’t beat yourself up. You have 365 days a year to serve. Maybe tomorrow is your day.  

Cheers, Zack 

Call To Action :: Are You Hitting The Streets?

September 8, 2009 | • Philosophy


I’m just checking in with those of you who are taking the call to action challenge.  If you are new to the blog then check out this post to figure out what I’m talking about.

This is the week to be getting a service job on the books and scheduled. By reading comments some of you have seen this through to completion by now. I know some of us are still draggin’ ass on it.  

On my front I have been working with Derrick. He’s set up with email, online banking, and he has his own PayPal account now! We are moving him toward a blog.  I have to hook up with him this week to see how the eWorld is treating him and make further steps toward the blog.  I also went to a networking event last week and connected with an organization that works with kids and mentors them from 8th grade through 12 grade. They commit five years to each child. It’s an organization that has an amazing heart and amazing statistics. I’m hoping to meet with them in the next week or two to figure out how I plug in with them. 

What’s up? How are things going? Any of you still sitting around wanting to do this but still making excuses as to why you can’t? Fess up as an anonymous commenter and let’s see if we can’t find a boot to plant up your rear!!! 😛

No seriously. This community of folks are here to help. Speak up! This project will be a good primer for many of us to get off our butts and help out in December for the Help-Portrait project.

Cheers, Zack 

Help-Portrait :: By Jeremy Cowart

August 26, 2009 | • Philosophy News

From following Jeremy Cowart’s twitter feed, I knew that this video was in the making and now it is up! Jeremy is today’s guest blogger on Scott Kelby’s site. This is a great idea. A few photographers here in Atlanta are already on the ball with getting this organized locally and our crew is ready to jump in and do whatever we need to do to help. Be thinking about it for your town as well.

More info should be up later today on the Help-Portrait site according to a statement on Kelby’s blog.

Help spread the word!

Cheers, Zack 

Call To Action :: "When I play pretend, I'm an ambitious person…"

August 24, 2009 | • Philosophy • Resources


If you are just coming to this blog post without seeing all of the blog posts that have led up to it then let me bring you up to speed.

• I made this video in February for a guest blog spot on Scott Kelby’s blog.

• A few weeks ago a dude named B. wrote to me and I answered him on this blog. That post set off quite a discussion in the comments.

• Then a door to door salesman showed up that same day. I interviewed him and made a short video. That led to more discussion. That video was viewed over 12,000 times in one week.

People wanted to buy this man’s soap so we sold virtual bottles of his soap on the blog. People were so motivated and moved by him they bought $6,000 of this virtual soap.

• I realized I need to sell soap instead of photographs. :)

• Last Monday I had a post about motivation.

That brings us to today’s blog post. First I’ll share how I’ve been motivated by all of this.

In preparing for this blog post I was searching my archives for some sort of image to open the post with. I never make a blog post without starting with an image of some sort. I twittered yesterday that I was going to make this blog post and here it is 10pm and the post still isn’t up. I wanted it up at 10am but I couldn’t find the right image. That’s my story. If it can’t be right then I won’t do it. So instead of trying to find the right image or go make a video you get helvetica in 36 points. Not having everything “just right” should not stop me from going ahead and getting something done.

Another reason this wasn’t up at 10am is because my awesome wife, Meghan, kicked me out of the bed this morning and we went to the gym. I have to lose about 40 pounds. Been talking and thinking about losing weight for a long long long time. No more thinking about it. Now I have to do it. So instead of blogging I was jogging. Or elipticallying to be more precise. For. A. Whole. Ten. Minutes. But that’s ten more minutes than I did yesterday (you see… that’s a joke because I haven’t exercised in years).

Meg has also been on me for as long as we’ve been together to write the stuff in my head down on paper or, preferably, white boards. I finally got off my rear a few weeks ago and put white boards up. Then I started writing stuff down on them. Goals. Ideas. Concepts. Things to do. Etc. It looks like this…


I wanted to chart out the process of how a client is moved through our studio. From phone call to thank you card. [confession] I never send thank you cards. [/confession]. But I want to! I really do! I just never do. Once the job is delivered I’m off to the next thing which is always two steps behind from where that next thing is supposed to be. The last six years of my career has been a constant game of catch up. Well… no more. I’m getting my $!&^ together. All of this discussion on the blog is helping motivate me. This is the first time I’m actually getting the chaos in my head organized visually in front of me. First time! Meg is one part happy that I’m finally doing it and one part pissed off because she wonders why I took so long.

Note how small the actual taking pictures part of the process is. That chart above is the big picture. Every line item is associated with another meeting and another whiteboard filled with stuff. It’s amazing how writing stuff down actually works! If only I had known of it earlier! (cue Meg’s fist slamming into my arm.)

Ok… so we are motivated. That’s all fine and dandy but motivation without action is… not good stuff. Motivation without action is… some great sports metaphor. I don’t know.

Last week I asked you to think about stuff. Some of you just went from thinking about stuff to doing stuff in about zero seconds. Well done! Some of you need a push off the dock so I’m here to say that all of your fears and anxiety are getting old and it’s time you learn to swim whether you like it or not. You might be right back on your dock in about two seconds but damn it, you are getting in the water… over your head. Drenched. Your excuses for not doing something are now void of having any real meaning.

Here is what I want us to do ::

Serve someone with our cameras.

This week you are going to think about how you can do this. You are going to find a person, a family, a ministry, an organization, a place, a shelter, a movement, a something that needs pictures. These pictures are needed for advocacy or fund raising or simply giving portraits to people who can’t afford even the cheapest of the Wal-Mart packages. Follow what Jeremy Cowart is doing with his Help-Portrait project as an idea.

You are going to do this for zero money so that pressure is off of you. Attaching dollars to photos can be stressful so just take the money part out of the picture. You are also doing this on your own time with whatever skill/talent/gear you have and you aren’t going to get all anal about how good it will be because chances are you will find some people who will love your work because if you don’t photograph for them NOBODY will. Any picture is going to be a good picture at this point.

“But I’m not good enough yet.”

The only person who cares about that statement is you so go ahead and build a bridge so you can get over it. :p

Week of August 31st – You have now identified a few families, organizations, ministries, etc that you think could use some of your picture taking skills. You start emailing, calling, knocking on doors. You have seven days to get yourself and your camera in the door and pitch your service. Not everyone will need you. Some will reject free stuff! Who cares? Move. On. Dot. Org. with it and knock on the next door.

Week of September 7th – You have this week to get your schedule figured out and get some sort of service job on the books. I don’t care if you have a day job and 14 million kids. If you are so tied up in stress and anxiety about your passion for this craft AND you aren’t doing anything about it then your job is suffering and your 14 million kids are suffering because while you may be present in person your mind is kept busy thinking about all the photo stuff you aren’t doing.

Just tell the kiddos that “Mommy/Daddy needs to follow her/his heart for at least one day before Mommy/Daddy implodes.” A happy Mommy/Daddy makes for a happy house. If your job sucks a$$ you can make it through the day knowing that you have a project that has purpose and meaning tied to it unlike the TPS reports you are filing. Your kids can say one of two things when they grow up…

“I watched my Mom/Dad be miserable.”

“I watched my Mom/Dad serve people with what they had.”

Pick one.

This isn’t just a self serving “I need to make $50, $100, $200 shooting portraits of middle class families in the park” kind of project. It is something that serves someone or a group of people in need of being served. Keep that in mind… You are going to use your camera to “serve” someone so you can stop staring into your own damn naval because at the end of the day, this project isn’t about you. I mean, it sort of is about you but it isn’t at the same time. You need to get off your butt and do something but the “you” part of this will soon fade when you see what you are doing for others.

Week of September 14th – September 30th – Get the job done, edited, and delivered. You only get a pass if the project you are now pursuing can only be best served in a timeframe that doesn’t meet this deadline. If you have someone or some group on the line for a project but it has to be shot at X date then you are doing fine. But that’s your only pass.

October 1st – I’ll blog about what I’ve been doing along this same time table. Many of you will talk about what you have been doing to serve your community with your camera. Some of you will be kicking yourself in your ass because, once again, like always, as per usual, like you do, you got motivated and said “Yes!!! I’m going to do that!!!” and you won’t. Tsk. Tsk. If that is you then you need to hear this…

I spent about four hours with Derrick on Saturday and, as Derrick does, he said all sorts of amazing things. One great thing was this…

“You have to believe that your life has meaning and purpose BEFORE you see that it does. If you believe it then you will be doing the right things, and saying the right things, and putting yourself in the right situations to see that your life has meaning and purpose but if you HAVE to believe it before you SEE it.”

That’s a paraphrase. He said it a lot better.

IF you are standing on a dock and you don’t know how to jump… Don’t quit your job or anything crazy right now. Turn off your television after work and find someone to serve with your camera. You have until October 1st to get it done. No whining or complaining. Just go effing do it. I’m going to be right there with ya doing something too.


Cheers, Zack

PS – I’ve been having some amazing email volleys with B. The post title of “When I play pretend, I’m an ambitious person…” came from one of his emails. He’s a funny dude who has more talent than he thinks he has. He’s had a back log of stuff he has promised people he would do so he can be free to work on his own projects. He’s getting that done now. You may need to do that as well. You have 72 hours to get it done. Might need to make some coffee tonight.

PPS – Derrick can’t even begin to thank everyone. More to come on that.

PPPS – Don’t come around here asking how to approach someone for this project because you aren’t going to get any help beyond this point. Many of you reading this blog want to turn this passion for photography into a career option if you haven’t already. The community at large is here to help but there are some things you just have to figure out on your own. Like identifying markets, clients, needs and then figuring out how you are going to connect with those markets, clients, and needs. You can’t have your hand held through the entire process.

Consider yourself pushed. It’s up to you for the next 30 days. Go change some lives… including your own.

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