Hello blog visitors.
Long time, no see.
Some of you may have noticed that I’ve recently tried sharing more “behind the scenes” and IRL content via Facebook Live and Twitch streams. It’s been fun getting more comfortable with that kind of content as I’ve gotten more familiar with stream keys, OBS, learning how to connect my Sony cameras to my iMac (and operate them correctly), etc.
For those that don’t know me very well, I’m fairly introverted and despite having spent eight-ish years selling SaaS solutions, I’m not the greatest at elevator pitches, introductions, and all that fun stuff.
So the live online content has been a welcomed opportunity to share with the world how I go about working with my RAW images, some of my thought process about pursuing new opportunities, and explaining my story to those who are interested in me (the person, not the business or the brand).
My plan is to continue sprinkling in live sessions between shooting, editing, meetings, travel, preparing proposals, cold outreach, and the normal day-to-day, regular life bullshit that never seems to go away.
Shifting subjects completely, I wanted to also share a bit about what I’m busy spending my time on these days and what’s on the horizon in the not-so-distant future…
We’re now into the “Regionals” round of this year’s boys high school basketball season. Locally, we have a few high schools still fighting for a chance to compete for a state championship – Bloomington North, Bloomfield, and Linton-Stockton are the three closest to me. This weekend (tomorrow actually, the 11th), I will be driving down to Huntingburg Memorial Gymnasium to shoot Linton’s 2A regional contest with North Decatur. I’ve been trying to remember if I’ve ever been to Huntingburg Gym before, and if I have, it was a LONG time ago… Excited for this opportunity definitely.
Unfortunately, as a result of a lack of foresight and poor planning by me, this will likely be my last game of high school basketball for the 2022-2023 season, regardless of whether area teams advance to semi-state and the state championships or not. The next few weekends after this one are chalked full of scheduling conflicts and travel.
Come on, Paul. Why didn’t you pay attention to this stuff six to nine months ago?
I know, I know… Next year, I’ll do better.
With high school sports slowing down (at least in terms of the number of assignments I have per week), and the transition slowly beginning from winter sports to the spring season, I’ve had a tad more time on my hands to spend enjoying and shooting live music.
I’ve known of the great King Bee and the Stingers for a long time, but never spent much serious time exploring their sound. As a long-time fan of the blues genre, and after checking them out on Spotify, I saw they were playing a show to help open up live music again at the recently renovated Porthole Inn, on Lake Lemon.
So I had to go.
Upon crossing the little dam/bridge on Southshore Drive and seeing the Porthole gravel parking lot absolutely slammed full of cars, and cars passing back and forth in front of the bar ever hopeful that they’d be able to swoop in on that one free spot, I knew something exciting was happening that evening.
Eventually, I settled on a spot that vaguely counted as an actual parking spot. There was a truck I might be blocking in, but they might have been able to wiggle their way out of it, who knows. I drive a Chevy Silverado so I need some space myself, and this was the best I could do.
With the Sigma 105mm f1.4 attached to my A9, I headed inside.
Holy shit was it packed.
There was nowhere to stand without blocking someone’s view. I nervously told one lady I was just going to stand in the doorway for a few minutes (maybe a song or two) and then move out of her way. She was fine with that story.
After a song or two, I realized the wall behind the stage was not in fact a wall, but rather large garage doors with glass panes. In an attempt to be creative and see what kind of glowy/reflectiony/purposefully out of focus shots I could create, I headed outside to try shooting from behind and through the garage doors.
Not five minutes later, I was flagged down to move my truck because it was blocking someone else from driving through the grass to exit the parking lot and get back out onto the road. In the process of moving my truck, I lost my “spot” and that was the end of the night. Time to head back home…
I think I shot 79 images in my short time there. While they aren’t going to win any awards, here’s one from the night:
While the photos weren’t anything to get too excited about, the atmosphere, the crowd, and the opportunity to interact with another band I really enjoy and admire made the trip worth it. Was I disappointed in the moment? Definitely. Am I now? Definitely not.
After that show, I saw on Facebook that the Bloomington Blues Jam was kicking off their 2023 schedule this week at where else, but the Porthole Inn! So I had to go back and see what this crew was all about as well.
Immediately upon walking in, I recognized a ton of familiar faces from King Bee’s show which was cool and helped calm the nerves.
The format was interesting. A band called Big Dog opened the evening’s festivities with an hour long set – some covers and some originals. Then, the club opened up the stage to people who wanted to get up and jam. Many knew each other from running in the same circles for years, some even decades, but there were some newcomers to the group present as well. Getting to see people get up there and jam, sound impressively solid, and enjoy themselves was a fun way to kill a Tuesday night. Oh, and I of course brought the A9 and 105mm along again as well. Nobody gave me a hard time about having the camera with me, and in fact, everyone who’s seen my photos online since the jam have seemingly loved them. I’ll keep being the weird guy with the camera that shows up as long as people are cool with it. And if you aren’t cool with it, tough shit.
For those in the area or interested in making a trip down to Bloomington to hear some great blues played by some great area musicians, here’s the March schedule courtesy of the Bloomington Blues Group on Facebook:
I’m sharing all of this as a way to say I’ve learned a decent amount recently about my business, growing it, etc.
First, my photography is a vessel/tool/leverage point to explore things that interest me more intimately and to become present in it as opposed to just watching it from afar via social media and the reports of others. Whether it be sports, music, culture – whatever – I have an opportunity to collaborate with the subjects I WANT to get to know and work with.
Secondly, (and I’m going to gatekeep here a bit) there is so much power in word of mouth and evangelization by past clients. Visit Bloomington was one of my earliest clients when they asked me to shoot Freezefest Ice Sculpture Festival in January 2022. The success of that project has opened another potential opportunity for me locally to shoot a different festival this summer. We’ve collectively met, the organizers have a proposal from me they are reviewing, and to say I’m excited about this opportunity is a huge understatement. Relationships matter. Quality of work matters. Professionalism matters. It all opens doors you never knew existed.
Lastly, cold or warm outreach is absolutely essential. Aim high, share your work, offer value – it sounds simple and somewhat formulaic. It’s more nuanced than I’m making it sound, but maybe my time selling SaaS solutions did in fact prepare me for this type of work. It’s the dirty work that nobody ever sees or praises you for. But it’s what gets people to open up their wallets and gets you into shooting situations you daydream about. Organizations almost always have dedicated marketing teams, and they need assets they can use to market.
To wrap this thing up, I’m excited to share (with some limited details for safety and security purposes) that I’m soon heading out on a “great American roadtrip.” My wife and I were planning on taking a trip to New Orleans this spring, but due to a change in circumstances, elected to cancel and as a result I’ve pivoted to something different.
Instead of New Orleans, I’m headed out to central Kansas to spend a few days with family friends to shoot life on the plains. Obviously I’m an outsider to their way of life, but I do actually have family ties to the plains as my maternal grandmother’s family originally settled in the area around Loraine, Kansas and farmed cattle and wheat for several generations.
It’s about an 11 hour drive from our house to theirs, and traverses through central/southern Illinois, Missouri, and then finally Kansas. I don’t expect many responses here, but if anybody knows of interesting things to stop and shoot along US-36, my inbox is open… I’m planning to do the drive pretty leisurely stopping briefly at particularly photo-worthy gas stations/small towns along the way in search of interesting compositions.
Brief humble brag here, but I was the only photographer selected by Scannell Properties to have a piece hung in the lobby of their new Relato Art Gallery/Apartment Complex here in Bloomington… They’ve given me a ton of flexibility in terms of what I turn over to them and have actually left that up to me rather than requiring specific pieces to be submitted as part of the application process.
This roadtrip may just be where the inspiration and subject matter arises for the image to be shot that I end up turning over to them. We’ll see.
The plains generally, and small town Kansas more specifically, should present ample opportunity for minimalist compositions, and I’m looking forward to lots of vintage, patina, western, abandoned subjects and themes.
Sorry, this turned into a longer blog post than I expected. There’s lots of good happening right now which is fun. If you’ve enjoyed reading this, want to get in touch, or just want to tell me my photos suck, feel free to email me at either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Have a great weekend everyone!