I’m a day, behind, wait, this is Wednesday

Sunday is my unofficial planned day for blogging, however, this weekend proved to be against me on that end. I started Friday off with a case of the stomach virus that was going around only to get up early Saturday morning, in 17 degree weather, to do the Sweetheart 5K Run with my beautiful wife. I’ll caveat that by adding that, while I did manage to run the entirety of my last 5K, this time, I took it easy and did a walk, slow run combo.

After the morning adventure, and still not completely recovered from the stomach bug, we headed to Topeka for my step-son’s baby shower. Following those activities, we headed back to KC and caught an 11pm showing of Deadpool. Sunday was Valentines Day, so I took the wife for food then a mani pedi. Returning home from those adventures, I think I did a big bunch of nothing. Needless to say, no blog on Sunday. The sad part is, I thought today was Monday, only to realize it’s Wednesday.

On that note, let’s take a look at this blast from the past.Group Therapy Tight CropLRIn February of last year we got together with Project Nerd and did a take on Arkham Asylum. Esmeralda Von Katz provided us with a very animated Harley Quinn posed against Erin Lei’s sullen Poison Ivy. Trying to do his best to mediate, Project Nerd founder, Iggy Michniacki donned his first ever cosplay as Doctor Hugo Strange. Properly named “Group Therapy”, this shoot was one of my favorites of 2015.

Speaking of my step-son and our soon to arrive grandson Zane, I took the kids out for a baby bump photo session. We hit some locations in Downtown KCMO resulting in this one which is my favorite of the session.

20160130_BabyBump_0017Come March, we’ll be grandparents once again. Not sure it’s normal to have this many grandkids at my age. On the bright side, I’m still young enough to keep up with them. Until next time!

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Why is it February Already?

2016 is moving pretty fast, feels like Christmas was yesterday. As I sat here working on a photo from this weekend, I realized I needed to blog this week.

Let’s set the way back machine to November of 2014. Dragon Age was coming out with a new game and a very talented Cosplayer by the name of Steven K. Smith created a suit of armor based on some of the screen shots. Needless to say, the armor was a hit, not only with the game company but with Lindsey Sterling; famous for composing several game theme music and movies. She saw the armor and convinced Steven to ship it to the middle of the Netherlands for her latest music video. After the armor’s return, we had the honor of being the next people to feature it in our work. So the armor you see in the video is the same armor you see here.Dragon Age Tracking CroppedLR

This was definitely a highlight image for me that year.

Fast forward to October of last year, my step-son Johnny and his girlfriend informed us that we were going to be grandparents (again). They decided they wanted to do a movie poster themed announcement so we set out to the West Bottoms and captured the image you see here.

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We’ll be sure to see this fun film when he drops in March. Fairly certain I’ll be getting hit up for baby photos. Until next time, enjoy and comment.

Where Have I Been?

It’s been almost two years since I last posted and I’m sure my six fans have been wondering what happened to me. Long story short, things have been busy and things you say online can and will be used against you in a court of law.

There’s quite a bit of catching up to do, however I don’t want to do it in one blog, no one wants to read that much. Instead, I’ll share one thing I did in the past and one thing more recent until I’m all caught up.

Let’s wind back to October of 2014. The latest season of Walking Dead was getting ready to come out and our make-up artist buddy, Jake Jackson was working on a stage version of Night of the Living Dead in Topeka. With all the Zombie stuff happening we decided to create a nice little composition called “There’s Never Just One”Zombies, Never Just OneLR

This is still one of my favorite pieces I’ve done with The Initiative. We had a great cast of characters for this and were able to enlist Jake once again to do the amazing FX make-up.

Fast forward to last week, I was returning from Memphis and found myself with the rare opportunity of having some extra time during the drive. With fog and rain prevailing as the weather for the trip, the drive through the back roads of Arkansas provided some wonderful atmosphere. My first stop was a very creepy motel in the middle of nowhere.

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At first glance the place looked deserted. Upon further inspection, I heard the distinct sounds of a television in one of the rooms.

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There was definitely something very eerie about this place. I quickly got the shots I wanted and got back on the road before I became the victim in a real life version of a Wes Craven movie. My next stop was an unexpected discovery. A picturesque water mill on a creek with a couple of small drop-offs (not sure if that’s what you would call them).

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This was a great opportunity to grab the ND filter and do some long exposure shots. From this trip, this one is certainly my favorite.

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My hope for 2016 is to spend more time coming up with more creative work like this. I’m not going to make any promises for fear of jinxing myself, but there is definitely more to show. I’ll try to keep the work coming on a regular basis. Enjoy and comment.

Adventures In Moving

I realize it’s been about 2 and a half months since my last post. I haven’t forgot, I’ve just been extremely busy. So first off, I’d like to apologize to all 6 of my fans, I know you’ve been waiting anxiously for my next adventure. Needless to say, this has been quite a tumultuous couple of months.

Since I left the Kansas City area back in 2007, I’ve been trying to figure out how to get back. I had pretty much given up, making the joke that Topeka was as close as I was able to get. However, opportunity smiled upon us when my wife’s District Manager informed her that he wanted her to apply for a position in Olathe. Since I was no longer tied to Topeka employment wise, I told her to jump on it. Needless to say, my seven year journey has brought me back full circle and we are now living about a mile from the duplex I first lived in when I moved here back in 1988.

Of course the move wasn’t without incident. Keep in mind that my wife is a Palestinian gypsy and likes to move often. In the 5 years we were in Topeka, we moved 4 times. One would think we would be experts at this point; Murphy said otherwise.

In the interest of time, I’m going to compress this story. While we did manage to get everything packed in time, the adventure began when the movers informed us two hours after they were supposed to be there, that they weren’t going to make it until the next day. That next morning as I’m waiting for the movers, I see our cat limping around. Something was obviously wrong with her, but it was Sunday and I couldn’t deal with it at that point. The movers show up and about halfway through filling up the truck, they inform us we need to rent a second truck. Luckily UHaul had another one available. I thought I had purged a large amount of our old stuff, apparently not enough to get it on one truck.

Eight hours later, we get everything off and into our new place in Overland Park. At this point, my wife gets a call from the woman she pre-paid $100 to clean our old house. She informs my wife that the place is disgusting (which it wasn’t) and that she needed $300 more to clean it. My wife tells her not to clean it and give us the $100 back. The lady says, “that’s no how this works” and steals our money (there was no contract signed on this). We’re in KC now, so really nothing we can do about it. One of the movers says they can clean it, my wife pays them another $150.

It’s now Monday and I need to deal with my limping cat. (if I’ve switched to present tense, just deal with it mom) Luckily there’s a vet right around the corner. A couple of x-rays and somehow she’s broken her two middle paws (see photo). Ouch! So $400 later, I have a pathetic cat in a cast for the next 6 to 8 weeks. At this point, my wife messages me. Apparently the new tenants in our old place say it’s still a mess. Another $150 down the drain.

Luckily my wife knows some very exceptional people. One of her customers from Topeka drove all the way to Olathe to see her that day. Noticing she was visibly upset asked what was going on. My wife told her of the cleaning fiasco. This woman, without saying a word, went back to Topeka and cleaned the house properly.

In the end, we are moved in, the unpacking has begun and I’m happy to be back home.

In the midst of all the drama, I did manage to get another concept photo done. I was fortunate enough to get a hold of the Iron Brothers of Topeka and they were enthusiastic about doing a photo with us. I’m hoping we can get the ball rolling on some more shoots in the very near future now that these guys have opened the door for us. If you haven’t visited our website, take a look at us at http://www.theinitiativepg.com

We also have a Facebook page, Twitter, Pintrest (I think even a Tumbler and we’re figuring out this Reddit thing, apparently that’s all the rage)

If you like what you see, like it, share it, we need the fan base.

Until next time!

For all you sports fans

I realized I haven’t done an actual paid portrait session this year, which is fine since I’ve been wanting to move away from the portrait biz and focus on my conceptual photography. However, things progress slowly in that arena as well. We have a few ideas in motion, but I think I need to come up with some simple ideas and get some images done while we wait for the more technical pieces to get the logistics together.

Now while I say I want to move away from the portrait arena, that doesn’t mean I won’t do a session now and then for close friends and family. My buddy Eric managed to secure Alan Fieldhouse to get his daughter’s five year photos done. Let me caveat this by saying, I am not a sports fan, never have been. Possibly childhood trauma from my dad always changing whatever cool cartoon or movie I was watching in favor of whatever sports happened to be on. Sue me, I just never found it engaging at all.

That being said, it was still a pleasure to have an interesting location to shoot in. Plus, having done Khloe’s photos for the past five years now, it’s becoming a tradition. So if you’re a college basketball fan, or more specifically a KU fan, this one is for you.

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My Photos in Print (and I didn’t even know)

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Last night was a historic occasion. Local Topeka band Beans & Cornbread ended their ten year run as a powerhouse band with a blowout show last night. I’ve come to get pretty tight with some of the members and have done a couple of photos for them. Some of my early conceptual photography work came from those photo shoots and I’m glad they gave me the opportunity to create some amazing images for them. It’s very sad to think that this talented group will not be playing again, truly the end of an era.

So it’s not a stretch that local arts and entertainment magazine, seveneightfive did a two page spread about the final show. Imagine my surprise when I see two of my photos adorning the article. I became filed with a mixture of surprise and excitement, after all this was the first time anyone had put an image of mine in a publication for print. I quickly scoured the article to find my name for the photo credits. Imagine my chagrin when all I found was “photos provided”.

Photos provided? Wait a minute!

At this point, I was upset and disappointed. After all, this was my first time being published, the least I could get is some credit for my work. Harlan Ellison would point out that the only way your work should be used is to be paid for it. I tend to agree with this, however I did these photos as a favor for a friend and to build my portfolio. Not to mention that seveneightfive is a free magazine. My guess is most of the photographers that are used do so for free advertising space or to get the credit.

My wonderful wife told me not to waste my time with it and to just let it go. However, in a day and age where media publishers are in the business of taking advantage of content creators, especially photographers, I feel like the editors could have taken the few minutes to do their research, find out who took the photos and give me the credit.

Maybe I am making too big a deal, maybe I should let it be. I figured since I have a very small following on here, this would be the place to vent. I don’t want to sound like I’m whining or complaining, I just want to get it off my chest. I more than likely won’t pursue it beyond this post, after all, it’s not like anyone else can claim they did the photos. Maybe I should just enjoy the moment, hold on to the copy so I can say, “hey, look, my photos in a magazine!”

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Projects, Projects, Projects!

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The trouble I find with being a creative type is the number of ideas floating in my head. Just as I start work on one project, the idea for another pops up and then it’s a long string of distractions or logistics that keeps me from finishing them. Distractions are on me, that’s just a matter of forcing myself to re-focus. Logistics, however, seems to be my biggest obstacle in getting any project accomplished.

As of now, I’ve been trying to focus my creative efforts on conceptual artistic photography (at least that’s the term I’ve found online for it). When I was younger, I had dreams of becoming a comic book artist. I came to the realization that I just wasn’t good enough of an artist during the DC portfolio review at the ’98 Chicago comic con. After looking around at everyone else’s work, I quickly got out of line before I embarrassed myself. While I am not the comic artist I wanted to be, the sophomore level skill I do have is definitely enough to come up with storyboards for my photos. The Frank Frazetta inspired rendering is the concept for an upcoming photo we plan to do at Rock City in Minneapolis, KS.

The logistics are the big hurdle at this point. I need people to create costumes, bring weapons, do make-up effects…it’s a full blown production, not unlike a movie set. I’m at least encouraged by the fact that we’ve pulled this off once before. I had a concept to do a series of super hero shots. Costuming was tricky so we found a talented cosplay designer and came up with a new concept. Image

Using a MUCH less detailed storyboard as you can see, we came up with a pretty successful image (IMHO)

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The real trick about these projects is they are zero budget. Everyone involved is donating their time. A lot of these projects don’t come to fruition simply because people can’t or don’t want to work it into their schedule. It’s understandable. If I had money to throw at these projects, I’d be cranking them out on a weekly basis. My goal is to do enough of the free ones to generate a fan base big enough for a successful crowd sourced campaign.

Either way, I shall press on. As a creative type, I believe it’s vitally important to keep being creative. Use it or loose it!

If anyone is interested in seeing a behind the scenes video of how the above image was made, take a look here.

I was told I needed to do this.

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So, my mother recently retired and decided to start her own blog, which makes sense, she’s an excellent writer and story teller and knows how to write without using a form of the verb “to be”. I’ve recently retired from the National Guard, which sounds great but doesn’t mean much; it’s Guard retirement, so I won’t see a dime for another 20 years.

Over the past few years, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t really want to work for anyone else. Upon returning from my Afghanistan deployment in 2008, I’ve been working full time for the Guard which afforded me the opportunity to try my hand at running a photography business on the side. Needless to say, if you know anything about the current state of the photography industry these days, you know it’s an over saturated market with a plethora of untalented DSLR owners, using a sinking ship business plan. 

However, I am versatile and resilient. I decided that I would try my hand at going into business for myself and offering a range of services, photography being one of them. So far it’s been more of a freelance sort of thing, but I’ve had a lot of support from my wife and my mother.

Which brings me back to my point. My mom told me I needed to start my own blog. It’s something I’ve thought about for a while, but never really gave much time to. As it turns out, I apparently went as far as to sign up and start the page design process. My guess is that I got bored, frustrated or more than likely busy with other things and completely forgot that I had it.

So, taking my mother’s advice, I will attempt to keep up with this. I hope to share my experiences and perhaps pass on a little knowledge. Here’s to my first post!