Monthly Archives: March 2010

the littlest birds

“Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back.  Those who wish to sing always find a song.  At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.” ~ Plato (428 BC – 348 BC)

tulips and pansies

tulips and pansies

Sometimes (well maybe more than sometimes) my blog posts are a way for me to think aloud.  Despite what you might think or might have heard, my brain is busy with lots of thoughts, all the time.  Combine that with the tendency to be very hard on myself and things can get mentally stressful at times.  Nobody second-guesses me more than I do.  I’ve had years of experience.

If you take the aforementioned situation and add a competitive spirit that pushes me constantly, you have a person that is driven.  In a lot of ways, being driven is a positive.  It is who I am, how I am wired.

That brings me to one of the questions on my mind lately.  In making the transition from intense hobby photographer to professional photographer, I am trying to cover all of the angles to give myself the best chance for success.  The previous post (“as tall as cliffs“) was about domain names and search engine optimization.  This is about site design and hosting services.  For me, it’s a given that you invest wisely to give yourself a chance to succeed.  Don’t scrimp on essential tools but don’t just throw money around.  Yeah, I know, that is pretty much common sense.  In any case, it has me assessing my current website and hosting service.  Good website design is essential and a professional look is a must.  Reliability is also a given.  At this point, I am seriously trying to decide what to do with my photography site (Gerry Daniel Photography).  If anyone has ideas or suggestions, I am looking to make sure that part of my business is solid.  The domain name is mine and I can move it to any hosting service, it isn’t connected to my current hosting service.

Disclaimer: This is in no way intended to imply that my current hosting service is not a good option.

Sometimes it helps me to think aloud.  I have a feeling I am not the only one wondering about their site and hosting service.

The song for this post is “The Littlest Birds” from the album titled “Blue Horse” by the Be Good Tanyas.  I love their music, their harmonies, and this song makes me smile.


as tall as cliffs

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory.  Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~Sun Tzu

the bicycleRecently I was talking to another photographer (Karie Mitchell) about various aspects of the photography business.  One of the topics was related to search engine optimization (SEO) and that led to a conversation about domain names.  In terms of domain names, I have at least two problems.  Branding is important and keeping things simple is important.  If you are reading this blog, you can see that it is currently on a rather long domain name (http://dreamhatphotographyblog.com/) and isn’t consistent with my photography site (https://blog.gerrydanielphotography.com/).  It appears that some other person named “Gerry Daniel” has the dot com version of my name.

Besides the fact that someone else has my personal domain name, I have some name issues.  People have told me that I have two first names (Gerry and Daniel).  Technically that is true.  But the problem is that both of the spellings are not the most common.  I spell “Gerry” with a “G” because my given first name is Gerald (note that it starts with a “G”).  Personally I like the way my name is spelled and have never wished to spell my name “Jerry” (if you happen to be one of those people or prefer that spelling, I’m not debating what is better, I’m just expressing my preference and explaining why mine is spelled the way it is).  Then there’s the issue of my last name.  Again, it’s not the most common spelling because most people seem to want to add an “s” to the end (e.g. Daniels).

Down the road, when I am world famous (hey, I might as well dream big), the way I spell my name won’t be an issue.  Until then, I will continue to battle my lifelong nemesis (Jerry Daniels).  One day the winds will shift my way and that guy will have all kinds of problems.  Not that I wish him any ill will because of the way he spells his name.  If you know me, you’re familiar with my tendency to take a less traveled path anyway.

Reader’s Sidebar: Why Gerry, this is all very fascinating and I am riveted to my seat while you weave your writing magic around the spelling of your name.

What I’d like to know is what (if anything) should I do about my photography domain name and my blog domain name.  If your answer is:

  1. It doesn’t matter to you. and/or you don’t care.
  2. What were we talking about?
  3. Is that popcorn I smell?
  4. What’s this got to do with photography?
  5. Insert your own dismissive comment here (possibly the most popular response).

Then I’m thinking you won’t leave a comment.  The truth is that I am jealous of all the blogs that have tons of comments.  Before you say it, I already know that those sites have more subscribers.  So far my efforts to expand my subscriber base is moving slowly.  It helps me to think of it as building a solid, loyal subscriber base.

In the off chance that anyone reading this post has a constructive and insightful comment about the whole domain name situation, I would love to hear from you.  I’m pretty sure the place to click to leave a comment is not hard to find.

Boudoir photography, fine art nude photography…neither of those topics are covered here but including the words might help my search engine rankings.  And you thought I had no plan.  Guess again.  Renegade blogger strikes again.

And to wrap this up into a neat package, the music section of the post.  The title of the song is “As Tall As Cliffs” from the album titled “Not Animal” by Margot and The Nuclear So & So’s.  If political humor is a problem for you, don’t watch the video but at least listen to the song.


world spins madly on

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people” ~ Dr, Martin Luther King Jr.

CBS-42, Wake Up Alabama, Tina Westbrook and Stephen HauckThe words at the beginning of this post by Dr. King are no less relevant today than when he spoke them over 40 years ago.  Before anyone gets all twitchy, I’m not going to get heavy about what it meant then or what it means today.  If you are reading this post, I sincerely hope you understand the weight of those words.  Part of being a photographer is to see the world around me.  We are all connected.

Wake Up Alabama - CBS 42, Alexa and Stephen

On Friday of this past week (3/19/2010), I had an opportunity to take some photographs on the set of “Wake Up Alabama” which airs on CBS 42 in Birmingham, Alabama.  I was in the studio with Tina Westbrook for the interview about her new book “Letters from Alcatraz: Forty Years Later” during the “Wake Up Alabama” morning show.

A couple of quick side notes, if you follow my photography, you know that my common subjects are nature shots.  Taking photographs of people has not been a major part of my work with a camera.  It required me to make some adjustments on my usual work-flow and that’s helpful to me as a photographer.  The idea is to keep learning and growing.

CBS-42, Wake Up Alabama, Alexa Jones and Gary OwenBefore I describe any of the specifics of the experience, everyone at the studio treated us warmly, professionally, and made us feel at home.  I mean everyone.  Whether it was the talent in front of the cameras or behind the cameras, they were all fantastic!  Truly nice people that work together well and have a great chemistry.  It bears noting that the “Wake Up Alabama” show is on weekdays from 5 am to 7 am.  Not a lot of people are functioning during that period of time.  They not only function but broadcast a live TV show at that time of the day.  Be sure to read the last sentence again and realize that it is a live show, not taped, no do-overs.

CBS-42, Wake Up Alabama, Charles DanielThere are five broadcasters on the show.  On the program website, they are called the “Wake Up Alabama Crew.”  I met four of them, Emily Ingram, was off on Friday and I’m sorry that I didn’t get a chance to meet her.  Maybe they will invite me back one day and I can meet Emily.  The four members of the crew that I met were Alexa Jones, Stephen Hauck, Charles Daniel, and Rick Jackson.  It’s clear that they are having a good time and it was fun to watch the interaction between them during the show as well as during the breaks.

Tangent Alert: In the shameless plug department, I have to admit that CBS is a network that has several of my favorite shows (The Mentalist, NCIS, The Late Show with David Letterman, NCIS Los Angeles, Survivor, and Big Brother).  That’s an abbreviated list of my favorites on CBS, there are more.

CBS-42, Wake Up Alabama, Rick JacksonGetting back to the show, the whole operation is so smoothly choreographed.  They move from one segment to the next, calmly, professionally, and with a nice upbeat energy.  The vibe in the studio is great.  They tolerated me moving about shooting photos and never made me feel like I was any sort of interruption or distraction.  They were so nice, I never even got a stern look.  If I had been shooting video instead of stills and if for some reason I had been removed from the studio, I could have recorded it but with a camera, it would have been mostly me protecting my camera while I was removed from the premises.  Luckily there were no incidents involving me or my camera.

Thanks to Tina Westbrook for allowing me to go to her interview at CBS 42 and thanks to everyone at the “Wake Up Alabama” show for the warm hospitality.

And to tie the post into a neat package, of course there’s a song, “World Spins Madly On” from the album “Say I Am You” by the Weepies.


beautiful lie

“What garlic is to food, insanity is to art.” ~ Augustus Saint-Gaudens

rusty flowerMy experience tells me that at times, everybody need to vent, to blow off steam, to rant a little about things going on in their life and around them.  One of the challenges with writing this blog is to try and avoid doing that here.  The temptation is often there and I have as many frustrations as the next person.  But I figure there is enough negative energy in the world and even if I had a valid point, if it was more negative than positive then it would be counter to what I want to do with the blog.

For those of you that have not gotten your “Gerry decoder ring” I am saying that I have some things on my mind that have been gnawing at me but I am taking the high road.  Does that mean I will never write a post that is negative or involves a lot of venting?  Don’t count on it.  As shocking as it may seem, I have been known to be moody at times.

The weather is warming here and things are starting to turn green and a few things are starting to bloom.  For some reasons I can explain and some I can’t explain, I find that I enjoy photographing flowers.  So buckle up, photographs of flowers are going to be showing up.  Don’t worry though, I will be shooting more than flowers.

It’s been mentioned in passing lately in my writing that I am making an effort to stretch my comfort zone.  No, that has nothing to do with my waist size.  What I have noticed is that I tend to shoot more with one lens than the others.  Part of the reason is the subject and choosing the right lens for the job but part of the reason is that it’s easy to get in a habit.  In this case it’s having a lens on the camera, going out to shoot, and leaving that lens on the camera, regardless of what I am trying to photograph.  That’s just bad habits and convenience interfering with being flexible about shooting and exploring various options by using different lenses.

The song for this post is “Beautiful Lie” from the album “Charmed and Strange” by Yoav.  Beautiful song, nice acoustic guitar, good vocals.


Jailbird

“There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.” ~ W. Clement Stone

Wildflower Wax Candle Studio & Boutique

Wildflower Wax Candle Studio & Boutique

On Friday (3/19/2010), Tina Westbrook will be having her first book release party and book signing.  Her book, “Letters from Alcatraz, Forty Years Later” has just been released and she has asked me to shoot the event.  Her book is going to be a big success and she made a bold choice by asking me to shoot the events.  Not bold because I can’t do it, bold because it isn’t something that I do very often.  I feel very honored that she selected me for the task and trusts my photography that much.  Tina’s Twitter page, “LettersAlcatraz” and her blog, “Eastcreek Photography” are the best sources for the latest information on her book.

This first book release party will be held at Wildflower Wax Candle Studio & Boutique in Helena, AL.  The location is a great choice for a lot of reasons which include very cool shop owners (Dave and Jennifer Rankin), a warm inviting environment, and wonderful merchandise.  The book release event is scheduled for Friday night (3/19/2010) from 7:00pm to 9:00pm.  Make your plans to be there, meet Tina, get your book signed, meet Jennifer and Dave, buy some merchandise, hang out with some great people, and say “hi” to me.

If you don’t already know Tina and you can make it to the party, you should make the effort to come and meet her.  She is one of those people that has wonderful, positive energy, she’s energetic, very talented, and totally fun.  Make the effort to attend, you won’t be sorry.

The song for this post is titled “Jailbird” from the album “Hold Time” by M. Ward.  It’s a good song and makes a nice connection with the book title.  Listen to the song, you will like it.


the one i love

“The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street.” ~ Robert Doisneau

three bears in a window Definitions, labels, categories, classifications, groupings, etc. serve a useful purpose in many cases.  They can also be confining, incomplete, overly general, and inaccurate.  We all use them and have them used on us every day of our lives.  No doubt this could take any variety of directions at this point to discuss the pros and cons of that human trait.

My life, especially the past year had been both helped and hurt as a result of how some people view me.  Getting into the negatives of those experiences would serve no useful purpose.  My reason for writing this post is a label I had placed on myself, “nature photographer”, to define my the basic thrust of my work as a photographer as a professional and on my site (Gerry Daniel Photography)..  I have decided to remove that label.  It doesn’t mean that I enjoy shooting nature any less or that I won’t continue to follow that direction for some of my photography.

The issue for me with being called a “nature photographer” is more a feeling of being confined by the label.  My photography has always been based on things that I find interesting and want to try and capture with my camera.  Nature is a big part of that but is by no means the only types of photographs that I want to shoot.

With that in mind, at this point, I’m going to refer to myself as a “photographer” with no preceding adjective.  It’s important to me to be able to shoot whatever subjects that I want.  Before you start thinking that it makes no difference to you and that I am such an unknown that very few people care one way or another care what I choose to call my photography, you are likely right but it matters to me.

So I’ll be updating a number of places that describe me as a nature photographer.  I’ll always be a photographer that loves to shoot nature, that will not change.  This is more about giving myself back the freedom to shoot what I want and not limiting myself.

So the photo for this post is reflective of that diversity.  It was taken in a shop window in a small town in Alabama.  Admittedly it fall into the “cute” category but I liked a lot of the elements of the photograph.  It’s about more than three toy bears in a shop window.  Interpreting a message in my photos is not for me, that experience is for the viewer.

The song for this post is one of my favorites and fits some of my internal struggles with life and photography.  The title is “The One I Love” from the album “Three Flights From Alto Nido” by Greg Laswell.  He is without question one of my favorite artists and I recommenrd anything and everything he has recorded.  I was lucky enough to see him in a concert at WorkPlay Theatre in 2009.  Workplay Theatre is located in Birmingham, AL and is the perfect place to see an artist in concert.  Check their concert calendar and go see some great concerts.  It was an awesome performance and the opening act was Elizabeth and the Catapult who were the perfect compliment to Greg’s music and show.  If you don’t have any of their music, you should give it a try.


underachievers please try harder

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.  Art is knowing which ones to keep.” ~ Scott Adams

water lilies in bloom

After my visit with Abbie Wiersma last week at Presentations etc. Studio & Print Lab, I ordered quite a few new types of paper to try for my photographs.  There are so many textures and weights of paper and the differences can really change the presentation of your image.  So far the main one I have tested is a Photo Rag by Hahnemuhle.  It’s a beautiful fine art paper.

There are a lot of samples and I’m excited about trying all of them.  More to come as I try them out.

One of my favorite water lily photos was added to my portfolio tonight.  I’m not sure why it wasn’t already in there.  It’s also featured in this post.

The song for this post is “Suspended From Class” from the album “Underachievers Please Try Harder” by Camera Obscura.