Back to school

If I could, I would be a professional student.  I loved my undergraduate years at UGA and my masters program at Piedmont College.  I wasn't always the top student, but I loved the atmosphere on a campus.  I love classrooms and I love learning new things.  

Maybe that's why it's been such an easy transition into teaching and photography.  Both careers involve constantly learning new things in an environment that is dynamic and evolving.  Both jobs involve large amounts of self-teaching, individual investigation, and self-propelled learning.  And I've done pretty well on both counts.  I feel like I've come very far as both a teacher and photographer, and my portfolios have shown that.  But every year I've had a gnawing hunger to take a class or get another degree.  I'm already doing it as a teacher, taking classes in English Language Learner certification to become a better academic teacher for students who are learning both English and curriculum content.  I know that in a few years, once my student loans are paid off (woot!) I will be finally making the decision on whether or not to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology.  

I also want to study photography as both art and a profession.  I love this career and I love what it gives me.  I've always had the mentality of seeing what I can do better, and where that leads me is wanting to go back to school for this as well.  I've been looking at various degrees and programs, from the Professional Photographers of America certification to Art Institute of Atlanta to bachelors and masters programs at SCAD and UGA.  But I'm not sure where to go from here.  

I want to go back to school.  I want hands-on instruction in core art topics, art history, design.  I want real-time instruction on both advanced photography and post-process technique.  I want to learn the full depth of advanced Photoshop.  I want to learn how to work in a real darkroom, and not from the small dark space I've put together to develop films when I have the time.  I want to learn the business practice systems crucial to making all of it come together.  And I want a real program, not a BS 'certification' or a for-profit 'degree' from a degree mill.  I want real education, real challenge, real experience.  

But I don't know what's appropriate for me.  I don't need basics on how to work a camera.  I don't need to waste my time.  And I don't know if already having both a bachelors and a masters degree affects my options.  

What I'd love is to hear comments, suggestions, thoughts about the options.  What should I do?  And what do you want to accomplish this year?  

Brett & Rachael @ The Tree Room - 10.11.15

Just in time for Halloween is a series of pictures I shot one fun Sunday with two of my friends and frequent muses.  Brett, Rachael and I had a free afternoon and a lead on a good location.  I'd just gotten a cheap smoke machine off Amazon Gold deals that I'd wanted to try out, so we figured we'd mix it all and have some fun.  

Huey Lewis & the News - Back in Time

I get general ideas when it comes to a shoot, colors I want to try, overall looks and feeling for a shoot, and sometimes poses.  But when shooting with others, work with models, couples, or events, I enjoy capturing the moment and moving with the flow.  I'd classify myself as a documentary-style photographer over a traditional pose and placement photographer.  I think it's personally much more engaging and creates real images when you try to capture the moments as they happen instead of forcing your own editorial voice on someone else's moments. 

But in portraits and studio style shoots like this, there's not that editorial voice, it's just straight up collaboration.  And I love working with others to build a shoot that isn't just my voice but my partners' as well.  Hope you enjoy!

Photography Insurance is for the Photographer, too

This was a bad day. 

The Eagles – New Kid In Town


We’d only been inside twenty minutes, my dad and I.  We’d gotten back from visiting my grandmother out of state, and stopped off 10th street for a quick meal.  I parked in the deck, a lot that seemed safe.  I’m always careful.  Didn’t think twice about it. 

It was a smash and grab.  They must have just seen the backpacks in the trunk and gone for it.  No way to know that they’d scored a good payoff. 

Junip – Don’t Let It Pass

After the police had come and gone with the report and the serial numbers for everything stolen, I had to take stock.  I’d lost my secondary camera, prime portrait lens, a vintage film camera and its prime lens, my laptop and portable hard drive, other electronics and photography related gear.  In all, close to $3,300 gone if depreciation was accounted for.  Not including my dad’s work laptop and the $500+ in damage to my car. 

One of my first blog posts was an explanation of why photography business insurance is good for the client.  This is the story of why it’s good for the photographer.

My policy is through CNA.  By the time this happened, I’d had the policy over two years.  It was a comfort in my back pocket, something I never thought I’d have to use but it made me feel more safe and secure, worry less about my gear and got me out shooting more.  Smart backup policy meant that I didn’t have to worry about loss of data.  I constantly back everything up in triplicate, a complicated process I’d put in place early on in my business that is now as easy as uploading the data to any one of three computers that then quickly send the data to backups at the other two locations along with a private server in my house and an off-site cloud server run by Crashplan.  I was never happier to have those routines in place.  I didn’t lose any data.  There would have been no way to recreate it if I had.  Paranoia in this business is a good thing.

The Black Crowes – Twice As Hard

Within a day, CNA had contacted me back, had been in contact with the police, had copies of all the serial numbers from all my gear lost (because that’s what you have to do when running a photography business, keep records of everything you purchase and rent).  Within a week they’d cut a check to replace my lost materials.  Unlike me, they didn’t count depreciation and I was actually able to upgrade my equipment.  Within two weeks of the theft, I had a new rear windshield and an upgraded camera, lens, and laptop.  Without my insurance, it would have taken me a long time to recover, and I wouldn’t have been able to do weddings for a while until I could afford a new camera body. 

There are a few types of insurance a good photographer, especially if they work events or weddings, needs to have.  The first is multiple cameras.  That’s the most immediate kind of insurance there is.  If one breaks, you have another.  The next is a good contract that protects their client and themselves.  The third is insurance.  If I had lost that gear with a wedding on it… that thought alone would be painful.  But I would have been able to repay the couple for the financial burden lost.  Without the insurance?  The end of my career in photography period. 

The Jimmy Hendrix Experience – All Along The Watchtower

If you’re a potential client looking for a good wedding photographer- whoever you meet with, make sure they have insurance.  If they don’t, don’t hire them.  No matter what they offer you. 

If you’re a photographer even glancing an eye towards weddings or events- buy insurance.  Just do it.  Don’t make excuses.  It’s worth the cost. 

Trust me.

New Designs

It took a decent bit of frustration, two computers, a hosting service switch, several hours of uploads, a router and modem reboot, and approximately an entire case of Coke Zero, but finally my new website is live!  I’m excited to hear what people thing, and look forward to the expanded features I should now be able to offer.  The first thing is this blog, something I wasn’t able to have through my previous hosting service.  The goal is to have new posts up at least every other week, hopefully posts that will be insightful, and conversation starters.  I don’t know everything, far from it, but I do love photography and am very passionate about it. 

One thing I often do is write to music, and post it, so when something in italics shows up like they will underneath, forgive me in advance for my odd (some might say poor, but I think they just aren’t as cultured) taste.

Leonard Cohen - Nevermind

Soon private galleries for clients will be available, so that as soon as an event happens, I’ll be able to upload previews right away.  After that, as a few people have asked, I’ll be offering a printing sales service.  I have to shake out the details (ie figure out how to set it up after I buy another case of caffeine). 

What I’m most interested in right now is the new design, what do you think of it?  Please feel free to comment giving me your likes, dislikes, or just say hello! 

~ TJ R

Source: https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/artist/Axfbsqznqwcjpewxhrfhpfzkcde/Leonard+Cohen