Self-doubt

For years I have battled with self-doubt. The thought that I was never good enough because I lacked some type of training or know-how or that my background was not extensive enough to merit anything of good quality. To be honest I’m not exactly sure when it started. I think I can speak for most that when dealing with self-doubt we cannot pin point when our self-doubt begins. I used to preach and teach the Bible in my early twenties in fact I used to be a youth pastor. I remember being able to teach with confidence. I would see the leadership that was in charge of the youth ministry and think I could do better than them. And in some ways I did do a better job, but when the hard times of ministry would hit that’s when I felt like I was in over my head and my confidence began to dissipate. When I became a youth pastor in another church the same thing happened. I would start off with lots of confidence and then I slowly but surely start to lose it as soon as things got hard. I also started comparing myself to other leaders and speakers and I’ll tell you one thing, comparison kills confidence.

I had a few other stints as a leader but I decided it would be better for me be someone who stood behind the scenes because I felt that that was the safe place. I didn’t have the full responsibility as the leader but just enough to be known as a leader. Since then I’ve never really jumped at the opportunity to take the helm of anything that has to do with leading. I usually let someone else do it and just try and support. But when I did that I would feel regret and sometimes resentful because I felt I could do better. But I held back because I didn't want to get myself back into that mindset of self-doubt and comparison.

I have to confess though that even in the area of photography I tend to have self doubt in my work. I look at other photographer’s work and then look at mine and think “man I suck”. I see how others get jobs in areas that I wish I could and get envious and jealous because I’m working in a place that I don’t want to be at. There are also people who shouldn’t even be in this business and yet they are the ones getting all the work. (That’s a story for another blog). I digress.

I compare too much. I look at others social platform and then look at mine and think “what the heck”? Yet I’m not out there creating content like I should. Then I complain and my poor wife has to hear it all. Speaking of my wife, she is my biggest supporter of my work and what I do. She tells me I do great work and tells me that people are out there that love my work. I have friends who tell me I do great work and see how I’ve improved over the years. And yet I still fall into the hole of self doubt.

So what do I to combat this thing called self doubt. First of all I need to stop comparing. Know that everyone has something different to offer and has their own unique way of displaying it. Stop seeking approval and know that only those that matter to me are the one’s I need to worry about and value their opinions. Stop looking on social media and comparing my work to their work. One thing I learned is that there is always someone better out there, but to not compare myself to them. Too often I forget that and the self loathing and doubt sink back in to my mind.

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I took this photo about 2 years ago when I was challenging myself with a 365 day photo project. Needless to say I only made it a couple of weeks.

My Journey

As a kid I remember my dad setting up a backdrop using a blanket so that he could take portraits of my little sister and I. A few years after I remember our house getting broken into and seeing my dad a bit frantic. I didn’t find out till after he passed away in February of 2017 that what was stolen that day was his camera equipment. My mom told me he was very upset when it happened. My dad was a hobbyist photographer so when I was in middle school he bought a Canon SLR film camera and showed me how to load the film and shoot. I remember him telling me to not shoot things like cars and houses but to photograph people. I think I remember doing both. I would use it during the summer times and on weekends and shoot around and open the back of the camera while the film was still unexposed when I wasn’t supposed just so I can make sure I loaded the film correct.

Over the years I would use disposable cameras here and there to document life with family and friends but nothing serious. I did the same about ten years ago when I was shooting for our young adults group at our old church in Boca Raton not really knowing how to shoot in low light and all. Somehow I made it work blurry photos and all. When my daughters were in baton that is when I really started to think I could make something of this thing called photography. People were liking my images and were happy that at least someone was taking good photos of the team. Things began to snow ball from there as I began gaining more experience in photography. I did some street photography and then came the weddings. Weddings are the most stressful but they bring in the cash flow. Portraits is where I want to focus more of my attention when it comes to taking photos.

I guess my reason for writing this is I want to show a little of my journey to where I am and where I want to be. My goal is to do it full-time but if I don’t get there and continue to do it on the side I can die saying I did what I love to do. It’s the journey that I’m enjoying the most and through that journey learning more about myself and the people I get to meet along the way.

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My dad in his early twenties at the Magic Kingdom

FINDING YOUR PASSION

If there's one thing I want you to get out of this blog entry it's this: 

Find something you love and do it! If you find something you love and can get paid doing it then go for it! More power to you. 

One of my passions is photography. I love creating art through photos. Being able to see what others don't see and capturing that moment in my camera. The point is I love doing it and if I cold do it all the time I would. The problem is that it's not my main source of income. I have gotten paid a few times but not enough to break the bank. My goal is to one day do it full time and make six figures while doing it. How do I get there? Well for one thing I need to stop spending time on things that don't matter like social media. Don't get me wrong not all social media is bad but it's when I spend lots of my time looking at everyone else's life and comparing it to my life. Or in terms of photography I begin to compare my photos to others. You don't need to cut it out completely but cut back. The time you use to scroll through the feed can be better spent on something more productive and creative. 

Anyways find what you love to do and do it. Don't worry about the criticism of others or the haters out in the world. There will always be someone that doesn't like what you do you just have to keep moving. Find your passion and do it! 

P.S.

As a reminder, don’t get so lost in your dream that you lose sight of your loved ones that have been with you since the beginning.

DREAM CHASER

I feel as though I’ve been looking at everything wrong. For the past year and a half I’ve been on the “Entrepreneur” bandwagon. In some ways I’ve gained little traction for my business by putting myself out their and taking some risks to get my name out. Grant it I only do what I can with the little time I have between my regular full time job and my personal life. This is where the crux of the matter comes to play. I’ve listened, watched, and written down everything that I could get my hands on when it comes to being an entrepreneur for my business. Gary Vee is trending and rightly so. He has a way of motivating you to get out there and get things done. Content content content daily is the name of the game. Stop complaining and making excuses and just get it done. Do free work if have to but you need to just get content out! Stop watching Netflix because that’s consuming your time from your daily grind. Not to mention draining your wallet. There’s one thing though that I think we tend to miss when it comes to getting things done and grinding your way to the top, family. Every speaker that is out there will tell you that you need to hustle but also that you need to prioritize your life. You do not want to become a success in your business at the expense of your family. We entrepreneurs have a dream that we want to fulfill and nothing can get in the way of that dream. Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves.

These last few months have been a wake up call in my efforts of success as a business owner. I truly want to get noticed for what I do and want to do more but it always seems like there’s something in the way. Or at least I’ve convinced myself that there is something in the way. I’ve complained, griped, felt sorry for myself, gone through small bouts of depression, and even doubted that I can actually succeed in this. And through all of it there is one person that has been there for me, my wife. There were times that I’ve felt like quitting and she was there to remind me that I can do this and that I can be successful. She was there when I needed help to hold a light even though it was heavy and made her body ache. She was there when I’d get upset and become negative and at times get frustrated at her for no reason whatsoever. The point that I’m trying to make is don’t get so caught up in the dream that you forget those that are with you and have been with you since the beginning. I get it the negative people you need to get rid but the ones that support you no matter what and are willing to put up with your roller coaster of emotions those are the ones you need to keep close to you. I have learned that yes I need to make sacrifices to have a successful business and that I need to go out and hustle to make things happen, but not at the expense of my family.

If today were my last day on this planet and I had a moment to look back at my life, would I be more proud that I was a great dad, friend, and husband. Or would I be disappointed that I didn’t sacrifice enough of my time and friendships and family to further my career as a photographer? If I lost everything today but had my family(my wife and my girls), I’d die a happy man.

Using ND Filters and Flash

When I was starting out in photography I did what most people do, go on YouTube and see what everyone else is doing. I saw photographers with these expensive cameras and flashes that produced some awesome images. One particular type of image that was created was the use of a high speed sync flash. The flashes I had didn’t have High speed sync. So I decided to go the cheap route and use ND filters. I had the opportunity to photograph a friend of mine and I decided to try out some ND filters and flash to see if I could get the same effect of high speed sync. I used my Sony A6000 with a 50 mm 1.8 lens with an ND8 filter attached. Off camera flash with a 32 inch umbrella flash modifier. 


I used a low cost ND filter brand from Amazon, Ranger to be exact, because at the moment I cannot afford a high speed sync mono light. 


My camera settings were ISO 100, aperture at 1.8, and and my shutter speed around 200. Anymore than 250 and I get the black stripe in my photo. My flash was set to about 1/16 power maybe 1/8 to get enough light to light my subject. With some editing in Lightroom to clean up the photo and Photoshop to enhance the color and clean up some blemishes this is my end result. What do you think? 

Sony A6000, 50mm f/1.8, ND8 filter

Sony A6000, 50mm f/1.8, ND8 filter

Expect the Unexpected

December of 2016 we set out to do some photos for a sponsor that my daughter represented, Bra Strap Designers( http://www.perteh.com/ ), in Downtown West Palm Beach. We had the location set, the time set, and the wardrobe that she would wear set. I set up my one flash with a 32 inch octobox umbrella and stand and while setting up my camera the wind blew my flash set up. Oh was I upset. I tried to fix the umbrella but to no avail, it was missing a small metal piece that held it open. Frustrated I wanted to give up and call it a day but it took time to get our here and I didn't want to waste any of it. So I had no choice but to go bare flash. I was afraid that I wasn't going to get good soft light on my model but I had to do what I could. Bare flash was what I had to do. I was pleasantly surprised at the results. Here is one shot I did I a small nook outside one of the buildings. my oldest daughter held the flash about five to six feet away.


Remember any light is good light as long as you know how to use it. If you can manipulate the direction and power of the light you can produce some really great results. Always look for available light from the sun or from buildings. Always be prepared for the unexpected because something is bound to happen.  



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Coffee House

Rarely do I get the chance or I should say take the chance to go to a local coffee house. Starbucks is usually my place of choice simply out of convenience. I go in I know exactly what I want which is usually a grande hot skinny vanilla latte with whip. It's easy but expensive. Out of laziness I usually don't like searching for coffee houses plus add to the fact that I have no idea what to order so I go to something simple like a regular coffee or cappuccino. I can't take standing in front of the counter trying to figure out what I want. 

 

The thing like about this particular coffee house in Downtown Delray Beach, Florida is the  size of the windows and the amount of light that beams in. It sits right on the corner of small intersection on a very popular road so there are windows on all sides allowing lots of light. It was perfect because the light bounced off the wall of the building across the street and created a soft light on her skin. Shooting wide open to f1.8 on a nifty fifty makes for nice bokeh blur. 

 

A couple of things to keep in mind when shooting in a place like this:

 

1.Always make sure it's ok with the owners if you can take photograph in their store. It's better to get in their good graces just in case you want to shoot there again. And who knows you make get free coffee if you give them free advertisement.  

 

2.Look for the best light. A window would be the best ambient light to use otherwise look for whatever lighting the location has. 

 

3.Just have fun.

Sony A6000 50mm f/1.8

Sony A6000 50mm f/1.8