How to get “unstuck”

August 3, 2013


Are you stuck?

You’re in luck…you can tell because the elephants trunk is up. That’s a sign of good luck. I took this photo recently while down in Disney World. Or I think this one is actually from one of the Universal Studio
parks. But I digress.

I’m going to save your life today.


Because I’ve been reading a lot of material lately (books, blog posts, etc.) written by James Altuchur.

And James says that when he was stuck (after loosing many millions of dollars) and wondering how he was going to go on with life, get unstuck, part of his healing, therapy, technique for getting “UN-STUCK” was to wake up in the morning and direct his attention to thinking about saving one life today. Apparently it worked for James because now he’s back on top again, with something like 4 million readers on his blog, numerous books in print, a new wife, and business deals to pick from.

So I’m going to try his advice to get you (and me) unstuck. Today I woke and decided the life I would save today would be yours.

You’re welcome!

Perhaps you’re unsure now if I’m speaking metaphorically, or if I am actually going to save your real, physical life? I think I can do both.

Let’s tackle the mental side first.

You’re (we’re) stuck. Each day seems like the day before. We’re not moving forward. Not progressing. There are things we want to do, be or have and we’re not getting them. And we don’t know what to do anymore. So we do nothing (different). We’re stuck and know we need to do something different. But what?

Great American photographer Robert Capa says, “If you’re photos aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” For me that means zoom in. Your photos aren’t good enough because there are too many distractions that keep our eyes from seeing what is really important. In all great photos (art) our eyes need one focal point. Only one.

So why did I just dump this Capa photography quote in so abruptly? Two reasons.

One, because I’m a photographer and this is a photography blog, so I filter and express all my thoughts through the photographic “lens”.

Two, because Capa’s technique for creating great photos is also a great way to get unstuck. Both in our photography and our life. We need to eliminate the distractions and create a central focus point. We need to reveal (think about, discover, show) what’s most important.

In photography, using a macro lens is one great way to zoom in and reveal the incredible detail. To show a world that was there all the time, but we never really see it. Google “macro photography images” and you’ll be taken to another world. One that is there all the time, everyday, but we’re moving so fast, we’re so busy that we never notice it.

If you don’t have a macro lens (like me) just use any zoom lens to take really up close photos of anything. Tree bark. Brick walls. A stone path. Graffiti. A bug. Circuit boards. Use and stretch your imagination today and you’re sure to get unstuck mentally. Get out into world, use your feet to zoom too as you move physically closer to your intended subject. Being physically active taking photographs will also help to stimulate your creative juices, your blood, all the stuff of life coursing through your body. It will clear your mind and inspire and energize you.

Eliminate the distractions in your life (just the simple act of looking through the camera’s viewfinder, that small little piece of glass, cuts off over 120 degrees from your eyes view. As your eyes take in less (useless) information your brain can begin to relax to focus. It’s almost like meditation!)

Getting out, physically moving your body to take new photos, in new ways is the best way to get unstuck. Anytime you can combine your mind and body you compound the results. One reinforces the other for exponential (faster) results.

But if you can’t get out today…

Photoshop (or most any photo editing software) is another great way to transport yourself to another dimension of time and space. Take one of your photos, any one, and change the screen view from 25 or 33% and zoom all the way up to 200%. Look at all the detail. I’ll bet you can create a great new work of art by just zooming in massively on some detail of your photo. Use the rule of thirds, use standard composition, color, and contrast techniques to create some great new artwork today. Let your eyes open and experience a new and exciting closeup world that you’ve been overlooking up until now.

You could also take one page from  my “Photoshop Recipe Book” and try that technique on one of your photos. You’ll learn something new. Perhaps a faster technique for skin softening or for cutting images out of one photo and pasting them into another. Pick one page (focus) on making one change in how you do things. One step today to get moving. Then another step tomorrow.

I know that zooming in, focusing on the most important thing in your photos (and in your life) and taking some NEW or DIFFERENT action will greatly improve your photos and your life. It will help you get UN-STUCK. I know it has for me.

So finally (I haven’t forgotten, although I do forget more and more as I get older) you’re probably wondering how can I save your real physical life today?

I’ve given you one way already. Perhaps you missed it. (See how easy it is to get distracted!) Get your body moving. Go out and take some photos. Practically this whole blog has been devoted to the health benefits of photography and the main way this works is that your interest in photography gives you a reason to GET UP AND GO DO SOMETHING! Move your body. Any physical motion is better than none. Our bodies (and minds) need to move or we atrophy and die.

If you’re stuck, take some action, TODAY, no matter how small, to get in motion. Rinse and repeat. Whatever you have (or have not been doing) is why you’re stuck right now. Do you know the last time I posted on this blog was June of 2012? Posting this now is something different, something I haven’t done in over a year. (shame on me!)

Let’s do something different today. I’m starting off the day by saving your life today.

It’s an experiment, my way of doing something different today. It’s a big, bold step, the kind they say you need to make for best effect, so please don’t call me many nasty names if it doesn’t work out for you. I’m new at this.

James Altuchur says it worked (as part of his daily practice) to get him unstuck, and he swears it has worked for thousands of others, so I’m hoping it will work for me (and YOU).

We’ve seen the elephant and he forecasts good luck. So let go out and get unstuck together, today.

Robert Schwarztrauber

P.S. To show I’m walking my talk, in addition to saving your life, the elephant photo you see here was made by zooming in on just one part of an exhibit from the Universal Studios park.


Top 10 Reasons Photographers Live Longer Healthier Lives

June 19, 2012 Shoot More Live Longer Each and every day we come in contact with hundreds if not thousands of photographs. We see them on billboards, magazines, newspapers, in our mailbox, and in the family photos that adorn our walls. We barely give a second thought to most. And the more familiar ones we tend to take for granted.

Imagine how that might change if you knew for a fact that taking those photos could actually help you live a longer, healthier life.

My research has shown that taking photos actually can produce enormous physical and mental benefits. Photography’s therapeutic benefits are a scientific reality and here’s why:

1. Activity: there is always some new photo we need to take and somewhere we need to go to take it. It’s really hard to just sit on the couch and take a prize winning photo. We keep moving.

2. Positive Mental Attitude: we just can’t wait to capture an image of the next amazing thing. We know for a fact that the world is full of wonder and it is our mission, our passion to show it off in our photographs.

3. Sharing: while some minute percentage may take photos strictly for their own personal pleasure, most of us take photos so we can share them with others. We are eager to share our sense of wonder with others. And the compliments they bring sure make us feel good.

4. Connection: through photography we gain a strong sense of connection to this world as a whole and especially to our local community.

5. Fun: we have fun! Each photo outing is a new adventure, a treasure hunt for visual splendor. One never knows what visual prize lies in wait around the next corner. We spend our leisure hours in an activity that we find enjoyable and has no end.

6. Mind Stimulating: each new photo opportunity presents a different challenge. We must always be evaluating the ambient light and surroundings and adjusting our camera settings accordingly. Our minds stay fresh and open because we are in a constant state of learning.

7. New Friends: through taking our photos and sharing them we are constantly surrounded by opportunities for human interaction. Mankind was never built for solitude.

8. Sense of Purpose: we always have a mission, a reason for being. It’s even fun to travel alone when your mission is to come back with great photos to share of the places you explored. In Earl Nightingale’s famous talk, “The Strangest Secret” he observed, “The people who live the longest are the people with something to do.” You’re never too old to take a great photo.

9. Exercise: walking has been heralded as one of the most universally beneficial exercises and we photographers sure do walk a lot. Add in some squats to get that unique angle, some uphill climbs, a little forest terrain and you’ve got some powerful ingredients for healthy living.

10. Freedom from Worry: we concentrate on the excitement of tomorrow, rather than the problems of yesterday. After all, with digital photography, we can always fix yesterday’s shot today with a little Photoshop! We keep our eyes focused on the future, the next shot. Hope for the future is the ultimate Fountain of Youth.

For more information on the therapeutic physical and mental benefits of photography, and some great photo tips, be sure to check out my new book, “Photo Fitness Phenomenon” now available at

Have a happy, safe and healthy summer season!

Robert Schwarztrauber

Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” Sets Record

May 3, 2012

Robert’s Fruit Still

This week, Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” sold at auction for $119.9 million dollars! For one pastel-on-board artwork. One.

Granted, this was the only one of 4 versions still in private hands, but really, $119.9 million dollars?

Obviously this represents more than just a pretty picture. The buyer is not buying art merely because he or she enjoys it’s beauty. There is a bit of status involved. Ego. “I have the only one and you don’t.”

Previously, the highest price paid at auction for artwork was $106.5 million for Picasso’s “Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust,” which was sold by Christie’s in 2010.

As for me, I find greater pleasure not in hoarding art, but sharing it.

I enjoy art, and like to surround myself with pictures that inspire, intrigue or just leave me amazed at the talent of the creator. Or Creator.

Fortunately, photography gives me the opportunity to create work myself from the beauty found in nature. Or everyday things like this fruit still shown above. Or from man-made structures.

In fact, photography also lets me hang artwork from Monet, Picasso and many more famous artist, in my home, for FREE!

It’s one of the many “hidden” benefits of photography I share in my book titled, “Profit, Power and Privilege: The Photographer’s 7 Secrets

While millionaires around the globe  strut their stuff in an attempt to outdo the others and claim the prize, I’ll be content to furnish my entire home with the talents of masters for less than these uber-wealthy socialites might spend on a single bottle of wine.

I’m a fan of art, not ego.

$119.9 million…for just one piece of art. Seriously!


7 Things to Do When You Retire

February 28, 2012

1. Travel: Job and family responsibilities keep people rooted in one community. Familiar sights and habit often lead to stagnation and boredom. To really feel alive we must experience new sights and new traditions. There is a whole world out there of folks doing things differently and still being successful. We are often surprised and gain a whole new perspective on what’s possible. New avenues and possibilities suddenly appear before our eyes. Magical moments that send us off on an entirely new course of discovery. Travel is a great way to recharge your batteries after doing the same-old, same-old for so long. Pledge to travel. Pick out someplace you’d like to visit. You don’t have to go all exotic. A trip to a state park you’ve never seen is a very inexpensive way to get started. Or maybe to your state capitol if you’re not a big nature fan. Or, just hop in the car once a week and drive off to destinations unknown. Many of my best discoveries came from just such unplanned adventures. Drive until you come to something interesting, then, hop out and take a better look. Travel is a great way to begin your retirement years. Later, I’ll tell you about one simple new technology that makes travel exponentially more fun, even if you have to travel by yourself.

2. Get a Job: Of course I don’t mean go to work for someone else. This is your chance to finally do what you love to do. This is your chance to turn your hobby into a source of additional income. Making money doing what you love is the dream. Sharing your crafts or hobbies or interests with the world has never been easier thanks to the internet. In the not too distant past, retirement came awfully close to the end of our life expectancy. But not anymore. At age 65 most of us can look forward to another 10, 15, 20, 25 or more years of living. What will we do with all that time. Earl Nightingale, famous radio personality and co-founder of the Nightingale-Conant corporation that built their success on audio education programs once said, “The people who live the longest are the people with something to do.” We need something to do. We need some plan or structure in our life. Like it or not, a plan for the future, some expectation or excitement for what’s to come is a driving force in our life that pulls us forward.
When you tie your hobby or interests to a source of income generation, you insure that you’ll always have the financial freedom to enjoy what you love and you’ll get even more enjoyment from it knowing that others are interested in your work too. What joy is the most beautiful flower in the garden, or the best recipe, or the fine wooden craft if there’s no one else to share it with. Sharing has never been easier with the internet and a simple new digital tool.

3. Meet New People: One of the greatest joys in life are friends. People to share our interests and activities with. Meeting new friends was easy when we were in school. Classes would change, kids would come and go. We’d meet new people through sports or clubs or parties. Once we get into the workforce though, we find ourselves a bit more limited. Maybe we’d get to know a coworker. Or someone at church. Or someone from our kid’s school. By the time we retire we can often feel a bit lonely. Kid’s are grown. Sadly, some of our friends have gone off to their great reward or moved into retirement homes or places like Florida or Arizona. Meeting new people can sometimes be a real challenge. Luckily, there are hobbies that make it easy to meet new people.

4. Stay Active: The human body was not designed to be stationary. We we’re meant to move. Activity keeps our muscles in tone. It keeps our fluids moving. It lubricates our joints and aids our digestion. The trick is to find an activity that is low-stress but still addresses all of our physical necessities. Fortunately, walking is an activity that most of us can do. In fact, walking is the activity most often prescribed by doctors for people of all ages. It’s great for our posture, it stimulates our cardiovascular system and its low stress. The only problem is people often get bored with it. Fortunately, when you combine walking with another popular activity you can overcome that boredom and get even greater benefits. Benefits like triple calorie burn, instant gratification, and an excitement to get up and out the very next day. In fact, adding one simple activity can increase your interest in walking from 15 minute to one hour easily, thus quadrupling your benefit.

5. Leave a Legacy: Let’s face it, one day, we’ll be gone. Our time here on this planet will come to an end and we’ll take all of our memories and experience with us. How great if we could leave just a portion of that knowledge, talent and experience behind. What can you do to share? Rich folks leave large sums of money to benefit their favorite charities and institutions. Many other folks volunteer their time and talents. What organizations could use your help? What do you like to do? Could you volunteer your time? Could you write a book? Technology like computers and online retailers like make it very easy now to write and publish your knowledge. Perhaps you like to make things? Furniture and wood crafts. Decorative items for the home. How about art? Do you like to draw or paint? Perhaps you’re one of those frustrated artists who can never get their hand to do as the brain says? Fortunately there are digital arts now that leave your traitor hand out of the equation and let your wild imagination do all the work with a keyboard and mouse.

6. Teach: What better way to leave a part of you behind than to teach? When you share your knowledge you give the next generation all the benefit of your experience. You give them a head start, a leg up, a shortcut to success. There are many community education opportunities where you can even earn money sharing your knowledge. How about SCORE, the service corps of retired executives? Perhaps you could share your knowledge to help other businesses grow?
Starting your own class is easier than you think. It can provide great satisfaction, purpose, and is a great way to meet people with the same interests as you.

7. Buy a Camera: One of the best ways to get maximum enjoyment from your retirement years is to get a camera and learn a bit about photography. Photography is a great way to unify and magnify the benefits from all your activities.

A recent survey, conducted offers some interesting health benefits not normally associated with photography.
• 3 out of 4 people in the survey indicated that photography made them more active each week.
• All of the survey’s participants said that photography stimulates their mind. Half stated that it made them feel more focused, alive and creative.
• 82% found the ability to sustain high levels of concentrate while taking photos. (not an easy task in today’s hurry up era of infinite distractions)
• Fun – Most study participants were involved just for fun, deriving no income from their photos.
• 93 people out of 100 reported that photography made them feel good about themselves.
• 8 out of 10 said it lifts their mental state daily… it makes them feel good.
• More than half the people surveyed felt more connected to the local community and the world.
• 8 out of 10 reported that their involvement in photography had increased their contact with other people.

Surprise – The quality of the photos taken did not influence results. Even though half the people found others showed little or no interest in their photos, they still reported feeling all of photography’s positive benefits!

When asked to reveal, in their own words, the benefits they enjoyed from photography here’s a snapshot of the replies:

Connecting with nice people, relaxation, reduced stress, creativity, extra income, greater appreciation of the world, help people preserve memories, make people happy, get out of the house, meet new people, nostalgia, makes me feel better, relieves pain.

Photography can make your current hobbies more fun by allowing you greater opportunities to share. It can be a great motivational force to keep you active each day. Digital Photography has become much more a communication medium than an art. Technology has made it easier for anyone to take a great photo with just a bit of training.

A recent report indicates that now 10,000 people will retire each day in the country. That’s a lot of people who need something to do. They’d better get busy. Life moves pretty fast and they just might miss it.

Learning a bit of photography can open a great many doors to making retirement one of the best times of your life.

by Robert Schwarztrauber

“Change Your Life in a Flash” is a great introduction to all the benefits of photography. Improve your picture taking skills and find out exactly how to apply these skills to improve your health, wealth and happiness. This 90 minute audio CD program will open your eyes to a whole new world of opportunities. Opportunities available only to the digital camera user. You can get more details on this program at

What is Photography?

February 27, 2012

Seeing is…


Can you finish that sentence?

If you’re like most people you probably said, “Seeing is Believing.”

It’s one of the most commonly heard expressions from the time we are young until the time we are very old.

Of course it means that we don’t really believe something is true until we see it with our own eyes. Show me!

Once upon a time, I’m sure that served the population very well. But that was before Photoshop!

Now, so many photos are retouched and reworked that most of us can’t tell a real photo from one almost entirely made up.

Consider the photo shown here of the 4 spoons and 2 cherries.

While your mind might wonder how the spoons were suspended, you might better questions if there really were 4 spoons and two cherries at all.

In fact, this photo was made from only 2 items. One spoon. One cherry.

Can you guess the real ones from the copies?

Did you guess the cherry at the bottom was the original?

Most folks do. But it’s not. It was composed from the cherry piece in the spoon.

So you see, in this day and age we must discard the myth that seeing is believing.

In reality, most of us were never really taught to ‘SEE’ at all.

Sure, we all know how to look. We look at 100’s of things every day with barely a glance. We especially fail to ‘SEE’ those items most familiar in our family, homes, our neighborhood, or our work.

If you’ve ever been surprised and stumped when your wife say’s, “Notice anything different?”  Then you know exactly what I’m talking about!

Photographers however, ARE trained to see. In fact, seeing things differently, observing objects, scenes, and people from all angles in attempting to find the most pleasing or unconventional is exactly what makes great photos stand out.

In addition to the subject, the photographer SEEs the light too and how it interacts with the subject. A tiny shift of light or subject can make a dramatic difference in the impact of the final photo.

Compare that to a common snapshot.

The best way I ever heard for telling a snapshot from a photograph is that a snapshot is merely a frozen recording of an event. Maybe a birthday party, or special even where you held the camera at arms length and took a photo simply for recording that moment in time.

A photograph differs in that it is a carefully crafted and intentional photographic recording of a particular scene with the objective being to show that object in the most dramatic or beautiful way.

A snapshot is spontaneous. A photograph is planned.

Obviously a snapshot require little thought or skill. Most digital cameras today are sophisticated enough to make it almost impossible to take a truly awful photo.

A photograph however requires some study of the arts. Of light and color, form and composition. It requires technical knowledge of cameras and lenses. Today, digital photography most often requires further editing as well to really bring out the most in a photograph.

While it may have been great once upon a time to know that “Seeing is Believing”, today more than ever it is important to train your eye to really SEE.

Not only is it good for photo expression, but also because without it, you may be destined to walk through life missing the most beautiful parts. Don’t wait for the photographer to show you, enjoy the excitement of finding them for yourself.

A little training in digital photography, could Change Your Life in a Flash!

In fact, my audio program, “Change Your Life in A Flash” is a great way to get started.

Robert Schwarztrauber

Whitney Houston: We Will Always Love You

February 13, 2012

Whitney Houston was one of the greatest voices of our time. That we must mourn the loss of such a talent, at such a young age, is tragic.

I’m just slightly older, with young children too. I cannot imagine how devastating it must be for her daughter.

We were all blessed to watch as she sang her songs and entertained us with her movie performances.

We are also fortunate that she leaves behind the recorded media that ensure her place in history.

Whitney Houston left behind a legacy in recorded song and film that generations to come can enjoy and appreciate. Her daughter will always have that audio and visual memory to find comfort in and admiration for.

Rest in peace Whitney. We thank you for sharing your talent so generously. We wish you everlasting peace and contentment in your rest. Something so illusive to you in your later years.

How about you?

While we mourn the loss of Whitney, and regret the years of substance abuse that denied us even greater enjoyment of her amazing talent, let us ask ourselves if we are operating at 100%.

Are you sharing your talent to the best of your ability?

What legacy will you leave behind?

If you are a photographer, you are blessed with the ability to leave your recorded images as witness to the beauty you found in this world. You can share you own unique perspective. You can show us where you went and what you saw.

You can share the smiles of people you loved and people who loved you. You can show us the happy times and the sad. You can record life’s timeline in your photographs.

We can go on enjoying your work even after you have left to join Whitney.

Please share whatever talents you have. Generously! Immediately.

The future is promised to no one. Each day is a gift. Use all the time you have to share whatever your gift, no matter how big or how small.

Live your life to the fullest. Waste not on elements or people that dull your existence.

Whatever talents you possess, they were meant for use. Not to be hidden or locked away behind the fear that leads to regret. Let your talent shine for all the world to see, and feel, and hear.

The Grammy Awards last night were packed with talent. Adele had the shining moment of her career and we were blessed to hear her sing again. She got a second chance after her vocal injury. Many don’t.

Give, create, help where ever you can. The world craves more beauty in whatever form you can can give it. Studies have shown we are happiest when we give.

You only go around once. But you may chose to leave us something to remember you by. What will your gift to us be?

What will be your legacy?

Robert Schwarztrauber

Perspective Power of Photography

February 3, 2012

Riddle me this: If you imagine that your subject, what you want to see or photograph, is in the center of a sphere, how many different views can you find?

Answer: If you consider that there are 360 degrees in each plane of the sphere, and each point on the sphere can be located by using a latitude and longitude coordinate, you could easily come up with 129,600 individual coordinates or points of view. (360 x 360)

So, 129,000 of us (really tiny people) could gather around one free floating 3 dimensional object, take a photograph, and none of those photos would be exactly the same.

Now imaging that your sphere could change in size. Imagine really that you could look from closer or farther away. You’d still have 129,000 points to look from, but there’s no telling how close or far away you could be. Your number of different views will then becomes infinite.

But wait!

Imagine now that we’re outside taking photos of this object. Since the sun, our light source is constantly moving, every single second, even if we never move our view changes with the changing light and shadow. And no two pictures, no two views would ever be  completely alike.

Knowing this, it’s easy to understand that the world WE  see is different from the world everyone else sees. Our perspective at any point in time is unique.

And we may not have the best view.

Fortunately, while most folks are walking around just looking at things in a surface way, we photographers have the ability to look and really SEE.

Our world is greatly enhanced because we understand that there ARE so many points of view and we look for the one that best expresses our subject at this point in time.

While the amateur takes a picture that records a moment in time as he sees it, photographers create a photograph composed of all the most expressive artistic values he or she can pull together from all the resources of subject, light, lens, camera, background and experience.

The amateur records. The photographer creates.

Because of that, the photographer  gets to experience a fuller, richer life than anyone else on the planet. We see so much more than those who sit on the sidelines, content with viewing only a fraction of the beauty and wonder in this amazing universe.

This year, resolve to shake it up, be creative and enhance your photography with all the tips and tools you can find.

See it, show the world YOUR world, as it’s never been seen before!

Robert Schwarztrauber

“Change Your Life in a Flash”  is a great way to get off the sidelines. Discover how to see and experience all the wonders of the world through new eyes. “Photographer’s” eyes.  This 90 minute audio CD program, narrated by yours truly, guides you to use photography to improve your life physically and mentally while showing you how to improve your technical photo taking abilities.

New Years Resolution Gone Bad? Try this…

January 30, 2012


New Years Resolution…Divorce!

January 4, 2012

Bitter cold winds whip across the lawn as I drag out the remnants of Christmas past. This magnificent, beautiful tree that once caught my fancy over all the others looks dry and limp now.

Every year I wrestle over when to get rid of it. Too soon and you risk incurring the wrath of those still reeling over the brevity of the Kardashian “marriage”. Wait too long and you become rather attached to the memory of the holiday magic and it’s harder to let go.

The New Year, for most of us, ushers in little change, despite our ritual resolutions. But for some, the stress of the holidays proves to be the breaking point. The tree becomes a metaphor for their spouse. They resolve to radically change their life this year by breaking from the family.

Save for a few celebrities, divorce is a process surrounded by challenges. Challenges that are new to us.
One is wise to look for assistance, as early as possible, from competent folks who are trained in such matters.

Lawyers, accountants, therapists and clergy can all help guide you through this difficult process.

“How does THIS relate to photography?” you might ask.

Good question!

And I have an equally good answer.

Late last year I was contacted by several photographers who shared stories of how photography had helped them to heal and get their life back on track after divorce. It helped them get past feelings of loneliness and restore their confidence. It gave them a sense of purpose and opportunities to meet and interact with fun new people. Exactly the results you would expect if you’d read my survey results.

Not willing to settle for hearsay evidence, I went to an expert on matters of divorce and had a wonderful conversation with Dr. Lisa Rene Reynolds, therapist and author of the new book, “Parenting Through Divorce – Helping Your Children Thrive During and After the Split”.

You can listen to the full interview at the bottom of the article here:

Listen to this enlightening interview with Dr. Reynolds on Photography and Divorce now.

Even if you’re happily married, or long past your divorce, you’ll find great tips on using photography to keep your life happy and healthy…or maybe help someone you know get through this difficult time.

*** Listen all the way through to discover how even smart phone cameras are getting in on the action!

(This article was reprinted courtesy of

Holiday Loneliness Conquered by Camera

December 23, 2011

All of the socks come out of the dryer with a mate except for one. You.

Wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for all those holiday get-togethers. Boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives, lovers of all variety having one another to fall back on, leave with. Family, work, and friends all gathering (paired) to spread the holiday cheer.

You’re expected to go and have fun too, even if you are the lonely sock.

So what’s a person to do?

Good news! It’s easier than ever now to have fun on your own, in any situation.

Just appoint yourself the photographer!

Now, you can even use your iPhone or android to take candid shots. Whether you tell anyone or not is up to you. The point is, you have a mission now, a greater purpose. A cause.

You’re no longer the lonely sock, you’re a rogue spy. You have a reason to interact, to draw a crowd, to instigate fun. When you become the self-appointed photographer you take the focus off you, pun intended, and concentrate instead on capturing all the fun. We’re always happiest when we’re doing something for others!

Imagine how much fun it will be to share those photos after the party’s over.

It works for parties and it works if you want to travel someplace, but don’t have anyone to join you.

Think about it. Do you ever feel lonely going to the store? No, you’re on a mission to buy something. You have a definite purpose. Do you feel lonely when you’re fishing, or painting, or knitting, or baking, or cutting the grass, or washing the dishes? No, because you have a purpose and that makes all the difference.

The great thing about the camera is you not only have a purpose (to record the sights and mood of the occasion) but you also  have a tangible product when you’re done…photographs!

Many photographers and artist have more fun manipulating the images afterward (with programs like Photoshop) than they did taking the pictures initially. So you get double the fun.

If you have a digital SLR camera, that’s great. But you don’t need to lug obvious or expensive equipment to get results. Many times a big camera and lens actually makes people freeze up or move away. But folks seem to love hamming it up in front of the tiny cell phone lens.

In my survey of amateur photographers, 93% said taking photos made them feel good about themselves, it boosted their self-esteem and 80% said photo taking made them feel more connected to the community, it increased their interaction with other people.

This holiday season, if you want to feel really good about yourself and have a blast at all those parties you were dreading, break out the camera!

Fear not, even if your photo taking skills are lacking. The same survey of photographers showed that it didn’t matter if the photos were good or bad, those taking the photos still felt all the positive benefits. It was the ACT of taking photos, not the actual photo quality that made the difference.

Embrace your lonely sock-ness. Roam untethered through the season, capturing all the action, and you just might find in the end… you’ve become the life of the party!

For more information on how to become a happier, healthier you while having fun with your camera, check out “Your F-Stop Guide to Fitness”


Coming Up: My interview with Dr. Lisa Rene Reynolds, psychologist, marital counselor, and  author of the great new book, “Parenting Through Divorce” . She shares her expert opinion on how photography helps folks create a more positive atmosphere through the loneliness and trauma of marital breakups. Her book offers a unique perspective on how to best protect and nurture the children through this difficult time. She says certain photos can really help!

Camera Best Gift for Single Folks

December 16, 2011

Ten days until Christmas and the panic of not knowing what to buy my single friend consumes me. Waves of adrenaline shoot through my heart. I want to buy a gift that matters, but what?

Page after page the catalogs and store flyers leave me uninspired. Surely there is one gift that will bring my friend happiness, let her be more active, more social. But what is it?

Here it is. A digital camera!

In a recent survey, three out of four photographers report photography makes them more active each week. In fact, all of the surveys participants state that photography stimulates their mind and half say it makes them feel more focused, alive and creative.

That report also says taking photos helps boost self esteem. Ninety three percent say taking photos makes them feel good about themselves.

Eight out of ten say it lifts their mental state daily and increases their contact with other people. Most in the survey say taking photos makes them feel more connected to the local community and the world.

Best of all, the survey says you don’t have to be a good photographer. The folks in the survey are amateur picture takers and even if no one else likes their photos, they still report feeling all the positive benefits of taking photos.

The people in the survey say taking pictures helps them connect with nice people, it relaxes them, and gives them a greater appreciation of the world. It says their interest in taking photos gets them out of the house more and makes them feel better.

Photography is even considered a therapy for depression and loneliness by some psychologists and counselors. One woman used photography to beat her addiction to alcohol. Another man who suffers chronic pain from an accidental fall used it to mask the pain; it’s effective, if only temporarily.

Yes, a camera will be the perfect gift for my friend.

Digital SLR’s offer the greatest opportunity for creative photographers. Automatic features insure that even the novice can take great photos the same day. Manual features allow the budding or expert photographer complete control for artistic expression.

Technology now lets the new iPhones and androids compete in this arena too. The quality of their onboard cameras and their portability make them the go-anywhere alternative to the bigger digital cameras. Add some editing in a program like Photoshop and you’ll never know that cell phone photo didn’t come from a pro camera.

With all these great benefits, a digital camera really stands alone as the best gift choice for single folks, divorced folks, and widowed folks. Everyone young and old. It might just be the most overlooked total mind-body fitness machine ever invented!

For more information on the many ways  photography can improve your life, visit

Dealing with Loss: Content Aware Fill for the Soul

November 10, 2011

Marcia lost her voice. Patrice lost her freedom. Ken lost use of his legs

At some point in our life we will all experience loss of one kind or another. We may lose a friend or two as we go through grammar school. We may lose a sweetheart in our teen years. Our pets may pass on or run away. 50% of marriages end in divorce.

Some of us may experience the heart-wretching loss of a child to disease, accident, or war. Most of us will have to get through the loss of our parents. We may lose our job.

How do we fill the void?

How do we make the emptiness go away.

How do we reassemble the pieces of our life so it makes sense again?

It hurts. How do we stop the pain?

We’ve all heard the expression that nature abhors a vacuum. Weeds are a perfect example. Cultivate some plot in your yard for flowers or vegetables. No sooner does that empty space start filling. Not with the flowers or vegetables you planted but with weeds. That’s nature seeking to fill the void.

An empty table or counter in your home is the most attractive magnet for anything you hold in your hand that needs to be set down. Does anyone have a half-empty closet?

Nature wants us to be full too. That empty feeling inside is nature’s way of prodding us on. Our souls and hearts were meant to be full. Many times, the loss becomes a blessing in disguise. The loss was really just nature’s way of calling us to a great fullness. Her way of replacing something inadequate with something more suited for our potential.

We often can’t see past the hurt though. All we feel is the pain. But as we begin to rebuild our lives we are drawn to this greater potential. Sometimes we can feel the need to do more or be more. Sometimes we are guided by forces we do not understand or are unconscious of.

While it may seem to take an eternity, eventually our emptiness is filled. Though we will never forget the loss, it becomes part of the new you. But does it have to take so long? Is there a faster way to fill the void?

As strange as it may seem, Adobe may have unwittingly found  the solution in their newest Photoshop version, CS5.

One of this great new options in this photo editing software is a feature called “Content Aware Fill”. This feature lets you cut out, erase, or remove any part of your photo and then Photoshop goes to work to fill that area with new information calculated from the surrounding pixels.

Before “Content Aware Fill” the photo editor would have to fill that void manually, piece by piece by cloning pixels from the remaining photo or by replacing them entirely with some piece from another photograph. Editing the old way could take hours. With “Content Aware Fill” that time could be reduced to just seconds.

That’s great for filling the void in photos, but how does that relate to the void in our life?

Quite simply, we must do what the Photoshop program does. We must look at the parts of our life surrounding the void, the loss, and see what information is most relevant, most important to us. We must look at all the interests that make up our life and grab pieces of that to begin rebuilding.

During such crisis in our life it is natural to focus on the loss, on the void. To rebuild we must change our focus to what remains, to the whole portions of our life. It will happen eventually, but we can make it happen faster.

In my studies I have seen countless example where photography has been used to hasten the recovery time for people in loss. Marcia used photography to radically change her life after completely losing her voice in surgical complications. Patrice used photography to restore freedom to her life after she was called to care for her invalid brother. Ken used photography to relieve chronic pain and boredom after losing use of his legs in the line of duty. Many people have used photography as therapy after divorce.

Photography forces you to change your focus  and begin to see the infinite beauty in all the wonders of this world. You’re naturally drawn to photograph the things you love when you get started so it’s easy to forget your troubles. Your void begins to fill with beauty. You smile a lot.

Photography is life’s “Content Aware Fill”.

In order to become whole again, in order to become more than you are, you must do something. You must take action. Photography is perfect because it is simple.

Everyone can take a photograph. Some better than others, but we can all do it. The more you become involved the more focused you become. You become focused on the good and the beautiful.

Photography forces you to get up and get out. It forces you to do something different. As your reward for taking action you do you will see things you have never seen before. You will meet wonderful people you’ve never met before. Right next to what you love there is more, and that is your Content Aware Fill.

When you need a new view, remember that your camera already has a viewfinder. Why not use it to see all the beauty you’ve been missing. Use your camera to quickly fill the void. Look around and see the beauty and wonders that remain.

Robert Schwarztrauber

For more information on using photography to improve your life, preview Robert’s latest book, “Photo Fitness Phenomenon” at or visit his website at:

Teen Suicide Prevention Through Photography

October 6, 2011

There’s a lot going on in the minds of our youth.

And it’s not all good.

Jamey Rodemeyer’s tragic death through suicide reminds us of the importance of daily thoughts in the overall life experience. Someone who is focused daily on the negative aspects of life is setting him or herself up for severe mental and  physical consequences. None of which is more tragic than the death of one so young.

The fact that he was from my own community here in Buffalo, NY makes it all the more personal.

But what can be done to replace these negative thoughts with more positive ones?

One organization in Australia has found that young people who feel connected, supported and understood are less likely to complete suicide. Reports on the attitudes of young people, identified as at risk of suicide, support the notion that connectedness, a sense of being supported and respected are protective factors for young people at risk of suicide.

Reports like these support my findings that digital photography can have a therapeutic effect on all people, perhaps especially teens who are open to gadgets and the new digital technologies. What would happen if these troubled teens could simply grab their camera and spend some time searching out the beauty in this world? If my recent survey is any indication…good things!

In my survey of over 100 photographers, 93% reported that photography made them feel good about themselves. Imagine what a boost in self-esteem could do?  And not just for suicidal teens, but for most teen who struggle with issues of worth.

More than half the photographers in the survey felt more connected to the local community and the world. This is exactly what these kids need.

8 out of 10 reported that their involvement in photography had increased their contact with other people. Isolation is a sure route to depression.  But when we get out and seek out new areas and adventures a magical thing happens…we find them.

It’s amazing how closely my survey results parallel the Australian research. This strongly suggests that we need to put more emphasis on the arts in school and really show kids the beauty in this world. We need to focus attention on all that’s good and beautiful in this world and send our young people out with a positive expectation of finding it everywhere.We need to give them a new view…through the viewfinder.

Photography training does just that and more. Plus…it’s fun!

I’ve collected countless stories of folks who’ve overcome severe physical and mental challenges through photography and I’m convinced anyone can change their life in a flash through photography.

If you’re interested in these stories or learning more about how photography can quickly improve your life, or the life of someone you love, please go to

Angelina Jolie Knows the Power

September 1, 2011

Not a big screen star...but I'm happy!

Depression can strike anyone, anytime, anywhere. It doesn’t care how famous you are, how rich you are, or whether the timing is convenient.

A recent Huffington Post article detailed how screen star Angelina Jolie found herself in the grip of depression after her mother passed away in 2007. When she found herself constantly dwelling on negative thoughts and slipping into a “dark place”, incapable of getting up in the morning, she knew she needed a fix. So she took the starring role in the stunt-packed movie “Wanted”.

Signing up for something that forced her to be active was just what the doctor would have ordered.

The article goes on to quote Carol Landau, Ph.D., iVillage wellness expert and clinical professor of psychiatry and medicine at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School in Providence, R.I. as saying, ” Distracting activities, especially physical activity, can be helpful (in breaking the pattern of ruminating about the loss).

While most of us can’t go make a multi-million dollar movie deal to get active, we can grab our camera and head out for a photo walk!

A nice relaxing photo walk combines the distraction of photography with the physical benefits of stress-free walking. When you add in the expectation and hope of finding something really cool, you have a prescription for effective, drug-free relief from your depression.

If you’d like the  full report on the how Photography can be more beneficial in fighting depression than drugs, visit: for the free report, “Photography vs. Big Pharmacy”

No Focus? Put Your Goggles On

August 15, 2011

My daughter said, “Watch me swim across the pool underwater dad!”

At 20 ft it’s a good challenge for an 11 year old. Twice she tried, but came up short each time.

“Why don’t you put your goggles on?” I said, “So you can see when you’re getting close.”

Sure enough, in her first attempt with goggles, she made it easily to the other side. That one simple tip made all the difference.

She would have thought nothing more of it, except her dad is always on the lookout for an opportunity to teach a life lesson.

“You see,” I told her, “when you can clearly see your goal, it’s much easier to give it that extra effort at the end. That’s what you need to succeed.”

So how are YOU doing on your goals? Can you see them clearly? Have you written them down?

Writing your goals is like putting your goggles on.

You wouldn’t think of taking a photo without seeing it clearly, without having it in focus, would you?

Please, don’t shortchange your goals. Start writing!

Robert Schwarztrauber

Photography Reflects Me

July 7, 2011
"Camera Mirror"
Camera Mirror Photo

Is there anyone who can walk past the looking glass without taking a peek?

Whether it’s a store window, bathroom mirror, hall mirror, or our own distorted reflection in the brass handrail, we simply can’t pass up the opportunity to have a look at ourselves.

But we sure don’t want anyone to take our picture!!!

As a photographer, I’m occasionally drawn more to the reflection of an object than the object itself. One day, while working on a project, I had set the camera down briefly and then found myself looking straight into the front of the lens. I could see a perfect reflection of myself.

“Photography reflects me,” I thought.

Later that day I got to thinking about how photography really does reflect me, and it reflects all the folks who enjoy picking up the camera as a hobby or profession. Our photos, our final work, is not only what we saw physically in the scene, but it is also part of our vision. Part of our personality. Part of our being.

I got to thinking about how fun it would be to have a desk or wall accessory that was shaped like a camera but had a mirror where the lens would normally be. Then everyone who walked by could “see” themselves in the “camera” without fear of actually having their photo taken.

Not finding them anywhere online, I decided to make one…and then another! Folks loved them! Appropriately, I name this camera mirror, “REFLEX ME”.

The photo above is a side view.

It’s sure to make you smile. It gets me every time!
Makes a great one-of-a-kind gift for your favorite photographer too!

Made right here, in Buffalo, NY by yours truly…
Robert Schwarztrauber

P.S. If you’d like to see more views or get one for yourself or a friend, go to:

Our Independence Day Photo

July 3, 2011

America Reflects Me and You Flag Photo from TotalFitnessPhotography.comMake Fourth of July Your Birthday Too!

 It’s hot dogs on the grill for us. Juicy hamburgers. Mouth watering barbeque chicken, slightly blackened. And giant kettles of sweet yellow corn on the cob. That’s how I think of the Fourth of July.

Hot summer days spent lazily by the pool. Long forest walks with the kids as they explore this new and exciting world. The possibilities of summer always seem infinite, in stark contrast to the strict confines of winter.

So, on this Fourth of July celebration, I tend to think more of my own rebirth in summer. Every Fourth of July finds me celebrating my own independence, celebrating my own freedom in the summer fun while watching fireworks stream across the sky.

But I also think of those not so fortunate. Those that don’t have the opportunity or courage to pursue their own freedom.

For some, personal freedom has been denied through powerful government regimes. For those who choose to walk afoul of the law, prisons hold their fate.

But what I find most tragic, are the millions who deny their own freedom. Those who accept only what comes to them easily, whether good or bad, and accept that as their fate. Those who never pursue their own freedom of choice, whether for reasons of their own making or imagination, or circumstance.

I discovered through my own research many years ago the most wonderful gift given us at birth – the power to control our own mind.

No matter what outside forces, real or imagine, conspire against us, we are ultimately in control of how we choose to let that affect us. Legendary are the accounts of men and women who were stripped of everything yet came back to great success by simply embracing the power of their mind.

Especially here in America, where we are all so blessed to have freedom, no person should deny their own right to be free. To pursue what ultimately make them happy or gives service to those they love.

As we celebrate the birth of our nation on this Fourth of July we should also celebrate our own birth into the freedom that America  provides. And we should ask ourselves,  “Have we have grown up in that freedom? Have we really become all that we could be? Or Desire to be?”

Several years ago, as I approached the big FIVE-O I asked that question of myself. And I didn’t like the answer. After nearly a half-century of living I really didn’t feel that I was free. I hadn’t really pursued my own dreams.

So I set about changing that immediately. For me, I had always wanted to express my creative side through photography.

Let me tell you, it has been a most liberating experience. Especially now in that we are blessed with the simplicity of digital cameras. It just makes everything so much easier.

Not only has this pursuit led to enormous personal pleasure, but it has also connected me to a whole world of people, nice people, that I never knew existed

People like you

Photography was my re-birth into freedom.

I don’t know what your personal passion is. But I do know, that as we celebrate America’s birth into freedom, we should give serious consideration to our own freedom as well. Give it a bit of thought and decide if you are truly free. If your answer is no, remember that you alone have the power to change that. Seize control of your mind, and claim the gift given you at birth.

Make this Fourth of July your birthday too!

Your re-birth into freedom.

And nothing offers more freedom and adventure than to grab your camera and go off in search of the all beauty in this world. You’ll surely find it…if you look!

Robert Schwarztrauber can help you get started on a photo adventure that lasts a lifetime!

Photography Changes Everything

June 27, 2011

Butterfly Reflection at by Robert SchwarztrauberEvery once in a while I’ll stumble across an article that really reinforces what we’re talking about here at

This article, and the Smithsonian website where I discovered it, really explores the impact photography has on our personal life as well as the lives of society in general.

If you’d like a real boost in energy or new-found excitement about your photography, I encourage you to read this article on how photography changes everything.

You might even want to use it to justify your need to spend even more money on the next  new lens or other accessory you “need”!

I chose the butterfly photo to represent this post because most of us associate the butterfly with change. The complete metamorphosis from one creature to another. From a lesser form (the caterpillar) to the striking beauty of the free-spirited, high-flying butterfly.

I think it well represents the change photography brings to our life.

(I’ll save the photo of me and Bill Feather from the Smithsonian Institution for another story!)

Here’s that link to the story by Dwight Pinkley, U.S. Foreign Service Officer on assignment in Switzerland, who writes about how photography encourages a heightened sense of awareness:

Robert Schwarztrauber

Photo Tips and Feel Good Tricks

June 26, 2011
healthy photographer newsletter by

Now Available!

It stuck me this week, just how much my regard for the mailman has changed over the years.

I can still remember as a kid, the extreme pleasure of anticipation I felt as my birthday drew near. Everyday I would rush to the mailbox to see if my birthday cards had begun to arrive. The hope and excitement went on for days until I knew the very last of the cards had arrived.

And don’t even get me started on how great it felt to wait for a package to arrive! Days seem like weeks when you’re a kid, which only served to amplify the excitement.

No matter how much my beloved dog Dusty barked, I still loved a visit from the mailman.

These days, not so much.

He brings mostly bills and junk mail. And it seems all too frequently.

With email and Facebook and Twitter it seems we’ve all taken most of our contact and conversation online. Truth be told, while it tends to create more interaction, I find the quality of that contact a bit less memorable than physical contact. I may read thousands of words each day on the internet, but quite frankly, remember little the next day. Including some information that I made note to remember, but now can’t locate a link for, even to save my life.

What I do enjoy, is the few magazines and newsletters the mailman brings once a month. I can enjoy reading the article in my most comfortable chair, or out by the pool now that summer is here. I can start now, put it down as I drift off to sleep, and then come back to the very same page later, without having to remember the “link”. There’s something wonderful still about the physical page that no amount of internet hype or Kindle Reader will ever replace.

Birthday cards now come too often and too fast. And seldom with the gifts inside that I’d received as a kid!

But I am grateful for the mailman, at least once a month, when he brings me my favorite reading material.

So I thought of you, my loyal readers, and wondered if you too would like to appreciate the dedicated mailman a little more? I wondered if you wouldn’t like to get your hands on – really get your hands on – some of the greatest information I’ve found on photography.

Tips on taking better photos. Tips on using Photoshop. Tips on the health and wellness benefits of photography. Tips on the best products to buy. Tips even, on where to get more tips! All in a wonderfully lite newsletter you can take anywhere  to enjoy.

This month (July 2011) there are tips on using the Photoshop CS5 Content Aware, there’s a research article by a notable doctor on how to use activities like photography to improve your health, there’s an article on the best way to capture Fireworks, and info on a great new audio program for changing your life through photography, and more.

Maybe if you’d like a little more happy mail, you’ll have a look at my new, “made-from-real-paper” newsletter!

Here’s a link to the website:

There’s also a banner link on the right side of this page for your convenience.

Happy Summer!

Robert Schwarztrauber

P.S. While I may take issue with the content he brings, I have the utmost respect and regard for the tireless and dedicated postal workers. Six days a week, through the coldest, windiest and snowiest BUFFALO winters they bring the mail every day. Humid summer heat and rain, ooh the rain! The mail still comes. It’s an incredibly physical job and they do it without complaint. I have tremendous personal respect for the mailman. Especially, since I was one once. For a WEEK!

If only he’d quit bringing those darned BILLS! =)

Mothers Love This Gift Most

May 8, 2011

Happy Mothers Day Gift from

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

None of us would be here today without you!

And we’re grateful for every day you’re here to share your love, your kindness, and your wisdom.

Here’s some great news for you – and a great gift idea for those looking for something truly special to give.

I read a report today by Evangeline Lausier, MD, director of clinical services at Duke Integrative Medicine and assistant professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, both in Durham, North Carolina. She is an internist specializing in women’s health and complex multi-system illnesses, with an emphasis on preventive lifestyle.

In the Bottom Line Report, she listed several ways to boost your energy in 8 minutes or less:

“Take 800 steps. A moderately brisk walk — at a pace of about 100 steps per minute — is an excellent way to get blood flowing to your heart and brain. Exercise also triggers the release of endorphins, brain chemicals that make you feel alert and energetic. If possible, walk outdoors — the sun’s rays activate the synthesis of mood-enhancing vitamin D.”

And what better way to get motivated and actually DO IT than to take your camera along to record some special sights along the way.

Here’s what else Dr. Lausier recommended:

“Express yourself to lower stress. Play the piano, pen a poem, paint a picture or just doodle. The purpose: Creative self-expression is stimulating — it alleviates energy-draining stress by helping you reconnect with your deep inner well of emotional well-being.”

While she didn’t expressly mention digital photography, we know that it is a great creative outlet. And it has one distinct advantage over those she did mention…we do it while in motion! We stand, we walk, we climb hills and we get fresh air and sunshine!

So if you’re looking for a perfect Mother’s Day gift to get your mom…get her a digital camera! That way she can have fun and get the exercise that will keep her healthy and with us for a long, long time.

If you’re a mom and didn’t get a camera (and you need one) go out and give yourself the best Mother’s Day gift ever!

Give the gift that moms love most…the one that just might help them be with us longer…give them a camera!

Happy Day Moms!

Robert Schwarztrauber

For more photography relate fun, check out my other sites at: