Archive for the ‘fitness’ Category

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.


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

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

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
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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:

Feel 10 Years Younger Too!

April 26, 2011

Feel 10 years Younger at

Yes…that really is me!

Here, for the second day in a row, because we got more great news from the scientific community.

More evidence that what we’re doing is the absolute best thing we could be doing.

We know it’s good for our physical health and fitness, and now Dr. Nose from Japan says (in a New York Times article)  it could make us feel up to 10 years younger!

“Dr. Hiroshi Nose, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of sports medical sciences at Shinshu University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan, who has enrolled thousands of older Japanese citizens in an innovative, five-month-long program of brisk, interval-style walking (three minutes of fast walking, followed by three minutes of slower walking, repeated 10 times). The results have been striking. “Physical fitness — maximal aerobic power and thigh muscle strength — increased by about 20 percent,” Dr. Nose wrote in an e-mail, “which is sure to make you feel about 10 years younger than before training.” The walkers’ “symptoms of lifestyle-related diseases (hypertension, hyperglycemia and obesity) decreased by about 20 percent,” he added, while their depression scores dropped by half.”

I know I feel 10 years younger!

While we’re not as wrapped in the formality and regimen, essentially we’re doing the same thing. We walk quickly in between photo locations, we walk slowly as we plot our best angles, we do a few leg squats to get the best view.  We shoot our photo… then away we go again.

We get big points for the interest that photography brings to the game too.

While those older Japanese subject had the program for motivation, we’re on our own. We have to motivate ourselves. Luckily, there’s a whole big, beautiful world out there begging to pose for our photograph!

The article also said,

“…the one indisputable aspect of the single best exercise is that it be sustainable. From there, though, the debate grows heated.”

That’s the great thing about photography as our motivator. It takes our mind off the “exercise” part and instead keeps our focus on the fun. On the hunt for great new photos! That motivation sustains us.

Additionally,in the NYT article  Michael Joyner, M.D., a professor of anesthesiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and a leading researcher in the field of endurance exercise said, “I personally think that brisk walking is far and away the single best exercise.”

The article also said we get the most benefits… in just the first 30 minutes!

Grab your camera folks!

The medical community is on board.

What a great way to start the week.

Robert Schwarztrauber

You ca read the entire NYT article here:

Accidental Weight Loss Key

April 25, 2011

Puppy at TotalFinessPhotography.comWhat if…

Instead of struggling to lose weight, you just did something fun and the weight just disappeared?

Instead of dreading those trips to the gym, where you have to parade your not-so-fit body around in front of all those super-thin, super-buff model types, you could just do your own thing, in private, and get the same results?

Instead of having to wait weeks or months to get any benefit from your “exercise”, you could find an immediate benefit…one that would inspire you to keep at it happily, day after day?

Well, I’ve got good news for you!

You can!

There was a story I read this morning about a lady who “accidentally” lost 11 pounds  because her husband gave her a puppy!

Really what he gave her was “A Powerful Reason Why”.

Because she got this puppy, she now had to take it for walks. And those regular walks got her started on a path to better fitness.

The more she walked and felt better, the more progress she made.

As she lost weight she was then inspired to start eating better. Ultimately, she lost 41 pounds and found her self living a much more healthy lifestyle.

All because her husband gave her a dog…a motivator…a reason to get up, get out and start moving.

I was so happy to read that story. There it was again. PROOF that the simple act of getting up, getting out and walking was a catalyst for good health. All you need is  a  motivator. A big enough REASON WHY. (with a built in distraction)

However, rather than endure the 24/7 responsibilities of raising a dog, I’ve found photography to be a much less demanding (if fact it’s more of a freedom finding) motivation.

Imagine if her husband had given her a camera and a few secrets about how to use photographs to connect with a group of supporting partners around the world?

In fact, that’s exactly what I do!

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can get “accidentally” fit with camera in hand, drop me an email at:

You can read more about the young lady and her dog at:

A puppy inspired Abby to walk off 41 pounds!

Whatever you do, I encourage you to spend a few moments thinking about your life. Which road will you choose…to stay on your current path…or to finally change your life and set off on the path to better health and fitness.

A positive life that brings you happiness, joy and true meaning can be yours. Discover your passion and take action now. Today!

Multiply Apple’s Benefit – Do This First

April 4, 2011
Robert Schwarztrauber Apple

Do This to Apples and Multiply Your Health Benefits

We’ve all heard the familiar chant,

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

I believe it has a great deal of truth to it. There certainly is plenty of evidence that eating more fruits (and vegetables) is good for our physical bodies.

So by all means, be sure to eat an apple (or pear, banana, pineapple, peach, orange, or pomegranate) every day.

But if you really want to get maximum, whole-body benefit from your fruit, I recommend you take a picture of it first.

Sounds crazy right? But wait. Let me tell you why this might not be as crazy as it sounds.

OK. Thanks for sticking with me, because I’m about to reveal the results of a recent survey which shows the amazing ability of photography to improve our health. Our physical health, and our mental health.

A recent survey*, conducted by TotalFitnessPhotography offers some interesting health benefits not normally associated with photography.

Photographers are More Active – 3 out of 4 people in the survey indicated that photography made them more active each week.

Photography is Mind Stimulating – All of the survey’s participants said that photography stimulates their mind. Half stated that it made them feel more focused, alive and creative.

Photography Improves Power of Concentration – 82% found the ability to sustain high levels of concentration while taking photos. (not an easy task in today’s hurry up era with rampant accounts of Attention Deficit Disorder and infinite media distractions)

Photography is Fun – Most study participants were involved just for fun, deriving no income from their photos.

Photography Boosts Self Esteem – a huge 93% of the people reported that participation in photography made them feel good about themselves.

Photography Lifts Spirits – 8 out of 10 said it lifts their mental state daily… it makes them feel good.

Photography’s Social Contribution – More than half the people surveyed felt more connected to the local community and the world.

Photography Ends Isolation – 8 out of 10 reported that their involvement in photography had increased their contact with other people.

Surprises! – 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 are some 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.”

Personally, I was not surprised by the results of this survey. I had already experienced all of these benefits myself. But I wanted proof that my experience was not unique. And I got it. So I am convinced, now more than ever, that nothing beats photography for  all-out, total-body fitness. A program that folks of ALL AGES can benefit from.

Getting started on something new is always the hardest part. What is it they say, that an object at rest tends to stay at rest, while an object in motion tends to stay in motion. I’d like to get you in motion.

And what could be simpler than taking a few photos of your favorite fruit before you eat it.

Some of the greatest photographs are also the simplest. And they don’t require the most expensive cameras or photo equipment. You can begin right where you are with what you’ve got. Then, as your interest and skills improve (because you’re in motion!) you can choose to buy whatever else you want to express even more creativity.

I encourage you to just get started. And I’ll be happy to help you if you’ll let me.

Why not pop on over to my website,

and get started right now.

*2010 Survey Conducted by using SurveyMonkey, the free online source for targeted response research. Survey designed and results compiled by Robert Schwarztrauber, veteran photographer, leading expert on the health benefits of photography, and author of many books including, “Building Blocks of Prosperity”, “The Original Photoshop Recipe Cards” and his upcoming new program, “PhotoPlan 25 – Total Fitness Through Photography”

Robert Schwarztrauber

Photo Fitness Secret Revealed

March 1, 2011

It’s March now, we’re two months into the year.

If you made a resolution in January to shape up, get fit, or lose weight, how’s that going?

Maybe you decided you’d need help and bought one of the classic fitness machines or workout routines from a late night infomercial. How’s that going?

When you think fitness machine, it’s likely that CAMERA never comes to mind.

But upon closer examination, what do we expect from a “fitness machine”?

…A man-made object that helps us get moving

…Creates physical changes in our body

…It Makes us feel better after use

…Makes exercise more interesting

But most fitness machines fall short when it comes to the one thing that we really want…


Typical exercise machines require weeks or months of regular use before we see any benefits.

A digital camera on the other hand has something for us as soon as we’re done… Pictures.

Let’s recap why the digital camera is such a great fitness machine:

…it gets us moving. There’s a whole world to see and a camera gives us a great reason to get up off our butts and go see it.

…since we’re moving, we are improving our health. In every publication you read, walking is ALWAYS listed as a great source of exercise. Both for the body AND the mind.

…since we’re moving, we naturally feel better. The human body wasn’t designed for prolonged periods of inactivity.

…it keeps us interested, motivated to capture the next great photograph to share with our friends. Boredom, as in walking nowhere on a treadmill, is the biggest reason folks lose interest in an exercise routine. In fact, the word ROUTINE just screams BORING!

…the camera gives us instant gratification. When we’re done for the day… an easy hour of walking that passed quickly, with occasional squats to take the low photo, and hill climbs thrown in to reach some interesting object in our path…we have photographs! Something tangible. A reason to do it all again tomorrow or the next day. And just like all the other fitness machines, over time we will get the results we ultimately desire…the better, fitter body.

But we will have had fun along the way!

And maybe faster results because we never quit.

The digital camera…it just might be the finest piece of fitness equipment ever designed.

If you’d like details on a Photo Fitness plan, just send an email to me at:

Robert Schwarztrauber

Time for a New and Exciting View

December 18, 2010

Niagara Falls Best ViewMaybe this has happened to you too…

The other night I was watching “Build It Bigger” on The Discovery Channel. They were showing how the Hoover Dam was built. I’ve always been fascinated by how some of these giant structures come to be.

In fact, I was so wrapped up in the program that I didn’t hear my daughter ask me a question. “Dad, didn’t you hear me?” she asked.

“No, I was hypnotized by the TV,” I said.

Truth be told, I was not really hypnotized by the  tube, but the results were the same as if I had been. In reality, I was simply experiencing the effects of tremendous focus. Concentration. In that state we block out unrelated sights and sounds until they suddenly startle us from our trance.

It is a known fact that most of the world’s greatest success stories are born of this great concentration. Someone with great vision and persistence (often called FOCUS) was able to accomplish in one lifetime what the millions who came before him or her never could.

Some people say it’s hard to concentrate, hard to stay focused. And yet everyday millions of people will sit hypnotized for hours in front of the TV. Concentrating on the plethora of nonsense borne of viewer polls and advertising statistics. If it’s loud and changes views every 7 seconds, we’ll watch it – good, bad, or ugly. Especially bad or ugly.

But there is a better view available. One that lets you choose the best scenes in the world. Surprisingly, some of them can be found right in your own backyard. (Like Niagara Falls is to me. See photo above).One that lets you get your body moving, one that lets you meet new people, one that lets you feel better about yourself instead of worse.

There is a view that will train your mind to concentrate, to focus as you’ve never done before.

Let’s recap.

Better concentration. More fun, more physical activity. More people meeting. More praise. A heightened sense of self-respect and a general overall good feeling about one’s self.

“Sounds pretty good,” you say. “How can I get that view?”

Well, it is as near as the back of your camera. It’s called, oddly enough, a viewfinder.

Ironic, the simplicity. We all walk around hoping for something new and exciting to appear in our life, but though we want another view, how many of us actually go to the VIEW FINDER?

Millions of photographers do worldwide. But all those extra benefits I mentioned in the recap are often kept quiet, and discussed infrequently, and just amongst ourselves. You can join us if you like! We’ve got a great view on life because everyday we get up and look for what’s beautiful in this world. Studies have shown that what we look for, what we think about most in our life, comes to be. We create our own reality – which is merely a reflection of our thoughts.

This year is about to close. I can promise that if you do nothing to change the view, the view will still be the same next year. And the year after that. You’ll sleepwalk  through life, hypnotized by the folks who do have a better view.

Why not get a little serious about photography now?

The physical, mental and even economic rewards can be great. But as they say…you’ve got to participate.

Robert Schwarztrauber

P.S. If you’re interested in using your viewfinder (your camera) to really improve your health, wealth and wisdom in the coming year, send me an email and I’ll be sure to put you on my pre-publication list for my soon-to-be-released home-study photography program. Unlike other programs, this one’s not designed to push you toward achieving worldly artistic greatness, but is focused instead on a simple,  fun way to achieve your own personal satisfaction, and better physical and mental health through digital photography.

Send your emails to:

Zig Ziglar’s Take on Your Autumn Path

October 27, 2010

"Fall Path"

Our senior years are often referred to as “The Autumn of Our Life”.

We’ve weathered the seasons. Grown strong. Brought forth new fruit. We’ve matured.

But Autumn doesn’t mean “the end”. It’s likely we’ll slow down a bit, but we’re far from through!

Many new studies show that our chronological age does not have to be reflected in our physical or mental states. There is a great deal we can do to control the condition of our bodies and our minds.

Studies also show that one thing is key. Exercise.

Just last night I read two reports from totally unrelated sources that came to the exact same conclusion…exercise (something as simple as walking) can slow or reverse the effects of aging on our bodies and our minds.

Adding an element of interest, challenge, or interconnection with other people  (like photography!)  intensifies the effect.

In a recent article, Zig Ziglar, America’s famed sales and motivational speaker sited research indicating that exercise is the factor that seems most likely to benefit the brainpower of the healthy, sick, young and old alike. He recommended 9 ways to stay fresh. Remarkably,  8 out of the 9 can be accomplished with your camera in hand.

1) Be flexible.  2) Find peace.  3) Eat right.  4) Get lots of stimulation.  5) Stay in school.  6) Seek new horizons.  7) Engage the world.  8)  Take a daily walk.  9) Finally, keep control.

In the second unrelated article University of Pittsburgh psychologist Kirk Erickson told Yahoo:

“In fact, there’’s only one practice that’’s been proven, without question, to preserve your memory: exercise. Aerobic activities tend to show larger effects than non-aerobic activities.”

Working up a sweat helps your mind stay fit better than any crossword puzzle–unless you’re doing that crossword on a treadmill.

The good news is that you don’’t need to run a marathon. Just walking six miles a week can ward off memory disorders caused by aging, according to Erickson’s research published this month in the medical journal Neurology. “It appears that if people start exercising their memory may improve and if you continue to exercise, that might delay, or offset, the age-related decline in memory,” he explains.

And you don’t need to lift any heavy barbells either. Erickson and his team monitored 300 senior adults over a period of 13 years, and found that those who walked between 6 and 9 miles a week——whether to work or with the dog –had half the brain deterioration of those who didn’’t. “Exercise seems to enhance some of the more fundamental properties of our brain,” Erickson explains. “It increases the growth of new cells and improves cellular processes associated with learning and memory.”

To put it simply, walking keeps your gray matter from shrinking. And the more matter, the more mind.  >>>end article<<<

Substitute “CAMERA” for “dog” and you have a much more potent stimulant for fighting the effects of aging. Photography requires far more use of your brain cells and concentration than any dog will. Don’t get me wrong…I love dogs! They have a powerful effect on keeping us happy too. Maybe you can alternate days of walking the dog for exercise, with walking your camera for mind power!

More and more studies seem to be supporting my position that one of the best ways to keep your mind and body young is to pursue your photography with passion!

Get up. Get out and enjoy this beautiful world we live in.

And bring your camera to record and share that beauty. It might just save your life!

Or at least make your Autumn years that much more colorful.

If you haven’t already, please help me in my research on this topic by taking just 3 minutes to complete my survey on the effect photography has on those who take pictures, either casually or professionally. It’s completely anonymous, and just 10 multiple choice question.

Here’s the link to the study that’s posted on SurveyMonkey

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Speaking of scary… one study also sited that people’s single biggest fear after 55 is Alzheimer’s disease. Take care of yourself…grab your camera and start walking!

by Robert Schwarztrauber

Killer Chairs: Fall Solution

September 14, 2010

Autumn Leaves Save LivesHere’s a shocker…Could your chair be killing you?

There is a ton of research to support the idea that inactivity can lead to an early death. Our bodies are a dynamic machine and long periods of idle sitting just aren’t good for us.

Studies have shown that Americans, on average, spend more than half their waking hours sitting.

Dr. James A. Levine, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and director of the Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) Laboratory at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and co-author of the book “Move a Little, Lose a Lot” thinks our simple sitting habit might just be killing us.

Doctors all over are becoming aware of the serious health consequences associated with prolonged sitting and inactivity. It’s not just the obvious obesity, but also high cholesterol, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.

As Dr. Levine states, “prolonged sitting stalls the metabolic machinery”. “Serious consequences result when the muscular body sits idle”.

The good news is, even just a little activity can accomplish a lot to raise your health levels.

What better way to get up and get moving than to grab your camera and catch a new view of this magnificent world we live in?

Here in WNY, there is a hint of Autumn in the air. Soon, the leaves will be putting on a show of fantastic color. Why not plan to
get out and see first hand the changing of the season? Choose a few favorite spots, or explore new ones. Take a drive out to the country or simply explore your local parks.

Whether you capture the beauty of a simple leaf up close or the cornucopia of color in the tree tops, each day bring a new view.
Get up. Get out. Move it or lose it.

Why sit idly by when there is so much beauty to capture with your camera?

Such a simple activity, packed with powerful result! One study even showed that just fidgeting while you sit increased energy expenditure by 10%.

One can see how photography can multiply our energy gains exponentially. You get up and move to take the photos then sit down and “fidget” with Photoshop to perfect them or create custom art. What a brilliant way to stay active, energized and ALIVE!

Photography might just be the perfect, all-around, every-age fitness solution!

Robert Schwarztrauber

Rudyard Kipling: On Success in Photography and Life

March 28, 2010
Children of the Fire

Children of the Fire

If I’ve learned anything in my many years it is this:

“You succeed by learning a skill, applying what you know, failing, learning something more, trying again. You repeat the cycle, hopefully failing a bit less each time until finally, if you persist, you succeed. Learn, fail, learn more, try more, eventually succeed.

It’s THE process for becoming good. Even “The Best”.  True in photography, true in life.

I think Rudyard Kipling summed it up very well when he said:

“I keep six honest serving men,

they  taught me all I know,

their names are what, why and when,

and how and where, and who.”

If you want to be great in whatever you do, make use these six counselors to help you. Persistence and dedication are your allies. Most folks will never be great simply because they lack the will to do what others won’t, to have what others can.

Want to be great? Do what the majority won’t!

Let’s take Mr. Kipling’s six honest serving folks one at a time and see how they can help us become more successful photographers.

What: Do you take pictures of the same things everyone else does? Stop it! People crave variety, something with a “Wow!” factor.

Why: Every great photograph answers this question. “Why am I looking at this?” If your photo doesn’t instantly offer your viewer the answer to this question, you’ve got to try harder, try again. Because the viewer shouldn’t have to, won’t think. “Why are you showing me this?”  If you can answer that question with your photo, then you’re miles ahead. Capture the emotion, the drama, capture a color, a light. Capture something special.

When: Do you shoot all your photos at the same time? Stop! Mix it up. Early morning and evening offer the best lighting for outdoor scenes. Cloudy days can be great too. Shooting on a sunny afternoon will put awful shadows in your work, so unless you’re going for a harsh look, avoid these times. Often it is helpful to add a “When” to your photos. Including weddings, birthdays, and other special events can add greatly to the interest of your photo.

How: How much do you study photography? Study proven and new methods? You should always be asking, “How is that done?” As long as you stay curious about your interest, and try new things, you will improve. Often before an assignment I’ll flip through 100’s and 100’s of photos on the internet to search for ideas and inspiration. Not to copy someone, but to see “How did they cover this subject?” I’ll look for an hour or so and then go to bed. Almost always,  the next day I’ll have dozens of ideas I’ll want to try based on images I saw from the day before. Look at the light in all the great photos you see and try to figure out how they achieved that look – so you can do it yourself. You can also physically change how you shoot. Shoot telephoto. Shoot wide angle. Shoot macro. Try fixing your aperture for a day and adjust around that. Try fixing your shutter speed so it forces you to learn to compensate with aperture. Change how you shoot your subjects, lie on the ground and shoot up, get a ladder and shoot down. Great photographers (designers and other artists) often have a signature “Look”. What’s yours?

Where: Where do you go to take photos? Go someplace different! Often we get in a rut, shooting the same things. Go somewhere different to find different subjects. If you normally shoot outdoors, shoot indoors. If you normally shoot pets, shoot kids. If you normally shoot kids, shoot teens. Shoot weddings. Shoot still lifes. Are your backgrounds always the same, change them. Change where you typically stand. Get closer! You can also change where you get your knowledge from. Hundreds of sites on the internet. Try a new one.

Who: Who are you learning from? If it’s not working, change that. If is is working, honor that pro by learning faster! Maybe you need to change who you shoot? Or maybe you need to join a club or forum so you can get feedback from some different “whos”? Anywho, changing your reference source can be a great way to change your results.

So there you have it. Six ways to shake up your habits and make great strides to becoming better at photography and everything you do.

Photography: What you need to learn in photography, you’ll need to learn to be successful in everything – so you might as well grab your camera and have some fun. Make photography part of your total fitness package. Mind, body and soul.

It’s total fitness photography.

Robert Schwarztrauber

The Secret to Getting Something Better

February 4, 2010
“What you see is what you get!”

There’s a reason why quotes become common place. It’s because they have been shown to be true. Otherwise, once said, they would quickly be dismissed and forgotten.

“What you see is what you get” goes deeper than just taking things at face value. It means more than getting exactly what you see in front of you and nothing more.

What you see and how you see it actually define your reality. Notice I say YOUR REALITY and not just reality. We all live in the same world, but we don’t perceive it that way.

If I wake up one day, and it’s snowing and cold outside, I might think this is terrible weather for driving the kids to school. If you’re an avid skier you might wake up and think the weather is excellent today. We both wake up in the same exact world, but our reality is different.

We “SEE” things differently – just as if we were wearing colored glasses.

Colored glasses on our brain that is. Everything we think is “colored” by our past experience, good or bad. Everything we think is colored by our emotions that day. If I’m grumpy, the world takes on a sort of gray color that day. If I’m happy, the world seems a bright sunny yellow.

Fortunately, the color of our glasses is completely under our control. No external forces can make you feel anything you don’t want to feel. No external forces can make you SEE things a certain way. Our creator, in his infinite wisdom, gave us complete control over only one thing…what we think. In effect, the ability to change the color of our glasses.

Having been given complete control over only one thing, it makes you wonder and appreciate just how important that one thing is. Seems it’s all important. You can change, at any time, what you think. That’s powerful!

Changing your thoughts can change your life…in the instant you decide to do so.

There is no “reality”. The world, and every smallest part of it, is just what and how you choose to see it.

You are the creator of YOUR WORLD!

If you’re looking for the fastest, easiest way to change anything in your life, I have included the proven secret on page 15 of “Building Blocks of Prosperity”.

Robert Schwarztrauber

Click To Change Your Life

January 25, 2010
Deer Tracks

Changing Perspectives

Nothing ever changes.

Did you ever have a day where you felt that way? Maybe you’ve had several days in a row, or weeks, maybe even years where it seemed like nothing ever changes for you.

Have you ever felt like you were like a train on the tracks, unable to break free to go your own way?


Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. You simply need a change of perspective.

Luckily, photography offers many opportunities that change your perspective instantly!

When you begin to explore this world through the camera lens you begin to see things you’ve never seen before. Changes in light, changes in angles, colors, and mood.

Even better, you begin to discover that you can control those events. Through your camera settings and body position relative to your subject you begin to see things differently. You begin to discover that things aren’t as “black and white” as you once imagined.

You begin to experience a sense of control returning to your life, as if your train had just jumped the tracks. You’re the driver now and you can control what the world will see. You will take the photograph “your way”.

Just this past weekend I had temporarily forgotten this. I was driving a bit hesitantly to one of my favorite photo spots. Hesitant because I had been shooting at that same spot for over a year now.  “Surely I must have seen everything by now,” I thought. But once I got out of my car and began to walk around, I was reminded that the world is constantly changing. I saw trees, statues, stained glass windows, and squirrels perching and playing as never before. And of course when you’re shooting outdoors the sky’s light is always changing.

Once again I had set out with my camera and gained a new perspective. And some great photos to share too.

Feeling down?

Feeling out of control?

Pick up your camera and just start clicking that shutter. Yes, even if you don’t want to.

When you’re finished you will have discovered, as I did, that changing your mood is as simple as changing your perspective. Happiness is just a click away.

Robert Schwarztrauber