Archive for the ‘photography’ Category

How to get “unstuck”

August 3, 2013

ELEPHANTweb

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.

Why?

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.

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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 Amazon.com 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 http://FitnessPhotoCourse.com

What is Photography?

February 27, 2012

Seeing is…

What?

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

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”

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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 http://RobertsPhotoNews.com

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 Amazon.com or visit his website at: RobertsPhotoNews.com

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: http://reflexmecamera.com

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

FitnessPhotoCourse.com can help you get started on a photo adventure that lasts a lifetime!

Photography Changes Everything

June 27, 2011

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

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:

http://click.si.edu/VisitorStory.aspx?story=554

Robert Schwarztrauber

Photo Tips and Feel Good Tricks

June 26, 2011
healthy photographer newsletter by FitnessPhotoCourse.com

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:

http://FitnessPhotoCourse.com/healthyPhotographerNews

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 TotalfinessPhotography.com

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:

http://CreativePhotographyTricks.com

http://PhotoshopHouseOfCards.blogspot.com

http://photoshoptipcards.com

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,

CreativePhotographyTricks.com

and get started right now.

*2010 Survey Conducted by TotalFitnessPhotography.com 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

Creative Photography Tricks

January 22, 2011
CreativePhotographytricks.com/Cat_Bookends_PSU

from CreativePhotographyTricks.com

Creative photography can add a whole new dimension and enjoyment to your photography. It can turn so-so photos into stunning works of art. It can create interest in your work through online communities and in your own local community.

If you’ve lost interest in your hobby, or are struggling to come up with new projects that excite you, or you just want photography to be more fun, you owe it to yourself to explore the possibilities of adding a few creative photography tricks to your repertoire.

Nothing beats the feeling you get when the  “oohs and ahhs” start coming when folks look at your creative photos. It has been said that we humans need  praise and attention for good mental health as much as we need vitamins and minerals for good physical health.

Learning just a few new creative photography tricks is a great way to start getting your RDA of attention and praise. It’s literally just a click away!

I’ve just opened a website that’s makes it so easy for you to get started in creative photography. In no time at all you’ll be creating clever photos to amaze and confound your friends. You’ll be their hero and leave them drooling in awe at your new found skills!

Here’s a link to the new website…click on over and have a look!

http://creativephotographytricks.com

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: robert@totalfitnessphotography.com

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

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BMG3WNP

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

What Are You Looking At?

May 17, 2010

DandelionWhen you look at this flower, what do you see?

An unsightly weed from your lawn? Or a beautiful flower from nature’s bountiful bouquet?

My guess is, if you’re like the media or the majority of the population they cater to, you will see a weed. You will complain to everyone about how awful it is. You will curse it and worry about what your neighbors will think if they see you with one.You will see the negative side and you will be unhappy.

Just this morning, the day after the Miss USA Pageant, all the news from the media is focused on the negative. It’s all about how Miss Michigan, Rima Fakih, stumbled as she walked in her evening gown. They’re focused (AGAIN!) on the negative. They look for what’s bad in a situation.

When you’re focused on the bad, you cannot see all that’s good.

If you want to be happier, stop looking at the negative in life. See the whole picture. Look for what’s good and you will see plenty of it. Everyday!

Instead of a girl falling over here dress, you’ll get to see a beautiful beauty queen. You’ll can smile with her and feel her joy. You can rejoice that in America anyone CAN succeed. It doesn’t matter where you come from. You can be reminded once again that with dedication and hard work you CAN fulfill your dreams, just as this lovely young lady did.  Even if you stumble along the way (as everyone must do at some point).

One of the best things about photography is it almost forces you to look for what’s good. It changes your focus. Not just for the hour or the day, but for life!

How much better to tune out the negative in your life and look for what’s positive. What’s beautiful. What’s yours for the taking with just a snap of your shutter. There IS a whole world of nature’s beauty waiting for you to see it.

Don’t let the news media get you down. You control what you’re looking at.

What ARE you looking at?

Be honest. Be careful.

Answering that question just might change your life.

Robert Schwarztrauber

“The Secret” of Photography

April 7, 2010
The Secret

The Secret Revealed

One of the most popular videos of late has been, “The Secret”. In this film, much is made of the Law of Attraction. Particular attention is placed on the premise that as you think, so shall you become. While I found the film to be motivational and informative in many ways, I found it came up short on something equally important to success.

Action.

You can think of great inspiring plans, and dream of the opulent treasures that await you, but until you actually DO SOMETHING, things may be attracted to you, but it is by doing that we prepare ourselves to receive what we have coming. Until you do, until you give, you can never begin to get. It is the results of your actions, that began with your thoughts, that ultimately brings you the things you desire.

And the things you fix your mind to getting.

One of the most prominent figures in the movie “The Secret,” Bob Proctor,  made an analogy to the Polariod camera in his famous book, “You Were Born Rich”.
He said that our conscious mind is like the shutter on the camera. It is responsible for snapping the picture. The conscious mind chooses what we see and what we focus on we permit through to the subconscious mind. He goes on to say the subconscious mind is like the rest of the camera. It is responsible for bringing forth the image captured by the conscious mind and producing it exactly the way it was seen. The final Polariod  photograph is our result.

Our conscious mind, our thoughts, envision the thing we want, our subconscious mind then gets to work to create that vision in a physical form which is then available for all the world to see – we call it our results. If our image of what we want is not clear, our results will not be clear either. if we can’t hold a steady thought in our head, if we’re flipping all around from one thing to another, our results will reflect that lack of focus.

To extract the maximum benefit from “The Secret” and the Law of Attraction we must first have a clear vision of what we want to attract. We must then hold steady and focus on that vision even while we go about our regular duties in life. We must let that vision work through our powerful subconscious mind to process it into the physical result (the doing) and only then can we expect our vision to be drawn to us in the form we intended.

The process for getting good results in photography holds true for life as well. Have a good vision to share. Hold steady while you compose your vision. Have a proper tool to process your image. Then share the vision that is produced to benefit those who see it too.

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 Formula for Regret

March 4, 2010

Formular for RegretWoulda. Shouda. Coulda.

While not grammatically correct, I think these three words correctly describe the feelings experienced, at one time or another, by every human being. All three can be summed up by one word. Regret.

For many it becomes a ritual. A habit. A way of life.  Sadly, these folks often find the success they desire elusive

But when they come to understand how the universe works, and align their actions with the forces at play, they can quickly join their more successful counterparts.

Understanding how things work not only makes it easier to succeed, but faster too.

If you are experiencing regret in any area, the root cause is most often described by  something I call the “Formula for Regret“.

Simply stated and shown by the “photo” graph above, Your Intentions Quickly Fade over Time.

If you think about the successful accomplishments in your life, times when you got done the things you wanted to do, even the small things, you will always find that you dug right in. You had a thought, jumped right in to do what you had to do, and in short time the thing was done. You experienced success.

Conversely, if you examine your regrets in life, you will find a pattern of delay. There was something you thought you wanted, an intention, but maybe weren’t exactly sure how to get it so you procrastinated. After a time you found yourself justifying not getting it (your regret) by saying that you probably didn’t want or need that thing after all.  But still, a tiny smidgen of regret stayed with you. Maybe for years and years.

The “Formula for Regret” can work for or against you. If you understand that your intentions fade, lose power quickly over time, you can use the formula to begin at once taking action to move closer to the thing you want. Even if you don’t know exactly how to get it, take some action, any action. Even just finding out who to ask  helps you make progress and keeps your intention alive.

A motivational speaker, Joe Vitale, has a famous mantra based on this formula, he says, “Money Loves Speed”. Many successful stories in business are tied to those who did something first, not necessarily best. Ray Kroc opened the first fast-food hamburger chain. Notice the word FAST in there. Not “THE BEST” just fast. Here we have “The Original Pancake House”. Thousands of restaurants sell pancakes, but without even knowing if they were good, if I were looking to eat pancakes and knew nothing about the other restaurants in town, I’d want to got to the “Original” pancake house. They were first, still here –  must be good.

Most folks go to their graves with more regret for the things they DIDN’T DO than for the things they did do. So if you’re tired of regrets and wish to enjoy a great deal more success in your life, TAKE ACTION ON YOUR INTENTIONS QUICKLY!

Stop second guessing (our human intuition is remarkable accurate when working for the good), stop procrastinating, and start taking action immediately on the thing that is most troubling you today.

These days, many folks who got layed off regret not starting and owning their own business. Many of my readers (you?) may have considered starting a photography business. If that’s you, TODAY is the best day to put your intentions to work. If you don’t, I guarantee they will fade over time and in 5 or 10 years, you’ll still be where you are right now. Only you’ll be weary from carrying regret.

Look to the right hand column for proven solutions that banish the “Formula for Regret” from your life, replacing it with happiness and prosperity.

Robert Schwarztrauber

Busting Through Your Fears

February 15, 2010

STained Glass

This past week one of my best and oldest friends came face to face with mankind’s ultimate fear…the fear of dying.

He had been very ill for several months. The doctors had a long talk with him about quality of life and encouraged him to disconnect the life sustaining equipment which had been his support for these many months. Encouraged by an optimistic and energetic therapist he committed to a removal date and followed through with great resolve.

On the morning of that critical day, surrounded by friends, the machine was removed and we waited. No one could be sure what would happen. Hour after hour past and all the fears that one could conger in one’s head failed to become reality. He breathed. He lived. In fact, with the passing of the fear, he grew ever stronger. His outlook brighter.

Sometimes in life, all we need is a little encouragement. Sometimes we must accept that no one is there to encourage us and we must dig deep with ourselves to summon the courage. Hope is a powerful weapon against the fears that often consume us.

Big fears and little fears can paralyze us. Thinking about them can waste years of our preciously short life. Worst of all, most often our fears are based on unfounded ideas. We create all sorts of scenarios based on speculation. Absent of any real facts, why do we waste time and drain ourselves emotionally on the negative  “what ifs” without giving equal time to the positive “what ifs”?

“Face the fear and the fear will disappear.” “Do it anyway.” “I’ve had a great many fears in my life, and most of them never happened.”

There are a zillion quotes that preach the value of facing up to your fears. Running from them is a bad addiction that only leaves you trapped – as if in a bubble you’ll bounce from fear to fear. Only when you bust through your fear will you be rid of it and free to move in a larger world.

What’s your greatest fear right now?

What would you have to believe – choose to believe – in order to bust through your fear today?

What could you do, right now, that would take you beyond your fear?

Many folks have long dreamed of turning there favorite hobby into a source of income, but were afraid to get started.

If that speaks to you, perhaps today is the day you should vow to put at least that one fear behind you. On the right margin of this page are many simple, proven options that you can take you from your fear into a profitable photography business. They have been proven to work by others who set aside their fears. And they’re all risk free to try. So ask yourself, “why won’t you try?”

Often times staying where we are – is the scariest thing of all.

Robert Schwarztrauber