Archive for the ‘teen suicide’ 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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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

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 http://robertsphotonews.com