Archive for the ‘weight loss’ Category

How to get “unstuck”

August 3, 2013


Are you stuck?

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

I’m going to save your life today.


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

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

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

You’re welcome!

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

Let’s tackle the mental side first.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But if you can’t get out today…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robert Schwarztrauber

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


Camera Best Gift for Single Folks

December 16, 2011

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

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

Here it is. A digital camera!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dealing with Loss: Content Aware Fill for the Soul

November 10, 2011

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

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

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

How do we fill the void?

How do we make the emptiness go away.

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

It hurts. How do we stop the pain?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photography is life’s “Content Aware Fill”.

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

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

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

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

Robert Schwarztrauber

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

Feel 10 Years Younger Too!

April 26, 2011

Feel 10 years Younger at

Yes…that really is me!

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

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

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

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

I know I feel 10 years younger!

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

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

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

The article also said,

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

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

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

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

Grab your camera folks!

The medical community is on board.

What a great way to start the week.

Robert Schwarztrauber

You ca read the entire NYT article here:

Accidental Weight Loss Key

April 25, 2011

Puppy at TotalFinessPhotography.comWhat if…

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

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

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

Well, I’ve got good news for you!

You can!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In fact, that’s exactly what I do!

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

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

A puppy inspired Abby to walk off 41 pounds!

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

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

Multiply Apple’s Benefit – Do This First

April 4, 2011
Robert Schwarztrauber Apple

Do This to Apples and Multiply Your Health Benefits

We’ve all heard the familiar chant,

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When asked to reveal, in their own words, the benefits they enjoyed from photography here are some of the replies:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why not pop on over to my website,

and get started right now.

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

Robert Schwarztrauber

Photo Fitness Secret Revealed

March 1, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

…A man-made object that helps us get moving

…Creates physical changes in our body

…It Makes us feel better after use

…Makes exercise more interesting

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But we will have had fun along the way!

And maybe faster results because we never quit.

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

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

Robert Schwarztrauber

Time for a New and Exciting View

December 18, 2010

Niagara Falls Best ViewMaybe this has happened to you too…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s recap.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why not get a little serious about photography now?

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

Robert Schwarztrauber

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

Send your emails to:

Zig Ziglar’s Take on Your Autumn Path

October 27, 2010

"Fall Path"

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

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

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

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

Studies also show that one thing is key. Exercise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Halloween Everyone!

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

by Robert Schwarztrauber

Killer Chairs: Fall Solution

September 14, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robert Schwarztrauber

A Photo Fitness Walk

November 20, 2009
Photo Fitness Scene

Photo Fitness Scene

I was reminded today of a quote by a successful business man.

“If you settle for less, that’s all you’ll get.”    by J.F. (Jim) Straw.

Allow me tell you what unusual circumstance prompted that quote to enter into my head.

I was driving by a local YMCA. On the side of their building is a little oval walking track, I would guess about 400 yards around. Nothing could be more plain. It’s a corner lot, tall hedge of green on one side, brick building on the other, and street; that’s it. Nothing to see here, as they say. It looks more like an after-thought.

And on the track this day is one woman, dressed in a style that let’s me assume she’s out for a fitness walk. Round and round she goes in an environment that is totally lacking in stimulus.

To me, she’s only getting half a workout.

Just the day before I took my own fitness walk, as usual, with camera in hand. Here’s a photo of what I saw.

Beautiful autumn trees sharing their colors over a quite lake. A gorgeous statue, “3 Sisters,” spraying a wonderful mist of water that reverberated off the lake’s surface like music to my ears.

There were trails that went uphill and trails that went down. Families, and couples, and joggers of one.There were geese resting in the sun and squirrels frantically preparing for winter. This place was alive with everything a body needs to be truly fit – body, mind and soul.

And it was only a ten minute drive from that desolate track where she walked round and round.

Little changes can often  make a big difference. “But if you settle for less, that’s all you ‘ll get.”

Going for a walk with my camera in hand, almost forces me to find someplace to walk that offers additional stimulus for my body, mind and soul. And every excursion is successful. I see something I have never seen before. And because I have my camera I can share it with others. How much better my experience becomes for making that one simple change – bring your camera. Don’t you settle for less.

Photography is Like Making Spaghetti

June 8, 2009
Making Spaghetti

Making Spaghetti

Your hand squeezes each plump, red tomato attempting to find just the perfect texture.

The bold, green color of bell pepper catches your eye next as you begin selecting the ingredients for a meal that’s sure to please. Each item must be chosen with most careful scrutiny in order for your creation to become a masterpiece of culinary delight.

But this is just the start.

Anticipation grows on the drive home with your precious cargo. You eagerly await the preparation which comes next. You imagine yourself carefully peeling away the parts that aren’t needed until just the very best remains. Each part must hold it’s own for the final feast to please. The kitchen is filled with excitement as the aromas begin to tease.

From all of your gathering of ingredients, preparation, and artful assembly a spaghetti dinner has been created! Friends and family can now enjoy.

So how in the world is photography like that?

Rather than just tell you outright, permit me to share a little story and see if you can find a similarity.

The park is filled with magnificent colors. The sweet scent of fragrant flowers is in the air. You can hear the shrill sound of the blue jay, off just a bit in the distance, near I expect to where the small but sparkling waterfall meets the pooling waters below.

You know you have found the perfect spot to gather photos. The beautiful flower colors beg to be taken home. The unique textures on the rock wall and the shadows they form would be great to show your friends. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a shot of the beautiful blue jay as he sweeps by in pursuit of his next meal. It’s like being in paradise, again.

I say again because at least once a week, I head out, camera in hand to gather the wonders of nature on film. It’s a great chance to look for, enjoy, and appreciate all the magical things that surround us every day, but often go unnotice in our hustle and bustle lives.

Each week I  gather the visual ingredients that will make for great photographs to share with friends and family…and everyone here at this blog. But the process of creating great photographs just begins in the camera. There are so many ways to prepare them later, just as there are hundreds of ways to prepare tomatoes. One outcome may be quite different from another.

On my journey home from the park, I begin to imagine just how I will use my digital photo editing software, in my case Photoshop, to careful craft the final images. Digital editing is the equivalent of cutting the veggies to make a fine spaghetti sauce. Only in photography we’re preparing pixels.

Once “cut and washed” until sparkling clean and clear, the final image you will see nears completion. Perhaps I’ll pick a nice frame just as you would settle your fine spaghetti into one of your best dishes for presentation.

You gather and you prepare, savoring each step as you go.

That is exactly how photography is like making spaghetti. A few hours spent immersed in the enjoyable adventure of creating something grand to share.

However there is one critical difference I should make you aware of. Photography will never put one pound on your body, no matter how often you partake.

In fact, when you follow the  program I suggest on this blog, you can actually find yourself losing weight! And having a great time doing it!

Spaghetti on the other hand?


Camera Cures aka Pictures of Health

June 1, 2009
Snow Geese Family

Snow Geese Family

It is widely accepted in psychological circles that colors can effect the mood of the people who view them. Blue is often described as a calming color while red is said to excite. Yellow is cheerful and black depressing.

A persons mood can also be effected by the subject portrayed in the scene. Certain landscape scenes have a calming effect while certain city-scapes tend to increase tension.

Hundreds of studies can be found that document a viewers reaction to pictures (paintings and photographs).  What surprised me however, was how little  documentation (almost none) could be found that gave evidence of the therapeutic effects of TAKING photographs.

I came across one clinical observation in my searching that really gave credible evidence to the benefits of taking photographs.

It was described in the book, “The Strengths Model” by Charles A. Rapp. In the section titled, “Talents and Skills” the author told of a hospitalized man with mental and physical abnormalities (pg.95). He descibed how when this man was directed to pursue his passion for photography (even though his photos never sold anywhere) he was released within 2 months from the hospital with a clean bill of health. Even more compelling was the fact that he never again returned to the hospital in the subsequent 20 years until his death from pneumonia.

Merely pursuing a hobby that interested him, photography in particular, was enough to set this man on a course to a long and healthy life.

Anyone interested in photography can tell you that there is a calming effect of searching for and always finding the beauty in this world. Any photographer will tell you of the zen-like focus of attention one comes to when consumed with creating an image. You block out all others problems and concerns in your life, you cannot consciously hear the sounds around you, you cannot see disrtactions beyond the viewfinder. You are at once consumed by the scene you hope to capture to the exclusion of all else.

So I am surprised not to find more accounts online which tell of the wonderful effects of photography on the human mind and body. I know it has effected me by increasing my fitness through walking to find great shots to share, it has increased my mental sharpness and focus, and it has increased my economic condition through the sale of photos.

Please share your stories with our readers in the comments below.

How has photography improved your mental or physical health?

How has it improved your economic standing during these difficult times?

I know informally from conversations with other photographers, but lets see if we can help more folks by sharing our results here in writing.

Your comments are welcomed below!

Senior Fitness Movement

April 15, 2009
Waves Tube Slide

Waves Tube Slide

Yesterday, on a brisk and sunny weekday afternoon, we packed up the minivan and headed over to Waves Indoor Waterpark in nearby Niagara Falls, Ontario. A great way to enjoy time with the kids while they are off from school for the Easter (Spring) holiday.

We had a great time zipping down the three-story waterslides and getting tossed about in the wave pool. I even got to enjoy a little quiet time in the huge hot-tub when Stephanie (my daughter) wasn’t pulling me out to get the next soaking from the giant bucket dump!

It was there, in this time of quiet reflection, (ha-ha!) that I made an interesting observation leading to why I write about this here today.

As you know, my position is that photography is more than just recording a visual point in time. It’s more than capturing a memory. It’s more than creating a light picture that will hang on the wall. While all that is fun, the hidden benefit of photography is that it is good for our bodies. Photography leads to better physical and mental health.

The proof I discovered today at the waterpark, in a not-so-scientific but very revealing study,  is that seniors with cameras in their hands tended to move around while seniors without cameras tended to sit in one place.

Yes, because this is a great place for kids to be active, grandparents with cameras (and parents too) had to get up from their chairs and follow the kids around to snap their picture. They had to get moving. And any fitness professional will tell you that moving beats sitting hands-down for creating a healthier body. And any mental health professional will tell you that being active and doing something  is far better for your mind than not doing anything.

Do you think at any time those folks with cameras thought, “I better get up and get some exercise by chasing those kids around with my camera?” No.

Once again proving my point that photography is one of the best, fun ways to keep your body mentally and physically fit. When you head out regularly to capture a photo of something you love (children, grandchildren, flowers, landscapes, pets, birds, boats, etc. ) you’re doing  something to give your body all that it needs to stay fit.

The camera. The ultimate mind-body fitness machine… that’s fun to use! (and you can’t hang your clothes on it!)

Grab your camera now and lets get fit!

Robert Schwarztrauber