When people do what they love to do

I sneaked in a little shot with my wife’s iPhone, but click on this link by Strictly Weddings to see this styled shoot in its full glory by a professional photographer. I love it when I get to see people doing and thriving in what they are passionate about, and this time I got a chance to see my wife, Shelley from Here Come The Blooms in action.

Shelley got the opportunity to do the flower design from Pam of Love.Anne.Joy | Design + Events , and Pam did an incredible and elegant job putting this together. Jeremy Chou Photography​ captured this gorgeous styled shoot with images that are timeless and beautiful.

I caught the last hours of this shoot. I saw people flow in their talents together, and I witnessed all of the pieces come together like an intricate puzzle. It’s truly a labor of love, which took a lot of labor, time, patience, coordination, and attention to all the details that turned this moment into a lovely-something that is now showcased by Strictly Weddings​.

I didn’t get to meet everyone besides Vivian Tran Makeup​ (Beautiful work Vivian!) but to all the talented vendors and agents who made this possible, I was floored and inspired by watching people do what they love to do.

So the question is, “What is it that you love to do?” What is your labor of love?

Vehicle of Souls

I wrote a haiku about cars. I thought that traditionally the haiku was a poem written about nature. Cars aren’t about that nature, so maybe I should change the name to carku or haikau-tomobile. Not really. Read the pictorial layout of this poem on Steller.

Mechanical means

from and to destinations

vehicle of souls.

Read my latest Steller Story “Beach Feet”

Life gets so stinking serious. When I write I like to keep it light. That’s a rhyme there, see? “Beach Feet” is an example of what I consider, “keeping it light.” I want to be delighted when I read, and even when reading my own stuff.

I posted “Beach Feet” on Stellar because the app’s layout of images and text. The interface is simple and lovely. Here’s the link https://steller.co/s/4ckGu4wWjXs

Finding My Audience

I am sharing my stories and poems on Steller now.  Finding an audience is not that easy. I had been on Backspaces and there was a wonderful community of creatives there from which I got a lot of engagement. However, once the app makers had moved on to other projects, the development stopped and now it has turned into a ghost town.

It reminds of being a freshman in high school. Do you remember that chapter? True story: I was loving life with my social circle of friends. I accepted a dare to run for VP of the freshman class and actually won, so I had an audience outside of my circle. This next part didn’t really happen but what if a “Backspaces” moment happened, and the school closed down and the community scattered? I would have to move and start over at a new school.

A friend convinced me to share my writing on Medium. That’s a great place as well, but it is very broad and full of established bloggers. I started reading, following, then posting my own content.

Back to our high school moment. You walked on campus of the new school and everyone who was not you was already engaged in life with someone else. You started looking for a former classmate or someone who was willing to lock eyes with you to start a conversation. That’s what it feels like for me and trying to find an audience for my content.

The one post I started on my WordPress blog first that actually got traction on Medium was titled “Lessons from my iPhone camera.” It got a half-thousand reads, and couple dozen re-posts, and a few followers. Does that mean I should blog more non-fictional content? There doesn’t seem to be much interest in my 2-minute stories and poems.

Back to our high school moment. Eventually you found a kindred spirit to link up, or you stumbled into a motley crew and after a while they brought you into the fold to do life with. The important thing is that they listened to you, especially when you spoke their language.

My first post on Steller, “She Calls Them” is a haiku about a surfer’s relationship with the ocean. The app itself is very similar to Backspaces in storytelling, and it already looks like a giant community filled with amazing photographers and storytellers. So it’s time to jump in, speak my voice, and find an audience there.

So I have a brand new backpack draped over my shoulders with an unused lunch card in my pocket. It’s time to find my motley crew: and hopefully a really big motley crew who is willing to listen.


Lessons from my iPhone camera

Yes, I became one of the millions who all of a sudden became a photo snapping fool after discovering that I could actually use the camera on my iPhone that was within an arm’s reach 24 hours of the day. After some basic tips from a couple of pro photographer friends, how-to’s online, youtube videos, and learning from fine artists on Instagram and Flickr- I think I am actually gaining some skills on the art of capturing life. But that’s not what this post is about.

For the past 6 years of taking at least 1 photograph everyday, I realize that no matter how much technology is crammed in this pocketable and delightful device, the camera is very limited when compared to dedicated cameras. The lesson that I am repeatedly learning is that it is about what I do with what I have.

  • Photography Lesson #1: Composition is crucial. I learned that the decisions about what’s stays in the frame and what doesn’t and where the things are inside the rectangle makes a difference. Life Lesson #1: Be intentional and even more thoughtful of my priorities, relationships, and endeavors. I know it is easier said than done, but I need to live every day with vision.
  • Photography Lesson #2: Lighting is everything. Great lighting usually results in great results. Poor lighting brings a lot of challenges. Life Lesson #2: Lighting is the same with the decisions I make. Ok, most choices made in my waking moments are not a matter of life and death, but informed, thoughtful decisions usually have positive results. Doing some homework, getting insight from the sages in my life, and praying are the best ways to bring light into my situations.
  • Photography Lesson #3: Edit with a cause. Most photographs aren’t complete without an editing process. Enhancing or desaturating color, adjusting lighting, and even cropping something out are done to develop a pleasing image. Life Lesson #3: Most accomplishments are not going to be right the first time. There’s always a process. Adjustments have to be made. Things may need to be cropped out. My edits determine my results.

I will eventually get a dedicated camera with a lot more features and capabilities, but what matters right now is what I have in my hands and what I do with that. The best compliment that I have received was from an event photographer who asked me, “Did you really do that with your phone?”

Don’t wait for whatever upgrade or next big thing you are waiting for. Do the best with what you currently have. Be intentional. Do things on purpose. Do things with purpose. You may not get it right the first time, so edit until you get the right results.

Yes, I took the picture of my cat with an iPhone.


The Opportunity to Share Stories

I knew that I wanted to write when I was about 20 years old. I was working at the park as a recreation leader, and the kids and teenagers wanted to have a talent show. The staff wanted to do a skit about the challenges of being a staff member at the park. I remembered insisting that I write the script which I did. About 5 of us rehearsed the skit, and I think the story was about kids at the park being out of control and the recreation leaders having a meltdown as a result. We performed this skit on stage in front of the kids, and it was a really enjoyable time. When I heard the kids laughing, I realized this is something that I like to do.

I finished the initial draft of my first children’s story 15 years ago, but didn’t know how to publish it or even how to share the story. I didn’t have the drawing skills to illustrate my own photos, so I looked for help. After working but never finishing the project with a couple of artist friends, I shelved it for a few seasons.

Then the iPhone happened in 2007, and I got hooked on mobile photography. I realized that I could illustrate my stories with photography. The funky-filtered, over-processed pictures that the photo purists criticize about are the images that I want to illustrate my stories. I get to be my own illustrator. How about that?

Today’s explosion of social media gives me the opportunity to share my writing to a much wider audience than I ever had before. Even if it’s just a handful of folks that ready my story and tap on the like or favorite or reshare button that is still a handful more than I ever had before that enjoyed a story or poem I created.

The Challenge of Twitter Poetry

How do you write a poem in 140 characters or less? Less than 140 characters because I usually tie the poem to one of my images: that cuts the space down to 117. Even with a link shorterner, like ow.ly, that still leaves me with only a skimpy offering of 95 characters to wax poetic. I can forget hashtags like #poetweet and #twaiku. Maybe not. I’ll give it my best go. I’ve already tried a few. Here’s one of my recent Twitter expressions. Never mind the title. Not enough characters for one.

Gloomy gray 

California day.

Today’s Matinee is “Luv U”

luvufilmToday’s matinee features a love story between two professors from rival universities who in a once-in-a-lifetime set of circumstances meet at the beach and fall dangerously in love. “Luv U” stars @joe_montoya & @herecometheblooms in their first feature film. Directed by Joe Momma.