Learning Life While Taking Pictures

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 learning some basic rules from my pro photographer buddy (Thanks Rene!), YouTube videos, and learning from some 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 entirely about. The bigger “picture” (Yes, pun intended) is about what I do with my life, how I can lead my family, and be a blessing to my friends, community, this world.

For the past 7 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 still very limited when compared to dedicated cameras. I discovered from the limitations of a phone camera that it is more about what I do with what I have instead of focusing on what I lack. Isn’t that life? Ok, here are 3 of some of the lessons:


Photography Lesson #1
: Composition is crucial. I learned that the decisions about where the subject is positioned inside the rectangular frame and what stays in the frame and what does not need to makes a difference.

Life Lesson #1: How I compose my life is crucial. I need to be intentional and thoughtful of my priorities, relationships, and endeavors. I know it is easier said than done, but I need to live every day with vision. How do you compose your life each day? What are the subjects that you are focusing on? Are there things and people that do not have to be in the picture?

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 everything with the decisions I make. Of course, 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 applying God’s Word are the best ways to bring light into my situations. Jesus made this claim, and I believe it, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Do you believe Jesus can do that to the point of trust?  I think we can all agree that life’s best learnings are the ones when we say “Ah!” because the light bulb turned on a situation. So, what is the source of your light?

Photography Lesson #3: Edit with a purpose. Most photographs aren’t complete without an editing process. Enhancing or desaturating color, adjusting lighting, and even cropping something out are done to develop an aesthetically pleasing and engaging image. The great thing about digital editing a photo is that you can “undo” an edit you are not pleased with. Even after the photograph has been taken

Life Lesson #3: The things that we focus on are not going to be complete at first. There is always a process. Adjustments have to be made. Things may need to be cropped out. What and how I change the things in my life determine my results. I have been learning that less is more. How about you? Are you adjusting your attitude to get the right perspective? Are you ok with everything being a process? You may not be able to “undo” some decisions, but you can always change you.

Just recently another photographer friend gave me his dedicated camera with a lot more features and capabilities. Thanks Gilbert! However, the bigger picture (there I go again with the pun) is to do the best with what I have in my hands right now. Don’t wait for whatever upgrade or next big thing you are waiting for. Do the best with what you currently have. Remember, lighting is crucial, so get light. Be thoughtful with how you compose your life. Make changes with purpose even if it is just changing you. You may not get it right the first time. It’s a process. You will be glad you did. Your family will be glad you did. The world will be a better place.

Yes, I took the picture of that surfer on the beach with an iPhone.

Lighten Up

If you  squint your eyes hard enough just might  see that there are 3 tiny people standing on the edge of the cliff enjoying the view from up high. I am sure they were taking a nice break from work and all the to-do’s that must be done in their lives.

The  heaviness of those things in life can be overwhelming. It is important to keep things light. I have a few thoughts about attitudes towards work stuff, projects, and in general, all the stuff we have to do.

Lighten your load. Prioritize the stuff that’s most important. Those may not be the things are a screaming for attention. Identify the most important things, and break them down into smaller pieces. Make your mountain into smaller hills.

Lighten your grip. There may be stuff you need to let go. There may be tasks or projects in your workplace and home that someone else can do for you or with you. Most likely, they are better and more efficient at it anyways. There are actual tasks and projects that are waiting for someone, who likes that kind of stuff, to do them. You do not have to do it all. If you think you then ask yourself, “Why?” Give yourself the honest answer.

Lighten your mood. Make the most out of your situations. Not everything is enjoyable to do, but find ways to make tasks and projects a pleasant experience. My personal tip: play music… all the time.

The demands of life: home, family, work, business, public and private can rush you like a flood. Lighten it up. It will make a difference.

Oh, and it helps to get out there and play. Go somewhere where you see the massive sky and the people, if there are any, are enjoying the view… just like you.

Check out my visual story of this place you see in the picture, Palos Verdes, California.

Stories from the Alley

  
My wife asked me to help her do a floral install at a beautifully renovated historic wedding venue in Redlands. While I helped her finish adorning the arch with flowers and greenery, I met a few folks as they walked through the alley. One beautiful gray-haired couple strolled through. Actually, they hobbled through slowly because of ailments over the years. I took a few pics of them posing in front of the arch. They had lived in the area for decades and showed me pictures of a younger them from the 70’s. They were so happy that the alley was renovated after being a dilapidated pit stop and trash bin of transients for years.

Just minutes before I met the couple, a well-groomed but worn gentleman walked through with his bicycle and asked me a lot of questions about our business in the alley. As he went on his way, the caretaker working for the city told me that the homeless man I was talking to used to be a dentist with a successful practice just blocks away. He lost his business and his family to a drug habit just a couple of years ago. Nowadays, he wanders the streets with his bike.

This day was just a reminder to me that everyone has a story. Not all are sweet. Some are more compelling than others. Many are interesting. All have a chance for redemption.

Be Content. Don’t Be Complacent. 

 When I think about being content, I look at what I have and focus on that instead of spending my time and energy on what I don’t have. The more I do that, the more I realize how rich I am.

I think complacency is more about not maximizing time and resources. I believe the reason why we can be complacent is because trying to achieve more requires work. It involves the risk of failure. However, all of us have people’s lives attached to us is some way. When we overcome complacency and succeed in the marketplace or at home, somehow those others attached to us benefit from the win.

Be content. Don’t be complacent. And what does this picture of the VW bus have to do with being content? Nothing.  It’s a cool bus and I took a picture of it to share with you.

Accordion Angel

  
Accordion Angel
was playing on the streets
pressing and squeezing 
while his foot tapped a beat

Dressed up for the day
from his boots to his hat
He stuck to his own style
for years has been part of his act 

Not really an act
More like a concert
If you don’t know his genre
he will make you a convert

Of head nodding polka
with Mexican spice 
that causes you to skip
once maybe twice

When I walked up to Angel
He looked right in my face
Taking a pic was fine
but the fee was money in his case 

He kept playing and singing
his Mexican tunes
holding on to his dreams
that fame would come soon. 

Sharing Hot Wheels

I showed my buddy, Mike my latest Hot Wheels find after I shot this (yes, I buy Hot Wheels.) When Mike said that it was the coolest Hot Wheels that he had seen in a while, I gave it to him. He responded with bear hug tight enough to make a bear pass out. When my 10-year old daughter saw this picture on my phone she asked where was that Hot Wheel, and I told her that I gave it to my friend. After a thoughtful pause, she grinned and asked, “You gave a grown-up a toy?” I had a similar thoughtful pause, smiled back and responded, “Yes, I did.” Maybe, I should do that more often. I could be like one of Santa’s little brown elves handing out toys to grown ups. “Sharing is caring” is what we tell the kiddos. There’s no age limit to that saying. Don’t you agree? Make it a great weekend everyone!

All Dressed Up

 “Who needs a Mountie? I’m Batman!” Check out my latest picture essay on Steller. I titled it “All Dressed Up,” and I think you will enjoy seeing how far people will go to get to Comic Con. https://steller.co/s/5GRt6Wz3htH