Say Cheese

The fear of public speaking is common knowledge. But I have been pondering a not so common apprehension, that of having a picture taken.

It is fascinating that we live in an age where cameras are as commonplace as people, yet some folks manage to go years at a time without having a photograph taken (at least consciously).

For whatever it’s worth, fame is associated with photos. Watching a press conference these days is unbearable. Each reporter sprays a camera as if it were a machine gun. I wonder, is it possible to make a massive global impact in the modern era without being subject to some mug shots?

On the flip side of this coin are the BILLIONS of selfies taken each year. To me, this is an alarming statistic. Selfies are a counterfeit attempt to turn inward. The camera may be facing the user, but only for a brief moment, and ultimately in exchange for the selfish currency of “likes, shares, comments, and downloads.”

“Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths.”

– David Foster Wallace

As a portrait photographer myself, I naturally find portraits to be the happy medium. I love to look at photos of my grandfather where he painstakingly set up a tripod and timer to capture a memory on film for the sake of influencing future posterity. A couple of these images are worth more than 1,000 selfies.


(1) When a camera is pointed your way, “say cheese”.

(2) If you point your camera towards yourself more than at other people, consider evaluating your life and motives.

(3) If you are out for a payload of fame, remember that as fame increases so do the flashes in your eyes. Eventually, you’ll need a few kazillion photos – taken by other people. Google your name, if you find a bunch of pics that you took yourself…I have some bad news. Try redirecting your efforts to add value to society FIRST and THEN see what happens.

(4) Find something to say “no” to. Determine where you draw your line in the sand. If people can go a lifetime saying, “get that camera out of my face” you can too. Maybe your “camera” is debt, an unfavorable habit, or egocentric behavior. Whatever it is, act immediately, and tell it to get out of your face!

Photo by John Lucia

Two Lessons I Learned From Moving

My good mother often joked about the number of pages I filled up in her address book. You might say I’m a bit of a vagabond or as she would put it, “Son, you have a restless spirit.”  This week would mark another address crossed out with a new one to fill in. I suppose she’s rolling over in her grave.

Truth be told, I long to put down roots, but I’m on a toll road – therefore, a forever home won’t come to fruition any time soon. So here I am, new environment, new internet provider, new backache from a makeshift desk. I learned many lessons from this latest move. I provide two for your consideration.

(1) TRUE FRIENDS: Moving is tedious. It takes sweat equity. It takes a little thought. It’s draining. Nobody wants to come touch your junk. They don’t want to figure out where all your little odds and ends (that inevitably aren’t boxed up) should go. They don’t want to break the fragile or priceless items. Then again, they don’t even know what is fragile. They don’t know what you want to unpack first. They don’t know your priorities.

You will know a true friend by their prolonged presence at such an event. You won’t have to beg or bribe an authentic friend to be there. They just will be.

The presence and assistance of a true friend isn’t limited to a physical move. They will be there with you for any move you make in life weather that journey is professional, physical, intellectual or spiritual. They will grab your “crap” so you don’t have as much to lift.

(2) SPACE: The physical dimensions of your abode is only “small” in relationship to the amount of possessions you own! In other words, you don’t need more square footage, you need less “wants”. For this reason, I am grateful that I keep only a handful of close friends, this requires me to do the majority of my own work. While moving, strive to lay hands on every possession you own.  In a prosperous country, it will open your eyes. How can you really evaluate your level of gluttony when there are 10-20 hands playing Tetris with your belongings?

THE CHALLENGE: Be a true friend. Next time there is an opportunity to help someone in a big way, volunteer your time and effort. (Not everyone thinks like me.) They want your help. They need it. The payoff is substantial.

Go through your belongings. Take serious inventory. Identify something you don’t really use anymore. Donate it. Dispose of it. Re-purpose it. Breath new life into it. Gift it. Every item you own that is not of real value eventually becomes a burden to those true friends. Decide now not to kick the can down the road.

Everything you own, owns you!

Photo by Pelle Sten