About feeling insignificant

Recently, I acquired a new lens for use in Real Estate photography. While I was researching it, I learned that it is a pretty popular lens among certain astrophotographers, so once the lens arrived I was really looking forward to trying to capture the night sky.

This weekend, we had a relatively clear night so I decided to head out to shoot the stars with a friend of mine. Astrophotography is very new to me, and despite the fact that I went into this shoot with about zero location research, I am still happy with the outcome. As I was editing these images, zooming in and getting a more detailed glimpse into the vastness of the stars in the night sky, I couldn’t help but feel a little insignificant. It was just humbling to see how much of a small part of the universe that we are. I know this is not new information and it is a bit simple-minded, but it is still true. I feel like our society tends to create incredibly self-centered people, and the era of social media makes us care too little about those we come in contact with and too much about how others perceive us. It is important to keep in mind that you are a very small part of the world around you and that your life is much richer when you decide to become a part of something, rather than living your life for your advantage alone. We all have our times of weakness, so be thoughtful of others. Take time to listen, and to give. Avoid the conflict, break down the walls, and show someone that they matter to you.

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Discipline and determination. | Fitness Photography Cleveland TN

I’ll be the first to admit that I have always struggled with discipline in my life. For as long as I can remember, it has been an issue for me. I used to get in trouble in elementary school for distracting others or not focusing when I needed to. Despite my incredible lack of discipline to do homework, I made it through high school based on my high test scores and tendencies for detail and information retention. If it were not for my observational skills and strong memory, I would more than likely be in a very different place in life.

Fast-forward to now and I still find myself at odds with discipline with certain things in my life. I believe that I am aided by my self-awareness and that awareness of the fact that I tend to lack discipline puts me in a place where I am always trying. I fail often, but I am encouraged by at least giving things a fair shot. The motivation to make something of myself pushes me to continue to try and reach for achievements, both personal and professional, and this blog is actually part of that challenge to remain disciplined. I am also inspired and motivated by my friends and family. I try to surround myself with people who inspire me to grow and to keep challenging myself. Having a strong support structure is integral to personal and professional growth. All of my friends are honest, straight-forward, and extremely talented. I say it all the time, that honesty is the most important aspect of any relationship. If you call yourself a friend or if you say you care about someone, it is your duty to provide honest critique to those you care about, to help them move forward. I tend to be brutally honest sometimes, but I will not stand by and let those around me stagnate in their personal and professional growth.

My good friend James Vassell has always been that kind of person. He is a straight shooter and he will not hesitate to call you out when you need it most. Whenever I spend time with him, he challenges me. Our conversations are almost always goal oriented and just observing his life, it motivates me to have more discipline. James has accomplished a lot in his life. He is an ordained minister, has his Masters in Mental Health Counseling, runs his own Crossfit gym, and has been counseling, life-coaching, preaching and ministering around the US and the world for most of his life. I’ve been lucky to aid James in different projects in his life, from working on his debut album (oh, I forgot to mention he is also a fantastic vocalist and talented musician) Clarity, to most recently shooting some promotional fitness photography for Crossfit Anistemi, the gym he runs with his fiancée Angela in Cleveland TN. James is a good friend, a good man, and a perfect example of discipline and determination. If you need to make some positive changes in your life, I encourage you to reach out to him. You will not be disappointed!

Now on to the photographs…

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The truth about fear and weakness. | Portrait Photographer Cleveland TN

I am not a fan of small talk. I love open, honest conversation and in my opinion, I would rather just greet some one and move along if all you plan to talk about is the weather or some trivial anecdote that you repeat to every other person. I consider myself to be an extrovert, but I definitely have my times of introversion as well. Human communication has changed much over my life and I feel like the over saturation of connection has caused an adverse reaction to where most people would rather text than sit down and talk over a drink or cup of coffee. The value of real face to face conversation is greatly underestimated. I urge you (if you happen to read this) to make an effort to take your conversations deeper with others. Make an effort to learn more about those in your life. Your life will be richer for it.

Being an artist, I feel like the introversion that I experience in life comes from fear. Fear of judgement of my work, my skill, and the things that I value. It is so much easier to be in your own head, even though we tend to be critical of ourselves, because we live with our own criticisms. We learn to live with that voice and we learn how to deal with harsh self-criticism. We tell ourselves that “its okay to let ourselves down, that is life!” but we get frozen in fear when we add others into that bubble. What if we let someone else down? Because of that, we tend to keep our circles small, with people who feel the same way we do, to help support our weakness. But the fact is that fear can be an inhibitor or it can be a motivator. I have to tell myself regularly that its better to create and get out of my own bubble and share with others, even if it may backfire, because that is the only way I will grow as an artist, and more importantly, as a person. We often also experience fear related to sharing our work because we feel like we have yet to find our voice or our style as an artist. Recently, I started reading a great book that speaks directly to this mindset. The author, Austin Kleon says it best – “Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started. If I’d waited to know who I was or what I was about before I started “being creative,” well, I’d be sitting around trying to figure myself out instead of making things. In my experience, it’s in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are. You’re ready. Start making stuff.”
Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

Every successful artist or individual that I follow has carved their path doing what they love. They have become known and respected in their field because they listened to that voice in their head and let it push them. They focused on what made sense for who they are, they plunged themselves into that path and it rewarded them. There is value in recognizing that. We live in a very different time, and there are many ways to make a name for yourself, but only true reward is to spend the rest of your life doing what you love, and making a living doing so. Many popular photographers, artists, marketers, makers etc will try to sell you the secrets to success. They will try to sell you their 10 steps to being a rockstar in your industry, and most of that information comes down to the simple fact, doing what you love and being successful at it takes effort, and it does not come easy. Think about who you are, what you love in life, what makes you happy, and do that. Finding your passion in life is greatly rewarding, and living in that passion is the way we were created to live. Whatever you love, whether its art, photography, carpentry, accounting, helping others, or cleaning floors, make that passion your own, and you will begin to see life and work in a different perspective. Embrace your weaknesses. Learn as much as you can. Challenge yourself as much as possible and grow as much as you can. Weakness makes you human, and it helps you to connect with those around you, because whether we like to admit it or not, we all are weak. So own it, and make it yours.

This blog post is launching an ongoing series about my friends. Every so often I will be photographing and sharing some of my good friends with you all, so you can get to know those I surround myself with and so you can see how important it is to be yourself and to focus on what makes you happy in life.

Today I am sharing with you my good friend Taby Pearce. She is a filmmaker, photographer, painter and all around talented visual artist. She has made a name for herself among her peers and the regional film industry, which is difficult to do as a woman. Taby focuses on her craft, she is dedicated and honest, and that is where she finds her voice. Her films are incredibly introspective into her own personal struggles, and it is that self-awareness and honesty that makes her who she is as an artist. Some family you are born into, and some family you make as you go through life, and she is part of my family in that respect. We met a few years ago on a film set on which we were both working, and we connected quickly. She is like a sister and if you get the chance to see us interact on a regular basis, it probably wouldn’t take long to see that. Recently, she had a few of her short films premier at the Chattanooga Film Festival. She went and got a fancy dress for the red carpet, and what better way to break it in than to take it out into the woods? Take a look at these portraits that I made of her a few weeks ago and then take some time to look at her own work.
Here is her website – http://www.tabithapearce.net/ and here is her Vimeo channel – https://vimeo.com/user15510196


Keep an eye out for upcoming additions to this series. Thanks for tuning in.

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Lets catch up. | Portrait Photographer Cleveland TN

Its no secret that blogging and sharing are my weaknesses. As an artist, I care deeply about my craft. I told a good friend the other day that other than being a man, being a photographer is the next most important level of my personal identity. It’s an important part of who I am. I consume photographs and images regularly, I follow hundreds of talented photographers on Instagram (as well as other social networks) and I spend hours through my week viewing and gaining visual inspiration from those social feeds that I curate for myself. Often I am slow and methodical in my creation process. I approach my photos with careful consideration as well as harsh self-criticisms. I often limit my potential by my apprehensions. No one is perfect, I assume.

I have been speaking to a few friends lately about some changes that I would like to make. For the last few years I have been blessed to be working full-time in the creative field. My work has ranged from filmmaking to web and graphic design to photography and everywhere in between. As a creative, I have been stretched, challenged and forced to adapt to much during this time. Ive been shooting and making money from photography for about a decade now, and I have a lot to show for it. My growth in skill and creativity is the best reflection of that. I’ll save you the stomach-churning process of looking through my first works for now, but along the way, I plan to reflect.

Moving forward, I have been looking to make some changes in my creative and professional life, and I have been dwelling on the concept of focus. Those of you who share similarities to my personality type (ENFP – Thanks, John Morris) will understand the things that I deal with a bit more than others, so I understand if some of you folks came to this realization a long time ago, because it has taken me far too long to get here. Starting this year, I am making attempts to narrow my creative focus and center in on things that matter most to me and are the most rewarding both creatively and personally.

With that said, I will be working on learning to better market myself solely as a photographer and nothing else. I have intentions to further limit my focus and niche as I move along.

If you have stuck with me this far, know that I appreciate you humoring me and my rambling mind. Now that I have had the chance to share some of my thoughts from the last couple months, I would like to share a few images that I have made during this time. Ive been shooting some commercial work lately for a few clients, but I love working with people the most. There is something so much more interesting to me in capturing a portrait and working with a live subject that just always brings me joy. Learning from people, hearing stories, seeing the level of vulnerability that suddenly appears to even the most seemingly confident person when they step in front of my camera is an incredible experience and one that I don’t take lightly. Portrait photography is my escape, its my stress-reliever. I have made sure to escape with a few friends when I have time these last few weeks, and create some work that means something to me. Not for a paycheck, not for social media fame or glory, but just because I was created to create.

Take a look. Let me know what you think. Do you have weaknesses that you struggle to overcome in your creative or professional life? How about in your personal life? Lets talk about it. My release is to create photographs, so I’m just going to shut up and let my imagery tell the rest of the story.

portrait photographer | cleveland tn

portrait photographer | cleveland tn

portrait photographer | cleveland tn

portrait photographer | cleveland tn

portrait photographer | cleveland tn

portrait photographer | cleveland tn

portrait photographer | cleveland tn

portrait photographer | cleveland tn

portrait photographer | cleveland tn

portrait photographer cleveland tn