Nice Family

Let me paint the picture for you…

I’ve been in a lot of homes – it’s a big part of what I do.  Some big homes, some small homes.  Some nice homes, some…not-so-nice homes.  Some homes right next door, some homes…well a little further away.  I wish all homes could be vacant – big ask, I know.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the people I work with, but I really like when a house is vacant.  I’m not rushed, I don’t feel like I’m imposing and I don’t have to worry about people being in any of my frames, no pets…you get it, right?  Realtor informs me that this one will be vacant.  Nice.

I’ve been to my fair share of remote properties, too.  I’m constantly sending my wife a text with my location and the caption “Just in case.”  It freaks her out.  It sometimes freaks me out being there.  I had no service so I couldn’t send her said text this go ‘round.

Where does this door lead off the bathroom and why is it…locked?

It was quiet.  Eerily quiet.  Even though the storm was coming, I could still hear the individual blades of dry grass crunching beneath my feet.  SO LOUD!  My tinnitis was driving me crazy.  Or was that the huge bush of giant flying, stinging insects?  Is that what a murder hornet looks like?  Keep the doors unlocked so I can quickly get into the car if a bear comes out of the forest.

Alright, ENOUGH!  I was in my head.  Stop.  It’s just a house.  Like any other house.  Just shoot it and be on your way.

My head was “on a swivel” when the occasional vehicle drove by.  Yes, I thought, I’m supposed to be here.  I’m working.  Just keep shooting.  Just keep shooting.

Got the exteriors done before the rain hit.  Awesome.  Switch gear.  Move inside.

Stop looking behind yourself.  There’s nobody there!

The main house is small.  Two floors.  A total of only eight rooms.  Good lord, I hope there’s no basement.  Go through and get a feel for the house.  Lights on, blinds open.  Geez there’s a lot of bulbs missing.  Whew, no basement.  Where does this door lead off the bathroom and why is it…locked?  Attic?  Hmmm, nope.  Don’t need to shoot that.

The freezer’s running…WHY?!

The entire time I was inside the house, I had the spine-chilling feeling that I was being watched.  Talk about my head being on a swivel!  I wonder, did I check that closet?!  The freezer’s running…WHY?!  How long has this house been vacant?  Where would they hide my body…?

STOP IT!!

I’ve been to much more remote places than this!  Why here?  Why this particular house out of all that I’ve been in?!  This was that kind of farm house that you could be on the second floor and clearly see the person standing on the lawn looking up at you from the front yard.  Don’t take your eyes off the scene because when you look back up you see the shadow disappear around the corner!  Never look directly into the mirror.  Don’t go investigate the odd sound you just heard!

Stop looking behind you – THERE’S NOBODY THERE!!!!

OMG – get out of my head!!!!  STOP!!!  I’ve seen too many horror movies.  Just keep shooting.

Alright, last frame.  Done.

Ah crap, I have to move back through and shoot the floor plan.  I know the house now, this’ll be quick.  Please be quick.  Ok, snap a few frames of the front porch.  Pack up, hurry.  Just throw it all in the car.

Stop looking behind you – THERE’S NOBODY THERE!!!!

Ah, the safety of my car.  Oh yeah, lock the doors.  NOW DRIVE!

As I peeled out of the driveway, I swear I saw the nice family waving to me from the front porch…

Customer Service

Little did we know what was about to happen to us… We’re going again in a couple weeks!

For those who don’t know me personally, we just had one of the craziest RV rental experiences you can imagine. (more detail on this Facebook page). And had it not been for the owner’s accessibility and cooperation, it would have much much worse. It was a pretty bad experience, but the owner’s response to the whole situation made it at least bearable.

Early on in my career as a commercial producer, I learned how to lead a creative meeting with a new client and what questions to pose to get at the information I needed to mold together their message. One of the biggest guiding principles of those meetings purposefully steered said clients away from talking about their customer service in an effort to get them to talk about actual services and products that were different and stood out and mattered to clients. Even as I type this, I’m thinking to myself “WHAT?!?!” The thinking, apparently, was to steer clear of obvious services that consumers should come to expect. Yes, all business have good customer service (or at least should). Now what do you do differently?

Customer service CAN matter. Customer service CAN be different. Customer service CAN stand out.

And it mattered big time with our recent RV rental.

Enough said, I highly recommend Scott at Dream RV Rentals, LLC in Taneytown, MD.

-maybe just don’t rent the Fleetwood Terra – 😉

2021

John Handley High School’s graduating class of 2021. | Order prints

Congratulations Handley class of 2021 – there’s no way you’ll forget this one!

Impressive

Both what it stands for and the actual memorial – IMPRESSIVE.

“Twilight”

Original image taken in broad daylight | Schedule your shoot now.

When it works, it’s really cool, but it can certainly fail pretty miserably when the conditions aren’t quite right. Day to Dusk conversions now offered on real estate listing shoots. BTW, it’s all edited in-house – no outsourcing here.

Thankful

The Trails at The MSV are opening to the public on November 25.

As we gear up for the holidays, there is certainly a mixed bag of emotions coming to the table this year.

Wow, I actually had to pause and really think about what everybody must be going through. All the different situations we all, as Americans, are facing right now.

I have many things to be thankful for this year and every year and I think that sometimes I have to take a step back and really think – think about the things I might take for granted. Those are the things that I should be thankful for – the things that I rarely think about actually BEING thankful for. The things that aren’t always front of mind. The things that, if they were removed from my life, would make a serious impact, but I just never think of them so…no impact.

I live within walking distance of a major cultural center in my city and region. I never thought too much of it before I became involved professionally, but I did become involved and I’m pretty thankful I did. I’ve met some really awesome people and experienced some pretty awesome events and exhibits. I took it for granted and I’m guessing I’m not the only one who did.

Next Wednesday (11/25/2020) marks over 3 1/2 years since I produced the first video in a series to promote and begin the fund raising task to bring a brand new experience to the residents of this region – The Trails at The MSV. They open to the public a day before Thanksgiving. It’s an outdoor venue that anybody can enjoy at their own leisure. Yup, the’re FREE.

By the way, I just joined The MSV – no excuse for why it took me this long. You should, too. See you on the trails!

Skyline

Skyline Drive (aka The Gateway to the Shenandoah Valley). Order a print here.

“National parks and reserves are an integral aspect of intelligent use of natural resources. It is the course of wisdom to set aside an ample portion of our natural resources as national parks and reserves, thus ensuring that future generations may know the majesty of the earth as we know it today.”

President John F. Kennedy, 35th president of the United States

Flight

Winchester Regional Airport (aka OKV) with Winchester and the Allegheny Mountains in the distance. | Order a print here.

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards.” – Leonardo Da Vinci

I was, without a doubt, a bit nervous before my flight today. It essentially went against all my protocols up to now. Got some pretty epic footage though. Be on the lookout for the marketing videos coming out from the airport soon.

Be A Tourist In Your Own Town

Fields of sunflowers at The Homestead Farm @ Fruit Hill in Frederick County, VA | Purchase a copy here

Look around. I’m sure there’s plenty to see where YOU are.

Time

Daggone it – just make time for the things you enjoy!

As Good As It Gets?

Sunset in Woodville, VA

Don’t settle. Never settle. You can always improve, even if it’s only by just a little.

Real Estate

So it’s gotten to the point now where I’m shooting properties for a second time.  Not a re-shoot, but a new/different sale of a property.  I’m sure many real estate photogs have been in this position many times.  As many creatives do, I look back on my previous work and just cringe, but it indicates how far I’ve come and potentially how much further I have to go.  Anyway, when it dawns on me that I’ll be shooting the same property, I only look back on previous images to remind myself of the property – NOT to replicate the shots I did before.  In my opinion, I’ve improved – and not only in quality of work, but in getting a sense of the property and what shots are important.  By the way, thanks for reading this far.  The first image was shot back in 2016 – back when I thought I knew everything and was on a roll (bahahahahahahaha…).  The second image was shot just yesterday.  I’m amazed at not only how far I’ve come, but at how some folks have a knack for home improvements.  The space was completely different – the transformation was incredible.  I can’t wait to look back on the new image in 3 years and think, “holy crap, what the heck was I thinking?!”

Worth It

Somewhere deep into West Virginia.

Sometimes you drive an hour for a shoot. Totally worth it.

Somber

“…conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Abraham Lincoln. 11/19/1863
Devil’s Den from Little Round Top at Gettysburg National Military Park. | Order a copy of this , or other, images.

Eye Candy

Well, just because.

Eagle Rock sunset. | Order a print of this image.

Why Do I Even Bother?

Drones.  Drones!  DRONES!!  Seems like they’re everywhere.  And, of course, anybody can just walk right in to most big box retailers and get one.  Everybody’s a “drone pilot” now then, right.  NO!!!  Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.  I try to follow the rules and regulations.  Why?  Because it’s the law.  I’m not trying to be a goody-goody.  I just don’t have the money to pay any potential fines that could come with breaking any of the current laws.  That’s why it just chaps my a** when others around me blatantly break the rules.  Or when others around me disseminate inaccurate information.

The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival is a big deal in my town.  When I first began shooting photography for the festival, I used a drone.  Drone (UAS) regulations didn’t exist back then.  People (certain specific people as part of a bigger group of people) got bent out of shape and actually posted disclaimers that they were not affiliated with me.  I actually got reported and the police shut me down.  I have a letter of investigation from the FAA!  I should frame it.  Just to be clear, this was before any drone regulations existed!  I wasn’t endangering anybody and was being as safe as I could be.  It was too new, people got freaked out.  Oh no, there’s this flying thingy.  It’s spying on me!  It’s invading my privacy!  IT WAS A PUBLIC VENUE DAMMIT!

Fast forward 4 years and now there ARE regulations in place, but it seems that most people just don’t care.  Should I give them the benefit of the doubt?  Perhaps.  But there are channels to check if folks are legit.  Most are not.  Or at least major parts of their operations are not.

I was told this year that I would be too close to an airport to fly a drone during the Apple Blossom Festival.  Nope.  Incredibly inaccurate.  I fly here all the time and have a working relationship with the airport.  It’s class E airspace.  We’re not too close to an airport to fly a drone.  It’s one thing if a local city/town declares an area a drone-free zone.  Localities do that and I would comply.  I have before.  Laguna Beach in CA has such a declaration so I wasn’t able to fly there.  I get it.  There is no declaration in Winchester at Apple Blossom.  But I was instructed not to fly.  Fine, I wasn’t going to fly anyway.

Then I see multiple images from drone flights over the festival.  At night!  Flights at night are NOT covered by the new Drone certification (license) – Part 107, which is technically CFR 14 Part 107 for folks who don’t know.  Flights over people aren’t covered either.  You have to get specific permission (a waiver) from the FAA to do those flights.  There’s an application process where you have to justify the operations and explain how you’d mitigate the risks involved.  The FAA has a website that lists all waivers granted.  Guess what, no such waivers exist in this area (at least for the folks who shot the images I saw).

The exception here is if you’re flying for recreation.  I never understood this and have never agreed with it.  It’s the same airspace – all drones should follow the same rules.  All cars follow the same traffic laws.  How is this different?!?!?!

WHY DO I EVEN BOTHER?!?!?!?!?!

Rant over, as you were.

Part 107

Just to be clear, this image was shot back in 2015 when NO regulations existed for drone flight. This is the image that started it all.

He Is Risen

At some point throughout the day, stop and reflect on what is really being celebrated.

iPhone

I’m simply tired/frustrated/ticked/disappointed (you get the idea, fill in the blank) at folks who discount the value of mobile cameras for shooting anything.  Stills.  Video.  Doesn’t matter.  This isn’t about how great the mobile devices are becoming nowadays – I’ve always felt this way.  It’s never been about the equipment !  Get it right people.  There are plenty of videos out there where pros take the challenge of unlimited gear vs. mobile phone.  And the results?  Well, judge for yourself.  Here’s just one example I found.  And if it’s good enough for Steven Soderbergh, then it’s good enough for me.  I’m not saying that the mobile device should be your go-to camera – it’s simply another tool in the proverbial toolbox of gear.  Chase Jarvis even wrote a book about it.

“It’s NEVER been about the equipment!”

So, quit comparing megapixels and L-Series or Art lenses.  Stop the ridiculous talk about the sheer size of the camera/lens system.  Or how much it weighs.  Stop talking about how much everything costs.  This is nonsense.  It’s only ever been about the photographer and their eye.  Give the most expensive gear to a noob – see what happens. Give a point-and-shoot to a pro – see what happens.  Makes me wonder what brilliant things Ansel Adams would have done with an iPhone.

20160216-IMG_2256

Yep, you guessed it – shot on an iPhone.

My Corner

My little “corner of the world.”  Stay safe everybody.

corner