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Personal Growth and Being Our Bsst Selves

14 Jun

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“Be fearless in pursuit of what sets your soul on fire”

This is, admittedly, not a photography post. It’s a post about life.

About a year and a half ago my life changed drastically. It was painful and difficult and left me in a rut. I needed something to get me going in the right direction. On a whim, I asked a few friends if they wanted to try salsa lessons. Note: I had two left feet, and the grace of a newborn foal. (Lots of legs and elbows going everywhere, with no coordination.) But I have always told myself we are our own biggest limitation, and so I set out to prove to myself that I could do this.

Fast forward 11 month later and I did something terrifying (for me). I got up on a stage and danced. Before the performance I was shaking and my heart was racing. But after months of practice, I knew I didn’t want to to let my fellow dancers down. I went out onto that stage and hoped that I would make them proud.

238DCC72-1156-47B3-9FF5-8500A5C433D6Trying something new and scary as an adult has been challenging but oh so rewarding. I’m so grateful to our teacher for believing in me enough to let me dance his choreographed routine, and for the patience and support he has shown me. I’m grateful to Melissa @melequine for her willingness to try new things with me and encourage me to grow. I’m grateful to Cricket , Sarah, David, Monica and Waldo for their friendship (along with all of the other rad people that I’ve met through dancing). And last but not least, I’m incredibly grateful for Jorge , the best dang dance partner a girl could ask for. You push me to be better in all things and forgive me when I step on your toes. 😋

FD098C90-1F14-46EC-8D6B-C88842B4ADE3Opportunities to grow are all around us, you just have to be open to them. Be brave, try new things, make beautiful memories and live your life to the fullest. In the end, we can’t keep the money or the cars or the stuff….but our experiences and the way we choose to live our lives will be with us forever. ❤️

Photos by Melissa Couture.

 

 

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A Sliver of Hope :: Iceland

27 Feb
A Sliver of Hope :: Iceland

A Sliver of Hope :: Iceland

 

When we start out as landscape photographers, most of us probably don’t go into it realizing the weight of the responsibilities that come with it. You see, these days, every like, and double tap and +1 you get represents a responsibility to be a leader.

Part of that means being a good steward and protecting our collective “office”, the planet. There is a lot of debate about what exactly that means, but it benefits all of us -photographers and non- to embrace things like Leave No Trace, and to actively work to conserve our wild spaces.

The second part of this is to be a role model. Whether you like it or not, what you do and say makes an impact, and by choosing to break rules or ignore courtesy, you’re green-lighting that behavior for others. This shot is a particularly memorable example of how one person’s sense of entitlement/elitism, can ruin an experience. Last October Melissa and I decided to detour to see this beautiful canyon despite the rain. It involved a moderate, if somewhat slippery hike up to the first lookout. I had just set my tripod up and begun focusing my camera when a…let’s call him “gentleman”…. walked up and demanded I move so he could take a cell phone snap. I explained I had just set up my composition, and would be just a moment. Rather than wait politely, he put his arm directly into my frame, then crowded me on a slippery cliff-edge, to intimidate me into moving. If you know my friend Melissa, you know she doesn’t put up with rudeness and used it as a teachable moment to remind the gentleman of his manners. Lol

The outdoors are for everyone to enjoy and simple consideration and courtesy can go a long way towards helping everyone fall in love with (and subsequently see the value in protecting) nature.

Women in Photography Interview

25 Jan

 

Super excited to have been part of this new series put together by Marie Gardiner, a photographer and author based in the UK.  Make sure to check it out here!

An Image of Inequality

28 Dec

Today, I did something.  Something important, because talking about the things that matter *is* one of the most important things we can do.

Normally I try to stay away from controversy, so I’ve been sitting on this for a while, trying to find the right words, or the right way to approach it.  But eventually, you have to just speak from your heart and hope it’s enough.  Problems don’t get better by ignoring them.  They don’t improve with silence.

Hopefully, after giving this a read, you’ll have a little more insight into how nuanced inequality, in it’s various forms, can be.  Hopefully, you’ll feel inspired to ask yourself, “What can I do?” and have some difficult conversations.

This article is published in an iOS friendly digital magazine, called Light & Landscape, and I *highly* encourage you all to read it there if you have an iPhone or iPad.  I recognize that not everyone does though, so for those of you without iOS, I’ve included the rough draft of the article here.  The final copy has a few changes, more pictures and abbrieviated brand stats, but the bulk of it is the same.  Again, if possible, please go to the magazine copy first!  The magazine owner will like that. 😉

Here ya go!

————————————————————————————————————-

We live in a divisive world. The air is tense. People are afraid. Facts are spun and cherry-picked. Issues are viewed as black or white, with nuances completely ignored. Charged words trigger people to outrage, which discourages conversation. The art of reasonable discourse is all but lost.

 

As I typed that, I imagined that being narrated during an opening scene of the Twilight Zone. I wish I had just described some fictional dystopian future.  I wish that were some alternate reality, in which discrimination, violence, anger and war could be turned off in an instant, by closing a book cover (remember those?) or changing the channel.

 

Unfortunately, these are real challenges our world faces. Most of the hot button issues around the world are multi-faceted, muddied by layers of culture, religion, fears, anger, power struggles, innate selfish or survival instincts, comfort zones and conditioned discrimination, to name a few. There are countless reasons for compromise to fail. How do you find common ground when chasm between sides – racism, LGBTQ rights, gun rights, religion, etc – is so vast? When both sides of any given issue are insulated, unwilling to listen to the other side, unwilling to sympathize, or more importantly, compromise?

 

How do you approach a difficult topic, in hopes of having a conversation? When the idea of broaching the topic of gender bias in photography came up, that is the question I asked myself.

 

And then it occurred to me. You solve problems by focusing on a solution.

 

So what would be an ideal scenario? A conversation where all sides are acknowledged? Mutual respect? Recognizing that gender bias and inequality, much like most issues of discrimination, are nuanced problems attributed to more than one cause? Recognizing that discrimination, even if it’s unintentional, will only improve if it’s worked on from all sides?

Most people I know are willing to admit that cultural expectations for women exist, and those expectations vary internationally. From there, it’s not a huge leap to see that those cultural lenses can affect people’s perceptions of a woman’s capabilities, motivations, and limitations. Then, take that one step further, and it’s easy to see how cultural expectations and norms can influence a woman’s access to opportunities.

I’m not much for cherry picked facts, but I do think we need to clearly illustrate the problem so I’m going to give examples based only on personal experiences I or some of the ladies I am close with have had, and some verifiable brand stats.

Let’s start with the idea that landscape photography involves not only the technical knowledge of photography – iso, aperture, time values, gear limitations and artifacts, techniques to compensate for those limitations, some knowledge of editing software, etc – but also requires a fair amount of physical effort to arrive at your locations lugging anywhere from 5 to 25lbs of gear and considerable investments into equipment, travel, and presentation of the final product. From start to finish, a landscape photograph generally involves a planning stage, a travel to location and capture stage, a post-processing stage, and then a presentation stage. I’ve been un-lucky enough to either hear of, or personally experience some negative gender-based interactions that would leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth during all of those stages.

One of the most rampant issues women run into may seem innocuous; patronizing comments and being talked down to.  When I was first planning this article, I was hesitant to include too many examples of this, because I am not interested in man-bashing.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  I strongly believe that these sort of issues will only be resolved with an attitude of mutual respect.  However, a good (male, landscape photographer) friend David Pasillas said, “It would be easier for men, and some women that haven’t had any issues, to understand there’s a legitimate problem [with examples].”  I was also concerned that examples of being patronized and talked down to would be perceived by some as a non-issue.  David responded, “That’s part of the problem.  Talking down to implies they are less than.”

 

Accepting or dismissing patronizing comments perpetuates the idea of inferiority, rather than equality and respect.

Jill Sanders, a photographer out of California, owns her own gallery and her husband manages it for her.  People frequently come in and assume he is the photographer, despite the large Jill Sanders labels.  “When he points them in my direction, men have actually asked numerous times if I take these photos all by myself.  When I reply with an affirmative they state that I must have a great camera,” Jill explains.

Another landscape photographer, Melissa, recently took a trip out to Austin with her husband.  She has been shooting for over 12 years, and is experienced in wedding, portrait and landscape photography.  Her and her husband, a non-photographer, were visiting a waterfall, and she had her tripod set up to take some photos.  Another male photographer approached and Melissa tried to strike up a conversation.  The gentleman not only dismissed her, but said to her husband – who was holding Melissa’s large camera pack so it would be out of the way of traffic – that Melissa must not be up to the task of carrying her own gear.

 

Heck, even bringing up a conversation about the challenges our industry still faces garners negative, and dismissive comments.  Marie Gardiner, a photographer out of the UK, wrote an insightful blog piece about the topic, and was asked to then write a follow-up a few weeks later for a camera retailer’s website.  Many of the comments on the post range from derogatory to downright hostile.  

 

One gentleman complained, “What a load of rubbish, I am fed up with this crap, first women wanted equality, now they want more.”

 

Another gentleman ranted that he worked with female photographers, and “you don’t hear them moan about sexism, they get on with the work and deliver super images!…Utter crap in my honest opinion.” That, of course, ignores the cultural nuances in most places where women are taught from an early age that they shouldn’t complain, or speak up, or defend themselves when being treated unfairly.

 

There were also a number of people who either outright said, or implied, that because they had not personally experienced a discriminatory attitude, then it must not exist.  Instead, the lack of female representation in things like publications, as brand representatives, as presenters at events, as members of the jury for events must instead be due to other factors.  Some suggested the mathematical improbability that there “are not as many female photographers doing the work to a standard the magazine publishers want”, and that “equal representation assumes equal numbers of people of both gender of equal skill and equal interest in achieving the same things.”  Other people implied that this lack of representation was solely based on “who’s right for the job”.  One said that he personally was the only male photographer he knew in his genre, so insinuated that the lack of representation in the aforementioned areas couldn’t possibly be true.  Although some of those comments were likely meant to suggest that sexism, both intentional and ingrained/habitual, may not be the only reason women are underrepresented, by their very nature, those comments also dismiss the idea that sexism IS most definitely part of the reason.

That all being said, there were a number of people in the comments who agreed that sexism was a very real problem and were interested in improving the culture of photography, which was heartening to see.  At least one gentleman acknowledged that these conversations were helping.

 

Unfortunately, the challenges our industry faces are deeper than just derisive and condescending comments.  The long-time accepted culture of stereotypes, gender roles and appropriate gender-based interactions frequently leads to a loss of opportunity for female photographers, both directly and indirectly.  Personally, I have faced difficult decisions and lost work because I am female.  When releasing a book co-written with David, we actually had to put a lot of thought into whose name was listed first on the cover, or if I should list my full name rather than a first initial because there have been correlations between female author names and reduced sales.  Some women go so far as to take gender neutral pseudonyms.  Another time, I wasn’t hired for a photography gig because I was told, “we didn’t think you’d be comfortable traveling with a bunch of smelly dudes for the whole trip”.  I’ve had other male photographers refuse to go shooting with me because “their wives wouldn’t be comfortable”, and that’s just local day hikes, let alone something that involved travel and overnight accommodations.  On the whole, I’ve been understanding and tried to keep some perspective when these moments come up.  But if I had been male, these opportunities for networking and income wouldn’t have been jeopardized.

The reality of landscape photography is that it involves travel.  Some of us are lucky to live smack in the middle of a photographer’s paradise, but many of us are not. That means driving, flying, more driving, maybe some sleeping, probably some hiking, possibly some camping, questionable showering habits and a whole lot of shooting at crazy hours. I promise you, it’s rarely luxurious and almost never glamourous. Mostly, it is a bunch of sleep deprivation and snacks at odd hours. It is also a challenge to the standard cultural expectations for interactions between men and women.

 

The hike/trip will be too difficult for a woman. That’s too far for a woman to carry her gear. The men on the trip have wives who won’t be comfortable. It runs counter to some religious beliefs about gender interactions. Extra accommodations may be needed. There may be personal liability concerns. Men may have been conditioned to feel like they have to censor themselves and may not want to deal with having women on the trail with them. And so on, and so forth. Really, I’ve heard all of the reasons, and I can think of very few other professions where those ideas would even be entertained, let alone be accepted.

 

Here’s the thing. I’m a professional. And other female professional photographers are also…well…professional. I understand that landscape photography and the resulting travel, hikes and overnight accommodations present a unique speedbump to social conventions, but ultimately, a professional is a professional and gender shouldn’t matter. Did I mention the word professional? That means we ladies aren’t there to ruin your marriage. We are there for pictures. That means we won’t sign up for a hike if we don’t think we can make it. That means we want an opportunity to succeed or fail based on our merits, not on the number of Y chromosomes we carry.

 

Since the landscapes are our office, in reality, these sort of preconceived ideas about what a woman can or should do may significantly affect our income long term. There is a tendency in all humans to stick to what is familiar and comfortable. That means it’s easy for guys to compliment, network with and share the work of other men, but they may not always be comfortable reaching out to a woman because of cultural stigmas.  That means when opportunities do arise, a man may think first to invite or hire the guys he’s been traveling and shooting with for years, rather than an equally qualified woman who was never invited on such trips because she was female. That means that “the old boys club” mentality is a very real thing.  In a world that lives by, “It’s who you know”, this can have far-reaching consequences.

 

As was mentioned before, this manifests as missed job opportunities, as well as fewer invitations to speak at and to jury events. It also manifests as less exposure. It looks like fewer ambassadorships, which are mutually beneficial partnerships that ultimately also increase exposure. That in turn may equate to fewer offers for work or sales.  Overall, gender stereotypes and accepted gender roles/interactions can perpetuate a vicious cycle.

 

But how do we know this to be true?!  We wants facts, not accusations! Well, this is where the easily verifiable numbers come in, because despite the personal accounts many women give, there will still be people who don’t believe that gender bias exists. I’ve learned, after many loud and frustrating conversations, that the best thing to do in that case is to present some numbers.

 

Canon explorers of light USA
7 out of 42 total
1 out of 9 in the landscape genre

16 out of 62 Canon Europe

Nikon Ambassadors
7 of 23 in US
4 of 13 in UK
0 of 4 in Europe
0 of 7 in Australia
0 of 4 in Singapore
0 of 1 in Hong Kong
0 of 1 in Middle East

Sony Artisans
10 out of 59

1 our of 8 induro tripod team members

5 of 26 manfrotto ambassadors

Formatt Hitech featured artists
4 out of 41

 

As was alluded to earlier, I am 100% certain that there are a lot of reasons for why there are not as many professional women photographers representing brands. Every issue is nuanced, right? It may have to do with marketing demographics, based on local culture. Or perhaps marketing decisions based disposable income along gender lines (that is a whole other topic, though, right??). It may have to do with a woman’s need to juggle a full time career and family obligations, which in turn may affect her ability to dedicate time to building and maintaining brand partnerships (because despite both parents ability to help with things like family sickness or child-rearing, the responsibilities fall primarily on women.) I suppose, as mathematically impossible as the suggestion seemed, it could be due to a lack of talented females to choose from. (Yes, impossible. Because I personally know hundreds of talented landscape gals from all over the world.) It could, in a more likely scenario, be due to a lack of exposure to the many, many talented female photographers out there. Ultimately, there are many non-malicious, circumstantial reasons that could directly affect why there is such disproportionate representation along gender lines (and if we’re being honest here, along all other demographic lines that aren’t “white males”). The end result, though, is a significant cultural and economic problem.  It exists.

 

Why is disproportionate representation important?

 

Well, first and foremost, it shows that women aren’t making this problem up. I’m certain that at least 80% of the female photographers (a conservative estimate, but I’m playing it safe here), across all genres of photography, could relay stories of discrimination. Some stories would be clear cut, some might live in a gray area of interpretation. But if at the end of the story, you can say, “Would it be different if I was a man?” and the answer is “Yes”, then we have a problem. We have HAD a problem. A collective problem that can only be solved if everyone embraces the idea of solving it. That means a willingness to have uncomfortable conversations and listen to the other side’s perspective. That means committing to a culture of respect, and calling out offenders. It also means speaking up when something is wrong. That means BELIEVING a woman who says something isn’t right, and truly wanting her to have an equal shot.

 

That is, quite possibly, the hardest part.  Historically, whistle blowers had a good chance of suffering for doing the right thing. It wasn’t until recently that we’ve begun to see significant support for women who have asked for equal opportunities and justice without being disparaged, discredited, and told to “stay the course”. In my mind, some of these significant changes came about with Emma Watson’s speech at the UN in which she invited everyone to participate in a solution. More recently, the political climate in the United States, which likely helped bring the #metoo conversations (and their international counterparts) into the limelight, has also created a social shift away from gender bias.

 

These psychological shifts are important, because without them, there can never truly be equal opportunity. When brands don’t represent demographics, they are sending messages about what is or is not acceptable. Now, many people make the argument that companies aren’t in business to change the world, and they are within their rights to market as they please. That argument falls a bit flat, though, after the Nikon-Asia d850 fiasco. Earlier in 2017, with the release of a new camera, the company’s “Nikon-Asia” region picked 32 men to be the face of the d850. There were no women.  The outcry across the world was swift and loud.

Nikon briefly suggested they did invite women, but none participated.  That was debunked quickly by women who do have ambassadorships with Nikon within that region who said they weren’t even approached and asked to participate. Nikon then went on to apologize profusely.

 

How could this sort of thing happen though?  It is 2017!  Was it cultural since there are some male-centric countries in that region? Or marketing based on the male-centric cultures in the region? Was it an oversight? Was it that mathematical impossibility of no talented female photographers to be found in all of Asia, the Middle East, or Africa?

 

Mostly, it was a big mistake. You see, a company doesn’t have a responsibility to change the world. But if it wants to keep its market share, alienating half of your consumers is generally considered a bad idea.

 

As a Nikon user, I was disappointed in the message they sent. The apologies helped, but effects of these sort of thoughtless campaigns are far reaching. They greenlight micro-aggressions. They send messages about the worth of a demographic. They feed a gap – emotional, psychological, cultural, and economic – between the sexes that doesn’t need to exist. They normalize behavior that is now not considered acceptable in many countries throughout the world.

 

So the real question is, how and why do we fix it?

As for the why?  A chain is no stronger than its weakest link, and life is after all a chain. – William James

There are so many cliché sayings that sum this idea up nicely, but they all pretty much say the same thing.  If we all thrive individually, then as a whole, society thrives.  It will take work, compromise and a willingness to understand other people’s point of view, but I believe that we are up to the task.

The first step towards an attitude of mutual respect and equality is recognizing there is a problem both in landscape photography and in society as a whole.  That means continuing these conversations, and having teachable moments.  It means taking personal responsibility for your actions, and holding others accountable for theirs.  My hope is that this article will encourage you to try listening to other people’s experiences, and bridging the gap of opposing viewpoints so that eventually, we aren’t chained down or held back by gender stereotypes.

 

A Million Thanks

22 Nov

My heart is full of gratitude today. I’m wrapping up the print sale shipping/delivery, and *we* raised over $730 for Liam. ❤️ I’m so proud of my tribe today. I’m so thankful for all of your help, and I know Liam’s family is too. Cancer is such a difficult thing to face, but truly, the support, the hugs and prayers helps. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart, and have a happy & healthy Thanksgiving. 😘

Daydreaming, and Cancer (It Sucks)

18 Oct

Cancer sucks.  No, seriously, it’s the pits.  I lost a few grandparents to it.  One of my parents just fought a battle (and won!!).  I’ve got friends who have already had to face the life changing reality of it.

It.  Just.  Sucks.

But when it happens to a young child, your heart literally breaks.  When that child happens to be the son of a woman you have always loved like a sister, when that child thinks of you as Aunt Shannon….it’s absolutely devastating.

A few weeks ago, my “nephew” had complaints of a stomach ache and began peeing blood.  He was rushed to the emergency room, and after an ultrasound, the doctors expressed that they suspected he had a Wilms tumor on his kidney.  Wilms is one of the more common types of childhood cancer, and you can read a bit more about that here.  He was moved via ambulance to a local children’s hospital, and further tests confirmed that he had stage 4 cancer.

Stage 4.  There was a tumor on his left kidney, and spots on his liver, lungs and in the blood vessels leading to the right kidney.

At this point, my sister-friend and her husband had already been pulling alternating shifts at the hospital, one parent with my nephew and one parent at home with the other kids.  Both my sister-friend and her husband are the exact type of people you would hold up as an example of what parents should be.  They have hearts of gold and chose professions where they get to help people.  They’re honest, kind, funny, stable, intelligent, loving people who have always wanted to be parents.  But cancer doesn’t care about things like that.  It’s doesn’t discriminate.  And now these wonderful people, whom I’ve always called family, are stretched thin.

Grandparents have been enlisted to help.  Siblings are stopping by to support them, and friends have become taxis.  Heck, I went grocery shopping for them because how else would they find the time for basic supplies?

You see, that’s the reality of cancer.  It doesn’t just affect the person who is diagnosed.  It consumes everyone around the person fighting to beat it.  The patient needs extra time, support and care so you give it, because you love them.  The patient’s needs change and you accommodate them, because you want them to thrive.  The patient’s immune system becomes depressed because of treatment, their moods and energy levels fluctuate, their emotional health takes a beating and you do what you can to support them, because you want them to win.  A child still needs to be encouraged to be a child, so you put them on their balance bike and you hope like hell nothing goes wrong, because you know you can’t put them in a bubble…even on days you want to.

But who supports the parents of a child with Wilms?  Parents who can’t work because they need to support their son?  Parents who are struggling to keep their heads on straight for their children?

Well, their family and friends, for one.  A lot of us have tried stepping up, coming up with strategies to help with meal trains so they don’t have to worry about cooking after yet another trip to the hospital, or private fundraisers to help with the long term bills that are sure to pile up.  But it takes a village to raise a child, and now, I’m asking my village for help.

There are so many pressing concerns in the world right now – the hurricane damage in Puerto Rico, the wildfires out west, the…well, in essence the ethnic cleansing going on in Myanmar, the escalating tensions with North Korea….  There are a lot of causes out there, and for those of you without the resources to give, I fully understand.  I hope that in lieu of money, you might be able to keep both my nephew and all of those afflicted by cancer in your thoughts.  (My nephew is actually one of two children whose families I am close with that are undergoing treatment for Wilms.)

For those of you with the means though, my second biggest worry after my nephew’s immediate recovery, is the bills.  Insurance helps moderate some of the costs, but not all.  And of course, not working means that given enough time, the rest of the family’s bills – mortgage, utilities, food shopping, etc – will begin piling up.  I would like for them not to have to worry about finances when they should be focusing on their son’s recovery.  So, for those of you who might have a few dollars to spare, you can donate here.

Also, as an aside, I chose to make this post on my photography page – just like a choose to bring up other important topics ranging from environmental concerns to humanitarian crises – because I feel that ART IS POWERFUL.  Because through my photography, I have a voice, and it is everyone’s responsibility to use their voice to make the world a better place.  So for those of you who come by just to say Hi and look at some pretty pictures, I appreciate you!  But for those of you who read all of the way to the end of my longer posts, I am extra grateful.  Any support means the world to me, but if I can inspire someone in a positive way, then I feel as though I’ve truly made a difference. We have, together. ❤

Feminine :: TN

26 Sep
Feminine :: TN

Feminine :: TN

(Alternate working title: Taken by a WOMAN with a NIKON)

This past week there has been a huge backlash against Nikon for a promotion-gone-wrong regarding their new d850 release. In short, the Nikon-Asia created a team of 32 professional photographers to be the face of their new camera. All male.

For those of you to whom I’ve casually mentioned the challenges of landscape photography’s boys club to… this is very visible example of what I meant. Time and again, I’ve come across gender bias in the genre of landscape photography, and in the cross-genre work I’ve done. The stats on things like brand ambassadors, speakers at conferences, juries at shows, etc simply aren’t reflective of the actual percentages of women working every day in the industry. I personally have been overlooked or lost opportunities because I was female. Women I am close with have been harassed and belittled, their skills as a photographer dismissed or questioned because they are female. Marketing, book sales and travel all come with an asterisk – a need to proceed cautiously because I’m female. Hopefully, our genre of photography continues to evolve, but the first step is education. One of the best things about our species is our capacity for critical thought, for introspection, and conscious evolution. I know WE CAN DO BETTER.

Nikon has since said they will strive to be better in the future. Hopefully more major brands follow their lead. There is an incredibly talented community of female photographers out there (I have a list of at least 270+ in landscape photography alone) who’s work is diverse, interesting and impactful. Isn’t it time you discovered some new artists? 😊

Big thanks to all of those supportive men already in the photography community. I’m blessed to call a lot of you friends, and you give me hope things will keep moving in the right direction.

In reality, gender bias is not the only issue we flawed humans face and in my mind, denying that these problems exist is illogical, especially when you can see tons of examples around the world of sexism, racism, homophobia, etc.  Much like this particular issue with Nikon, I believe humans as a whole have opportunities every single day to do better, to be better, to grow and have empathy and understanding.  After all, our variety IS our strength.  The human race is a beautiful tapestry made up of vastly different experiences, cultures, sexes, nationalities, religions and ways of expressing love.  To insulate yourself with only a small segment of the population is like reading just the first page of your favorite novel.  You’ll never see the richness and depth around you. Choose love. ❤

Ok, hopping off the soapbox now.  If you read this far, this is a quiet spot in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  A huge thank you to Ed and Zach Heaton for showing us around their stomping grounds while we were visiting.  They’re great guys, and if you are looking for workshops in that area, I urge you to check them out! Here’s a little bonus shot of Zach, who is shooting a year of film, using his large format rig during this stop. 🙂