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You Can Sleep When You're Dead: Blog for CMS Photography by Colleen Miniuk-Sperry » You Can Sleep When You're Dead

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Nov 192017
 
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In the Flow

“In the Flow” || Waterfalls cascade down the Little River along Tremont Road in autumn in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, USA (Click on photo to order a print)

When visiting a place, like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee, for the first time (as I did a couple of weeks ago), it can feel a little overwhelming. So much beauty, where does one even start?!

Before my responsibilities at the Great Smoky Mountains Photography Summit began, I took a quick scouting trip along Tremont Road. I made a few “happy snaps,” but mainly so I could start sorting out my budding connections with the Middle Prong of the Little River. I continued visualizing possible images while leading two of my three summit groups to the spots that had initially grabbed my attention. When I teach workshops, teaching always takes precedence over making my own images, so I didn’t click the shutter once.

When I happened to get a few hours off from my workshops and presenting, I rushed back to the Lower Tremont area to try out some of my photographic ideas. But each time I set up along the shoreline, I felt like I was forcing things to happen too much. I stopped photographing and started listening to the river.

I took my shoes off, rolled up my pant legs, and walked into the flow with my tripod acting as my stabilizer. To feel the water, to be the water. The refreshing coolness of the stream, the pulsing current, the smooth shape of the rocks beneath my arches. It felt comforting. It instantly put me into my own flow state.

After only a few minutes of wading around, I turned to look upstream and saw this composition with little to no thought running through my brain. I fell in love with the scene, so I made this image…which was infinitely more appealing than anything I had previously visualized.

The value of my earlier visualizations, though, did not go to waste. The purpose of visualization–or picturing your pictures before you photograph them–is not to develop a strict checklist of “what you MUST photograph.” Rather, the process helps you practice and prepare for the “big game.” For me, it was a way to strengthen my bond with the location without any pressure or expectations to photograph a scene, ask a bunch of “what if I did this…” questions, and understand my photographic vision in a place I had never been to before which, no doubt, helped me eventually create “In the Flow.”

Sep 142017
 
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Earlier this week, while camping in northern Arizona, I had the fortunate chance to witness the birth of an evening primrose flower as it slowly unfurled from its green bud at dusk. We watched a first bloom for almost 45 minutes; a second one nearby took less than 7 minutes to open. It was one of the most beautiful natural events I’ve ever seen.

If you’d like to see it too, check out the video I just posted of the second bloom at 2x real time speed (so it’s about 3 minutes long):

Enjoy!

Aug 252017
 
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Last Monday, unlike millions of people, I was not in the path of totality for the highly anticipated solar eclipse. Instead, I found myself sitting alone by choice (well, save for the seagulls) in my favorite place, the Raven’s Nest in Acadia National Park, Maine, where forecasters estimated the moon would only cover the sun at 50-60% at its peak.

I had no intentions of photographing the solar eclipse, wanting instead to soak in the entire experience as it happened in the place where my own path had led me. There were few noticeable changes in the seagulls squawking, the outgoing tide splashing, or the gentle sea breeze stroking the pines when the moon started making its move on the sun. In fact, if you didn’t get the memo about the eclipse or didn’t have those goofy-looking special magic glasses–things the Wabanaki Indians (natives living on this land for an estimated 12,000 years) obviously lacked–you might not have known something different in the universe was even happening. Until just before the peak.

Ready for the solar eclipse on the Schoodic Peninsula’s western shore in Acadia National Park, Maine

At about 2:30 p.m. EDT, the wind held its breath. The waves stilled, settling one-foot swells into a sheet of navy blue-stained glass. The normally sherbet-colored granite cliffs suddenly turned silver. Only the seagulls ongoing squeals indicated that time, life, the movement of the Earth had not momentarily stopped.

As if to simply prove to myself that I could still move, I stood up to make a photograph with my telephoto lens through my eclipse glasses. Mind completely blown. I then decided to make a picture about every five minutes from that point on. The above is what resulted, a composite of 16 images from just before peak to conclusion. I know it doesn’t show the prized totality, the Baily’s beads effect (the “Diamond ring”), or differ than all the other partial eclipse photos ever recorded. But I howled joyfully like a coyote after every frame, and for me, that’s all that matters.

The next day, I repeated this moment on Raven’s Nest at sunset. Seagulls chattered, the cobbled clapped in the outgoing tide, the sea breeze stroked evergreen branches. I peered (through my protective glasses, of course) at the now naked sun, shining in its full glory. The waxing crescent moon now smiling, smugly almost, as if it was proud of itself for the commotion it had caused the day before. I wondered how many other people of the millions who experienced the eclipse yesterday had bothered to sit and enjoy today’s ephemeral moments? I felt so grateful that I have the freedom to taste, enjoy, and appreciate the natural world essentially any time I wish. Others, through circumstance or choice, are not so fortunate.

Sarah Gilman wrote an eloquent essay recently, which summed up my sentiments perfectly: “How would we come to understand our world if we learned to turn this attention on its everyday wonders? What would we save from our own ravenous appetites? If hordes of people pulled off the highway randomly to stare at an old growth Douglas fir, if they did it to watch the way a stream carves through a canyon, or even the way a swarm of flirting gnats become a galaxy when lit by a sunbeam?”

YES, THIS!!

Read the full piece, “Lessons in the moon’s shadows,” here: http://www.hcn.org/articles/essay-people-places-lessons-from-the-eclipse.

There’s big hype for the next solar eclipse throughout Maine, for on April 8, 2024, the path of totality will split the state in half.  In a place where I already spend two to three months a year, I have a feeling I know where I’ll be then. Maybe I’ll photograph it. Maybe I won’t. I’ll decide how to celebrate yet another fleeting moment, as I did on Monday and all days, precisely when it happens.

And that, I think, is living life, not just a single moment, in the path of its totality.

Jun 302017
 
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From the Green River in May 2016, but representative of how I feel today. Photo courtesy Guy Tal.

I’ve been a little tired.

Yes, you’ve read that correctly. Those words actually came out my mouth…and now that I’ve slept for three days straight, I can explain!

As of this past Monday, I’ve completed a six-month term as the interim Executive Director with the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) following the conclusion of our 90th annual conference in Duluth, Minnesota. Juggling three businesses—OWAA and two of my own, CMS Photography and Analemma Press—during this time sometimes made me feel like I was testing the outer limits of “you can sleep when you’re dead!”

But I wouldn’t change a thing. Although my time at the helm at OWAA has come to an end, I can safely say that the organization has changed my life for the better twice now. Here’s how:

When I walked out of my unfulfilling corporate America job at Intel Corporation in February 2007, I had asked many of my photography mentors (many who had been in the outdoor photography industry for 30 or more years) what it would take to be successful as a freelance. The overwhelming feedback I received was that I would never make it as a full-time landscape photographer for two reasons: one, the photography industry had changed so much (the digital revolution had just begun) that opportunities to make a living were rapidly diminishing; and two, as a woman, I would never cut it being alone for extended periods of time in the wild.

Despite the latter being exactly what I loved to do, having five semesters of college-level photography instruction, and experiencing enough success in both the fine art and editorial outlets with outdoor photography to quit a six-figure salary, I listened to them. When I left my corporate job on February 28, 2007, I photographed everything but nature photography (and weddings…No. Just no.) I focused on shooting jewelry, trucks, yards, food, products, architecture, senior portraits, soccer, and golf (I didn’t know anything about golf!) for various commercial clients.

I made a lot of money, but after each shoot, I came home bummed out. I wasn’t having much fun, and I asked myself, “Is this really what I left Intel for?”

My phone rang in 2009. On the other line was an enthusiastic man I had never met. He introduced himself as Jim Smith. He explained he had received my name as a possible speaker for his local photography club and asked me if I would be interested in presenting an educational presentation with his members. I eagerly agreed to do so in early 2010.

After my presentation, Jim invited me to speak again. This time though, it was for an organization he was a member of and found helpful in his own profitable outdoor photography business. He also handed me a piece of paper and said, “I think you’d really like this group. You should apply.” Jim handed me an application to OWAA with his signature already on the “Sponsor” line.

I didn’t heed his advice right away. After all, the outdoors was not factoring much into my photography business at that time. I wanted it to! A few months ahead of my speaking engagement at their annual conference in June in Rochester, Minnesota, I decided, “What the hell?”

I walked into the event and saw over 400 outdoor communicators totally rocking the industry in every way—writing, photography, TV, video, books, newspapers, cartoons, you name it. I naively thought, “If they can do it, why can’t I?!”

I subsequently returned home to Arizona with an extra pep in my step and dropped all my commercial clients except one (who was a friend from my time at Intel) to focus entirely on what I loved, photographing the Great Outdoors. I pursued new editorial outlets, calendar companies, etc. I didn’t previously know about or had access to. I also left conference with crazy ideas on how to publish my own books. To be an author had been a pipe-dream for me since senior year in college. I could have never imagined having three books to my name (plus six more in the hopper!) after starting my own publishing company—Analemma Press.

Game-changer #1: I became a true outdoor photographer and writer–and publisher!–thanks to OWAA.

Fast forward five years…Jim sadly passed away in January 2015. Then, my life took an unexpected left-hand turn in April 2015 when my husband (and best friend for 22 years) and I decided to mutually separate—two weeks before our 14th wedding anniversary and four weeks before my 40th birthday. To help with sorting out the devastation and chaos, I had this wild idea to stand-up paddleboard the 141-mile length of Lake Powell in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on the Utah-Arizona border. My mom and I embarked on that journey in late November 2015 but ran into an unpredicted windstorm four days into a 14-day trip, which led to an unexpected rescue and conclusion of a trip.

In the year that followed, I learned many things, including that I was not a photographer who liked to write, but rather a writer who liked to photograph—perhaps a seemingly small distinction to the outside world, but a major shift for me and my priorities. I learned more about letting go, happiness, and as the title of the book I started writing about my Lake Powell trip and life indicates, simply how to go with the flow. In reliving the memories of the separation and Lake Powell paddle trip, though, I still noodled on many things like what I was doing with my life, how I wanted to live, and what I wanted to be when (if) I grew up.

Then, in late November 2016, I received a call from Brett Prettyman, OWAA’s President, suggesting the current OWAA executive director (ED) had unexpectedly turned in his resignation. (I serve as OWAA’s Secretary, and thus the Executive Committee where these types of matters are discussed.) He mentioned the idea of possibly hiring an interim ED, requested I think of good candidates for the position, and hung up.

Was the Universe throwing me a possible answer to the questions I pondered? I needed to find out. Despite having 10 years of freelancing under my belt, I felt if I were ever to return to a desk job, this would be the one I’d pick.

I wrote Brett a lengthy email on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after hearing the news, starting with, “Soooooo I’ve given it a tremendous amount of thought since we talked (I even made up a spreadsheet about it!), and would like to formally throw my name in the hat for the interim ED position, should you decide to pursue it.  I do so with the possibility of me applying for the ED position next year.”

I was named the interim ED by the following Monday. After spending time with Tom Sadler (the resigning ED) in December to facilitate a smooth transition, I took the torch from him in January 2017 for 20 hours a week. I submitted my resume and cover letter for the permanent position.

While learning how to run a non-profit organization and enjoying the new experiences, something didn’t feel quite right. I seemed to have little time to write, photograph, and travel while trying to keep up with the demands of the different three jobs. I missed my wandering freelance life. So much so, that I withdrew my name (twice) from consideration for the permanent position—one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made.

To say I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to serve OWAA in this capacity would be an understatement. As I look back at the six-months, the experience presented “Game-changer #2″ by helping me put four exclamation points behind what OWAA helped me declare seven years ago in 2010:

  • I’m a freelance writer, photographer, author, publisher, speaker, teacher, and more!!!!
  • I’m a wanderer of the outdoors!!!!
  • I love to help people enjoy the Great Outdoors through workshops, books, and everything I do!!!!

I’ve now passed the torch to our new ED, Brandon Shuler. When I left Intel to become a free bird in 2007, I shared what has become one of my favorite quotes with my colleagues, which I feel is equally pertinent now as I start to flap my wings and fly back into the freelancing life once again:

“A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.”
~John A. Shedd

No matter the journey you are on or may take, may you always possess the wisdom to know the difference between “safe” and “your true self,” to know in your heart what you are made of and for. And to have the strength and courage to sail your ship out of harbor when your soul calls to you to set sail.

Many thanks to the OWAA Board of Directors for their confidence and support in me, to staff members Jessica Seitz and Kelsey Dayton for showing me the ropes and keeping me in line, and to Tom, Brett, and Bill Powell for their help throughout the transition. Finally, I am eternally thankful to OWAA and it’s inspiring and encouraging members for changing my direction in outdoor communications not once, but twice, and for helping me become exactly what I’m built for. (And I just know my late friend Jim is laughing his head off about all this from above. I can hear his voice say, “You’re such a hoot” as he often told me.)

The sea of freedom calls…and it’s a big ocean out there teeming with so much life. Lots more adventures, workshops, books, and more ahead!  Because, as the saying goes, “You can sleep when you’re dead”…and remember, I’ve just woke up from sleeping for three days straight…

Time to set sail…time for new adventures!

Jun 022017
 
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“The Yin to My Yang” || Abstract rock pattern formed by calcite in the Supai Formation in the Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA (Prints available! Click on photo to order)

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

While rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon a few weeks ago while leading my Women’s Photography Retreat, immense landscape scenes certainly live up to its name. However, I found the little things as equally fascinating…especially the bizarre patterns in a rock overhang at our lunch stop on the first day of our trip.

My rafting group last year stopped at this same spot, and upon seeing this rock overhang for the first time, I literally lost my marbles. All of them. I had never seen anything like it!

I made some images then, but could not settle my enthusiasm into making any sort of meaningful expressions in the limited time we had here. (I guess, technically, the photos I did make were representative of how I felt, which was nonsensically spastic… :D )

When our guides for this year’s trip asked my input as to where we should stop for lunch, I pleaded with them to take our group to this unnamed location, one, so I could show the participants on my trip this amazing occurrence in the Supai Formation, and two, so I could see how my vision and approach changed from last year.

Although I experienced the same immense excitement for this subject (I still lost my marbles…), I felt more at ease seeing my “old friend” while walking along the ledge and pointing out different curious patterns with my group. Then, together, we started to make order out of chaos…not with our cameras, but with our minds and eyes first.

We talked through visual language-light, shape, balance, color, etc.-and their individual effects on expressing emotions. We shared why “this” shape grabbed our attention more than “that” shape nearby. We discussed what that line was contributing to the scene. Most importantly, we walked through what we liked about a possible composition, what we didn’t, and how we might approach with a camera. We spent a healthy amount of time simply visualizing and responding in our own ways, then photographed.

The above photo titled, “The Yin to My Yang” is one of several I created in this process.

We spent even less time here than my first trip, but yet, I felt I made better images (and think my participants did as well) because we stopped to patiently and mindfully notice and appreciate the scene first instead of randomly blasting away in “spray-and-pray mode.”

Jan 032017
 
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I turn my TV on maybe three or four times a year (once at least, for the University of Michigan-Ohio State football game, Go Blue in 2017!). Last night, I just happened to flip to a channel playing one of my all-time favorite movies, Shawshank Redemption.

I don’t know about you, but towards the end of the movie, when Andy starts dreaming about Zihuatanejo with Red in the jail yard, I start bawling like I’m cutting a pile of onions. These two sentences suckerpunch me every time (even though I know the movie well enough to know what’s coming every time):

“I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.”

As I emptied all three of the boxes of tissue I had in my house, and considering we’ve just turned the page on another year, I internalized this and how it applies to my life right now. (Over-analyzing is my superpower, what’s yours?).

Although I’ve been a faithful subscriber to the “You Can Sleep When You’re Dead” mantra in the past, the hardships and lessons from a challenging 2015 helped me consciously choose to “get busy living” more so than ever in 2016. From a 30,000 foot level, I learned to be nice to myself, enjoy the journey regardless of achievement, and celebrate the waves of “up’s” and “down’s”equally (all things I’ve been exploring and writing about in great detail in my book, Going With the Flow, about our Lake Powell paddle adventure, which now stands at over 65,000 words and merely three chapters of editing work shy of my first draft…I digress…).

And awesome things transpired through new adventures with dear and new friends, personal and professional growth, and dreaming up some grand ideas. So much so, that not only will I keep on keeping on, but also encourage everyone, if they aren’t already, to “get busy living” not just on the holidays, not just on New’s Years Day, but today, and every day. 

If you’re reading this, keep in mind, you woke up, you’re alive, you’re breathing. Some were not as fortunate…so on this day, today, and every day, with this gift of more time on this Earth, what will you celebrate today?

Today, I celebrate YOU for all you do to help support my photography, writing, and teaching.  Thank you for making 2016 an incredible year of friendship, laughs, and learning in photography. And I can’t wait to see what transpires in our creative journey in 2017 for all of us!

To celebrate making the most of life in 2016, here are 16 of my favorite photographs I created last year (in chronological order, prints available – click on photo to order):

 

Winter’s Hold on Jordan Pond:Winter's Hold on Jordan Pond

 

Face of the Sun:Face of the Sun

 

Antelope Canyon Memories:Antelope Canyon Memories

 

Canyon Dreams:Canyon Dreams

 

High Alpine Serenity:High Alpine Serendipity

 

The Pulse of Life: The Pulse of Life

 

An Afternoon Dream:An Afternoon Dream

 

Autumn Afternoon Delight:Autumn Afternoon Delight

 

Bubblicious!:Bubblicious

 

Rock On!:Rock On!

 

Liquid Aurora:Liquid Aurora

 

Catch You When You Fall:Catch You When You Fall

 

Periwinkle Pearls:Periwinkle Pearls

 

Beauty Remains:Beauty Remains

 

Burning Desire:Burning Desire

 

 A Crack in Everything:A Crack in Everything

Thank you for reviewing my Favorite Photos from 2016! If you’d like to see my favorite photos from previous years, please visit:

All posts were a part of Jim Goldstein’s annual “Best Photos of the Year” blog project.  His 2016 collection–which I’d highly recommend browsing through to see some amazing photographic work–can be viewed at www.jmg-galleries.com/blog/2017/01/10/photos-2016-jmggalleries-blog-readers/

May your 2017 be your best and brightest year yet!

~Colleen

Dec 012016
 
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Catch You When You Fall

“Catch You When You Fall” || Serene fall colors in the meadow at Sieur de Monts in Acadia National Park, Maine, USA (Fine art prints available – click on photo to order)

How many of you have photographed a gorgeous location only to arrive at home to say, “I didn’t really capture what I wanted” while reviewing your images? Ever had that sinking feeling while you are sipping coffee at your desk when you realize if you would have just moved to the left two feet or switch to a different lens, that would have made the image you wanted—and now there’s nothing you can do about it?  It’s a total bummer, isn’t it?

While reviewing your images on your computer, asking yourself what you could have done differently on your photo shoot will certainly lead to a refined understanding of your current photographic abilities and provide new ideas to try on your next shoot. However, your ability to resolve what you do not like about your photograph is limited to some cropping, exposure levels, and other processing software features. Otherwise, it is difficult to “fix” an image you spent all that time working on in the field, brought home, and then generally disliked.

The ideal time to conduct an initial critique on your work is when you are standing behind your camera in the field. When you analyze your photograph while you are in the process of making it, you give yourself the opportunity to resolve any issues at the time of capture.

After you set up a composition, review your photograph on the back of your LCD.  Check for obvious technical issues like exposure, white balance, depth of field, etc. Then (assuming the light is not fleeting or the jaguar is not disappearing into the woods), take a minute to conduct a quick critique on your image, specifically asking, “What do you like about this photograph?” and “What don’t you like about it?”

Pay attention to your answers! Increase the focus in your photograph on the elements you like. Then, fix or eliminate what you do not like. Repeat this process over and over until you have a frame you can say, “YES! I like everything in this photo!” Only then should you pick your tripod up and move on to another composition.

To give you an idea of how this works, here is the sequence of photographs I made which resulted in the marquee photo above titled, “Catch You When I Fall:”

Sequences of my RAW images that eventually resulted in “Catch Me When I Fall” (the photograph at the top of this post). Click on the photo to view larger.

Now, I typically have a difficult time seeing the trees through the forest (preferring instead to slap on a wide-angle lens and photograph the entire forest…). However, when I saw the colorful trees and leaves being cradled by the luscious grasses at Sieur de Monts in Acadia National Park in Maine this past autumn, I knew I wanted to make a more intimate image I titled, “Catch Me When I Fall” (which expressed the emotion I immediately felt when I saw the scene).

The landscape initially felt very busy to my eye, so I started with a classic horizontal composition with a birch tree in the bottom left corner of the Rule of Thirds grid and the leading lines of the grasses leading across the frame (image “_1110461.dng, or just #461 for short). After I snapped it, I asked myself, “What do you like about this photograph?” and “What don’t you like about it?” I loved the grasses and leaves, but the composition looked too forced and predictable. I also did not like how the subtle line of grasses led the eye essentially out of the frame without going anywhere interesting.

I moved my camera around slightly for image #462 and #463 to resolve those issues but in doing so, realized I had too much grass and not enough of the fall colors I enjoyed so much when I saw the scene. The balance of visual elements felt off.

I tilted my camera up slightly for image #464.

I checked my histogram, and the exposure was too dark so I added about 1/3 stop of light to lighten in #465.

Then I thought I might have too much of the grass in the foreground, which led to me walking into the scene about 10-12 feet to record image #466.

When I did so, however, I lost the leaves in the foreground which was a strong visual element critical to my composition. I decided if the horizontal orientation offered to much of the grass, a vertical orientation would reduce the amount. Hence, image #467.

I noted the image was underexposed, so added another third stop of light for image #468.

For #469, I tilted the camera up a little to position the leaves differently within the frame and emphasize the very subtle path of separated grasses takes from the foreground to the background through the trees. And to straighten my implied horizon. :) I liked this, though!

I could have stopped here (note that #469 and my final frame of #476 are quite similar), but being anal-retentive, I kept asking “what if…,” specifically, what if I moved the placement of the leaves within the frame starting with #470? I liked the leaves better, but I went too wide and started getting “UFO’s” (like distracting plant branches and berries on the left-hand side of my image, too many leaves in the bottom left corner). And my horizon was crooked. Again. So #471, 472, and 473.

As I adjusted my composition, the clouds had thickened and the natural light had decreased so I needed more light via my exposure so I clicked #474.

During the middle of my 13-second exposure, the breeze kicked up and moved the grasses. I knew instantly that would be a throw-away frame but checked my histogram anyhow.  That’s when I noticed the sky in the top right corner blinking at me. Rather than darken the whole exposure, I chose to angle my camera down towards the ground to eliminate it from my composition resulting in #475.

I still did not like the few leaves in the bottom left corner, so I made a small camera tilt to eliminate them in #476. Then a YES! I like everything about it! “Catch You When You Fall” came to life!

(This process should bring great comfort to those of you who think you’re too analytical, as I am–I tell you what, it pays to be picky in your photography!)

This might take one try or six hundred.  Regardless, don’t give up! Something grabbed your attention strongly enough to stop you in your tracks and wrestle with that dreaded tripod (be one with the tripod…)—and since you are the only person in the world who can see it like you do, it is worth putting the effort into polishing your personal visual expression.

Keep in mind that fixing what you do not like about a photograph relies heavily on the tools you have collected in your photographic “toolbox” (e.g. technical knowledge, familiarity with your camera, human perception). So, if you find yourself with a problem you do not know how to fix, do not get frustrated. This is simply a sign of where you might need to develop a new skill.

This approach is especially helpful when you stand in front of an overwhelming scene and simply do not know where to start. Like putting a pen to a blank sheet of paper and then editing the words later, snap “anything.” Then review your photograph and ask, “What do you like about this photograph?” and “What don’t I like about it?” Keep what you like; fix what you don’t. Rinse, lather, repeat.

In addition to helping you bring home images you like with greater consistency, over time, you will train your brain and eye to quickly notice key visual elements (like shape, color, light, form, pattern, balance, spatial relationship, etc.) you like and to disregard what you do not like more naturally, which will ultimately help you develop your own individual style.

Have you tried this approach before? If so, tell us what you like about it (and what you don’t like about it)!

Nov 292016
 
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Looking for some inspiration for your photography–and life in general?

Then check out my new interview on the esteemed Image & Rhythm website: www.imageandrhythm.com/the-creative-journey-colleen-miniuk-sperry.

This summer, photographer Kyle McDougall (of Kyle McDougall Photography) started the Image & Rhythm website with the hopes becoming, ” …a community and learning resource dedicated to empowering outdoor photographers throughout the world…We want you to create YOUR best work, not someone else’s, while enjoying the journey to its fullest and chasing after your dreams.” After reading his first post, I was hooked.  We need this kind of positive encouragement in photography today!

Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of being interviewed for “The Creative Journey” section. Kyle posed some very thought-provoking questions about my creative journey thus far, which allowed me to share some of the insights I’ve gained from being in the photography industry and exploring the creative process since leaving my job at Intel almost 10 years ago now. My hope is that it gives you new ideas and motivation to find and follow your own bliss–photography or otherwise.

When Kyle announced the interview, he suggested, “Simply put, you need to read this! Colleen shares so many amazing thoughts, about both life and photography, that will absolutely give you a gigantic push regardless of what point you’re at in your career. Don’t miss this one!”

I am honored to be the ninth photographer to be featured after incredible photographers like Guy Tal, Sarah Marino & Ron Coscorrosa, Mark MetternichSean Bagshaw and others shared their stories.  If you are looking for additional inspiration, be sure to spend some time browsing the other photographer profiles and Kyle’s other great posts as well.

A huge congratulations to Kyle for his success with the Image & Rhythm concept thus far.  I am grateful not only what he is doing for the photography community, but also for playing a small part in it in hopes of helping others create YOUR best work.

If you do have the chance to read it, please let us know what you thought of the interview either here on my blog or on the Image & Rhythm website.  We’d love to hear from you!

~Colleen

Nov 222016
 
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Our view at sunset from our camp in Fourmile Canyon on the first night of our paddling trip on Lake Powell/Glen Canyon National Recreation Area last year.

Exactly one year ago today, my Mom and I began our ambitious paddling adventure on Lake Powell from the Dirty Devil launch area in Utah. Although we aimed to reach Wahweap Marina 147-miles down the lake 14 days later, the universe and Mother Nature had other plans for us. After four fulfilling days—and three terrifying hours of paddling against towering cliffs in five-to-six-foot swells in crosswinds —our journey came to an unexpected end after 41 miles.

Oh, what a wild year it’s been! To say this challenging experience changed my life for the better would be a massive understatement. During the preparations, the trip itself, and in the 12 months that have followed, I have learned so much about myself, my family and friends, how nature can heal during difficult life circumstances, and the value of living a meaningful life. I’m so grateful things panned out exactly as they did! And for everyone who’s been a part of this incredibly enlightening and transformational time.

In hopes of helping and inspiring others, I continue to write almost every day about this personal journey with the goal of sharing this story in my first adventure travel book, currently titled, “Going With the Flow.” As of this morning (when I blasted the Powell Playlist you helped compile last year before our trip), I’ve written over 57,000 words thus far (the approximate word count for each of my published guidebooks) and 10 of the 16 chapters are in really great shape for my editor. Hoping I can have a solid draft ready for edit by the end of the year so I can publish the book in 2017.

So stay tuned! And take a minute to think about where you were just a year ago.  How much has changed for you?  No matter where you’ve been or where you are right now, remember to celebrate life and all that is good in it!

~Colleen

Jul 122016
 
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Author Bruce Taubert, editor/publisher Colleen Miniuk-Sperry, and graphic designer Paul Gill marvel over the new Wild in Arizona book (we might have been a little excited but this was pre-champagne…LOL!)

IT’S HERE and IT’S STUNNING! We’re thrilled to share our newest guidebook, Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildlife by Bruce Taubert arrived yesterday afternoon.

And do you know what that means?! That’s right! Yesterday and today were our fabulous “Book Ship Days” (one of my favorite days ever). Bruce, Bruce’s wife Anne, Paul and yours truly were on hand to not only welcome the books off the truck, but also to ship you your pre-ordered, autographed copies!

We created a short behind-the-scenes video to give you an idea of what our day looked like yesterday on YouTube (direct link: https://youtu.be/O4H4cwNr09I):

Tell me Bruce’s first look at his first book isn’t totally priceless! If you pre-ordered the book: YOU MADE THAT MOMENT HAPPEN! THANK YOU!!

We couldn’t wait to get them into your hands, so all pre-ordered books have shipped as of this afternoon! Those of you living in the Phoenix area can expect to receive your books in the next day or two. For those who live outside of Phoenix but within the United States, I’d start checking the mail for your books in the next three to four days. International shipments can vary tremendously depending on the country’s customs process, so those of you living outside the U.S. will probably receive your books in the next one to four weeks.

Those who pre-ordered eBooks were super lucky. All eBooks were emailed via Analemma Press (the publishing company I run) this morning (check your inbox or your spam/junk folder if you ordered one but can’t find it) so they got an early sneak peek of what Bruce’s book looks like.

After working on for three years, we’d now love to hear what you think about the book/eBook. If you drop me an email at cms@cms-photo.com, I’ll be sure it gets to the whole team. We might even add you to our new book testimonial page too!

We cannot thank our corporate sponsors, Indiegogo fundraising supporters, and everyone who has purchased a book thus far enough for the overwhelming and generous support we’ve received to bring this book (our dream!) to fruition. Take a second to check out our awesome sponsors and those Indiegogo supporters who contributed $100 or more to our campaign at http://wildinarizona.com/sponsors_wildlife.html.

Then grab your new book and get WILD in Arizona!

P.S. If you love the book so much and want to pick up another copy for you or a friend–or you missed pre-ordering–the book/eBook is now available from http://www.wildinarizona.com so you can order additional signed copies.