Croquet | Exploring Winter Park, FL

I love when I stumble across something so conducive to photography it's as if the photo Gods simply handed it to me. That's the case with these images. I was driving down Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida and saw a guy playing croquet. I parked my car and asked if he usually plays alone. He said no. There are usually a group of fellows who play with him, they just didn't show up this time. Over the next hour he taught me the game and we played a round under the humid Florida sun. I can't recall who won our match, but if it was me he was simply being kind. I came back the following week to photograph him and his friends play. I've gotta say, croquet is fun. It's relaxing, competitive, and gives you a sense of regality. You should give it a whirl.

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Concrete Producer Magazine

One of the reasons I love being an editorial photographer is I get to meet such a wide gamut of people and learn about so many interesting things. When The Concrete Producer called I was really intrigued. I found myself photographing Robert Finfrock and learned a lot about concrete, which is actually pretty interesting. Be sure to check out the write up on their website. Here are the photos they featured and some others from the shoot:

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Funny story about this last photo. Robert had the idea of going up on the roof and shooting a panoramic of the plant. I was game for it. While I'm up there he decided to hop up on the edge of the building and shoot some photos of his own (he really loves photography). As I'm photographing him on the edge of death I'm thinking, "These will make great photos, I just hope they aren't the last ones of him..."

   

 

 

11 Questions with Orlando Magic Super Fan Dennis "The Fat Guy" Salvagio in Orlando, FL

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!

I'm not going to lie. When Dennis agreed to be featured on 11 Questions I was ecstatic. Let me correct myself. I wasn't ecstatic. I was giddy. For those of you who don't know Dennis is an Orlando celebrity to us basketball loving types. He's an Orlando Magic Super Fan. A season ticket holder since the beginning. When I went to Magic games as a kid I remember watching him go crazy in the stands. He would wave his shirt around, yell and scream, and make fun of the refs. When the crowd needed a pick-me-up at a crucial moment it wasn't unusual to see Dennis running around the stadium shirtless. Though his day job is as a defense attorney I still see Dennis as The Fat Guy, a defining character from my childhood. It was a pleasure to get to know him. Next time you're at a Magic Game keep an eye out for him. His craziness won't be hard to spot.

Who do you look up to?

I look up to people who are generous and do not brag about their giving. I also look up to Pope Francis.

Do you have a favorite book or album?

I love reading but don't have the chance to do it as often as I would like to do so. I don't really have a favorite book but I love to read non-fiction. I read "Sea biscuit" in two days. I couldn't put in down. I have also read Kon Tiki, which I thoroughly enjoyed and the Right Stuff, which is another book I couldn't put down.

Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

There are a lot of great places to eat in Orlando--I love the way they treat me and my guests at Kres (Chicken) on Church Street and Stefano's Tratoria (chicken lasagna) in Winter Springs. Thai Basil (Chicken Satay) is one of my favorites as well.

If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

I would mate an elephant and a gazelle. That way the resultant animal could eat all it wanted and run as fast as it can if needed.

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What gives you inspiration?

I am inspired by great effort. I love to win and I am willing to put the greatest effort in everything I do.

If you had a chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

That's tough. I like the decade within which I am presently living. Flushing toilets, sewer systems and other ways to stay clean are better today than in any other decade.

What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

I always wanted to be a criminal defense lawyer. I would hate to be a government lawyer and prosecute people. There is great pleasure I receive every time I win a trial. I love the idea of helping the little man. It's that thing against authority I still have.

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How do you balance your personal and professional life?

I haven't figured out how to do that! However, I totally separate the two, but when people need me, I always respond.  I go on vacations to diverse and remote places. That is how I can separate my business from my love of photography and travel.

Is there anything you haven't done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

I constantly ask that question of myself every day. I want to look at myself and hope that I have made a difference in the world. If it means helping one person at a time and making a positive difference in one person's life or if it means impacting the planet in some meaningful way. I try to live up to all the expectations I have of myself with respect to my fellow man.

What are your other interests?

I love to travel to exotic places. I have been on every continent, to over 60 countries and my wife and I have set foot in every time zone. I have crossed the Equator, setting one foot on either side and have done the same thing at the prime meridian. I love photography. I will always have a camera with me and I love to write.

What rejuvenates you?

C'mon! Doesn't that rejuvenate everybody?

11 Questions with Snap! Director and Producer Patrick Kahn in Orlando, FL

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!

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I don't really recall how Patrick and I met. It obviously had to do with photography. A few years ago some of my images from the Parramore + Holden series were featured in Snap! We've been friends ever since. Patrick has great visual taste and he's really upped Orlando's game when it comes to showcasing art. It's easy to see how Patrick has transformed Snap! from a relatively small photo festival into a permanent art space that attracts world class talent. He's naturally inquisitive, kind, and he loves to share his latest visual discovery. Furthermore, he's not a turtleneck wearing art snob who looks down on people (one of my favorite qualities of his). Next time you're in Orlando make sure to check out Snap! Space. Patrick would love to give you a tour.

Who do you look up to?

Anybody who is truly authentic.

Do you have a favorite book or album?

I do not recall one specific book, nor album that was a life changing experience, though I do vividly remember discovering Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust album the day it came out.

Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

The Pharmacy. Locally grown organic food, quality and they change the menu often with the season. Many favorites and I've tried a variety of meals from the menu.

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If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

A bird and a fish. The wings to see the world from above, the gills to explore the deep sea.

What gives you inspiration?

True talent and selfless people.

If you had a chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

I have been fortunate to have experienced a few decades. The sixties brought the black and white TV. The seventies the flower generation. The eighties, do the bump! The nineties, baby steps into the internet. I truly enjoyed every one of them, very lucky to have witnessed and experienced so much.

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What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

When I was in school, I was more interested in drawing and doodling than studying. I am a very visual person. I always expressed myself better with images than with words. So I went from doodling to drawing, to creating catalogs, to designing billboards, to publishing a magazine, to creating a photography festival, to opening an art gallery … full circle.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

My wife Holly keeps me in line and in check.

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Is there anything you haven't done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

The next project.  

What are your other interests?

Justice.

What rejuvenates you?

Florida weather and clean air.

11 Question with Musician and Composer Kyle Cox in Orlando, Florida.

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!

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I'll admit it. This blog has been featuring a lot of 11 Questions lately. I'll try to post some more non-11 Questions stuff soon but in the mean time let me introduce you to Kyle Cox. Kyle is an excellent composer, singer songwriter, and musician. I've been fortunate to get to know Kyle over the last year or so. We've had beers, talked about basketball, and brainstormed on some forthcoming creative shenanigans. I was lucky enough to have him to score my upcoming short documentary and was pleased to hear some of the songs on his upcoming album. His songs are honest and touching, personal and laid back, much like the man behind the music. If you get a chance to meet Kyle, indulge yourself.

Be sure to follow Kyle on Twitter, hear his music on Bandcamp, and see some of the videos he's composed on his website!

If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

This is probably the worst answer to start off an interview, but I really don't care about animals. I'm not even sure I could tell you two species of animals that I like & would want to see their offspring. Penguins are cool. Pretty chill animals. I have no good reason for saying that. Just the first animal that popped in my mind. Maybe a groundhog too. I don't know. Ha. I suck.

Who do you look up to?

There are so many people I look up to in so many areas of my life. Spiritually, relationally (marriage & friends), professionally, creatively, etc. Some of those people overlap in different areas, some not so much. I guess since this is a professional/creative blog, I'll mention those. Professionally, I really look up to my producer, Mike Marsh. He's a great example of someone working really hard to achieve his goals & dreams. He also has a great family, two daughters & a super supportive wife, so it's been really great seeing that side of professional. How to make those relationships a priority while managing his profession. It's a real cool perspective that I feel blessed to see. Creatively, there's so many people I look up to. A lot of them are my friends. Seriously, Orlando's songwriting & music community is outstanding. I'm not even sure Orlando realizes what it has going on. I spend quite a bit of time in Nashville, especially recently, and honestly this community can hold their own against some of Nashville's best (not that it's a competition). I bet there are some readers who are rolling their eyes at that statement, but I am serious. The only difference between Orlando & Nashville is the quantity, not the quality. Each one of my friends in Orlando would definitely hold their own, if not stand out in the Nashville scene. Heck, there's a few Orlando transplant friends of mine who have moved to Nashville & are already making waves in the scene up there. I say all that to say, my friends & this creative community are a huge influence on me. I look up to so many people in this community, their talent, their character, their willingness to use those gifts & make a difference. It's a cool thing & I hope that Orlando appreciates what's happening in their own backyard.

Do you have a favorite book or album?

I don't really read much, which I know is terrible. Especially for a songwriter. Great writers are great readers, and I'm trying to fix that in my life. However, I have read some great books that have helped influence me quite a bit. Making Ideas Happen is an incredible book that any professional creative or a creative hoping to make it their profession must read. That book spends a lot of time communicating practical ways to actually get the crap done creatives hope to get done. Any creative, if being honest, will tell you that staying organized & committed to a singular project and seeing that project to completion is one of the most difficult things to do. This book addresses that & helps give practical steps toward that.

Quitter was another book I really enjoyed. I read it just months before I quit my job. It address the desires that most people feel about not working their dream job & how to maybe make that happen. I didn't agree with everything in the book, but there is quite a bit of quality in there.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is a killer book too. I read it in a time in my life where I was deciding what I should do next. Should I quit my job? Am I being foolish or selfish? Or is this really the right thing to do? Well, this book is all about living a story worth living. I'm all about great storytelling & wanting my life to be a story worth telling. It really helped me sort through those questions of risk & comfort that I was struggling with and what that means in the grander story of my life as a whole.

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Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

I have a lot of places I love to eat in Orlando. I think Orlando has so many great restaurants, so it's hard to pick a favorite. However, the first place I thought of was Gringos Locos Tacos. I love their pork Double D tacos WITH their chipotle sauce. That's the kicker right there. You have to put the chipotle sauce on it.

What gives you inspiration?

I try to find inspiration in a lot of places. I think the things that I continually find inspiration in is seeing my peers creating quality art, whatever it is. Film, photography, music, graphics, etc. Anytime one of my peers creates something that's of high quality, it gets me excited about what's happening & my wheels turning on what I should create next.

I also think being so involved in sports my whole life, there's a level of friendly competition that builds up in me anytime I see a peer create something great. It pushes me to keep creating & drives something inside of me to not want to be the only one who's not doing something fresh, new, & of quality. But I need to be careful with that competitive drive. It can cause me sometimes to be unable to celebrate with my peers because I'll get so caught up in the competition of it & not wanting to be the one left behind. That's not a good way to live & I have to make a constant effort to not respond that way. It's very important to be able to truly celebrate with those around you & make sure they feel genuinely supported. Then allow their successes to help drive your motivation, not out of spite, but in a loving, competitive community of support.

If you had a chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

I think I would love to live in Europe in the 20s or 30s. I'm not sure if I even have a reason for that. But I think that would be rad. I also think America in the late 1800s would be awesome. I'm pretty terrible with history, so those could be the worst times to live, but hey, whatever. Seems cool to me.

What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

I've always wanted to do things out of the ordinary in my life. I never was that kid who grew up wanting to be a firefighter, teacher, or astronaut. That always seemed so boring. I've always loved creating. I think the most normal profession I considered while growing up was an architect, but other than that, I always wanted to be things like an actor, magician, play in the NBA, rock star, professional skateboarder, artist, etc. As I grew older, I found that I kept landing back at playing music. Thankfully, my parents were always supportive of the music/band thing. They bought most of my first guitars & amps, allowed my bands to rehearse at their house multiple hours a week, & always came out to my shows. As bands came & went, I think really the last 3-4 years is when I've really settled into songwriting & composing as a career, whatever that may look like. As long as I can put food on the table doing those things, I'm grateful.

To sum it all up, I think what has really driven me to choose this career is the lack of discouragement in any creative decision I've made growing up. I was not only given, but encouraged to make creative decisions, and mistakes, in my life. As I've grown up making those choices, they've all kind of boiled down into what I'm most passionate about, and that's songwriting & composing.

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How do you balance your personal and professional life?

When I was working multiple jobs, that was very difficult, so you know what I did? I quit those jobs. This now has left me the opportunity to work on music much more than I ever have as well as give me more time for my wife & friends than I have had in long time. Thankfully I've been fortunate enough to have an incredibly supportive wife with a great job as well as been able to make a little money myself with music. It's been a incredible blessing. With all that being said, I still have to make a conscious effort to not let music consume everything I do. Honestly, music, songwriting, composing, my passions, etc. are really of such little importance in the grander picture of life. Not to diminish these gifts I've been trusted with, I do believe I need to be a good steward of them, however, the relationships I've been blessed & trusted with are more important and I need to be just as much a good steward of those as anything else.

Is there anything you haven't done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

This is a really interesting time in my career to ask that question. I feel like the goals I've been shooting for the last couple years are just about reached. I've finished recording my first full length record with a killer producer & we are now just in the mixing/mastering stage of everything. I love how everything is sounding & I couldn't be more proud of this record. That's been a huge goal for me for a while. I also just finished writing & recording the score to my first full feature film. It's an independent film out of Australia & am I really excited about how it turned out. Doing a full feature film has been a goal of mine for a long time now too.

I definitely have goals & aspirations that hinge off of those accomplishments. I would love to play some killer festivals or get put on some great tours with acts I really love. I'd also love to score many more full feature indie films. However, right now, it's just the waiting game. I can't really push the movie until it's released. I can't really push the record until it's finished.

I think if I had my way in the future, I would tour, write records, play shows for about half the year & the other half of the year score independent films. We'll see what happens!

What are your other interests?

That's a funny question. I've been told by many friends that my hobby is hobbies. Basically, I have a ton of other interests that I love. I love sports, especially the NBA & college football. I love craft beer & scotch whiskey (and taking the time to try as many different kinds I can). I've gone through painting spurts, mostly graffiti style lettering (all legal, no vandalism). I love classic magic culture, Houdini era stuff. I love watching independent films & documentaries. I love building Legos. Pretty much name it & at some point I've spent way too much time messing with it.

What rejuvenates you?

Being an introvert, solo time is my main way of getting rejuvenated. Anytime I'm feeling wore out or drained, I know that if I just spend some time by myself, walking around the city, sitting on the front porch playing guitar, hanging out in a coffee shop alone. Anything like that generally will do the trick. Being married, often times a good conversation with my wife will rejuvenate me well. I love a good conversation.

Have any questions for Kyle? Leave them in the comments below and I'll make sure he answers them.

11 Questions with Selenia Rios from Traveller Denim Co. in Austin, TX

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!

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We're taking 11 Questions on the road this week. I was photographing in Austin and wanted to find someone to be on the blog. Knowing Austin is a mecca for all things weird and creative I knew it wouldn't be hard. That's where Selenia Rios comes in. Selenia is half the driving force behind Traveller Denim Co. Traveller makes jeans the way things should be made. By hand with care. They produce each pair in Austin with special consideration to quality. Every detail is thought about, from where materials are sourced to the little features that make their jeans stand out. It was great talking with Selenia and making a new friend. Stop by their shop next time you're in Austin. They'd love to see you.

Who do you look up to?

I look up to my business partner Erik Untersee for being the hardest working man I know...he is n charge of all of Travellers production and manufacturing and keeps the heart and soul of our company alive.

Do you have a favorite book or album?

Damn! Super hard question! I love books and music so much...my favorite book would have to be The Most Beautiful Woman in Town by Charles Bukowski. It's a super dark and intense compilation of short stories. I'm generally a happy, positive person but this book is just a great way to escape and explore the mind of one of my favorite writers. An album that changed my life would have to be hands down Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest. These guys are just brilliant musicians and every time I've seen them play it brings me to tears. Also Bon Iver, For Emma Forever Ago..we had the opportunity to give Justin Vernon and his new band Volcano Choir jeans in exchange for a song and it was hands down the best experience of my life. Great guys.

Favorite place to eat in Austin?

My favorite place has got to be Taco Mex. It's a tiny little taco stand on the eastside and I always get Migas breakfast tacos with their chipotle ranch sauce...so damn good...erryday!

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If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

A cat and a dog....love them both but this super species would be the snuggliest dog/cat ever and totally independent like a cat. Also it would have a tiny cat head and a bulldog body.

What gives you inspiration?

All of the incredible makers and artists here in Austin. We have such a supportive community of small business and craftspeople. When times are hard and we feel like quitting...our fellow makers in town remind us that our community is different and special and we have to keep the local makers movement alive. These amazing, creative people inspire me everyday to keep the dream alive.

If you had a chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

I think I would choose being in my 30s in the late 60s early 70s....so I could've seen all the amazing bands.

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What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

I've always been an artist for passion. I never thought it would lead me to a career. Working for myself is probably the hardest and best thing I've ever done. I wouldn't change it! Being able to control the quality of everything we put out and making those special relationships with our clients makes this career and all the long hours worth it.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

Hahaha....currently this doesn't happen. Check back in 5 years:) For right now drinks every Saturday at Yellow Jacket Social Club does the trick.

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Is there anything you haven't done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

My future goal is to design a boutique hotel with a Traveller/Traveler aesthetic. American rustic, warm, and a home away from home. We travel a lot and its always been a dream to design a perfect stay cation spot in Austin.

What are your other interests?

Music...going to shows and collecting records is my favorite thing ever. I live and breathe my music collection.

What rejuvenates you?

See above:) Also walking on town lake on a gorgeous day and yoga if I can squeeze it in!

11 Questions with John Rife from East End Market in Orlando, FL

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!

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John Rife is an evangelist. Give him a soap box and he will shout his gospel to the masses (in a very kindhearted way though). His is a gospel about community, food, and consumer education. John recently launched East End Market, Orlando's one stop shop for locally sourced food and goods. Through East End John hopes to change the way we consume food and build a dynamic local economy. Being a gardener myself, I love the urban garden out front the most. It's bounty is given to tenants to use in their meals and dishes. Photographing and speaking with John was a true pleasure. He really believes in Orlando and has great plans for how to make it a vibrant, thriving city.

Who do you look up to?

I look up to my Dad a ton.  He’s a fascinating guy and totally a self-made man.  He’s an adventurer and an entrepreneur at heart.  He grew up in the Florida Keys and the pioneering spirit of that place has served him well.  From hunting big game in Africa to developing huge real estate projects, he’s always cool headed and honorable no matter how high the stakes.

Do you have a favorite book?

My favorite book is Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.  I love allegorical fiction, like song lyrics, they have many interpretations.  I have read it many times and each time it scratches the itch in my soul that drew me to pick it up again.  Simple & wonderful book.

Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

My go to is the Grinderman sandwich at Stardust Cafe in Audubon Park.  It is a spicy chicken pesto sandwich with a side salad drizzled in balsamic.  Depending on where I sit, I can people watch, movie watch, fly under the radar or chat it up with the hipsters and neighbors of the district.

If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

I’d interbreed an otter and Labrador retriever.  It would be an uber-retriever, record breaking tennis ball retrieval speeds on land and sea and family friendly to boot.

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What gives you inspiration?

I find people discovering what their calling is and then having the courage to pursue it deeply inspiring.  Carving a new path is so much more challenging than following the status quo, yet it is the trailblazers that have given society ideas, products, and services that make life more vibrant and interesting.

If you had a chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

I’d love to have lived in the first decade of the 1800’s.  This was the era of the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark expedition and during a lull of aggression following the Revolutionary War and before outbreak of the war of 1812.  It was roughly 25 years or so from the signing of the Declaration of Independence and many of our country's forefathers were still shaping our destiny.  It was a laissez-faire business climate and I love the idea of testing my mettle in that rough and tumble time.

What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

I come from a long line of entrepreneurs.  My great, great, grandfather James Elliott was a famous riverboat captain, iron foundry owner and train car manufacturer.  There is an old picture of him where he is about my age and we look strikingly similar.  Looking in his face I can imagine the kind of trials and challenges he must have faced being an industrialist and an entrepreneur in his era.  The spirit of perseverance and dogged pursuit of progress that he must have exuded and that my grandfather and father both modeled give me the audacity to pioneer my own career.

What's your favorite thing about Orlando?

My favorite thing about Orlando is the cultural renaissance we are going through right now.  Home grown businesses are really thriving.  Seeing consumers forego franchises in favor of the more unique mom-and-pop businesses springing up around town gives me great hope.  It is still a little like searching for salamanders under rocks but the search is worth the effort.

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What rejuvenates you?

I need alone time.  My wife Kamrin  calls it my “cave time”.  So much of my day is in the public realm and spent interacting with people.  When the day is over, kids are in bed, I’ve spent time catching up with Kam and our dog Murphy has been walked, I want to unplug from engaging with people and just follow my bliss.  It could be a night following the rabbit down the hole that is Wikipedia, or watching documentary films, playing video games, whatever…..the common denominator is that it’s “my” time and what ever tickles my fancy is the order of the day.

What are your other interests?

Oh jeeze.  Almost too many interests to list, but one folks wouldn’t expect is I’m a closet nerd. I like Marvel comic books, fantasy fiction, video games, and other decidedly geeky stuff.  My current obsession is a digital card game called Hearthstone put out by Blizzard Entertainment.  I am so jazzed to be a part of the closed beta test of this game and I just can’t get enough.

Is there anything you haven't done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

My slogan is, “Don’t wait for your ship to come in, row out to meet it”.  I don’t plan to far out into the future.  I just keep my eyes on the horizon and a ship always seems to pull into port about the time I get comfortable with status quo. Then I start paddling like a mad man.  Thankfully there are no ships on the horizon at present so I’ve pulled my oars in and will focus on East End for a while.  That being said I am grateful for the variety of ships that have pulled into my port over the years offering interesting opportunities and adventures and will always be watchful for the next.

11 Questions with Sarah Collins from Lure Design in Orlando, FL Pt. 2

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!

Nestled in the Mills 50 district of Orlando, Lure Design is an award winning design firm run by Jeff Matz, Paul Mastriani, and Sarah Collins. Lure has churned out some beautiful looking goods. You name it and they've done it. Advertising, books, brochures, identity, packaging, interactive, and my personal favorite, their posters. I remember going to shows at The Sapphire and seeing their hand pulled silk screened posters hanging from the exposed brick walls. I lusted after every one. Jeff and Sarah were always in the back, drinking a beer and selling these limited edition prints. They've done posters for Wilco, The Flaming Lips, The Decemberists, Elliott Smith, Kinds of Leon, John Vanderslice, and many more. Be sure to check out their goods at the L2 Design Collective store and buy yourself something special.

Last week I featured Jeff Matz, which you can see here. This week Sarah Collins is in the hot seat.

Who do you look up to?

I tend to turn to classic masters such as Alvin Lustwig\Saul Bass, just because they are awesome and Ray Eames, because I believe she never got the credit she deserved. There is so much good and smart work out there these days, I tend to lookup to anyone I see doing the hustle.

Do you have a favorite book?

Dune, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Lord of the Rings, Leaves of Grass and Edgar Allen Poe are books I've always returned to and probably shaped me in some way. As an adult I read mostly non-fiction about working smarter or being a better person, which shapes me but nearly not as much I'm sure.

Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

Can I combine several restaurants to make that meal? Artichokes + trout from Hillstone, truffle fries from Ravenous Pig, hush puppies from Winter Park Fish Co.  Always in a great hunt for good Mexican food. My husband and I recently traveled to Dunedin, FL and found a great restaurant, Casa Tina, if you're ever over that way.

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If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

A wolf and a bear. That would be intense.

What gives you inspiration?

Do-gooders, art, nature, travel, and bookstores.

If you had a chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

I had this thought lately as I recently was looking through vintage photos. The time we live in is amazing with technology, and in our world, social media, but it's so much - at times I wish I was sitting on a back porch in 1954 drinking lemonade, living a simpler life. But then I say "What the hell!" and work on making things simpler in the time we live in now.

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What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

I consider myself an eager learner and being a creative lends itself to that. This week I've learned about kid's hockey and Hollywood's famous drinkers. I also love a good spirit/humorous attitude, and turning that into a witty approach to design, which is super fun when working on our card company, L2 Design Collective.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

Professionally as long as I'm able to work with great people, create daily, and live a balanced life in and out of the studio, I feel successful. Some days I fail miserably. Creatives never stop. Finding balance can often be frustrating and is an ongoing battle. This year I've juggled working full time with a new baby, setting some priorities and making time for what is important is a must.

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Is there anything you haven't done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

Being more versatile, but isn't that what people always say?  I would also like to productize more of our work, seriously designing a set of sheets would get me excited. Secretly I just want to do something that blows people's minds. Or at least have the confidence that I could.  My husband bought me an electric guitar for Christmas that I still haven't found the time to learn. Maybe I'll blow people's ears one day instead!

What are your other interests?

Music and screen printing both make my heart explode. And lest not forget great Mexican food.

What rejuvenates you?

Awesome family and friends who make me look forward to tomorrow, iced coffee, travel, and admittedly a good sushi and sake have made me cry happy tears.

11 Questions with Jeff Matz from Lure Design in Orlando, FL Pt. 1

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!

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Nestled in the Mills 50 district of Orlando, Lure Design is an award winning design firm run by Jeff Matz, Paul Mastriani, and Sarah Collins. Lure has churned out some beautiful looking goods. You name it and they've done it. Advertising, books, brochures, identity, packaging, interactive, and my personal favorite, their posters. I remember going to shows at The Sapphire and seeing their hand pulled silk screened posters hanging from the exposed brick walls. I lusted after every one. Jeff and Sarah were always in the back, drinking a beer and selling these limited edition prints. They've done posters for Wilco, The Flaming Lips, The Decemberists, Elliott Smith, Kinds of Leon, John Vanderslice, and many more. Be sure to check out their goods at the L2 Design Collective store and buy yourself something special.

This week I'm featuring Jeff Matz. You can see Sarah Collins' post here.

Who do you look up to?

My Dad. Jimmy Page. And there are plenty of designers out there to admire for reasons beyond the great work they do: Art Chantry for his the honest, unapologetic attitude in his work. Charles Spencer Anderson for his wit and taste level. Stephan Sagmeister for his ability to always bring a fresh perspective. There are many others. But I’ve always found more inspiration in the people I’ve worked with over the years: Paul Mastriani, Sarah Collins, Thomas Scott, Billy Davis, Ron McQuein, and Mitch Boyd. Collaborating with these people and seeing them work through their processes has been more inspiring than just seeing finished work in a book.

Do you have a favorite book?

I should disqualify myself on this one. I always hate to admit it, but I really don’t read. I don’t usually have the patience for it--although I did make it through The Stand.

Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

Right now it’s a bit of a toss up between The Ravenous Pig and Prato. I had a sweetbreads dish at Prato recently that was pretty amazing.

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If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

I really have no idea how to answer this. Are you testing my creative skills and I’m failing? A cat and a snake? A snat? A cake?

What gives you inspiration?

Mostly sharing ideas with my co-workers because that interaction is the most direct way to get inspired. Even though I’ve been in the business for nearly 30 years, I still find AIGA guest speaker events inspiring. You get beyond just seeing their work online or in a book--you get to hear about their process and what inspires them. Fine art quite often gives you points of view you may not get by looking at other design sources. And, music, of course.

If you had a chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

I think I’m actually pretty content in this one.

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What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

My inability to do anything else, probably. In high school I thought I might want to go into architecture but I suck at math. I guess I realized that the design part of architecture is what I found interesting. I had always been into drawing--not that I was really any good at it. In my senior year someone spoke to our art class about Fort Lauderdale School of Art and Design. It was in that moment that I realized that I might be able to make a living doing what I loved: making stuff.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

It can be a challenge, especially when you own your own business. One thing I do is make a point of leaving the studio by 6pm every day. If I have to work late, I do it from home.

Is there anything you haven't done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

Put out a record (see #10). Not that anyone would buy it. But the process of doing the whole thing would be a blast. From writing, playing, recording and mixing to designing the packaging.

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What are your other interests?

I’m a hack, but I like to play guitar. I like to write and record instrumental pieces of my own. I’ve also done some tracking for my friend, Stewart Grace, who’s a very talented musician/songwriter living in Virginia. We were in some bands together when he lived in Orlando.

What rejuvenates you?

Travel, but I really don’t do enough of it.

11 Question with Gregg Pollack from Envy Labs & Code School in Orlando, FL

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!

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Gregg Pollack has done big things. He has started two companies, Envy Labs and Code School. Envy Labs is a web development shop that makes some great products. I've always admired their desire to be transparent with their customers and the culture they foster for their employees. Code School is pretty revolutionary. Noticing code isn't learned from books, Gregg and his team created courses to help others learn code. These courses combine gamification, videos, and in browser coding to make the process fun. Gregg and his companies have had a huge impact on the tech scene in Orlando. Thankfully, I don't think he's done doing big things.

Who do you look up to?

I look up to teachers, because explaining complex things successfully is not easy, nor is working with a classroom of children.

Do you have a favorite album or band?

My favorite band is Underworld.  Love electronic music mixed with poetic verses.

Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

My favorite place would be The Dandelion Communitea Cafe, and my favorite dish is Eve's Revenge.

What gives you inspiration?

Working with intelligent people gives me inspiration, building products at the intersection of many disciplines.

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If you had a chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

I wish I would have graduated college 10 years earlier, because I missed the tech bubble.

What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

My father, who was a computer engineer at Intel for 25 years, and we always had computers around the house.

What is your favorite thing about Orlando?

My favorite thing about Orlando is it's location.  Close to the theme parks, in the middle of the state, easy to fly to.

If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

I would mate a pterodactyl and elephant together to get a real life dumbo.

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Is there anything you haven't done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

I want to go skydiving. Why? For the rush.

What rejuvenates you?

I love theater and the performing arts. I try to go out and see shows whenever I can, and I love the Orlando Fringe Festival. I also love spending lots of time with my kids.

What are your other interests?

Spending time alone, usually watching a show on TV.  Shutting of my brain.

Working in Ethiopia, Pt. 3

Be sure to check out part 1 and part 2 of this series if you haven't done so already. The last week of our trip our friends took us to Negash Lodge near Wenchi Crater. We took this time to relax and process the whole experience of being in Ethiopia for 2 months. It was a great time to recharge and prepare for reentry into America. If you ever visit Ethiopia make sure Wenchi Crater is on your list of things to see. It's hands down one of the most beautiful places I've ever laid eyes on. The horse back ride around the crater is awesome, though you'll want to get off and walk from time to time. They make their saddles out of wood. I could have spent a week shooting here but we only had a few hours. I think my photos give you a small slice of its beauty. If you'd like to see them bigger, which I suggest you do, visit here.

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Working in Ethiopia, Pt. 2

If you haven't read part 1 you can check it out here. Several weeks into our stay I had the opportunity to go to Gode with the people hosting us. The situation in Gode is pretty tense and has been for a while. It is regularly on the US Embassies travel alert list, has suffered from several recent famines, and has an illiteracy rate above 70%. Our host was doing some pretty innovative economic development there and wanted some photos to raise additional funds. If you'd like to see the photos bigger you can visit here.

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The people in Gode are traditionally nomadic. They essentially move to feed their camels. From what I understand things are changing though. The people are beginning to settle down and farm for a living. It's always eye opening and inspiring to see how other people live, particularly in such an inhospitable environment. We had the opportunity to bring some 4x6 prints from the last time our hosts visited. It was a blast seeing how everyone reacted to their picture. They were all overjoyed, laughing and smiling with abandon.

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Stay tuned for part 3 next week!

Working in Ethiopia, Pt. 1

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This last summer my wife and I figured, what the heck, let's go to Ethiopia! Ok, it wasn't that simple but I'd rather not bore you with mundane details. I split my days between helping at an English school a friend set up in the heart of Addis Ababa and wondering around the city taking photos. It was a blast. I met some great people, got to see some of the most breath taking sights I've ever laid eyes on, and duked it out in some epic games of Settlers of Catan with some great people in the evenings. If you'd like to see the photos bigger you can visit here.

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Most of our time was spent in the capital city, Addis Ababa. It's a massive place that's spread out like the largest suburbia you can imagine. There isn't a downtown or a city square. Transportation is tricky if you don't have a car. If you do have a car driving can either be thrilling or terrifying, depending on your personality. I found it thrilling, my wife not so much. Getting the opportunity to walk around and photograph at will can be freeing and intimidating, especially in Addis. I had originally brought some lighting equipment (7ft. stand, Q-Flash, & Photek Softlighter II) with the hopes of breaking it out for some street portraits. Unfortunately, due to the security situation in Addis and the suspicion I would have drawn from the authorities the gear sat in a closet the entire trip. While using my lighting would have been great we were there during rainy season and I can't complain about the light coming from the overcast sky.

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When I know I'm going to be in a city for an extended amount of time I like to walk around without my camera to get a feel for the place. Often times I'll make visual notes about who is where, what locations would make for a great spot to take a portrait, and people I might want to photograph later (specifically if they are a shop owner or resident, where I know they'll be in the same place every day). We were in a part of town frequented by Somalis and Ethiopians. After a lot of travel I've learned it's best to write down some key questions and phrases in the local language. People appreciate this, it's the polite thing to do, and when they laugh at you for butchering their language it creates an opportunity to connect. This trip made it interesting because I had to learn those phrases in both Somali and Amharic (the Ethiopian dialect). Then I had to figure out if the person I was talking to was Somali or Ethiopian. Some people were cool with me not knowing their nationality, others not so much. That's when you learn I'm very sorry in both dialects.

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Stay tuned for more posts in this series.

11 Questions with Ray Ehmen from Rock and Roll Heaven in Orlando, FL

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!

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Ray Ehmen is a legend, though you've probably never heard of him. Ray owns and operates what is arguably the most epic record shop in Orlando, Rock and Roll Heaven. His store is stocked wall to wall with some of the most rare LPs you can find. With all the memorabilia lining the walls you feel as though you've stepped into a rainbow when you set foot in his store. I've been going to Rock and Roll Heaven for over 10 years and each time feels like a different experience. Even when I don't purchase a thing, I still leave satisfied. Maybe it's the excitement of finding something new, the familiar face of Ray, or the eclectic music they always have spinning. I don't know. All I can say is I love this place. I think you'll like Ray and his irreverent style just as much as I do.

Who do you look up to?

Rick Dees. Anyone who can sing a song about a duck AND disco should receive a darwin award. No, seriously, Steven Seagal. He makes comedy seem effortless. Marcel Duchamp, he seemed to be in posession of it all. Intellect, creativity, irony. Progenitor of modern art. Left art to study science, math and physics. Then spent the remainder of his life playing chess.

Do you have a favorite album or band?

Please Come to Boston by Dave Loggins. Tt made me never want to move there. The Bonzo Dog Band. They were about absurdism, dada, and couldn't really be categorized. They seemed to cover every style of music with stabs of sharp humour. The first band that seemed to speak a language that I understood. Then, there are thousands of brilliant one off 45's and hundreds of perfect albums. Anything by Bernard Herrmann!

Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

Actually, it's a store in Umatilla named Stun Gun City. They have stuffed oleander leaves at the check out counter.

What gives you inspiration?

Sitting in abandoned cars dressed up like an earwig and sweating profusely while singing 'feelings' into a magnifying glass. Taking disimilar thoughts about concepts and objects and associating them with something commonplace or familiar. It is a stimulating mental exercise.

If you had a chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

The 1970's. Just to hear the theme to the rockford files played over and over. Probably the 1920's. The design, the cultural explosion in art, music, literature. Theremins!!!

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What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

Watching a man eat a dozen paper napkins at Krispy Kreme with coffee, then asking for a refund. Hearing music as an infant gave the visual world a soundtrack to live every moment by.

What is your favorite thing about Orlando?

Ordering a philly cheesesteak at the flea market, then discovering it's a real filly!! It really dosen't have any identifiable culture to speak of so it forces you to retreat within your own thoughts and imagination, due to it's lack of sensory stimulation, and discover something else that gives it all purpose.

If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

A pterodactyl and John Davidson. I would like to see if that stiff head of hair could ever move while soaring through the atmosphere. Oh wait, one is a flying reptile and the other is a lizard.

Is there anything you haven't done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

Taxidermy and a nail technician. Regluing claws and talons to badgers and ospreys would be such a challenge! It's pretty fair to say that I would love to someday find the time to pursue more studies in all levels of humanities, the arts, spirituality, and world travel. To bring myself closer to what is divine about our world and the universe.

What rejuvenates you?

Playing a washboard adorned with colored lights in front of a herd of hippos over a bed of embers. They can't stand the sound of the word tarnation! Physical exercise, crossword puzzles and sharing free associated banter with friends. It releases all of the beneficial brain chemicals, allows for escapism, and oxygenates the mind, body and soul.

What are your other interests?

Somnambulating in the middle of the lil' 500 go-kart track dressed as a capybara eating a photo of Fleegle from The Banana Splits. Mostly subjects dealing with all of the arts. Helping animals, life in other dimensions, plants, and natural healing.

Become More Productive When Working From Home, Part 2

This is the second post in a series on being productive when working from home. You can read the first post here

5. Work for a sustained period and then take a break.

I consider a sustained period 1-2 hours and a break 10-20 minutes. If I'm on a roll and getting stuff done I'll go longer and then take a break. This allows you to reward yourself for work well done and helps you to break down tasks into manageable chunks, something our brains need. This article touches on this a little bit. Again, an app like 30/30 can help you.

6. Turn off all notifications.

Does your phone or computer buzz, ring, or dance when you receive a new email or when someone responds to that photo you tweeted with, "Whoa Bra! Awesome sesh at the beach! #rad #gnar #killer." Don't let it. When I'm working and I hear an alert my mind instantly looses focus. I want to check what's going on so badly. I'm like a dog salivating at the sight of a bone. I have to know what's going on and it's pathetic. What if someone is trying to warn me the four horsemen of the apocalypse are about to ring my door bell and I need to run? Blocking these notifications allows me to focus.

7. Stop multitasking.

A lot of experts are starting to find multitasking isn't productive. Personally, I try to allocate my first 1-2 hours of sustained work to one task. Sometimes I start to get exhausted from this one task, which usually leads me to start multitasking. After this work period and my break I'll tackle another project or task then revisit the first project on my third set of sustained work.

8. Start a project with a deadline.

Nothing kicks your butt into gear like a deadline. For me, a self imposed deadline isn't good enough. They come and they go and I simply ignore them. What is better is having someone keep you accountable (which is why we have bosses). Being held accountable to your deadlines really makes a difference. Find a good friend, someone who cares about your success, and have them keep you accountable to your project's deadlines. Tell them to be hard on you (just don't let it ruin your friendship). If you can find a friend who also works at home whom you can keep accountable too, even better.

I did this by starting my 11 Questions blog posts. I knew I needed to get more work in my portfolio. I needed to get out there and shoot. Photography gives me joy. Conceptualizing a shoot, pressing the shutter, and editing the photos invigorates me. I also knew I wanted to create some rich content for my blog as well as get to know some new people in my community. The 11 Questions series has fulfilled all these needs and more.

Do you have any tips on staying productive at work? I’d love to hear them so leave them in the comments below!

 

 

Become More Productive When Working From Home, Part 1

For me, being productive is important. If I'm not productive things don't get done. When things don't get done I don't make money. When I don't make money I don't eat. When I don't eat I loose weight (a good thing) and I can't pay the bills (a bad thing). Additionally, if I'm not efficient with my day I spend my spare time stressing over work. When I have been efficient I notice that my mind is able to rest at the end of the day, knowing that I accomplished all I could during the day. There are a million articles telling you how to become more productive at home. I've probably read half of them, which now that I think about it, has probably decreased my productivity. I don't want to restate what they have said. The following are some practical ways I've been able to become more productive with my time. A lot of them deal with technology and how it gets in the way of what I need to do.

1. Make your Facebook password absurdly long, complex, and don't allow Facebook to remember your password.

Why do this? Because you probably spend WAY TOO MUCH TIME on Facebook like I do (consider my blog a safe place, you can admit it here, it's ok). Doing this will mean you will have to enter your password manually every time you want to login. I've found the extra little time it takes to login gives me a second to ask myself, "Why the heck am I getting on Facebook anyway? Don't I have things that need to be done." When you start to memorize your password change it again. I don't believe Facebook in itself is bad but if Facebook is blocking you from being productive then you need to punch him in the face and show him who's boss (it has been confirmed that Facebook is a male). I'll call this step a barrier. What do I mean? We often think of barriers as bad things. But in this since I think a barrier can be a good thing. By having your password memorized and allowing Facebook to remember it you have taken down all barriers to entry. By constructing some barriers you have made it harder to login, which gives you time to think about why you are logging in in the first place.

2. Hide all posts from certain people on Facebook.

I can hear you say it now, "WHAT! BUT THEY'RE MY FRIENDS!" Yea right. Real friends don't fill up your feed with a million "selfies" in succession. Hell, you already know what they look like anyway. But seriously, look in your news feed. How much of that stuff do you really need to hear about? When you are on Facebook you end up looking at a lot of inconsequential stuff. This may sound mean but I've found it to be true. If you can limit the time you spend on Facebook then you've got more time to get work done. How do you hide posts? In your news feed you'll see a little down pointing arrow to the right of someones post. Click on it and select I don't want to see this. Then click Hide all from _____. You will no longer see posts from that person. Personally, I have hidden a majority of the people in my feed (if you're reading this then I didn't block you...I promise). Be picky on whose posts you see. I have found that I'm not missing much from the people I hide.

3. Limit the people you follow on Twitter to 100 or less.

I have a good friend who does this and at first I thought it was odd. Then I went through all the people I followed and discovered that I either had no connection to that person, thus no reason to follow them, or they were not posting things that I was interested in or with which I wanted to interact. Some people do the whole, "when you follow me I'll follow you" thing. Call me an idealist but I want my follows to mean something. If I'm following you it's because I value what you say. I'm not in it to stroke your ego. Now one thing you can do, which I really love about Twitter, is create lists. You can add as many people to a list you want and you can make it private. I have a list containing people in my industry, people I know in passing, and people I would like to do business with. I'll check this feed a few times a week in hopes of interacting with a few of these people. Since this list is private I can add and subtract people from it without hurting their feelings and I don't feel like I need to read every post made by someone on the list.

4. Set a time limit on how long you'll spend on social media each day.

An app like 30/30 can help you do this. While you're at it, delete Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media apps from your phone and replace them with Buffer. Buffer allows you to schedule when you're updates to social media will be posted but it doesn't let you view their feeds. Basically you can post but you can't view what everyone else is doing. Consider this another barrier. I could easily not visit social media sites on my computer but pick up my phone and go right at it (and data suggests this is exactly what is happening). Deleting these things from your phone has an added bonus. It removes an unnecessary distraction when engaging with people around you.

 None of the things I've mentioned above are hard. They do take a lot of discipline though. I constantly find myself breaking these points. Every day I have to put work into staying on task. The pay off is I feel much more accomplished at the end of the day. I'm able to rest and pat myself on the back knowing I put in a good days work.

Do you have any tips on staying productive at work? I'd love to hear them so leave them in the comments below! Be sure to read Part 2.

 

11 Questions with Ben Hoyer from Downtown Credo Coffeehouse in Orlando, FL

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!

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The minute you meet Ben Hoyer is a minute to remember. He won't like me saying that because he's a humble guy, but it's true. You know those people you meet who just bring a smile to your face? Those people in your life you'd love to spend more time with because they make you feel so good about yourself and the world around you? That's Ben. He lives a life of purpose and meaning and by being around him you'll want to do the same. A great proponent of restoring what is broken, he strives to birth beauty and hope into the world by living in authentic community with others. As if that wasn't epic enough he also runs Downtown Credo Coffee, a donation only non-profit coffee house in Orlando (past winner of a Disney Helping Kids Shine grant award). Make sure you stop by Credo sometime and shake Ben's hand. I know he'd love to talk to you. You'll walk away refreshed, I promise.

Who do you look up to?

The clichéd answer is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The image of a flawed person working hard for something larger than himself energizes me. The idea that he accomplished what he did often moves me to hope. Besides that there are a few people in my life whose wisdom is deeper than mine. I look up to them and value their advice/counsel.

Do you have a favorite book?

I feel like I don't want to commit to one book. There are several that come to mind as having shaped some of my thinking on where I am in my life right now: Deep Economy, Man's Search for Meaning, Good to Great, and Friendship at the Margins. Ideas that stick with me from those books include: more does not always equal better, the route to a successful life runs straight through a deep set meaning for living, it is possible to do things incredibly well with focus and a great team, life is not full until it's lived with people different from yourself. Those are just a few of the ideas that have come from the aggregate of all those books.

Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

Right now, I'm loving Mills Market. They always have good beer on draft and their sandwiches have never let me down. It's a great place for our family: the kids eat the grilled cheese, we relax in the nice weather, and then walk around Lake Davis.

What gives you inspiration?

New ideas and achievable goals. I suppose I don't really know why. I just really love dreaming up strategy for action to accomplish a goal. I'm energized by the idea that we can do things, that dreams are often realized one step at a time. So working with folks on identifying those steps and then moving to action on them is super fun for me.

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If you had the chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

I could think of reasons to live in lots of different times but I think the most compelling would be to live a couple decades in the future. It would be fun to see how things shake out.

What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

I'm not real sure. I will say that at a critical point several years ago I decided that the straightest way for me to a fulfilled life was in service to my city. Since that point I have asked, "how can I best serve Orlando?" That questions has lead to lots but has not changed.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

As well as I can. Truthfully, they're not that separate for me. It does not feel like two separate compartments. My family is a part of my life and so is my work. I try to live well. That includes work that allows for adventure, teaming with folk, problem solving, and service. It also includes giving and receiving love with my wife and kids, a robust friendship circle, and time alone.

Is there anything that you haven’t done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

There is always more. Dreaming is what I do for fun. I am not short on ideas of things to accomplish. The trick is not tackling too many at the same time.

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If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

Anything with a dinosaur. The idea of animals the size of buildings is inspiring.

What are your other interests?

Besides my family and work? If I could play baseball every weekend I would be a different person, definitely a better person. I love it. I started brewing beer with my brother several months ago. I love the satisfaction of having made something that tastes good.

What rejuvenates you?

Adventure. I just learned that a couple summers ago. My wife and I took a trip out to the Grand Canyon. We took an 11 mile hike down into a tributary canyon. We camped at the base of two huge waterfalls, Havasu Falls. We were outside the range of any phone in the wilderness. Then we were exploring, hopping down huge boulders and swimming under waterfalls. Three days felt like weeks. It was amazing. This winter we got a quick ski trip in. Alone on the side of a mountain gave me some of the same feeling. A little bit of adventure and I come back ready for life.

Have any additional questions for Ben? Make sure you leave them in the comments below and I’ll make sure he answers them. To stay up to date on what Ben is doing you can follow Downtown Credo on Twitterand like them of Facebook.

11 Questions with Mark Baratelli from The Daily City in Orlando, FL

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That's what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!

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For years  now I've followed Mark Baratelli and what he's been doing at The Daily City. I was at his first Food Truck Bazar and have been featured on his website (here). He's a great advocate for Orlando who's presence has made this city better and he's one funny dude. If you want to be informed about what's going on in Central Florida, Mark is your guy.

Who do you look up to?

Ryan Seacrest, Perez Hilton, and the guy who started yelp. They made opportunity for themselves.

Do you have a favorite book?

I want my Mom to write a book about her life. I think it would be a best seller and become a movie.

Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

Eating raisin bran while sitting on my couch watching Shark Tank. I am a wannabe Shark!

What gives you inspiration?

All of the artists involved in TheDailyCity.com Cardboard Art Festival, the couple that owns The Falcon and Mother Falcon, the owner of Rifle Paper, Shaina who just took over Urban ReThink. These are all people who do things very, very well. I love New York Magazine not just for the content, but for the layout. The experience of reading that magazine inspires me. The editors pack SO MUCH into one issue

If you had the chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

Any era that had hoop skirts in it. They were so huge.

What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

I really enjoy the act of telling people about stuff I am excited about: new stores, restaurants, products and people. TheDailyCity.com is like my own little “Oprah’s Favorite Things.” I’d like to be someone folks can come to to ask about this and that, recommendations. Like a concierge. But I’d need way more access to this town than I am being given now.

If I could just spend my days discovering, searching, learning about the new and noteworthy, then turning around and telling people about it online, in print, on tv, whatever, that would be my dream job. That is what I try to do with TheDailyCity.com.

Separately, the other facet of my company is events. I very much get a kick out of watching people gather in huge numbers. I now have an event, The Food Truck Bazaar, where people do that. I will never forget the first time I saw the two porta potties I had rented and paid for for an event. I saw them and thought, “You don’t see porta potties at events unless the events are big.” And here it was, my own event, and there were those porta potties! I shared the photo of them on Facebook. I think people either thought I was weird or they got it. But they probably thought I was weird. It was a very special moment for me.

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How do you balance your personal and professional life?

My job feels personal so it’s hard to separate. When I go to dinner with people, they know they have to not eat until I get a picture of their food. When I go somewhere with friends, they know at any moment I will pull out my camera and take photos of this or that. Stories are everywhere and when you find them, people have to be patient with me. Or they stop inviting me to hang out with them!

Is there anything that you haven’t done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

I’d like to have an event space of my own in which creative people could put on events, but was 100% for-profit.

If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

Cat and a bunny. Best animal ever.

What are your other interests?

I’m a closet interior designer and I am obsessed with hotels. When I see a well-done lobby, I get so excited. Same with a good chair or chandelier. Ideas about space, surfaces, ceiling height, traffic flow, all interest me greatly. When you walk into a space done by someone who knows what they’re doing, it changes your whole being. Or at least mine.

What rejuvenates you?

This woman walked up to me after “The Food Truck Bazaar” one night, looked me square in the eye, and said “Thank you for bringing this to our community.” That gets me. I get so wrapped up in the business and the behind-the-scenes of this business, I forget that these events affect peoples’ lives. I am so grateful for those moments when someone tells me something like that lady tells me. It happens very, very rarely. But when it does, this flood of relaxation comes over me. Relief.

Have any additional questions for Mark? Make sure you leave them in the comments below and I'll make sure he answers them. Also, you should follow Mark on Twitter and Facebook, especially if you're in Orlando!

11 Questions with Tony Adams from Big Wheel in Central Florida

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? With that in mind I’m introducing an ongoing photo and Q&A series called 11 Questions. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!

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I met Tony Adams through Rebecca Lujan Loveless. Tony loves food and that's just one reason why I love Tony. It's not every day you come across someone who is so passionate about what they do. Tony is that guy. He's the chief of Big Wheel Provisions and Big Wheel Truck where he spreads the gospel of good food made from local and organic ingredients. He's worked under some of the best chefs in the land and is making his mark on the Orlando scene. Take a minute and see what he has to say then go grab a bite from his truck. You won't regret it.

Who do you look up to?

There are so many people that I respect and look up to both inside the industry and outside of the food world. As far as chefs are concerned I really love seeing the food and ideas of chef's like Sean Brock in Charleston at Husk, Matt Jennings in Providence at La Latterie, Jaime Bissonnette in Boston at Coppa and Toro. These guys are working with local ingredients and you can really tell they are in love with their food and cooking just by looking at their stuff. You can tell they are excited to share it with the world each time they cook something and I know exactly how that feels. I think that for me, my family is a huge source if strength too. My grandfather recently had a birthday, I think he's 532, and everyday he gets up and drives his tractor trailer truck loaded with lumber all over New England, even though he's fighting prostate cancer. He's not a rich man and in the conversations I've had with him I know his life hasn't been easy and that being self employed is one of the most difficult things to survive. I'm so inspired by his strength, determination, and wisdom. My dad also owned his own burner and furnace company when I was growing up so I had a good idea of what it meant to sacrifice for your work sometimes. I still call him to talk about frustrations that I experience with owning a small biz. Locally, I think that James and Julie at Rav Pig and Cask & Larder are absolutely killing it and I'm in love with The stuff Matt Cargo (a former student of mine!!) is doing over at Prato. Kevin Fonzo is doing really great stuff as I can see from his menus and tweets but I still haven't been able to gett down there to actually eat a full meal at K restaurant.

Do you have a favorite book?

I think that the most important cookbook I own is The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller. I remember looking at it first in culinary school and being so inspired. I had never seen food like that and never even imagined food could be that beautiful. It redefined what I thought was possible. I also have a great book called Letters to a Young Chef by Daniel Boulud. It's only like 90 pages and its more of a compass through the industry, extremely relevant to those not quite yet in the industry, or are already there and need some validation that "yes, this is very hard. You probably aren't sane if you choose to be in this industry. Don't expect to have friends or family or any semblance of any type of normal life because you want to be a chef." I found that book at a difficult time in my career where I had just come off an unpaid stage (internship) at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons in Oxfordshire UK (a 2 Michelin star restaurant regularly listed in the top 40 in the world), where I was working from 7 am to 1 or 2 am, learned more than I could have imagined and found myself back in Providence in Rhode Island working at a Jazz club slinging crab cakes and stuffed mushrooms. I read LTAYC and literally drove to Manhattan the next night at midnight, slept in my car, and showed up at the back door of Boulud's flagship and namesake restaurant Daniel and worked for two days. Daniel actually cooked me dinner that first night cause he heard that I drove from Providence and slept in my car to work there and he said that took guts. I have read that book maybe a dozen times, whenever I need some validation for my career and sacrifice. I used to give it to my students and have even asked a few of my employees to read it when they are in that place of not knowing what they want.

This might be difficult, favorite place to eat in Orlando?

Honestly? HONESTLY??? Lac Viet, a big bowl of pho. I have had it probably 150 times in the last 8 years I've been in Orlando and I've never had a bad bowl. Their banh Xeo is spectacular too. Same could go for the chicken curry at Singh's Roti Shop. Always better than I remember. If I have to go fancy I love the pizza and pastas at Prato. So good.

What gives you inspiration?

Inspiration is sometimes hard to find in Orlando. We really are behind in the food trends and it makes it that much harder. I used to get a New York Times each Wednesday to read the food section and I try to keep up with great food magazines to keep an eye on the trends and look at the plating pictures and such. I follow a lot of my chef idols on twitter and that is always inspiring. Most of all though I'm really inspired each day by creating food that my employees want to cook, my guests want to eat, where the ingredients are from local farms that are havens and models for how farming should be. It's about respecting each of those things and trying to be true to them that inspires a lot of what I do.

If you had the chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

Oh wow. I love the idea of what the decade that sits in front of us holds. My prediction and hope for the next 10 years? The fashion of the 50's Mad Men style, the cocktails of the 30's, the innovation of the early 2000's, the culinary growth and creativity of 90's (with none of the bad fusion cooking!), and the simplicity of maybe the 1890's.

What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

I realized at a young age that I wanted to cook. Growing up in Maine, it was bitter cold winters of working outside and smelling like heating oil for my dad and I realized being in the kitchen with mom was such a better option! Cooking with her and near her when I was 10 sparked an interest that festered until junior high. It took one job shadow in a restaurant where I learned that you get to drink all the soda you want and no one cares if you eat croutons by the handful. I was hooked. Who doesn't love endless croutons and soda?! As a fat kid, it was like heaven. Seemed like it anyway.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

Ask anyone that knows me and they will tell you I don't. I'm a live it, breathe it, do it, be it kind of person and its rare you don't know what I'm thinking. Emotions on the sleeve, fly off at the handle, and push until it gets done whether you're having fun or not. Big wheel is so important and such a struggle most days it consumes a lot of my thoughts and life. BUT, I love sports, both watching and playing, and finding veg time in front of the tv. I've been flying through series' on Netflix lately on the computer while I'm doing office work.

Is there anything that you haven’t done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

I don't think we are where we want to be yet but I'm not always confident we will get there in Orlando either. We are looking at what our next project is going to be and there are so many things that we want to do (deli, butcher shop, provisions and cheese store, fine dining restaurant) that I just need a little financial backing and I think we'd blow the doors off it. But what it's going to be? Who's to say! I would love to be in the position to be nominated for a James Beard award like my former student Hari Pulapaka out at Cress in Deland. Having worked for Loren Falsone Brassil (now of Orlando's The Table) in Providence I have always had the dream of winning top 10 Best New Chefs Award from Food And Wine Magazine. It's tough though, I don't think food trucks get nods for those type of things so we are hoping what's next for us continues to define our continually shifting goals.

If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

Pig and cow. Can you imagine how good that would taste? A cig? A pow? Either way, the whole belly and midsection would probably be so valuable it would become the new currency of a small European country. Deeeelicious.

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What are your other interests?

If I had to have a hobby I think that it would be photography. I'm a pretty sentimental guy who holds value in the things that have happened and the lessons that were learned and I think photography is being able to capture a moment in time. As a chef, the food that I create is destroyed by the guest seconds after I complete my "art" so to speak, so capturing that in pictures is a valuable learning tool and something I continue to have interest in. Food pretty much drives everything in my life so it all relates back to that somehow. The charities we work with are food issue specific and that's important to me as well.

What rejuvenates you?

For me it's reading about food and experiencing great food done by others. By the time I serve a bit of food we have created the idea, worked out its feasibility, checked on availability, ordered the food, inspected it upon delivery, stored it, prepped it, transported it (mobile food truck!), stored it again, tasted it, then to order, cooked it, and served it. By the time I serve it it's so thought about, the process has taken so much energy, that it's such a different food experience when I can eat something that I just get to concentrate on eating. Traveling to great food cities like Boston, New York, Portland (Maine AND Oregon), and Montreal have all been part of the last 18 months for me and I make it a priority to get into the greatest places I can find.

Have any additional questions for Tony? Post them in the comments and I'll make sure he answers them.

Be sure to follow Big Wheel Truck on Twitter and like them on Facebook. You can also do the same with Big Wheel Provisions (Twitter and Facebook). Tony Adams and his gang will be doing an Outstanding in the Field event on January 19th at Lake Meadow Naturals, where we shot these pictures. It's going to be a great event. Tickets go quick so make sure you buy yours soon! You can purchase them here.

One quick side note. I want to give some big props to my great friend Ben Travers. He has been my assistant on countless photo shoots. He's a great guy who contributes way more than expected and always ends up making my photos better. He's getting married soon and will be moving to Tallahassee. It's gonna be hard to survive without him. Good luck friend!

11 Questions with Julio Lima from Say it Loud! in Orlando, FL

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? With that in mind I’m introducing an ongoing photo and Q&A series called 11 Questions. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!

Julio Lima is one crazy dude. He's passionate, creative, honest, and funny as all get out. Reading his Facebook updates keeps me entertained throughout the day. Julio is a big fan and advocate for the arts. The guy works hard and knows how to have a good time. His creative agency, Say it Loud!, is constantly churning out bold work. He was one of the easiest and most creative people I've ever photographed, open to crazy ideas and not afraid to ham it up for the camera. Oh yes, and his favorite color is orange. I'll let him tell the rest.

1. Who do you look up to?

Richard Branson [Virgin] is one of those people I keep track of. He's always in search of what's next. He is fearless, speaks his mind, and lives life without any limitations. Bastard.

2. Do you have a favorite book?

Man, in all honesty I fucking hate reading. I just don't have the patience. I can definitely say I haven't read anything that has changed my life. I'm more of a film fanatic.

3. Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

I love all ethnic food, especially my Cuban food. I have too many to name just one. My top consistent favoritess are: TerraMia, Thai House, Napasorn, Capital Grille, Yaya's, Lola's Sushi, and Viet Garden. Not specific about meals - I like to eat everything.

4. What gives you inspiration?

Fearless thinkers give me inspiration. For the obvious reasons.

5. If you had the chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

When were pirates around? Yeah, I can see being a pirate, but with many ports-of-call. Couldn't stay out at sea with just dudes for too long.

6. What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

I think I decided early on that I wasn't cut out to wear a tie or shave everyday or work in a structured environment - doing math - so I was limited to something in the creative field or illegal activities. I started out wanting to be an architect, but I suck at math. Design and advertising seem to come naturally to me. Gotta work with your skillz, if you know what I mean.

7. How do you balance your personal and professional life?

It hasn't been easy in an industry with very long hours. It was hell when my kids were younger, but at least they got to see what work ethic is. I learned the same from my parents. After 30 years, I have probably put in more working hours to last 3 lifetimes. The less I work the happier I am these days. Drinking tequila and playing golf as often as I can helps too.

8. Is there anything that you haven’t done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future? 

I would love to and I'm working towards turning the studio into a full time art gallery. I think art is extremely important for the mind and soul. I never feel comfortable just doing one thing. I need to stay active with lots of shit. I run an ad agency/design studio. I have the rental studio on the side, now I'm working on the art gallery part. Always thinking - thus my admiration for people like Richard Branson.

9. If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

Monkeys and pigs are are my favorite animals, but a filthy fat monkey just doesn't sound...um, yeah, let's let them be.

10. What are your other interests?

International culture, music, futbol and traveling. They all kinda go together. They open my horizons. Since I can't travel as much as I would like I watch lots of foreign films.

11. What rejuvenates you?

Going to Art Basel. Working around creatives and interesting people. The outdoors [golf, beach, etc]. Tequila.

Have any questions for Julio? Make sure you leave them in the comments below and I'll make sure he answers them.