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!


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.


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.


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!


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 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. 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

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.


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!

Interview: John Keatley Talks About His Recent Work In The Philippines

John Keatley is a advertising and celebrity portrait photographer who calls Seattle home. John has photographed the likes of Andy Samberg, Annie Leibovitz, Sarah Palin, and Bill Gates. I love his stylized portraits but what I really appreciate about him is his concern for others. He seems very interested in building a body of work that seeks to help others. A few weeks ago I talked with John about his recent trip to Manila, Philippines. He was there shooting for Arts Aftercare, an organization “that brings the beauty and healing power of the arts to children and adults recovering from modern slavery.” We talked about image making, preparing for a trip of this magnitude, and how nonprofits can get better media, among other things.

So how are you doing? Good, I’m still trying to get back into my local time zone.

How was the trip? I know that’s kinda a loaded question with what you were photographing so you don’t have to give me a peachy answer. [laughs]. It was a good trip and it was a bad trip. I’m still trying to process it. People will ask about my last trip and I’ll tell them about it and they go, “Oh...ok...,” and they don’t want to hear about it. I think it was a good trip though. I learned a lot, met some really great people, and I think we accomplished what we intended to do. I’m still trying to process a lot of it. When I got back I got sick and I’ve had to step away from it but as I’ve thought about it I’ve realized it was a great experience.

Yeah, I’ve been to Kenya, Sudan, and the Philippines. People ask, “How was it?!,” And you tell them you saw people eating out of garbage and walked on narrow paths that are surrounded by landmines. People go, “Oh...” It’s not like the Caribbean. It’s not easy coffee talk. Yeah

So you’ve been to Liberia before with Miir Bottles, right? How did that trip compare to this one? The only way I could compare both trips is they were humanitarian in nature. I don’t know how much you could compare the two because they were so different. Maybe there is a way you can compare them but I just haven’t wrapped my head around it. They both had poverty but they both had so much different. In Manila there is a lot of wealth as well as poverty whereas in Liberia it’s mainly poverty.

What was the purpose of this trip? The organization I went with is called Arts Aftercare and they have developed a program that uses art therapy with survivors of sexual slavery. They use yoga, music, and art as a means of healing and expression. They have this new program that a lot of PHDs have worked on and they are starting to roll it out. They are training several organizations that work in sex trafficking in this program and are spending the next couple of weeks meeting with these organizations to follow up and do more training. We got to see a little bit of the program unfold. I was there to document the program and much of my work was to photograph people who are in this industry. More than anything else I was there to try to tell why this art therapy program is even necessary and to bring awareness to this big problem as opposed to make some big ad for the program. It’s not like buying a car. It’s not something anyone would want. I think the people developing this program would rather not have to do this because it would mean there isn’t this problem. They’ll probably show these images to potential donors as a way to fundraise. I’m sure they’ll use them on their website. The big focus for me was to make portraits of survivors. I also photographed some different places that work with kids that have been sexually abused. I did some photography around Manila to frame where this is. It’s a big problem everywhere. It’s a huge problem in Manila but it’s also a big problem in Seattle. I didn’t want it to feel like there was this big problem in this distant land. I may even do some stuff here in Seattle to show people it's not something you can put out of sight and out of mind. It happens everywhere.  I didn’t even know this stuff was going on until a couple years ago.

It’s crazy. I just found out the other day that Orlando is actually a huge sex trafficking destination as well (which you can read about here, here, and here). Yeah, it’s crazy.

Did you have any culture shock? I don’t know if it was culture shock. It wasn’t exactly what I had expected but at the same time I knew it wasn’t going to be Seattle. Some of the things I saw hit me pretty hard. I don’t know if I would call it culture shock as much as I would call it sexual abuse shock. There were shocking elements to the project, that’s for sure.

What did you do to prepare? Photographically, emotionally, family wise? I prayed a lot. I don’t know what else you can really do. I’m kinda the type of person that just needs to get into a situation. You can prepare only so much, at least me personally. I think the first part of the trip was a real struggle and it took me a few days to crack it open. I have to spend time in a situation or get acclimated before I’m able to start working or get comfortable. I certainly did research and talked to as many people as I could. We had some conference calls with some people. It’s like editorial photography in general. Sometimes you get to plan stuff out but sometimes you have to show up and work with what you have. You could envision this perfect scenario in your head but if that’s not what you’re going to get it’s kinda pointless. That’s how I approached this, you just have to see what comes your way.

You mentioned on your blog that you guys were looking for funding for the trip and that it still wasn’t fully funded. Did you guys get it funded and how was it funded? We got over there and we got back but that’s about the extent of it. We had some companies donate some gear that we used (Glazer's Camera & Vanguard). We’re still trying to cover basic production costs. I know the film can’t get cut until we get a little bit more money. We really believe in this and it’s something we want to do. We’re not trying to make money off it but we still have to cover basic costs. I still have to raise money for retouching and for my basic expenses. It’s not something I wanted to preach about and didn’t want to ask for money. I want to be conscious of my blog and my voice and don’t want to be bugging people all the time. If someone hears about it and wants to contribute we’re grateful but I haven’t really said a whole lot about that.

A lot of nonprofits are underfunded and understaffed. Do you have any advice for them for getting better media to promote what they do and their value to others? I think people need to be educated. Everyone wants good media they just don’t want to spend for it. I think what people need to realize is spending money on good media is money well spent if you do it right. I don’t think it should be an issue of how do we get something really great for really little. Granted, I think a lot of photographers would love to work with nonprofits and they’re not going to charge them their full rates but at the same time I think it’s important to realize the benefits of good media. If people realize the benefits of good media they will be more willing to spend money on it. It’s the same for nonprofits as it is for businesses. Marketing is the first thing to go when times get tough but marketing is the most important thing in any business and that includes nonprofits. Right along with marketing comes photography and film. I feel like if nonprofits do good media then figure out ways to raise money to pay for that media it’s going to pay itself off and then some, rather than nonprofits trying to figure out how they can get it for free or how they can get someone to do it for cheap. So to answer your question, the most important thing is educating nonprofits on the value of good photography, good filmwork, and good art in general that can help their marketing.

How did you get hooked up with Arts Aftercare and why did you want to help them? I actually went to college with the founders so I have a relationship with them. They contacted me about doing this project. They were also the ones that introduced me to this story of human trafficking. Over the last 4 or 5 years I’ve noticed nothing makes me more angry than injustice, slavery, and the mistreatment of others in this capacity. I slowly realized that if I get this angry about it than I need to get involved.  I had been wanting to do something in this realm for a while but I didn’t know how to do it or what the outlet was. At first when they approached me with the idea I didn’t want to do it. I had another idea that I wanted to do, a more conceptual project. I didn’t really want to be in the filth of it, so to speak. After some time I thought maybe it was something I should do and maybe it was something I wanted to do but I just hadn’t realized it.

Did your wife encourage you to do it? Yeah, she’s a big reason I did it. We had a talk one night and she encouraged me. She’s awesome because she knows me pretty well and she balances me out. I think we have similar personalities but at the same time we’re different in other areas. She knows how to challenge me when I want to take the easy way out. This was not a very comfortable project so it was easy to decide not to do it but thankfully she challenged me in that area.

Yeah, my wife is crazy cause she married me, that’s how I look at it. You have to be a little bit.

So a little bit more on the photography side. How did you go about shooting. Did you have a shot list. Was it more run ‘n gun? What are the images like? You said the first 3 days it was a little stagnant. It’s pretty different than anything I’ve done before. I think the work is pretty different. It’s a mix of portraiture and still life. Most of it is natural light. A lot of it was timed exposures. It’s a pretty different look, even different from my Liberia work. I like it. I feel like I’ve grown a lot since last year as a photographer. I’m still spending time with the work but I think it’s a good step forward.

I’m curious, how did the timed exposure portraits work out? It’s just natural light and I used a tripod with slow exposures. People had to stand or sit and hold really still. It gives a whole different look and it’s clearly not lit, fancy, or shiny so to speak.

Did Arts Aftercare just say, “Go shoot and document our organization,” or was it more planned? A lot of that was just figured out as we went. We had some ideas going into it but it really took being there and getting a feel for the place. I think a lot of times with nonprofits they know they want pictures but they just don’t know what they want pictures of. You can’t expect someone to be a photo editor and a marketing director all of a sudden. I think there was a lot of trust and we tried to communicate as much as possible what would work best. I think the main goal was to create something great that was going to spread the word about what’s going on. Obviously there’s a lot of freedom there.

Was that freeing? You know, not having an art director there. Or was it nerve wracking? It’s freeing and it’s nerve wracking at the same time. I suppose if there was an art director they would be telling me specific things to shoot but at the same time they would be providing those things to shoot. It wouldn’t be as nerve wracking but it might not be as free. When you’ve got a lot more freedom it’s a lot more nerve wracking. Along with the freedom comes uncertainty and it’s up to you to make those things happen. After a couple of days of figuring out who was who and what the restrictions were I had to start pushing myself into situations and in front of people to photograph because if I didn’t do it it wouldn’t happen. I enjoy working with art directors and I enjoy working alone. I think for this particular project it was nice to do it alone. I could also see a similar project working really well with an art director too.

You always hear people saying, “You’ve gotta keep shooting personal work.” I know you have your holiday promos which I’m assuming are personal work as well as marketing materials. Would you consider this personal work? I think so. There are elements to the project that I would not consider personal work. For example, I’m not going to show the pictures of people using the curriculum or playing the instruments. I think it serves a purpose, it’s beneficial, and it’s a big part of what I went for but it’s not very personal. I think a lot of the work outside of that, telling the story of a few specific people and how slavery effects people, I would consider that personal work.

What do you want people to think when they see these images? What do you hope the first thought in their mind is? That’s a good question. I hope it’s different for everybody. My hope would be that people feel compelled to speak out and to do something. You can’t just come back and get angry at people, judging them for not doing anything about the situation. Life is a process and there was 30 years where I wasn’t doing anything about it. I hope that everyone is honest with themselves and open to the information they take in when they see the pictures. I hope it stirs something in everybody when they see them.

Seeing these things, shooting these things, and helping an organization like this, what has it done for you? Has it changed you in any way? Maybe that’s a loaded question too. If you say “no” you sound bad. Trips like this give you perspective on your own situation and the situation of others. It helps expand your worldview. It’s helped educate me. What do you do when you see human suffering like this and you come back and you have such a wonderful life? I don’t think we should feel guilty but at the same time we shouldn’t feel selfish and complacent about it. You have to be really thoughtful about these kinds of things. Going to Africa and buying someone something isn’t going to solve their problem. Even just building a well for someone and saying, “Here you go, here’s some clean water,” that doesn’t even help. It’s part of a process. There needs to be education and a desire on the behalf of others to make a change. I think the best I can expect from a trip like this is it expands my thinking, it gives me perspective, and helps mold my heart to at care for others and then take the next step, whatever that is.

I think you’ve gotta give in a way that gives people dignity. Or help in a way that gives dignity and not help in a way that just gives things and makes you feel good. Yeah, a gift is not a solution. Gifts, I think, are meant to be signs of appreciation or celebration but it’s ridiculous to think that a gift is a solution to a serious problem. It’s a band aid that’s going to fall off. It’s often times something that feels good for the giver.

So do you have anything else you want to mention that I haven’t covered? I definitely think whatever your profession or your hobby it’s important to help others through your abilities. As much as this is personal work and I’m sure it will benefit me and my career I really hope it just benefits people in general. There was this point in this trip where we were away from a car and needed to be somewhere. There were some constraints and I was getting really frustrated. I just felt God get a hold of me and say, “Forget about yourself for a second.” I was so worried about my portfolio and getting a great image.  The power of photography is much greater than what I want to use it for. So for one afternoon I just took pictures of survivors. It brought them so much joy and they were so excited about it. Some people said it was the first time they ever felt beautiful. That was a big lesson for me. It’s easy to go on this trip and say, “I’m helping people,” but really how much am I helping people and how much I am doing it for myself? That was a good lesson to learn and it put a lot of the frustration of the first few days into perspective. I think the frustration was necessary and it got me to the point of realizing the impact I could have on those people. It’s something I keep coming back to. It’s easy to talk about helping others and going on these trips but still not do anything for others. I know that there are some people that I was able to impact through photography and in turn I was really blessed because I was humbled. I think being humbled is a good thing, especially for me.

I know when I go on these trips I do a lot of soul searching. How much am I doing it for my portfolio and how much am I doing it cause I really want to help? Then there’s that duality in you where you want to get that image but is that image more important than putting down the camera and talking with the person and giving them dignity. Yeah


Many thanks to John and Elizabeth for being so accommodating in setting up this interview. If you have any questions make sure to leave them in the comments below. To stay up to date on what John is up to you can visit his blog, follow him on Twitter, or check him out on Facebook.



The View From Space

This has to be one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen in my life. Being from Flroida I have fond memories of watching the shuttle launches with my family from our front yard. The night launches were always the best because they lit up the sky for miles. If you're looking for a great photo book on the space program be sure to check out Full Moon.

The Complete Packag

This won Best Documentary Short at the 2003 Tribeca Film Festival. For me it is the complete package. The photos are beautiful and so is the story behind them. Milton is totally different than his subjects but notice the following:

- He loves his subject

- He treats the people he photographs with dignity, which in turn instills dignity in them

- He is humble

- He loves the people he photographs

- He is friends with the people he photographs

- He is joyful to take photos

I love this story. I love Milton. I wish he were my grandfather.