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!


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Stay tuned for part 3 next week!

Working in Ethiopia, Pt. 1


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.


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.


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.


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!


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!!!


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!


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 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.


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!


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.


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.

Interview with Ryan Sisson, Account Director at Fifty & Fifty

I discovered Fifty & Fifty a few weeks ago while talking with someone about nonprofit branding. Upon seeing their site I was blown away by the caliber of their work and knew I wanted to interview them for the blog. Fortunately, Ryan was enthusiastic about the idea and got back to me quickly. I think you'll enjoy what he has to say. Ryan Sisson is the Account Director at Fifty & Fifty. Essentially, he’s the gateway. With a blend of common sense, passion, and intuition, Ryan serves as the nuts and bolts. He’s in all parts of the organization, fully integrated with all of Fifty’s clients, while also streamlining how Fifty does business, consistently upping the bar on what it means to partner with and creatively serve nonprofit organizations. In an industry on the bleeding edge, building a dependable but malleable business foundation is critical, and Ryan keeps the inner workings on pace with Fifty’s overall vision and development. In other words, he keeps the pulse steady and beating. Prior to coming to Fifty, Ryan worked in land development and then transitioned over to the nonprofit world, where he spent a significant amount of time in the Thailand-Burma area doing humanitarian work and petting very large cats, also known as “tigers.”  When he finally got back on American soil, Ryan became an account strategist for a digital marketing firm, and then made the jump over to Fifty & Fifty where he daily integrates his passion for humanitarian work and business growth for the greater good. (courtesy of Fifty & Fifty).

What do you find most rewarding about designing for nonprofits? Most challenging?

The most rewarding thing about designing for non-profits is being able to be a part of the larger story. Instead of working in the business world that is focused on selling widgets our clients come to us for help with moving people and increasing resources in an effort to help others. On any given day we get to play a part in helping end world hunger, provide clean water, build sustainable farming methods, build schools in Haiti and help end the longest running war in Africa among many other great missions and causes. We also get to know that our work being done is for the greater good and not just for the bottom line. It's realities like this that help you push through the long days, short deadlines, and many other challenges from this space.

There are a couple key challenges that are present when working in this space. The first on is budgets. Non-profits obviously do not have the financial means that a standard for profit company would have and the resources they do have are better used helping than building websites. Because of this we work at a reduced rate in order to provide an opportunity for as many NGO's as possible and we also very much understand that money going to us isn't going to the ground so it makes staying on budget just that much more important. Fortunately we have been able to do this without sacrificing the quality of the work which allows us to create top quality products for organizations that might not have had the opportunity. Another challenge is that we don't get to work with large web teams. Most of the organizations have a point person for the project but that person is also doing development or running programs or even running the whole organization. Wearing many hats is a common thing inside NGO's and so we work to make it as easy as possible on the organizations point person knowing that this is the case.

What kind of information do you need before you design for them? In other words, how do you get to know an organization before you take on their project and what can organizations do to help their designers in this process?

There are some organizations that we work with that we already know a lot about. These are the World Visions and Invisible Childrens. When it's a well known organization the conversation starts by understanding their needs first. If it's not someone that we are previously familiar with I learn more about their mission, programs, where they work, why they exist. Really just a basic get to know them. If I have time I'll do some research before hand so I have context for your conversation. When we are learning more about the needs it allows us to separate a the type of work we will be doing. Some organizations have different departments that have unique target audiences, some need to do a fundraising campaign, and others want to do a full redesign of their site. Our last step in the process is learning about the goals and KPI's (key performance indicators). This information shapes what the project looks like. From an action standpoint this often takes place on the phone however I also have some documents that I can send over in order to get all the key information we need.

Short of hiring you guys what can smaller non profits be doing right now to visually tell their story?

I think the first thing that the smaller non-profits can do is take the time to figure out what their story is. Most of the time NGO's are so focused on their work that they don't really know who they are talking to and how to speak to them. If you know your story then you can shape it to your audience. The way to speak to a 50+ year old donor base is a lot different than how you speak to a young professional or teenager. After that it really is important to focus on content. Photos, videos, and website copy are the voices of the organization and they need to make sure that they properly represent the brand and speak to the right people. Finally I would say less is more. One good photo is more impactful than dozens of poor quality, also lots of words don't necessarily mean you are communicating. Most people are spending small periods of time on a site so short and concise copy is going to be more effective than lots.

How does original photography play a role in an organizations design?

Photography is really important. Photos engage the visitor, tell the story without words, communicate the topic of the page and even the mission of the organization. When we are working with a selection of good photos it makes the design process not only a lot smoother but much more effective. If we could we would send a professional photographer to every programs our client has.

Who are some non profits who you feel are hitting the mark on design and branding? What are they doing right? 

I think the first ones that come to mind are Charity:Water, Invisible Children, and ONE Campaign. These organizations know that their audience really well. They create a lot if not all their original content in house and have decided that they will spend the money on continuing to do so. A lot of the larger NGO's depend on an older donor base that isn't bombarded with visual media like the younger generation is. With these orgs reaching the younger demo is key and so it is not only worth it but vital to their success that they continue to tell their story in a compelling way which can find a place in their donors lives in between the latest reality tv show and a new viral YouTube video.

How has the feedback been from clients you’ve worked with?

The feedback has been really good. Their new sites have been able to make it easier and more effective for a donor to support the organization, better utilize tools that allow content to be shared online, and properly tell their story so that people can find a way to engage with it and take part. The majority of our clients stay with us long term and work to continue to refine and improve their online experience as well as help them communicate the new developments, programs, and successes of their work.

What's your favorite project Fifty & Fifty has worked on and what made it your favorite? 

I think the hardest but favorite was Kony 2012. From the beginning we we're working with Invisible Children to create a new kind of NGO campaign experience. We we're able to help ideate the project's online tools and function which was a great process. From there is moved into becoming the largest and fastest viral movement in history. It was a very fluid project because it changed so rapidly and threw new challenges at us constantly. It was also amazing to be a part of history and most likely something that I will never experience again...although if we do we'll be prepared. When Kony is captured it will make the whole project and experience just that much more rewarding.

You all seem to emphasize continuing the story. Can you talk about that some? What does that mean and what does it look like?

We set up 50 so that we're in it for the long run. The story of these orgs and the people/causes they serve are on going. There are very few times that the work is done and everyone can move on. Because of that we come along side to not only help in the initial story telling process but also communicate the twists and turns that each non-profit goes through from hardships to celebrations and everything in between. The work is never done so to jump in and do one project and then leave would keep us from continuing the story. Practically this looks like most of our clients moving into what we call a maintenance phase which is a batch of hours that they pay for allowing us to pull any needed resources into their project to work on their site. This also looks like us developing relationships with our clients that lead to conversations about what is next, where they are headed, what they need, and how we can play a part in making it happen.

Technology has certainly impacted this generation and you all really embrace it. Are there any new developments in technology that you are excited about and what are some technologies that you are currently implementing that are helping to deliver a better story?

Donations are a huge if not the biggest resource that our clients are pursuing. I am probably being a little bias in this answer but I think the most exciting piece of technology that we are using is a donation platform that we built called Donately. This system has all the features of your traditional fundraising system such as ability to create campaigns and individual fundraisers but we've added two important elements. The first piece is what we have dubbed project level fundraising. This allows an organization to create projects within campaigns that they can allocate funds to. This allocation creates a connection between the donor and where their money is going. We live in a world of transparency and technology allows for this. The supporter demand is going to be continually pushing into more openness and information on where their donations are being used and this feature will help make that possible. The other part of this system that is changing things is the API we built. Since we are a design company first we focused on creating a system that allows us to design the donation experience they way we wanted to. We are no longer restricted to other systems templates or just your traditional donation page. We can build interactive giving experiences, put donation widgets on any page in any spot, add an iFrame donation tool into a blog post or a just about any other thing we can think of with the donation data. We can focus now on the donor and the experience they are having rather than just trying to get people to the one donation page and convert them from there.

Be sure to stay up to date with 50 & 50 through Twitter and Facebook.

Have any questions for Ryan or 50 & 50? Leave them in the comments and I'll do my best to get them answered.



From Concept to Execution: Band Silhouette

I love music. I always have. Few people know I used to play the tuba and bass guitar in middle school. I gave them up because I couldn't stand my music teachers at the time and I wanted to make more time for photography. My tuba instructor made me cry on multiple occasions and my middle school band teacher made me feel like I was in a country ruled by a ruthless dictator. That being said I never lost my love of music. Early in high school I began collecting Vinyl and at one point had over 500 records. Over the years I've purged my collection down to about 150 (but it's growing again). I really love all types of music but get a special thrill from watching a live performance. Seeing a band and audience feed off each other is electric. I had that in mind going into this shoot. Initially I wanted to shoot these silhouettes on white, make each of them different colors in post, and combine them in photoshop. I would have overlapped each frame so that the overlapping colors would have created a different color. You can see what I mean below.

band silhouette concept
band silhouette concept

The shoot took place at Orange Studio 4 Rent. Jame Hedrick, Ben Travers, and Chris Hall helped out and modeled. We had two lights pointed at the cyc wall and one light high and behind the person. I wanted it as high as I could get it so I would get a nice shadow of them on the floor. Now here's the funny thing. I always try to go into my shoots with an open mind. If a concept isn't working out or something else comes up that is clearly better I'm more than willing to the explore the new idea. I think too many times photographers get caught up in trying to push something through that isn't working. On this shoot every once in while the background lights wouldn't fire because of recycle time. This gave us a cool black on black silhouette. When I got back to my place to edit the shots I realized these were going to be the photos I wanted to use. It's not that the original idea was bad. I still like the original idea. It's that this new idea was better. Plus, it fits more with my style.

So finally, here is the finished picture. A lot went in to making this happen. Big thanks to Dale Vande Griend at Yellow Jacket Media for doing a great job on the post work. You an click on the image to see it bigger.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. I'd love to hear what music you're listening to now or what music had a big impact on your youth.

Photos & Thoughts from Star Wars Celebration VI in Orlando, Florida.

Unlike most people I love going to conventions, especially when I get to photograph. Observing so many like minded people or people in a similar profession in one setting is always interesting. One thing I love about documentary and editorial photography is I get to step into places I would never find myself if it wasn't for my camera. It becomes very anthropologic for me (I know...you're impressed with my vast vocabulary). I recently had the opportunity to go to Star Wars Celebration VI in Orlando to take some photos. It was fun and entertaining to say the least. Below are some portraits but first let me share some of my observations (as any true anthropologist would). 1. All ages are welcome and it seems to be a great family bonding experience

2. Many women have the uncanny ability to take what should be an ordinary costume/character from the movie and transform it into a character that should belong in a nudy flick (this may fly in the face of #1)

3. Men don't seem to have the same ability as stated in #2

4. It's nerd heaven (and I say that in a loving/endearing way)

5. Wherever you find the women of #2 you will find a flock of men from #4 (usually with cameras at the ready)

6. I found many people with spectacular costumes standing in the atrium for hours on end, allowing others to have their photo taken alongside them. You're costume is for the benefit of the masses

7. Smile and nod when asked about some obscure aspect of Star Wars

8. Don't mention Star Trek


11 Questions with Rebecca Lujan Loveless from POLIS Institute in Orlando, FL

You can't deny that 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 my community who I've always wanted to get to know. Let's get started!


I owe a lot to Rebecca Lujan Loveless. She has been a springboard for ideas and is one of the people who helped me start my Parramore/Holden project. Her insight, as well as insight from the POLIS Institute where she is Executive Director, has helped me understand the complexity of poverty and how to serve those living in it with dignity. Getting her feedback on an issue is always refreshing because she never pulls punches yet is kind in her answers. The work she is doing is changing lives. I'm glad to know her. I think you'll enjoy what she has to say.

1. Who do you look up to?

I look up to Dr. Bob Lupton, Dr. Dan Allender. They have both spent decades honing their unique skills and have improved the lives of so many people! In the face of controversy and skepticism they have tirelessly worked to bring a message of hope, healing and redemption to our world. Dr. Lupton has spent his life on behalf of the poor, calling the Church to be more inclusive of the people they try to serve. He fearlessly speaks out against unjust systems and humbly exhorts people like me to examine our hearts and minds as we seek to serve. Dr. Allender has been a profound voice that has helped re-think the Church’s quest to bring healing and wholeness to broken lives. He has shamelessly taken on the cause of the sexually abused and traumatized and has brought an awareness to emotional and spiritual wholeness like no one I’ve ever read or heard.

2. Do you have a favorite book?

I love reading so it’s hard to pick just one...but my favorite book is The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. It has profoundly impacted my life by vividly depicting the horrifying affects that ignorant western Christians can unwittingly have on a culture we do not understand. I started out my adult life with the belief system that because I was a Christian [American] that I some how had solutions for people in other countries and cultures. I read this book as a young missionary and it caused me to rethink and repent for all the ways I made unconscious assumptions and judgements and then acted on them. A beautiful story of tragedy, loss, rebirth and hope.

3. Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

Ravenous Pig. Try the Pub Burger with Truffle Fries or The Gatherer Salad.

4. What gives you inspiration?

I’m inspired by stories of people who have overcome hardship or suffering. We all experience our own version of suffering. What is more moving than some one acknowledging the pain, grieving losses and then moving forward to be an agent of healing for others?

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

I’d love to live during the decade of 1910-20. The Women’s Suffrage movement is fascinating to me. So many women [and a few notable men] waged war on discrimination and gave up so much for the civil and human rights that I enjoy today.

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

Wow. This could be a novel. I grew up in a melting pot of diversity. I am Hispanic/White growing up in a predominately Asian/Polynesian culture in Maui, Hawaii. This diversity contributed to my love of other cultures [ethnic, social etc.]. It also provided an experience where I was discriminated against for the color of my skin. Having a personal and at times painful experience with race and gender discrimination has given me a deep passion for defending others who may be experiencing this crime.

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

Very carefully. I am extremely grateful that I have a career that I love and a family that supports me to be the best “me” in both places. My family knows that I am a better wife/mom and a better community developer when I am doing both. Date nights are normal in our home. Family days of bike riding or adventure seeking are intentional. Working hard and playing/resting hard are high values in our home.


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

I want to travel to every continent. I have not been to Australia or Antarctica.

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

This might be a frightful sight but an elephant and a mongoose. Elephants have incredible memories and are extremely loyal. They are highly relational and deeply love their family. I grew up watching mongoose dart across the roads in Maui. They are crafty, fast and fearless. Mongoose can take down a cobra. I think a Mongophant would make a pretty good friend.

10. What are your other interests?

I love to travel, write, cook and garden. I’ve traveled to over 50 countries and my wanderlust can never be satisfied. I write a blog, although very infrequently. I cook almost every day as an artistic expression. I garden and try not to kill my plants.

11. What rejuvenates you?

I am about the most extreme extrovert you will meet. I love being with my close friends, eating great food, drinking great drinks, laughing, and talking. I love sharing my life with people.

Food Photography: Cupcakes

If you read my post a few days ago about my last food shoot there really isn't much to say here. This time I photographed dessert. These cupcakes came from Blue Bird Bake Shop in Winter Park, FL. Unlike my last food shoot I got to eat these and let me say, they're the best cupcakes I've ever had. Be sure to visit them sometime. Also, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. Next up I'll be photographing a salad, which should be interesting. Stay tuned!


Food Photograhpy: BBQ

If you know me you know I love to eat. Everything about food makes me happy. The smell, the sight, and obviously the taste. While most people complain when they are full I relish in it. I particularly love eating with my hands, something I came to enjoy through my travel overseas. I know it sounds stupid but I really think eating with your hands connects you to your food in an unexplainable way (try it next time...just make sure no one is watching). Maybe it's the primal/manly side of me, who knows? The idea to shoot some food came to mind when I recognized a locally owned restaurant had some very subpar food photography. I figure I'll shoot some food, specifically their food, and show them the resulting shots. Maybe they'll be interested in hiring me, maybe they won't. Either way I've got a few more pictures in my portfolio for it. I did all this myself, including the food styling (which is quite a tricky job if I do say so my self). On a paid job I would defiantly hire some to do the styling.

 Here is the final shot:


Behind the scenes:


James Mollison Talks Shop

I really love James Mollison's work. It's straight forward, direct, almost in your face. Although he photographs some touch subjects, I don't think he takes advantage of the people he photographs. I feel his photos are showing what real life is like without being manipulative. He has some good things to say about photojournalism and documentary photography in this video. Check it out.

On a similar note, what is the line between showing reality (what is really happening) and being manipulative (like the stereotypical poor, bloated, flies around the eyes african child)? That's a question I've been wrestling with a lot lately. Leave your comments below. I'd love to hear them.

You've Gotta Fight For Your Right To COPYRIGHT!

How serendipitous. A day ago I post about Copyright (here) and now I find this via FStoppers. Take a look and keep reading:

Some people are really put off by what this guy did. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with his actions. He was professional and cordial. The bottom line is this, the paper STOLE something. Professions that don't produce a physical product (photographers, writers, programmers, etc.) have become devalued to the point where we think it is ok to take without regard of payment. Just because it's on the internet doesn't mean it's free. If I go into a clothing store and steal a bar of candy, do they send me a letter asking for payment? Do they request I give it back? No. They call the cops and I go to jail.

I would feel totally different about this if the blogger was rude and combative. He wasn't. In fact, the paper was rude and combative. Some people say, "Well why didn't he just send them a letter asking for payment?" Do you think sending a letter to this guy 15 times would have done a thing? When he does nothing with the letters you've got to call a lawyer. You have lawyer fees. This drags on for months. Finally he gets his check. How many hours of work has he put into pursuing this guy for payment when that time could have been spent writing more articles?

What are your thoughts?