This Was Kid Weekend on the Farm with the Camera

We had so many different families out on the farm collectively this weekend it was hard to keep track of who was who and what everyone was doing. I know what I was doing, taking the photos. Pictured above is William Fillmer (my grandson), Martha and Abby Marchio (two of my nieces), and Maddie Metteer (my grandcousin?). It was great fun getting to take their photos all weekend since I don’t really ever get a chance to practice my photography on the little ones.

From San Francisco to Paris in a 2 Minute Time Lapse Video

I love this time lapse by Nate Bolt (@boltron on Twitter) who works/owns this cool looking media firm Bolt Peters, (also on twitter @boltpeters) that went viral recently. There are more details on specifics of how he did it on another blog post here too, along with ABC and I think CBS News, but this is such a creative look at what has become an every day thing (flying).

I love time lapse stuff but I love even more when people find ways to capture the mundane into new and creative ways. Hard to do today. Every time I think of something I think is creative or unique it has already been done by someone else. Bet he didn’t think this one 2 minute video would get so much attention while he was over in France, but it’s just that cool.

Sometimes I think those of us in the church land world give up on being creative because it’s all been done before, or it’s not necessary in order for our message to be heard, but that is our mandate given to us by God Himself starting in Genesis. Right now I’m walking through a new book called The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion by Tim Challies, and he puts it like this:

The Bible reveals that we are created and called to fulfill God’s mandate: that we go into all the world, faithfully stewarding the world God has created and the message he has given us… God has gifted human beings with remarkable ability to dream, create, and invent technologies that serve us as we serve him, technologies that enable us to better serve him.

I love that. If you haven’t seen the video below take a look, really neat shot of the aurora borealis about 15-20 seconds after takeoff. I would love to try this on my next flight but I would get kicked off the flight and placed on the no-fly-list in a second.

Linchpin and the Art of Photography

This is the final followup from my previous posts, Are You a Linchpin, Assignment and an upcoming post Are You a Linchpin, Answer.  I took the above photo of Seth Godin back in 2009, see Tribes, We Need You To Lead Us by Seth Godin // Review, and shortly after I took that photo shoot, I gave up my art for dead.  I had spent the better part of 15-17 years chiseling away at my art of photography and had felt like I was rarely valued for that art (monetarily speaking). In fact, in over 15 years of actively shooting, I probably made less than $1,200 total ($1,000 of that coming within the last 6 months of that 15 years), on an investment of probably close to $30,000 or more in equipment.  With a degree in Accounting, schooled in the ways of business, that didn’t compute.  Expenses always have to be less than revenue, but I was looking at it totally wrong.

Rarely does a book motivate me to make an actual change. Many books motivate me, but not enough to do anything about it.  Linchpin on the other hand was one of those that just happen to light a fire under my feet and get me to look at my art in another way. Mainly, that an art is done for the sake of the artist, and those who receive his gift.  I knew this from the moment I picked up a camera, but over time and many other circumstances, I had forgotten that.

Profit, something which I was always taught was a simple mathematical formula; “revenue minus expenses equals profit”, was totally rearranged in Linchpin.  Godin explains profit, from the business side, as the value you, the artist, add or contribute minus the amount you are paid.  Same thing really as the MBA version, but when you look at the work, as “value” it adds something more than just money, it changes everything.

A fast food worker at McDonald’s can add a wide range of value to the company, yet they are pretty much all paid the same thing, minimum wage, so there is no reason to create or add value above a certain level, but that doesn’t mean some don’t create and add value where it is not needed or appreciated.  Brother Lawrence was one such person. A 17th century monk, and someone who had enormous value to add to all of society in his book of letters, spent much of his life doing dishes, as a cook.  His conversations with God and letters to his friends make an incredible book, and it is free, you can read it right now, doesn’t cost you a dime.

My art of photography had created value for years.  I gave it away to the wrong people, businesses and companies, and tried to charge those in my close circle.  So thanks Seth, I am going to get back to the business of creating my own unique art.  I don’t know how I am going to accomplish that, I have no equipment, no resources to buy any equipment, and at the moment, no clients to shoot for, but those are just details.  I have going on 2 decades of knowledge in my own art, the equipment is just a tool.

Are We Using Our Passions for a Greater Faith Purpose :: Part 1

Encounter at Auburn University

Encounter at Auburn University

There have been several posts over the last few weeks about this subject and I will have to address it in more detail in the upcoming weeks, but for now, I will just ask the same question that Brian asked in his post Your passion, which was basically a response to Tony Morgan’s post (Resign Today!) and John Piper’s recent book, Don’t Waste Your Life, do we use our passions for a purpose?

The photo below reminds me of how many people really do pursue their passions.  Brian lead worship at Encounter last week in his usual passionate way, and I took this photo of Jak that night, who is always passionate about his music, and yesterday I was able to join in on a photo shoot with Jäk in Birmingham (more on that in an upcoming post) with photographer Stephen Devires.

The context of the other posts were more in line with your career path or if your passions and work line up with each other, and if they don’t, they should, so basically do something about the situation.  It is a simple thing to say, if you don’t like your job or if you are not passionate about what you do, quit.  It is not such a simple thing to actually do, or is it?

I can think back to all the jobs I have had over my lifetime, going all the way back to when my friends and I would pull golf balls out of the lakes on a golf course, clean them up, then sell them back to the golfers who just lost them.  That was fun, it was certainly profitable, and I was passionate about my work.  Being 14-15 years old and making money from what felt like was something fun was great, and certainly didn’t seem like “work”.

There were many many many others jobs of course that I couldn’t stand and problem is, eventually, you probably will quit doing what you are doing (or change something) if you are not passionate about whatever it is you are doing.  That is, unless of course you are content with living in the box and as Craig Groeschel put it at the Catalyst Conference (see The Speakers at Catalyst08 Conference from Thrusday // Catalyst Photos to see if you think he looks passionate about what he does), unless you want to just keep working for that boat or car, then die.

Some jobs I was passionate about when they started and not so much down the road, but either way, I would generally not stay with a job too long without passion for the work.  I have a degree in Accounting but would rather make nothing as a photographer than a bunch as a CPA in an account firm (nothing against that of course, just not my thing).

As far as Brian goes (since he started this), all you have to do is read Brian’s blog for a few posts and you can determine what he is passionate about without even asking him.  Serving the Lord, his music, and his wife, and essentially, that is what he gets paid to do.  To lead people in serving the Lord, through music while being the best husband he can be.  I can really connect with that because mine are very similar, just exchange the musician for photographer… but… there is a difference in being passionate about something, and being able to earn a living at what you are passionate about doing.

Is this a rare thing? I think it is, but the scale is different for everyone?  If you are passionate about money like a Donald Trump, you probably aren’t going to be happy with a career with a non-profit organization.   Brian is lucky, he is doing what he loves and he is able to earn a living doing it, but he didn’t always get paid to lead worship and I am guessing that Groeschel didn’t always get paid to speak at conferences either.  One of the best blog posts I have read lately about these issues is from Seth Godin called Maybe you can’t make money doing what you love, but his blog is filled with great content just like this.

Sometimes we have to just keep cranking away while we wait for our passions to meet up with our careers or pursue our passions on the side.  I am passionate about not pursuing my passions on the sidelines.

Jill Greenberg Photos of The Manipulator Political Pornography?

Sometimes it really amazes me who is called a photographer and who isn’t. Photography takes on many many forms from journalist to fine artist and everything in between.  When one photographer is able to garner the spotlight of the news for political purposes, such as what Jill Greenberg has done this week with her photo shoot with John McCain, purposely misleading her client, has done harm to the profession of photography for all photographers.

Outside of that, for someone to manipulate an image to the extent that Jill Greenberg has done, takes photography out of the work and inserts something else.  One person put it on the news last night, what Jill Greeberg has done is political pornography, which is an insult to pornographers.  I was so disgusted by the images she posted on her website and that were shown on Fox News and CNN that I don’t know how anyone can call her a photographer.  In the end, at least the Atlantic Monthly has apologized for her representing their magazine, but they shouldn’t have to do that, a photographer should work in a professional manner, no matter what the subject.

The editor of The Atlantic Monthly said Monday he is sending a letter of apology to John McCain after a woman the magazine hired to photograph the Republican presidential nominee posted manipulated pictures from the photo shoot on her Web site. Photographer Jill Greenberg, who is vehemently anti-Republican and expressed glee that the photos would stir up conservative ire, took pictures of McCain for the cover of The Atlantic’s October issue.

Did anyone even notice that this woman is Canadian?  There seem to be so many non-U.S. citizens that seem to want to influence the election, and these are the tactics I guess are needed to do just what she has done, but she has done a true dis-service to all photographers at this point. If you look at it from a blogging perspective or google, she has accomplished exactly what she wanted… to create a fire storm of media attention (and bloggers, see Jill Greenberg Is Not Afraid To Dump All Her Clients At Once, Low blow, The Atlantic should have Googled Jill Greenberg before hiring her, and Fallout From Jill Greenberg’s McCain Images just to name a few) to her disgusting manipulations of the photography profession.

What new mountains of paper work will form from her stunt that will have to be signed, released, political backgrounds checked and so on.  Most photographers I have met would never behave in this manner at all, and I am glad she doesn’t represent me or any photographers that I know.  So that is my rant on the business of photography.  I have yet to find someone on either side of the political isle that is willing to defend her actions, I hope none arise.

Mesmerized By Phelps Images from Beijing?

That’s it, we will have to go to Vancouver in 2010. A day later, I am still watching the replay of Michael Phelps winning his 7th gold medal by a hundredth of a second, just unreal, but the images coming out of China are really just as fantastic as Phelps winning another gold.

If you haven’t been following the blog posts from the photographers covering the games for Newsweek, you should check this out. The images of how the photographers setup are great, but Vincent Laforet explains how he shot from the catwalk during the swim meet (see World Records Seen From Above), just incredible shots Vincent.

Although, from the looks of it, if you are not a “pool photographer” you are out of luck sometimes. From what I have read, most of the photographers from Newsweek have had to push, fight, pull, and stand their ground when it came to staking a claim to their photographic shooting turf.

They are certainly hard fought images and positions over there, but they still manage to come away with some really great shots, and Michael Phelps has won his 7th gold metal by a hundredth of a second, still. Soon he will try for the 8th and final relay, can’t wait to watch the race.

A New Gallery and Updated Photos

It has been another hot week here down in the south but there are still many things to photograph. To gear up for the fall when sports seems to jump out everywhere, I have moved my photos from my flickr account to a new gallery called Auburn Images.

I will still continue to post personal images on flickr, but anything that I consider to be photography related will be located on the Auburn Images gallery.

Auburn Images

This new gallery gives me some great flexibility along with being able to sell and order prints from right there within the gallery. Along with moving to a new platform and back end system, I have gone with a new domain and a new name that will be more closely aligned with my current photography interests, mainly that of Auburn Alabama and the surrounding areas.

I will continue to post and discuss images and photography here, but the bulk of my photography work will be loaded into Auburn Images, located at In addition to the new gallery, I am going to focus some blog posts on this blog, specifically aimed at photographers, equipment, and tips.

Hopefully I will learn something in the process as well and I hope you enjoy for new gallery format. Special thanks to gotroot for the use of his mug shot too.

Willock vs Elane Photography Refusing Gay Wedding Update

I wanted to go ahead and post an update to my post called Christian Photographer Refused Gay Wedding and Lost Lawsuit where the NM State Commission ruled against a photographer who refused to shoot a non-traditional (gay) wedding because of her beliefs.

This lawsuit has now been appealed by the ADF (Alliance Defense Fund) and you can read the Elane Photography Appeal Document.

According to the ADF, they are:

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith…. …to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

and they have now, as of July 1st, filed suit against the N.M. Commission’s ruling. In their press release, they say, in part:

The commission ruled that the company, run by a Christian husband and wife, was guilty of sexual orientation discrimination under state antidiscrimination laws for declining to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony.

Christians in the marketplace should not be penalized for abiding by their beliefs anymore than anyone else should, said ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence… The commission’s decision demonstrated stunning disregard for our client’s First Amendment rights. read the rest here…

This is a very interesting case to me. The fact that a photographer was told, by the state, they had to take a job they didn’t want because it went against their beliefs (besides a whole host of other issues at hand), is just not what this country represents.

Hopefully the appeal will go well and we will not be confirmed into a state of sexual toleration over first amendment rights and basic freedoms we have by living in this country.

Christian Photographer Who Refused Gay Wedding Lost Lawsuit

In January 2008 Elane, a freelance photographer who owns Elane Photography, refused to shoot a gay wedding between two woman and was later sued by Vanessa Willock for discrimination against a person’s sexual orientation.  Elane has now lost the lawsuit and is appealing the ruling by the New Mexico State Human Rights Commission.

So, anything goes now, it’s official. Now I understand from the start of this article that I live in Alabama, where I would probably be sued if I did take wedding photography of a gay marriage, but this is just over the edge. This article is not about gay marriage, really. It is about the freedoms you have as a small business owner, and citizen of this country called America. Today, most of you are almost automatically bias and on a “side” depending on your current life situation, but still, this is really out of hand.

Vanessa Willock vs Elane Photography [HRD# 06-12-20-0685]

This morning while getting ready for service, I started reading my usual list of blogs and news articles when I came across the most ridiculous story I have seen in quite some time. In New Mexico there is a woman who has a wedding photography business called Elane Photography.

She was asked to shoot a wedding between two woman (one being Vanessa Willock, a professor at UNM) in New Mexico. When she refused to take the job saying she only shoots “traditional” weddings, she was sued.

Ok, nothing new here in this day and time I guess. Sad, but typical. In this country now, anyone can sue anyone for any reason at all, but one big difference in this case, she lost. The NM Human Rights Division found her guilty and required to pay damages.  (See now also the Elaine Photography Case before the Human Rights Commission in the State of New Mexico, and their Final Ruling, see also the Alliance Defense Fund Fact Sheet for Elane Photography.)

Vanessa Willock Was Laying in Wait, it Seems

The gay couple who wanted Elane’s photography services, filed this complaint, but it looks like she was just waiting for someone to turn her down. Turns out of course that along with working for UNM, Ms. Vanessa Willock is also an EEO Compliance Representative with the Office of Equal Opportunity.

What does she do there? She investigates claims of discrimination and sexual harassment for the state, and to top it off, she is also a member of the Diversity Committee at the University of New Mexico. All that begs the question of the motives Willock has or had when trying to hire this photographer and a case could be made that she was just waiting for someone to say no!

New Mexico Now Picking Your Clients?

Last time I checked we still lived in a free country? This is not some big organization under equal opportunity laws, this is a two person husband and wife photography business. I don’t know anyone that does freelance work that is required to take a job, but now the state of New Mexico is telling this couple what business clients they have to accept!

News West 9: The state Human Rights Commission ruled in April that Elane Photography violated the Human Rights Act by discriminating against Vanessa Willock on the basis of sexual orientation.

Willock contended Albuquerque photographer Elaine Huguenin told her that she photographed only traditional marriages.

I don’t really care what the issue is pertaining to, how in the world can the state tell a two person business what clients they can and can’t take. I know there are a ton of photographers who have refused certain jobs for one reason or another. What happened if the “minister” refused to marry them (unlikely I know, they would have hand picked her) on the basis of Paul’s letter to the Romans or something. Is the state going to “force” religious institutions now to marry people just because the state says it is ok?

we reserve the right to refuse

Any small business can be sued for any reason if they refuse their services to anyone now I guess. What ever happened to “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”? Guess those days are long gone and the only thing that remains is the actual sign on the business door.

A free marketplace dictates that if one business refuses, another will receive that business. You know, Supply and demand, expenses, profit, all that business type stuff. Obviously the money is less important to Elane Photography than the issue, so just take your business somewhere else. Do we have to sue EVERYONE now?

New Mexico Getting Slammed for Good Reason

I guess this is where New Mexico wants to be. Apparently there are also 20 others states that have these types of refusal laws in place. You take one tiny, and I mean TINY minority (the gay population is said to be around 2%) of any kind, doesn’t matter what it is, their rights supersede those of everyone else. There are so many issues with this particular case it is hard to know what to pick on, but leave it up to the bloggers and they will do a good job as always. So, blogs and news sites galore are slamming New Mexico for good reason. Just to name a few, we have:

and it really just goes on and on. I am sorry, but how stupid are these people on the New Mexico commission or the state in total for putting these ridiculous laws in place and for telling a two person business what clients they have to take. Not only is the state telling me how to run my business but they are requiring someone to do something that is against their religious principles in favor of something that most people in this country are against in the first place.

Have You as a Photographer Ever Refused a Job?

So, I know there are tons of Christian Wedding photographers out there. Are you going to do a wedding because the state tells you to? I really don’t care what the issue is, gay marriage, the intelligence level of the bride/groom, green men from mars, who cares, you own your own business so you can take the clients you want to take, right?

Well, the suit is now up for appeal and The Alliance Defense Fund‘s appeal asks the state district court to reverse the commission’s decision and dismiss Willock’s complaint.” Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and Ms Willock will have to pay for her own expenses and this won’t set a precedent across the states, making it illegal to not work, if that is the choice you make.

Update :: You can also see additional information at Willock vs Elane Photography Refusing Gay Wedding Update

Son of a Son of a Photographer?

James Donald Fillmer Self Portrait

Father’s Day is an interesting day in the U.S. calendar (see my rant on Father’s Day called Why I Don’t Like Father’s Day // Top 10 if you are so inclined). To me, as I am sure with others, it is a day of reflection as well as one to honor the father.

We are told to honor thy father and mother, so today, I would like to honor my dad and my granddad as well. Not because the calendar says I should, but because I want to take a small moment in time for two people that have meant a lot to my life.

Time With Dad is Time Well Spent

I spent yesterday with my dad helping to wash the outside of their house and other general tasks we normally do on the weekend. I am lucky, I live within walking distance of my dad and at this point in my life I actually do get to spend quite a bit of time with my dad on a weekly basis.

So, happy Father’s Day dad, I hope you enjoyed spending the day “working” together yesterday, I’ll be over to watch Tiger Woods try to win the U.S. Open in just a little bit. It is a day of reflection too, and that is simply because the calendar says its Father’s Day. I think about my dad, my son, his son, but also my granddad whom I know only through conversations with my dad. He died when I was to young to remember him, but I have a fondness for him through my own dad.

Through the time I have spent with my own dad, I have learned everything my dad knew about his dad. As time goes by though, we are able to go deeper into what his life was like and I am always learning something new about who Don Fillmer was. I think he is much of what makes my dad who he is today, and some of who I am today as well.

Time To Relax and Take a Self Portrait

James Donald (Don) Fillmer worked at ACIPCO (American Cast Iron Pipe Company) most of his adult life (I believe around 30 years but that is an estimate), and died in the mid-1970’s while going back to work in Birmingham. As I mentioned above, I have since learned over the years about his work ethics, his faith, his love of family, and yes, his love for photography.

I like to think in some small way that the photography skills I have were in some way passed down from my dad’s dad to me. My uncle, Les Fillmer, was also a photographer of sorts, but better known as a musician and conductor with the Alabama School of Fine Arts. The only image I have that Don took that was not work related (or a family snap shot) is a self-portrait he took in 1938.

The Mysterious Dark Room in the Basement

I started taking college level photography courses long before I ever found out that my granddad was even remotely interested in photography. Don’s wife, my grandmother, Martha Fillmer, lived in the same house for many many years and I can clearly remember the dark room Don had built in the basement.

My dad, aunt, uncle, mother all probably know more about it than I do or did. I was probably somewhere between the ages of 7 and 12, but the dark room in their basement was something mysterious to me, only used by my uncle, and rarely when I was around. Full of very large equipment, weird lighting, chemicals, and paper, but it was not something I really ever saw being used. Although there are the usual family snap shots of Don, this self portrait is one of my favorite photos I have seen that he has taken.

He setup the shot, probably developed the negatives in his dark room, and used a large format camera to do it. The Large Format camera is almost a lost art form today with cheap digital SLR’s, but was and is still used by some great photographers like Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter, and Paul Strand.

A Day in the Life of Don Fillmer

The shot shows him in what I think of as a normal day in his house. Sitting in a favorite chair, reading the newspaper. The fixtures and items around him reflect a more simple time, no electronics, no cell phone, just a hard working man at the end of the day relaxing with his paper, still in his suit and work shoes.

The detail in this self-portrait is amazing to me. I have tried a few self portraits and they are not easy to do, well. Anyone can setup a timer and put their face in front of the camera, but a self portrait should tell a story of the person behind the camera who is rarely seen in front of the camera. Although I was not around when this was taken, don’t know any of the circumstances involved, or what kind of a day or week he was having, it tells a story to me. I sometimes wonder if he thought this self portrait taken in 1938 would have meaning to his grandson, to be born 32 years later.

So happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, especially to my dad, and his. I hope you enjoy one of my favorite self portraits, A Day in the Life of Don Fillmer.