Posts in Creative Process
How To Shoot A Double Exposure With The 5D MARK lll & IV

As a "purist", I'm not much into special effects and a ton of "post-production" with my photography.  When I discovered that I could make multiple exposures "in-camera" in a few easy steps I was stoked.  Read on to learn how to make your own multiple exposure.

Steps to making a "multiple exposure":

1. Shoot the silhouette in front of a white, highly exposed background. Try to shoot later in the day when you can so you have more even light.  Shooting from a low angle is good here. 

2. Find the background/fill image.  Trees, shrubs, buildings and other continual shapes and lines work well. 

3. Go to "multiple exposure" mode in your DSLR (I use the 5D Mark iv).  Select the first portrait image (silhouette) and go to the "live view" mode.  The back of the screen will now give you a preview of your images when combined.  You also want to make sure that you've set the "multiple exposure" to "additive" in the settings.  This mimics the film technique of combining images. 

4. Take the photo.  try to put the facial features in a "full" part of the the texture and have it spread out into the back of the face and head.  

Do this 10 times.  Be open-minded and experiment.  You'll probably come out with at least 1 you like. 


5 Things I've Learned From 10 Years In The Classroom

I've been teaching over ten years now in one way, shape, or form.  I've taught marines how to survive in water combat situations.  I've spent a ton of time teaching my little brother Jonathan  (who has autism).  I've taught kids with "severe and profound" disabilities including cerebral palsy, autism, intellectually disabled-moderate and mild, fragile-X syndrome plus many more.  I've taught teenagers with severe emotional and behavior disorders who have been abused and who have abused others.  I've taught middle school language arts and middle school social studies. I've taught as an adjunct professor at the university level.  I currently teach photographers and help them with their businesses. .  

As a teacher it's been hard over the years as you can imagine.  I was immersed in chaos, defiance and frustration when trying to teach my students.  I honestly didn't know what I was doing for a long time and had to "fake" it. It's taken perseverance, discipline and some deep reflection to get to the point where I actually enjoy teaching.  I'm happy to say that I'm getting there though.  I'm also extremely happy to say that I am actually "teaching" too.

Here are five things that I've learned and have brought to my photography education through all of this:

1. Divergence

Divergence is made up of these four main areas and I try to practice them in all areas of my life including my classroom.

Deferring judgment: During critiques, grading, peer reviews or simple sharing activities I challenge my students to use language like "I notice", "I see that" or say "I wonder" rather than "I like", "I don't like", "it's good" or "it's bad".  This type of language leads to negative and emotional responses that make students (and teachers) judge themselves.   

Being open-minded and considering every possible idea:  During goal brainstorming I encourage students to put ALL ideas up on our "goals sheet".  Some students are hesitant but over time they loosen up and stop judging their own ideas.

Encouraging different perspectives: Building a culture of diversity and difference is so important.  This all happens during my questioning sequences.  

Building off of the ideas of others:  Daily I have students share with others what they are doing.  This allows them to notice other's reactions to their work and motivates them to think about them in a critical way throughout the process.


2.  Students Lead

In my photography education...students lead most of the big decisions like how they're assessed,  what the project is on,  how they go through processes, discussions and much more.

One example is students spend multiple days exploring, discussing, twisting and considering ideas before goals are made for every project. They make their own goals and those goals eventually turn into their rubric.  This takes away any "gray" areas and mystery during the actual "evaluation" of the project because they actually came up with the objectives.  They take ownership of the goals.  When a questions arises about how they're being graded I point to the big poster on the wall where they wrote down the goals.  I make them do 90% of this because students tend to get frustrated with the "wishy-washieness" of the modern day teacher regarding grading, expectations and if they're going to get in "trouble".  

BTW. They were only able to come up with their own goals after a ton of questions were asked: what makes a good..., how is this most effective..., what type of person would respond to ..., how does the public see a ..., what would happen if our world didn't have, what are the alternatives, if I was ___ what would..., etc...


3. Freedom To Fail

Generally, students (especially teenagers...I said generally) are brainwashed.  They are so afraid that they are going to get in trouble or get a bad grade or their parents will get mad at them or they'll get sent to the principal's office or whatever.

I aggressively work from to "re-brainwash" them into understanding that they are in charge of their choices and they get to choose in my classroom.   

I do this in many ways.  When it comes to grading I have students grade themselves and a peer before I ever consider grading them (using the goals they created ⬆️). This forces them to reflect on their own work and their peer's.  I give them each 12.5% of their own grade and mine is worth 75%.  I justify mine being worth more because of my years of experience in the field (like getting paid or evaluated by a boss in the real world).

When I see the fear in their eyes about doing it right I help them think about the outcomes of their decisions and I help them and reassure them that failing is part of learning.  I continually communicate to them that failing is an important part of learning in my classroom.  There are some students that get this quickly and some that don't.  The important thing is that the culture of my classroom revolves around the "freedom to fail".  If students ever feel rejected then we talk about that and what happened.

Some questions I ask my students to help with this are: what are you actually being graded on?...If you respond in a way that others don't agree with what's the worst that could happen?...why do you think that is?


4. Go With The Flow

I used to try and control how my students learned.  The process they went through.  The activities they did.  I used to judge their natural responses to my teaching strategies in an unhealthy way.  This was because I wasn't "going with the flow".

I now plan on acting spontaneous and intuitive when teaching.  I know that I've always been a thoughtful, creative teacher but it didn't show until I accepted that problems, unexpected events and uncommon situations WILL arise on the daily. 

I've started experimenting with things like "wait time", the vocabulary I use, body language and tone of voice during my teaching to help with this.  

You can't learn this one except by doing it though.  This is also just letting go of things you can't control and using those uncontrollable events to your advantage as a teacher.


5. Do Less

The only way I can do any of the previous four is because I do less.  This means I assigned less work, spend less (and almost no) time on tests and quizzed think more about each project.

Some benefits of doing less for me has been that I've observed students going deeper in their work and the students who used to "slip through the cracks" are much more easily identified because I'm able to go through the process with them and observe, experience and facilitate the environment according to what they need not what I need from them.  I am basically able to actually think on a deeper level about each individual aspect of my classroom.  

More importantly,  when I do less I'm happier and when I go home to my family I don't feel like I've just been run through a gauntlet.   


This is my opinion and I challenge you to create your "way" to be happier and more effective.  I feel like whether you're a teacher, artist, business person or manager then one or more of these ideals could be shaped to help you enjoy your job more and make you more effective.  



3 Things My Family Taught Me About Growing a Garden & Creativity

I was sweeping my floor in my kitchen while my wife was cooking brunch a while back. I thought about my son growing his own kale garden outside and then picking some to bring in for brunch. I was thinking about creativity. I asked them what they thought that growing a garden did for humans and how it made us better? More creative?

Here's what they said and it blew my mind:

1. It Teaches Us Patience and Perseverance

There are few things in the world that take weeks or months to produce that we will literally consume in a 15 minute sitting.  I'm sure people could argue that.

Although, think about the fact that you simply put a dead seed into the ground, water it and then stare at it day after day after day (me and my kids like to pet our plants and talk to them too).  Now think about how (depending on how big your garden is) you could easily go out there and pick maybe a bowl full of vegetables for one meal.  At least for me, that requires a level of value, respect and patience that most of the world does not have.   

2. It Teaches Us About Care and Ultimately Self-Care

There is so much to consider when growing something.  A plant.  Another human. A project. A business.  We all probably have at least one of these things that we are so passionate about that we would actually say, "I will sacrifice..." for it.  

How many of us ever consider that we need this.  That growing, sacrificing something actually feeds our soul or spirit or whatever that is inside of us.   

3. It Teaches Us Flexibility and That Perfection Is Not the End-All. 

It's easy to focus on the fact that half of my garden is actually dead right now.  It's a challenge to accept that that is a portal for discovery and that over time I will learn more about the art of gardening.  Perfectionism is something that plagues us all.  All the time. Especially here in the west.  

As a "process guy" I like to notice the small gems inside of "making stuff" and if you follow me then you realize that.  But it's really true in this case.  I could easily go to the store (and I do) and buy and carton of kale to eat.  It's not about that. It's about teaching my kids these lessons.  It's about connecting these skills to art.  It's about realizing that making something is important. 

I challenge you to notice the instances in your life where there might be lessons to learn.  You can feel if there is.  If you can't feel it then just ask someone else what they have learned and then teach other people about it like I'm doing right here.






3 Tips on Moving Forward with Your Creative Ideas

I just got done “scoping”. That’s what the folks on the new social network “Periscope” call broadcasting live.

I asked my followers what I should blog about today for #motivationmonday (I wonder if that will help more people to read my post).

Let me back up. I actually don’t have any followers yet…that’s where you come in (que to “follow” me). Their ideas (when I say “their” I actually mean the one person that suggested the idea. Find him at were writing a blog post on “simplicity” and “where to begin in the creative process”.

I figured the first idea was too simple.


Involve Other People

If you follow me then you know that I value letting others in to my creative process. Heck I even got the idea for this blog post from another person.

You might want to snapchat, periscope, tweet, FB, IG (here’s mine from this morning) your ideas or lack of ideas. You’d be surprised by how your family, friends and social acquaintances want to help you in your creative endeavors.

Don’t be scared to ask for what you want and to say that “I need help”.


Get Down Your Ideas

Journal, write, sketch out, record your ideas. Everyday.

You don’t have to just write your thoughts out anymore. Grab your phone and create a note, recording or both. Get a manly journal or girly journal (so you actually want to write in it) and in a non-judgemental fashion, put down your ideas. Don’t think about. Just do it.

Do this for 7 minutes everyday and see how much more clarity you have as you move forward in your projects.


Be Vulnerable

Brené Brown.

Nuff said.