This is a picture of some of the folks that took part in my photowalk in Birmingham, Alabama.

I had not been back to Birmingham since I left to come work for Scott and the gang 16 months ago. Looking at this picture I am reminded of something important… and it was brought about by seeing my good friend Jeff over on the far left of this picture. He reminded me of some important dates.

March 24, 2009;   April 16, 2010;   February 22, 2011;   &   May 6, 2011


Do these dates mean anything to you?  Probably not… how about if I help out a little bit by showing you pages from Scott’s blog

and then there is this…

to be followed by this…

and finally…

“Ok, so you are showing us a progression of your getting to know Scott until you were hired as a Photoshop guy… So what?”

Well my inspirational tidbit for you today is to talk about how knowing all the technical aspects of photography and Photoshop are great…but some of our greatest assets are the relationships we have with those around us. That is why events like the Photowalk this past weekend are so good. Let me walk this out a bit for you… sorry about the pun. :D

Here is the first photowalk I took part in… my buddy Jeff Rease was the leader. I am being my usual coy self in the back. :D

Jeff and I had gotten to know each other through another photo-meet up opportunity. Because of my growing friendship with him, I was able to meet up with him and Scott the first time Scott came to shoot the Indy races. See March 24, 2009 blog. Notice who took the photo? 

Ok this photo really has nothing to do with the story, but I thought you would be inspired by my awesome modeling technique during that first walk with Jeff… all I need now is a flower, a stump and maybe an HDR Cat. :D (photo by Shane Bates)

So then the next year when Scott is coming down to shoot the races again, Jeff is not able to escort him around like the year before and who does he get to help out… yep… Pete “The Juice” Collins. (The nickname involves a long story which ends with me stealing the track photographers golf cart and killing some shrubbery all in an effort to get Scott and Dave Moser to their plane on time, but that is for another day.) Notice the April 16th, 2010 blog post… I have now made it into the photo… and I look good in that hat by the way!

So here comes the Inspiration:  Because I decided to go to some random photo event I met Jeff… and over the years we connected and shared experiences and helped each other out… until one day my knowing him brought me into Scott Kelby’s world… and not just once, but multiple times over a couple of years, which gave me a good foot in the door when it came time for Scott to look for someone to add to his team. Did I plan all that in the beginning? Was I that mercenary in my getting to know Jeff… thinking that one day he could be my ticket to new opportunities? No… but here is the pivotal point… if I hadn’t decided that I should get to know others who shared my passion in my area, I would have stayed isolated and missed out on something bigger. We are so prone to not venture out into new arenas of relationships… or we think that if we just work on getting a new flash or change F stops, that will be the key to making it. We will all to often sacrifice relationship building for the easier step of supposedly “bettering our craft,” but truthfully we may be hurting our craft by not networking with others in our same area of work or passion. Creatives can often fall into the trap of seeming stand-offish and not needing anyone… when the truth is that we need each other. I am not your competition… you are not my enemy… we are each others support and lifeline… and if we can come to grips with that and change our views of the people that are in the same business/realm with us… new doors may open up that we never dreamed of.

It was at a meeting like this one pictured below that I met Jeff Rease and because of our meeting I was able to meet Scott and the rest is history. When you are in a situation like this are you looking at the folks around the table as potential friends that can encourage and support you in the future, or are you seeing them as weirdos that you have to endure until you can escape back into the comfort of your own world. The difference in mindset is huge, and who knows… maybe one of those folks around that table will be the key to the next big step in your life.

My goal is not to get into the mindset of… “how can I met the most people so that I can use them to further my dreams/career?” Rather, I want you to see that you have such incredible resources surrounding you in the people that you come into contact with daily, and don’t fall into the easy trap of taking them for granted. It is so easy to think that it is you against the world… when the truth is… it is us against the world. We have so much to offer each other. I need you… you need me.

How many folks around the table might be the key to something big in each others lives? (Photo by Jerry Slaughter)

Are we thinking that way and valuing the folks we meet that way? I am sure sometimes Jeff still wants to kill me…:D But I am glad he hasn’t so far. Knowing him has literally changed my life. And now I get the pleasure of embarrassing him here in this post, as well as share a picture of him looking all camera chic standing in front of a graffiti wall. :D That is how I repay his kindness… yes, I have issues! I never said being my friend was easy.

Who would have thought that quiet guy in the back of my picture was a major influence in my life? Thanks so much Jeff! I wouldn’t be here without you.


So to wrap it up… How many folks are we possibly discounting or missing out on knowing because we are too busy focusing on our own technique or latest batch of gear?

It is relationships that makes what we do worthwhile… Let’s not forget that this life is more about people and less about stuff. Don’t forsake getting together with those that share your passion and your world… the benefits may surprise you.



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