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Sunday, March 7, 2010

"Mr. In-Between" (Part II) ~ Jay Stafford

Alright then! Where were we? Oh yeah..."Frugal" people asking an amateur photographer for his or her services. Do you, the good amateur, charge for those services or not? Please bear in mind that this is a opinion. This has mostly worked for me, but as the commercials say, your results may vary! Let's consider your time and costs. How much is your time worth? $20/hour? $50/hour? $100/hour? Your call on that. How about your costs and expenses? Gas ain't cheap and you'll have to travel. You'll need enough film or memory cards for several hundred photos. Plus you'll need new batteries for your cameras, flash or lights. Notice I said cameras, plural. ALWAYS carry a spare camera -even a point-and-shoot is better than nothing if your primary camera breaks down. You can't re-shoot a wedding! Do you do your own post-processing? Got chemicals and paper for your darkroom or paper and ink for your printer? Don't skimp on ink or paper - use only high quality. Believe me, it shows! Or, do you send your film or digital stuff to an outside lab for developing/processing/printing? If you do, you know that costs a bundle!
After you determine the value of your time, how much time will you spend shooting the gig (travel time not included)?
First: Weddings. I'm talkin' the full shebang here. Pre-wedding photos, days or weeks in advance of the ceremony. The bride and groom at a lovely site: beach, park, grassy field, mountain stream, etc. Estimate two hours for that. Before ceremony photos with the bride, groom and wedding party dressing (guys, you'll need a female assistant for this and gals, you'll need a guy), getting out of the limo, etc. Figure at least two hours for that. The ceremony itself. Some are long and some are short. Give yourself two hours. Post-ceremony where the bride, groom, wedding party and families pose for group shots. One hour for that. Then the reception: Four to six hours normally. That's a total of up to twelve hours (weddings are a LOT of work if they're done right!) Figure an equal amount of time, minimum, if you do your own post-processing.
Next: Parties, Birthdays, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, etc. Like a wedding reception, figure six hours. This is actually conservative. Some parties last all day and night...check with your "client" on how long the event is expected to last. Oh, and cool it on the booze - you're workin' here, not one of the partiers! Post-processing should take about the same amount of time.
Finally: Portraits-groups, individuals and/or pets. Here I'm going to assume you don't have your own studio and will shoot outdoors, in one location. Two hours minimum. You and your subjects will have to be flexible and patient. I've had to delay outdoor portrait sessions for up to two weeks. Mother Nature isn't always cooperative. In cases like that, and if time is pushing you, you might consider the portraits be done in the clients home among comfortable, familiar surroundings (no sunlight, so think about your lighting). Again, give post-production and equal amount of time, or maybe more if Grandma wants her wrinkles smoothed out or Junior has a big zit which needs touchup. Remember, these are portraits which may hang over the mantle in a beautiful frame. It's YOUR job to make the subject look as good as possible!
Lots of other events requiring photographers come to mind such as speeches, store openings, ribbon-cutting ceremonies, book signings (hear that, Tina?), etc. I think you get the idea of time and cost estimating and don't forget post-processing.
Now, the BIGGIE: Who do I charge and who gets a "gift"? Let's begin with total strangers, people you've never met who may have been referred to you by someone you know. CHARGE 'EM! The full boat - your time, expenses and per-print. Draw up a contract showing who, when, where and what you're going to provide. Get signatures and at least half the estimated money up-front! Since you don't have the total overhead of a pro, it'll be less than the price a pro would charge, but don't forget the customer will expect the same professional results!
How about mere acquaintances? Not a stranger, but not your best buddy either. Co-workers and neighbors-down-the-block types. CHARGE 'EM!! You may want to reduce your hourly value a tad, but maybe not. A total stranger may see your work and question why Fred got the same thing cheaper. Again, do the contract and up-front money thing.
Next, good friends and tight-knit neighbors. This is where it begins to get tricky. Contracts, up-front money and full charges may strain the relationship. Remember, these close friends and neighbors are NOW customers, and where money is involved you may find yourself losing a friend and getting the cold shoulder in the neighborhood (neighbors talk!). I suggest not charging full boat, but get your costs reimbursed and give 'em a break on the per-print prices. You may want to try BARTERING. You provide your skills, time and services and they provide something of equal value back to you build a deck, fix the plumbing, paint the that. It works and may even tighten the relationship!
Finally, there's the dreaded F-A-M-I-L-Y!!! We can choose our friends, but we can't choose our family! DON'T CHARGE!!! Not a penny! Believe me, you don't want the money-induced, strained family relationships. Not worth it! Besides, good luck getting money out of your brother-in-law! Know what I mean? Instead, wedding photos make a great and generous wedding gift! They'll love you for it! Portraits make a super Christmas, birthday and anniversary gifts. Bartering also works well with family members. Just as long as there's no money involved!
All that being said, you still have one more choice which will allow you to avoid all that work, hassle, strained relationships, non-payments and such..."Awww, gee Charlie, my camera's in the shop for repairs and won't be back 'til (whenever the event is)!" Your call...they approached you!
To wrap up, I want to thank Cy and Patty, Jessica, Dylan and Tony whose photos I took and which grace these two posts. And, I especially want to thank Tina for asking and allowing me to sit in for these past three blogs. I hope I haven't driven away any followers from ya! Now, get out there and make "Letters From Alcatraz" a best seller! Love ya girl!
Respectfully submitted,
Jay Stafford
Photos copyright 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mr. In-Between (Part I)

Howdy Folks!
Yep, it's me again...sitting in for the Blogger-In-Chief, Tina, who's nursing a bad case of writer's cramp from all the "Letters From Alcatraz" book signings. Ahhh...such sweet agony!
How many out there reading this are good amateur photographers? Not professionals, but just as talented? Ever been asked to photograph a wedding, party, portrait, etc. by a friend, neighbor or family member? Did you do it? More importantly, did you CHARGE for it?? During my 40+ years as an amateur shutterbug, that's a subject often debated by many other good, talented amateurs I've met. Some say "Yes! Always charge!" Others say "No! An amateur shouldn't charge!" Still others are caught somewhere in between. That's me...Mr. In-Between. I say it depends on who's asking for my services and the type of gig to be photographed. More on that later.
First off, why are they asking you, an amateur, rather than going to an established professional? We'd like to think it's because we're close friends, neighbors, coworkers or family and they trust us to do a good job because we're damn fine photographers. We'd like to think that, but we'd be...WRONG! They ask us because they're frugal (a politically correct term for CHEAP!) They've checked out the pro's, saw how expensive they are and, "Hey! You're a buddy! Right?" What they don't see or understand is WHY the pro's are expensive.
Let's compare an established, professional photographer with, say, a doctor. Doctors are expensive. Everybody knows that and expects it. They go to school for many years, serve more years as interns, have hugely expensive equipment and, unless they're working for an HMO, have medical assistants and office staff and the expense of buying, renting or leasing a suite of offices. A good thing for most patients is that medical insurance helps lower the out-of-pocket expense. You need a doctor? You go to a doctor. You don't go to Uncle Charlie who's only medical experience is puttin' on a Band-Aid and pickin' up his meds at Walgreens!
So why are pro photographers so expensive? Well, the last time I checked, Blue Cross and Medicare don't cover photography (x-rays, yes, but not weddings!). And, to a lesser extent, the pro photographer has studied, practiced and honed his/her skills for many years. Most have been assistants or interns, if you will, to established pro's. They also have hugely expensive equipment, an office/studio and pay a staff of assistants and outside processors to get the job done. Today, set up and maintenance of a web site is mandatory. Like the doctor, the pro photographer has to constantly keep up with the latest in equipment, techniques and trends. Both the doctor and the pro photographer are MAKING A LIVING at their careers and the cost of doing business ain't cheap!
Now that we understand just a little about why pro's are expensive we can understand why our "Buddies" and family turn to us. They know we have some camera equipment, have probably seen some of our work and, "Hey! Uncle Charlie (or Aunt Betty) will do it for little money...or FREE! He doesn't have all the expenses the pro's do!" What they don't say is that they've seen the work of the professionals and will expect the same quality from you!
Now, back to the original question: Do you, as a good, talented amateur photographer, charge your friends, neighbors, coworkers and family for your services? Well, I've done weddings, parties, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, family portraits, individual portraits...all that stuff (some are shown here). I've done it for family, close friends, mere acquaintances, neighbors, complete strangers. Do I charge? Well, it's only my opinion and practice, depends. What opinion??? Depends on what??? Tune in for part II and I'll tell ya!
Respectfully submitted,
Jay Stafford
Photo's copyright 2010

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Guest Blogger ~ Jay Stafford

I am so happy to have Jay Stafford contributing to the Eastcreek Photography Blog! Jay is an incredibly talented photographer and someone that I not only consider one of my best friends, but he's someone that I truly admire! He's always there to support me in everything that I do (or attempt to do) and he knows when to just give me a swift kick in the butt!
Many Thanks Jay!
I love ya!

Howdy Folks!
Tina asked me to help her out with her blog while she's busy doing cartwheels over the initial success of her recently published, first book "Letters From Alcatraz". Glad to do it Tina...YOU GO GIRL!!!
First off, I'm a shutterbug with 40+ years' passion for photography. In fact, that's how I got to know Tina. We met on websites like Classmates and Facebook, started discussing photography and oooh'ing and aah'ing each other's photo's. Although I've done some paying gigs like weddings, events and portraits and had some stuff in a couple of books and newspapers, I'm not a professional...just a guy with a camera having a lotta fun!
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." I'm sure you've all heard that and, if you look up the definition of "Subjective", you will see it's an adjective meaning an opinion, not impartial or literal, but personal. Those two things really hit home with me at a recent meeting of my photo club. At each meeting several of the members submit slides or digital photos to be critiqued by professional photographers, gallery owners and managers and college-level photography professors. Those folks really know their stuff and can teach amateurs a great deal about what makes a great photograph and the techniques required to take it. The thing is, no two critiquers agree! One meeting we'll have someone who loves to crop the shot in real tight on the subject. The next meeting we'll have a guy who wants lots of "breathing space" around a subject. I'd love to get them all together in one room and watch the fur fly!
At our last meeting the theme was "Sunsets." Great! I just happened to have some sunset photos I'm really proud of and which got lots of oooh's and aah's from close friends, Facebook friends and fellow club members. I'm including three of them here. Okay, here I am in the meeting ready for the applause which, I was convinced, my masterpieces would receive. Well, apparently the critiquer didn't agree. He hated the shot of the Monterey Peninsula/Highway 1 at dusk. He said it was "too busy" and was actually three shots: the peninsula, the highway and the pond in the foreground. Okaaaay, well he'll love the next one of the seagull flying in front of the sunset! Uhhh...NOPE! He said the seagull looked like a stuffed bird hanging on a fishing line. The sunset's okay, but the surf and shore are ugly! Oh wow, I thought as I picked myself up off the floor and climbed back into my seat. Yep...climbed...'cuz by that time I was only one-inch tall! Fearful of how he was gonna trash my next offering, I peeked out between my fingers at the dog/sunset photo on the screen. "Well..." he says... "'s not something I would photograph, but...I like it!!!" I must have passed out for a brief moment 'cuz when I came to he was throwing another body jab with a comment that the dog looks like she's being electrocuted!
Bottom line...I really have learned a lot from critiquers ad I think my photography has improved greatly as a result. What I need to work on is not to take their harsh criticism of my "babies" personally. For you shutterbugs out happy and thankful for those who like your work and be gracious and learn from those who don't...even if ya wanna strangle the sumbitches! Know what I mean?
Respectfully submitted,
Jay Stafford
Photo's copyright 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Photo Contests -

Check it out Shutterbugs! Another contest to enter! Your photo may win $$$ or even get published!

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Letters" Winner Announced!

Congratulations to Crystal McVey! Crystal is the winner of a signed copy of "Letters From Alcatraz" set to be released within the next 7-10 days! Thanks to everyone that entered their email address into the drawing!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


This is the image of the children that FB removed from my photo album, because they felt it was inappropriate. The second image is what I see on my FB home page on a daily basis, and what has been posted on my wall more than 15 times. The second image is posted by FB members and they get these images through a FB app.
Is it just me or does anyone else find this confusing?

Facebook WARNING

"I haven't uploaded anything that could even be remotely considered to be offensive. Nor have I uploaded anything that involves nudity or attacks a group or individual.
However, I find it interesting that my home page is covered with people posting pics of nude women on a daily basis, and that's okay. I also find it interesting that groups are all over FB that have the 'F' word in their title.
I don't see how that corresponds with your policy. What about the children that use FB? They see this foul language on a constant basis, not to mention the nude photo's that people post from the app's that FB allows on their site.
I also find it interesting that I received this email just hours after I reported an individual that has been sending me explicit, disgusting messages. Yet, I see that he is still a member!
I enjoy your site and I would never post anything that might offend others. If I have, I apologize, and I would like to know (or see) what it is that I posted.
Thank you,
Tina Westbrook

From: Facebook
Sent: Sun, February 14, 2010 2:22:12 AM
Subject: Facebook Warning


You uploaded a photo that violates our Terms of Use, and this photo has been removed. Facebook does not allow photos that attack an individual or group, or that contain nudity, drug use, violence, or other violations of the Terms of Use. These policies are designed to ensure Facebook remains a safe, secure and trusted environment for all users, including the many children who use the site.

If you have any questions or concerns, you can visit our FAQ page at

The Facebook Team"

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Dinner's Ready ~

Every year, just a few weeks before Christmas, I attend an Arts & Crafts festival that's held way out in the country at Homestead Hollow. One of the highlights is the food! For those of you that know me, you know I like food! There's just something about a cool, crisp day, and the smell of a fire burning that makes me hungry! And, Homestead never fails to serve up a variety of homestyle dishes! Cooked outside over a fire, you will find huge pots filled with corn on the cob, butterbeans, pinto beans, and turnip greens. And, just a short stroll from this country feast is a place where you can get a fried pie! The chocolate are my favorite and if the truth be known, I actually make the two hour drive every year with the vision of those fried pies dancing in my head! Mmmm...Country living! Does it get any better?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Gerry Daniel ~

As the release date for Letters From Alcatraz draws closer I find myself excited and nervous all at the same time. On one hand time seems to be moving slowly and on the other hand it seems to be flying by! When I think that it was only a little more than a month ago that I signed with Trafford Publishing, yet the book is scheduled to be released in a few short weeks, I'm dumbfounded. I'm anxious to get the book out there, but then I realize that I'm putting a piece of myself out there!
This week I was able to move to the next stage of this process and visit the location where the release party will be held! We have chosen Wildflower Wax & Boutique as our party location! Although not the "traditional" place one would normally think to have a book release party, I feel this is the perfect location! Wildflower is a quaint, relaxing and warm environment that exudes charm. The shop is owned by Dave & Jennifer Rankin and they have the ability to do what very few business owners seem to have the capability of doing these days; they treat all that enter their shop as friends.
Gerry Daniel photographed the shop and it is his photo's that I am posting today. Gerry has signed on as my photographer for all events related to Letters From Alcatraz. He is an extremely talented photographer and has the ability to take a normally mundane object and turn it into something phenomenal! I would encourage all photography fans to check his work out! He has a new web site and you can find him at:

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Win A Signed Copy!

The excitement is in the air and I feel the need to share! I received an email today from my PSA (which included the revised book covers) and discovered that "Letters From Alcatraz" may be released earlier than anticipated! So, to celebrate this awesome news I'm going to give away a signed copy of the book! If you would like to enter the giveaway just leave your name and email address in the comment area under this post. The contest will run through February 14th. A name will randomly be drawn and I will email you for more information!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Understanding Exposure ~

Bryan Peterson has been a photographer for 30 years and has been teaching photography for 20 years. In his book Understanding Exposure he gives the reader a straight forward introduction to the art of getting the exposure right.
The book is filled with illustrations and the basics of aperture, lighting and shutter speed.
This is a must have for anyone interested in learning how to improve their shots! Right now the book is available at Amazon for the reduced price of $17.13 AND, if you don't mind a used copy you can get one for just $14.00

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Take a 2nd Look ~

I can't believe I'm about to say this, but I have realized that there is an upside to one's computer crashing. Back in August of 2009 I photographed the model that I'm featuring today and there were a few pictures that I considered "Throw Aways." In addition, there were photo's that I edited and thought to myself "Yep! That's a winner!" Then, my computer crashed and I lost nearly all of my edited work.
Last week I revisited that shoot and after kicking myself for not backing up my work I decided to take a second look at some of the photo's that I originally considered throw aways and I'm so happy I did! Today I am posting four of the original throw aways and I think they may be just as good as the photo's that I originally deemed winners!
Moral of the story: Everything deserves a 2nd look!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Photography is Art ~

Photography is Art; plain and simple. Take a moment and think about what I'm saying here. The photo that I'm posting today is of a world famous painting that was created by Picasso. You may love this piece or you may hate it. Regardless of how you feel about this painting doesn't diminish it's credibility. It's art!
Now, how do we compare this painting to photography? It's the exact same premise. It doesn't matter how any of us feel about a particular photograph, it's still art. Someone may love a photo while others may hate it.
There's a quote that we hear all too often, but few of us pay attention to: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As individuals, we all have our own likes and dislikes. No one individuals taste is superior to another. The worth of an object, be it a painting or a photograph, is determined by what an individual is willing to pay for it. It's that simple.
I have seen artwork that I personally wouldn't pay more than a dollar for, but I have seen other people pay thousands of dollars for the exact same piece. Art is personal. Whether a painting or a photograph, if that piece of art touches us in some way we will buy it!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

They Work Hard For The Money!

"Wedding photographers charge a lot of money! Why?" Oh... if I had a dime for every time I've been asked that question.
For all you photographers out there, you know why, but to the couple getting married, let me explain.
Shooting a wedding is a huge responsibility; you want to look good and your photographer wants you to look good! Your next door neighbor with a point and shoot camera just isn't going to produce the images that you will treasure for the rest of your life (or at least for the duration of your marriage). So, hiring a professional photographer is worth the price that you will pay!
Also remember that a professional photographer knows how to set the photo's up. A professional photographer will produce images that you never even thought of! Brides...I know most of you have planned your entire wedding since the age of two, but when it comes to capturing those special moments, most of you don't give much consideration to how that will be achieved.
Finally, a photographer will put it all together, edit your pics so you always remember just how beautiful that day was, and leave you with an album that captures every moment of your day!
So, in closing, a professional photographer earns every penny that he or she charges you. This is one area that you will not want to skimp on. Thoroughly check out any photographer that you plan to hire for your big day and if you have to cut corners then perhaps you can cut them elsewhere. Afterall, is it really that important that your dad's mechanic be at the reception?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Small Town ~

There's something to be said for a small town; A place where everyone says hello, whether they know you or not. Having been born and raised in Chicago, where it's not uncommon to never even know your neighbors name, I have realized that this small town living ain't so bad.
At first I didn't like it at all; it seemed that not only did all my neighbors know my name, but they also knew my business! For several years it drove me practically insane. And, it didn't matter where you went or who you met, they either knew something about you or they knew a friend of yours and more often than not they were related to them!
But, over the years I have come to the conclusion that this could be a good thing! For instance, if your car gets stolen...someones going to see it happen! And, they will be able to tell you WHO did it! That happened to me once! Also consider this... you never have to eat alone! It's pretty much guaranteed that if you go into a restaurant between the hours of 11am & 1pm by yourself there's going to be someone in there that knows you and will invite you to pull up a chair! Yes, there are many benefits to living in a small town, but I think what I like most about it is knowing that even in a room of strangers you're not going to be a stranger for long.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Photog's: WIN $5,000

Listen up fellow photog's!!!
Do you have that one amazing photograph that's just been sitting around inside your computer, and you know it's an award winning shot, but you never knew what to do with it? Well, today may be your day!!!
Enter to win the chance to get YOUR photograph on the front cover of a Frommer's book and $5,000.00!
You can enter as often as you want now thru March 31, 2010. So, if you've done a lot of traveling and have several award winning shots, enter, enter, enter!!! Go to
Good luck!!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

What I Didn't Know I Didn't Know ~

Okay, I'll be the first to admit that there are a LOT of things I don't know. For example, I don't know how to fix a computer. I don't know how to play the guitar. I don't even know how to change the oil in my car or fix a flat tire. There are plenty of things I don't know. But, today I realized that the extent of what I don't know far exceeds what I thought I DID know!

In my naivety I thought that if a person were to write a book, then the actual writing of the book would be the hard part. That makes sense to me...I mean, c'mon people! Wouldn't it be perfectly normal to assume that the actual writing of the book would be the hard part? Okay, well, getting published could be the hard part, but having that accomplished what else could there be to it?

What else could there be to it? Where should I begin?

Did you know that once your manuscript is in the hands of the publisher that they will have a list of more than twenty things they want you to do? I did NOT know this! They want a bio, they want an excerpt from the book, they want images (for your front and back cover, unless you want them to design it), they want a book overview, and they want you to provide information that they will use to promote your book. Now, here's the kicker... you just can't willy nilly throw something out there because the information that you give them will eventually end up in the readers view! So, it's essential that you do it right! The list of "wants" goes on and on, but I will not bore you with all of them. What I can tell you is that this book writing/editing/publishing thing is a lot harder than I thought it would be! I didn't know what I didn't know!

But...and this is a BIG but... we learn at a very early age that anything worth having is worth working hard for! This is nothing but a learning process. I have learned that the literary world functions a bit differently than the world inside my head! But, that's okay. I will live, learn, and hopefully remember all of this! That will make publishing my next book a hell of a lot easier! Ooops...Did I say next book???

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Freezing ~

Brrr... another day of temps below freezing and it's only gonna get colder! This seems to be the topic on every major news network and I certainly don't need a meteorologist to tell me it's cold out there! With the exception of the west coast, the entire nation is in a deep freeze. We're looking at single digits before the week is out and they're even predicting snow! The good thing is that means I can get some Winter shots for this months photo group challenge! I pretty much thought I was dead in the water when it came to this challenge; around here our winter scenery consists of dead grass, dead trees and gray skies, but perhaps I have been given a rare opportunity! So, for now I wait...

Monday, January 4, 2010


Yesterday Hoiyin Ip, a friend and fellow photog of mine wrote an article for Eastcreek Photography detailing life in California and today it's my turn to write an article for her blog.

Trading Spaces: Ala-Freakin'-Bama

Lets face it, Alabama gets a bad rap. Most people have an image of Alabama in their head and it seems to not be so good. I often wonder if we don't bring that on ourselves. Think about it...anytime someones being interviewed on TV it's always the redneck that's missing half his teeth. Yep, that's the guy they always interview when a tornado whips through our state. And, it never fails... he lives in a trailer park! But, believe me when I say, we have come a long way! We no longer have outhouses (Surprise! Indoor plumbing is now here!), we don't spend our weekends gathered around the moonshine still, and the good old boy mentality has been dead for years! Alabama, although we may still be a little behind when it comes to embracing new idea's, is now in the 21st Century! But, that doesn't mean we have changed our way of life completely.

Here in Ala-Freakin'-Bama college football rules! Whether you're born here or decide later in life to make 'Bama your home you must make the all-important must choose your colors! Orange & Blue makes you an Auburn Tiger fan, Crimson & White makes you an Alabama fan. We live, breathe, eat college football! And, this isn't just during football season. This rivalry is strong 365 days a year! And, Alabama & Auburn fans are the most loyal fans on the planet! Watch out Pasadena... Bama fans are on their way because the Tide faces off against the Texas Longhorns this week for the National Championship! You may get the rare opportunity to witness that loyalty first hand!

Life in Ala-Freakin'-Bama moves at a slower pace than in most parts of the country. There's rarely a rush to get anywhere and it's not unusual to strike up a conversation with someone that you have never met. Alabamians by nature are friendly! Or, put in a different way, are nosey! They like to know your business! But that's just part of their charm!

Once you strip away those that live in trailer parks you will find that most Alabamians enjoy wide open spaces! The goal is to build bigger homes and own as much property as possible! A 2000 sq. ft. home is now considered small, but the good news is unless you live on one of Alabama's beautiful lakes, or on the Gulf of Mexico, property is well below the National average. So, feel free to buy a few acres and build that 5000 sq. ft. home!

Now, I'll let y'all in on a little secret...when it comes to food Alabama knows how to keep it's citizens "healthy." We like everything deep fried (even Oreo's) and health conscious restaurants are basically unheard of! There's a barbecue joint on nearly every corner and sweet tea is the choice when you find yourself thirsty. Oh, I'm not talking about tea that's been sweetened; I'm talking about Southern Sweet Tea! Restaurants make it 5 gallons at a time. To every 5 gallons of tea they add 5 pounds of sugar! Pour it over a glass of ice and there you have it! Southerners favorite beverage! Imagine if you will sticking a straw into a syrup bottle! Yeah! Now you get the picture!

So, in closing I would have to admit that we here in Alabama are responsible for the bad rap that we get, but I hope you will remember this: Alabama is unique! Winding roads and the color green for as far as the eye can see is something everyone should experience. Our beaches are among the top in the country and the people of Alabama will always be there to lend a helping hand. Children here are still safe playing outside and catching fireflies on a hot, summer night still ranks number one!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Trading Spaces

It's not everyday that you see me post twice in a 24 hour period; actually, that never happens! But, today is different, because today is the beginning of a new segment you will see here on Eastcreek Photography. It's called Trading Spaces! Periodically, Hoiyin Ip a friend of mine from California, and fellow photog and I will "swap" blogs. She will give her point of view, and share with you some amazing photography, and I will be doing the same on her blog! So, sit back and enjoy a Californians point of view!

Trading Spaces: A Peek Into the OC Lala Land

Do you really believe what you see in the TV shows? Well, as much as I know I shouldn't, subconsciously it is rubbing in...I get an idea about a place I have not been to. If the shows didn't do it, it is the jokes. I hear those A-la-ba-mian jokes every so often. When I found out Tina lives in Alabama, I couldn't help think of a few. Sure enough, Tina fired back a few Californian jokes. Fair!
OK, let me give you a peek into the lala land - Orange County, California. Life here is half as glamorous as the TV shows, but three quarters as funny as Tina's Californian jokes.
First, be as jealous as you want about our all-year-long gorgeous weather. And, we take full advantage of it. To some, it means all year long tank tops so eye-catching boobs become a necessity, whether given by good genes or expensive surgeons. But, we tend to not judge people by that. It's just the look, not the heart. Hey, in some cultures, even wearing make-up is considered being artificial.
When I travel to other states I'm often asked about my ocean-front mansion. Sorry, I disappoint you. I don't have one. In fact, only the very lucky few live in ocean-front mansions as seen in TV. The second luckiest live in ocean-view shoe boxes. As you move from the coast to inland, the houses gradually get bigger, from 800 sq. ft and typically max at 3000 sq. ft. Yes, 3000 sq. ft. gets a wow here! But, to an extent, OC living is eco-friendly because small homes consume less energy. If you want to laugh at my glass-half-full attitude, hold on until you hear about our back yards. It is typically not bigger than the house. And the most sought after yard is a concrete yard! Very practical. A lot of time is saved from mowing the lawn and trimming the trees. Anything that can save us time at home is greatly appreciated because we need the time for the freeway.
When it comes to food, fried chicken and barbecued ribs-main stream American bores the Californian melting pot. We constantly seek variety. While vegetarian is increasingly popular, the trend is vegan and raw. And Asian food is a natural fit for this new crave. How does Vietnamese-fusion-vegan-raw sound? Restaurants like this typically have a line waiting by the front door. They serve "meat" made of tofu. And you really can be fooled by its look, texture and taste! You have to try it when you come to OC. It is tasty, healthy, eco-friendly, and budget friendly! Beat that!
Yes, there are many more Californian jokes. I'm not going to explain ourselves for each of them. But you got an idea what I would say if i went on and on. We work hard for a better life that hopefully matches the image that the rest of the country have in mind. And remember if we look crazy, there is a good reason (although we like crazy)!
Photo's courteous Hoiyin Ip

Warm Thoughts ~

It's 17 degrees and I'm wondering if I really live in the south? And, what happened to that Global Warming we were hearing so much about? The entire country seems to be in a deep freeze right now. I'm trying to just think warm thoughts, but every time Chi Chi decides he wants to go outside I have to brace myself for the cold wind that whips through when I open the door! And, we all know...once you get cold it's hard to warm back up! It would seem that we're in for a very long and very cold winter! It's been cold here since October and that's unheard of! Makes me wish I were back in Hawaii!
The photo that I'm posting today was shot in Oahu as the sun was beginning to set. We were driving around the entire island and as luck would have it, we made a stop to enjoy the view and a photographer was in the middle of a shoot. The model was posing and I started shooting! Yay for me!!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Blinders On ~

We've all heard the old saying, he/she must have blinders on, but don't we all walk around with blinders on? If we're honest with ourselves, there are some things that we just refuse to see. It may be something about our significant other, our job, ourselves, our lives; regardless of what it is, we all have something that we absolutely refuse to see. And, why is that? Is it because if we take a close look at those things that we pretend we don't notice we may have to make a change? Or is it because we, as humans, are too complacent? Could it possibly be that we're lazy? Is it easier to just go with the flow then make a change? Or, is it our own fears that keep us wearing those blinders? I mean, after all, if we decide to change the things that we've been blind to then where does that leave us? Most people hate change. They fear change. I've thought about this a lot and I have come to the conclusion that the majority of us fear change because change forces us to look at ourselves. And, if we see things we don't like and still don't make changes, then what does that say about us?!

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 ~

Happy New Year!
I'm not sure I can remember a year that so many people were happy to say goodbye to. 2009 seemed to bring a lot of unhappiness and stress to way too many people.
I think the majority of the unhappiness and stress was directly related to our economy. So many Americans found themselves unemployed and unable to even keep their homes. And, what's the number one contributor to divorce? Money! So, marriages ended, people lost their homes, lost their jobs and too many Americans found themselves unable to provide even the basic necessities.
I heard an economist saying that this should teach all of us a lesson; that we shouldn't count on what we have, but always prepare ourselves for the worse case scenario. Too many Americans live life as if it will never change. We spend our money counting on the fact that we will have a paycheck next week. It's a rare person that actually saves money and prepares for the worst. After listening to that I thought that perhaps we should look at 2009 as a gift. Maybe if we all recognize how easy it is to lose what we have then maybe, just maybe, we will spend 2010 protecting our future.
Best wishes to all for a happy, prosperous New Year!!!