300mm f/8.0 1/400s ISO2000
I've been busy lately, very busy, and that means I've been talking with people non-stop. Although I don't get paid to converse, conversation goes hand in hand with the greater majority of what I do. Although I love hearing what people have to say, some things just rub me the wrong way. One of the subjects people love to talk about is how corporate box-type stores are drowning small businesses.
Super-Cuts is putting barbers out of business, Home Depot is killing the small hardware stores, Wal-Mart is choking the life out of every "mom and pop" store in the country. The list goes on, and the complaints never stop.
Big, unfriendly stores like those mentioned above aren't actually putting anyone out of business. Every business draws life from the patrons, and it's the patrons that are putting small business in the morgue. That's right, you and me are responsible for the life and death of small business.
Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Super-Cuts, these are just buildings full of stuff who open their dores and wait. The stampede of people that flood these stores are responsible for the very things people often complain about. Sam Walton didn't buy up real estate and evict small businesses from their locations, he didn't kidnap your children and hold them for ransom asking you to close your store in exchange for their life. The sad truth is that we, as Americans, and perhaps as humans, would rather patronize an un-friendly one-stop-shop that offers mediocre products with generic options than a customer service oriented small business so long as we can feel like we're saving a few dollars or a little bit of our time.
Those people who complain about the "box-stores" often frequent them, and those few holdouts who boycot them do not offset the great majority of shoppers who are delighted to visit them.
The world is changing, and the change that can be felt universally is the economy. Not the value of the dollar, but how it is being spent.
Your money is infused with a power, that power is your patronage. Spending your money is just like voting. Don't blame Wal-Mart for "destroying small business", it's not a malignant corporation hell-bent on burying entrepreneurs, it's merely the popular vote among consumers. It's not their fault, it's ours.
No, succeeding with a small business isn't as easy as it used to be, but it's still possible. I prove that fact every day. I might not get the most "votes", but there are still people "voting for me".
The next time you go shopping, think about your dollars as votes, and consider who you're voting for when you're spending that money. THAT is Capitalism.
300mm f/5.6 1/400s ISO250
If you're like me, and spend most of your time working, then you might also be guilty of forgetting how big the world is. There was an eclipse a few days ago, and I totally missed out on photographing it. By the time I got out to make some images the moon was barely in front of the sun, so I ended up with a few awesome photos of what looks like a pac-man. It's easy to lose track of events, but it's a shame to miss out on an experience because of work.
So, instead of some awesome photos of an eclipse that only happens every so often, I am left with this image of a common weed. This weed is a bit different than others, though. This weed is often given to children as a talisman that grants wishes. I'm sure you were at some time given a dandelion and told to blow it's seeds into the wind while thinking a wish. Children are often taught little rituals and rhymes concerning wishing. Blow out the candles on your birthday cake, make a wish. See a star at night and recite 'Wish I may, wish I might, first star I see tonight...' Children are encouraged to wish at the strangest opportunities. It has always amazed me that adults aren't encouraged to wish much at all.
As an adult we are accosted with such phrases as 'Wishful thinking' and a host of other derogatory words when we make a wish. Is it any wonder that our wishes came true more when we were children?
The little poems and strange behaviors we are taught as children were something akin to magic, like spells by which we can attain our dreams. It seems silly when you think about it as an adult, but is it ever a bad idea to instill in anyone the habit of wishing? When we make a wish on our magical dandelions or when we see the first star on a fresh night sky or when we blow out the candles of our birthday cake we are telling ourselves what we want. Making a wish is having a dream, and a dream becomes a goal before it grows into an accomplishment. 'Wishful thinking' it may be, but no great feat happens without first being born as a wish.
I encourage you to remember the magic of your youth and make a wish today. Use a dandelion, a star, or whatever other method you remember from your childhood, and wish for something that you truly desire. If you keep your wish a secret, it just might come true.
300mm f/5.6 1/180s ISO100
Sometimes I like to break the rules, I think we all enjoy playing the rebel from time to time. Sometimes that rebellious act can yield positive results, and sometimes not, but if you don't give in to your inner rebel every once in a while you might find yourself depressed, frustrated, or angry.
Breaking the rules can feel thrilling, we never feel as alive as when we're doing something we shouldn't. Children know this, and revel in their sneaking, and we often let them get away with more than they should because we enjoy seeing it on their faces.
Of course, some rules are made with our best interest in mind. Most of these are called laws, and I suggest you follow the majority of them the majority of the time. I'm not talking about breaking the law, I mean break the rules. Take this image I made in my mothers front yard. It was an overcast day with a strong breeze, my camera was set at a slow shutter speed for my focal length and the aperture was not what most would consider right for shooting flowers and I was shooting hand-held. There are at least four 'rules' of photography that I broke to make this image, and I'm glad I did.
We all have rules that we follow at our jobs, or even in our hobbies and passions, that we follow without thinking about them, and it feels refreshing to hang the rules and just do what you want. Color outside the lines, try a new way of doing something you used to love but have grown bored with, give in to your creative urges by ignoring the rules and attacking your project with raw emotion, and never be afraid of how people will react. When you break away from the conventional, some will love it, some will hate it, and some will be indifferent. Do what makes you feel free, proud, strong, be glad for those that love it, and ignore those that hate it.
The greatest people throughout history have never been conventional, they all broke the rules and followed their inner voice.