Become a travel photographer

The problem with ten year goals is that they are easy to make, set on the shelf and forget. The goal in my mind was to become a travel photographer. You remember these long term goals a couple years later and decide to take a couple steps closer to success. Then, back on the shelf it goes!

The next thing you know, you are making a blog post about your ten year goal and wonder, “When the heck did I start this goal?!”

Become a travel photographer is the goal.

I set the ten year time frame because I know how competitive that market is! Figure ten years to hone my craft should get me fairly close to consider myself a professional travel photographer.

Recently I came back from a trip to Iceland and trip was to focus purely on travel photography. At my company 29 Pixel Studios, we specialize in video production and also photography. To really focus on travel photography I didn’t even bring my video gear!

I have posted <here> on 29 Pixel Studios a little more info, but this is my personal website so I figure I’d share some personal insight here.

One challenge: “How am I to compete with Photographers that live within 10 miles of this location that can wait for the perfect day?!” Sitting at the most photographed place in Iceland I was disappointed because of the low flying clouds killing my composition.

The biggest challenge to become a travel photographer I foresee is, I have no CLEAR idea how to drive income!

A friend mentioned teaching on destination workshops. Which, I think is a great idea. I love teaching but not sure this will be my approach.

Stock photography is beyond saturated and while that option is not completely out, it’s an extreme form of passive income in every foreseeable future in travel photography.

The biggest goal is to eventually be good enough to just cover my travel expenses and break even. I put such a long timeline out there because I want this part of my life to be during / approaching retirement.

I’m open to suggestions on how to earn an income with travel photography so hit me up at

29 Pixel Studios goal; Become a travel photographer

Free freelancer tip from upcoming book! Things I wish I knew before becoming a videographer!

Tip #17 Second shooting for weddings. One of the best schooling. [growth]

This is from my upcoming book on Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Videographer! If you would like more info, free samples and release date please contact me right away!

This tip applies to photographers and videographers alike. So many people who start in both photography and videography  fields want to start by offering weddings. Everyone knows that these events pay well and there are always people looking for these services. This is pretty insane if you ask me.

A wedding is a once in a lifetime event (most of the time) and there are no “re-dos”.  As a wedding service provider, you must be prepared and experienced for any situation that might creep up. From churches that are lit like the dungeon of a castle to having to shoot in the rain, wedding shooters need to have the experience and knowledge to handle whatever happens!

29 Pixel Studios Weddign Cinematography / Videography Kansas City KS MO

Instead of jumping in with both feet, I strongly recommend to new shooters to second shoot for established professionals. Communicate that you are looking to build experience and possibly a portfolio. Tell them up front that you would like to use the footage you shoot to start your business in a year or so. This is important. If the primary shooter is not aware of this and then see’s their client’s footage on your site, that can create a messy situation. However, some are cool with it.

Instead of jumping in with both feet, I strongly recommend to new shooters to look for opportunities to second shoot for established professionals. Build a relationship with an established photographer in your community and communicate that you are looking to gain experience and build a portfolio.  Offer to work for free or a discounted rate in exchange for their mentorship and sharing their knowledge. This will be invaluable for you and your career moving forward.

Explain upfront that you would like to use the footage you shoot to start your business, when you feel ready (in a year or so). This is important. If the primary shooter is not aware of this and then sees their client’s footage on your site, it can create a messy situation (as well as open you up to copyright infringement and issues with model releases). However, with pre-shooting awareness, you can most likely work out an arrangement that benefits both of you.

Every videographer is different, some might release the rights for you to use the footage for a lower contract shooting rate. Some may have contracts that state all footage can only be used by the primary shooter. Communicate with the lead and respect the agreement. After all you will soon be establishing these agreements with your crew and a good relationship with a mentor is an invaluable resource. Most likely, the primary shooter is further along their personal journey to mastery, the time spent on with him/her is invaluable. If you get yourself paired up with an established professional, just watching them work for a few months can rival multiple semesters of film school.

29 Pixel Studios Wedding Photography / Photographer Kansas City, KS, MO, LeavenworthSame for photographers – in addition to having your primary shooter’s permission to share your images, you will also need your client’s. Make sure this is discussed and included in the photographer’s contract. There is nothing worse than feeling like you have captured an amazing image to grow your portfolio and then find out that you can’t use it via a “Cease and Desist” order from the photographer’s client. A wedding day is crazy, and an experienced photographer will know what to expect as far as capturing the little moments that brides love. It’s so much more involved than taking bridal and groom’s portraits – and if your only wedding experience is as a bride/groom or a guest, you have no idea what you will be getting yourself into. A wedding photographer can easily be expected to double as a wedding planner, coordinator and therapist, all while capturing first class images in any given lighting situation. If you aren’t ready to play all of those roles, then you need more time as a second shooter.

I second shot as a photographer for three years. Honestly, I don’t recommend taking that long, but for me, it worked. I had a job that was very comfortable and wanted to get my skills really locked down before being in charge of capturing someone’s wedding day. I understood 100% that there were no options for a re-shoot.

In addition to learning from someone further along in the journey you will get to see how to handle challenging situations. “Act like you’ve been there before.” A popular thing for coaches to say to celebrating athletes. Being there before means, calm down to the excitement and get back to work.

Real World Examples:


  • You are shooting a wedding. You have a few minutes to get the beautiful ring shot. You opt to take the ring outside and place it on a pile of leaves. You line up the shot and then… a gust of wind blows the leaf along with the rings into a pile of unknown mystery.
  • You are a second shooter for a wedding and the main shooter frantically comes out of the church and says, “I just dropped my camera and broke my main lens. I only have one other.”
  • Your teammate is shooting the ladies so you handle the guys. You compose the shot with the man of the hour and the groom looks at you and says, “No.” This by the way happens at the very beginning of your time with him and the groomsmen.

These are just three of the many situations I’ve experienced first hand. These types of situations can be terrifying and, if you’re inexperienced, they WILL throw you off your game. Being exposed to similar situations as a second shooter will have taught you how to handle them with grace and experience. Because if you are thrown off your game and you can’t recover, you leave yourself open to not delivering what the client expects, poor reviews and word of mouth, and before your business is off the ground, you are dead in the water.

Take Away: Find a mentor…or at least someone experienced that will let you work for them as a second shooter so that you know what you’re doing before you promise your clients the world and can’t deliver!

Again, this is from my upcoming book on things I wish I knew before becoming a videographer! If you would like more info, free samples and release date please contact me right away!

Big thanks to professional photographer Lindsey Slattery! for helping edit and contributing some extra tid bits!

Read more as a new years resolution

Read more as a new years resolution should be more common than most. So much awesomeness in books. I seldom read for ‘entertainment’ because I get so much joy out of business books and self-help books.

Recently I recorded a podcast on Business Tips for Creatives about my top book picks from 2016. Mostly business related but I hope you enjoy! 

Small business owner list for the next day

I’m curious, how many people make a to-do list the night before. I did last night. So far, success. This is day one. Let’s see how many days this lasts!

Just like every small business owner out there, I have a thousand things happening all at once. Hiring an employee didn’t really make things less busy either. In fact, I’ve never worked harder. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily, just more drive to succeed.

The messy part is, so many of these things are small. Post on 29 Pixel Studios. Record a new business tips podcast for Business Tips for Creatives. Don’t forget!

Mix those with the ‘big ideas’ that I want to accomplish and you have a mess. Well, last night, I went ahead and took a yellow notepad and not only made a list, but dedicated parts of the day to each section. Yup, made an old fashion schedule!

On my schedule:

  • 8:00-9:30 product photography for a client
  • 9:30-10:00 recap meeting and email to potential client that I met with yesterday
  • 29 Pixel Studios adds a Ronin-M to the mix!10:00-11:30 finally open up my Ronin-M… which, I then had to RMA back to BH… because.. well, bought it used (((TIP ON BUYING USED)))
  • 11:30-12:30 Lunch
  • 12:30-1:00 Podcast work (which got skipped because of planning for a trip to the NAB Show… I blame YOU Sean! Buuuut, ended up finding a cheaper flight by $200, so. THANKS SEAN!)
  • 1:00-2:00 Post to all three of my sites, doing that now, but honestly, probably going to miss one.
  • 2:00-4:00 Work on a MASSIVE spreadsheet for a big ol gig opportunity.

So, guess I better get back to it! … or… pick out a hotel room in Vegas! Sean!!!!!


Videography in Kansas City with 29 Pixel Studios

videography in Kansas City and photographyWhen you do what you love, you never work a day in your life. Not cliché, it’s real. Here is a picture of me at a gig where the client is known by three letters. N.F.L. Yeah, my company 29 Pixel Studios was hired to do some videography in Kansas City for the Fuel Up to Play 60 event for the second year in a row!

Check out the article tomorrow here: 29 Pixel Studios!


One of my big projects for 2017 is going to be redoing my office. Since, you know, well I spend a lot of time there. However, as a freelance photographer and videographer in Kansas City, you get some pretty cool offices. This day, here is the view from my office.videography in kansas city

img_20160513_094755Shout out to CAME-TV and their fantastic light panels. Here is one of the two I brought with me. If you are looking for an affordable and professional solution. These have been in my arsenal for about a year now and I highly recommend them!!


Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney by Lee Cockerell.

This book is for any leader out there.

On my second family trip to Orlando we skipped Disney parks, having done the experience a year earlier we aimed at other attractions. That being said, we still swung by Disney Springs (formally Downtown Disney) for an evening. Every single level of staff working, all the way down to the kind gentleman sweeping the walkways were professional, polite, and maintaining the magic that is Disney.

How. How is it possible that EVERY SINGLE employee that we encountered *including the previous year when we stayed at a Disney resort* were so pleasant. I would love to take a guess at how many staff (cast-members) we encountered, and not a skipped beat.

This book lends some insight on the culture of Disney, and it’s not impossible tricks that only work in a multi-billion dollar organization. I plan on using some of this wisdom in my family life.

A lot of leadership books talk about “getting the right people on, and the wrong people off the bus” or ‘hire slow but fire fast.’ If you work for a governmental organization this is nearly impossible, sometimes taking years. In Creating Magic, the strategies apply even to the careers where letting people go is extremely difficult.

I’m not a fan of the podcast by Lee, and am very glad I read the book first and would like to read a book about the dark side of working at Disney (I’m sure one exists) but personally, *I* didn’t experience it.

This book describes how they created the most magical place on Earth.



Sketching Light: An Illustrated Tour of the Possibilities of Flash – Book review

Upon finishing Sketching Light An Illustrated Tour of the Possibilities of Flash by Joe McNally I felt a range of reactions… rejuvenated, fascinated, curious, and excited.
This is a light book but not a lite read (rim shot). Joe McNally is very wordy but not in an off-topic sort of way, in a ‘sit around the campfire’ sort of way. Many of the books I have recently read have been very point A to point B and then includes a short blurb on theory.

Joe takes you on the photography shoot with him. You will hear why he chose this light package over the other options, where he or the situations might have gone wrong and how he adjusted. There are fantastic doodles/sketches with enough detail to satisfy the tech-minded crowds as well. “What settings are you using?” “What kind of flash is that?” Gets asked of photographers ALL THE TIME. As if those are the magic numbers which make you an artist. That’s only a small piece of the puzzle, however, it is a piece. And these sketches are fantastic.

If you have one strobe or a fleet, this book will work for you.

Even if you are looking for a quick 2-4 page how-to this book can satisfy your needs. Personally it took me a LONG time to get through Sketching Light and flipping through it again now that I’m done… I kind of want to read it all again! Seriously, regarding flash, this is a must have.

The most important emotion I fill now, is excitement. I always strive to have my next project my best. Now, I can’t wait to push my use of flash even further. Thank you for the masterpiece Joe.

Side note: I’m a Canon shooter, Joe is Nikon. This book will still apply 🙂

If you are looking for a photographer, please feel free to contact me today!

You can skip the Power of Habit

Book review for: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
If you generally have good habits and understand that habits can indeed change (be reprogrammed) you can skip this book. The first couple chapters are decent and the appendix is really good but there is a TON of fluff here, in my humble opinion. A large portion of the book is used to discuss how Target predicts who is shopping for what. Got it. So there are buying habits when a lady becomes pregnant. Nothing revolutionary here.

If you are struggling with habits it’s not going to tell you how to break them other than replace the reward. Example: drink too much? Your reward is feeling good, well… try a bell-pepper. Play too many video games, try a bell-pepper. A lot of stories about people relearning habits in situations where doctors thought impossible.

I’m certainly in the minority, given that I’ve heard a ton about this book and it’s fantastic Amazon rating.

Sorry 2 stars.

Business Practices

Every new year one of my business practices is to improve my accounting system. For reference I’m the only full time employee in my business. This spreadsheet is exactly what I’ll use in 2016 and thought I’d strip out my personal finances and share. The numbers included are just placeholder text. Get your copy to modify here: business practices income expense recording

I will highlight the rows once the money has exchanged hands. For me, the expenses stay on top and I highlight the row (A-E columns) and change them to blue once paid. For clients and income (A-E columns) I highlight gray once they have been fully collected.

You might not need this much info; you might need more. Once your business practices become habit your year-end freelance finances will be much easier than they were last week *wink*.

Also note a busy month FOR ME might include 10-15 invoices. That being said, if you have more, maybe check out FreshBooks or intuit. For me, these business practices have worked fantastically. My accountant likes to fluff my ego and tells me I’m one of the most organized clients he has.

Again this is the business practice of my company 29 Pixel Studios.

How big of a Star Wars Fan are you?


My wife asked on a scale from 1-100… how big of a Star Wars fan I was.
This bothered me a ton. How do you measure a fan? So I created this quiz.

Score of 1 point would represent “Saw the movies, and they were ok”
A 90-100 I would probably see a psychologist. 

How big of a Star Wars fan are you?

TO TAKE THIS QUIZ… you MUST have watched all six movies and at least said, “Those were pretty good.”