Lifestyle design… the first two steps

Someday I’m going to make a visual graphic that depicts my life. Where my time goes, where my income comes from. Where I want to be, where I’ve been. This the analytical side of me yelling out. I’ve been blessed with drive and ability to end up in a decent position. My freelance business has been growing for nearly a decade, my job-job has never been better and my lovely bride is at the job where she wanted to be for years.

I’ve heard the term lifestyle design thrown around in podcasts and it sounds like the gist is this. Design the lifestyle you want to live first. Then find the work that fits that lifestyle and live happily ever after entering the Zen mentality forever. This sounds like pie in the sky to me, however, in the position I have worked so hard to get into… maybe some life design is in my cards.

Why I retired from second shooting.

Nothing is more valuable to a wedding photographer than the experience of second shooting. Personally I did it for years, not because I was unsure of my ability to be the lead photographer, but because I knew of the post processing time I would feel necessary to put in. As a perfectionist, I can’t let photos go to client that ‘could be more’ even if it’s a photo the couple will just flip by in their album.  Second shooting was a way to really get creative, enhance my experience, learn something new every wedding and at the end of the day I made a decent check, handed over the raw files to the lead photographer and was finished!

Then the blessing of twins came along for my wife and me. In no time they started sleeping through the night! Going to bed at 6pm no less. Working my 8-4 job that meant during the week I was seeing my kids only about two, two and a half hours a weekday. Then when the weekend would come, Nick would be off to shoot a wedding. There goes virtually half of the time with my children. While the money was good, I can’t buy time.

By dropping 12-16 second shooting gigs a year, the income can be replaced by 3-4 bookings as the lead photographer (or videography). So if income is a push then the result is 9-12 Saturdays free up. Yes, this should add a few weeks’ worth of post-production, but as I said, the kiddos go to bed at 6pm and my wife a couple hours later.

This went into effect six months ago and it has been fantastic. I spent some time focusing on getting new clients and have exceeded the bookings to replace the income.

Why I am blacking out Memorial Day starting THIS year.

If the first sacrifice was for my children, this sacrifice is for my bride. When we were dating I made a promise to show her the world. For our honeymoon we went to Australia, New Zealand and stayed in San Francisco for a few day while on the way home. Anniversaries were spent in Europe, New York, Colorado and the list continues.

Just like a high percentage of Americans, our anniversary falls on Memorial Day weekend. May and June are by far my busiest months, literally a third to half of my business income falls in those sixty days. So it goes without saying those days are precious to my business. And one weekend is even more precious to my marriage. Therefore, unless the gig is a $5,000+ budget, I am closed on Memorial Day… indefinitely.

Pawn’s Move

Doing a bit of promotion for a movie I worked on called Pawn’s Move. This is a film by Caleb Vetter and he asked early on if I would be willing to help in any way. My role was the Unit Production Manager with focus primarily in preproduction. Basically a logistics guy I helped plan for what could and what could not reasonably be done. Helped with shooting schedule and big picture courses of action. It was a pleasure to work with such a great crew and wish them the best of luck!

The movie is now available at Wal-Mart!

Camcord Recommendations

“Nick, can you recommend a video camera or camcorder? Thanks!”
– Get this question a lot so I figured I’d whip up a blog post about it.

All in one solution. Price ~$515

If I were in the market for a consumer level camera, I’d probably choose the Sony HDRPJ260V High Definition. For the price it has some pretty slick features. The reviews on Amazon are very informative so I won’t double efforts there. Considering picking up one for myself! *also because its so dirt cheap: SanDisk Extreme 32GB Card

Movin’ on up solution. Price ~$1,220

The Canon VIXIA HF G10 Full HD Camcorder with HD CMOS Pro and 32GB Internal Flash Memory. If I am reading this correctly you can expand the memory even though it says 32GB Flash Memory internal (like a HDD). If you can expand it, this looks like a nice piece of hardware, mainly because of the large sensor size 1/3inch is big for a consumer camera (most are 1/6th).

The artist solution. DSLRs price $700 – 3,500

Huge range here because there are so many options that do different things. Then mix in lenses and it gets crazy. Important things to note; Audio will be garbage, lens quality is MUCH more important than having the latest camera body and will actually hold value (so put the money there), it is not super user friendly like the above options will be.

The PRO solution. Sony PMW-EX1R Professional Camcorder~$7,000

This has been my work horse for years. LOVE this machine. There are many pro cameras out there, but I have extensive experience with this one and have been very pleased.

The indie film maker ~$15,000-20,000

Scarlet. Period.

2012 Sobriety Rocks entry!

The contest put on by KDOT and is the 2012 Sobriety Rocks scholarship. The City of Leavenworth Youth Advisory Commission asked if I would help them in a contest put on by KDOT. It is the 2012 Sobriety Rocks scholarship contest and we entered a video! The students came up with an idea, brought together all the talent. They worked with the city to get an ambulance, police officer and permission! After that, I helped make their vision a reality! Good luck Leavenworth!


I much prefer listening to podcasts over music over the past handful of years. I’m always searching for input on good podcasts out there. Below are my current favs!


  • TWiT Photo
  • TWiP – This week in photo
  • Pro Photo Show


  • Film Riot
  • Creative Cow (Adobe After Effects Tutorials / Photoshop )


  • TEDTalks (GREAT podcasts. Video/Business/Education)
  • Frame Rate
  • Stuff to make you smarter
  • Diggnation (so sad, no longer)
  • Rooster Teeth
  • The Totally Rad Show


  • TWiT – This Week in Tech
  • Tekzilla

Upgrading gear: from Mark II to the 5D Mark III

Canon is taking preorders for the new EOS camera, the long awaited Mark III…
and I am in line.

I’ve been waiting for the Mark III for nearly a year and will say the specs and price leave me a bit disappointed. So why upgrade when I love my Mark II?

Being a videographer and photographer there are a few cameras that have come out in the past 6 months. The 5D Mark III, 1Dx and the Scarlet were all on my radar. Convinced I was going to either purchase the Scarlet or the Mark III put me in a mental position for a large gear purchase.

The Scarlet would have been a massive upgrade over the EX1, but did not make the cut due to price point and no hot-swapping of cards. **I’ve worked with a Scarlet and it is every bit amazing as dreamed!

There are great specs on the Mark III but fell short on a few things I really wanted to see. No RAW video (the main attraction on the Scarlet). It has the same slow motion capability. No GPS built in.

The things I like are the larger LCD, anyone that has upgraded cameras that were not the same size knows how valuable a quarter of an inch is. Dual card slots are very attractive to me. 61-points of focus is great (note that is an increase of 52!!). Multiple exposures improved but I can’t find how many shots… I’m assuming it’s more than 3, hoping for 7! Silent shutter mode will be nice for weddings! Increased video run time from 12 minutes to 30 minutes, this is actually a pretty big deal to me.  And thank you for keeping the same batteries!

I approach upgrades VERY business minded. From the measurable specs (i.e. dual card slots, 3.2” screen,…) they are worth maybe $500 to me. Having a new camera body, for ME, is another $500ish. The cost is $3,500, minus the $1,000 in upgrades leaves me with a delta of $2,500 to justify. I will sell my 5D Mark II but there will still be a significant price gap to justify for my ‘business mind’!

Without experience with the DIGIC5+, new CMOS, and iFCL Metering I am making this decision… hopefully those three things blow me away!

So, why upgrade? Because I “want” to. Occasionally I need to check my ‘business’ mind at the door and open the “creative” hobbyist and that guy, passed on the 1Dx, passed on the Scarlet, and loves new gear and photography.

Now booking wedding dates! *smile*

LHS Football Opening Video

Client: USD 453 Project: Jumbotron Video

The Leavenworth School District hired me to produce a football video for the big screen at the new stadium. I attended the home games with my gear and captured some great highlight clips! Before the 2011 season got started, we filmed some staged shots (the black and white video at the beginning). For the final component, the coach and I met for the speech. Once all the footage was gathered, it was off to the editing room!