Happy 1st Birthday, Shutter Force Photography

This February marks an exciting month for Shutter Force Photography. It’s our birthday! James and I started dabbling with the idea of starting a travel and adventure photography company back in 2013, but officially launched our website in February 2014.

www.shutterforcephotography.com

We can hardly believe a year’s gone by already. This first year has been all about developing our skills and style (as well as the constant work on confidence). We changed our weekend priorities, setting our alarm clocks pre-dawn to go chase the light around our home island of O’ahu. We plan our activities around sunsets and we have been exploring our backyard like never before. There’s few things more exciting than discovering new locations to shoot that are only a few minutes from your bed! (Hawai’i never ceases to deliver great subject matter! We are incredibly lucky to call it home.)

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A Year to Learn & Grow

James traveled to the Big Island in October to learn and shoot with landscape photography magnates Colby Brown and Jay and Varina Patel. While his talent as a landscape artist truly emerged after this workshop, what excites me most is his passion for the craft. He has really taken to post-processing, and he produces work that is very distinctly “James Brogan.” He’s really coming into his own as a photographer and it’s evident in everything from how he sets up to shoot something at a location, to his composition, to his post-processing and then finally, in how he shares it. Speaking of sharing, James has really hit his stride with marketing on Google+. For the first year on G+, sharing rather intermittently, James managed to accumulate just about 1 million views on his profile, and averaged approx. 50-75 likes per post. Then, in January, something magical happened. With one photo, his cool shot of the beach dunes on the Oregon coastline (see below), he managed to pull in over 2,500 “likes” and –get this- saw his profile count jump to FOUR MILLION in THREE DAYS.

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Needless to say, we were both freaking out. Since then, he has been stream-rolling along and, as of my earlier check today, his Google+ page has been viewed 14,049,528 times.

Wowzers.

It’s been a real delight to grow into photographers together over this past year. We love shooting together, although by now we’ve figured out that we can’t shoot the same subjects anymore. This means we go get coffee together before the sun comes up, we drive to a location together, and then we don’t see much of one another until after the dawn light is zapped and then we come back together to share LCD screens. James is totally a “big picture man.” Landscape shots, often the wider the better. I’m finding my favorite things to shoot are detail, or people, and most definitely animals. However, we do both have a similar obsession with shooting the milky way. We like to watch photography tutorials together. We share inspirational photos with one another daily.

On To 2015

This next year will be a new adventure for us, as we seek to turn our goals toward production, publication and paying gigs. We’re going to be stepping out of our comfort zones and putting ourselves out there like never before. Oh, and we’ll be doing a LOT more shooting. And traveling. Our next location lined up in Colorado in a few weeks for a totally awesome wedding, and we have our sights set on shooting in Norway and London later this year. We’ve still never been to Molokai or Lanai and the Napali coastline hike is still on the bucket list. So here’s to our second year at Shutter Force, and thanks for all the support for our first!

Thank You

Thank you to JeIMG_0345.JPGssica Neubert for her creation of our epic new logo that we are so excited about. She is such a natural talent, and knew exactly what we were looking for!

Thanks to SmugMug for hosting our site for the first year (and kicking off our second), as well as helping us celebrate our first birthday! Thanks for making our photos look gorgeous!IMG_0339.JPG

We also want to thank Pat Corlin Photography, Colby Brown & Jay and Varina Patel for all their inspiration and guidance. Love also to the Corlins, the Brogans and the Haughs for their support and putting up with us and our insatiable shooting.

I’ll be posting a gallery shortly here on Meagzpeditions of our 20 favorite shots from the firstear of Shutter Force. We hope you enjoy. Aloha!

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The 6 Most Uniquely Annoying Airplane Passengers & How to Survive Them

On a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, one of Kimmel’s guests took on role-playing the results of an Expedia poll describing the most annoying airplane passengers you might encounter when traveling. The guest actor was none other than the incomparable Sir Patrick Stewart and the sketch was very entertaining. Kimmel and Stewart shared the caustic characters of Chatty Charlie, Stinky Snacker, Seat Climber, Seat Kicker and Landing Clapper as the most annoying. This sketch got me thinking. If I were to compose my own list of annoying personalities, who would make the cut? This post features my breakdown of several special characters unfortunately encountered during my many hours spent airborne. I encourage you to check out the video here to watch Sir Patrick expertly nail the five listed above, and do read on for my particular brand of annoying passenger behavior.

Meagz’ Six Most Maddening

1. The Window Shade Blinder

We’re up in the air and I’m settling in at last for a little light airplane nap when suddenly “THWACK!” Your brutal handling of the window shade makes me visibly jump from the sound and now the inside of my eyelids are on fire. I’m forced to make my Tom Hanks face, searching for a plane from my deserted beach. It would be great if you would consider whether there might be a blinding ball of gas reflecting off the wing into your neighbor’s eyes before opening, as she is rather fond of keeping her corneas. And go slow. It is not an elastic retractable window shade and therefore should not sound like one. Thanks.

2. The Bad Parent

I’ll be forthcoming and honest, I do not have children of my own. I respect that airplane travel with said offspring could be one of the most challenging experiences for any parent. But there are some parents that are doing it right. They manage to keep their kiddos from kicking the seats in front of them, or tearing up and down the aisles, squawking loudly for attention. Basically, they pay attention. My last flight to Honolulu from Las Vegas featured a lone mother with two children who sat in the middle seat between them. Sporting her massive Beats headphones, she pretty much zoned out while they slammed armrests, worked the window shade incessantly, threw food, bounced the seats all around. Her answer to calming them down? Giving them candy and hand held video games with the sound on. She didn’t care about the sounds driving everyone else mad; she was lost in her freedom bubble, courtesy of Dr. Dre. I don’t expect kids to be the picture of good behavior, but I do expect some serious effort on the part of the parent(s). If I see you trying, you’re off the hook. If you’re wearing Beats and you have hellions; prepared to be loathed by all passengers around you.

3. The Noisy Chewer

One of the categories in the Expedia report was what Kimmel called the Stinky Snacker. I agree that is totally annoying to have smelly food on board. Beef jerky and an onion sandwich, really? However, what’s worse is having to hear it. Channel your mother and close your damn mouth when you chew. Absolutely no talking. If God wanted us to talk and eat at the same time our vocal chords would be in our nasal passages. Clear your gob hole and then we can talk. Swish it down with a beverage and avoid any possible UFOs potentially headed in my general direction.

4. The Ice Chomper

Let’s be clear right now, if the beverage mentioned above is finished, if you start chewing on the remaining ice I will grab the cup from you and hold it menacingly. I don’t quite know what I would do next since I would prefer not to get tackled by an air marshal, but it will be taken, and I will find your dentist and totally tell on you. No one can sleep/read/exist calmly when the Titanic-meets-iceburg re-enactment is on repeat in the seat next to them. Do not ever chew your ice cubes next to me. Or anyone else for that matter. It will make a sane person crazy.

5. The Farter

No one likes to talk about it, but everyone has been the unfortunate recipient of a nasty gassy on a flight before. I believe it could even be a secret factor in contributing to airplane sickness. A fart cloud might happen to you every time you fly. It might even be you creating said cloud. All I ask of The Farter is this: if you know some foods makes you leak out your rear end, don’t eat them on this plane. Bring a little pepto or beano for the long flights. Or a plug. Whatever it takes to keep it to yourself. You might be immune to your own rank stench, but I’m going green back here.

6. The Back-of-the-Plane Line Jumper

We’ve landed. Hooray! The time has come to de-plane. There’s a natural order to this. You allow the rows in front of you to clear out and then it’s your turn. If you have a short layover and you’re desperately trying to make your flight, be a human and communicate with those around you. You’ll advance much faster if you have everyone around you on your team helping you move forward. Don’t be that groaning, toe-tapping, under-breath mumbler that no one likes. And if you announce that “some of us have a flight to catch” to no-one in particular, I will be tempted to pop you in the face with my neck pillow. Stop it. The majority of my flight experiences haven’t featured all these characters at once (praise be), but I have encountered each of them on more than one occasion. Thus, I’ve been driven to develop tactical defenses and management devices for each:

I combat both the chewers and children with earplugs of headphones of my own (not Beats though, sorry Dre), the shade blinder with an eye mask, and the farter with scented hand lotion applied just under the nostrils. The ice chomper gets straight-up-spoken-to. “Please sir/ma’am, I’m having trouble sleeping due to your ice chewing. Will you please refrain? Mahalo.” Lastly, to prevent the line jumper I simply stand up and block the aisle to allow those in my row and beyond their right to exit when their turn arrives.

Or, like one should in any social situation where other people behave less than admirably, I just try to get over them. They make great fodder for storytelling and casual, comfortable complaining, but in the end, that’s all they ever are. There’s no greater feeling when flying to actually sit back, relax and allow yourself to be amazed that a plane is whisking you off to your destination, at 30,000 feet in the air. Annoyances be damned. As comedian Louis C.K. likes to say about the miracle of human flight: “You’re in a chair… in the sky.” Sometimes a little perspective makes nearly every annoyance seem trivial. Except perhaps, chewing ice cubes.

Quote for Today

If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.

— Audre Lorde, Unknown

It’s Time to Take Back Valentine’s Day – for all of us!

Valentine’s Day. It’s coming this Saturday whether you like it or not. Such a peculiar holiday, one that seems to draw lines in the sand between the supporters and haters. Each year I hear echoes of naysayers, “It’s a made up holiday by the greeting card companies…” Despite this, I still appreciate the holiday. The idea that, for one day a year, everyone thinks about love. Even when people condemn having a designated day about love as stupid, their thoughts are still focused on love. And what’s wrong with that? Here are some common arguments against V-tine Day and why they just don’t cut the mustard.

It’s commercial.
Yes, yes it is. But this point is but moot compared to every other holiday. Name one other holiday that isn’t tainted by the almighty hunt for the buck. In our capitalist society it only follows that if there’s a market with a demand, there will be a supply. If it bothers you, find a way around it. Make something, go rogue with no gift and create a memory instead. Hike, watch a sunset, play in the snow. But by George, for this girl, there will be chocolate on Valentine’s Day (except Hershey’s. The punks) and there will be a lot of it. I will regret nothing.

Forcing love to happen
I ask again, what’s wrong with carving out a day a year just to celebrate love? Remember that it is your choice how you commemorate it. If you treat the day as a commercial nightmare then that is exactly what it will be for you. Putting a price tag on a holiday does not invalidate it. If you’re with someone who demands a giant bear/flowers/gift/spendy dinner/etc. and wouldn’t appreciate a handmade card from the heart and a homecooked dinner, that’s your struggle. Don’t blame Valentine’s Day. And express those feelings to this person you are supposed to love. If they don’t see eye to eye, maybe you need a new partner. Love takes work, but it shouldn’t feel like work. If you’re trying too hard, you might be doing it wrong.

Reminding people of their loneliness
Lonely people do not feel more lonely on Valentine’s Day. This is some weird myth floating around that people persist on believing. Hollywood and television help to ram this idea down all our throats, typically because playing to stereotypes means the plot and writing can lapse. The truth is, lonely people are going to be lonely until they find someone, or at least start putting themselves out there. Doing a quick search online leads to singles events at restaurants, libraries, and Meetups. Follow the advice of Theresa Christine from Tremendous Times and choose from 5 Kickass Alternative Ways to Spend Valentine’s Day. Take this day and seize it. I can’t think of a better time for a lonely person to get out there and look for friendship than this day of the year. (Love doesn’t happen in a day. Make a friend and maybe you’ll fall in love someday). The couples out there celebrating their togetherness should be a confidence boost. “If they can find love so can I.” Let’s face it, there are some really strange people out there finding happiness with another. Embrace this day and find a way to meet someone new. When love is on the mind and in the air, the odds of finding someone special just might be better on this day than any other all year long.

Be Mine – Be Ours
My favorite part of any holiday are the traditions that come with it. The big ones like lighting the Menorah, hanging the stockings, dressing like ghouls and goblins, fireworks, etc. are all wonderful. But the traditions that mean the most to me are the little things, like getting to open one (and only one) gift under the tree with family on Christmas Eve. Like screaming the countdown of the last seconds of the year across our neighborhood from one house to another. Devouring my Mama Peg’s twice-baked po-date-ahs (potatoes, for the rest of you) at Thanksgiving. So, what about Valentine’s Day? The only two I can think of personally are my Dad always sending his girls a card, and my husband and I dining out to celebrate our engagement anniversary. What else do people do to celebrate this holiday and make it special? Maybe that’s why there’s resistance against it, there aren’t enough ways to make it ours. It’s time to put more traditions in place to effectively take back the holiday from the commercial death grip that leaves a storm cloud hanging over it every year. Let’s put an end to the feeling that this isn’t a “real holiday” and make it just that.

This Valentine’s Day, make a new tradition that’s special to you and share it with your friends and family. Do it every year. Oh, and tell me about it too, I can’t wait to make it one of mine. I’ll share one I come up too. In time, this holiday might finally feel like it’s worthy of all its potential. Here’s to our Valentine’s Day!