Sunday, February 19, 2012

Enjoyed teaching 16 Boy Scouts Photography Merit Badge

I received an urgent request this past week, to teach Photography Merit Badge at the Boy Scout's Merit Badge College being held at Roane State Community College. It was a challenge to do so, as I had already made a promise to take photographs at a JV basketball tournament that Saturday. The Scouts had two other photographers previously committed as instructors, but their schedules changed and wouldn't allow them to make it, so I was asked mid-week.

Everything worked out and I'm glad it did. It was my first time to teach Photography Merit Badge and it was fun. In my opening comments, I shared some of my unique perspectives with the boys.

Having been a Professional Scouter for 35 years in my first career helped because I understood the need to not let those 16 Scouts down who had signed up for the badge. Just because someone else couldn't make it was no reason to not deliver the program. They needed an instructor and I was happy to have been asked. I was also glad I could rearrange my schedule to be there.

Second, since I had started my photography business after retiring from the Boy Scouts in 2007, I have learned a few things about photography that I was able and willing to share.

Third, having visited the 1989 National Scout Jamboree, I wanted to share a first hand account of something I really felt the boys needed to know, since they were pursuing Photography Merit Badge.

While at the Jamboree arena show, I witnessed an address by Eagle Scout and Oscar winning film director Steven Spielberg to the Scouts and guests in attendance. He told of making his very first motion picture while earning Photography Merit Badge. Then, like today, the requirements state that a Scout should assemble a group of photographs in a manner that they tell a story, and the Scout should create a presentation of the images to share with others. Spielberg asked his Scoutmaster if a movie, rather than still images, would be acceptable to meet the requirement. The rest, as they say "is history".

I also shared a retelling of the same story, by Spielberg's good friend and Oscar winning actor Tom Hanks.
In December 2006, Spielberg was one of the honorees along with Zubin Mehta, Dolly Parton, Smokey Robinson, and Andrew Lloyd Webber in the Kennedy Center Honors program that aired on CBS television. (View photos of Spielberg and other Kennedy Center honorees)  Hanks, in his introduction of the honoree, shared the story of the making of Spielberg's first film and the fact that his mother, other friends and relatives were used as actors in the film. A clip from the movie was shared and Hanks closed his introduction of the acclaimed film director by thanking him for "using real actors in his movies since then."

It was a poignant moment that reaffirmed the power of the Boy Scouts' merit badge program in introducing young men to potential future careers. The fact that it was shared in that setting and in front of a national television audience was profound. Saturday, I wanted those 16 Boy Scouts to know that story too.

Of the 16 candidates for the merit badge, 14 completed their requirements and went home with signed documents to present to their Scoutmasters. I went home with the date for the 2013 Merit Badge College in my planner and a commitment to return as the Photography Merit Badge instructor next year. It was fun!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

New endeavor to focus on Loudon County sports

I haven't kept this blog up very well lately, but I've learned from my son that a blog can be a very handy and useful means of communication. So, my goal now is to post at least weekly if not more often, to keep my friends informed about what's going on in my world as a professional photographer.

Last March I had the privilege to begin work for the News-Herald newspaper as sports writer. Taking photographs of fast-paced action on the baseball diamond or softball field, volleyball court, soccer or football fields, golf course, basketball court etc. has been great fun. Photographing sports action is however, quite different compared to a family portrait, high school senior or wedding ceremony. With those events, the photographer is usually in command of the situation and gives direction to those you are attempting to photograph. Not so in sports. The action is non-stop with challenging light conditions no matter what the location. The photographer is the last person with any control of the situation as coaches, game officials and players all take precedent over the person with the camera. Like birthing a baby, my tenure with the News-Herald lasted nine months and has led me to a whole new world. 

The end of January closed out my stint as sports writer for the newspaper and prompted me to take stock of where I am, what I enjoy and what might be next as a focus for my creative talent and energies. While working for the newspaper, the surprising thing for me has been the number of people who complimented me on my writing. Overwhelming is an understatement. So, with encouragement from a number of sources and research that indicates a workable business plan could be developed, I set out to launch a blog with a goal to become the place to find comprehensive coverage of sports across Loudon County. With a launch date of January 31, I have now posted seven stories, with six including action photographs, like the one below.

Amberlee Zeller, No. 11, works to put up a shot while 
a pair of Lady Warriors defend. Waiting for a rebound is fellow 
Lady Panther LaShundra Bowman, No. 15. 
Action is from the Lenoir City Middle School 39-18 win over Newport on Wednesday.
 Photo by Ambler Brown © 2012

The great thing about blog technology is that I can track readership to the minute. I completed my latest post at 10:30 a.m. this morning and by 12:08 p.m. there had been 34 page views. By 2:45 p.m., the count had climbed to 65 page views. While typing this blog post, the 66th page view was recorded. Like ripples in a pond emanating outward from the initial splash of a pebble, the word has begun to spread. The most page views I had experienced previously was yesterday's count of 42.

I hope you will check out my latest entry and join me in congratulating the Lenoir City Middle School Lady Panthers on their win last night. Click this link to view my latest Loudon County Sports blog post about the Lenoir City Middle School Lady Panthers championship quest.

It's been fun! I look forward to posting more sports stories and photographs for a long time.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Time to get back to posting on the blog.

I recently realized that not posting to my blog in some time has been a mistake. My son has started a blog that is wonderful reading as he has set out to take various weekend adventures and write about his preparations and then the event itself.  You can check it out through this link.

The image shown is from a wedding I photographed this past summer (click to enlarge). The joyful event was held at a 35-acre private home in Farragut, Tennessee. I LOVE photographing in natural light and there was a beautiful long hallway leading to the master bedroom, with a wall of glass along one side of the hallway. We asked the bride to stand in the hallway to set up the shot. Before I could turn around the two flower girls peaked out from the dining room doorway. This image was spontaneous from the standpoint of their presence. It was not planned for them to appear. That is the beauty of a happy wedding day, so much goes on that is not planned and it's such an awesome experience to "capture the moment".

Two other aspects of this shot were not staged but have been commented on by several who have seen the image. The home where the wedding was held belongs to the sister and brother-in-law of the bride. Notice their bridal portrait in the bedroom at the end of the hall. The second item is in the foreground to the right. I had visited the home with the engaged couple about three weeks prior to the wedding and took photographs for an engagement session. The day of the wedding, I had placed a digital frame on the table and it was cycling through a slide show from their engagement session. One of their favorites appears in the digital frame. It was a magical moment! Congratulations Melissa and Jesse!