Look out MacGyver

While I pride myself on being a very organized person, life happens and things do go wrong.

For example, I recently went on a shoot only to realize that I was missing a couple of light stands.  It’s times like this that separate the amateurs from the pros; through years of training and experience, I confidently handle situations like this.

I didn’t panic.  I surveyed the situation and took note of my resources.  Luckily it was a rainy day and I brought along an umbrella.  Using my best Boy Scout problem-solving skills and doing my best MacGyver impersonation, I was able to create makeshift light stands by lashing my umbrella to a chair and using my equipment cart for another; the shoot went off without a hitch.MacGyver-lightstands

On my journey to achieving my Eagle Scout rank, I learned so many life skills like leadership, problem-solving, and the ever useful art of knot tying, that apply to this day. Above all, I have embraced the motto to “Be Prepared!”

As such, I have developed equipment checklists for different types of
shoots to be best prepared for each situation and to help minimize potential problems.  A quick check of the appropriate list, load up the car, and off I go.

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Illustrating “Pride”

I recently received a challenge to photograph someone illustrating the word “Pride.” As soon as I read this, I immediately thought about the images that I had taken a couple of weeks ago during the Make-A-Wish “Walk for Wishes” 5K. Among the many great stories and photo opportunities during the event, the photographs of Danielle Gisler came to mind.

Nineteen year old Make-A-Wish child Danielle walked the entire five kilometers on her own for the first time. While she was the very last person to finish the course, you might have thought that Danielle won the race by the enthusiasm that she exuded as she crossed the finish line.Make-A-Wish

Too bad that this didn’t happen this past weekend because Danielle’s accomplishment and her reaction were the epitome of the word “Pride”!  However, the challenge stated, “Over the next week please take and send one photo of a person which illustrates the idea of Pride.” It did not say to pull something from my archives, even if it was from a very recent event.

Luckily, this weekend the NCAA announced the March Madness bracket and a local college – Florida Gulf Coast University – had made the tournament. In fact, the men’s basketball team, cheerleaders, and a small crowd gathered at Alico Arena to watch the selection show on the jumbotron. Needless to say, there was great pride and school spirit in the air as this was only the second time in school history that the Eagles have made it to the big dance. While I got some great photos of the team and cheerleaders, this was too cliché!FGCU

On to plan B.  On Tuesday, Florida held primaries and local elections. I was covering the elections for the Naples Daily News. During mayoral candidate Teresa Heitmann’s concession speech, she expressed how extremely proud she was of her volunteers and her daughter Chandler, in particular, who served as campaign manager.campaign

This was good, but I wanted something more. Therefore, I spent some time at the Special Populations Center in Cape Coral and found what I was looking for. The facility offers a variety of programs for adults and children with intellectual disabilities with the goal of promoting independence through exposure, education, and experience in a safe, caring environment.

It was inspiring watching the excitement on the participants’ faces as they were given encouragement for achievements such as successfully finishing picture search puzzles or cutting up potatoes while learning how to cook.Special

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Cracker Day Rodeo

Overnight showers lead to muddy conditions during the 55th annual Cracker Day Rodeo at the Lee County Posse Arena in North Fort Myers, FL.

Bull Y-4 sends bull fighter Nathan Smith, of LaBelle, flying as rider Harley Howell runs to safety after being thrown.

Bull Y-4 sends bull fighter Nathan Smith, of LaBelle, flying as rider Harley Howell runs to safety after being thrown.

While the bulls belonged to the big boys…  the youngsters had their hands full riding sheep during the Muttin Bustin’ competition!

Chase Oake, 4, of Fort Myers, falls off his sheep during the Mutton Bustin' competition.

Chase Oake, 4, of Fort Myers, falls off his sheep during the Mutton Bustin’ competition.

And, yes, Chase was fine!  Just a little dustin’ off and he was good as new.

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Secretary of Health & Human Services visits Tampa

Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Sylvia M. Burwell speaks at the New Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa, FL.

Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Sylvia M. Burwell speaks at the New Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa, FL.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell joined Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and U.S. Representative Kathy Castor in speaking with congregants at the New Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa, FL on Sunday. Following the church service they attended a healthcare enrollment event and spoke with the media.

Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell talks with the media as U.S. Representative Kathy Castor, center,  and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn listen.

Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell talks with the media as U.S. Representative Kathy Castor, center,
and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn listen.

More than 11.3 million Americans (including 1.6 million Floridians) have signed up for coverage through the federal health insurance marketplaces.

Unfortunately, the state of Florida has not expanded Medicaid so approximately one million residents fall through the cracks as they make too much money for Medicaid and too little money to qualify for a subsidy through the HealthCare marketplace.

Secretary Burwell takes a selfie with a young lady during the event in Tampa.

Secretary Burwell takes a selfie with a young lady during the event in Tampa.

Unlike 2014 and 2015, there will be no special enrollment period at tax time this year. Therefore, it is important to signup by the of the January 31st Open Enrollment deadline or face a tax penalty.

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It’s A Slam Dunk!

Literally…  Check out this really cool Slam Dunk contest video that I shot last night for the Fort Myers News-Press. There are some amazing dunks!!  Plus, you can see some of the still images as well: http://www.news-press.com/media/cinematic/gallery/77692038/slam-dunk-contest-at-city-of-palms/

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No go to Nepal

I was getting ready to travel to Nepal in order to photograph the annual Jimmy & Rosalyn Carter Work Project for Habitat for Humanity International which was supposed to take place November 1st – 6th.  I had my flights booked…  my travel immunizations up-to-date…  my valid passport… and my ever handy Lonely Planet travel guide book…Nepal-passportAnd then unfortunately…  I was recently informed that the project was cancelled due to civil unrest which has lead to a shortage of fuel and supplies in Nepal.  This was the first time in 32 consecutive years that the Carter Work Project had to be cancelled!

HFHI-cancellationhttp://www.habitat.org/2015archive/10-08-2015-carter-project-canceled

I have been fortunate to have been photographing these Habitat builds since 1999 when it was held in the Philippines.  Since then, I have had some great adventures from South Korea to South Africa.  Next stop…  Nepal…  I was really looking forward to the trip… complete with an opportunity to see Mount Everest in person.

Needless to say, I am disappointed.  But ultimately, I wish well for the citizens of Nepal.  Thankfully, the work of Habitat for Humanity will continue through its local ongoing efforts in that country.

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AmeriCorps and Habitat for Humanity

As many of you already know, Habitat for Humanity builds houses for the working poor.  But not everyone knows that the program is a hand up, not a hand out.  Contrary to popular belief, Habitat does not give away houses.  Instead House Partners (what the people who get Habitat homes are called) must go through an application process in order to meet certain criteria (like having a full time job that will enable them to pay back a no interest loan for their house) and to work a certain amount of sweat equity hours (for example helping to build their house and/or other Habitat houses).04091-GP

However, when it comes to AmeriCorps…  after talking with some family and friends, I realized that many people never even heard of this organization.  And I hate to admit it, but if not for my involvement with Habitat for Humanity, I probably wouldn’t be familiar with AmeriCorps either.

While I am no expert, what I do know is that AmeriCorps is sort of like the Peace Corps, only it is for domestic service.  Americans commit to one year to serving in various roles across the country.hfh-americorps-20yrAmeriCorps partners with other organizations and places members in service to them.  Some of the programs, organizations, and institutions partnering with AmeriCorps include Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Camp Fire, and Habitat for Humanity.

Since 1994, more than 8,000 people have served with Habitat AmeriCorps, meeting the needs of more than 20,000 families throughout the United States.

04280-GPIf you would like to know more, please check out Habitat’s website:  http://www.habitat.org/americorps
or AmeriCorps’ officical website:http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps

 

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Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river

After a full day of working in the 8o plus degree sunshine
with 80 plus percent humidity…

blog-09093-GP…It was time for a little R&R…  or should I say R, R, R on the R…
as in “Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the River” to enjoy the cool breezes along the Mississippi River on a classic paddlewheel riverboat cruise.  Prior to launching, the week one volunteers met and passed the torch… ummmm…  hammer to the week two AmeriCorps volunteers.

cruise photos

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“Rebuilding America”

The theme of this year’s Build-A-Thon is “Rebuilding America”…  and they mean that figuratively and literally…

One of the many streets hit by hurricane Katrina was America Street in New Orleans.

USLA-15-02745-GPSo what a better place to continue rebuilding among the devastation, but on that very street!

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Sheryl Crow visits Build-A-Thon

Singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow visits the Habitat for Humanity AmeriCorps Build-A-Thon site to help promote the Blue Jeans Go Green campaign.

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PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Ten years. Ten days. Ten homes. Ten-thousand jeans.  On behalf of the Cotton Incorporated Blue Jeans Go Green™ denim recycling program, nine-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow is asking consumers to recycle their unwanted denim to help rebuild New Orleans, an area still feeling the repercussions of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Blue Jeans Go Green™ has set a collection goal of 10,000 pieces of denim, which will be transformed into UltraTouch™ Denim Insulation by manufacturing partner Bonded Logic, Inc., and then provided to a ten-home Build-A-Thon being conducted by New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity

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