Recommended reading

Good morning, Roadies! Here’s your Saturday morning digest of the blog posts I liked most that I found published this week.

Jennifer Bowman tells a great story about a character she met on the trails in Glacier National Park. She seems to meet all sorts of characters out West. Read Flat out to the finish: Old looks different in Glacier

I look at a lot of photo blogs, and so many of them just show photos with no text describing them. I always want to know what I’m looking at! Daniel Schneider writes a useful nuts-and-bolts primer on when and how to caption a photograph. Read How and why you should caption your photographs

God hates divorce. God even says so directly in the Bible (Malachi 2:16). But John Pavlovitz makes the compelling point that divorce itself is not necessarily a sin — breaking the marriage covenant is. If the covenant is broken, and there’s no repentance on the horizon, the sin just might be staying in a harmful marriage that will never be restored. Read Why God May Want You To Leave Your Marriage

Donald Trump keeps talking about bringing back manufacturing jobs. But most of those jobs don’t physically exist anymore because they are automated. Machines do them. And Rohan Rajiv argues that it’s a good thing — because those jobs were horrible anyway. Read Machines take away horrible jobs


Wedding day


©2016 Andrea Bowman.

Margaret had one request of me for our wedding day: that I wear clothes that had no memories attached.

I seldom wear a suit. The one I own, which I bought at Goodwill of all places, has seen duty just at interviews, weddings, and funerals over the 15 years or so I’ve worn it. That’s a lot of memories! A new suit would be in order, and this time I decided to do it up right. I went to a tailor Downtown, selected a suit they made on the premises, and had it fitted to me. It is the single most expensive article of clothing I’ve ever bought.

And then I selected that orange tie to go with it. Margaret loves orange.

Margaret, on the other hand, bought her dress on clearance. I think she said she paid $10 for it. Oh my, how I admire a frugal woman! And she looked lovely on the day we were married.

We invited just close family: parents, children and their spouses, siblings and their spouses. And then my oldest son, who lives in a distant city, texted late with bad news: his car had broken down and he and his wife wouldn’t make it. It was the only disappointment in an otherwise wonderful day.

The ceremony was brief. A preceding slideshow of family photographs, set to music, ran longer than the ceremony itself, I think. We exchanged vows, rings, and I-dos, let the photographer photograph us, and then headed to Margaret’s for a party. She’d spent much of the week preparing all the food. I’d made a long playlist on Spotify of upbeat tunes from the 1940s through the 1980s. It kept the party rolling.


iPhone 6s

Margaret and I thought we’d slip out at about 8 pm, and then it turns out that was when the party naturally broke up anyway. We drove Downtown and checked in to the tall, blue JW Marriott hotel and then took a long walk downtown. The evening was warm; the setting sun lit the sky in oranges. We ended up on the old National Road bridge over the White River, now for pedestrians only and part of White River State Park. We had a late dinner at the hotel.

We attended my church together the next morning. Margaret works at one church, and I’m an elder in another, so we will be a two-church family. And then we went back Downtown for lunch, and for a walk along Massachusetts Avenue for window shopping and ice cream.

Then we parted ways. It was the moment where our temporary two-home arrangement became real for us, physically and emotionally, and it was hard. Merging lives at our age, with teen and young-adult children in various stages of stepping out of the nest into their own futures, creates some challenges and this is how we’re choosing to handle them for now. We’ve made over-and-above effort since our wedding to spend as much time together as we can.

So far, so good. We know we’ll end up under the same roof, and that we’ll be fine in meantime. Because we both chose well.


Ansco Box

Ansco box
Minolta Maxxum 9xi, 50mm f/1.7 Maxxum AF
Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400

Cameras, Photography

Dear Verizon: Now that you’re buying Yahoo!, please don’t shut down Flickr

Indulge me, please, in a moment of worry.

In case you’ve been living under a rock — and given the horrorshow that is this American Presidential election, I wouldn’t blame you — you might have missed that Verizon is buying Web pioneer Yahoo! for $4.8 billion. Photo-sharing site Flickr is part of that deal, as Yahoo! has owned it since 2005.

Flickr-LogoAnd now I’m worried about Flickr’s future. With the exception of a refreshed UI in 2013 and some new features and giving all users 1 TB of storage in 2015, Yahoo! has largely left the site alone. Meanwhile, innovation on the rest of the Web continued at breakneck pace, and other photo sites have overtaken Flickr in usefulness and popularity.

I’m an unabashed Flickr fan and for years have cheered it from the sidelines, but even I have to admit Yahoo!s inaction has left Flickr in a challenging competitive position. Even before the acquisition, Flickreenos everywhere were concerned for the site’s future.

And now here comes a new owner, and who knows what they’ll end up doing with their floundering photo-sharing site.

Here’s why I care so much. It’s not altruism or fanboy love. It’s that I use Flickr to host most of the photographs I share on this blog.

If Flickr goes away, photographs disappear here. Nine and half years worth of photographs.

It would be a daunting, enormous job to fix that.


My Flickr photostream today

Yes, I’m wringing my hands. Yes, it’s premature; Verizon has kept mum about its plans for Yahoo! and there’s currently no indication that they’ll change anything.

But I think I’m entitled to a little handwringing, because a project to restore missing photos to the nearly 1,500 posts here — oy, I don’t know how I would ever make time for that. I’d consider just leaving them be except that many of my old posts rank high on searches, and I want them to continue to be everything they have been.

Cross your fingers for me that Flickr has a long life ahead of it.


First Church of Christ, Scientist

Please be seated
Canon PowerShot S95

Life, Photography

Few people make real money following their passions, and you probably won’t be one of them

I’ve been asked a few times if I’ve ever thought about making photography my living.

A portrait of the artist

Nikon D3200, 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX Nikkor, 2016. Margaret Grey photo.

It sure sounds wonderful to spend my days driving old roads or looking at historic architecture, making photographs as I go — and getting paid for it!

The other question I get asked, a lot, is whether I’ve ever thought about making writing my living.

And my answer is not only yes, but I’ve done it. For many years early in my career, I traded my written words for my supper. There I learned a crucial truth:

The kind of work you do for yourself is very different from the kind of work that pays.

I hadn’t dreamed of being a writer when I landed my first writing job. I wanted to be a software developer. But the country was in a recession then and jobs were scarce. I was willing to do any job I could get in the software field. I wound up writing manuals, and it turned out that I really enjoyed the work. I did it for a long time. I even contributed to a few published books on popular software products. It’s a rush to see your name on a book’s spine!

In that field I met a lot of talented people who had dreamed of being writers. They came with degrees in English and poetry and journalism, and extensive portfolios filed with great work. Yet they wound up writing and editing books about software, which wasn’t remotely their dream. For the kinds of writing they wanted to do, the supply of talent far outstripped demand. And then they found that the software industry paid fairly well. Few of them loved the work, but they were grateful to be writing for pay.

It’s much the same in photography. Many of us who shoot probably dream of creating great art and making a living through sales, or maybe patronage if that’s even a thing anymore. But most working photographers shoot things like weddings or consumer products. My first wife is a talented photographer, but when I met her she made her living in the United States Air Force shooting portraits of officers seeking promotions.

Photographers can find this kind of work intrinsically rewarding, just as I truly enjoyed writing software instructions. But who dreams as children of being technical writers or wedding photographers? We back into these jobs because they leverage our skills and pay our bills.

438933770007_ proc.jpg

Nikon F3, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Foma Fomapan 200, 2016

Those jobs pay because they create clear value. This blog creates value, too — you wouldn’t keep coming back if you didn’t find my words and images to be valuable in some way. But the value necessary to capture your attention is much lower than the value necessary to make you pay even a little bit.

If I were to charge even a nominal fee to read my posts and see my photographs, I feel sure that most if not all of you would quit visiting. What I do here isn’t that kind of valuable. And I’m just one small voice on the vast Internet. Even the big players struggle to make online content pay.

There was a golden time when personal blogging could be lucrative: approximately 2004. Several talented early bloggers found large followings and made good money with online ads.

But in about 2011 online ad revenue started to fall, and hard. The bloggers that didn’t have to find day jobs again created other revenue sources: writing sponsored posts (where the blogger writes an ad and tries to make it sound like it’s about them), creating product lines, and offering services such as personal coaching and workshops in an area of skill or expertise they have.

These are great, legitimate ways to make money. But notice how these things aren’t personal blogging. They’re not the passion that made the blogger start blogging.

Here’s the fatal flaw in my argument: if your passion is something like managing hedge funds or starting tech companies, and there are really people with passions like that, well heck yes those passions can pay, and handsomely. But for most of us, we just want to make something that represents us or showcases our talents, and put it out into the world and hope people come to see.

Is that you? That’s me. And so I persist. It’ll be ten years in February. I’m very happy that my work creates enough value to keep capturing your attention. I’m working on ways to generate a little passive income and hope to pay this blog’s costs and maybe some of my photography. But I have no delusions that this will ever let me quit my day job. The same almost certainly goes for you.