Just for the fun of it

Shortly after my first son was born, I realized that I did not like the camera in my phone.

And so, in the fall of 2012, I bought my first “real” camera.

Which means it’s been eight years since I began photography as a hobby. And to be honest, I still feel like a huge noob.

I’ve shot tens of thousands of photos; my house is filled with framed images that I’ve taken; I’ve owned a handful of different cameras and lenses; I’ve paid for photography courses and I even made my own.

But yet… there is still so much for me to learn!

I am constantly finding inspiration in other people’s work and learning from other photographers.

And that is exactly what excites me…

Even though I’ve been making photos for the better part of a decade, I still have many more decades to go.

My grandfather was a prolific painter in his old age. It wasn’t until he was in his late 50s that he even began his painting hobby. And he continued on until his death just shortly after turning 100. And in fact, as he got older, he painted more and more.

There are many areas of my life where I need to ship, create, and perform at a certain level. Areas where I am intently focused on growth.

Photography, however, is one of those things where there is no pressure or expectation.

It’s exciting to think ahead, knowing I still have decades to continue learning and enjoying photography.

Just for the fun of it

Checking Out the Fuji X100V

“Sometimes the truth of a thing is not so much in the think of it, as in the feel of it.” — Stanley Kubrick


I rented a Fuji x100V for the next couple of weeks. And it arrived yesterday. I am wanting to shoot with it and compre it to my Leica Q that I’ve been shooting with for the past two years.

I’ve been super interested in the new X100V since it came out a few months ago. I’ve been waiting for some of my favorite photographers to write about it (and even compare it to the Q), but so far nobody’s really dug in. So I thought I’d rent one and see for myself.

If you were to compare the two cameras on paper, the Leica might seem to have some obvious advantages. The Leica is full frame versus the Fuji’s APS-C sensor. The Leica has a faster lens: f/1.7 versus f/2.0. The Leica is, well, a “Leica”.

Though, the Fuji has some pretty great advantages as well. It has USB-C, in-camera charging. It has weather sealing. It’s smaller, lighter, and 1/3 the price. It has some pretty great in-camera coloring to dissolve your post-processing workflow and let you just shoot.

Both of these cameras are great and capable of producing great photos. My aim isn’t to see which one is better. I simply wanted to try out the new X100V to see how it feels to use, and compare it to the Q in that regard. Again, it’s not in the think of a thing… but in the feel of it.

(Also, let’s be honest: I wanted to try out a different camera for the fun of it.)

Checking Out the Fuji X100V

If you work with your head, rest with your hands

It’s amazing how much intentional destruction you can do to a piece of hardwood when you’ve got some 60-grit sandpaper and an orbital sander.

I have been spending my weekends in my garage workshop, bulding two new woodworking projects.

Last weekend I built my first picture frame for a painting that my sister made. While I definitely made some rookie mistakes along the way, it turned out pretty great in the end.

The photos here are ones I took last night after sanding down a new coffee table I am making for the downstairs.

I am spending hours each day, staring at a screen, having meetings, and making decisions about how to best navigate my business through this season. It is refreshing to step away from all of that and into the workshop, put on my gloves, and get to work.

These photos were taken on my Leica Q and edited on my iPad.

If you work with your head, rest with your hands

Photos From Indoors

Here in Kansas City, we have a rainy season every spring and it is my favorite thing about living here.

During the rainy season we’ll get massive thunderstorms with huge downpours. It seems like they always happen in the middle of the night (why is that?) — but we do also get them in the late evenings or early mornings.

And I love to lie in bed and just listen to the rain and watch the sky light up with the lighting.

It’s still early in the season right now and so we haven’t yet had any major storms. But we have been getting some rain over the past week.

These photos were made around my house during a recent rainy day. And, of course, I edited them and published them from home as well.

Heck. You’re probably reading this from your home right now. Good for you.

In some ways, it may feel as if every day is a rainy day.

But we are all in this together.

For most of us alive today, there has never been a time like this in our lives when every person on the planet was being impacted and touched by the same issue all at the same time.

In the midst of this crisis, one thing I am witnessing are so many people who are going above and beyond to be generous and kind.

Now is a fantastic time to create. People are sharing more, giving more, and connecting more.

From famous Italian musicians playing live music for their neighbors, to designers making stay-at-home coloring books for kids who aren’t in school, to companies giving away money to creators in need, and so much more.

Even in the midst of the quarantines, the isolation, and the trauma — there is still community. There is hope and light.

Photos From Indoors

Broadway Coffee

Kansas City has a ton of great coffee shops.

(If you are ever visiting, let me know and I’ll recommend some spots to you.)

Broadway is one of the oldest and most wonderful.

I’ve been visiting Broadway Cafe for nearly 20 years. I always order an americano with steamed breve, and it’s always fantastic.

There used to be a Starbucks right next door to Broadway Coffee. But the Starbucks came and went — nobody went there when they could go to Broadway instead. Someone told me it was the first Starbucks to go in next to a local coffee shop and then go out of business. Normally, it would have been the other way around.

I made these two photos about a year ago when Anna and I were out on a date for the day.

We went down to Westport for lunch and to walk around. We passed by Broadway, though we didn’t go in for an espresso because we’d just had tea at a different spot around the corner.

The above photos were shot on the Leica Q and edited in Lightroom on the iPad.


Speaking for Broadway Coffee, here’s a shot I made back in 2014. This is of the inside of the cafe, shot with my Olympus E-M10 and the Summilux 25/1.4 lens.

Broadway Coffee

Erin Brooks is one of my favorite photographers.

She is constantly capturing amazing, candid shots of her two daughters. Her iPhone photos have been featured by Apple. And she has a style to her photos that is really unique.

The reason Erin has been an inspiration to me is because of how well she tells stories and stays vulnerable in her photography. Not to mention the fact that she is constantly finding new and creative ways to make amazing photos right in her own home.

Last year, Erin wrote a guide for The Sweet Setup on how to take great holiday photos. I have definitely been taking her advice and finding inspiration in the photos that she shares.

Here are a few of my own holiday photos from the past couple of years…

(Looks like my photo skills still have a long ways to go!)


As we head into Thanksgiving, I asked Erin if she would update her guide for 2019. She added some new ideas and tactics, plus new photos as well.

Here are a few tips and tricks for how you can take better photos of your family. Happy holidays, and happy shooting!

How to Take Great Holiday Photos

At a Westport Bookstore

My wife and I recently went on a date downtown near Westport. And there is a cozy, local bookstore that I love to stop in whenever I’m nearby. We walked around for a while, perusing the new and old books that lined the shelves. I love how places like this have books falling out of their ears.

At a Westport Bookstore

An Unexpected Google Search Trick

I’m not sure if it’s the changing weather, or something else, but whatever the reason may be, my personal interest in photography feels like it has been exploding over the past few months.

And so, much of my free time at home has been spent reading through reviews of the Leica Q (and Q2) to get some inspiration for how others are using my same camera.

Also, of course I have been itching to get out more than normal to take some shots. And as I think about what 2020 looks like, I’m considering a personal goal of traveling to at least 2 unique destinations for the sole purpose of making some photos. So if you have any suggestions, please do let me know.

Anyway, as I’ve been reading, there is an interesting “trick” I employed for the Google search results as I have been searching for camera reviews and stories….

Most of the best camera and photography reviews that I have found are on pages 3 and 4 of the Google search results.

You see, I wanted to get some real life, normal-person, story-based reviews of the camera — as opposed to the sterile, press-release regurgitation articles that are on so many of the high-ranking websites that appear on page 1 of Google results.

And so, in order to get to the good stuff — the articles that were written by normal folks with normal blogs who had been using the camera for a while before they wrote their review — I had to skip past the first page.

Whodathunkit?

An Unexpected Google Search Trick

Golden Hour at McKenzie Pass

McKenzie Pass shot with the Leica Q

Earlier this summer my family spent several days in Fort Robinson, Nebraska for a huge family reunion on my wife’s side.

On the second-to-last day, I woke up extra early in order to get out for some sunrise and golden hour photos at the Red Cloud Buttes which were nearby to our cabins.

I had already scouted the route via Google Maps on my iPad, and so I had a pretty good idea of where I was going. So I woke up before the sunrise, brewed a cup of coffee, and hopped into my car to get going.

When I got to the trail head (which was a turn-off from the main highway out there), it was blocked by a chained-off gate. However, as I inspected it the gate I discovered that it wasn’t locked at all. The chains were just dangled around one another to help keep the two swinging gate doors closed.

McKenzie Pass shot with the Leica Q

So far as I could tell it was a public trail. So I opened up the gate and drove on through to get to McKenzie Pass.

I spent a couple of hours up there, walking around, shooting some photos and just sitting in the quiet with my coffee.

The weather didn’t quite cooperate with me, as, it was a very cloudy sunrise morning, so I didn’t really catch any epic shots. Though there was a moment where the clouds parted a bit, and the sun was shining onto one of the rock faces. It looked amazing and I tried to snap some photos, but none of them quite turned out the way I saw it in person. But that’s okay.

McKenzie Pass shot with the Leica Q

I’m glad I took the time to drive up there and was able to do some shooting. There are several more photos I took around Fort Robinson that I’ll share later this week.

McKenzie Pass shot with the Leica Q

McKenzie Pass shot with the Leica Q

McKenzie Pass shot with the Leica Q

McKenzie Pass shot with the Leica Q

McKenzie Pass shot with the Leica Q

McKenzie Pass shot with the Leica Q

McKenzie Pass shot with the Leica Q

McKenzie Pass shot with the Leica Q

All these photos were shot with my Leica Q, and then edited on my iPad Pro using Lightroom CC.

Golden Hour at McKenzie Pass

Breckenridge Whiskey Barrels: Wallpaper Background

Breckenridge, Colorado is one of the best towns in Colorado.

It’s beautiful. It’s full of great things to do. It has a bunch of excellent food and drink spots. And, arguably, it’s home to one of the best bourbon distilleries in America.

I grew up not far from Breckenridge, and used to go up many times during the winters in order to snowboard. Nowadays I usually visit Breck with my family during the summer. And I’ve been hosting a small mastermind retreat there for the past 3 years in a row.

Earlier this summer as some friends and I were touring the Breck Distillery I snapped this photo of some of the stacked, aging barrels. It’s been my iPhone’s Home screen wallpaper for a while, and I wanted to share it for you to use if you’d like.

Download the full version directly here and save it to use as a device wallpaper on your Mac, iPad, or iPhone. Cheers!

Breckenridge Whiskey Barrels: Wallpaper Background

I can’t remember the last time I used my iMac to edit a photo. All my photo editing happens on the iPad Pro.

The iPad is an ideal tool for perusing and editingyour photos. So, in a sense, picking the best photo editing app for the iPad is actually picking the best photo editing app, period.

Two other personal side-notes about Lightroom:

  • If you are using Lightroom, you should check out the presets that Rebecca Lily has to offer — they are fantastic. I have sets IV, V, and VI. As a long-time VSCO user, there are several bold and moody presets in Rebecca’s Pro Sets V and VI that I think are great.

  • Paying a few bucks a month for Lightroom cloud storage syncing and backup is worth the price alone to have a second layer of cloud backup for my entire Lightroom catalog.

The Best Photo-Editing App for iPad

Dam Foggy

Bull Shoals Dam

Over the summer, some friends and I went to Bull Shoals for camping and spearfishing.

After our first day there I noticed that in the early mornings and in the evenings the river would get a huge blanket of fog. So I spent part of my afternoon scouting out some spots that I wanted to shoot from. And then, once the evening fog rolled in, I would be prepared — knowing exactly where I wanted to be and what shots I wanted to get.

Here are a few of those foggy dam shots. I have some other shots of the river bank that I’ll post later.

Bull Shoals Dam

Bull Shoals Dam

Bull Shoals Dam

Shot with the Leica Q and edited in VSCO on my iPad Pro.

Dam Foggy

View From the Top of Nashville

A few weeks ago I was in Nashville for about 24 hours to briefly visit an old friend and connect with a new one.

We had dinner at Bourbon Steak. A restaurant that sits on top of the JW Marriott in downtown Nashville.

Despite the name, the bourbon selection was unexpectedly average. But no matter! The steak was fantastic, and the view from the top of the city was incredible.

Shot with the Leica Q and edited in Lightroom an my iPad Pro.

View From the Top of Nashville

A Few Photos from The Talk Show Live at WWDC 2019

The Talk Show Live at WWDC 2019

The live podcast events at WWDC are turning into the main events, second only to the keynote. I was just barely able to get tickets to the Talk Show, and I only managed to do so by setting an alarm on my phone for a few minutes before they were scheduled to go on sale, and then furiously refreshing the web page.

But it’s worth it. This year’s The Talk Show Live show was fantasic.

I’ve been to nearly every live Talk Show. And, aside from the year when Phil Schiller showed up completely unexpected, I thought this year’s show was definitely best. John’s interview with Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak was just excellent — both insightful and entertaining.

The Talk Show Live at WWDC 2019

The Talk Show Live at WWDC 2019

The Talk Show Live at WWDC 2019

The Talk Show Live at WWDC 2019

These photos were taken with the Leica Q and edited in Lightroom CC on my iPad Pro.

A Few Photos from The Talk Show Live at WWDC 2019