Working for the Man

Famous marathon runner Bill Rodgers once said, “No one who works 40 hours will ever beat me in a marathon.”. I always thought that probably applied to photography as well, thinking nobody who works a full time job will be able to compete in the world of stock photography. This of course was before Getty Images set out to single handedly destroy the stock photo market with predatory pricing combined with the worst royalty percentages in the industry, making a full time job a survival necessity

Now though, forced into working full time in a non related field of expertise, my original premise has become more reality than theory. My head constantly swimming from lack of sleep, problems at work that need solving and overwhelming time constraints. As I suspected so many years ago it is difficult to compete. When the moment comes I am doomed to miss it… I am at work when the awesome sunrises happen, at work when the clouds are at their most amazing, at work when the wildlife make their brief appearance at dawn and dusk and at work when my buddies plan their next mountain summit adventures. Ideas are few and far between as fatigue turns my brain into mush for days and my camera sits dormant in it’s Lowepro backpack for weeks at a time. There are no pictures to process, no adventures to write about and all the while my portfolio grows more and more outdated.

On the other side of the Catch 22 however, without the full time job there would be no money to finance an adventure, no money for a house payment…. no money to sustain life. So there has to be a way, giving up on our dreams just to work full time is unacceptable. I’m thinking the answer may lie in better planning, better time management and planning ahead for opportunities. I can’t wait for that moment when I can finally think clearly to dream up a plan. Ideas come and go and I hope that with some good notes some plans will formulate, maybe at lunchtime or maybe in my dreams at night. Definitely not the optimal situation but maybe it will be just enough for precious progress.

Maybe if I can dig deep enough I will find within the ability to carry on with my writing and photography despite the adversity.I know times are difficult for others trying to realize their dreams in many fields. I wonder if any of my readers are facing similar struggles and what you might be doing to overcome the obstacles of time and fatigue. Thoughts, leave a comment!

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Happy Winter Solstice

Alone in the woods in the coldness and darkness of the Rocky Mountain winter Christmas and the New Year holidays become meaningless dates on an arbitrary calendar, nights to be endured not celebrated… The birth of Christ, celebrated all over the world by families almost certainly did not occur exactly on the 25th of December anyway. In those Spartan circumstances another date becomes meaningful, tangible and measurable. It is the solstice, the day when the sun halts it’s southward journey assuring us that the next day will be a little lighter, for some an encouraging concept even if only a few seconds at first.

Fortunately the great celestial moment is not quite as important to me this year. After a decade of sickness, death and hardship I am finally on the rebound with a new town, a new job and a new home. Amazing what modern insulation, a solid roof and a good furnace can do to ease the hardship of a Colorado winter!

Rest assured the birth of my Saviour has not been forgotten, in fact the miracle of a new start making me all the more appreciative of His great mercy and divine provision. Personally I subscribe to the belief that He was born on the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles, the clue given by the Apostle John as he describes His coming to tabernacle among us. 

Although I will not refrain from the joy of the traditional holiday season this year, I feel no guilt in also celebrating the wonder of His magnificent creation, marked today by the amazing annual astronomical event in the heavens 

So it is my sincere hope that my readers will also receive some comfort in knowing that the light of day is on the increase and the warmth of spring is not that far off!

Happy Solstice!

Picture Perfect

Pretty darn chilly here at 9,000 feet high in the Colorado Rockies today, enough to put on a hoody to type this blog post anyway! Not complaining though, this weather is the reason I live here, definitely not a fan of being hot. Tourist at the post office was complaining and hoping it was going to warm up. Nice post office lady at the desk just simply said, “It isn’t.”, lol. I knew it was going to be a good day when Pikes Peak came into view this morning. Storm clouds were already starting to flow across the north face. I love it when it does that, so picturesque 🙂

Sunrise StormThe deer also seemed to be happy about the cool wet weather, the vegetation is so lush this summer, better than it has been in years. Got this shot of one of the doe mule deer. Haven’t gotten one this nice in a while! She stood still and I had time to focus and steady the camera for quite a few good shots with my 70-200 zoom lens. As I look at the picture I am happy to see such awesome definition, even the hairs on her face standing out and she has such a beautiful neck. Even the sun was in the right place shining through the clouds for those perfect catch lights in her eyes. Picture Perfect 🙂Beautiful Doe

As I climbed high onto the ridge on the north side of Ute Pass I was surprised at some of the aftermath of this summer’s abundant rain. Many parts of the trail have been covered by rocks and mud. I’ve been hiking these trails a long time but I have only known drought, fire, evacuations and way too much afternoon sun! Back in the day when I was training for the Leadville Trail 100 on the Barr Trail I could count on rain and storms at 2:00 p.m. like clockwork. Of course this had to be factored in to the training runs, you never want to be on the peak when the lightning starts striking! In fact today reminds me of the weather on my first attempt at running 100 miles in Leadville. It started raining early in the day that day and rained all day and all night, finally clearing early in the morning as the last of the finishers were approaching the finish line.

Hoping then that the long drought is over and the cool rainy weather pattern is returning to the parched mountains. Maybe the long drought in my life is coming to and end as well. I had a productive day, lining up homeowners insurance for the house I am hoping for in Cripple Creek. Also made it through a complicated process to provide salary verification to my prospective lender. My agents are all telling me things are progressing smoothly, but still for me it seems like too much to hope for, like a surreal dream that I never thought would be possible again.

It’s going to be a perfect evening to get some rest… the occasional sound of light rain falling on the roof, a little hot chocolate, some nice music and my furry friends all snuggled around me 🙂

These photographs and others including some beautiful deer that I recently had the pleasure of photographing are available for purchase as prints and royalty free stock on my website. Beautiful wall art products such as prints on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas and traditional frames and mattes can be seen on the regular website while stock images can be purchased from the image licensing portal.

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

 

Road Trip

Didn’t even feel like getting out of bed this morning, much less going out and doing anything… But after wrestling with my mind I finally made it out the door 🙂 Of course having doggies who need their daily activities attended to help a lot! Had to make a stop at Walmart to pick something up for a friend and after that we just kept on going… There is a secret place I like to take the doggies for their hike, no one is ever there and that suits me just fine

ThunderbirdFinally arrived at the destination and was getting the doggies ready to hop out of the back door of the camper shell when Son Boy decided I was moving too slow… Dang near knocked my teeth out with the camper door, while smashing my sunglasses into my face and then onto the rocks where they received a number of lovely scratches. A few exclamations later for which I have since made peace with God I noticed that a group of nicely dressed well to do people had pulled in near me and were looking at me with sad disapproval… Lol, but in my defense, Son Boy can be an asshole and though he looks quite sweet they were not there when he was dragging me face down for about 30 feet across the Walmart lawn, and I feel quite justified in calling him an asshole for today’s infraction!

We had a lovely hike to the summit of Little Grouse Mountain and the overlook onto the distant Collegiate Peaks and Sangre De Cristo Mountains. It was a beautiful cool cloudy day in the Pike National Forest and a magnificent day for a hike. On the way home I was tailgated by a Teller County Sheriff all the way to Florissant where I finally ditched him by pulling into the Thunderbird, a place I had always wanted to check out anyway. What a cool place it is! Sort of a biker bar in the middle of nowhere in the Pike National Forest, it is an amazing landmark and oasis that everyone should visit if possible! Well anyway, I also ran into a writer for the Ute Country News there and gave her my business card in case they might need my photography services. You never know what you might accomplish by just going out the door in the morning, a lesson I will have to keep in mind the next time I don’t feel like facing another day 🙂

It had started raining while I was there and I didn’t  get any good pictures, in fact it wasn’t a good day for pictures at all and I didn’t get any for my website either. Tonight it is still raining and I am just enjoying being inside enjoying some hot chocolate. It is becoming obvious that we have moved past the hottest part of the summer, the days are still warm, but you can really feel the Rocky Mountain chill in air on these nights lately!

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

Little Grouse Mountain

Woke up early this morning with no real plan for the day, but as always I threw my camera in the truck… just in case. The doggies both did their business quickly, which is a good thing, and a big time saver! So instead of my usual trip to the gym I decided to head for the high country in hopes of seeing some wildlife, especially perhaps some bighorn sheep. I have heard rumors of sightings along the route to Cripple Creek and the 50 cent breakfast at Bronco’s was appealing to me as well, so that’s where I headed.

Curious BurroUnfortunately no bighorns, but I inquired as to the possible location of the burro population in town in hopes of seeing them for the first time in the wild in Colorado. So after breakfast I took a couple of roads to the outskirts of town in hopes of spotting the herd. No herd, but while on the hill I did see a big commotion and some ambulances at a casino… probably one of the ancient decrepit souls with oxygen tanks smoking a cigarette that seem to so often frequent those places. Lol I don’t know, just a guess but that is what came to me when I saw the scene. Then as I was on my way back down the hill I heard a big fight going on around some pickup trucks and motorcycles with lots of yelling and cursing, followed by sirens and cop cars. Another foray into the countryside revealed more cop cars and some sort of biker gang having a meeting. Certainly not my idea of a day photographing wildlife surrounded by the peace and solitude of the Colorado Rockies!

Eventually I decided to give it up, but on my way back down Bennett I spotted a burro, then another… hanging out at the jail museum west of the casinos. I wondered, will they let me just walk up to them and take pictures? I had heard they were used to people so I put on the wide angle and sauntered up. Sure enough, they paid me no attention and I started snapping some pictures. About that time a guy came of of the museum and told me they had burro treats inside. So I went in and made a donation and got a little bag of treats to reward them for being such good subjects. In fact they were so good the wide angle was definitely required to get any kind of shot of them due to their curiosity about the camera and determination to put a nose print on the lens! They like to be petted and also like the treats and were happy to eat all that I could give them. Eventually they lost interest when I was out of the treats and moseyed on over to the water tank that the museum provides for them. A big shout out to the museum for taking such good care of them!

Unfortunately, having to have an extra job is taking a toll on my concentration, my body and my photography skills. I knew something was off by the sound of the camera, but paid no attention to my instincts. Turns out the camera had been accidentally set to Tv  at a 20th of a second. I’m lucky I got any pictures at all of the burros, very disappointing… But just the same I am happy this one turned out, it was one of my favorites. Oh well, now I have an excuse to go back soon and see those sweet natured beasts again 🙂

Upon returning to the truck I discovered that Son Boy had found a hitherto forgotten packet of BBQ sauce and had managed to explode it all over the inside of my truck 😦 Actually it was a big relief when I finally ascertained what had happened because when I first saw him I about had a heart attack, thinking he was bleeding from his mouth!!!!!!!!!! Luckily the packets don’t hold much so I was able to clean up in short order and be back on the way. That reminds me… there is still sauce on the ceiling that I need to deal with 😦

Collegiate Peak Mountains in ColoradoWell then, off to Victor… There were a couple of spots along that road I wanted to photograph in the morning light… On the way I spotted an overlook I have never noticed before, so I pulled in to check it out and discovered a nice hiking trail to a small mountain appropriately named “Little Grouse Mountain”, just short enough for the doggies including 14 year old Kitsu to come with 🙂 Nice little hike with all sorts of historic landmarks and interpretive signs along the way. Turns out Grouse Mountain is rich in mining history and there are a number of abandoned sites to study along the way. At the top there is a magnificent view of the Sangre De Cristos and the Collegiate Peaks to the west and northwest.

Finally I had escaped the hubub of a tourist invasion in Woodland Park for “free fishing day”… which reminded me of Tricia. After she was diagnosed with cancer she said she just wanted to go fishing. She had never been and finally decided she would like to just retire and spend some time along a stream fishing. Unfortunately she kept finding too many things to do and never got to go. My advice on that subject? If there is something you really want to do don’t delay, there are no guarantees for a tomorrow in this life. As I wandered the summit of the little mountain and took in the magnificent views I wondered… did the miners appreciate this solitude as much as I was on this day? Were they as appreciative of the stunning views as I was this morning, or were they blinded by greed and the gold dust. I could sense their ghosts as the breeze whispered in the pines, occasionally accompanied by the mournful sound of the historic Cripple Creek Victor narrow gauge railroad train whistle. It had to have been a brutal lifestyle, I wonder if it was worth it? All the work and suffering for that gold only to leave it behind on the journey into the afterlife. And I wonder, am I just like they were? Only with a camera, prospecting for a different kind of gold in the harshness of life in these mountains two miles above sea level. I don’t know, but just the same I thank the Almighty for the legs and the lungs and the opportunity to be able to climb to a place like this and the eyes to see the magnificence of His Creation.

I was so enjoying the solitude, the happiness of finally getting to climb a mountain even if it was only a little one, a place all to myself save for the critters who call that mountain home. But sprinkles soon made my decision for me and it was raining steadily by the time we made it back to the truck. The puppies gladly hopped out of the rain into the camper topper and I decided it was time to return to the madness of the city. But it was a good day in the mountains, not what I had planned but that is ok with me.

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

10,000 Captures

Today was a milestone of sorts… I hadn’t noticed until I transferred the images to my laptop, but today my camera rolled over 10,000 images and started over at 00001. And as fate would have it, #10,000 was my favorite one of the day. I was at the library in the reading room checking out the new issue of Outdoor Photographer when I saw the storm roll in over the peak. So I grabbed my camera and went out onto the deck for the show.

Thunder on the MountainSo today reminds me of the day two years ago that I purchased this camera, a Canon 70D, down at Mike’s in the Springs. It also reminds me of an online discussion I was reading one time about what exactly is a professional photographer. Some argued that it meant you made a full time living from it, others said you were a professional if you were paid at all for your pictures, others said you were professional if you acted professionally while performing your art. One guy said you were definitely not a professional if the first thing you do in difficult financial times is sell your equipment for cash.

Well that last one is certainly not me! Two years ago Tricia and my 40D passed at about the same time, along with my living as a caregiver to her while she was dying of cancer. So a few people sent me cash to help out with the death expenses and when I received my final check from the medical company that I worked for I put it all together and spent everything I had to acquire this camera. I could not imagine being without a camera… I felt like an incomplete person without one!

Since then, this camera has been to countless sporting events, festivals, hikes, on top of seven of Colorado’s 14ers… and more I’m sure! Well anyway, here’s to number 10,000 and here’s to a joyful and prosperous future!

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

Leading Indicator of Better Times

Before 2008 when the stock and housing markets crashed, there were indicators of the choppy seas ahead. My wife and I were involved in three businesses, unfortunately all non-essential to daily life. She had two businesses, mobile disc jockeying in the wedding industry and the online and physical sales of collectibles at a store we rented. I of course was a contributor in the stock photo industry in addition to employment as a software engineer at a major defense contractor. At least as far back as 2006 these once thriving endeavors began to falter… Now, ten long miserable years later, two of those businesses and my wife are  gone. She of course lost her battle to cancer and I was forced to liquidate her two businesses, which by that time were completely worthless and a storage expense liability only. And right when I needed it the most, the demand for photography was near zero.

large-line-item-1384383.jpgThe much touted economic recovery, mostly in minimum or near minimum wage jobs during the last decade has not resulted in an improvement in the business climate. In fact, looking at my print sales, it has been over a year since I made a real actual print sale, other than my mom buying gift cards from me of course 🙂

However, times may again be “a changin‘”, this time for the better.  The new year has seen a definite uptick in photo sales. I have always heard the stock photo business is a “leading indicator” of the economy. In other words, sales show the direction of business. When there is optimism and opportunity, businesses advertise. When they advertise they buy pictures for those advertisements. Another indicator of better times is a recent uptick in print sales. Like this one of the now defunct Rocky Mountain Balloon Festival, a longstanding Denver event which also did not survive the lost decade. When people are feeling confident about their position in life they spend money on non-essential things, items purchased mainly for enjoyment.

It is just a glimmer of hope at the moment that could easily be snuffed out by any number of natural and man made disasters but it is a glimmer of hope, something I have not  experienced in a long time. Maybe the good times are not “Gone for Good“, to which today I offer a toast to a promising future: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items