2 years later Update

Posted: 25th July 2014 by admin in Uncategorized

I’m not sure anybody actually reads this little blog, but I have a few minutes and thought I would bring it up to date… it’s only been two years. wow!

It took quite awhile to actually call this home, perhaps in excess of a year for me, but routine brings about familiarity that brings about comfort with surroundings and schedules.

One of the things from a business perspective that I wasn’t prepared for was the fact that the type of Photography that I used to do in the midwest is pretty much non existent here. I loved the creativity and on the spot imagination that high school Senior Portraits demanded, and since we have been here and in spite of spending a lot of money promoting, we have done very few Senior Portraits.

We have done a few model portfolio sessions and lots and lots of family sessions on the area beaches, so the creativity is different. Most of the family sessions are done at sunset and because I deal with groups of people, the patience that it takes for my clients to do multi hour long sessions just isn’t there. For the most part, they would like to be done and over with within an hour..some of the people just would rather not be taking part in them but do so grudgingly because it’s forced family fun.

We try to make it fun and energetic, but we have found that there are times where the families themselves have serious “discussions” before they ever arrive at the shoot and tensions sometimes start high. It’s not hard to detect so that’s when it helps to have developed a good sense of humor and play the psychologist from minute one.

Venice is a beautiful town, and part of what we have discovered, there are a ton of Photographers that make their way here. We have competition, professional and non professionals that very definitely split the pie and it certainly not like in the previous decades where there was plenty of business to go around.

I think on top of the fact that everyone is a Photographer now that owns a cell phone or a camera, Photographs themselves don’t have the same commercial values to them that they used to have. In that sense, the laws of supply and demand are well at play. The supply of Photos and Photographers has reduced the demand for many of the types of photography that we used to get called upon to do.

This has helped photographers to become more specialized in the types of photography that they are good at, but it certainly has affected the bread and butter work we used to do to pay the bills, etc.

With all of that being said, we are being successful because of the diversity we offer in the areas of Video Production, Audio Recording Studio, Website Development and Graphic Design and printing.

We live in North Port and would like to be able to live closer to the studio in Venice but that will have to wait until business develops more or until we come across a really amazing deal.

The area is really growing with construction happening all around us.

Florida is a beautiful beautiful place and if nothing else, you really should come for a visit!!

Hurricane Isaac Part 5

Posted: 26th August 2012 by admin in Uncategorized

This is from Sunday afternoon, just before Isaac was predicted to hit our area, but since has taken a more westerly track.

Photo shows very little breeze and the areas marked off represent where sea turtles have laid their eggs. Not to be messed with. I understand there are literally hundreds of volunteers that comb the beaches early in the am and watch out for the fine flippered friends and assist the little guys after they hatch to make it to the sea. I would love to be there for that sometime!!

Looks like Isaac is going to be a rain event for us and now the focus is on Mobile, AL and New Orleans area. Keeping our fingers crossed, I can see how the anticipation over these bad boys can drive folks crazy. Remember, we have no basements here!

Hurricane Isaac Part 4

Posted: 26th August 2012 by admin in Uncategorized

Sunday morning and the wind is picking up outside. Humidity up a lot too. The weather radio sounding it’s alarm and blaring about tornado watches in the area. Pretty much right on cue and as everyone predicted would happen.

A gray day and no anticipation of sunshine as we head to church.

Weather channel update shows the track of the storm to be on more of a westward track. Good for us but not so good eventually for those in the New Orleans, Mobile Alabama area.

It does put you on edge and unlike in the midwest where a storm might happen and tornado’s are the biggest threat with usually only a notice of a matter of hours or minutes, this threat of hurricanes drags on for days and builds, adding to the stress.

Anyhow, maybe a break this time!! We’ll see as the next couple days progress.

Hurricane Isaac Part 3

Posted: 25th August 2012 by admin in Uncategorized

Across the street from our house in North Port, 6 P.M. Saturday.

Upon talking to our neighbor, I was reminded of how many mobile home parks we have surrounding us. We live in a very quiet neighborhood full of smaller wood frame houses. We probably wouldn’t do well being struck by mobile home debris but then of course, neither would the mobile homes fare well.

Watching the news as the governor of the state Rick Scott talking about possible evacuations and to stay tuned in the event that has to happen.

People in the neighborhood are running around, buttoning up anything that could be a projectile, the gas stations are running out of gas and Wal Mart was a zoo. Parking lot was so full you would have thought a rock concert (or maybe jazz or country) was going on.

The weather radio was lit up with storm warnings flashing and we are keeping tuned in case we have to head out.

It’s not scary yet and it appears from the latest “cone of uncertainty” that we are becoming less likely to take a direct hit.

At least there is some degree of warning with these monsters.

Hurricane Isaac Part 2

Posted: 25th August 2012 by admin in Uncategorized


Photo is of Venice Beach, and while scuba classes must go on it appears, the sky is beginning to cloud up. This was taken around noon on Saturday and the day started out kind of cool for Florida. A very nice breeze and unusual compared to what it has been.

Sitting here at home with the weather channel on, we keep hearing as you probably are too that Florida is under a state of emergency. Not sure what to do other than getting some supplies and propane for grill and camping lights that I have. We are far enough inland that we shouldn’t have to worry about storm surge, not sure about the tornado thing though that these hurricanes spin off.

A lot of the locals think that the news blows these things all out of proportion, but I used to work in news so I think I know the difference.

Otherwise, another beautiful day right now but we will be keeping our eyes and ears open and will let you know how it’s going!

Here’s a map so you can keep an eye on where we are.

Hurricane Isaac Part 1

Posted: 24th August 2012 by admin in Uncategorized

So here we are in Florida, and when you look at the big map, we live on the Gulf coast side and generally you see them showing Ft. Myers and Tampa. We are about 1/2 way between the two.

As it appears right now, Mr. Isaac is predicted to skirt along our coast and while it may not directly swing out and hit us straight on, I am hearing and learning that the worst side of the hurricane to be on is the right side, the tornadic side as these things spin off tornado’s. Around Memorial weekend, our house took a direct hit from an F0 tornado, and while our neighbors sustained quite a bit of damage, we didn’t have any issues other than some soffiting and neighbors roof parts up in our trees.

So, what’s it like being in the near bullseye? With several days away, naturally curiousity increases and greater attention than ever is paid to the weather channel and radar and any tidbit we can get from the predictors of how the thing is going to track and how big it is getting. Not a lot different than when we were living in Iowa watching the news, but the difference now is of course, what should we be doing with our stuff? And should we be doing anything?

To look outside it is another beautiful Florida day and hard to imagine that a week from today, things COULD be drastically different. We drove though south Florida shortly after Hurricane Andrew hit, and if you all from Iowa area remember what Lima, Illinois looked like after that tornado a few years back, well that is what the devastation of Andrew looked like only for miles and miles and miles in all directions. The area was just flattened.

So as anticipation grows, we trust that God is in control and whatever He has in store, has to be for some reason.

Somewhere between the next 3-5 days, yet another new experience awaits. Our business in Venice is right close to the coastline, probably about a mile inland. Out house in North Port is another 10 miles inland so if we can escape any wind or tornado’s, we’ll be in good shape.

I’ll add to this over the next few days, add some photos of course and hopefully as the nerves rattle, the windows won’t.

Thanks for listening.

e!

5 months into a new reality.

Posted: 28th July 2012 by admin in Uncategorized

Almost the first of August and 5 months ago we rolled into town. How very unsettling to be unsettled. We had hopes for smooth sailing and as far as the studio goes, it was nice to walk into having a little work waiting and after having done this line of work for so many years, it really wasn’t all that unfamiliar.

Kate our former owner of Island Photographics has been very helpful and we are grateful for a smooth transition. She immediately began to introduce us to the movers and shakers here in Venice and we are having people come in now that have at least heard of us.

In this area, we are told that the town is around 20,000 people, perhaps a little over double where we came from in Keokuk. We are also told that “in season”, November thru April, that it swells to 200,000 people. What we weren’t quite prepared for was the “off-season”. Although we were certainly told about it, we weren’t prepared completely for what that really meant.

Every business that we’ve talked to experiences the same thing. We have to plan on things dieing off when the snowbirds leave. In April, when they have pretty much all gone back north, people here also tend to leave and go on vacation, or else they button up and spending is curtailed. Things began to pick back up and the outlook better as July came and talks of a very busy fall season give a lot of hope and anticipation. That’s how things are going with the business.

At home in North Port, we actually had a tornado hit out neighborhood over Memorial weekend. John Mott, who is our neighbor here that is also from Keokuk goes north during the summer and I hitched a ride with him to go back to Iowa and get my pickup truck. As we were northbound, a popup thunderstorm hit near our house and Judy called me to tell me her and Austin had taken refuge in the bathroom as they saw the funnel cloud approach. It was 150 ft. wide and apparently hit our neighbors house and ours as we had a lot of debris in the trees around our house. Other lost part of their roofs and we made the national news. Judy and Austin weren’t hurt and we sustained moderate issues with our house, some soffiting and roof issues but not as bad as our neighbors.

Drove back a few days later, was able to do a few photo shoots while I was in Iowa and that helped pay for the trip. Austin went to be with his dad for the summer back in June and is scheduled to return in a couple weeks.

Christopher my son has just passed his exams for being a court reporter and his gal Cecillie has graduated and passed her RN tests, school and boards and is now a full fledged Registered Nurse. My daughter is planning to get married soon here in Florida and Owen is growing and conversing like a real big kid.

And such is life right now, all is well and I continue to miss family and friends back home.

Two months…

Posted: 6th May 2012 by admin in Uncategorized

This week, it will have been two months since we landed in this foreign land of Florida.

Eveything, absolutely everything in life is different. Not different in a bad way, just different. The little things you do on a daily basis, the habits, the routines, the friends and family. Things that were important now are important in a different way, mostly as memories. Everything from getting up in the morning, to the unfamiliar faces you greet both in the commute to work and those on the street after you get to work. My office is different, my studio is different, my routine is different and the scenery is definitely different.

That being said, I guess I’m not insane as I felt I needed to do something different in order to get other-than-the-same results.

So, have you ever wondered what it might be like to just move away and start over?

This is what it’s like.

Last year after Judy went in the hospital for emergency Gall bladder surgery, it became pretty clear to me that we needed to try and do something different if we were going to be able to afford health insurance. Thankfully our church (Cornerstone) stepped up and helped out a bit and helped take some of the pressure off, but we will be paying off the hospital for many years to come unless things become real successful, which of course we strive for.

Keokuk always treated us well and no complaints from me. It’s just that the market there for what I do and the world economy no doubt pressed us into needing to take some drastic measures. That’s when the idea of getting out of our routine and considering moving our entire existence started to form.

I had moved from Keokuk back in 1999 and it was because a job at CHMI called me back with great incentives, good pay and position. I thought sure I had some security, insurances and maybe even retirement. That combined with being a photographer on the side made for living in Keokuk nice and comfortable. For 10 years I enjoyed that and then all of a sudden, the company crashed and nearly everyone was permanently laid off. For the next two or three years we gave it a go on Main Street and seeing the writing on the wall, I began to look at options.

For those that have been following our story, you know that this studio in Venice, FL. became available and that is where we are and many many small and large miracle made it possible for me to continue to do the job that I love to do. So far it’s working out wonderfully.

You probably also know that I miss my family and friends like crazy. I’m missing seeing my child and grandchild and his mother, my mother and brothers, cousins and neighbors. Our church family was close and irreplaceable.

So for the moment, after only two months, we still feel like we’re floating and I’ve heard it said that it take a couple of years to feel at home.

I’ll let you know how that works out!

Thanks for reading.
e!

Monday night

Posted: 19th March 2012 by admin in Uncategorized

Yesterday was an interesting day. We are in search of a church we can use our music skills, not desperately seeking, but keeping our eyes and ears open for opportunity. We really loved what we did at Cornerstone Church in Keokuk, personally, I loved doing that every bit as much as Photography or any other thing I do for my day job.
We were invited by a customer last week to visit her church in Venice, so we did that yesterday. They have a lot of talent at her church so not sure they really have room for anyone else, but the Pastor and his wife were very nice, took us to lunch and we got to share….as they did too. Was pretty surprised that they entertained us afterwards as we were just visitors. Very very nice.
By the time we got home after church it was 3:30 in the afternoon. We must have talked a lot.

It is challenging to meet all these new folks and then try to remember names, etc. Then when we talk to each other, it’s hard to reference people as well. I’m sure it will all come together.

Austin’s first day of school was today. The first week we were here he was out due to the paperwork nightmare, and last week, they were out of school for Spring Break. He was scared and apprehensive. We told him, welcome to what we’ve been experiencing.

The Guidance Counselor was awesome and because we are on an “Island”, she shared that the Island folks really patronize and try to help each other out. We have heard that from several others and it is proving to be true. The High School graduates about 600 students per Senior class. We are one of very few studios in the area that does Sr. Portraits and it appears we should have a very good market for Sr. Port. Photography here in the near future. That with the unbelievable scenery should make for a successful studio.

Saturday night, end week 2

Posted: 17th March 2012 by admin in Uncategorized

We have had opportunity to meet and speak to a good number of people now. Kate has introduced us to many customers and this last week I attended the Bay Area Professional Photographers meeting in Sarasota. A wonderful group of like minded photographers that openly share their craft. Kate introduced me to the group and I have actually already seen some of them through our Sr Port organization at convention.
Kate also introduced me to Rotary Thursday group at Venice yacht club. They are a fun crowd, slightly larger in numbers than Keokuk Rotary club, but I must say run quite differently.
Along with Paul Fitzsimmons, brother in law to be, we are bringing a new service to Venice and the world, and that is APP creation for Android and Apple phones and Pads. A bit specialized at the moment, but interest and demand is there so we are building a business division with that service. More on that soon!