September 11, 2011

Anniversary of 9/11

General Living

Remembering 9/11: I woke up this morning, after a most excellent wedding yesterday, feeling like I just wanted to ignore the 10th Anniversary of 9/11. Thinking that it didn’t really affect me. As the morning goes on, I am finding it really hard to not reflect on that day. For everyone in the US, there is the emotion of remembering where you were, what you were doing, the sheer bravery we witnessed on TV and the stories we heard on the radio, thinking of friends and family in Manhattan. Trying to call people there.

remembering 9/11 10th Anniversary with twin tower skyline in NYC

10 years ago, I was working at a job that I knew would be ending eventually. With people I did not like. I felt like I was wasting my degree in Photography on a dead end retail job. At the time, I was a regional trainer for retail photo labs and was supposed to drive to Buffalo to visit one employee I really disliked.

The terrorist attacks were a wake up call for me, as they were for a lot of people. What am I doing with my life? Is this the best use of my time on earth? Who is most important to me? Do I make a difference in people’s lives?

Another thought running through my mind all day was that on July 4, 2001, I was on top of the World Trade Center with my family. My Dad had biked with the Houston Police Department Bike Relay Team as part of their 20th Anniversary celebration. They rode bicycles from Houston to LA to NYC to raise money for the Leukemia Society. To think that I had just been there. Standing in that spot. On July 4th of all days…

Seeing my Dad doing something so amazing, coupled with the giant wake up call that was the terrorist attacks, really started gears turning inside my head. This laid the groundwork for the motivation to stop holding myself back. It laid the groundwork for my realization that I can have a better life.

Skip forward to today. I can’t believe that I am near my 10 year anniversary of photographing people’s weddings. More honestly, I can’t believe that I still love my job. I woke up this morning feeling blessed that not only do I love my job and the people I get to work with, but they seem to really appreciate me as well. I feel honored that I get to create heirlooms for new families being created and that I get to make new friends in the process. To be a full time Photographer is a blessing and a dream.

I am no hero like brave Fire Fighters and Police Officers, however hopefully my time spent on this earth will bring some small joy to other’s lives in one way or another. To wake up each day and choose to be a better person. To be happy.

My thoughts today are with all of the people who didn’t have the positive reaction that I ended up having. To all the families who lost a loved one and have such an event define their lives… I can’t even comprehend the toll this has taken on so many people all over the world….

What are you doing today while remembering 9/11?


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This month, I am honored to be the Featured Photographer by my web gallery host and album manufacturer, Digilabs Pro! ~ article written by Stephanie Weber Eco-friendly weddings Heather McKay, a Rochester NY photographer is one of those people that you just don’t ever forget. I had the pleasure of meeting her in person at WPPI when we were doing some usability testing and customer feedback sessions on our new web galleries. Before this I had only “met” her through Facebook but upon meeting her in person I felt as if we had known each other for years. Heather started McKay’s Photography and said it took her, “years and years to finally fall into weddings.” She has been a photographer since she was a child… she use to dress people up in silly costumes just to take their pictures for fun. Over the years she moved into Fine Art photography and swore off weddings. “I wish I realized earlier that there are other people like me that don’t want the traditional wedding photos of the 70′s and 80′s,” said Heather. It wasn’t until a friend of hers was getting married, and seeking wedding photographers that Heather started making the transition. Her friend’s wedding is where it all began! As Heather says “My goal has always been to photograph wedding as a photojournalist and as a friend. To capture the essence of the person, as only a friend would know how.” Now she is happily photographing weddings and meeting some amazing couples. Want to learn more about Heather McKay and McKay’s Photography? View her website, subscribe to her blog, like her on Facebook, add her to your LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter. Don’t forget to view her sample gallery and prepare to get inspired! PS – Bring out that box of tissues – there is a moving story down there… Seriously, get that box out, you are going to need it. Describe your personal style. A mixture of Eddie Bauer and Anthropology. Very functional, with a hint of modern trends. Someone recently described my work as artistically real. I like that. Country Club weddings in rochester ny by McKay's Photography What photographers inspire you? Sebastiao Salgado, Joe Buissink, Gary Isaacs, David Williams, Julia Margaret Cameron. Toronto is churning out some amazing wedding photographers right now. Wedding Photographer Heather McKay What gear or gadgets can you not live without? My Fuji S5 cameras, Aperture and my camera bag. I guess I like the underdogs. I would buy 20 more Fuji S5s if I could. Aperture is the key to my album and print sales. My camera bag, which is actually a high end diaper bag, is the BEST camera bag I’ve ever owned. Name a person, place or thing you cannot live without. Everything is temporary. I guess my health. I’m really active and can’t imagine not being able to move my body. Artisan Works weddings in rochester ny by McKay's Photography How does your studio set itself apart from the multitude of new photographers out there? By trying to invent the next trend, focusing on pure quality of image without gimmicks, quality time with each client and selling wedding albums. I do lose weddings because I don’t provide the digital files with wedding coverage, however I think this is the biggest disservice to my clients and their eventual offspring. Not to mention photographer’s bottom lines. My customers are SO happy when they get their heirloom wedding album. It is one of those things that you don’t know you are missing out on until you go through the process. What is the biggest challenge you have had in your business so far and how did you overcome it? I have had just one nightmare couple. Just one in 9 years! They taught me SO much about what I needed to have in writing and how to be preemptive. I would not be nearly as successful (with super happy couples) had it not been for them. All of my success with albums is due to the chaos these people brought into my life. Now, my couples cry tears of joy when I deliver their final wedding album and they send me thank you notes! I even got a thank you note from a bride’s Grandma this year! It is hard to explain here how important the album process is. For my business and for my couples. If it wasn’t for this couple, I wouldn’t have the backbone I have today with my policies and procedures. You live and learn, right? modern wedding albums created by mckay's photography What is the most successful marketing strategy you have implemented in your business? I was a very early adopter of Facebook and it brought me a lot of business before other photographers caught on. Now I try to get as creative with it as possible and make it as easy as possible for my past clients to refer my studio. Recently, my blog comments were switched over to Facebook commenting instead of standard WordPress comments. This has increased the comments dramatically and I just read an article about Google’s new ranking system where interaction is now key. Staying on top, or ahead, of these changes is important for staying relevant and ahead of the curve. How does DigiLabs Pro help your business? Oh, in so many ways. I was soooooo unhappy with my previous gallery host and spent months searching for the replacement. There has been nothing but puppies and rainbows with DigiLabs Pro ever since. My print sales increased immediately upon transitioning. Currently, the albums are super hot with my couples. We are totally digging the Marina line. One Grandmother of a Bride offered to buy the couple a new coffee table to put the album on! What I love is that DigiLabs handles their business like I do…. Just enough of what is hot & trendy with keeping things as simple as possible. Tell me about one of your biggest disasters from a shoot. Well, there are several mini disasters that happen each year, right? My first ‘real’ wedding (where they found me through advertising) was the biggest. From start to finish, curve balls were thrown at me. It taught me EXACTLY what my strength and weaknesses were. tragic wedding storyOne situation, that taught me a lot, was from 2009. I was photographing a wedding in a giant art gallery, Artisan Works. This place is huge (50,000 square feet!) and the lighting changes every 4 feet. On camera flash is a must. Of course, all of my Nikon Speedlights started to malfunction. Walking the distance to my spare camera bag/batteries/flashes is a hike and the DJ is announcing important events on the other end of the main room. 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