Don't write this way

So You Want to be a Freelancer

A Blog About Becoming a Freelance Writer/Photographer

 
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Send me a message at sue@suebarthelow.com and let know that you're out there. If you want to add a comment to one of my blog postings, e-mail it, and I'll add it. Maybe we can get a discussion going.

By the way, if you see a problem with some aspect of operation on my web site, please e-mail me to let me know about it. Although I try to fully test it, I know that some of my visitors use Internet browsers that are different from the one I use. And, sad to say, sometimes things simply fall through the cracks.

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Waterfowl in California's Central Valley

posted on Thursday, November 15, 2007

I had to drive up to Chico the other day. My camera is always with me. OK, not entirely true, but close enough. When the opportunity presented itself, I braved the foul weather to capture some images of the recently arrived Tundra Swans. Want to read about the day? Click here.

My Web Store has Launched

posted on Monday, November 12, 2007

I launched my new photo gallery web store this morning. The gallery is still open for your viewing pleasure. Please feel free to wander around and look at any and all images whenever you like. If you see something you'd like to buy, use the new buttons. PayPal will handle the details. Thanks for your visits. It's nice to have you simply come in and take a look around.

Preparing for my First Local Sales Site

posted on Monday, November 12, 2007

Lately, I've been spending most of my time preparing for my first local sales site. I plan to display six 11"x14" framed images in a local business and to change them every 6 weeks. Fall photos will adorn the walls first. Each image will be accompanied by 2 unframed 11"x14" and 2 unframed 5"x7" versions of the image. I'm attaching the unframed images to a white or black backing board and placing a single white or off-white mat on the ones attached to the white backing boards. The black backs go with the images that are most attractive against the dark background. All unframed images get packaged in clear protective covers.

I'll track my sales and adjust how I do things accordingly. If this works out, I plan to locate a similar business in a community some distance away and set up another sales site. I can move the framed and unframed images from one site to the next. After an image has rotated through however many sites I end up with, the unsold unframed images will go into my prepared inventory. Maybe next year, I'll try out a booth at some kind of fair or farmer's market. Wish me luck.

One Gone, Many More to Go

posted on Saturday, October 27, 2007

I sold my first 8x10 image today along with a packet of blank greeting cards. There's no turning back now. I'm managing my books with Quicken Premier and Business software and my on-line sales with PayPal. PayPal's documentation is helping me prepare my photo gallery web pages with shopping cart buttons. Hopefully, you'll be seeing the changes soon. Until then, please feel free to contact me via e-mail if there's an image you just can't wait to buy.

Sierra Colors

posted on Friday, October 26, 2007

I spent the last two afternoons high up in the Sierras taking pictures of the fall colors. What a spectacular year! The aspen grove near Emigrant Gap glowed pure gold against the green pines. After capturing a handful of golden images, I motored on up I80, turned onto Highway 20 and headed down into the canyon and then onto Bowman Lake Rd.

As it crossed under the road, the headwaters of the Bear River enticed me to work my way over its rocks for some slow shutter speed water shots. One of these days, I'll get adventurous enough to take my rubber boots and go fishing for better angles. Unfortunately for my images, I haven't convinced myself to be that daring yet.

Back in the car, I continued into the mountains on Bowman Lake Rd and parked near the bridge that crosses the Yuba River. After capturing several images, I hiked up-river along the Pioneer Trail to see what was there. I preferred being near the river, so I left the trail as it headed uphill.

The forest was magic. Bright yellows stood out in all directions from within the thick pines. The floor was littered with needles, stones and fallen branches both small and large. The only sounds came from the current rushing down the Yuba River on its way to the Sacramento Valley.

The river eventually drew me over to find a grouping of still pools that offered the most amazing reflections. I could have stayed forever, but the sun was heading for the horizon and the canyon would soon grow dim. Paradise found, I had to force myself to leave.

You'll find these new images in the photo gallery soon.

Reaching a New Level

posted on Wednesday, October 23, 2007

Well, I've done it now. The many photos that I love dearly (of course I have to love them don't I) have finally pushed me to a new level. Wanting to share them with the world, I've decided to put them on-line so you can see them. Want your own copy? Yesterday, I set up an account with PayPal so I can sell them too. Watch for the changes that will hopefully come soon as I set up shopping cart buttons and such.

Sonoma Coast State Park

posted on Wednesday, October 23, 2007

My husband is a Burning Man ranger. In case you don't know, Burning Man is a week long festival held annually deep within the northern Nevada desert. This year, I took advantage of his absence by going on a photo shoot at Sonoma Coast State Beach. What a beautiful stretch of rugged coast. Click here to see some of my best photos. Want to read about the day? Click here.

The Color of CSI Miami

posted on Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I don't know about you, but I find the CSI TV shows fascinating. As a photographer, I especially enjoy CSI Miami as I watch it from a photographer's view. They capture so many wonderful images and use such striking coloration that I know they do it intentionally - using their special techniques to engage the viewer's visual senses. It certainly works for me. If you haven't watched one of the episodes, check it out to see what they've done. It may give you some new composition and coloring tricks to try.

Photography Articles

posted on Sunday, August 12, 2007

Interested in digital photography, but not sure how to play with your pictures? You can improve any digital picture by performing a few operations using digital photo software. I like to experiment, so I've learned a few tricks that I can pass on to you. I've started writing Photoshop tutorials, and I've added them to the site. Click here if you want to check them out. I'll be adding more as I come across and try out more magic.

Auburn Arts Contest Winner

posted on Sunday, August 12, 2007

I entered a short travel story into this year's Auburn Arts Contest. My story described a bus adventure my husband and I had when travelling in Mexico. I now have a Gold Medallion award for my effort. The story is on-line with my travel stories. Click here if you want to go out and read it.

Annual Photo Competition

posted on Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Placer Camera Club has an annual competition open to only those photos that have received a top score during one of the quarterly evaluations of the previous fiscal year. I submitted some of the best from my set of photos that did well at the May evaluation. The results were announced at the June meeting, and I was most pleased to have won 2 Honorable Mention awards.

If you'd like to see the annual award winning photos, click here.

First Photo Evaluation Event

posted on Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Last night was one of the photography club's quarterly photo evaluation meetings. A guest judge evaluates the submitted member digital, slide and print photos and ranks them on a scale of 1-12, with 12 being the highest ranking.

I submitted twelve of my photos, a scary prospect for me since I started studying photography in January and didn't know whether my techniques and compositions were perfected yet. I'm happy to say that I must be doing the right things. Six of my photos received a ranking of 12, three were ranked 11 and three came in with 10s.

Now that I've set my pace, I hope I can keep it up.

Capitol Photo Shoot

posted on Sunday, April 08, 2007

I went with the photography club to see an Ansel Adams exhibition at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. Afterwards, we split into groups for a photo shoot. While the others in our group headed over to Old Town Sacramento, Judy and I wandered towards California's Capitol to meet up with Judy's cousin, Peter.

We stopped at the Stanford House along the way, lingering while our cameras inspected the building. Its intricate detailing and old-world architecture provided me with material for 18 shots. Although it lacked color, the house was quite photogenic.

From the Stanford House we moved on, stopping at the fountain that splashes at the end of Capitol Mall, a divided boulevard that runs the few blocks from the Sacramento River to the front of the Capitol building. This spot provided material for pictures taken in all directions. The Tower Bridge crossed the river directly down the boulevard to the west while the Capitol overlooked us from the east. Stately buildings stood proudly to the north and the south. Nearly every other direction provided excellent foliage backdrops for the spewing water.

Having found Peter near the fountain, we began a multiple hour meander as we strolled clockwise around the Capitol through its gardens. The service memorial for those “In the Line of Duty” provided several opportunities before we stepped over to the front of the domed landmark to begin our quest in earnest.

The building's façade, which lacked an abundance of features and angles, didn't provide much of interest. Other than the standard shots, I caught a few interesting ones at the front steps that included a wedding photo shoot and a man sitting on the ground contorting himself as he tried to get a snapshot of his family while including as much of the building as he could manage. It's amazing what we'll do to our bodies for a picture.

Unlike the building, the grounds provided unlimited picture-taking opportunities. The gardens were all about plants, animals, birds, ponds, statues and, of course, people. And need I mention the squirrels? There's no need to ask those wonderful creatures to strike a pose.

I snapped anything that called attention to itself and looked like a good composition. I even captured some mid-afternoon snoozers. Although I would like to have lingered at the pond, the mosquitoes stopped me short of my limit. I guess the groundskeepers don't believe in dunks. Luckily, the rest of the grounds were free of the little man-eaters.

Finally nearing exhaustion, Peter, Judy and I stumbled back to Peter's nearby car for a welcomed ride back to the Old Town parking lot that held Judy's wheels for ransom. Once home, I downloaded 127 digital photos. With these photos, I have plenty of material for photo categories including travel, nature and photo journalism.

Jury Duty

posted on Thursday, April 05, 2007

I was on jury duty for the last two weeks. This was my first time actually being on a jury. It was an interesting experience. When the prosecuting attorney was doing her thing, I couldn't help but think, "The guy is nothing but guilty." Then the defense attorney would get his chance with the witness and would bring out all of the contradictions and failure to bring everything into the open. Then I would think, "Wow, things aren't so clear after all." In the end, we found the defendant not guilty on 2 of 3 charges. We deadlocked on the 3rd when one, note that I say only one, of the jurors said that she would not be swayed no matter what the evidence said and no matter what the judge, attorneys or jurors brought to her attention.

In life, many of us do the same. We close our minds to what might be true. We know what we think and won't be swayed. The situation pointed out to me that the best way to get along in this world is to keep an open mind, to accept that change happens, to not expect everybody else to be a copy of yourself and to celebrate our differences and our rights to be different.

Writing while on jury duty is tough. By the end of a day of giving full attention to everything said and done in the trial, my mind turned to mush. There was no energy or thought left to come home to my computer and writing. But I'm back at it now; keys are clicking away.

Writing Tight

posted on Friday, March 16, 2007

On Tuesday, I e-mailed a piece to my writing club's newsletter editor. Her response left me defeated when she said "You might want to edit a bit before you send out, the tighter the better for a newsletter." You see, I had gone over it many times before sending it. I had been pleased with it.

Then, while browsing in a used bookstore Wednesday, I came across a book by William Zinsser titled "On Writing Well". I took it home and read the first 3 chapters. It gave me the insight I needed to see what was wrong in my piece. Its clutter stood out. I gave it one editing pass to remove clutter. It went from 360 words to 290. I was amazed enough to keep going, this time rewriting it a bit. I finished up with 204 words.

I guess I'll go ahead and read the rest of my new book. Then, I'll add a book review so I can share my thoughts with you.

Photography Clubs

posted on Wednesday, February 21, 2007

All of the photos I've been shooting lately has me wanting to plan a trip so I can capture more travel tales and pictures to enhance my stories. But first, I still need to improve my photo-taking skills.

A couple of weeks ago, I searched the web for a local photography club, and found one referenced in a master photo club list along with its meeting dates/times/locations. I decided to visit one of their meetings last night so I could see what's going on locally. The club is made up of mostly amateurs, but seems to be fairly active with speakers, quarterly photo evaluations and organized photo shoot outings. I decided to join the club so I can pick up tips and get my pictures evaluated from time to time.

As with writing, improvements come with practice and with feedback. I've been working on the practice. Now I'll start working on the feedback.

Old Interests, New Interests

posted on Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I recently decided to revisit a hobby of many years ago. I had never really lost interest in it, but life seemed to intervene. Now that I have more time, I've found myself drawn back to it and to my camera. Stashed away in its case, my camera seemed to be calling me, whispering for several months at first. Later, it softly reminded me that it wanted some attention. Finally, it spoke out load and clear. “Pick me up. Go ahead, shoot something.”

Then, the holiday season arrived. My camera shouted, “Hey! Over here. Don't let me sit through yet another season.” I heard it this time and picked it up, gently caressing it as I looked it over. I gave it a meal of new batteries and dusted off the old manual. After a few practice shots, I was ready to try it out at the family Christmas. Then, as quickly as Santa delivers presents to the children of the World, I was hooked once more.

Actually, my camera is not the one of yesteryear. Several years ago, being dragged along with the times, I purchased an Olympus digital camera to use on trips. It was just a tool then, something to record my journeys. Now, it has become one of my best friends. It goes everywhere with me without complaining. In fact, sometimes it seems to glow from its new-found freedom.

Since the holidays, I've been feeding my renewed interest, buying a tripod and books so I can improve my picture-taking skills. Along with my books, the Internet has filled me with photographic techniques. Now, I actually walk around looking for interesting subjects to shoot. When I've taken a picture that I like but that isn't as perfect as Id like it to be, I use Photoshop Elements on my computer to improve it. Some of my recent pictures have even found their way to on-line photo contests. Yes, I have to say that I'm hooked again.

As a budding travel writer, photography skills need to bloom along with writing skills. Ill be ready for my next trip. I wont just take snapshots that record the trip. Ill take compelling, well composed shots that sell. My pictures will tell stories of their own. And, best of all, Ill have perfect pictures to accompany my travel stories.

At least that's my plan. You'll have to excuse me now. The sun is lowering itself towards the horizon, warming the daylight colors. There's a certain shot I must go out and capture. My camera is calling.

Picture-Taking is So Much Fun

posted on Sunday, February 11, 2007

I've been experimenting quite a bit with my picture-taking. I've even started entering some of my better pictures in photo contests. I'm having so much fun with it that I find it hard to sit down to write. Oh well, I'm sure this too will pass.

I added a new subject to my web page - Photo Gallery. I've included a number of pictures under a number of categories. I'll update the gallery as I get more good shots that I want to share with you. Take a look at the photos, and shoot me an e-mail if you have something constructive to say. In fact, shoot me an e-mail just to let me know that you're out there. It's lonely in here.

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