This is my long form “About page.” A micro-memoir.
I was born here on earth and have lived here pretty much my whole life (except that one time in college). I’m a boomer, old enough to remember some stuff during the sixties and young enough to have missed the draft. It’s good to be here, now. Life is interesting and full of growth.
I’ve always loved taking pictures. It’s both an art and a profession for me. When we were little and turned 10, my folks bought each of us kids a Kodak Instamatic. I was excited to get mine after my brother and sister got theirs.
I specialized in photographing pretty much anything that was visible, from nature to people. My first formal portraits were of my 5th grade classmates. I also did a lot of pet photography. It was only one pet, though, my dog.
By high school I managed to get my hands on a 35 mm camera and built a darkroom in the basement. I soon learned that if you were on the newspaper or yearbook, you could get free film and paper which was great. I also got lots of assignments; clubs, sports, student life and portraits
The best part about assignments is that you are photographing with a purpose. You use your skills to get the best quality and your creative juices to get shots are cool and tell the story, that serve the purpose. The majority of my work has always been for others to see and to use. I’m reluctant to call myself an artist. I’m a photographer,and when I do my best work, it rises to the level of art.
I followed the scientific side of my nature when deciding what to study in college and earned a B.S. in environmental technology at Florida Institute of Technology. We did a ton of field work which was great. I love science. It’s all about careful, objective observation (just like photography).
While in college I hopped on the yearbook staff, became the editor-in-chief and pretty much earned a second degree in photography.
Producing a book every year was always quite a project. I know I spent a lot of time shooting, cranking out prints in the darkroom and laying out pages. I was the project manager and totally accountable. If I did not do my job it wasn’t just a bad grade.
It was awesome. I loved it. Doing photography, managing project and producing books was rewarding and satisfying.
Fast forward to life after collage and a full life. I initially spent a few years working for newspapers and then became an environment consultant while running a wedding photo business on the weekends. I had two thriving careers.
Being an environment consultant taught me a lot of discipline and project management skills. It also kept me at the leading edge of technology, which helped me keep my photography business up to speed as use of computers grew, the Internet emerged and we migrated to digital cameras.
Having a consulting career as an anchor was perfect for growing a family. My wife and I built a home in the county and raised two girls who’ve both become scientists in their own right. The world certainly needs good scientists.
Being part of a company and having health and disability benefits came in quite handy when I was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2002. Treatment was brutal, but successful and I can now say I’m a veteran of the war on cancer. Scarred but still kickin’. It slowed my down for a spell but I never stopped shooting.
After 20 years of the duel careers, the consulting side slipped away in 2008 during the great recession when I was happily laid off. By that time I had opened a studio in Frenchtown and was shifting from weddings to business photography. Launching a full time business at the beginning of a recession took dedication and commitment. You either make it of you don’t.
Upon becoming a full time photography business I joined several chambers of commerce, a BNI networking group and Frenchtown’s Business and Professional Association. I quickly learned the value of being part of the business community. It is very rewarding. We are all in this together.
For my part I started a photography group, conveniently called The Photographers Group (photographers.group). We meet monthly and do projects together to document our world. Our most recent project was called Hunterdon Retail. 50 photographers participated in photographing locally-owned retail stores in Hunterdon, exhibiting their images at the Red Mill Historic Village and creating a historic archive of all the images (over 400). It was a collective effort to benefit the photographers, the local businesses, the Red Mill and to grow awareness of our group.
My role as a business photographer is also mutually beneficial, to support myself and to communicate about my clients. To tell the world their stories with high quality photos and video. To create images that generate a positive emotional response on the part of the viewer
One of my favorite films is a documentary called Jiro Dreams of Sushi . Jiro is a 93 sushi master who embodies the spirit of shokunin, the mastery of one’s profession. Jiro’s highest purpose is to get better at making and serving sushi and he is already one of the best sushi chefs in the world. I watch the film often.
I expect to be doing what I do indefinitely, as long as I have a camera and client. Just like Jiro I want to get better at what I do and share it. I even keep a camera in my pocket at all times and constantly look for photos to shoot an process. Practice, practice, practice. The better I get, the better my photos will be and the more my clients and I will benefit.
Just by it’s nature, showing up on Google is good advertising. This is especially true when people are specifically looking for you and not just browsing a generic term. Just search Brokaw Photography and my business appears on the first page with tons of other links to articles, posts and other information about my business and activities. On the right side of the search page is the “Knowledge Panel” with photos, a map, reviews, etc. We have all seen this. […]
Chances are you looked at Frank’s bright blue eyes before you read any text (yes, they are real!). I know I look at pictures before I read and most of us do. That is why visual content is so important. Not only does it get our attention but we remember it better. Dr. John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist, research consultant and affiliate Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington School of Medicine has been study how the brain works […]
Robert DeBarth has been repairing and rebuilding typewriters for over 70 years. Now you might think that business would be slow, but Robert has plenty of work. His skills are actually in high demand. People still love typewriters. If you’ve ever tried to fix one you know that they are like watches with hundreds of integrated parts. It takes a specialist and there are not too many typewriter factory repair centers anymore (probably none), so Robert is at a premium. […]
I had a great session with a psychotherapist, recently. A photo session, that is. Josh Kates (http://www.joshkates.com/) has been helping people regain their balance for over twenty-five years and is still active and eager to help people be who they truly want to be. It’s an art. Josh wanted to update his headshot and reached out to me to do this for him. For professionals like Josh, he ‘is’ his product and a good headshot is important. We talked about […]
When Habitat for Humanity asked me to shoot its fundraising gala I was happy to learn they would be using a step and repeat banner. Step and repeats are always an excellent idea for big events. Not only are they great for branding yourself and getting sponsors they make it fun for guests to get their photos taken. When it comes to big event, especially fundraisers, it’s important to remember that its the guests who make it successful. I’ve photographed […]
Frenchtown enjoyed two simultaneous events Labor Day Weekend that perfectly exemplified the envision-plan-implement process. A local art and performance venue, Art Yard, provided a street parade of colorfully dressed bird people, while the Frenchtown Business and Professional Association held its Riverfest event, celebrating the town, the arts and the river. Both were a vision of the organizers who planned and implemented their events flawlessly and with joy exhibiting the perfect model for any business. Think it, plan it, do […]
Sometimes, I get to do personal photos for people to use for their dating site profiles. Having these photos done well is certainly not a bad idea. I love creating images that express people in a positive light. I’ve browsed dating sites myself (just researching, of course) and many of the photos I’ve seen are pretty awful (and some are just plain scary). I’ve been tempted to send a message with photo tips, but figure that would just be insulting. […]
Branding an event is as important as branding your business. What’s it all about? How do you get people to attend? By having fun. Every year, Frenchtown NJ, a Delaware River town and my home base, has an end of summer event call Riverfest. It is fun but was never especially distinctive. Two years ago some guys started dressing up like Vikings and created an event within the event called the Paper Boat Races. Kids make paper boats, drift them […]