White Sands, New Mexico is one of Life magazine’s 50 most beautiful places in the United States.
  • White Sands, New Mexico is one of Life magazine’s 50 most beautiful places in the United States.
  • Frank McKenna
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Title: Frankie Photography

Address: blog.frankiefoto.com

From: La Jolla

Blogging since: 2011

Post Date: January 8, 2013

1) Take Photo Walks.

A Photo Walk is just what it sounds like — you go on a walk somewhere interesting and take photos of anything that looks amazing or interesting. The trick to a good Photo Walk is to not set expectations too high. The point is to take a walk — first to see the world, and second to take pictures if anything comes along.

2) Open a magazine, see a beautiful picture of somewhere amazing, and then go there.

Last year I bought a Life magazine that showed pictures of the 50 most beautiful places in the United States. I wanted to go to some of those places, so I did. I went to find beauty and capture it. The camera can make you an adventurer, an explorer of the world. I took this picture (above) in White Sands, New Mexico.

3) Do something uncomfortable. Push yourself to the edge of your limits.

I was in Page, Arizona, looking down at the iconic “Horse Shoe Bend,” where the river makes almost a complete circle. Photographers die here each year when they get too close to the edge and slip off. I am massively afraid of heights, and this was a photo that I felt compelled to get. I was pushing myself to my limit — to test myself, but also to capture something that I found to be beautiful. The camera can give you a purpose to conquer the fear, but also a trophy and a story to tell others.

4) Tell a story with a picture to help someone in need.

It was Christmas. We were in Vietnam and we heard of an orphanage on the outskirts of town in a former prison. We arrived and saw the abysmal conditions, and when we opened the rusty gates to enter, we were greeted by the happy screams of beautiful but forgotten kids and babies inside. Each orphan had a single pair of clothes, and most slept right on the floor in rooms that used to be prison cells. We used the pictures to set up a Facebook page and tell the world the story.

5) Meet a stranger, learn their story.

He was well dressed while others were casual. He seemed to have a sense of purpose. I took a picture of him and he stopped to talk to me. He told me he was an English teacher many years ago, but not anymore. I learned that even though he had not had a teaching job in over 30 years, he awoke each morning, put on his work clothes, and walked outside, making his way to a job he did not have.

I later learned that, several years ago, his wife was hit and killed by a car while they went jogging at night. His life was empty, but he filled it with hope that things would get better. He thanked me over and over and over again for taking a picture of him even though he never expected to get a copy of it. He was just happy that someone found him interesting enough to take a picture of him.

6) Make someone feel good with a picture you take.

A picture can make someone feel beautiful, or feel loved, or feel like they have a wonderful life.

7) Start a photography blog.

Starting my photography blog was a huge step in improving my photography. The blog was a personal way for me to put my pictures into a context with a story that would be interesting for others to read.

8) See the sun rise over the world.

The most beautiful light of the day for photographs is either sunrise or sunset. Since the sun is so low in the horizon it gives your pictures color, clarity and contrast that you can never get in the middle of the day.

9) Experience the seasons.

Living in San Diego, our seasons are subtle and most often seem like either spring or summer. Your camera can help you experience each season, helping you see and capture the beauty that each has to offer.

10) Do a 365-day project.

A 365-day project is only a commitment to try to take a single photo each day and post it. It will force you to practice every day and share every day. The best thing about a 365-day project is you have a site that you can go back to for years which chronicles your daily journey though life.

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