Smoky Mountains, October 2011

I’ve been to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park twice before but it’s been many, many years since then and I wanted this trip to focus on photography and antiquing. Autumn is quite possibly the most breathtaking season in the Smokies and I wanted to plan the trip for when the leaves would be changing colors. So, as any social media addict would, I researched Flickr photos to see when the most colorful photos were taken, mostly focusing on the past few years. It turned out that my research, along with a lot of luck, actually worked.

This was a short trip last month — only four days including the 9.5-hour drive each way. The first day in the park was mostly spent driving scenic loop roads and setting up my tripod along side of a river to catch reflections and mini waterfalls. I also got to test out my new close-up filters on leaves. It was the perfect setting for this.

Brook at Great Smoky Mountains

The Best View of Chicago

Chicago is a diverse and exciting city. There are a million spots that are great to photograph but my favorite view is of the skyline from the hill just in front of Adler Planetarium.

Here are some photos I shot last week from this spot:

Chicago from Museum Campus


I’ve always loved nature and consider myself lucky to have gone camping each summer growing up. My family had a motorhome so it wasn’t really roughing it but it still was camping. We would sit around campfires at night, gazing at the stars.

When some local photographer friends made plans for a night photoshoot, thoughts of those summer camping trips came to mind. Even though it’s been many years since those trips, I don’t remember ever seeing as many stars as I did Friday night. It literally took my breath away. The photos cannot even give you a glimpse of how incredible the night sky was but they may inspire you to travel away from light pollution and get a view of your own.

These photos were taken at Willow Slough Fish & Wildlife Area near Morocco, Indiana. I plan to go back so let me know if you’re interested in tagging along. Let’s just hope we don’t hear as many coyotes as I did the other night!

Night sky

Adorama + Twitter = Great Customer Service

If you’ve been to my house, you’ve probably noticed my wall of photos: a number of 11×17 framed prints of my favorite photos. I change them out regularly and always use Adorama for printing. They provide excellent quality and ship the photos in a flat box. I’ve never had any problems until last month’s shipment. UPS bent the box so badly that all of the photos had deep creases in them. I’ve tweeted to @AdoramaPix before and love their twitter efforts.

When I saw the bent UPS box, I instantly sent twitpics and tagged @AdoramaPix in them. After a few DMs, a new set of prints were on their way. I didn’t have to login to my account on the Adorama site. I didn’t have to contact customer service. I only tweeted. The results: a VERY happy customer as they communicated with me on my preferred platform.

Adorama’s print quality is excellent. I’ve recommended them to friends before and I will continue to recommend them, especially after experiencing their amazing customer service first-hand.

Thank you, Adorama. I will be a loyal customer for life.…

September 1 #tourismchat Highights: Multimedia

Photos, videos, podcasts — they’re all assets DMOs can use to further promote their destination. The September 1 #tourismchat focused on creating and using these types of assets. Feel free to read the entire chat transcript (from the amazing Chirpstory site) or for a quick summary, here are my highlights:

How do you obtain photo/video assets? (create in-house, hire photog/videographer, etc)

  • @jeremy_harvey We do both. Hire prod co for big projects; in-house for vodcast-type vids.
  • @TomMartin combination… create, cajole, hire out and sometimes reward (as in consumer gen content)
  • @jennrush03 We have our in-house video production manager and interns. Photos it’s either staff or freelance work from local photographers
  • @theresaoverby I buy a lot of stock photos from local photographer. Video is some agency, some in-house, but not enough assets..
  • @katiecook A combo of everything you stated. Also ask photographers to use their images for free (gives them exposure)
  • @pagetx We curate a group on Flickr. Works like a charm for photos. We also hold an annual photo contest.
  • @wilkinsh We are using all ways to acquire video and photo. Even recruiting college students.
  • @DanielleRauch photographer & our staff. We ask partners too

What is the ratio of professional vs. amateur content that your CVB owns/creates?

  • @katiecook 70/30 professional vs amateur.
  • @TunicaMS We are working on a plan but it looks like 35% pro and 65% am
  • @MaddenMedia Not a CVB, but I think a good 50% pro to inspire the other 50% to participate
  • @pagetx Prolly 90-95% amateur on Flickr. We sometimes use our company’s videos, as well as from other professional entities.
  • @Beaumartian right now it’s about 60 Prof /40 Amateur at the moment.
  • @wilkinsh 85% amateur, 15% prof. but that scale will soon change.
  • @jeremy_harvey We’re about 90% pro vs. 10% in house. We do a lot of video.
  • @jennrush03 Photos about 85% in house (that’d be the amateur side!) Use professionals mainly for annual visitor map, special needs…
  • @theresaoverby 80% pro, 20% amateur

Are you using audio in any way? (podcasts, itunes, etc)…

Just be. Colorful.

I’ve been thinking about starting another photography project but with so many possibilities, it was hard to narrow down the idea. My main goal for this project is to create another photography commitment, similar to my Project 365, so I’ll shoot more frequently and enhance my skills but the big difference will be a non-daily commitment so I can work more on creativity, rather than discipline.

I’ve decided to focus on colors for this next project. The rules are going to be fairly simple: take at least 5 photos per month based on the themed color. And I’m stealing the “Just be.” phrase from a tourism campaign but only because it’s a great idea. Here’s the plan:

  • August: Just be. Yellow.
  • September: Just be. Red.
  • October: Just be. Orange.
  • November: Just be. Brown.
  • December: Just be. Silver.
  • January: Just be. White.
  • February: Just be. Black.
  • March: Just be. Blue.
  • April: Just be. Green.
  • May: Just be. Pink.
  • June: Just be. Purple.
  • July: Just be. Gold.

Join me on this colorful journey through my camera’s eye! Here are some of my Just be. Yellow. shots for August:

Yellow Hibiscus

The Laughing Gull

I’ve always said that if something needs explanation, don’t use it. And yet I’ve broken this rule with the seagull photo for this blog. So please let me explain why I chose this photo to represent Tourism Land.

First of all, a little background information: I wouldn’t say that I’m afraid of birds but I don’t like touching them or having them too close to me and yet, somehow, they fascinate me. I love coastlines so most of the birds that I photograph are seagulls and now I’ve developed a slight obsession with them. And by “slight” I mean that it’s pretty much out of hand. …