Ditch Auto is 35,000 Students Strong

Ditch Auto: Start Shooting in Manual is a photography course that I put together and published online in January of 2013. I created the course because I often got asked what I did to make my photos look so good directly out of the camera. Most people shoot in auto mode on their cameras or in a mode that has the camera doing most of the work when it comes to exposing a photo properly. The problem with letting the camera do the work is that the photo turns out exposed right in terms of whatever kind of math the camera was doing to decide what was exposed and what was not. I prefer my eye because my eye is what is looking through the viewfinder. I don’t want the camera to do anything that I didn’t tell it to do and that is where the idea for this course came about.

The course took off from the start but I never imagined it would have reached 35,000+ students. When it broke 5,000 I was beside myself. I have big plans for Ditch Auto Part 2 and hope to start filming it shortly. I just have to get some client projects taken care of first.

It’s a free course and it’s free to sign up. If you know someone who has been wanting to learn more about their camera, send them a link to the course.

Screenshot 2014-07-07 22.29.09

Check out the course here: https://www.udemy.com/ditch-auto-start-shooting-in-manual

Why can’t we just celebrate life instead of having to force acceptance of our differences on each other?

PetaPixel Featured my Ditch Auto Photography course!

PetaPixel is a popular photography blog that showcases news, products, tips, tricks and all sorts of other photography related information. I have been a follower of the site for a number of years. A couple of days ago, they included my course, “Ditch Auto: Start Shooting in Manual,” in a post titled “The Best Free Online Photography Courses and Tutorials.” I would have discovered this sooner but I had fallen behind in my blog reading and had not been paying attention to my Google Alerts I had set. This is a huge accomplishment to me because PetaPixel is viewed by a lot of people. It is one of the most popular Photography Blogs on the web. PetaPixel had also featured my April Fools joke I played earlier this year on Facebook (link). Ditch Auto: Start Shooting in Manual now has over 35,000 students. Pretty amazing.

The Best Free Online Photography Courses and Tutorials

Visit the article: http://petapixel.com/2014/07/03/best-free-online-photography-courses-tutorials/

Visit PetaPixel: http://petapixel.com

Happy Birthday America!

I’m Logging Out of Facebook

About a week ago, I decided to delete the Facebook app from my mobile devices. I did this because all day long I would get notifications and updates. Most of the updates could have been turned off if I had spent some time customizing, but I didn’t want to deal with that. I felt that my phone had became too much of a distraction in my life and I wanted to get some part of that time back.

Over the last year I have noticed that I check Facebook much more often than I used to. I used to get on once a day for a few minutes just to see whats new. These days, Facebook has figured out how to get us on there more often and I believe they do it by showing us less of what matters to us. I have noticed that I don’t see much from the people who are closest to me. I have to scroll past a lot of nonsense before I actually reach something that matters to me. I know that part of this is due to the fact that I used to just accept all friend requests and this resulted in 4,500+ Facebook friends. In reality, I have probably have seen 100 of them in the last 2 years, maybe less.

I also had noticed that most of what I come across on Facebook is negative. It doesn’t matter if it’s a comment under a post I make or posts that are in my newsfeed, they are negative. I can’t share anything on Facebook anymore without someone throwing me under the bus for it. Sometimes my posts are snarky but often I post about my take on things. It is then that I get thrashed by people who are my “friends” on Facebook. Nobody honors anybody’s opinion these days. Nobody can just let a person have their opinion and make it known these days. Posting it online means that you are going to get crap for it.

I am not running away from confrontation or differences of opinion, I just realize where my time could be better spent. Social networks come and go and for the most part, the friends that are kept there are not friends, perhaps not even acquaintances. I will keep posting, but I won’t be checking for comments or responding to them. I will post to my blog, which posts to other places such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

I will continue to check Twitter because I have an interesting feed there. On Twitter, you can craft your news feed to contain posts from people you want to hear from. You can do this on Facebook, but it is not as simple as it is on Twitter. Twitter keeps posts short, so scrolling past long winded complains is a thing of the past. Google+, though not a popular social network with many people I know personally, has a lot of professionals who post valuable content that I find interesting. Because of that, I will continue to check Google+. Because Twitter and Google+ are not filled with ads and other nonsense, it takes less time to check them.

Why not just delete Facebook?

I have been a Facebook user since the day it became available to the public. At the time, I wanted something other than Myspace, which had became just as horrible of a place to spend time as Facebook has become. The problem is that I have a lot of content on Facebook. I have posted countless text posts, uploaded 1000’s of images and videos. I know that I can export them, but I don’t want them to go away. My wife, family and close friends are still on Facebook. If they want to tag me in something, I want my name to be there. I don’t believe that deleting Facebook is the answer. I never deleted my Myspace profile.

Since joining Facebook, I have gotten married and have had 3 beautiful children. There are a lot of posts and images that comprise a timeline of that chapter in my life. I may want to scroll though that from time to time.

I will be posting more to my blog

Rather than posting to a social network that will most likely go away one day, I will be posting to my blog. I started this blog in 2005 and had been blogging since 1996 when I created my first website with Frontpage. I have a photos feed on my blog that I have been posting photos to that I would normally have been posting to Facebook. To make it easy to go back and see photos by subject, I have been tagging photos. For example, you can see photos I posted during our Newport Beach vacation by viewing the Newport tag, or photos and posts from Nascar races by viewing the Nascar tag. People who care to can still post comments under my posts, photos or videos and they can do so without the Facebook ads and other nonsense. People who actually do post comments there will most likely be actual friends of mine who are not just trying to take me down a notch.

I have always been a big advocate of driving traffic to your own website rather than sending it to social networks. Most of what I write does get posted to this blog, my company blog or other sites of mine, now I plan to post all content to my own websites.

It will take some time to completely log out of everything that Facebook sends notifications to, but I will get it done. I have already deleted all mobile apps, logged out browsers and system updates on my Mac. I changed privacy settings to show a notice to those who happen upon my profile informing them that I am not logged in any longer. I am sure it will take me a few weeks to figure out the best way to keep Facebook active while remaining logged out.

Will I be back?

I am not sure. I am already enjoying other things rather than hoping for at least one positive post on Facebook for every twenty I scroll past. I have started catching up on blogs I follow and will even have some time to find a few more to read.

I finally got to a point where I realized that Facebook was a distraction that mostly brought negative energy my way. I will still get notifications of me being mentioned in other conversations because I have had many people tag me with questions. I enjoy being useful and love answering questions when I have a decent answer to provide. I will just provide whatever feedback is required through email or in person.

I will also continue to post to my Facebook pages. I have Facebook pages for my Photography business and my Marketing company. Facebook is still a somewhat decent way to keep a feed going with updates.

What could you do with your time if you were not scrolling Facebook all day?

Linkedin Recommendations Request Script

I have found that it is easier to get recommendations from people on Linkedin if you email them personally and ask. Everybody knows what the canned Linkedin email looks like and they know that you can easily ask all of your Linkedin contacts at once. Linkedin Recommendations are like Yelp Reviews for your resume. Don’t take this script as it is, take it and personalize it to the person you are asking for a recommendation. You should also return the favor.

You can dress this up or down depending on the kind of relationship you have with the person.

Hey Name, I am working on getting a few of the people I have recently worked closely with on projects to write recommendations about me on my Linkedin profile. Your voice and opinion matters to me. I would love to have your thoughts on our work together on my profile for others to see.

You can view my Linkedin profile here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeradhill

Thank you for considering,

Your Name

Some People are Timeless: Remembering my Grandmother

Carole Lucille HillI have only been on this earth 34 years but I have came to realize that some people are timeless and others are ephemeral. Timeless people leave their mark, a legacy if you will. My Grandmother, Carole Lucille Hill, was timeless.

The issue with timelessness is that it stands the test of time, it’s neverending. I felt that way about my Grandmother’s life. I could never imagine a time where she would not be around. On the night of her death, I spoke to her. We made plans to get lunch together. She had some Dr’s appointments, which she didn’t seem to concerned with, and we were to spend time together the following week. Though she was 85, she kept busy. Not one fabric of my being would have believed that only an hour and a half later, she would pass away.

My Grandmother Carole stood just shy of 5 feet tall but that didn’t stop her from commanding the attention and respect of all of us. She taught me that family is family and business is business. She was a business woman who taught me a lot through her actions and the way she dealt with people. Besides being well known in Real Estate in her time, she founded the Modesto Apartment Association. Before her successful career in Real Estate, her and my Grandfather Kenneth Hill founded Valley Air Conditioning, a company they sold in the 70’s when my Grandfather wanted to retire from the business.

Though I have had many great influences in my life, my Grandmother has influenced me in so many ways, it would be hard to recount them all.

When I hear about business woman theses days complaining about equality I think about my Grandmother. She became a Real Estate Broker and had offices in Modesto and Escalon, CA. Real Estate brokerage at that time was a male dominant profession. She told me many stories about her professional dealings. She never seemed intimidated. She knew what she wanted to achieve and she did just that. These days there are many female Real Estate Agents and Brokers. This taught me that it did not matter who you are or where you came from, you can achieve what you want to achieve if you work hard. My Grandparents are the American Dream. I have been self employed for 15 years now and I credit my entrepreneurial spirit to her and my Grandfather.

When I was a kid, she would pay me to help her with yard work. She had this jar of quarters that she would pull out to pay me from after an afternoon of pulling weeds or spreading bark around newly planted plants. My brothers and I spent a lot of time at our Grandparents home in Escalon, CA. Though my Grandfather had retired from Valley Air, he tried his hand at almond farming. I have pictures of myself around the age of 3 years old driving an Almond Harvest Sweeper. We grew up around mechanics and motorized vehicles such as go-karts and dirtbikes. We would blast around their property. My Grandmother yelling, “Where’s your helmet?!”

My Grandmother was the original early adopter. In the early 80’s, I spent a lot of time on her computer, which ran DOS. I played Lode Runner on it and my brothers and I spend countless hours getting the Soundblaster Parrot to say funny things. They had a whole house stereo system which I loved to spend time playing with. My Grandmother ordered me business cards when I was 5, I wonder if she has one of those cards saved… Every few years she would get a new computer to stay current. Even though she had been using computers for ages, they always gave her trouble; or maybe she gave them trouble. As I printed a photo from her computer today, it printed quickly. My Grandfather told me how it would have taken her hours to get it to print right. There are countless things she taught me such as how to track stocks. As an 8 year old, I was tracking the stock prices of Coke and Pepsi manually on graph paper.

During a week long river rafting adventure through the Colorado River, I had appendicitis. This resulted in her and I being airlifted to a nearby hospital where I had surgery and spent a few days in recovery. This could have been a scary time for me but she created so many memories during that time. I don’t remember any fear, I just remember the laughs we had together.

As I grew into an adult, spending time with my Grandmother was always important to me. We would get lunch and catch up. Occasionally I would ask her business related questions I knew she could relate to in hopes to glean some of her wisdom. I cherish the time I got to spend with her. She would always give me money to pay for lunch and let me keep the change. She still did this into my adult years even though it was embarrassing and I could easily afford to pay for our lunch on my own. To her, I was still her little boy.

Ken, Carole, Jerad, Mallory

I also credit my “photographic eye” to being introduced to photography at such a young age. Back in the film days, my Grandmother would take pictures at the same rate we take pictures in the digital age. She would walk into the local photo lab with a ziploc bag full of film rolls to have developed. She was always the one behind the camera documenting everything we did. She did her best to avoid being in pictures. When we tried to turn the camera on her, she would bark at us. Together, we would take pictures of interesting mailboxes. I couldn’t have been any older than 5 years old when we started that. As she moved into the digital world, she would print just about every photo she took, as a full page photo. Instead of having ziploc bags full of film canisters she now had ziploc bags full of dry inkjet cartridges from printing photos.

When I opened my first retail business, I needed a loan to make an initial purchase to become a direct factory dealer. She offered to give me the loan but there was a contract I had to sign and repayment was to be prompt. I feel like she was harder to bank with than an actual bank would have been. I paid them back within 60 days for a $14,000 loan. What I did learn was that I should do my best to fund my own needs in business. Since that day I have funded all of my own ventures.

My Grandmother always gave it to me straight. If I was in the wrong, she would let me know. She had strong opinions and convictions. You always knew where she stood, even if you preferred not to know. She taught me that you should always find reasons to celebrate. As a family, we celebrate all birthdays and would find other reasons to go out and celebrate. Now with my own family, we have carried on the tradition. We love to celebrate. Though I have never been good at budgeting, she taught me that you should spend 10% of your money for life and enjoyment. The rest is for expenses, saving, investing or donating. My parents didn’t travel much, but my Grandparents made sure we were able to explore and try new things. If we said we didn’t like something, my Grandmother would say, “Try it, you’ll like it.”

When I was 17 years old, my Grandmother signed me up for a Dale Carnegie course so I could learn to be a better speaker. My Grandparents had me around their friends and business colleagues when I was young. Because of that exposure, I have always been able to talk to and relate with just about anybody.

My Grandparents believed in living life. As they got older, they did not travel as much, but my Grandparents have seen the world. They enjoyed this world while they could and they have hundreds of amazing stories to tell because of it. Much of who I am today is because of my Grandparents.

It has only been a few days since her passing and I still can not believe it. I never thought I would see a day where she would no longer be around. I am so fortunate that my kids got to spend the first few years of their lives knowing their Nanna Kaye. My Grandmother’s nickname was Kaye. Liam will remember his Nanna Kaye well. Cohen will probably have some memories of her when he grows up. Unfortunately, Emmy is a bit too young to have any memories at all, but we have photos of her being held by her Nanna who loved her so much. Emerson is the first Hill girl in the family. I know how much my Grandmother looked forward to taking Emmy out shopping once she was old enough.

The Hill side of my family does not really express feelings verbally, but I know the love my Grandmother had for me well. She was a very giving and loving person.

People like this are timeless. Though her Real Estate Agency is no longer, her legacy lives on. It lives on in me and what I will teach my children because of the influences she had on me. Many times she told me that I am living in more difficult times than she did. Even though she grew up in the depression, she would say that it is harder for today’s youth than it was back then. Come to think of it, I don’t ever remember her telling me stories about how hard she had it back in her day. She always had fun stories to tell about every situation. This is how I want to live my life. I want to live life and love those who are closest to me. Even as I write this, I feel like I still expect to get an email from her telling me that she enjoyed my latest blog post.

Thank you Grandma for the countless hours poured into me. I am who I am today because of you. I will spend the rest of my life celebrating you and the things I have learned from you.

Carole Hill & Liam Hill

This is a photo of my Grandmother Carole Lucille Hill holding my oldest son Liam at a small party we had for my Grandparents 65th wedding anniversary in 2011.