New Blog Site!

January 18, 2010

It’s finally done! After two months of waiting for what I thought would take two weeks, my blog site has been relocated to a new domain.

Please follow me to



Seeing the Abstract ~ Black and White

November 18, 2009

Yesterday I posted the color winners of the Capital City Camera Club “Abstracts” competition. Following are the black and white category winners. Enjoy!

Black and White "Abstracts" Winners

Charles Gupton

On LinkedIn

On FaceBook

Seeing the Abstract ~ Color

November 17, 2009

I’ve been asked to judge a number of photography contests through the years. It is something I always feel honored to do and actually, really enjoy. What I enjoy most is having the opportunity to interact, when possible, with the creators and their passion for images. What I like less is the process of assigning a value to someone’s art. I am seldom not inspired to see the world in fresh ways through the eyes of other shooters.

The following images are the finalists from the color division of the “Abstracts” contest of the Capital City Camera Club. If you’re a shutterbug in the area, pay them a visit.

Color "Abstracts" Winners

I’ll post the black and white winners tomorrow.

Charles Gupton

On LinkedIn

On FaceBook

The Power of an Apology

November 9, 2009

I had an interesting experience recently while swimming.

As I was preparing to get into the pool, another swimmer was getting into the same lane at the opposite end. As is the normal etiquette, I waved to her indicating which side of the lane I’d take, and she waved back. As I started to slide in, I realized I’d forgotten to shower so I went back into the locker room, took a quick shower and hopped into the pool

The other swimmer was about mid-way up the lane, semi-stroking, floating along on her back as I pushed off. As I passed her, she let out a screech and started screaming at me. “What are you doing? You scared the hell out of me! Why are you in my lane?!?”

I wish I’d had a picture of my face. I came out of the water like a jack-in-the box, jaws wide open, eyes bigger than my goggles. What shot through my head and hit the tip of my tongue was “You stupid &!*#! What do you think I’m doing? I waved, you waved back. I’m swimming my laps! What’s with you? What are you doing in a swim lane if you don’t understand proper etiquette?”

What actually came out of my mouth was “I’m sorry. When I waved and you waved back I thought you knew I was sharing the lane with you. I didn’t intend to scare you. It was my fault. Do you mind if I share the lane with you?”

I don’t remember the response other than anger and dismissiveness as she bee-lined for the lifeguard to report me. I found out later that she was a first time swimmer and thought I was just waving earlier to be nice. When I ducked back in for my shower, she had thought I’d left and she started swimming.

When she finished her tête-à-tête with the lifeguard, she got back into the pool in another, now-open lane and we both went about our work-out. When I finished, I went over to her again and repeated my apology, almost verbatim. I genuinely was sorry that I’d startled her. She scolded me slightly and accepted my apology. I said, “Thank you. Take care.”

To be honest, I was slightly irritated that I was taking the rap for doing what was a normal custom. But, what the hell? In my mind, I startled her and I didn’t want her to feel she was under any kind of threat. Was there any cost to me to be kind rather than acting defensive?

The next time I swam, she was a couple of lanes over and waved at me as I popped up between laps. Later, in the whirlpool, she laughed at a story I told a buddy and we chatted like we were old friends. Again, to be honest, I found myself wanting to defend my actions and let her know that I’d been right in following decorum. After all, who was she to question me? Hell, I’ve been swimming for years. I know the rules!!! Like, who are you, lap-queen?

At the same time I was thinking, “You know, this is childish. Who gives a crap? Let it go and just be friendly.”

One of the greatest realizations I’ve come to through the years is that most of the baggage people carry through life is of their own choosing. And most of that weight is caused by lack of forgiveness over relatively small matters. Most problems come down to simple misunderstandings between people, over who’s following the proper “rules.” But through listening and not being defensive, even the most complicated problems really aren’t as complicated as they’re made out to be, once people just take the time to understand one another.

Anyway, I think I have a new pool buddy. Her name is Sandra.

Charles Gupton

On LinkedIn

On FaceBook

Passion for Pop

November 8, 2009

Frostie cap sign from the 1950s

When I was in the six- to eight-year-old range, one of my favorite treats was to have a Frostie brand root beer. I remember it as being especially smooth and creamy with lots of sassafras flavor. This was the real thing, boys and girls. Finding a soft drink that’s not made with high fructose corn syrup anymore is extremely difficult.

It’s a shame what we’ve done to our food system. And it’s even a greater shame what we’ve allowed government backed big business to do to make small businesses work harder to gain a foothold and survive. But when a small business owner finds a niche and a passion for a service, then a market gets well-served.

In this video of John Nese, the owner of Galco’s Soda Pop Stop in Los Angeles, I believe you’ll find a passion for soda pop and delighting customers that will inspire you to carry that same passion over to the people you serve.


John Nese, Galco's Soda Pop Stop

I probably don’t drink more than one or two soft drinks a year. Watching this video got me teary-eyed and made me want to hop on a plane for LA.

Now, where can I find a “Frostie”?

Charles Gupton

On LinkedIn

On FaceBook

Supporting Local Farms – MAE Farm

November 4, 2009

MAE Farm is the third in a series of local farms I’m profiling for a project I’m working on to promote support of local farms. The project involves photographing, producing video and recording interviews with several farms about why they farm, who their customer base is and, most importantly, how they stay sustainable. I want to encourage folks to buy locally but also to know and have a relationship with farms in one’s area.

Mike and Suzanne Jones started farming because of their desire to raise their children on the land with meaningful work to do. Their primary emphasis is on producing sustainably raised meats, primarily pork. They also raise goats and cattle for meat as well as chickens for eggs. In addition to selling fresh pork, they have also started producing their own barbecue for sale. The pork is all hand-pulled with no soy or other fillers added. You can buy from them directly or at the State Farmers Market in Raleigh.


MAE Farm

More to come…

Charles Gupton

On LinkedIn

On FaceBook

Are You Playing to Win?

November 2, 2009

What I appreciate about athletics – tennis in particular – is that sheer persistence, just keeping the ball in play, can often win the point and eventually the match. But there are times as well when one just needs to put the ball away. ‘Cause if you don’t, your opponent is going to. Trouble is knowing when to play it safe and when to go for a riskier, winning shot.

I decided some time back that I was going to play every shot that I could, as aggressively as I could. Even when I couldn’t get a clear winner out of a shot, I was going to try to set up a play so that the next shot could be. But my problem is that I lose a lot of points on very close shots. The upside is that when I win the point, I feel even better knowing that I wasn’t playing safe. Whether I win or lose the match, I go home with the knowledge that I played my heart out.

What’s required most days in my work, though, is persistence. Keeping at the tasks of the day – keeping the ball in play, as it were – is what keeps my day in motion rather than slamming one or two big projects or goals and feeling like I’ve scored a winner. What troubles me about a persistence mindset, however, is that it can draw me into a play-it-safe attitude, and I know after many years in business that playing it safe is one of the biggest risks one can take.

Playing it safe virtually eliminates exploration, which shuts down creativity. You can’t create without trying new things, which is what exploration is all about. And in this economy, when so many people are playing it safe on every front, what better way to set yourself apart in business, and in all of life for that matter, than being creative, attempting the unexpected? In other words, going for a winner, which is what taking risks is all about.

So how about you? Can you afford the risk of not taking risks? Are you playing to win or to just keep from losing?

Charles Gupton

On LinkedIn

On FaceBook