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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Not Without Hope – Greg Ferguson

October 21, 2009

I met Greg through my involvement with Toast Masters, an organization committed to helping people build their confidence in giving presentations and public speaking. Greg has been engaged in public speaking for over twenty years and has recently published a book sharing his knowledge gained on the subject.

Greg always has a positive, focused approach to everything he does. So, as the economy slowed, he turned his attention to reaching another one of his personal goals so that time and energy wouldn’t be lost or misguided. As I’ve gotten to know him, I’ve been encouraged by the manner in which he uses his abilities to help others in the community serving as an advisor in the civic and business arenas.

I trust you’ll be encouraged by his story as well.

Charles Gupton

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Greg Ferguson leading a ToastMasters meeting.

Greg Ferguson leading a ToastMasters meeting.

Every adversity carries with it the seeds of an equal or greater opportunity.

I am in the residential development business, and as I write this, our local construction output has dropped 75% from its peak before the national economic meltdown.  As a result, our projects have generally been on hold for the last six months.

During this time, it has been nearly impossible to do business the way I have done it for the past twelve years.  There are few buyers and there is virtually no money available through the traditional channels.  We have had to resort to coming up with different assumptions and different actions to be able to move forward.  This takes time and it takes skill in convincing others that there will be a fundamental change in the way we do business in the future.

This downtime in activity has allowed me to re-examine my personal goals and to get focused on them again.  My “chief aim” in life, as Napoleon Hill calls it, is to help others help themselves.  One of my goals has been to write books to help others.  I am glad to report that my reduced business activity for the last six months has given me the time to write my first book on public speaking.  It’s called “How to Give Your Best Speech or Presentation Ever.”

My second book has just gone into the proofing stage and should be available shortly, and I’ve already begun the research for my third book.  Once I broke through all the reasons for not beginning to write sooner, it has become easier and easier to keep my momentum going.  Writing is much like public speaking—the more you do it, the easier it gets.

I expect that real estate development will pick up again in the foreseeable future.  This slowdown has been painful, frustrating, and downright scary.  But in the long run, I believe I will look back on this gap in activity (and income) as a blessing that allowed me to fulfill one of my long time personal goals.

If you are finding your circumstances different than they were a year ago, I encourage you to examine your purpose in life. Recognize this time of challenge as a blessing, and recognize that it carries with it the seeds of opportunity. ~ Greg Ferguson

Are You a Crazymaker?

October 12, 2009

Every family has them. So it also seems with every office, church, PTA, community group or anywhere there are a handful of people gathered in real or virtual proximity.

They are crazymakers.

I got the term from Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” and they’re people who seem to have too much time on their hands to mind their own affairs, so they focus their attention on minding other people’s business to the point that it seems they stir up trouble for trouble’s sake. In Cameron’s words, they are “charismatic but out of control, long on problems but short on solutions…the kind of people who can take over your whole life. Crazymakers like drama…everyone around them functions as supporting cast.”

I hate to admit it, but when I first read the term I thought, “Ouch, I resemble that.”  Creative people, I believe, are especially prone to become crazymakers when they become focused on something besides the work they need to be creating.

A number of years ago, I was cranking out a lot of very profitable but less than inspiring images in my work. Even though I was shooting a good number of photographs, very few of them inspired or even involved my heart. That seemed to leave me plenty of time and energy to “make crazy” in the relationships around me. Few people were safe.

Fortunately, I saw the problem in time enough not to dismantle all my relationships. What that period did do for me was cause me to see that: 1) my creative energy and direction was more important than merely focusing on the financial goals and 2) even more importantly, to recognize other crazymakers for what they are so that I can avoid being drawn down into their pit of uncreative despair.

This doesn’t mean that crazymakers aren’t creative – it’s just that most of their creativity goes into their drama rather than productive work.

All of this came up because a couple of crazymakers in different compartments of my life recently raised their heads and tried to make crazy. In the past, I would have reacted and been drawn into their game. But, being a recovering crazymaker myself, I called their bluff and turned back to the work before me.

So I ask, are you doing the work you need to do to keep you from making crazy in the lives around you? Or, are there crazymakers around you whose emotional baggage you need to jettison to make the way easier to be more productive in your work?


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