First of all, my ramblings aren't meant to be the "definitive" story of this project, Joe, Beth & Kim probably did much more that I am unaware of. I just wanted to write my thoughts of a project that I was fortunate enough to be involved with.

Some people have assumed that some type of organization, such as the Chamber of Commerce or one of the various other civic/business organizations around town was responsible for this project in some way or another. In all reality, this was the effort of three friends (Kim, Joe & Beth) who wanted to bring attention to what is happening down in "Old Towne" Petersburg. I really do appreciate that these friends brought me on to give them a hand with their project.

This project was pulled off without having a single committee meeting. Go figure! Meetings simply weren't needed or really wanted by any of us. We all had cell phones and email addresses and our responsibilities were defined from the beginning. Preparing the building was Joe's and Beth's responsibility. Gathering the participants, marketing the project and setting up the display was Kim's responsibility. The image work (photography/graphic design) was my responsibility.

The phrase "it's your what you think is best" truly describes how the four of us operated. Many times one of us would bounce ideas off the others when it came to our own area. Comments and opinions were always freely given but I do not remember any opinion given without the caveat "it's your what you think is best". We trusted each other to use our best judgement.

Kim, a very creative person in her own right, left the graphic design totally up to me to create. While I would show her rough designs to get her comments, she never demanded this of me. She would see me walk into her shop with a rolled up print in my hand. She simply knew I had something new to show her. She would get a big grin on her face and excitely say "show me". Oddly, she would not bring up anything in the way of minor adjustments, etc. that hadn't already crossed my mind. We simply did not have any conflicts with regards to what I created.

Kim, Joe and Beth wanted to understate their roles in the project when it came to acknowledgement on posters, newspaper articles, etc. actually got a bit silly at times. . Joe would tell me in private how I really needed to recognize Kim in some way on a poster but neither he nor Beth wanted recognition. Kim would tell me that I needed to recognize Joe and Beth in some way but she didn't need anything done for her. Since I was in charge of the graphics, I was able to wield the power of the mouse and Photoshop. I simply did what I thought was best and recognized all three in some way. Give me the power then I am going to take it! Kim was recognized on the project poster with me. Joe and Beth had their own poster.

Why did I do this project? I am called upon all the time to volunteer my talents for one cause or another. Because of my limited time, I pick very carefully what shooting projects I do take on. It really boils down to what the project is and if the work is interesting and/or challenging. This is really how I choose to accept any photography project whether it is paid assignment or donated work. ..

Other key decision factors include the people who are involved. There are some people I simply will not work with regardless how much money is involved. Finally, the exposure my work may get as a result of the project is important. Afterall, I am trying to grow my business.

With regards to this specific project, I want to take a moment to focus on the actual work. I couldn't get too excited over the photography aspect. It is what it is. My normal style would have not worked for this project. Straight photography was called for. Creative lighting would not have worked. This said, the digital processing of the images was a challenge because of the extraordinary sizes that these images would be printed as well as the retouching that I needed to do. Again, Kim promised the ladies how wonderful I was going to make them.

Everything is magnified the more images are enlarged so a great deal of time was spent minimizing skin flaws,etc. Digital work such as what I had to do with these images largely goes unnoticed by the casual observer simply viewing the standups but that is the way it should be. It is not as if there are before and after shots standing side by side that a comparison can be made. If digital work is easily recognized, then a poor job was done. . Trying to even explain this concept is tough to do. I think at least some of the participants were pleased by my retouching efforts.

Now producing the artwork that was a part of the project is a different matter completely . I thought this project would allow for the showcasing of my graphic artwork skills. Many who know my photography do not realize that I do this type of work as well. I could have fun and use my creativity developing these posters from just the thoughts in my head with hopes that they will be noticed and percieved as "different" and well done. As I previously stated, Kim, Beth & Joe gave me free reign when it came to these posters. This part of the project gave me a great deal of personal satisfaction.

When it came to the people involved, making the choice of participating or not was easy for me. I only knew Joe and Beth on a very casual basis. While I have seen them around town, the first time I really met them was last year when they bought one of my prints that was donated to the Petersburg Chamber of Commerce for one of their fundraisers. The Chamber had only plans for a silent auction that evening.There wasn't going to be a "live" auction.

During the course of the evening, the people interested in my print decided collectively that they wanted to bid for it in a "live" auction. Joe took on the role of auctioneer that evening. I did not realize that Beth, one of the people bidding on it, was his wife. She ultimately won the auction. How could I not take notice of these two people?

I did find out over the past year that both Joe and Beth are committed to Petersburg and the restoration of "Old Towne". Not only are they committed financially but they genuinely care about the future of Petersburg.. Many around here talk a great deal, but Joe and Beth are different. Their actions speaks volumes and this is what counts to me.

The bottom line? I enjoyed doing this project and appreciate these three friends for allowing me to participate. I simply feel we had the right combination of people at the right time and place that could pull this project off and hopefully it will have an impact.

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