Morning Musings


I’m not sure why I wake up in a better mood some days and others I don’t. I assume it has something to do with the amount of warm morning light I see, and probably the amount of restful sleep I get, too. 

But some days I wake up and I feel like I’m ready to take on the world and its issues. 

It has to help that I saw wonderful sunlight coming through my bedroom window blinds creating deep dark contrasting lines onto our dresser, right? My son stood in sunlight pouring in from my window with his bowl of Frosted Flakes. It immediately caught my attention and put me in a better mood. I snapped a photo with my phone and posted it on Instagram. 

The view from my bed.


The morning routine the last couple weeks has been nearly a ritual. I get up at 6:00am for the girls in my home that leave for morning weights and fitness. They have about five minutes or so to get what they need from the kitchen and then leave for the field house on campus. 

I’m often groggy, as are they. But by this point in the summer it’s just what it is. My six and five year olds often wake up around this time, and so I attempt to be as quiet as I can so that I don’t accidentally wake them up. My wife on the other hand is always in a deep sleep laying motionless in bed at this point in the morning (and well-after). 


It was recently the summer solstice, so the sun rises even earlier than I do right now. I can’t say that for most of the year. 

The light coming through my bedroom window.


At 8:00 or so, I begin my coffee ritual. I pour and measure my beans, grind them, and brew them using whatever method suits me for that day – Chemex, Aeropress, French press. They all have their perks.

At 8:15 the rest of the girls in my house get up and ready for their day. It’s kind of a chaotic scramble. Sounds of cereal bowls being filled, toast popping up from the toaster, the smell of the cheap Folgers coffee the girls drink fills the air. (I don’t let them touch my good stuff.) 

Before the girls leave for the morning, their dishes are placed in the dishwasher, the floor is swept, their rooms are clean. They leave at precisely 8:52am each day because that is the amount of time it takes to get to school by 9:00 without finding extra time to get into the trouble that so easily entices them. 


A little before 8:00am my wife flops herself out of our bed with a sense of bitterness because it is, once again, that time of day where she has to get out of bed and do stuff. 

She gets the boys ready for summer school, prompting them about five or ten times to put on their daytime clothes, socks, and shoes. 

The boys have been up for at least an hour and a half at this point in the morning. They’ve begged me for seconds and thirds of their morning’s cereal. I usually give in. But sometimes I don’t. 


My wife takes the boys to their summer school while I carry out the morning routine with the girls. She usually gets back right as the girls are leaving for school, at 8:52. 

The next couple hours of time are precious. They are the only part of the day in which we do not have the boys home with us. They get picked back up at 11:50, and we have to leave at 11:30 to go get them. 


One of our girls is sick in bed today. She’s not been feeling well recently. But when that happens one of us has to remain at the house. So in a way, we are trapped at home for the day. But that’s ok.

So today I decided to go outside on the front patio, to enjoy the sunlight and that wonderful morning air. I made another cup of coffee, grabbed an Annie Dillard book, my camera, and came to sit and read. 

My morning reading and second cup of coffee.


Reading authors like Annie Dillard only can last so long before I want to write something down myself. And so here I am on my phone, in my Notes app, writing. It’s ok. I find it extremely relaxing. No boys running around to account for. My wife went back to bed, as she does. And so it’s just me, my camera, my coffee, and Annie. 


I smell summer flowers. I hear so many summer sounds. Both the sounds of nature and of our industrialized modern world. The repeating melodies of songbirds mixed with the growl of motors from various lawnmowers and lawn equipment. The chirping squirrels and the beeps of people going in and out the door of the police station, which is the building adjacent to me. 

A bird on the roof.

The clouds are moving quickly today. A slight breeze keeps things cool. It’s supposed to get up to 85 degrees today. A true summer day.


A spiderweb stretches from the blue patio umbrella to the flowers to the chair, swaying in the wind, shimmering in the sunlight. 

A bird dances a half-hearted dance on the roof of my building. What is she looking for? 

A bee lands briefly on the vibrant flowers in front of me, but didn’t seem to find anything worthwhile. 

The clouds are slowly getting bigger and puffier, and the sun is being hidden more and more frequently. The patio goes from nearly too bright to just right, but both are nice in their own way.

A few of my neighbors have passed by with warm mid-morning greetings. A couple even thanked me for the “good word” I gave on Sunday at the Protestant church here on campus.

I spoke on the book of Micah this past week, filling in for the Pastor who was away giving a message at summer camp at Lake Okoboji in Iowa.


I have only read two pages of the Annie Dillard book I took off the bookshelf. But I figured this would happen. And I’m totally ok with it. 

A weird coincidence. But such is life.

What I’m learning about myself through Photography

Photography exposes more than just what was captured with the click of a shutter. It shows what the person who took that photo finds interesting enough to capture. And when you look at a collection of photos taken by one person, that collection as a whole starts to expose elements of whom that person is.

Self-portrait (Second Attempt)

At the beginning of this year I started getting more serious about taking photographs on a near daily basis. That’s really not something all that new for me. But this year I wanted to be more intentional about the photos I took, and then be more reflective about my general photography style, so to speak. What are the common themes that I find in my photography? What kind of moments cause me to take out my camera? What kind of light is common in my shots?

What does my photography say about me?
That’s the question I’ve been asking myself so far this year.

To be able to answer that question, I decided that I needed to understand what the photography of the masters that have come before me says about them. I knew I needed to learn from them to truly understand what my own photography says about me.

Nana at 99

So I’m currently on a journey of both creating photographs, while also digesting the photos from the masters of the past (and present). So I have been watching documentaries and reading books about many of the top tier influential photographers. I’ve gotten a number of photo books filled with incredibly inspiring photos.

I have been learning so much about photography. About light. About composition. About portraiture. And it seems the practice of studying the masters and then going out to take photos myself, then studying my photos, then going back to the photography of the masters has been a great way to do it. It gives me a bit of validation of what I see as good photography, and challenges me to notice what makes a great composition. What makes a photo stand out compared to others.

Playing with light

So far I’m learning that photography is something I find therapeutic. I’m introverted, so taking photos gives me a way to express myself to the world in a controlled and intentional manner – just the way I like it!

Thankfully I’m not deeply motivated by follower or subscriber counts, or by how many likes a photo of mine gets. I simply love the process of taking a photo of a moment that interested me and then sharing that moment with the world.

I often get excited to go out simply because of the possible photo opportunities that may arise. I have my camera with me pretty much 90% of the time anymore just in case there’s a moment that presents itself that I would want to capture.

Sarah in the hotel room

My camera challenges me to be brave and interact with other people. But at the same time, the camera is a tool for me to realize that even though talking with strangers can be intimidating, other people often want to be noticed and appreciated. A huge challenge I have for myself this spring is to get out into the streets and take photos of random people. Some candid, but my real goal is to ask for posed street portraits – probably my favorite genre of photography.

For the longest time I didn’t know what my camera and lenses were capable of. What were my limitations? Would the photo I want to take be possible with what I have? And I’ve come to realize, eh, that was just an excuse. I’m never going to have photos that look as great as the posed large format film portraits of celebrities with great lighting. It’s about capturing moments and people and things that catch my attention in this world. I can ask to take a photo of someone, and they can say yes, or they can say no. And that’s about it.

I have various chapters within my photography journey. I think I’m in a new chapter, pushing forward with more boldness. As I’ve watched the photographers that have given me so much inspiration, I’ve noticed how they were unfazed by people’s reactions of them taking photos. I think that’s been one of my issues for the longest time. I didn’t want to seem rude or weird out in public with friends, family, or even around strangers. But the moments that get captured are much more important than any reactions I get out while taking photos. Keeping that in mind is the key. There’s not a worse feeling to me than wishing I would have had my camera with me so I could have captured a specific moment. That regret is way worse than any reaction I might get for taking a photo.

And so, I press on within my photography journey, challenging my own boundaries so that I can get the sorts of shots that I want and notice all around me.

me in the mirror

Upping my game

I talk about setting photography goals for myself frequently. I’ve decided to actually follow through with some of them over the course of the next year. 

My first goal is simply to be consistent and intentional with my photography. I’ve learned a lot about photography in the past year. Perhaps one of the most important things I’ve learned about photography is that each photographer needs to have his or her own style to stand out in any kind of meaningful way. To be noticed, a photographer needs to know what sort of photography they like to shoot and what style of images they like to publish. Over time a photographer establish a look that is their own, so that when people see it, they know that it is shot from that specific photographer.

One of my weaknesses as a photographer has been an inconsistent style of photography. I mean, I know what I like. I know what sorts of images I am drawn to. I know which photographs are my favorite that I’ve taken. But I’ve published all sorts of different images with all sorts of different edits and post-processing. The images in and of themselves might be good, but without a consistent look, I lose out on a huge piece of what it means to be a photographer or an artist these days. 

So, goal one is to establish a consistency within my published photography. 

Goal two is to publish my photos consistently. I plan to do this on primary three different platforms. 

  1. Andrews.Photos  : This is my personal photography blog. In the past I have tried to post two daily photos with little explanation. This has been hard for me to keep up with, and when I fall behind it makes me want to throw in the towel completely. But photography is going to be a huge focus of mine in 2019, and so I hope to really create an online presence of my own photography there. 
  2. : This is a project that I thought up last year, but never followed through with. I was conflicted about the images I wanted to post on this site. I would have photos of some of the girls that live with me on the site, but I’m not allowed to show those to the public due to privacy laws. So I wasn’t able to showcase some of my favorite photos, and it caused me to lose interest in actually following through with the idea. However, this year I do not plan to post any photos that include any of my girls, so therefore I can keep the site public. The idea is that I post my favorite image from each week of the year. There will be some overlap between and this site, but that’s ok. That will be less work for me. 

Recently a fellow family-teaching couple lost their baby at about 26 weeks into their pregnancy. It has been very sad to follow along with their story. They have posted a lot on Facebook about their grief, posting photos of them and their baby soon after she was born. The images are powerful and raw. They are extremely powerful and full of emotion. They have captured moments that are invaluable. Memories of the worst moments of a parent’s life, yet moments that are wanting to be remembered forever. 

There is an organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, which uses photographers and editors to capture these moments professionally. My wife was a labor and delivery nurse before becoming a family teacher, and she has mentioned the times in which families have lost their babies as being some of the most emotional and powerful moments she’s ever witnessed or been a part of. The photos that are taken are extremely precious to the families, and this organization does something incredibly generous for these parents in their worst moment of loss. 

It has been my goal to one day be an official photographer for this organization. But, understandably, their standards are extremely high for becoming a photographer for them. You have to supply a number of high quality photographs for them to review and accept before you are qualified to shoot for them. One of the required shots is a photo which shows you know how to use artificial lights appropriately. So either a speed light or a soft box setup which highlights your ability as a photographer, producing high level professional photos. 

My weakest skill as a photographer has been my knowledge of using flash and secondary artificial light sources within my photography. I’ve stayed away from using flash for two reasons: 1) I don’t have the equipment. 2) I generally don’t like the look of photographs which use flash. I mean, I can recognize what makes them good photos, as well as the skill it requires to do flash photography well. That doesn’t mean I like it, or am able to do it proficiently myself. But I want to change that.

On Friday I purchased an online class to learn more about lighting for photography. I do not own any sort of speed lights that work with my Fujifilm cameras; I don’t own any soft boxes; And up until last week I wouldn’t even know what to purchase.

But now that I’m a few hours into my class, I feel more confident on what my next steps should be in developing my skills as a photographer. I’m still going to wait to purchase any flashes or secondary lights, like a soft box or something, until after I finish the course. But I’m excited about this whole world of photography that has opened up to me, that I’ve never really ventured into. 

But it’s important to me because I really do want to take my photography to the next level and be able to be hired, or accepted, by Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep by the end of next year. 

One of the aspects of my photography that I have wanted to improve is my ability to take photos without needing to shoot the photos in RAW. Fujifilm does such a great job with their JPEG images straight out of camera that I have wanted to really publish nearly unedited photos on a regular basis from my cameras. Recently I have been doing that on Instagram using my X-T3 camera. I am able to shoot in JPEG to one card, then connect to my phone via bluetooth and wifi and transfer the photos quickly. 

It’s been very fun, and it takes a dramatic amount of less time to go from taking a photo to publishing it on something like Instagram. I have been happy with the JPEG images and I plan to continue to publish them using this method. 

If you’re interested in following along with my Instagram, my handle is @amseaman

You can take a photo of this badge with your instagram camera to follow me.

New Camera

I recently mentioned that I gathered all my old Pentax photography gear, the camera gear with which I practically learned everything I know about photography, and took it to my local camera shop and sold it all to them. 

Even though those cameras have lots of sentimental value, and lots of personal history with me, I would never use them again. Last year I moved forward to a different camera system, leaving behind my days of using Pentax. I purchased a small but very capable Fujifilm X-T20 last November during black Friday sales, and it quickly became my favorite piece of technology I’ve ever used. 

With my old Pentax cameras I didn’t really invest super heavily in the newest and nicest lenses. At the time I didn’t understand why some lenses were more than the camera’s themselves and I just didn’t have the money to invest as someone who wasn’t regularly getting paid to take photos. 

But with my X-T20 I actually got some very nice lenses, although it seems that Fuji doesn’t really make many duds. They’re all quality. And throughout the past year I’ve had an extremely good experience with my camera and my lenses. It’s been fun to take photos of our big family. I’ve been on a few vacations with my camera as well, and I’m so thankful for the images I’ve been able to capture. Truly priceless memories and moments captured. 

I’ve enjoyed Fujifilm so much in the past year that when they announced their newest camera, the X-T3, my heart started fluttering around. I considered trading in my X-T20 and figuring out a way to earn some money to make up for the rest I would need to get the X-T3. 

Then my local camera shop said they were doing a buy-back event at the same time they were doing their annual pre-black Friday sale. And so I loaded up all my equipment, and lugged it all over to the camera store. It took a long time for one of their employees to look through everything. But he offered me what I was hoping I could get for all of my old gear: the amount to cover the cost of a new X-T3 body. 

They didn’t have it in stock at the store, but they still were willing to order it for me and sell it to me at the price that was listed on their black Friday sale. I don’t know anywhere else selling the new X-T3 for a discount. 

It came in on Tuesday and I have been playing around with it ever since. I’ve been loving it. Of course all the lenses I already have for my X-T20 all fit  it, so I already know what to expect with the lenses. 

It’s ease of use is super nice. It connects to my phone via Bluetooth and it makes it super easy to transfer Fuji’s great JPEG files onto my phone for quick uploading to Instagram for Insta Stories or for my feed. Super nice. 

I’m excited to see what moments and memories I can capture with this camera. It has amazing video capabilities, and so I might even venture into learning more about videography with this camera.

Gettin’ the Band Back Together


Every Thursday, just across the Missouri River from Omaha, Nebraska there is a gathering of a couple hundred or so bicyclers who ride together on something called Taco Ride. We start in a parking lot in Council Bluffs, Iowa and bike ten miles along a limestone trail until we reach a small little restaurant in Mineola, IA that serves tacos, fried cheese curds, nachos, and pitchers of margaritas.

I go every week with my friend Jeff. I’ve gone I think nine or ten times so far thus summer. The only week we have missed this summer has been the week we were on vacation at lake Okoboji.

It’s my weekly ritual now.

We usually leave from our place around 7:30 and get there around 8:00. It takes about 45 minutes to bike the ten miles down to the restaurant. Along the way we pass all sorts of people. It’s quite the group of people. I love the cycling community.

Oftentimes our friend Drew comes with us, but he hasn’t been able to make it most weeks this year. But he came last night. And usually when he comes, the night is a lot more unpredictable and therefore more fun.


Drew has recently been getting into drone videography and has started to take some photos on his Canon DSLR. So it was fun to have him come on this ride because he took some quick drone footage of us, and then later we took some pictures on the way back.


The moon was about half full it looked like, so it wasn’t really a great night to take photos of the stars. But ever since this past Sunday when I took some shots, I’ve been wanting to take more.

So we took a few on the trail. I didn’t have my tripod. I didn’t really have a good way of setting down my camera for a good angle. But I still captured a few photos.


About a mile and a half into the ride back I realized that I didn’t have my phone on me and had left it on the trail. So Drew and I went back for it and eventually found it. Thank goodness. But it added a few miles to the trip back.


Here are some of the photos I took yesterday:

taco ride

taco ride

taco ride

taco ride

taco ride

taco ride

taco ride

taco ride

taco ride

taco ride

taco ride

taco ride

taco ride

taco ride

taco ride

taco ride

taco ride

taco ride



Last night I met up with some fellow instagrammers from here in the Omaha area to take some photos of the stars and the milky way galaxy.

Before yesterday I had never done any astrophotography. But I was very excited to get a chance to do it with others out in a very small town about 45 miles east of the Missouri river in Iowa.


I don’t really have a lot to say other than throughout the evening I got better and better with understanding what made a good quality shot. It’s a balance, and you have to learn your camera.

But here are some of the photos I took last night. Let me know which one is your favorite.


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup

Chugging Along


Saturdays can feel very long around here. Well, weekends in general. But honestly, today wasn’t all that bad. We only had three girls for most of the day, we had an assistant working with us, and Sarah’s feeling better. (She had been sick and in bed for almost two weeks as of a couple days ago.)


It was Omaha Railroad days today. We took them all there today. It was a hot day, but overall it was quite pleasant. Micah’s attention was still as short as ever, but he we were able to move around to different exhibits enough to overall keep him satisfied.


I was thankful today that one of our girls, the girl that has been with us the longest, really acts like a big sister to Micah. She kept her eye on him when he’d run away. She’d convince him to come back to us if he did.

I remember thinking back before we worked at Boys Town that Micah was such a handful it potentially would feel like less work to me if we fostered or even adopted a teenager. Someone that could be a big sibling to Micah. And here at Boys Town, Micah has a number of big sisters that really watch over him well. I am extremely thankful for that.


If I could, I would go out and take pictures as often as possible. Unfortunately I’m too busy. And even when I am out taking pictures it’s hard because I can’t publish any pictures of our girls publicly, and when I’m with the boys I feel like I can’t stand still long enough to take pictures because I’m always chasing them around.


Tomorrow there is a meet up for Instagrammers from Omaha. It’s a astrophography meet up, something I’ve actually never done and have wanted to do for a very long time. I got a cheap tripod today because my boys ruined my other one. Good timing for something like this. I hope to come back tomorrow night with at least one good photo from the evening.


This evening, before the girls went to bed, I was contemplative. I had just been joking around with them a bit as we reflected on their behaviors throughout the day. And I thought about really how great this job is most of the time. I still haven’t lost that sense of privilege it is to live with and raise this girls. I love what I do. I love being able to do it with my wife. I love the support that we get in this role. And I love that my sons have big sisters that are with them all the time.

What a life.
I’m so thankful.

Until next time. Peace.


Pictures from the day:

Omaha Railroad Days

Omaha Railroad Days

Omaha Railroad Days

Omaha Railroad Days

Omaha Railroad Days

Omaha Railroad Days

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