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. Fiftytwo.photos : 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 Andrews.photos 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.

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Gettin’ the Band Back Together

I.

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.

II.

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.

III.

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.

IV.

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.

V.

Here are some of the photos I took yesterday:

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taco ride

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taco ride

Instastellar

I.

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.

II.

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.

1.

Astro Meetup

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Astro Meetup

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Astro Meetup

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Astro Meetup

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Astro Meetup

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Astro Meetup

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Astro Meetup

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Astro Meetup

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Astro Meetup

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Astro Meetup

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Astro Meetup

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Astro Meetup

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Astro Meetup

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Astro Meetup

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Astro Meetup

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Astro Meetup

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Astro Meetup

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Astro Meetup

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Astro Meetup

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Astro Meetup

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Astro Meetup

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Astro Meetup

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Astro Meetup

Chugging Along

I.

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.)

II.

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.

III.

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.

IV.

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.

V.

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.

VI.

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.

VII.

Pictures from the day:

Omaha Railroad Days

Omaha Railroad Days

Omaha Railroad Days

Omaha Railroad Days

Omaha Railroad Days

Omaha Railroad Days

Processed with VSCO with 7 preset

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Big Wooden Desk

When I was a little, before my brother was born, my dad’s office was the bedroom next to mine. I remember waking up early, probably around 5:30 or so, to see the light in the office on. Often I’d wake up and shuffle over to my dad’s office door. I’d carefully crack open the door to see my dad sitting at his computer working on something. To me, the computer just looked like a black screen with lots of letters and words on it, and his keyboard click and clacked loudly. There was often the smell of coffee wafting through the room. A smell that I grew to associate with my dad. I would quietly walk in and ask if I could sit next to him. He would always say I could sit next to him if I was quiet. And so I would pull up an old chair and simply sit next to him as he typed away on his computer. I just wanted to be close to my dad. It didn’t matter if I knew what he was doing.

He worked at a large wooden desk that he had always had, as far I as knew. Over the years the computers changed, but the desk they sat on remained. The desk made it through moves from various homes in Nebraska to two different homes in Indiana. I have no idea the brand or even the quality, but I remember it being big. When you opened the side door of the cabinet, it had a distinctive wood smell about it on the inside. I can smell it even now as I think about it.

No matter where the desk was, my dad hung many of the same photos and art above it. A couple baby pictures of me. A poster of Pete Townshend (that always kind of creeped me out), and a photo of my dad’s dad smoking a pipe in front of a back-lit window. An iconic Seaman family photo.

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I always liked being with my dad in his various offices. It’s clear even in the time before I have memories I spent a lot of time with my dad at his desk. When I went through my family photo album quite a few years ago I found a number of photos of me with him at that desk.

So it’s unsurprising to me that as an adult I’ve had a deep-seated desire to have an office of my own with a nice big, wooden desk.

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Yesterday, Sarah the boys and I went out to Nebraska Furniture Mart to look at desks. There were a few that stood out to me. I went there knowing that I wanted one made of wood. Not that cheap particle board stuff that might look nice for a few minutes before it disintegrates after a couple months of use.

I looked at a number of great desks. But one stood out to me from the beginning. I remember thinking that it reminded me of my sister’s desk that she had gotten quite a few years ago. It’s a sturdy oak desk with drawers on both sides. Not too big. Not too small. Just right. The goldilocks desk.

Sarah and I determined we would not make any decisions that day and come back another time before we were to purchase it. After we returned home I texted my sister and asked her to send me a picture of her desk. Sure enough, the desk that I caught my attention at the furniture store is the same desk that my sister has.

That seems fitting for many reasons. The beds that my sons sleep on were my set of bunk beds when I was a kid. They’re sturdy Ethan Allen oak bunk beds, clearly built to last. My brother used them for much of his childhood, and then my sister used them when she moved out of the house. And now my own children have them.

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Me, sitting in my bunk beds on my sixth birthday.

My sister also has the same Amish-made oak side table that my dad got us when we were kids. We both still have them (although I’ve had to glue the drawer back together because my sons are destructive forces of nature).

Sarah and I determined we’d hold off on getting the desk for now even though I’m very sure it’s the desk I want because we can’t really afford it at the moment. But when we can, we will. There’s something about that having that desk seems extremely peace-giving to me. The idea of finally having an office with a nice big wooden desk where I work and type on my computer at 5:30 am seems to complete an unfinished circle for me.

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