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Jim Setzer is now a full-time photographer.  Denise is a full-time paralegal and burgeoning healthy living consultant.  Together we are embarking on a journey to re-invent ourselves as we discard the corporate life, downsize our material footprint and embrace our passions together for the future.  This blog is designed to document our journey and share the details of our passions along the way.

Grand Opening & Giant LEGOs.

Since we opened the new studio back at the end of June, we've put a lot of work into making the space welcoming to visitors, functional and complete.  It certainly took much longer that I wanted, but we finally got enough accomplished to hold an open house Grand Opening on November 3rd.  We invited fellow photographers, models, clients and family - friends each and every one.  I was humbled that close to 30 showed up to wish us well and check out the place.  

At the Grand Opening Party.  Photo by Works of Brian.

At the Grand Opening Party.  Photo by Works of Brian.

The 680 lbs of blocks came on a pallet

The 680 lbs of blocks came on a pallet

If you look closely at the back of the photo, you might see something strange.  It's a little secret that I held back until the Grand Opening.  You see, when I decided to make the back of the warehouse my main studio, I had to choose exactly how I was going to separate that space from the storage and workshop in the front.  I could have built a conventional stick and plaster wall, which would have cost a grand in materials.  But I truly despise doing mud-work. (plaster and tape)  Plus, that's a sunk cost.  If I outgrow this space in a year, that's left behind.  I looked into modular building materials and settled on Everblock.  These 6"x6"x12" plastic building blocks are basically giant LEGOs.  It cost more than a traditional wall, but I can take it with me when I move on.  More importantly, it gives a very unique feature to the space.  Togs and models are already interested in shooting in front of the wall, which includes a scattering of illuminated blocks thanks to some generic LED strip kits and creative wiring.  

Underside of a translucent block showing LED strip lights and one of the two controller modules

Underside of a translucent block showing LED strip lights and one of the two controller modules

It was a fun project to design and construct the wall, which is 16' long x 10' high.  Ryan helped with the wiring (and rewiring) of the pieces.   

Two control modules can generate 256 different colors for the 8 blocks each illuminates.  Those modules are wi-fi controllable from a mobile device.  If I get bored with this pattern, I can always take the wall apart and rebuild something different.  

Two control modules can generate 256 different colors for the 8 blocks each illuminates.  Those modules are wi-fi controllable from a mobile device.  If I get bored with this pattern, I can always take the wall apart and rebuild something different.  

Someone once said that if you haven't grown up by the time you turn 50, you don't have to.  What does this say about me?

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Where did we go... again? Epilogue.

September meant getting down to business on the new studio.  I needed to cut in a double door between a small back office (that little portrait studio from the previous entry photo) and the back half of the warehouse where I wanted to create a larger studio space. 

I hung the new door, created a curtain wall to separate the studio space from the front of the warehouse (storage shelves and woodworking shop) and I had to paint the green on green walls white.  That was a lot of work, especially covering that green paint on textured plaster and concrete block.  When it was done and I hung my backdrop sets, the result exceeded my vision.  I can do so much more in this 16'x16' space with its 12' tall ceiling. 

Turning a warehouse into a photo studio.  ©2017 Images by Design

Turning a warehouse into a photo studio.  ©2017 Images by Design

I also started hosting bi-weekly photographers' workshops where I invite a few fellow togs to the studio to discuss some random topic.  Only two showed up for the first workshop but word got around and by this week (the fifth workshop) I had a waitlist of a dozen that couldn’t come because I simply don’t have the room.  I’ve been recording and posting them on YouTube as a way to share while I hone my videography skills.  It’s a little tough hosting the workshop and also trying to run the cameras and other production details, but I’ll get the process down soon.

Ping Pong for Charity Tournament.  ©2017 Images by Design

Ping Pong for Charity Tournament.  ©2017 Images by Design

And September means the annual Ping Pong for Charity event to raise money to promote brain health and awareness of the power of Ping Pong for overall cognitive and physical health.  You might remember I took some photos last year.  The chairman liked my work and hired me as the main photographer for this year’s event.  Besides traditional photography, I negotiated permission from the venue to fly a small drone inside the building.  If you’re interested you can check out the hightlight reel here.

Denise has been very busy since we got back from the Left Coast too.  She started a formal certification progam in personal coaching and has taken on a young client (pro-bono, of course) to help him with some health issues.  She’s growing the essential oils part of her business, has a few new Feng Shui clients and continues to hone her brand with updates to her web site, social media, etc.   I’m so very proud of her for working hard on her business and proud of us as a couple for continuing to support each other’s dreams.

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Where did we go again? Act III

Denise, Ryan and I spent almost 3 weeks in August on the west coast.  I had purchased these plane tickets back last year, so this trip had been planned for a while.  It was a great bonding experience for three of us, with just a few arguments to pepper the fun.  We flew in/out of Portland Oregon, staying at an Air BnB in the Northwest district for the first few days as we explored the now "weird" city that I remember from my childhood as a run-down logging town.  It's very different these days.  Portland is an amazing example of urban renewal. 

The Statue "Portlandia" by Raymond Kaskey greets visitors to the Portland Municipal Building.  ©2017 Images by Design

The Statue "Portlandia" by Raymond Kaskey greets visitors to the Portland Municipal Building.  ©2017 Images by Design

Hazy Mt Hood from Trillium Lake

Hazy Mt Hood from Trillium Lake

Leaving Portland, we toured the Willamette Valley and Cascade Range.  My photos from this area aren't what I was hoping for.  An unseasonably dry summer made for many small forest fires which left a perpetual haze in the sky.   I really had to bend the dehaze slider to get even this much of the mountain, yielding ghastly fringing.  I'm not sure this is salvageable - perhaps with a couple of hours of work with luminosity masks.

South Falls.  ©2017 Images by Design

South Falls.  ©2017 Images by Design

The valley wasn't a complete bust, though.  The Trail of 10 Falls in Silver Falls State park provided spectacular imagery and a great workout.

An overnight swing south to visit Mt. Shasta in the northern most tip of California yielded slightly better mountain vista results.  And staying in Weed, California meant non-stop "dope" jokes.

Mt. Shasta at sunset.  ©2017 Images by Design

Mt. Shasta at sunset.  ©2017 Images by Design

Cannon Beach, Oregon.  Haystack rock as seen from the ocean side.  ©2017 Images by Design

Cannon Beach, Oregon.  Haystack rock as seen from the ocean side.  ©2017 Images by Design

When we got out to the Oregon coast (my old stomping grounds) the sky, kept relatively clear by the constant sea breeze, made for some wonderful landscape shots both from the ground and the air.  The little foldable drone I brought along, a DJI Mavic Pro, really punches above its weight for usability and image quality.

I could have stayed on the coast the whole trip but we had family in Seattle waiting to visit so we headed north through the Olympic Peninsula and crossed the Puget Sound by ferry into Seattle. 

Night time Seattle cityscape as seen from Puget Sound.  ©2017 Images by Design

Night time Seattle cityscape as seen from Puget Sound.  ©2017 Images by Design

Twede's Cafe.  Better known as "The Double R Diner" from the TV series Twin Peaks.  "It's where pies go to die." ~Special Agent Dale Cooper.

Twede's Cafe.  Better known as "The Double R Diner" from the TV series Twin Peaks.  "It's where pies go to die." ~Special Agent Dale Cooper.

My aunt Sylvia joined us as we played tourists downtown at Seattle Center and Pike Street Market.  The next day we drove east to Snoqualmie and West Bend where one of my favorite TV shows of all time was filmed (and the recent "Return".)

We wrapped up the trip back in Portland at another Air BnB.  This last one was above a coffee house in the Southeast part of town. Portlanders love their coffee.   We may just have to move back here some day.  I'll catch you all up on our September adventures next....

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Where did we go again?.... Part Deux

How did we spend our summer?  June and July were even more crazy busy as this whole transition began to grow legs.

I like how the golden hour light reflects off this stainless steel sign at the new studio.

I like how the golden hour light reflects off this stainless steel sign at the new studio.

June was all about three things:  1) At work, finding and grooming my replacement and 2) at home, preparing the house to put on the market.  On a photog's income I know I can't continue to live in this big house and it's way too much for us anyway.  3) At the end of the month I found that commercial studio space I was looking for (well, not exactly what I had envisioned but something I can make work.)

Ryan and Beau helped me with this "floating" crown molding so I can move these backdrop panels around in the small portrait studio space.

Ryan and Beau helped me with this "floating" crown molding so I can move these backdrop panels around in the small portrait studio space.

July was another crazy month.  I scrambled to get the house on the market (yea, I missed the spring selling season - that will cost me) and I moved all of my photo studio and art studio over to the new commercial space.  My house was ready to show by the middle of the month, and I had to work hard to begin to get the new space ready to use.  We shot just one boudoir client using make-shift pop-up backdrops, an air-bed, and a lot of patience on our client's part.  At least she liked the final product.  She bought a large print to hang in her fiance's man-cave and their wedding is today where she presents him with the album I made for her.  Can't wait to hear how he liked that.

And, we have a trip to the west coast in August I needed to prepare for.  All about that in the next article, so stay tuned.

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