Amateur photography for the meticulous connoisseur (or some facsimile thereof).

Saturday, December 29, 2012


If you were to ask me what the best camera is, I would say "the one you have with you." Obviously, I don't always carry around a DSLR but I do have my iPhone with me about 99.9% of the time. Sometimes you have to sacrifice quality just to get the picture. I was glad to have the opportunity to meet and photograph Gary on Music Row in Nashville. Gary caught my eye with this sign and the fact that he was wearing a penguin outfit. He said he wore that "ridiculous" outfit (his words) because he was hungry and needed money. Great to meet you Gary. Good luck, brother.  This picture is #12 in my 100 strangers project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

1 of 100

Saturday, August 27, 2011 
Today, I saw the portrait I have been wanting to take.
Today, I made a u-turn.
I parked my car about 100 yards from my target. As he approached, he took his headphones off, stuck out his hand, and simply said: “hey, my name is Michael.”
But let me give you the back story. After clicking around on Flickr, I found the idea that I wanted to pursue. The problem was this idea would take me well out of my comfort zone. I love the creative process of photography but at heart, I am an introvert. I don’t apologize for that. It is just who I am. Photography and your personality don’t necessarily go hand in hand but I think photographers with an outgoing personality tend to make better portrait photographers. With this millstone around my neck, I decided to go out on a limb and pursue a project called “100 Strangers.” As the title indicates, it involves me taking pictures of 100 strangers. Not only taking pictures, but digging into who they are and telling their story in both words and portrait photography. This has been rolling around in my head for months and I never could get started on that first stranger. I was further motivated by a song I was constantly hearing on the radio. It is a song by Matthew West called “My Own Little World.” Part of the lyrics are:

Father break my heart for what breaks Yours
Give me open hands and open doors
and put Your Light in my eyes and let me see
That my own little world is not about me

This spoke to me. My world is not about me. There are stories all around me. Stories that I could tell.
With this in mind, I was driving around town and I saw this homeless man with the coolest “ZZ Top-like” beard. He would often wave. I have seen him with signs that say: “I like beer and mustard on my fries.” Problem is, I never had my camera...until today. 
Meet Michael Cheek, originally from South Dakota but through a lifetime of railroads, buses, carnivals, and a world without walls, he now lives in the woods in Winston-Salem, NC. I talked to Mike for about 20 minutes. He was with his wife, Missy. I asked Mike: “what’s your story? Everyone has a story.” He said he “got tired of working for the man.” He now lives in the woods with Missy and their three dogs. 
He once worked in the carnival where he says you never get paid. He was stabbed in the back (literally) by the carnival owner’s son. He has spent time in prison for the theft of $9,000. I think he said this was in Texas. When he got out, his buddies still had his split of the money. 
Mike is a very likable person and a talker. Mike is also not afraid of who he is. He is an alcoholic. He has to drink everyday. I told him I wouldn’t buy him beer but I did hand him a couple of dollars and asked him what I could do for him. He asked if I could get him a bag of dog food and leave it at the Cleaner World where he would pick it up later. I did.
Good to meet you Mike. Stay safe, brother.
This picture is #1 in my 100 strangers project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at

Monday, March 7, 2011


One arm, one child. Something amazing about God's gift of a child. It is a hope renewed.

Monday, October 11, 2010


It's like a version of Uncle Sam...only beautiful.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The tooth fairy awaits...

This is my little niece, Rylee. The tooth fairy is very interested in that front tooth. It is hanging on by a thread. It actually came out the next day. I love you little girl!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


My beautiful niece came by and I took pictures. She loves posing for the camera and making silly faces. I love those moments. I would rather have 1 of these then 50 "posed" shots with hands crossed at Olan Mills.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Hand out. Part of my (failed) 365 project. Does anyone ever finish those?

Saturday, July 24, 2010


53.365, originally uploaded by maddeacon.
Doing a lot of self-portraits this week. Just for the practice. Seems like I always have a Mickey shirt on. What's the deal with that?

52.365 - Simply Beautiful music.

Al Green is my mowing partner. I just got in from mowing the grass. If I mow, I pop in the iPod, turn on my Al Green playlist and forget about everything. If there is a better soul singer than Al Green, I've never heard him. Can I get an AMEN from the choir?

Jenna at sunset.

Jenna at sunset., originally uploaded by maddeacon.

Took Jenna to a place I thought we could get a great sunset. It was a no trespassing area. Had to take them quickly with Justin holding the shoot-through umbrella to left out of frame. I just kept saying: "I think I hear the police." Fun.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010


For this, I used things I have: a back deck, a daughter, and a voice-activated strobe light with shoot-through umbrella. That last one sounds high tech. Actually, it is my son holding the shoot-through umbrella and strobe. He holds the light where I tell him to…hence, voice activated.

Monday, April 12, 2010


I did one of myself. Mostly because I was bored and needed a new Facebook profile picture.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Justin is 14. He is registered to go to high school next year. How did this happen so fast?


Sometimes when your brother is telling you how to pose, you just get mad.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Girl + Dog = Happy. Gizmo doesn't seem quite as surprised as Jenna. Of course, he is a dog and he's pretty even keel.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


A farm building in Davidson County. This is at the Gem Farm where we had a photography meetup.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


My daughter has read the "Twilight" series four times. When she attempted to start her fifth time, I threatened to have a "Twilight book burning". I was getting a little tired of never seeing her except her retreat to her room to read...AGAIN.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I have been wanting to make pictures with the solid white background for many months. I didn't know how with just two speedlights. I went to a photo class and got the idea of blowing out the background with one speedlight and using one speedlight for my subject with a shoot through umbrella. OK, maybe doing this is common knowledge to some but it wasn't to me. This old dog learned a new trick.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Part of the Triad Stobist meet up on August 4th, 2009 at the Fila Academy. Taken with flashlight (and a camera).

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Justin with overhead strobe light. Found this idea on flickr and was hooked on it.

Friday, July 3, 2009


He seems always in this place,
Where the things I seem to take,
Are the things I wish would fade
I always purpose in my heart,
Well to do things the right way,
Then I realize I'm still clay
And this piece that's being shaped,
Will be a beauty You create

-"I Am Nothing" - Jeremy Camp

This is from a Strobist meet up group from High Point, NC. We did a Ballerina project.
Shoot through umbrella 1/8 power
Exposure: 1/200
Aperture: f/5.0

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I wanted to do something fun for this one. I used my son Justin and daughter Jenna to play a card game that gets testy. I thought it would be even better if we had two of Justin so I cloned him in on a second shot. The kids thought it was cool.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Just doing some stuff with Justin. Trying out my second strobe. I told him to smile for the ladies...and he thought that was hillarious. Middle school. Crazy times.

Monday, May 25, 2009


I am trying to experiment with light. No one likes to model for me. Luckily, I have Gizmo. He just likes being around people...and he is a cheap model.

Monday, March 9, 2009


3/8/09: I asked Jenna to come down and model for me. Of course, she brought her constant companion, Gizmo. She was just looking straight into the camera and smiling and I was taking pictures and playing around with lighting. I typically don’t like those kind of “posing for the camera shots”. So while I was monkeying around with some settings, she held up Giz to get his attention. I immediately saw the “pose” I was looking for and took the shot.
We were down stairs in poor lighting and I wasn’t using a tripod. Not a good combination. The result was that the focus wasn’t as sharp as I would have liked but I still LOVED the picture. My solution was to use my considerable talent in post processing (translation: I was pressing more buttons than a monkey on a moon mission). I gave it a black and white look with a little grain in it. To me, it’s an accidental masterpiece…well maybe “masterpiece” is a little over the top but these two are TOO CUTE.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Wanted to go with an "old" look. Sepia. Some off camera lighting and broke out my 50mm f1.8 again.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Giz is our newest baby. He is our little buddy. How can you not love a face like that?

I know you think he is cute and cuddly. Let me assure you: Gizmo is 1.6 pounds of killing machine. He is a fierce, vicious, killer who would rather chew your heart out than look at you. So, do yourself a favor: DO NOT TAUNT THE GIZ.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Justin hates to model for pictures but I am still trying to learn lighting and I am bigger than he is. Being a perfectionist on my small amount of talent just frustrates you.
I wanted to duplicate a photo I saw in a UK paper. This was as close as I could get. I wanted somewhat of a 'grainy' look but this was a little too dark. I need more equipment...not to mention knowledge.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Cinderella’s castle at night.
This is a beautiful site for us Disney freaks. It signifies that you have arrived to the greatest location on earth. I took this from Cosmic Ray’s Dinner…at least that is what I think they call it. There is some outdoor seating on the balcony where I set up my table-top tripod. This is a good location with very little crowd at night. The only drawback: firework pictures do not work that well here because they will not be behind the castle at this angle.

Focal Length: 27 mm
Exposure Time: 5 seconds

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Nothing like moving to Fall by celebrating life with a new puppy. Is there anything more fun than a new pup and a little girl? Welcoming "Gizmo" to our family.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I love summer. There is something about summer that promotes happiness. Maybe it is because it is the opposite of winter. Winter is only saved from the crapper by Christmas...otherwise, it would be roundly boycotted.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Inspired by someone at, I took this to get a "Meet the Beatles" look. Not exactly like the old album cover but I loved the lighting. Speedlight off-camera with 50mm lens.


Not much good happens there for the average citizen...unless you like regulations, taxes, spending of your money, and grandstanding. The momument's beauty are offset by the ugliness of the polticians.
Yes, I am jaded and yes we need term limits.
I have made three trips to Washington. This photograph was taken on my second trip in 2007. The memorials and history in Washington are without equal in our country. Everything begs for a photo. It makes it hard to find a unique angle or subject matter that has not been shot to death. Standing at the corner of the Vienam wall, I loved the backdrop here of the Washington Memorial combined with the reflections of tourists. Pure Americana.