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  • An ‘Innovation’ Project

    Sixty-nine of my photos, images taken throughout Virginia and Washington, D.C., now adorn the walls of Innovation Health’s new and recently expanded offices in Falls Church, Va. All but one of the photos are professionally printed and framed 16x24 images; the last, a frozen Potomac River, is a metal 36x24 print.

    This project has been in the works for several months and more photos have been added as part of the company’s expansion. The last set of images were delivered last week, and I wanted to share the work here.

    Innovation Health is the result of a unique partnership between two industry leaders: Inova and Aetna. Inova is a nationally recognized not-for-profit health care system serving more than 2 million people each year. Aetna, one of the nation’s leading health care benefits companies, serves more than 22 million medical members. Innovation Health also is the official health insurance company of the Washington Redskins.

    If you know someone who would be interested in this type of project, large or small, for their business or company, please consider giving my name as a reference. I also am working on an expanded webpage to sell prints of these and other images that should be up in the near future.

    Meanwhile, if you are interested in purchasing prints of my work, send me a private message on Facebook or an email to glenncook117@gmail.com.

    Thanks again to the staff at Innovation Health for their faith and kind words, and to my photographer friends and family who helped along the way. 

  • Marking A Milestone

    Four years ago today, I formally started my business with this photo, which was taken during a Memorial Day trip to New York City. Clicking the shutter that day, in May 2013, I did not know I would be unemployed in a week.

    After 30 years in journalism and communications, moving from job to job and seeing professional growth with each position, being laid off left me — and my family — adrift. I knew I had to do something, but prospects in an ever-changing publishing world were limited. Also, having worked for the same company for 12 years, I had seen a once vigorous operation slowly succumb to financial and organizational erosion, and I wasn't sure I wanted to face that prospect again.

    Being on your own has its downsides. You rarely know what the next day will bring. Stability is elusive. You can work 24-7 without batting an eye. You have to rely on the faith of others (especially family and close friends) and word of mouth. And you have to hope that your work is not just good, but good enough, so clients will pass along your name.

    Knowing these things, I formally launched this photography and freelance writing business five weeks after losing my job. Working on this website over the Fourth of July holiday, I launched my Facebook page on July 7, 2013.

    And here we are, four years and more than 12,000 photos later, having slowly but steadily built a client base that I can only hope will continue to grow. Thankfully, I've had the opportunity to branch off into all sorts of things, meet a wide range of new (and usually fascinating) people, and have the types of experiences I dreamed about while sitting at an office desk all those years.

    The creative malaise I dealt with for 2+ years in my previous position — an apt visual analogy is 1,000 small but painful paper cuts — has never returned. If anything, I feel more creative and engaged than ever.

    As a storyteller, one who uses images and words to tell his tales, these last four years have been a lifeline. And I know, without question, I could not do this if it weren't for my wife, Jill, and my families (biological and otherwise).

    I'm eternally grateful for your help, support, comments and feedback along the way. Thank you, and I hope you'll keep coming back to visit/use my services. 

  • New Business Cards, Watermark

    My oldest son designed these business cards and a new watermark for my work. Thank you, Nick!

  • Thank You for a Fantastic 2016!

    A huge thank you to everyone who helped Glenn Cook Photography to its best year yet. This is a snapshot of the clients who hired me to take their headshots and family photos in 2016. I've also shot a variety of meetings, events, and conferences for nonprofit and corporate clients in addition to fine art and dancers.

    I hope you'll consider hiring me for your photo and/or writing needs in 2017 and beyond.

    Thanks again!

  • Turning Tables: A Photo Q&A, Part 3

    Part 3: Being interviewed by an aspiring teenage photographer — the director’s cut. This section focuses on starting and running a business.

    Did you always want to own a photography business?

    Growing up in the days when we had film and not digital photography, I never, ever thought I would do something like this.

    I’ve always been primarily a writer and editor. Photography was something that interested me, and I really enjoyed doing it while working for small newspapers in Texas and North Carolina. Traditional studio portraits, however, are often more technical than artistic, and for the longest time I thought that was the only way I make a living through photography.

    When I moved into communications, and became a one-person publishing unit, I started paying more attention to the visual presentation, especially as I took photos. The problem was I did not have the technical skills, or the patience and aptitude to learn those skills in a way that could make me successful solely as a photographer.

    Understanding how to get my camera to do what I wanted so I could capture what I saw was more frustrating than fascinating, especially in the days when post-production was spent inhaling chemicals in a pitch dark room.

    That has been eliminated thanks to the digital explosion, and enhanced by a chance to pay tribute to my dad. It’s also served as an opportunity to explore that I never thought I'd have.

    How did you start your business?

    On a rainy day in 2012, my oldest son (Nicholas) needed headshots for school. Of course, he was leaving that day, so we had to be creative, especially since I didn’t have studio equipment.

    I was extremely nervous about doing them — nothing is harder than getting professional quality shots of your own family — but they turned out well and I found that I liked the challenge of portrait photography, especially without the constraint of being in a studio.

    The next year, I was laid off from my job and became a freelancer. I started offering photography as part of my services when I felt like I finally had the equipment and the skills necessary to make sure my customers would be satisfied with my work. I’ve been fortunate that most of my clients like my work, and the business has grown in new and unexpected ways. 

    What have you learned from running your own business? What are the challenges?

    I learn something new every day. I’ve had to learn how to juggle many different writing and photography projects at once while still trying to raise a family, something that is not unique to anyone who does this even if our circumstances (and skill sets) are a bit different. Like any business, this one fluctuates in a feast or famine way, and that can be challenging.

    My wife is an excellent time manager, and being the one with the out-there creative gene, I’m not. I never have been, so it’s something I have to continue working at constantly.

    Purely from a photography standpoint, I still struggle at times with my technical skills (especially in the area of retouching). They are not where I’d like them to be yet, although I’m getting better. It’s not something that comes naturally, but I’m working at it.

    What have you enjoyed the most?

    I genuinely like meeting new people and working with them on various projects, whether its through interviews for stories or going on a shoot. When you have a chance to work together in a collaborative way, like we’ve done for the “Art & Dance” series, that’s always a lot of fun.

    Increasingly, I’ve learned how to enjoy art directing a shoot. This was something I never thought I would be good at, because I didn’t think I had that level of creativity to create something out of nothing. I find it really fascinating.

    Tomorrow: Concluding with Art & Dance. For Parts 1 and 2, go here and here.

  • Turning Tables: A Photo Q&A, Part 1

    Recently, the father of a 13-year-old girl wrote asking if I could help her with a class project by answering some questions about photography. The dad explained that his daughter — a dancer and a big “Newsies” fan — had started following my work because of my ongoing “Art & Dance” series and had gotten a camera for Christmas.

    As a dad, it’s hard to turn down this type of request, especially when a parent takes the time to ask for help for his daughter. As a photographer, I’m more collegial than competitive, and always happy to help others.

    Answering her questions was an interesting exercise. Since Jill and I reached 50 last year, we both find ourselves reflecting on why we do what we do, what drives us to continue, and what we like/dislike about our roles in this life. As the child of two teachers, this was my teachable moment, an opportunity to explain  the craft I've come to love.

    Over the next four days, I’d like to share edited — and in some cases enhanced — versions of the responses. (Call it a “director’s cut” if you will.) If you follow my writing and this blog, chances are you’ve seen some of this before. But I hope you find it an entertaining read nonetheless.

    What was your inspiration to become a professional photographer?

    My dad was a visual artist who could paint, sculpt, or draw anything that came to mind. I can't draw a stick figure, but I've always had his eye for composition, just not the creativity (or sadly, the fine motor skills) to create something out of nothing.

    When I first went to New York with our son, Ben, in 2009, I thought of my dad often as I was drawn to the visual explosion that is the city. Dad died in 2007 and never visited New York, but in so many ways, the stuff I see walking around serves as a constant reminder of his interests, insights, and influence on my life. Also, when in New York, I spend most of my time on foot as opposed to in a car, so I see things differently when I’m there.

    On a beautiful spring day, I took out my camera, started taking random pictures of the things I saw, and found I have a knack for it. I shared the photos to Facebook, found my friends liked them too, and just continued with it. 

    What do you like most about photography?

    Capturing moments in time, whether it is through the dance pictures, an unusual or visually interesting place, or through portraits I take of people. People seem to appreciate that I can do it and like my work, which is very gratifying.

    Photography also has allowed me to make connections I never would have imagined — such as the one I’m making with you right now — and several folks from far-flung places have said they became interested in picking up a camera after seeing my random noodlings. I've been lucky to go out on photo shoots with a variety of other weekend warriors, all of whom I've learned from and whose talents are greater than mine.

    Here’s what I say to anyone who has an interest in taking pictures: Try it and see what happens. You might find you like it and have a previously untapped talent. It’s something you can do alone or with others. It gives you a chance to be creative in ways you might never have imagined.

    Next Up: Learning the basics.

  • The Schedule From ... Well

    This week: Finished reading the National Teacher of the Year applications (more than 800 pages in all); reported and wrote a story; held multiple meetings with advertising, communications, and marketing units; attended two holiday parties (and took pictures at one of them); and saw my daughter at Frosty Follies.

    Next week (which starts in a couple of minutes): Celebrate the fact that 3 of my 4 children have birthdays (Nicholas tomorrow, Ben & Emma on Tuesday); see a Redskins game in person (tomorrow); participate in the NTOY judging (Monday); fly to Austin (Tuesday); watch Ben as Billy with various family and friends (Tuesday and Saturday nights); schlep him to interviews with four TV stations and the Austin NPR station (Wednesday); visit with my mom and said family (all week).

    Whew...

  • Daily Photo: July 7, 2015

    Celebrating the two-year anniversary — more than 700 images later — of the Daily Photo with the first image I posted to mark the launch of my Facebook photo page (www.facebook.com/ourrealityshow) and this website. Taken in Central Park in 2013.