Take one picture…

You’ve got your phone with you so you’re ready to go. Take one picture today. Just one. Make it something you’ll be proud to show off. Something really memorable.

Your smartphone is capable of taking a zillion pictures today. It’s harder than you think to take just one good one.

The most important photo in U.S. history…


On February 27, 1860, Mathew Brady took the most important photo in American history! Abraham Lincoln was in New York City to speak at the Cooper Institute. Earlier in the day he went to Brady’s studio on Broadway to have his portrait taken. Using the daguerreotype process Brady took the simple portrait. It ultimately helped to catapult Lincoln’s presidential campaign because it was used in newspapers and magazines. Lincoln said that the speech and Brady’s portrait helped him win the election.

Have you had your portrait taken lately? You never know what it could do for you.

Bucked Teeth Wasn’t Bad Enough…I also Stuttered!

As a boy, I wasn’t like everyone else. My front teeth stuck way out. My teachers, the neighbors and my parents all didn’t think I was too bright. And…I stuttered. Wearing braces, although sometimes painful, took care of the teeth. A variety of review books and hours of studying dissipated the concerns over my intelligence (or the lack thereof). Those were pretty easy to solve compared to the stuttering.

Throughout elementary school and junior high I attended special speech classes. The teachers were genuinely concerned for my well being. Their eyes told more than what they said. They cringed as I tried to speak. Everyone had a suggestion on how to stop the stuttering. One speech teacher suggested that I try to speak more slowly. Didn’t work. Another suggested that I deliberately repeat the first sound of troublesome words until they would be able to pop out of my mouth like a jack-in-the-box. Didn’t work. There were too many words to think about. One person even told me that if you sing you don’t stutter. Unfortunately, I couldn’t sing either. Of course, everyone suggested that I try to relax. Although relaxation may help to reduce your heart rate, it didn’t help reduce my stuttering.

My parents were upset and probably embarrassed. Their only child was so different from the others on the block. In my Brooklyn neighborhood, I was the only one who stuttered. For about the first ten years of my life I never even heard another stutterer. Friends tried to help by saying the word that I tried to say and added to my frustration. I don’t remember if I was made fun of more for my over bite or the slowed speech.

The summer of 1962, between junior high and high school, proved to be memorable. We moved from Brownsville to the Glenwood Projects in East Flatbush. I had to adjust to the new apartment, the new people, and worry about starting the fortress that they called Tilden High School the next fall.

That was probably my best and worst summer ever…because it happened. I remember it as though it happened yesterday. I went into that plain white bathroom, looked into the dirty mirror and started having a conversation with myself. “You look as good as anybody else,” I said. After thinking for a minute, I added, “You can do whatever others can do.” The conversation ended abruptly…and so did the stuttering! That was it. A thirty second pep talk and the stuttering that lasted for more than ten years ended…suddenly.

When the fall came I was put into a special class for stutterers at Tilden. The teacher couldn’t understand why. According to her, I wasn’t a stutterer. I spent that time looking at the other stutterers and thinking about how I had felt a few short months before. They looked down upon me as an outsider who could speak normally. The subject of how I stopped stuttering never came up. It wouldn’t have helped anyway. I’ve never heard anyone say that they stopped stuttering the way I did in all the years since that fateful day in 1962.

I’ve since read of various methods used to help stutterers including one where they tell people to speak with marbles in their mouths. Sorry, I don’t know why.

All I did was have a talk with myself. Why did it work? I have no idea. But, it worked!

Occasionally, I hear myself hesitating when I speak. However, it never interfered with my life after that. During my 33 years as a teacher no student ever made a comment about my speech…and kids always look for something to criticize. Over the years I have gone out of my way to speak in public. I’ve given dozens of workshops for adults. On a couple of occasions I had the opportunity to speak in front of audiences of more than a thousand people! After one such occasion a colleague said, “You didn’t even look nervous.” I wasn’t. I know that public speaking is supposed to make folks into nervous wrecks. The opposite is the case for me. I like speaking in public. I’m comfortable with it. All because of a pep talk in a bathroom in apartment 2A in Flatbush.

Pinhole cameras make you more creative even if you never used one…


A pinhole camera can make you more creative even if you never used one. It’s true. Here are five simple ways knowing about a pinhole camera can make you more creative.

1. A pinhole camera is very simple. No batteries. No lens. [Can you simplify things?]

2. If you want to zoom in you have to walk toward your subject. [If you actually get closer to your problems would you have a better chance to solve them?]

3. Many pinhole cameras are made of wood or whatever you happen to have around? [Would using what you have save you time and money?]

4. It’s much more difficult to take a good picture with a pinhole camera? It actually requires you to think about what you are doing. [Would a little more concentration help you get through the day?]

5. Using a pinhole camera puts the fun back into picture taking. [We can all use some fun.]

Save Your Family

Murray and Family in Poland

Family memories fade! Pictures help. Unfortunately, a picture alone will be useless in a few decades.

When you take a family photo it’s important to describe who’s who…in writing…preferably on the back of the photo. [The folks from the Pic Scanner App made a very important point: “Don’t caption photos with ballpoint or ink pens: they smudge, leave emboss marks. Use acid-free/archival pen or soft pencil.”]

My father came from Poland during the 1930s. Before he left Europe this family photo was taken. All except two of the people in the family were victims of Nazi execution. My father and his brother were the only ones to survive. Incidentally, my father is #9. The problem is that this is the only photo that survived. Unfortunately, the paper that described who was who has been lost…forever. Writing a caption is one of the best ways of preserving your family heritage.

Write captions…and save your family!

5 Photography Tips for Speakers


If you get up to speak at a meeting, workshop or conference, you probably will be using some form of visual. By following some basic photography tips you can make your pictures more effective. Here are 5 photography tips for public speaking:

  1. The most unique photos you can use is one you took yourself. Your iPhone or other smartphone has a camera that can and should be used to take pictures. Use it.
  2. Move in, zoom in, or crop your pictures to avoid distracting backgrounds.
  3. An advantage of using digital cameras is that you can take pictures without worrying about the expense of developing film. However, the problem with digital images is how easy it is to loose track of them. Important images should be copied and re-named. For example, the (scanned version) of the photo of P.J. is named PJ_Polaroid.jpg. If it were called 229945.jpg it would be much more difficult to find in my computer.
  4. Using a Polaroid picture, like the picture of P.J.,  makes it a bit more personal and unique. Although Polaroid stopped making film for their cameras, The Impossible Project does make film for your old Polaroid camera.
  5. If you use a photo on a PowerPoint or Keynote slide, use little or any text with it. You want the audience to look at the picture, listen to you, or read what is on a slide…one at a time.

Used wisely, pictures are great aids to making an effective speech or presentation.

Photography was more fun when it was more difficult…

I love my iPhone. It’s always with me. I use it to take pictures very often. Unfortunately, the more that I look at the pictures the more I realize how bad they are. Sure, they record the scene, but they don’t take good photographs. The easier photography has become the worse the pictures really are. Sad, but true. I wish I still had my Nikon F.