Friday, December 25, 2009

The Apolitical Inactivist

[Disclaimer: I vote. Sometimes. President and the U.S. Congress (House & Senate). Beyond that it's a tossup.]

My awakening began shortly after college. My first employer was an enthusiastic supporter of several groups that billed themselves as "educational" organizations. They were devout conspiracy theorists. My father had been a Mason and I thought it was a good thing that so many presidents had been, too. What a surprise to learn of all the many conspiracies out there! One of these groups advocated the same action that "Deep Throat" told Woodward and Bernstein, "Follow the money." It was also during my tenure at this company that Taylor Caldwell had her book, Captains and Kings published. It echoed the theme that the "controllers" were the international bankers that influenced many organizations (clubs and secret societies) who could suddenly turn on the man they made and have him assassinated. I was in the third grade in Louisiana (home of Jim Garrison) when Kennedy died. I grew up in a community of hunters and was familiar with firearms and was shocked when I heard the claims that Oswald had acted alone. How could anyone fire a bolt action rife that quickly and accurately? Even for an eleven year old the magic bullet theory was impossible to swallow. I even began to doubt Walter Conkrite. After the sixites, by 1972, my mind was a fertile field for serious conspiracy theories to germinate. Throughout the rest of the seventies and the next two decades my frustration grew with the observation of the lack of real change in the way our country was going regardless of which party was in power.

Flash forward to 1997 and Dr. Andew Weil's book, 8 Weeks to Optimum Health. Several of his suggestions made sense to me and I tried them. One of them, I really liked! A one week news fast sounded too difficult but I tried it anyway. This was at a time in my life when I was reading three newspapers a day and had the television set on CNN most of the day. It was amazing! I didn't care what Bill and Hiliary were doing anymore by this point anyway. It was such a refreshing change -- no news! I'm still enjoying the benefits today by continuing my news fast. So much of the news is politics. Not having a constant influx of news and politics made it so much easier to go about the business of living my own life. In 2000 my life changed again -- separation. A divorce ensued in 2001 and in June I married a woman who taught me the importance of living my life without being concerned about what anyone else would think. Without the news and the politics it brought, combined with this new life philosophy, I was liberated!

The same old theories abound and are now like choruses sung by new choirs. Was Bullworth correct with his claims that 5% of the population control 95% of the money? He must have been correct. I haven't seen any real change, regardless of which party is in power. Don't the big money companies divide their funds on both sides of the aisle in congress? Can you imagine General Electric, Bank of America, Kraft, Alcoa, or Pfizer putting all their eggs in one basket? Was Viet Nam fought to satisfy the desires of the military-industrial complex? Is it true that the first casualty of any war is the truth?

So why should I vote? Does one person really make a difference? Joanne Herring did. She was the driving influence behind Charlie Wilson. Julia Roberts played her in the movie Charlie Wilson's War and she really did make a difference. She did a lot more than vote though. She was at the time, according to Charlie Wilson, "the sixth most wealthiest person in Houston". Do we really want one person to be able to make that much difference? Is my vote being diluted by hundreds more who are voting because of "drive-through voter registration"? When I took a course in civics in high school, we were taught that our government is different because we are not governed by the masses but by informed voters who had earned the right to vote. Our voters were people who knew how our government worked and that by avoiding a simple "majority rules" system, America was different -- and better.

Fortunately my background includes enough study to consider myself "government literate" -- I know how our system is supposed to work. There's enough political awareness for me that an informed decision to not be politically active is possible. I'm not ready to throw in the towel on our country, but don't look for a bumper sticker on my car. Don't expect to see me on the mall in D.C. with a million other men waving a sign and singing A Hard Rain's A'gonna Fall. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats should expect any contributions from me. Can't think of any country I'd rather live in, but in many ways, it's not much different than when Thomas Payne lamented, "These are the times that try mens' souls."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Growing Old Gracelessly

[This article was written by a "guest blogger", my wife, Bob Etier. You can follow her blog at: She would be thrilled!]

Here's the deal. I'm going to be 60 soon. No matter what anyone says about aging, it all comes down to one thing: it sucks. I should celebrate that I've lasted this long, right? I don't. In my head I'm 35. When I see my reflection, I'm saddened.

Growing older, gaining wisdom (LOL), and maturity are all overrated. I am now learning the answers to many of the questions I had when I was young. I now know that the reason old ladies address everyone as "honey" or "sweetie" is not a misplaced sense of familiarity, but an acknowledgement of memory loss. We've met far too many people to be able to remember all their names. I haven't yet figured out how to introduce a "honey" to a "sweetie." ("Darling, I'd like you to meet my very close friend," then let them figure it out?)

Older people's clothing was once a source of wonder. Why do they dress that way? Doesn't she know her outfit doesn't "match"? Isn't she too old for that? Who's he trying to impress with the cowboy hat? It's just a matter of priorities. Being fashionable isn't as important as being comfortable once you're past the age of wearing stiletto heels. If I'm out in the yard pulling weeds, who will notice that my pants are striped and my shirt is plaid? And I won't consider my attire (or changing it) when I jump in the car to make my ValueMart run. I bought Crocs to wear while gardening and vowed never to be seen in public wearing them. Then I broke my ankle and heel (we older folks do that a lot), and I had to wear them. Once, I'd begun wearing them in public, the ice was broken and after my foot heeled I kept wearing them. Hey, they're comfortable. However, they are not good on slippery slopes.

Being older is the end of changing outfits four times a day. That's a good thing. Being older also means not having the energy to do the laundry as often (or having a mom to do it for you). If there were a way to wear the same thing all the time, NEVER changing, I'd be interested. Showering in my clothing is not an option.

There are so many myths about old age that we subscribe to when we are young. "At least when I'm older, I won't have acne." Yeah, right. Not only will you be dealing with blackheads in the same exact spot over and over again, but you can also keep the tweezers out to deal with those "hairs on your chinny-chin-chin." "I can't wait to go through menopause, then I won't have my period to deal with." You've got two errors there: one is a dangling participle, which is easy enough to fix, and the other is that you don't gothrough menopause. Menopause is more like demonic possession. It latches on to you and never lets go. Oh, sure, some of the symptoms ease (or maybe we just get used to them), but others continue for decades if we're lucky enough to live that long. There is no exorcist and there is no magic cure. Periods are to menopause what limbo is to hell.

Everyone who lives long enough gets old. Pretty basic concept, right? Not everyone feels the same about it. I've known so many people who dreaded turning 40, but I welcomed it. I was glad to be 40, it was a milepost that said "a lot of bs is behind you, now." Of course it wasn't, but I had my illusions. Fifty wasn't a big deal either, just another birthday. So why is 60 so depressing? "Sixty" is a name for all the things I never desired. I can't walk as quickly, take the stairs as well, carry as much, stay up as late, or work as hard as I once did. And, more frighteningly, I am aware of the slowing of my mental processes. My superior math ability is now merely average, my memory--never that great--is untrustworthy at best. What 60 represents to me is the continuing decline of all that constitutes me. I am becoming the weakened, watered-down version of me. It sucks.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Basic Primer on Manual Settings - DSLR

For over two years, I used my first digital SLR exclusively on the "automatic" settings. While I did get some nice images (including my best sellers) I regretted not learning how to use the manual settings. I regretted it until March 23, 2007. Yes, I remember the date because it changed the way I take pictures. Brian Peterson's book "Understanding Exposure" walked me through the steps methodically and clearly and I cannot thank him enough. His book is one of my frequent recommendations when people ask me what to read. I also quote often from my notes taken at a weekend seminar presented by the Rocky Mountain School of Photography.

So, relying upon what I have learned from the previous sources and what I have learned in practice by trial-and-error, here is a summary on how I use the manual settings on my digital SLR. (Warning: This is NOT a definitive detailed essay of this subject. Just a quick overview to get the novice started.)

Spin the dial to the "M" setting for manual.
The three settings are: ISO, aperture or "F-stop", and shutter speed.

ISO: This determines how sensitive the digital processor is to light. Lower light shooting environments require a higher setting and vice versa. If you want a candid shot of the kids by the fireplace, or if you are shooting at night without a flash, set the ISO to 1600 or 3200. Full sun outdoors, you could use an ISO of 100, 200, or 400. The trade-off on higher settings is a more grainy image.

F-stop: Depth of field. You know how some photos have the people or object in front of or behind the main subject totally out of focus? Your eye goes right to the kid in the middle with the bright eyes and big smile. It's because that kid is the only part of the image that is tack sharp and it was done that way on purpose because the photographer used a low F-stop, probably F-2.8. You may have seen landscape shots in which the flowers in front and the mountains in the back were all in focus. It was a higher F-stop, most likely F-32. The aperture setting is my favorite artistic tool in photography. It allows the photographer to choose which aspects of the image will be in focus. Note: Higher F-stops require slower shutter speeds.

Shutter speed: Do you want to stop the action? Do you want some blur? Pull out your camera's operations manual and find the dial to spin that controls the shutter speed. In addition to the action/blur control, shutter speed also has a major influence on how light or dark the image will be. The faster the shutter speed, the darker the image and the better the action will be stopped.

When you look through the viewfinder there will be lighted graphs, charts, etc that let you know what settings you have chosen. There will also be an indicator to show if the shutter speed and F-stop are adjusted for what your camera thinks is the "ideal" setting. Canon calls this the "standard exposure index" and it appears across the bottom of the viewfinder under the focusing screen. When you change the shutter speed, you will notice the indicator move. Of course as you experiement you will learn where on this line you want the settings for the effects you desire.

Three examples:
1) The kids by the fireplace shot needs some light. Maybe open the curtains before they come into the room. (Candid shots require some preparation.) F-2.8 or 5.6, ISO of 800, and experiment with shutter speeds to get a clear, sharp focus with no blur.
2) Humming birds at the feeder in bright sunlight require very different settings. F-5.6 is still good, but I go with an ISO of 400 and shutter speeds of up to 1/2500 and faster.
3) A fall landscape scene offers many options and this is typical for me. I mount the camera on a tripod and use a cable release expecting a slow shutter speed. F-32, ISO 100. Depending on the available light, clouds or overcast, this set up could require a shutter speed of several seconds. A slower shutter speed here will also help you get that silky smooth texture to moving water in your image.

Finally, be sure to keep your camera's manual in your equipment bag for easy reference. My last tip is to take a lot of shots. And I do mean a lot! One afternoon I went out and shot fall color and moving water for a couple of hours and filled two memory cards with almost five hundred images. After you have tried the suggestions I have made in this article and experimented with several thousand shots, you will be more confident with the manual settings and never go back to "auto" again. Happy shooting!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Be My Guest

A Facebook friend and fellow blogger, Juliet Robertson, just used one of my images on her blog in an article about paths.
Visit her blog, read the article and see which image she chose. I'm sure she would appreciate comments on her article.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Book Review: The Irregulars by Jennet Conant

“In politics, nothing happens by accident. Whatever happens, you can bet it was planned that way.” This quote, or one very close to it, was attributed to FDR in an underground book promoted by conspiracy theorists in the early 1970's. That book went on to become a multi-million seller. Whether or not Roosevelt actually said it, the statement was as true then as it is now.

The Irregulars by Jennet Conant offers a romantic examination of people and events leading up to the entry of the United States into World War II and its continued involvement. The story she tells is in fact, better than fiction and rivals the likes of Le Carre, Tom Clancy, or Ian Fleming (who is also a principle in this book). The title is a sly reference to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This reviewer had the good fortune to attend public schools when history was taught in depth, and we spent several weeks on each world war. I thought I was a well informed history buff until I found this book in the Newark airport.

Conant educates her readers with thoroughly researched facts(20 pages of notes and a seven page bibliography) crafted into a suspenseful page turner. She includes enough rumors and gossip to satisfy even the most inquiring minds. Readers of more current generations will be interested in the intrigues, mysteries, and romantic adventures of a wide variety of characters including heads of state, millionaire business types, spies, and a common soldier who became a war hero.

Long familiar with the stories promoted by right wing zealots that FDR knew in advance about Pearl Harbor and allowed it to happen to get the USA into the war, I had no intimate knowledge of the lengths Churchill had gone to in order to get allied support. This is the part that conspiracy theorists will love. From the preface, “...Winston Churchill dispatched William Stephenson, aka Intrepid, to America [in 1940] prod the country into action…by means of sabotage, propaganda, and political subversion.” “Stephenson…managed to create an elaborate clandestine organization whose purpose was to weaken the isolationist forces in America and influence U.S. policy in favor of Britain.”

The soft cover edition contains 391 pages, including sixteen pages of glossy photos which this reader found most helpful. It’s more engaging to have an accurate mental image of some of the colorful personalities being described as you read. The framework of the book is the story of a Shell Oil employee who enlists in the RAF, crashes a fighter plane (not in combat) and becomes a war hero. He is then sent to America as a “voluntary informant” (spy). During his tenure as a spy in Intrepid’s network, he hones his writing skills which he uses after the war to penJames and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He also wrote the screen play for Albert Broccoli’s production of You Only Live Twice.

During the war years Roald Dahl established a diverse and impressive network of contacts. He could be a poster boy for today’s network marketers! He gained the trust and friendship of people in high places, low places, and everywhere in between. His list of contacts is a name-dropper’s delight: Walt Disney, Charles E. Marsh (Texas newspaper magnate and inspiration for the television series, The Millionaire), Walter Winchell, Clare Boothe Luce, Ernest Hemingway, V.P. Henry Wallace, and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. There were many others but none more important than Marsh. Dahl became Marsh’s protégé and used their friendship as an entrée to establish many of his other contacts.

Just as Dahl used Marsh and Marsh’s contacts to establish his own network, Conant uses Dahl’s story to connect the many personalities and the role each played in Britain’s desperate gamble. It’s still difficult for me to favorably compare Dahl’s mission (cultivating the friendship and trust of influential men in America while sleeping with their wives) with that of the infantry soldier crawling through hedge rows and dying in fox holes. Perhaps Machiavelli was right when he said, “He who overcomes an enemy by fraud is as much to be praised as he who does so by force.”

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Multilingual Approach

One of my friends over on RedBubble came up with this idea and suggested I try it, so here goes!
Thank you "Midzing"!
One day I will be a famous photographer, so buy my artwork NOW!!
i ġurnata waħda se jkun hemm fotografu famuż, hekk jixtru arti tiegħi ISSA!
ط يوم واحد سيكون المصور الشهير ، بحيث يشتري بلدي الفني الآن!
Jednoho dne jsem se slavný fotograf, takže koupit mé kresby TEĎ!
един ден ще бъде известен фотограф, за да купуват произведения на изкуството си СЕГА!
celle que je journée sera un célèbre photographe, alors achetez mon oeuvre d’art maintenant!
Я одного дня буде відомий фотограф, щоб купити мою Картина NOW!
Ooit zal ik een beroemd fotograaf zijn, dus koop mijn kunstwerken nu!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

"He's a jackass."

My wife and I were discussing Saturday Night Live the other night over dinner. Regular readers of this blog know that there is no news for me, only history. She was telling me about the recent guest host having been a currently popular singer. It seems this young singer had used the opening monologue to address several events that had happened in her life that had become commonly known situations to those who follow current events.

It reminded me of the three-way debate between Bush, Clinton, and Perot. Remember when a woman in the audience asked the three candidates if they preferred boxers or briefs? The sitting president declined to answer and I thought that was a good decision considering the dignity of the office. The one who answered ended his term of office bringing further shame to the highest office of the United States with impeachment hearings.

Now we have at our fingertips an audio clip on Youtube of the President of the United States calling a phenomenally popular recording artist “a jackass”. So, in the spirit of good humor and comedy along with a smidgen of satire thrown in, my wife and I dreamed up a list of others whom our Commander-in-Chief might also consider similarly.

[Disclaimer: We have no idea if the President has referred to the following people as jackasses. If he has, we are not aware of it and it has neither made headlines nor appeared on Youtube.]



10)G. Gordon Liddy

9) Bill Clinton

8) George W. Bush

7) Sarah Palin

6) Dick Chaney

5) Arianna Huffington

4) Oliver North

3) Glen Beck

2) Rush Limbaugh

1) Hillary Clinton

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

2009 Holiday DISCOUNT !!!

Take advantage of our 2009 holiday SPECIAL!
For the 2009 holiday season we are offering FREE SHIPPING in the continental USA and a 20% DISCOUNT on any size Etier Print.
To get these special prices, you MUST order before Thanksgiving via e-mail to this address:

View the prints here:

See ten galleries of 15 to 20 prints each.
Most prints available in three sizes: 8 X 10, 13 X 19 and the most popular, 16 X 20 (all sizes in inches).
Prices include mat.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: "Split Second Choice: The Power of Attitude

Much of the everyday fabric of our lives contains patterns and connections. In this, his first book, Jim Winner (yes, that’s his real name) identifies significant patterns that influence every aspect of our lives. These patterns eventually become habits for us and often are followed with no conscious thought. They are interwoven into our daily routines and our personalities. Winner, a professional trainer for over thirty years, helps us to become aware of these patterns, take control of the behavior they cause, and find connections to the solutions that make these patterns work for us instead of against us. Winner is a man of dreams and goals, someone who has learned to deal with fear, and a mentor whose career is convincing evidence that what he offers in this book is effective.

Philosopher William James proposed that when we see a bear approaching, we run. He says (and this is simplified) that we feel fear because we run, not just because we saw a bear. Winner builds his success pattern on a derivative of James’ bear theory – we can alter our lives by altering our attitudes of mind. Winner writes, “Many authors have written about how attitude makes the difference…” but that “…they leave us on our own for the most difficult part…” and “…they don’t really tell us how to control our attitude.” This book explores the power of attitude and our personal obligation to control our own emotions. Winner encourages us to learn how to identify the decision point, make the right choice, and be successful in all our endeavors; then make a habit of the process.

Ninety-six pages long, written in workbook format, Split Second Choice takes barely more than an hour to read. It could be a reference that you consult for years to come which is why I wish it was available in hard cover. My own experiences in the self-help field have taught me that you cannot learn to ride a bicycle by reading a book, listening to a tape, or watching a video online. You learn to do by doing and this book is the recipe. The book, filled with flow charts, diagrams, and inspirational stories concludes with an indispensable chapter on dealing with frustration, something Winner says is as inevitable as ants at a picnic.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Find Out What It Means to Me

A seven-year-old holds up his cell phone with his finger on a pre-set number and threatens to call social services in response to his grandparent’s attempt at discipline.

A pharmacist tells his supervisor, “If my vacation is not approved, I’ll call in sick!”

An arrogant senior citizen ignores the queue and steps to the front, with no regard for those who have patiently waited in line.

A college football player runs to the sideline, rips off his helmet and gets in his coach’s face, screaming.

A teen announces to the waiter that he won’t be eating because the restaurant he preferred wasn’t chosen.

A speeding driver passes in a school zone – in a curve with double yellow lines.

A football official begins the game with an arrogant attitude towards the coach.

We’ve all been victims.

When children are not taught to be respectful of others, as they should be at an early age, they are disrespectful to teachers in school, other people who might be able to help them, and children they might like to have as friends. Because so many children are not taught the value of respect, schools become anarchic. And when the parents are brought in, their response? "Not my child." “We’ll put him in another school.” Or better, "I'll sue." There is no respect for authority, institutions or others. Parents who don't teach their children self-respect, raise children who respect nothing. They do their children a great disservice.

Many of the baby boomer generation may feel that they were raised in too strict an environment and thus the rebellion of the sixtes. In our family, it was considered disrespectful to simply disagree with my parents. Respect was an important facet of our social relationships. When respect is no longer valued, negative behaviors are the result. Respectful people do not use obscene or other objectionable language in hearing range of others. People who respect no one, nothing, not even themselves are not on the top of the list of potential job candidates. Actually, they are not choice anything.

A person suddenly thrust into a management position in our culture feels that the position itself brings a certain amount of respect. The honeymoon for that attitude is usually short-lived. A good leader will work hard to earn the respect of the team, to build on the “position respect” with “personal respect”. It's not that there are no longer people who appreciate the value of being respectful, it's that disrespect is just so flagrant. Remember the old saying, "familiarity breeds contempt"? Well, it certainly breeds contemptible people. As the boundaries between each of us fade, people become overfamiliar, often with the result that they think that they can say or do anything in front of others (perhaps a select group of others, perhaps all others). They lose respect for others' boundaries, and with it, respect for others (if indeed they had either).

Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, the Dalai Lama, all the world’s great minds have advocated a similar philosophy. Love one another. Treat others as you wish to be treated. If we followed this directive we would treat everyone with respect, because that is how we wish to be treated. We should treat every person as we would want someone we loved to be treated.

[The author thanks Bob Etier, dear friend and muse for her contributions. Image is copyrighted by RFWLLC and may be purchased here: ]

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Never leave home without it!

I found myself in front of a distinguished gentleman. He was professionally dressed in a dark suit and wore a solemn but pleasant expression. He was standing on the driver’s side of a sleek white hearse with the door opened. The hearse was parked in front of a small white clapboard church which was the dominant structure in a clearing in the woods that lined the road. This solitary attendant was awaiting the beginning of a funeral.

I had been traveling the back roads in rural Louisiana on my way to help cover a store one morning, when I passed this most unusual scene. I stopped the car and turned around. As I walked up to meet him, I made sure my camera was prominently displayed so that he would have no doubt as to my intentions. He answered my request without speaking. The sentinel agreed to let me take his photograph with a barely noticeable smile and a slight nod of his head.

At this point in my pursuit of photography I had not considered selling my work, so there was no model release available. Would this image have become a best seller? That will never be known. It has become a personal favorite, occupies a space of distinction on my wall, and is an effective educational tool, as well as a potent reminder.

Never leave home without your camera and a few model releases!

(see more of my work at:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Control the Game

In Jerry Kramer’s book, INSTANT REPLAY, he makes several references to Vince Lombardi’s exhortations to play with “reckless abandon”. I’m not sure I agree.

I believe that football is a game of control.
Control the line of scrimmage.
Control the ball.
Control the clock.
Control the man you are blocking.

How can you control any of these facets of the game if you cannot control yourself?

Two examples of when a player must stay in control of himself:
1)On kick coverage: If the player sprinting down the field goes all out and cannot make a quick turn or adjustment in direction, the ball carrier can easily slip by untouched.
2)A safety blitzes and goes untouched into the backfield at full speed while the runner sprints right by him, untouched because the safety was moving too fast and out of control.

If players didn’t maintain control, there would be late hits on every play, neutral zone violations on every play, holding on every play, face mask fouls, and roughing on most downs.

Where do kids learn self-control? Hopefully, they get some training in self-discipline at home. In many cases, kids get additional lessons in self-discipline in the class room.
Where do athletes get self-control skills? Hopefully, they benefit from their coaches and teammates.
Where do coaches get self-control? Maybe they developed good habits from their childhood, student experience, and their own athletic endeavors. (Judging from the number of times I see coaches slam a headset or clipboard onto the ground, I wonder how much self-control coaches really have.)

We already hear a lot of discussion about the “excessive celebration” rule in NCAA football. There is adequate room on the sidelines for unlimited celebration so the game is not delayed. Part of the job of being a coach is to control the sideline. Do your job!

Many of our culture’s more popular sports are contact sports in which aggressive behavior is expected and rewarded. My wife doesn't like sports in general, but she does like hockey. She says, “Any sport that involves men hitting each other with sticks can’t be all bad!” Have we progressed much from the gladiators or the lions and the Christians? Paul Simon said, “Zebras are reactionaries.” I’m not a reactionary – I take control! As a referee I believe that with preventive officiating and maintaining control of the game, there will be fewer penalties.

Friday, October 2, 2009

I'll take one of those "irregular jobs" please!

When I enrolled in pharmacy school, I had no idea I was signing up for a lifetime in sales! In 1969 the majority of pharmacists were in retail and most of them yearned for their own store. It quickly became apparent that the outgoing, friendly pharmacists who could establish trust with their customer/patients became the most successful in building a large business. It isn’t just pharmacy. Paul Witherspoon reminds us, ” I've always wanted to be a business owner. And if you are the owner of your company, you are the #1 salesperson in most cases.” People like to do business with the person whose name is on the sign out front.

Paul got his degree in business management …” but for some reason I thought I was above a sales job. Sales jobs are for the people who can't get regular jobs. Interestingly enough after six months of searching and not finding anything...guess what? I couldn't get a regular job. So, sure enough I went into sales. And now, i don't know how I could turn back.”

I’m with Paul, although my stage where I perform is inside a big box retail outlet and I manage the pharmacy. When the curtain goes up and I walk out with my white smock on, it’s SHOWTIME and I feel like a rock star! I pretend that every customer came to see me and I don’t want to let them down. This isn’t like outside sales where you have to go out and find your prospects. They come to me and often are attracted by convenience and price. Just like outside sales though, I’ve still got to get their attention, show them the benefits of doing business with me and the company I represent, enhance their desire, convince them they’re making the best choice, and then close the sale.

Paul is inspired by someone he considers to be a great salesman. “My favorite is Jesus. He had 12 disciples and somehow these 12 men had the responsiblity of telling the world that he was the son of God. What a job that was...huh? And now The Bible is the best-selling book of all time!”

So, whether you own your own business or operate one for someone else, go out there and sell something. Be honest. Show people that you have integrity and how they will benefit from your product and you’ll be successful, too.

Paul Witherspoon is an entreprenuer and minisite owner including

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fast Followers

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Monday, September 28, 2009

How Kathryn became Bob.

My wife’s name is Kathryn. She has always preferred to be known as “Kathryn” or “Kat”. She cross-stitched a small sign (pictured at right) for her desk to prevent people from calling her “Kathy”. One day, a co-worker placed a sticky note over the “Kathryn” on the sampler that read simply, “Bob”. She thought it was funny and told me. From that moment on, I’ve always called her “Bob”. When she moved to Baton Rouge to marry me I got her a credit card with Bob Etier on it and introduced her to everyone as “Bob”. When the pastor announced at church that he was going to marry Chip and Bob after service that day, it raised a few eyebrows.
Bob later became a teacher at the church’s day care and the kids began to call her “Miss Bob”. She now has a custom plate on her car with that on it.
Many of our friends felt this story was charming. Once they got to know her, they realized just how charming Bob really is!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sales Image -- Part Two

“People buy what they want. They have to be sold what they need.” – Unknown

Heard that one before? Remember that from those old tapes still playing way back in the recesses of your mind? Most likely there are still some memories of how those widgets you are selling are such good widgets, that everyone needs several of them – or an annually renewing subscription.
To be a really effective sales person, that inner conviction that you’ve got the widget that everyone needs is important. Almost as important as the personal ethics to avoid selling your prospect something they don’t need.

Here’s the situation presented to health insurance salesman, Brian Goodwin:
“I once made a sales call to a middle aged couple. The husband had recently been laid off, and they were on COBRA, which if any of you out there know, is not cheap (the rates are calculated on group insurance rates, which to many people's surprise, are more expensive than individual policies!). He had started a real estate investing company and was now in business for himself.”

When Brian set the appointment he “pre-qualified” his prospect to make sure they could afford to buy. They obviously had a need and some cash flow from the new business. In their minds, the man and his wife had already decided to buy. Let’s see what happened next. For a salesperson to satisfy the needs of the client, we need to know what those needs are. An appropriate segue would be, “To save time and better determine how I can help you, would you mind if I ask you a few questions?”
Now, back to Brian: “The husband chimed in at about this point, letting me know that they never make 'spur of the moment' decisions and that they wanted time to discuss it. I said, 'great, that's why I'm here! Let's take all the time you need to figure out how you want this structured so I can help you out of the problem you contacted me to fix.' He got more defensive this time. 'Look', he said, 'I hope you don't think I'm signing up tonight, because I'm not.' I realized that in being laid off and his situation being difficult, he was really protective of his finances.”

This is an interesting dilemma for a professional salesperson whose goal is not to sell something to earn a commission, but to help his client. If the client is helped this time, there is an excellent chance they’ll become clients for life. A poorly trained agent that had little or no confidence in himself and his product may have thrown in the towel. This is a case where the prospect had a significant need. Suppose this couple had been in a serious auto accident the next morning – without adequate coverage? If you can’t stand up at the Kiwanis Club and say with pride, “I’m in sales!”, how will you get through this situation? If you’re sitting there in someone’s home in a polyester suit, dandruff on your shoulders, using a cheap ball point pen and sporting a five o’clock shadow, are you showing them that you are the professional they can trust to save them? Would they allow you to forge ahead and press the issue?

Brian had the confidence and courage to continue. After some discussion about why he was there, available alternatives, and the prospect’s needs, he was able to let the prospect:
“close the deal on himself, I wanted to have him acknowledge that my policy was better, and that I had actually come to help him. My goal was complete. The competitor may have closed the deal if he had been more confident in himself, or if he had really been there to help them. I had both!”

If you are going to be in sales for a living (or just extra income) and want to be successful, make a solid commitment. Get the training you need so you can be confident and know your product. Sell yourself and establish some trust. Put yourself in the position so that your prospects will trust you to help them make the best choice! When you’ve done these things you can, like Brian Goodwin, look in the mirror on your way to an appointment and say, “I’m in sales! And I’m proud of it!”

Special thanks to Brian Goodwin for his contribution. Visit his site at:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I'm Not in Sales!!!

My wife is shy. She describes herself as a recluse. She is intensely private and rarely shares personal information with casual friends, much less strangers. She has a distrust for sales people that is hard to overcome. Our church was in need of items for a silent auction and she shocked me. She went out alone one day and made over thirty cold calls on businesses in our town and the adjoining town. At the time this happened we were relatively new in the area so every person she spoke with was a stranger. Almost all of the businesses she called upon had been hit by solicitors for a wide variety of causes. She had a eighty-eight per cent success rate! She attributes this success to her straightforwardness, honesty, and sincerity. A strong belief in the cause was the basis for her motivation. [This will be the subject of the next article in this series.] Afterwards, she was surprised at herself that she had even begun this project. Could she sell refrigerators in Alaska? Can you? Are you in sales, too?

"When was the last time you told a friend about the great (or awful) food you just ate at a restaurant? Did they take your word for it and go or not go? Well then, you just SOLD them on your experience. To say we aren't all salespeople is like saying you don't breathe the same air I do. EMBRACE reality and then, GO SELL SOMETHING! You do it anyways, now you will do it intentionally and strategically...just like I tell my coaching clients about their Facebook posts. Be intentional and strategic in ALL THINGS!"
Denai Vaughn, The Networking Queen

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What are you looking for?

I've found it!
Wonderful wife, wonderful life, great job, fun with photography, fulfilling avocation (officiating high school football) and I'm savoring every minute!

The following article on networking received such favorable feedback, there will be a second in the series soon. The one before that, on vacation photos was well received, too.

Good luck on your quest and remember. Set a goal. Have a plan.
If you don't know where you're going, you won't know it when you get there!

Watch for updates soon!

Monday, July 6, 2009

An Introduction to Networking

(First in a series)

In 1984 I was new in sales and on the lookout for prospects and anyone who could introduce me or refer me to a prospect for my products. A notice in the local business news caught my attention. The chamber of commerce was hosting an event called “Business After Hours”. Billed as a “networking” opportunity, it presented a concept with which I was not familiar. The ad went on to suggest that the participants “bring lots of business cards”. So I grabbed a few extra business cards and went to see what was happening. There was a buffet of hors d’oeuvres, an open bar, lots of hand shaking, introductions, and for me, learning. I met several people who later became loyal clients and several who did not buy, but referred others who did. I was hooked. Networking became an important part of my marketing strategy and “Business After Hours” found a permanent spot on my calendar. As I met people, became familiar with them, and learned more about their businesses, written and mental notes helped me refer prospects to them. When possible, a visit to their place of business would help firm up the relationship and I could see them at work. Being around a friend or client in their business environment also helps to associate them with their work; they can tell you about their clients and who would be a good prospect for them.

It has been said that “People like to do business with people who do business with them.” Similarly, people will help those who have previously helped them. It is difficult to forget the person who introduced you to a willing prospect who became your best client! Such simple concepts put into practice are the foundations of successful business networks. These practices are like a chain reaction driven by reciprocity and the eventual delivery of excellent products and services.

This morning I logged in to my online social network and saw a notice that four people had accepted my friend request. Checking their profiles gave me an idea of their interests and right away reminded me of other friends in this same network. So I sent them suggestions to connect with my other friends. It is not unusual that one or the other of these friends that I have connected will e-mail me a “thank you” for my suggestion. Introducing friends is an important aspect of networking and one I find both enjoyable and rewarding.

Back in the early eighties I became a professional salesperson and quickly learned that we are all selling something even if it is not a particular product, but ourselves. As a result of my experience, networking has, for me, become synonymous with:
• Prospecting – looking for qualified prospects
• Self promotion – beating your own drum, providing others with enough information about what you do so they can decide if they want to know more
• Referrals -- both receiving recommendations and helping contacts sell their services (beating someone else’s drum)
• Reciprocity – returning the favor or paying it forward.
These will be addressed in future articles individually.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines networking as: “the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.” A relationship that is characterized by the above four features and driven by true friendship will produce what is commonly known as a person who will be for you, a “center of influence”. An unexpected center of influence for me was a medical doctor. He had numerous contacts across a wide variety of professions and he was efficient in connecting them when he thought they could be mutually beneficial (This man got his under graduate degree in marketing, not pre-med!). His results were remarkable. When he put two people together, they did business!

An obvious benefit of networking is the growth of your business. There is an equally important duty we must be willing to accept. We have the responsibility to help the other members of our network grow their businesses. Ever heard the expression, “If I help the people that work with me to become successful, then my success is automatic.”? It’s true. In the musical, Chicago, Matron Momma Mortin sings, “The folks atop the ladder are the ones the world adores. So boost me up my ladder kids, and I’ll boost you up yours!” Let’s do the things that successful networkers do and give each other a boost. I’ll be looking for you at the top.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Take Better Vacation Photos!

NOTE: This article is currently being seen on a friend's blog at:
If you need a gift, check out her site! Thanks Tina!

Last week I was perusing the photos taken by a friend on a recent vacation to Washington D.C. The first one that really caught my attention was a shot of Don with the Washington Monument growing out of his head! It reminded me of one of my own shots from last summer; I was standing on a corner in New York City with the Empire State Building in the background. I had composed the shot before handing the camera to my daughter and it came out pretty good with one exception. A total stranger was walking through the frame and was right in front of me! Fortunately we had several shots and found a good one without the pedestrian.

Unless you are a professional photographer juggling your expensive gear, a hamburger, and a shake, you most likely are taking your vacation pictures with either a disposable camera, your cell phone, or a point-and-shoot digital camera. Don’t worry, you can get great vacation shots with any camera. Remember, it’s not the pencil, it’s how you sign your name. Using the guidelines and suggestions presented here, your shots will be better, no matter what camera you use!


Including yourself, family, or friends in the shot will provide great memories for years to come. Is there a better way to document that you really were at the Taj Mahal than to be in the photo yourself?
• Get close enough to the people so that they will be recognizable and still include part of the famous landmark in the frame.
• Get the faces close together and fill the frame. A few inches apart is fine, a hug is even better!
• Don’t worry about getting the entire Eiffel Tower in the shot, just enough to know what it is. Buy a postcard if you want the entire landmark.
• No one wants to see a photo of themselves with the Washington Monument growing out of their head, and no photographer wants to be responsible for a shot like that, so…..LOOK WHAT’S BEHIND YOUR SUBJECT! Take the extra second or two and arrange the people for a nice shot, maybe while they are re-arranging, they’ll relax a bit and the shot won’t look so posed.
• Candid shots are often the best. A couple walking hand in hand into the sunset along the top of the Hoover Dam with beautiful Lake Mead as a backdrop cannot be posed.

Speaking of Lake Mead, let’s consider:


A shot from the observation deck of the Space Needle in Seattle or the World Trade Center in New Orleans is almost irresistible. Great shots are available on the hiking trails in the mountains, too.
Here are some suggestions:

• Watch for the horizon when you frame the shot. One-third of the way down from the top, or up from the bottom is fine, but never in the middle. Horizons that divide the photo in half just scream “amateur” !!!!!
• Here’s how to decide in which third to place the horizon. If the sky is boring, no clouds, clear, look for something in the foreground and frame most of the sky out. Cut out the dull sky behind the Cinderella Castle and go for the children walking up the street to the entrance.
• Sunrise and sunset are absolutely the best times for outdoor shots. This is the time when you get golden light and no harsh overhead shadows.
• Look for a sign, placard, historical marker, or maybe local character in costume to document the locale. Instead of a pub that could be anywhere, get a shot of that leprechaun out front waving you to the door.
• Whether you are in Dollywood or the San Diego International Zoo animals are always available to make vacation photos memorable. Just like humans, focus on the eyes. Get the eyes in focus and it’s hard to get a bad shot.
• If your trip involves an activity, like swimming, a day at the beach, a picnic, antique shopping, golf, or a quiet al fresco dinner, get a few shots as reminders. Some of my favorites are a sandal half buried in the sand at Fort Walton Beach, a golf ball on the cart path at St. Andrews, and a table full of empty beer glasses in an El Paso Cantina. One of our all time favorites is a silhouette of my wife and me having dinner at a sidewalk café. The waiter took it from inside the restaurant with an arched window framing us at the table.


Images captured with a digital camera can be enjoyed easily and frequently without ever having to print out a hard copy. Therefore, you can and should take lots and lots of pictures on your vacation. Buy an extra flash card and fire away! One recent summer my wife and I took our granddaughter to Walt Disney World in Florida. After five days I was surprised to discover that I had almost two thousand images. I was surprised and disappointed. Before we left, my goal was a thousand shots per day! In the end, we arrived back home with some great photos. Our granddaughter still enjoys seeing the photos in slide shows I made, in e-mails we send her, and online at the social network we enjoy. There are numerous online services where you can share your photos, FlickR and SnapFish are two that come to mind. Retailers like Walmart*, CVS, and Walgreens offer printing services for digital images, too. Set up your account with them online, e-mail them the image, and go pick up your print!

Remember, rules were made to be broken. Start with these suggestions and
think big. Shoot all day and have fun doing it! Plan to make photography an important part of your vacation and you’ll come home with great photos to match the memories!

FCEtier is a professional photographer who lives with his wife, a dog, and four cats in one of the nation’s favorite vacation locales: The Great Smoky Mountains.
You can follow him on his blog at:
You can see his work at:
You can meet him and be his friend on Facebook or MySpace.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


A person stops by my booth and slowly flips through the prints on display. The potential buyer looks at each one and sometimes holds one up at arm’s length for a different view. They turn the print over, studying the packaging, mat, and mounting board then read the artist’s statement or bio on the back. Finally there’s a closer inspection of the framed prints hanging on the wall.
My first impression (and heartfelt desire) that this MIGHT be someone seriously considering a purchase evolves into the understanding that a novice photographer is about to start asking me questions about how I got started, who does my printing, and telling me why he or she is considering professional photography (“My friends think my stuff is great!” or “My relatives tell me I should be selling my pictures.”) Watch your friends and relatives queue up to buy some!
Excepting a couple of weekend seminars and some electives in college (years ago), my education in photography falls into the category of “self-taught”. Most of the rookies who want to talk to me profess a similar alma mater. It’s fun to share my knowledge and stories of my experience, so I usually recommend the weekend seminars I’ve attended and about a half dozen books and magazines. See the links on my home page – “Links we like.”
Perhaps the most encouraging compliment sent my way came from David Cirka who said, “Chip, everyone has a camera. Not everyone has the talent. Keep up the good work!”
My advice to the want-to-be professional photographer is this:
• Invest in some good equipment. (A ninety dollar point-and-shoot camera with a cheap desk top printer doesn’t typically qualify.)
• Read, study, and devour several great instructional books.
• Take ten thousand shots and study each one to learn from your own mistakes.
• After you’ve done the three above, call me. You probably won’t need to call me or anyone else after that!
Good luck and happy shooting!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Am I old fashioned or a purist? When I play golf, I use white golf balls. The same with tennis -- if I played. I prefer plain vanilla ice cream. Alvin Toffler said that change is the process by which the future invades our lives. Paradoxically, I’ve convinced myself that I’m not too resistant to change. Switching to digital from film cameras was a big move and a natural progression for me, since I find computers intriguing.
Photography for me is different. I prefer black and white for self expression, unadulterated black and white. Color has crept into my portfolio because it sells.
Post production manipulation of digital images has become all the rage in photography. It’s easy and tempting but getting an image right in the camera so that it doesn’t require a lot of “post” is the challenge.
I seldom use editing software and would rather not use it at all. It is reserved to crop the image, make minor corrections for lighting, sharpening, and color temperature (white balance).
When a scene has a wide range of lightness to darkness, the challenge for the photographer is to present distinguishable detail in both the light areas and the dark areas – not always easy to accomplish. A recent development in software is called “HDR”, “high dynamic range” which addresses this dilemma. Some amazing images result and none of them represent what the photographer actually saw through the viewfinder.
My goal is to produce a precise representation of what I see through my viewfinder. One image that displays my efforts at “getting it right in the camera” is “The Portal”, shot several years ago at a football game. Notice the detail in the dark areas while the highlights are not blown out. I think about this image a lot while shooting, always trying to do it again.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cape Cod Easter - 2009

What a great time and place for a photo shoot!
My wife and I visited a close friend at Cape Cod. She gave us a grand tour of the peninsula including some great restaurants and site seeing. The image shown at left is a view of the harbor at Provincetown, way out at the very end of the Cape.
If you are on Facebook, you can see my photo album from the trip by going to the photo section. Search on FB for "Chip Etier", click profile, then photos. Better yet, try this link:

Friday, March 27, 2009

Folkmoot USA

An annual event that attracts thousands to the mountains of Western North Carolina. The image shown here is one of my favorites that did not make the cut for the contest this year -- I could only enter five. If I win, I will of course post the winner!

From their website:

"Folkmoot USA, North Carolina's Official International Festival, is a two-week celebration of the world's cultural heritage through folk music and dance. Held each summer across the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina, Folkmoot features performances, parades and workshops by more than 350 performers from a dozen or so countries.

Performers demonstrate cultural heritage through colorful, authentic and original reproduction costumes, lively dance and beautiful music. During its 25-year history, over 200 folk groups from more than 100 countries have shared their heritage and culture at Folkmoot USA."

This year will be my third year to enter their photo contest, wish me luck!

Saturday, March 14, 2009


There’s a lyric from a hymn that goes something like, “…and they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love..” and that represents my credo very well. Always tried to live and behave in such a way that observers could figure me out by my actions.

Remember when Jimmy Carter was running for president? Billy Graham commented that you should be careful when someone had to tell you how good a Christian they were.

I tend to favor ecumenicalism as most informed people tend to agree that all religion is man-made. So why risk affiliation with an organization who claims an exclusive connection with The Almighty when you can join hands with all believers? I do not believe that Jesus established the Pentecostal denomination on the “Day of Pentecost” any more than I believe that just because Jesus told Peter that he was giving him the keys to the Kingdom, that he also ordained Peter as the first Pope.

Most of us typically believe what we do because of how we were raised and what we were exposed to as we grew up. At some point, we all have to make conscious decisions as to what we will continue to believe and live by – our own creeds if you will.

Another benefit of ecumenicalism is that as we are exposed to other beliefs, customs, and rituals, our own beliefs are challenged. Can your belief system withstand the challenge of new and or different ideas? If they can, I say, “Stick to your guns! Be firm in your belief and behave accordingly!”

Here’s some reading to enjoy along the way. Some of it is inspirational and some challenging and all were interesting to me.


ORTHODOXY by G.K. Chesterton




Christopher Hitchens




Thursday, March 12, 2009

Music, music, music!!

We have new music on the website!
An old friend from Baton Rouge, LA has recorded several CD's of new age classical piano and has given us permission to use his music on the website. The recordings were made inside LSU's concert hall on their Steinway
grand piano.
The current selection is "Calvary" and comes from his CD, WOOD WINDS SELECT PART ONE. You can hear more of his work, download selections, and buy the CD at:

or also at:

Monday, March 9, 2009

Another site features my work!

Photographers Without Borders has featured my image, "Tennessee Mountain" (shown on the left) in their slide show on their home page.

You can see it here:

[Some of the other photos may not be appropriate for work.]

Sunday, March 8, 2009


An artist from Turkey, Ethan Ozbiyik, has honored one of my images on with a poem. The image is one I got of some steps on Mount Pisgah (piz'-gah) on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Cold Mountain [of movie fame]. My image and his comments can be found at this address: (copy and paste into your browser) -

My sincere thanks to Ethan again. His gallery on redbubble can be found here:



Composition 101

Composition 101

Summary from my notes on composition at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography weekend in Asheville, NC—2008

Have been familiar with the “rule of thirds” for along time and for some reason always applied it horizontally. At this meeting, they pointed out that if you apply the same rule vertically, the two groups of lines form a “tic-tac-toe” grid with a square centered in the frame.

The instructor referred to the four corners of this square as “power points”; the four areas of the photo where the eye naturally tends to look in a scene.

The upper left hand power point is the most significant. Regardless of culture and reading path (up, down, left to right, or right to left) the human brain goes to that spot first. (There is actually scientific evidence to support this comment.)

The eye is naturally attracted to the brightest, most clearly focused feature of a scene.

Triangles are the most powerful of geometric shapes in a composition. The triangle also helps to keep the viewer’s eye in the frame.

THREE is the preferred frequency for number of items in a scene, ie: three flowers arranged in a triangle.

These rules work for any subject matter whether it’s a landscape or a portrait.

Example: Portrait – eyes on upper third line hopefully near the two upper power points. The shirt, drape, blouse, etc. should form a “V” below the face so that the eye line completes a triangle.
Of course,
Rules were made to be broken!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Price of Art

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Last July we rented a booth at the Blue Ridge Arts and Crafts "Freedom Festival" show over the July 4th weekend. [We do this show every year.] A lady was admiring one of my matted prints priced at $85.00. She asked me, "Can you do better on this price?" My answer is the subject of this posting.

"Yes, I can do better. How about $125.00? Or even better than that, how about $170.00?"

My art is a travelogue, a diary or journal, a photographic record of the places I visit, the people with whom I meet, chat, get to know and love. The images I print and offer for sale are a documentation of my life; and my life has value.
It has long been a contention of mine that artists (including myself) often fail to adequately account for the value of their time when they are deciding upon the price of their artworks.
It has been my experience that when I raise my prices, my unit sales go up.
I'm looking forward to see what this year brings, a year that has begun with a general fear in the population of recession. Reminds me of when Johnny Carson started a nation wide shortage of toilet paper!
Stay tuned.........

Friday, March 6, 2009


Check out (BUY) the movie, "Bullworth". I believe that he was correct and he certainly sums up my opinion of the current state of politics in the USA.
I once considered myself a conservative Republican, now it seems more suitable (in lieu of my disdain of the news) to be apolitical. My wife printed up a satirical bumper sticker for me (I was busy with PHOTOGRAPHY) during the last presidential election to poke fun at politics, fantasists, and racism. It read, "Yellow Dog Democrats for McCain". She's not even sure of the candidate for which I voted!

Will reading this entice people to buy my photography? This piece is full of subliminal suggestions to do just that!