For Your Eyes Only

Before I worked with databases, while still in university, I started a wedding photography business which I ran for 11 years.

As I look back at the photography, I really did learn a LOT about business. Marketing: how do I reach those potential customers? Sales. Dealing with customers. And suppliers. Gross margin. Net profit. Cash flow. Operations: altogether, it was about 40 hours of work to shoot a wedding, when you counted up sales, preparation, shooting, and many hours of negative and paper handling to deliver the goods. Capital budgeting; how many more pictures do I need to shoot to make this 1500 dollar lens pay for itself? Break even points. Strategic alliances.

I read a book called Shooting Your Way To A Million, by Richard Sharabura.

There was one chapter called, For Your Eyes Only, where he described how to make a technical portfolio and teach yourself the technical aspects of photography.  Do many test shoots, and put them all in binder.  Different films.  Different lighting conditions, including all the variations in studio lights.  Different exposures.  Different film processing.  Different kinds of objects and people. And always, always, do a lighting test with Polaroid film before shooting.

Why?  When you got into a new situation, you could go back to your reference material for guidance and a starting point.  Unlike today, where you can instantly see the digital result, with film cameras, you didn’t really know for sure what the result would be until a number of hours, or days, after the shoot.  By that time, it would be too late to make changes.  The models or wedding guests would be gone, or there would be no more access to the location, and the deadline would be upon you.

So, a great creative idea, executed poorly, with a simple mistake on the exposure, or processing, etc., would be crap.  You wouldn’t get paid, and you wouldn’t get any referral business.

The technical binders were a great idea, which I did.  When I started working with computers in 1990s, I copied the idea.

At that time, the internet was not in the companies I worked with.  And documentation was often non-existent or awful.  What documentation there was, often did not have clear examples.  They could have pages of prose, and parameter lists, that told you everything, except what you needed to know.  Which for myself, were simple examples that worked.  I noted that even the book, C By Example, had more words in prose than in examples.

When I figured something out, I printed out some clean documentation.  One subject on a single page of paper.

The binders accumulated over time.  Novell. Oracle. Unix. Uniface. Visual Basic. C. Make and Makefiles. SQL Server.

The technical binders I created - about 34 inches wide.

Recently, I got an automatic document feed (ADF) scanner, and I’ve been scanning these binders into PDF files.  What a killer app.  I can keep the information, but not all the space and weight of the paper.

It’s difficult to believe that I’ve taken so long to start a blog.  I’d thought of writing for a long time.  But there has always been something else to learn and take up my time. Presentations at the Oracle User’s Groups.  Self study of Oracle Applications. RAC. Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) material. Java. JDeveloper.  SQL Server.  And many other interests unrelated to work.

My plan is to put some of these notes online.  I hope the info will be useful.  Enjoy!

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