Category Archives: General Commentary

My New Book – Available on Amazon

My dear friends, I am pleased to announce publication of my new book, available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions. It isn’t a book about photography. It’s a book about life.

The book is entitled “Grateful Moments – A Journey with Mom“. I am releasing the book now, in honor of Mother’s Day and I am donating 50% of the royalties I receive for the first 6 months of publication to the American Cancer Society.

Grateful Moments – A Journey with Mom

Sixteen years ago, my mom had a tough battle with a rare form of cancer in her final year of life. I devoted a lot of time helping her, and with me being a writer, I created a blog, as a way of journaling about the experience, the good moments, the hard moments, and some of the lessons learned. Many people said I should publish what I wrote into a book, because they related so much to the insights I shared, seeing a bit of their own experience in caring for an aging parent.

The blog no longer exists, but I finally took the time to transform what I wrote into this new book. It is a very transparent and intimate account of the pain, struggles, sorrow, faith, fear, and yet moments of gratitude I experienced in those last months of my mom’s life.

As I say in the book:
“Grief is another form of love. It is what love looks like after someone you love dies. It is a moment. It is a season. It is a state of being. It is life under a dark cloud, trusting that one day the sun will shine again. This book is my personal journey through grief and loss, sharing some lessons learned and an affirmation of the importance of living with a sense of gratitude for the life you are experiencing right now. Even in the challenging times, find the beauty in the moments you are given.”

Kevin Gourley

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LAST CHANCE to Take Advantage of These Special Offers!

Don’t miss out on our final special pricing.

Scroll down to read the full story about the changes we’re making, AND make sure you take advantage of our special offers on pricing before these opportunities end!

Our Pandemic Special Reduced Prices AND “Name Your Own Price” options are coming to an end!

CLICK HERE TO VIEW OUR UPCOMING CLASSES


Photography: Finding Your Way
Creativity Workshop

Whether you are just starting out in photography or you have years of experience, this class will meet you where you are and help you find new directions to head to discover your unique artistic expression in photography! THIS IS THE BEST OPPORTUNITY YOU WILL EVER HAVE TO TAKE THIS CLASS AT SUCH A LOW PRICE!  Why take this class??  Read the reviews on the web page.  Former class participants tell you in their own words why this is a must-take class.

  • Class Starts Next Week!
  • Evening Class: Mon/Wed April 12+14+19+21 +May 3, 2021

Lightroom Classic CC Class
Learn how to organize and enhance your photographs with this powerful program!

  • Evening Class: Tues/Wed/Thurs April 27+28+29, 2021

Photoshop for Photographers Class Series
Learn important Photoshop editing skills and features all photographers need to know in these interactive online classes.

  • Photoshop Level 1+2 NEWNow offered as a combined course!
    • Evening Class: Tue/Thu May 18,20 + Tue/Wed/Thu May 25+26+27, 2021

We encourage you to take both of these classes:
Photography Essentials + Photography Essentials Level 2!

  • Photography Essentials Class
    Start your photography learning here! Or take this course as a refresher on the important fundamentals of photography. Learn important photography essentials! Up to 4.5 hours of learning in this online video conference!
    • Morning Class Tues+Thurs May 4+6, 2021 10am-Noon CDT
    • Evening Class Tues+Thurs May 4+6, 2021 7pm-9pm CDT
       
  • Photography Essentials LEVEL 2 Class
    If you have taken my Photography Essentials Class or Photography 101, this is the next step we’d recommend! Or take this course as a refresher on additional important fundamentals of photography.
    • Morning Class Tues+Thurs May 11+13, 2021 10am-Noon CDT
    • Evening Class Tues+Thurs May 11+13, 2021 7pm-9pm CDT

Remember we have several great destination workshops planned this year!
Safe and fun outdoor experiences for photographers!

2021 Rocky Mountain Photography Workshops
A fabulous photographic adventure in beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park of Colorado.


Texas Bird Photography Ranch Workshop
Friday-Sunday October 15-17, 2021
Sunday-Tuesday October 17-19, 2021
Sharpen your photography skills in bird photography at a fantastic wildlife ranch near Uvalde, TX. RECENTLY ANNOUNCED, SPACE IS LIMITED TO JUST 5 PHOTOGRAPHERS!


Photographers Spring 3-Day Weekend Getaway
in the Beautiful Texas Hill Country

April 15-18, 2021 SORRY THIS CLASS IS SOLD OUT!


FULL STORY ABOUT THE CHANGES WE’RE MAKING…

FIRST OF ALL, I want to express how grateful to ALL of you who have taken our classes.  We survived the most unimaginable year in 2020.

When our world turned upside down due to this pandemic
, my business faced challenges I never imagined.  It was devastating to my studio photography business, and I had to (almost overnight) re-tool all of my teaching to be online.  I had to navigate through so many hard choices in cancelling or rescheduling classes and destination workshops. Many thanks to all of you who were so understanding about that.  Every month has frankly been a struggle as we have placed a priority on your safety in following federal and local guidelines in dealing with this pandemic.

I realize our little business was not the only local small business that suffered and struggled to survive. When we participated in the GoFundMe Small Business Relief Fundraiser Initiative, I was deeply humbled and amazed at the support from so many of you. All I could say was “wow.”  We could not have made it without you

Helping Our Community:  If you have ever been a client of mine, you know me, and you know I very much believe in giving back to the community and I have devoted a lot of effort in helping many others in the community in their attempts to make this world a better place. We continued to keep this as a priority, even during the entire pandemic.

As a part of my helping the community, I took a leap of faith and set up all new classes at much reduced prices AND I set up a pricing model where for many of the group online classes, you could “Name Your Own Price” as my way of helping out any of you who, like me, found this past year to be a painful financial struggle.

All good things must come to an end:  I have decided it is time to starttransitioning back out of “pandemic mode” and wanted to let you all know, the classes I am currently offering at reduced prices and/or the classes where you can name your own price are the last ones I will be offering at this special pricing!  For some of these classes, you will never see prices this low again. 

Check out all of our upcoming classes.  We’ll be adding more, but the ones currently offered still are using our “pandemic special pricing” and we’d love to have you sign up.  (Plus we really could use the business right now.)

Asking a favor:  REFER YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER FRIENDS!

Thank you all!
Kevin Gourley

Kevin Gourley Photography Workshops – Support Local Small Business – Serving the Community 

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A Local Small Business Focused on The People We Serve

Help Us Spread the Word!

The article title sums up my highest priority of my business (Kevin Gourley Photography and KG Photo Workshops) over the past 15 years. My focus has been on the people I serve, whether I am doing photography for them, or teaching photography to them.

I have always placed the people I serve as a higher priority than maximizing profits, growing sales, or treating them all as just numbers on a spreadsheet.

I have organized numerous Austin wide photography groups over the years to help (several thousand) photographers. I have supported countless non profit organizations, and have helped many individuals who are making a positive difference in our community. We opened up our studio on Monday nights for free for the past couple of years to just bring people together as a way of getting to know our neighbors more and engage with the community around us.

When this pandemic turned our world upside down, last year many of you demonstrated totally unexpected overwhelming generosity through our GoFundMe Small Business Relief Initiative campaign, and I will always be eternally grateful for that.

I decided to go the extra mile in helping others through this hard time by offering several lower price class options and changing our pricing model for many of our classes using a “name your own price” option if people could not afford the suggested price due to their own financial hardships from this pandemic.

We also made seemingly endless hard decisions in how we navigate through all the many COVID-19 safety recommendations and requirements imposed by local, state, and federal entities. We were forced to cancel or postpone almost all of our destination workshops in 2020, and we decided to temporarily just offer online options for our group classes, and while we are open for business for studio sessions, we are doing so in a way that is totally respectful of the guidelines of the CDC and believe mask wearing and social distancing are wise at this time, until medical experts indicate otherwise. Of course this has been hard on our little business, but we are determined to make it through this. We are a local small business. We are not sponsored by any large corporations. We do not run fancy radio and TV ads. We’re just a little photography studio trying to make a positive impact in our world.

Maybe we are starting to “see the light at the end of the tunnel.” We are cautiously optimistic.

With all that said, I wanted to ASK A FAVOR from you all. We ask your continued support and help us spread the word about our classes.

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Gratitude


If anything, these past 12 months have been a reminder of many things we may have taken for granted.  All it takes is to remove those things, and then we realize how much to be grateful for:

  • the ability to be with friends (unmasked)
  • to have income and be working in a business that has not been shut down (or to be enjoying retirement)
  • to be able to afford to buy basic items for survival
  • to participate in worship services (in person)
  • to be able to have a vaccine for a new virus- to be able to turn on your water and have water flowing out of the faucet
  • to have that water be drinkable
  • to have heat in the cold weather
  • to be able to flip a switch and your room has light
  • to be able to take a hot shower
  • to be able to leave your home
  • to be able to drive in a car (not just walk)
  • to have fuel readily available for your vehicle
  • to have streets cleared of ice
  • to have working traffic lights
  • to have emergency personnel on call to rescue you if you are an in accident
  • to have a crew of professionals working 24/7 in bitter cold, sleet, snow, rain to repair power lines or water mains while you wait in the comfort of your home (at least more “comfort” than what they were enduring)
  • to be able to go to the grocery store and find basic food needs stocked on the shelves
  • to be able to get medications or go to the hospital and to find a crew of medical professionals there waiting to help you 
  • to have friends and neighbors who watch out for one another and help each other through crisis
  • to have access to communications through cell / phone / Internet / radio / television the list could go on and on…

    But remember, with all we have been through, there are MANY people in our community and the world who have none or very few of the things on the list above.   For most of us, the loss of the things above have been an inconvenience, maybe even a major inconvenience, but for others, not having those things is a way of life.

    In everything give thanks.  Even be thankful for the painful reminders of all the things we weren’t being thankful about.

P.S. Support local small businesses! There are many (including mine) that were totally shut down for over a week. :-}

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Pandemics, Politics, and Photography

What an incredibly challenging year this has been for us all. We have seen our worlds turned upside down, where “normal” life abruptly changed. Depending on your life circumstance, you might be retired and feeling a bit trapped at home. Or you might be in a career that puts you out there with the public several days a week. Or you might have the added challenge of raising kids in the midst of all of this, and dealing with the you working from home and the kids doing “school” from home. Or this pandemic may have caused you to shut down your small business you worked so hard to build up.

Then add the intense political polarization that has hurt us all, pitting neighbor against neighbor, family member against family member. The pandemic is bad enough, but with this toxic mix, it has led to a crisis of isolation for many. Many people are suffering from a situational depression from all of this mess.

So what does this have to do with photography? (I’m glad you asked 😉 )

What I Changed In My Photography Classes – One thing I have done is acknowledge that this pandemic has financially impacted everyone differently, some with little impact and others pretty substantially harmed. So back in April 2020, I announced a wide range of new classes, and established a unique pricing model where YOU set the price for the class. I give a suggested price, but you can choose to pay a little more if you would like to help us out (because, yes, this has been really tough on my business also) OR you can pay a little less if you are financially strained also right now. I figure we’re all in this together. Let’s get through this together, helping each other out.

Coping With This All Through Photography – There is a very important connection with how we might all cope with these stresses of life, and using photography as a channel through which you can express yourself. Photography is really an expression of how you see the world around you. We only photograph what we see, and every person sees things differently.

Gratitude Project: One way you might use your photography is through practicing intentional gratitude on a daily basis. Look for those things in life for which you are grateful. That includes the big things and the small things and especially the things you might often take for granted. Make it into a project to photograph those things. You could do it just for your own personal project to create those images. Or you could then use some of them to make a photo collage to hang on your wall as a reminder of all that you are grateful for. Or you could post your photos on social media to tell the rest of the world what you are grateful for, and it might get them started doing their own gratitude project! Numerous studies have found that people are more happy if they practice a life of gratitude and express that gratitude to others.

Story Telling: Another photographic idea is to set out on a project to tell a story about the impact of this pandemic and how life has changed. Later on, after we get through all this (hopefully sooner rather than later) we’ll have photos to remember this time. And note the impact isn’t all bad. I have been going on daily walks (I call them our “sanity walks”) and in the process I have met neighbors even several streets away from our house and my circle of friends has increased. I have also seen more instances of parents out playing with their kids. Figure out a way to tell the story, YOUR story, of the great COVID-19 pandemic.

Give Yourself a Project to Expand Your Photography Skills: Choose some area of your photography you think could be improved. Maybe it’s how to operate your camera, or how to use Manual Exposure Mode, or learn more about your auto focus system in your camera. Or maybe you could set out on a project to expand your creativity and artistic expression. Or maybe decide to learn how to use Photoshop to do some of the photographic digital imaging “magic” you see other photographers doing. Choose a project. Grow your skills. Become a better photographer. Right in the middle of a pandemic, do it.

Connect with Others: A couple of years ago, we started something new at my photography studio in NW Austin. We called it “LifeInsights” and its purpose was really just an opportunity to connect with others and do various book discussions, but we quickly expanded to to discussions about various TED talks, and then I started inviting various wonderful guest speakers, and we went on group outings, got together at area restaurants, and held occasional pot luck dinners. Then the pandemic hit, and we were forced to shift over to doing our sessions over Zoom. It’s not the same as meeting in person, but it at least allows us to continue, and we have had some wonderful discussions over Zoom. If you’d like to know more about our little group, click here to learn more about LifeInsights. This offers another way to beat the isolation this pandemic has imposed on us all, and it is FREE (it’s always been free). 🙂

Classes: If you are interested in learning more about photography, make sure you check out my upcoming classes. If you have photographic questions, you are more than welcome to email me any time. I’m happy to answer your questions via email, no charge for that.

We’ll get through this together, my friends.

Kevin Gourley

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We’re Not Normal, and That’s A Good Thing

As we reach the end of this incredibly frustrating and problematic year, I was reflecting on our past 15+ years in business. In many ways, our little photography business is not “normal.” Our focus has not been on maximizing profits even though that is a generally-advised good business strategy. Instead, our business has been focused on serving the community, yes through striving for excellence in my photography and teaching, but also through simply trying to make our community a better place.

I just wanted to celebrate that decision to not be normal. We have helped so many local and national nonprofit organizations and other groups that are doing good things, and as I look over the list, I smile because the work we did made a difference, because we supported (and/or helped promote) others who are making a difference. Groups such as:

  • We Are Not Broken
  • Deaf Dreams
  • Girl Scouts of the USA
  • Darius Pettway Youth Leadership Conference
  • Progeria Research Foundation
  • Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure
  • Weekend of HOPE – Benefiting Austin SafePlace
  • Beyond the Lights Celebrity Golf Classic 2010 hosted by the Austin Community Foundation
  • PMDA Portraits of Love Program
  • Kidsave International and Kidsave Austin
  • Foundation for the Homeless, Inc.
  • Interfaith Hospitality Network
  • Fort Hood Earth Fest 2009
  • Creation Celebration 2009
  • Bass School of Music
  • United America Pageant
  • Oklahoma City University
  • Bethany House of Friends
  • The National Arts Program
  • VSA Arts of Texas
  • Bikes for Goodness Sake
  • Mobility Worldwide, TX-Austin
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation
  • Helping Austin
  • Miracle4Megan
  • AdvocateWeb
  • Austin SafePlace
  • H. E. Butt Foundation
  • Foundation for Laity Renewal
  • H. E. Butt Foundation
  • Mobile Loaves and Fishes
  • Community First Village
  • Hill Country Institute for Contemporary Christianity
  • C. S. Lewis Austin Conference
  • Deerpark Middle School, Roundrock ISD
  • Great Oaks Elementary, Roundrock ISD
  • Laurel Mountain Elementary, Roundrock ISD
  • Westwood High School, Roundrock ISD
  • NYOS Charter School
  • United America Pageant
  • Bethany United Methodist Church
  • Summer Celebration
  • Pure Sound Youth Choir
  • Eyes of Faith – Austin, Texas Photographic Media Interest Group
  • Power of the Cross Festival
  • The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • Cattlemen for Cancer Research – Annual Auction
  • Youth2Seniors
  • Intergenerational Day 2012
  • LifeWorks
  • Partnerships for Children
  • Help-Portrait
  • Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Life Insights – In addition to all this, in 2018 we (with the help of some friends) started a free group that met on Monday nights at my studio, with the vision that we can make our world a better place if we intentionally take a little time to get to know more people around us, and sharing in this thing we call “life.”

Sometimes social media these days is trending to be quite anti-social, often fostering polarization and discord.   That is not what the world needs right now.  We don’t need more polarization.  So we started this group called Life Insights as a place where anyone can join us (for free) as we explore insights about life.

In a sense, our goal is simply to love our neighbors. 
Our “neighbors” are the people we encounter in our life, the people next door, the people in our city, our coworkers, our friends, and this includes the people who may or may not be like us at all.  What a world this would be if we could all do more to love our neighbors.  We are trying to do our part, at least in a small way.

We initially started out meeting in person at my studio in NW Austin.  We started with a book study of The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. From there, we decided to continue with more book discussions, and then we expanded our activities to include watch parties for TED Talks and documentaries followed by discussion time, and then we started also inviting a wide range of fascinating guest speakers including people who are striving to make our community better in some way, or are sharing from their life experiences with various disabilities and challenges.  We also occasionally hosted pot luck dinners or outings to area restaurants and occasional breakfast get-togethers.

When this COVID-19 crisis turned our world upside down, we didn’t let that stop us!  We switched to doing online meetings using Zoom video conferencing, just scheduling programs week to week. We are continuing into 2021!

From back when we first started our little group. What a wonderful group of people!

We have done a bunch of different book studies:

… and a wide range of TED Talk “watch parties” and discussions

… and discussions about various documentaries

We have had some absolutely wonderful guest speakers:

We had a fun time at our Drum Circle and Picnic Around a Campfire at South Wind Equestrian Center in Leander!

We’ve eaten together, pot lucks, dinner outings to area restaurants

We had a fantastic study of the book “The Road Back to You” led by two licensed professional counselors,
Lisa Blackwood and Sherri Woodworth.

We can ALL choose to make this world a better place and love our neighbors a little more.

On this New Year’s Eve, as I reflect on all we have done through our little business, I smile. So many wonderful memories and great moments. I have discovered over the past decade+ that my business may be photography and teaching classes, but my real business is about loving people.

Thank you all for being a part of our lives. Gail and I both thank you so very much.

Wishing you a better 2021. We can all help make it a good year.

P.S. Please help us spread the word about our classes and my photography business. That’ll enable us to keep doing what we’re doing. 🙂

Kevin Gourley

– – –

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It’s All About You

A little about me: I have been an avid photographer for over forty years, a professional photographer for sixteen years, plus I have been teaching the art and science of photography, both professionally and with various community photography groups I have organized over several decades.

But it’s really all about you: Central to my pursuits has really been to connect with others, and in some way, help them along in their journey (whether it’s photography or otherwise).

I have found in my later years in life, my greatest fulfillment has not just been in the images I have created but rather it has been through the people I have met and have come to know as friends, and experiences along the way.

I love seeing others succeed in their photography and in their lives. My goal in my teaching has always been focused on you. It’s really all about you.

I have met so many photographers who have taken classes from other places and they say their teacher spent much of the time telling them how great they were or the teacher “spoke down to them” and they learned very little. This is unfortunately all too common.

More than anything, I think photography and really all the arts is about humility not arrogance. It is about awareness of the beauty in this incredible world. It is not about personal greatness or the ego. It is about appreciation of this life we have been given, and sharing in this journey with others.

A photograph captures a moment. In a sense it is a way of saying “thank you” for that brief moment, a remembrance of that instant when the sun first appears on the horizon and light rays flood across the sky into the clouds, or when a baby is born, or when the person in front of you just gets that perfect smile and their eyes light up, or when you suddenly encountered wildlife on a trail you were hiking, or when a dog leaps into the arms of its owner, or when someone is in their final days of life.

My goal in teaching is really not about me. It is about you, helping you move further along in the skills you need to be better at creating the kinds of images YOU want to create.

Worry less about whether other photographers are better than you. Art does not have to be a competition. Sometimes in doing so, it can take the joy out of the art. Find what you love in photography and do that. Forget what others think. Be the best “you” you can be. If I can be of help in you reaching that better place in your photographic skills, then I have succeeded. Find the fun in photography. If it is not fun, you’re not doing it right. 😉

At some point, I will be retiring, but not just yet. I have a few more years where my passion is still leading me to continue doing my photography and teaching others. This pandemic has hurt my business tremendously, but I am still here, adapting to the madness as best I can. In the midst of it all, I would be honored to be your photography instructor.

Let’s Do This: If you are just starting out, consider my Photography Essentials class, or check out some of my other classes. The lineup of classes is continually changing. Or maybe consider my private instruction options. For now, all of my classes are online, but I can do one-on-one personal instruction (socially distancing and masking of course).

Bless you all. For Thanksgiving this year, especially give thanks in the midst of the challenges. We’ll get through this together.

Kevin Gourley

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Major Change of Plans

That phrase pretty much sums up 2020: “Major Change of Plans.” For all of us, we never imagined what this year would be like, one year ago.

The truth is, we never know what lies in our future. We make plans. Plans change, as we perpetually are confronted with new realities, new challenges, unexpected events that cause us to push aside our plans.

In fact, we all face moments where we are reminded of just how little we really have control over in our lives. At best, we embrace illusions that we are in control.

So many people are looking at this pandemic as a disaster of epic proportion, and granted it is painful to see how hard this has been on everyone, with businesses failing, many people getting quite sick and some dying, people acting out of panic, various forces with political agendas to sew seeds of mistrust.

In the midst of all this turmoil, people’s anxiety levels are rising, and more and more people dealing with depression.

My hope is that we call can step back a bit from all of this chaos and turmoil, and focus on this moment.

As Oprah Winfrey once said “Living in the moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future. It means living your life consciously, aware that each moment you breathe is a gift.

We can’t live in the past. We can hang on to good memories, but we can’t go back there. Nor can we predict or control the future. All we have is right now. If we live with our minds focused on the future (which we can neither predict nor control), we will likely be perpetually disappointed that the future didn’t go as planned, all-the-while missing out on the present.

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and my hope is we can ALL focus on doing more thanks giving this Thanksgiving.

Embrace this moment for what it is, even in hardship, even in disappointment, even in pain, even in tragedy, even when it seems impossible to find ANY good in this moment.

This moment is where you exist. Tune out the noise. Intentionally assess what all you ARE grateful for in this moment, especially the things you are taking for granted. Make it a long list. If your list is short, you are not done. Keep at it.

We will always have moments where there is a sudden major change of plans. We adapt. We move on, even if it is hard to do so. Often our “plans” are focused on a destination, but our lives are lived on the journey. Make the best of the journey.

An idea for photographers: Start a project photographing the things YOU are grateful for in your life and share them on social media.

Kevin

P.S. On my “gratitude list” are all of YOU. I love my job, although these admittedly have been VERY tough times for my little business, but what I love most about my job is having met all of you.

P.P.S. Support local small business! Sign up for my classes!

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Just Be Grateful

This has been a challenging time for us all.

I could list all the reasons this year has been so painful… the devastating impact to so many small businesses, people who have lost a loved one to COVID-19, not being able to visit aging family members, tough decisions about putting kids in school, etc. but where do I stop? The list would get quite long.

Then add to this the terrible ways people are treating each other in the midst of this outrageously polarized political season. I am amazed and a bit heartbroken in seeing how people are treating each other. This has all made a bad situation worse, as if the pandemic alone was not bad enough.

And then there has been the unprecedented wildfires in Colorado, burning nearly half a million acres of my favorite place on Earth, in Rocky Mountain National Park.

And then there are friends who have been battling cancer, some having already lost their battle, plus a dear friend recently died unexpectedly in a car accident.

I must admit I have been struggling to deal with all this lately. In a sense, I guess I am suffering from 2020 depression. I find myself just emotionally depleted.

And then I remember all the truly beautiful friends in my life. I am so blessed.

And then I will never forget how so many people responded to help us and our small business through the GofundMe Small Business Relief Initiative and other ways they helped. This helped us survive this unexpected pandemic. It has all been so humbling. We still have some tough months ahead, but this GofundMe campaign and other generosity of friends and clients is proving to be a lifesaver for us.

Our Sanity Walks
Every morning, Gail and I go on a 3.5 mile walk which I have been calling my “sanity walk.” We usually walk through our neighborhood or on some of the nearby hiking trails in the hills near our home. While on our sanity walk, I will often photograph something that catches my eye, using my iPhone. The point isn’t to create some amazing photograph. It is more about simply appreciating the small things in life, the things I might be tempted to walk on past and just take for granted.

Gratitude
Anyway, on this day where “melancholy” perhaps best describes my feelings about 2020, I must remember to be thankful because in spite of all that has been hard, I have seen the beauty in the world around me and in the beauty of all of you. I will focus on the acts of kindness I have experienced from you and on the ways I can devote myself to acts of kindness for others.

We take so much for granted, even when we don’t mean to.

I think the key to a well-lived life is to focus on being grateful.

Recently on one of my sanity walks, I stopped looking at the “things” we walked past, and just looked up at the sky. I mean, how often do we give thanks for the sky? Sure we might notice a pretty sunrise or sunset, or maybe an interesting cloud formation, but what about the rest of the sky?

I just started thinking about the beautiful blue sky in the cool morning air. All I could see was the light blue, but beyond that, beyond my ability to see, is the expanse of the universe. That thin layer of atmosphere is what protects our planet from the harshness of space. It is what sustains our life. Yet another thing I normally just take for granted.

I guess I just felt like writing this, at a time when 2020 is getting me “down” and wanted to intentionally remember that this world is surrounding us all with so much to be grateful for. Don’t take ANY of it for granted.

Hug your family. Hug your friends. Go out and hug your neighbors (maybe a virtual hug for now). Hug your dog or cat. Go out and even hug a tree.

Go out for a walk and devote the entire walk to thinking about all the things you are grateful for. That is, if you can walk. Remember even the ability to walk is something to be grateful for. If you can’t walk, you still can find so much to be grateful for.

Once you LOSE one of those things you have taken for granted, you will be reminded once again, you have been blessed by so much more than you realized.

Just be grateful for it all.

Kevin Gourley

P.S. If the isolation of COVID-19 is getting you down, join our LifeInsights group! All are welcome and invited.

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Loving Rocky Mountain National Park

I have been leading photography workshops in Rocky Mountain National Park for years and I have been in love with that park ever since I was a child. Watching the recent fires sweep through portions of the park has been deeply heartbreaking. So many of us Rocky Mountain National Park lovers have been watching news reports, posts on social media, and getting text messages and photos from friends in the area, holding our breath as we witness the place we love burn.

We are so grateful for the heroic efforts of the thousands of firefighters who fought valiantly the raging fires to save structures and to try to hold back the spread through the park. We are so sad to see the damage in the Kawuneeche Valley, especially in the Grand Lake area. Our hearts go out to the people of Grand Lake and Granby. The town buildings of Grand Lake were saved but still so many homes were destroyed and so much of the area around the town burned.

While the fire spread through the park, carried by high winds, and fueled by so many pine beetle damaged trees, there is still so much of the park that has not burned. The fire is still not under control but at least has diminished quite a bit because of the much welcomed heavy blanket of snow.

Several people have asked me if the places we visit in our Rocky Mountain Photography Workshops have all burned up. The answer, thankfully, is no. In fact, MOST of the places we visit were spared by the fires. The hardest hit area that we do visit is the Grand Lake area.

What about 2021’s Rocky Mountain Photography Workshops? Yes, most definitely we will be doing the workshops again in 2021!

Currently we have reduced the size of our group as part of a COVID-19 restriction, but we could enlarge our size again, depending on how this whole COVID-19 thing pans out by next Summer and Fall. We consider your safety to be important and we believe we can do these workshops within local and federal guidelines. (We’ll always err on the side of precaution/safety rather than carelessness.)

In spite of the pandemic and in spite of the fires, we have an even greater resolve to ensure we do the workshops again in 2021 to help support the local economy for our friends in Estes Park and Grand Lake.

We pray the fires get under control and further damage is limited in our favorite place on earth.

Kevin Gourley

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