Year in Review 2016

As the year draws to and end and I sit here and enjoy the last breakfast of the old year and eagerly await the beginning of the new, it’s time to sit back for a minute and reflect on what a good year it has been for Vagabond Photography.

Vagabond Photography had a good year with some ups and downs. While at Imaging USA in Atlanta in January, I decided it was time to start writing down some of our experiences in the photography industry. This has turned out to be a good way to communicate with you our clients and readers.

Bookings didn’t come in quite as quick as I had hoped for, for weddings and senior/portraits in the first half of the year but we did have a large expansion into the Corporate photography niche, with this new area now comprising about a quarter to a third of our business.  Something that I learned from my father is that even though you may have intended for your company to serve/provide one style of service, sometimes it can take on a life of its own and move in a different direction.

In April and May we had the joy of teaming up with two non profit groups in Milwaukee called Sweetwater and the Water Council of Milwaukee. They both have a great mission Sweetwater aims to help clean up the Milwaukee River, Menomonee River and Root River basins. While the Water Council of Milwaukee looks at ways of restoring our aquafers and delivering clean water to the area. It was such a great experience to be able to work at both of their conferences, I learned a lot even though I was just there to document the day for them.

Over the summer, we saw the launch of our new website for Vagabond Photography.  For many years, I used and loved the hosting company Zenfolio, they have great layouts and custom designs but with diminishing returns though search engines and a lack of being able to do customized SEO, I decided it was time to make a move. After some research beginning in late July I decided on moving our hosting duties to Square Space. It took a little while to get everything set up and also, I had to find a new hosting platform for our client galleries and for that we settled on a little-known company called Pixieset. I was able to integrate both platforms to create a seamless new website that I think looks marvelous.

As the fall approached we moved to the last of our Senior Portraits and a few weddings. It was so great to a part of our wedding client’s special day.  I really love fall weddings so much more than summer weddings. There is such a great wide range of colors from golden hues of yellow, fiery reds, hazelnut browns and every other color in-between.

At the end of October/beginning of November I interviewed with an auto auction company called Mecums to possibly photograph cars for them part time while still being able to run Vagabond Photography full time. It didn’t pan out but I am thankful for the time to learn from there master photographer David Newhardt. I always love to learn new things and in a couple of days photographing with them it turned into a great learning experience. Learning something from a gentleman that has photographed classic cars for over 40 plus years is a great treat.

As Christmas approached we moved back into our Corporate Christmas season. I was great, to have our friends at MUZA Metals in Oshkosh ask us back for a second year even though getting there it did happen on one of the more hazardous snow storms we have had it Wisconsin in a while. But it was fun, they all were but this one stick out in my mind the most because the getting there was just as interesting as the actual event was.

Christmas was spent back in my home town with my family and it was great to have some down time and to be able to be with friends and family for a few days.  I keep telling myself one of these years I need to bring my gear home with me and photograph a Gumz Family Christmas on Christmas Day but I have yet to do this. It’s a great time with mom and dad on my dad side of the family all the aunts and uncles show up with all the cousins and it turns into a great time when you stick 75 to 100 people into a town hall with the same last name. I guess next year should be the year to do that before the family starts to dwindle.

As we look forward to the new year it comes with hope and a little apprehension of the unknown. I cannot wait to get to San Antonio in the first part January for Imaging USA’s annual convention and trade show and to escape part of the cold Wisconsin winter.  We are still working on bookings for 2017 and I would love to be a part of your wedding or collaborate with you on your senior or family portraits. No idea is too big or too small for us. For our corporate clients, we would enjoy teaming up with you and photographing your summits, meeting and conventions and we can work with you based on your business size.

Have a great and safe New Years Eve folks, if you venture out tonight and you find you had a little too much to drink call a friend or a family member because a little lecture is better than not having your presents to enjoy. And as my favorite character Sherman T Potter from Mash says “Here’s to the new year. May she be a damn sight better than the old one, and may we may we all be home before she’s over.”

I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you in the New Year.

Best wishes,

Tim Gumz
owner and principal photographer


Sorry We Can’t Help, let’s try and find someone who can.

To fellow photographers:

As a photographer, we would love to be able to assist every client that walks in the door, sends an email, or calls us on the telly. The sad truth is though, through bookings and other obligations we are not always able to accommodate all our potential client’s requests for photography services.

Just before Thanksgiving I had a perspective client call asking if I could photograph his grandparents 60th wedding anniversary (married 1956). The problem being as he had stated to me, the few other photographers he had already talked to said they were unavailable due to the anniversary falling on Thanksgiving and didn’t want to help point him in the right direction. I explained to him I was already out of the area for an extended holiday week away and that I would not be able to help him.  Before hanging up I asked if he would kindly give me his email address I would send him the links to a few other trusted photographers I know and that one of them might be able to help him in his quest to find a photographer.

Some might say this is not the brightest of business moves sending a person to the competition. As I see it, we should be striving to help others even if it doesn’t necessarily help us. When I tell a client “no” it does leave a bit of an unsettled feeling. I would truly love to be able to cater to the client’s needs. When I suggest them to other photographer (competition) we should only sending them to photographers we trust. For me these are photographer who are competent, that we would ask to cover our own wedding, anniversary’s and family photos.

If you think about we are not really losing out on anything but maybe the three to five minutes of time to send the email and collect the links to our other trusted colleagues. Also as photographers we a providing a service that it relatively quick and does help a potential client find someone who can help them with their request. It can also help us in the long run, other photographers who we recommended might in return recommend us when they are busy or the non-client we helped find another photographer for might come back to us because we helped.

So consider not just saying “NO” and hanging up the photo but say “NO” and be willing to maybe take five minutes of your time and help out.

Going Live – Vagabond Photography’s New Website

As some of you our loyal clients and followers are aware a few post back we had stated our intention to build a new website though a new host provider.

The time has come and we are happy to announce we have launched our new website design with our new host provider Squarespace. It took a little while longer than expected but after many nights of research, and some consulting we decided this was the best place to make our new home.

it is a little sad that we had to leave our website home of the past eight plus years but it was necessary. Nothing against the fine people over at Zenfolio, they were always there any time of day to lend assistance. Even at 2 A.M. in the morning when we came home to an email stating something was wrong with a gallery and a lovely bride couldn’t order a second large sized print for a family member. The glitch was fixed within a hour and for that we will always be grateful.

Now on to hopefully better and bigger things. The learning curve was quite easy with Squarespace and the 10 or 14-day trial period before you launch was great. It allowed us to get everything rebuilt how we wanted it and to have it feel like it represents who we truly are and not just being stuck to a certain template for each page or gallery where you were
plugging in information and photos.

We would encourage our clients and readers to check out the new website and play with it a bit. Please tell us if there is something you do not like that really bugs you. This way we can address any issues that may arise when making a major change. can always email us or leave us a comment attached to this blog post.

We hope everybody has a great weekend.

Believing in yourself and finding new opportunities at taekwondo camp

     Over the weekend we had the joy of taking Vagabond Photography on the road and teaming back up with our friend Alyssa Fencil. Our project destination was a taekwondo camp hosted by Five Rings Martial Arts with special guest Rio Olympian and part of Team USA, Stephen Lambdin. It was a great multi day event and being able to be a part of it was enlightening and fun as always.

I always say you need to love your job and if you love your job it will never feel like work. Covering events like this is what I mean by it. To be around so many energetic people who want to be where they are at that point in time is really eye opening and refreshing. I cannot say enough about the owner of Five Rings Martial Arts Steven Decker and Olympian Stephen Lambdin. Watching them work with students from the ages of six all the way to the mid 40’s, one can see they believe everything they talk about and it’s not something they do because they feel they have to. The one on one time and direction is something truly amazing and you can see when what they say is actually getting through to the students. At the end of the day, through Stephen’s talks and workout/training sessions, everyone was able to come away with something to help them become better.

“Believe in yourself and at first if you fail you have to get back in there and try again” is one thing I took away. Another is “It is okay to lose. It lets you know what you need to work on.” That second part is something that is vital I think to most photographers. This is something we should remember when we enter into photographic competitions. It’s not that we are horrible photographers but it shows us there are parts of our craft that we need to work on.

In the end the best memories from this weekend’s events are the laughs, the sounds of feet meeting outstretched pads, and the few bruises or badges of honor (which I was sent a photo of earlier today) that we take away until the next time we gear up to do it again.

Follow your dreams

Following your dreams and committing to your goals. This week we had the opportunity to help our good friend Alyssa along her way to do just that.
Alyssa is an accomplished Taekwondo athlete with hopes and asperations of going on to bigger and larger tournaments with the possibility of qualifying for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. The one thing we cannot help admire about her is a while back she was diagnosed with MS(Multiple Sclerosis) and that hasn’t slowed her down one bit. 
We wish her all the best along the way.
Below is a few of her photos from her session. If you want to know more about her you can follow her journey at her Facebook page Alyssa F.

Turn the screen off & treat it like film Challenge

A little Challenge:Turn the screen off & treat it like film

I went out in the city of Milwaukee last night to scout a few locations for an upcoming session and I noticed a few other photographers out and about doing their thing and having a good time.

The one thing I noticed though is almost everyone out there was looking at the back of their cameras on the LCD screens to see if the photograph was the way they wanted it every time they clicked the shutter button. It got me thinking I started with film and moved too digital and now I do the same thing, kinda interesting how the times have changed. Also it’s a little sad because there was a time we could not see what our images looked like until we developed the film and then went into the dark room and created out prints or had that dreaded Walmart develop our prints for us. I do miss the darkroom some days.

So what if we found a way to turn that little screen off or temporally black tape over it so we cannot instantly see the result to know if we have to shoot it again or not? Think of it as getting it right in the camera without the instant gratification like we used to have back in the film days.

I’m not saying to do this right off the bat on a payed gig but on a test/fun session just to see how things turn out. I’m willing to bet the first time or two we might need to go back and possibly try again or modify it in Photoshop or your current editing software more than you needed to over just looking at it on the screen. I think in the long run it would give us a more intimate understanding of our cameras and accessory gear.

Give it a try so for one or two fun sessions I encourage you and I will try this myself to only look through the viewfinder and not at the LCD screen on the back, wait till you get home to see if you got it right like in the days of film.

I would love to see what you come up with right out of the camera leave a photo in the comment section below.

Tim Gumz