Hustle of the Modern-Day Cowboy

by | Aug 3, 2021 | 0 comments


Let’s Make Art and Smell the Color 9

Forget forcing the issue, let’s go absurd for a moment. Dare to try with us as we use other senses to explore life outside of preordained ways of being. Rather than getting wrapped up on what has to happen, or being consumed by how something should look in an image or experience, let’s let go of control, just for a moment if you will and explore the unknown.

Whether it’s making art in the studio, or a pathway to some other worldly goal of achievement, there is no one right way to go about things. In this issue, we dive into multiple pathways to model-dom, healthy living, accessory styling satisfaction, saving yourself from password heartache, and a tip on a better photo. Giddy Up!

The 21st Century Model Makes Waves with Nick Sharp

Sailing has and always will be one of the sources of aligning with some of the most interesting folks, and for the purpose of this article, “opportunities,” I have ever been presented. It also happens to be how I landed in the world of professional modeling. And no, it was not from that crisp sun-kissed head shot over the water. Pulling lines one day to raise the sail I was asked if my suit size was a 40R, my pants 32×32 and if I was 6 ‘1. Casually leaning back, no stranger to answering seemingly bizarre questions at any time, I commented that indeed it was, and had been those measurements since college. Turns out, I have the industry standard for a men’s medium. Soon afterward I was being paid to fit model, a segment of modeling where I would have clothing formed and resized on me by designers before they were manufactured. Who knew such a job existed! That interaction jumpstarted what would be a summer packed with daily auditions, rejections, and a whole heck of a lot more sailing in New York City. It was the beginning of my modeling journey, and I was and still am, always ready for adventure.

Keeping things short and sweet, I’ll divulge that I have a background in door-to-door sales. I’m not a stranger to rejection. As a kid in Boy Scouts, I sold mulch throughout my neighborhood, and then to surrounding ones, clawing door knockers to become one of the top sellers in the troop. Summer camp was the destination, and I never missed a year. Fast forward 10 years or so, I was peddling copiers in Downtown DC, trading my scout uniform for a Jos Banks suit, and having to submit 35 business cards daily to prove I was actually cold calling businesses. Potbelly’s “free lunch” fishbowls of cards became a lifeline, security in most buildings knew me by my first name, and I could tell you how many copies per minute any machine could print from across the room. I had roughly 5,000 knocks under my belt, perfected the copier dance (the demonstration of how-to-use these prehistoric machines to new users), and made some decent cash. Several years, and careers later, all that hustle would in no way prepare me for my first modeling auditions in the city.

Imagine multiple first dates, except at the end of the date there is no cab ride home, no awkward walk to the door, or even more devastatingly, no promise of any communication whatsoever after the interaction. All of those postdate phenomena would have been a blessing in the modeling world. That is how it went. A lot of knocking on doors, and a lot of lock bolts staying shut or in this case, no callbacks. My agent, (yes, I picked up one of those on the way,) asked if I’d be curious to try commercial modeling on top of fit, for practice, to which I gleefully replied, “Why not?”, having no experience acting but always willing to hop to grab the bull by the horns, hop on it’s back, and even sometimes ride it into town. After several dozen of these auditions, I finally caught a break for a Halloween brand, and was paid to wear a variety of costumes, including a Shrek-ish mask, the published product I never have I seen to this day, or even mentioned to anyone prior to this article. (I have cash if anyone ever finds it…)

Anyhow, it is fact, all doors in the world are closed, doorbells scarcely work anymore and nobody likes solicitors, so if you want to get inside a closed door, you most certainly need to create a unique knock. For that, I tapped into my observation of the human experience.  I felt like I had been knocking my whole life, for one outcome or another, and it was the modeling world that really shone light on the value of diversity in that training. I have been a cactus landscaper, software spend management salesman, youth camp instructor, festival event producer, stable hand, handyman, clothing designer, financial intern on Wall Street, marriage proposal planner, and flipped pizzas in a shop, (rather unsuccessfully I might add,) to name a few. I felt an immense contradiction most of my life that I was compelled to pick a traditional path of employment, HOWEVER had zero interest in doing so. It all sounded really boring. Some mornings, I would wake up and do a task I have never done before. Thank God for YouTube tutorials, coffee, and when those two failed, my safe proof plan of sailing. The latter because I could hop on a boat nearly anywhere and work, find new work, or get worked out.

How does this relate to modeling? I believe these uncanny and often ludacris situations have shifted my ability to improv on my feet but more importantly my perception on process execution: Never stop hustling. I haven’t (yet) taken classes to act, I show up with a pair of gloves and a good attitude and learn firsthand. The gloves I learned would not normally be necessary but that brings me to my motto, always be prepared, if you aren’t prepared, be prepared to be unprepared. That’s the essence of the industry. Practice is pertinent and change is constant. I was, and still am, willing to perform nearly any job that arises. It’s a beautiful thing to challenge yourself but looking outside the internal scope the knowledge only deepened with the people that meet. Be a student of the game! When you hustle for a living you meet and befriend some of the most remarkable characters imaginable. All walks of life, backgrounds, beliefs, skills, and ticks. These individuals all leave an impression, a voice, that can be utilized in an audition. (Unless it’s a fit audition and your thighs are as thick as mine.)

Everyone is a student, and everyone is a teacher. Let me clarify that I by no means feel that I’m a source of sound advice in the field. I don’t think I have ever told anyone when asked about my job, that I’m a model. I simply know that getting my hands dirty has led me to excitement. Excitement that in turn has brought me sailing most of the Carribean, standing in front of a group of women my mother’s age in nothing but underwear (that wasn’t for modeling by the way), hopping planes in the PNW, trains in Mexico and learning more about myself in the process than anyone needs to know. Rejection is reality. Money is a necessity. Having to grind everyday to make a buck is nothing less than stressful. The last several shoots I juggled site selection, styling, hair / makeup, prop selection, art department, and pitching the brands that would ultimately pay for their products to be featured. Talk about full service! Someone had to do it, and if you can, be a la carte, baby.

It never occurred to me to do life halfway. Why show up to the ocean and not swim? Who cares if the water is cold. Most casting directors are that ice cold ocean and if one did give me a smile or a quick conversation, I carried that joy with me into the next week. “No” in modeling, and in sales, or any work for that matter isn’t a “No, never.” It’s a “No, right now.” Let it go. Be different, take a lap, and come back swinging some secret sauce that even the chef has never tasted before. The key is to not stop, and to always leave a positive impression. You want that aisle seat on the airline without paying for the ticket? Smile. When so many interactions aren’t positive, be that sunshine, and that bouquet of flowers, make sure they are lilies so the aroma lasts even long after you are gone. I never believed luck existed, it was much more believable that the more situations we put ourselves into certainly would deliver the possibility of better fortune. It’s a numbers game. Every step is a step closer to the outcome desired. And if you don’t ever get there, hop on a sailboat, I guarantee as a last resort, the wind will carry you away.  -NS

Pressure and Training with Craig Thomas

Probably the biggest roadblock my clients stipulate is that they don’t have time to work out and the pressure of work and life get in the way. They have work deadlines. They have kids’ events. They have family outings that have been planned. They’re just so exhausted and can’t motivate themselves. And those are just the greatest hits…

I can relate. I understand. I have 3 little girls. I have a very crowded space at home. My wife and I work and pass each other some days like ships in the night coming back and forth from the city. Due to the pandemic we have had no outside help or assistance with our children. We also have solo projects we are working on that often get kicked to the curb, because of the aforementioned other things going on. Oh—and we are trying to buy a house and we are in the middle of some very engaging negotiations regarding more than a few items about the house. Life comes at you hard.

All of that being said, I cannot stress (see what I did there?) the importance of getting some physical practice in to help balance my other non-tangible pressures. I am not advocating shirking responsibilities in lieu of two-hour workouts. I am, however, suggesting that even 25 minute workouts can not only give you a much needed break from your work and daily grind, but it can enhance your work productivity, improve your mood, strengthen your body’s physical attributes and hormonal balance, restore your circadian rhythm and a host of other benefits that would be too long for me to list.   

Workouts can fall under the umbrella of strength and resistance in the gym, endurance and cardiovascular (indoor cardio machines or outside hikes, swimming, etc), stretching and isometric work (this can range anywhere from yoga to Pilates to Kinstretch) to even playing competitive activities (tennis, basketball, rock climbing indoors or outdoors, etc). Much of the benefit of the workout will come from the intention and intensity that a person evinces—the actual time of the workout may not matter.

A barometer of the level of fitness activity can be gained by using a device that can monitor heart rate during exercise. Wearables like watches, rings, chest straps and wrist bands—among others—can either be read directly or linked to a smartphone to let the person know how intense the exercise is and for how long of a duration the exercise was for. Heart rate level is the one standard by which one can determine intensity and effort for a given period of physical activity.

Even if someone doesn’t have a set block of time to allocate toward working out, studies have shown that even small mini-workouts throughout the day can have a great overall impact. As Bubble Guppy and Paw Patrol episodes pipe through our television and surround system, I get on the floor with my little ones and do some Kinstretch positions as they climb on top of me. When the kids take naps I will quietly get into Functional Range PAILs and RAILs with the help of walls, chairs and the floor. And when my wife is home and the girls are eating, I’ll even opt to do a home workout with resistance bands, mini bands and bodyweight so that I don’t have to worry about wasting travel time to get to a gym.   

Two of my newer and steadfast methods of keeping focus has stemmed from the book Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It by Kamal Ravikant. It has several anecdotes about how his exercises have served him well and I’ve adopted a few for myself. The mantra of “I love myself” each while meditating and while getting ready in the morning has not only calmed and channeled my energy, but it has also enhanced my level of patience for work and home.  It has helped me realize that even the briefest workouts are better than none and some days I just can’t do everything.

The second application—the practice of forgiving myself — has subsequently allowed me to allow myself to take time off if I’m exhausted or really sore. It’s allowed me to make some substitutions—and avoid frustration when the racks at the gym are being occupied—for exercises that I deem as can’t-misses (squats, overhead presses, deadlifts, etc). The forgiveness is the most valuable when I fall off the wagon from my diet and have moments “of weakness” and dive into sugar on some nights and feel tired the next day.

Training is never perfect.  Training is an everyday practice that takes perseverance and dedication. The blueprint is different for everyone and each of us have different reasons and drives that get us up and moving. I think training different modalities — strength, mobility, endurance, speed, power — is the best approach and allows for constant challenge and keeps us from getting too complacent. The key is starting and finding what you like. Then find something —or someone— that will keep you accountable and on the a healthy physical pathway.

Kevin Baldwin

Accessorize Your Personality by Tavia Sharp, CEO of Styled Sharp

Tavia Sharp

When it comes to style, accessories are often underestimated in their significance but they can truly make or break your look. Without them, the look is somehow incomplete. If you think about it, it’s all in the finishing touches. I mean, what would a Louboutin heel be without the red bottom? Or a french cuff without cufflinks? Often the most subtlest of details speak volumes. Not only that, studies have proven that people who wear jewelry and accessories are perceived as more successful. It’s about the perception and the message behind it.

A signature piece like a watch makes a statement and communicates that time is of importance to you and that you care about the details. Although we have smartphones to tell us the time, they don’t have the same symbolism. A statement watch is a way to show your personality and style and depending on the timepiece, it can also convey a higher status. Often for men, accessories are limited, and watches give men the ability to express themselves.

When I’m styling a client, I often ask questions related to their personality. Afterall, style is personal and one way to communicate your style more uniquely is to accessorize it. From jewelry to handbags, to a fun tie or a pocket square or some cool socks in a fun pattern or a bold color. These are all great conversation starters.

One of my favorite go-to accessories are shoes. They are usually the first thing people notice. So think of them as the starting point for your style. I often say that living in New York City, shoes are like our car. We are often walking for miles, so it pays to invest in quality. Real leather inside and out. It will stretch and conform to your foot over time, and it lasts longer so you’ll get more mileage out of it plus real leather looks more expensive. 

Accessories bring your whole look together. Period. If your goal is to stand out and avoid blending in, then having cookie cutter style just won’t cut it so accessories are key. When it comes to your style, pay attention to the details. If not, others will be!

Are you ready to craft your attention grabbing look? Set up a Complimentary Image Accelerator Call with me to learn how I can help you create your secret weapon style so you can magnetically attract more of what you desire both personally and professionally!

Sticky Notes: That Impenetrable Fortress for your Password might not be that secure… with Howard Globus of IT On Demand

IT on Demand

In the modern world, passwords are required for everything. For added security everything should have a unique password, as we’ve been advised by professionals and pundits. We need a way to create unique, complex passwords and manage them. As a home user this is important but as a business owner password management is deemed a critical risk point.

Taking a step back, you may ask “Why do we care about passwords and password management?” Studies done every year have shown that password security is perhaps the biggest threat to an organization or family’s online and financial security. That may sound like an extreme statement. However, if you consider that stolen and weak passwords are responsible for over 80% of the security breaches, you can see that this is an area where we really need to figure out how to alleviate this vulnerability.

Where Does This Information Come From?

To give a bit of background and history, in 2015, the Federal Government’s Office of Personnel Management was breached and the personnel data of over 22 million current and former employees was released. This information was not limited to names or addresses, but also social security numbers, drivers licenses, and in some cases, password information. The background check details of 19.7 million individuals was breached, along with data related to 1.8 million non-applicant spouses or cohabitants, and 5.6 million fingerprint records.

Imagine a database as group of spreadsheets with each tab of the spreadsheet a group of indemnifying information (like “first name”, “last name”, “address”) in columns across the top and rows down the side with individual’s information filling out the specific information. 

A database’s information is often stored in several different layers. To extend the analogy think of the different layers or tables as another tab on a spreadsheet. One tab might contain only a table with an identification number—something known as a “key record” – and a name. Other tabs of the databased may only be identified with this number or key record.  Without that topmost layer, it would be difficult to know what social security number is connected with which person in the database. We call this a “relational database.” The key record is literally the key that unlocks the treasure of the database’s information.

What made the Office of Personnel Management’s breach so significant is that these “key records” were obtained. For employees of the federal government, background checks are extensive, so this database contained massive records of each employee’s life, replete with information they were required to submit in order to be issued security clearances. Beyond names, addresses, telephone numbers and personal social security numbers, it also included things like spouses’ names, children’s names, and parents’ names, dates and places of birth… as well as every address at which the employee has ever lived.

Consider if you’ve ever had to reset a password or had a clue listed on a website where you have forgotten your login details. Most websites and financial institutions offer ways for you to access your account through “security questions”. When armed with bits of critical personal information hackers can leverage the stolen data to reset account passwords for every email address ever used. This in turn can allow them to confirm password changes on other sites like American Express, Wells Fargo, the Small Business Administration, amongst other sites.

To round out this line of attack, when a database holding sensitive information like usernames, passwords, current address, mother’s maiden name, and date of birth is paired with a list of all your previous addresses and spousal information, the hacker is no longer stymied by a security question like “What street did you live on in the 3rd grade?”

How to Protect Yourself

What does a password management system do to protect you from this? People tend to use very simple passwords. The most used password in 2019 and 2020 was “password.”  Further, people often use the same password for their banking app, mortgage app, and even their children’s remote-learning platform. Why?  Simply put, if there is a complex password in use, using it in multiple places makes it easier to remember.  A password management system allows you to remember the “one password to rule them all” while still maintaining highly secure passwords that are unique to each site.

If we start with the belief that every website and application should have its own unique and complex password, the question that naturally follows is “How the hell do I remember them all?”

Short of writing passwords on a sticky note and putting them under your keyboard—which is done more often than you may imagine—there is another way. Using more complex passwords of 10, 15, even 20 characters with a mix of uppercase, lowercase, and alpha-numerics becomes much easier when stored in a password management system. You then only need to remember one master password to gain access to all the others.

With the number of websites and tools online and on our computers we may use tens and even hundreds of unique passwords once a month, once a quarter, once a year, or once every five years. For example, I created a password to sign up for my daughter’s student loan, then four years later when I had to sign up for my son’s student loan, I had no idea what that earlier password was. I had only used it once.

When using a password management tool, that system doesn’t care how complex each password is.  Whether it’s five characters or 50, we only have to worry about remembering the master password and setting the rules of complexity for any passwords stored in the system. You can even use a pass-phrase which may be a common line of dialogue bantered about between you and your spouse, as long as it meets the rules you’ve established.

Even if your vital key record information is compromised, this additional step makes it less likely that your various accounts can be hacked.

Sometimes It’s Okay to Lie

You can also protect yourself by adapting your responses when setting up security questions/answers. For example, rather than using your mother’s real maiden name, you could use your mother-in-law’s maiden name. For me though, I go even further and use a completely fictitious name. But I don’t have to remember what it is, because I have it stored in my password management system.

Likewise, you don’t have to use the real city of your birth, or the city where your parents met, or the year you actually graduated high school. Instead, use the password management tool to save not only your various complex and secure passwords, but also the specific answers used for security questions.

Again, even if your key records get compromised in a massive data leak at a state or national level, if your answers to security questions were fictitious, it is an added level of obfuscation and makes it more difficult to have your passwords reset without your knowledge or consent.

What Else Can a Password Management System Do?

Another feature of a password management tool is the ability to change a large number of passwords quickly. If someone leaves or is fired from your company, you can change all the passwords that person had access to within your business.  From an audit standpoint, you can access forensic information to learn who logged in using what password and when. Even if you use a shared password amongst a dozen people in your company, you can track usage at the individual level. You can also scan the dark web to see if those passwords are in use, and to what extent.

Use It or Lose It

Password Boss is a password management tool that stores encrypted credentials on a cloud-based service where you retain the key to unlock the system. It has plugins that can be used on multiple operating system platforms and all major web browsers that doesn’t compromise its security for ease of use.

One of the key features that sold me on the product was the ability to create an offline master password that can be used to unencrypt the data. Why is this so important? Password Boss, as a company, will not retain a master key to your encrypted data, which is what makes it secure and a preferred solution. Only you have access to your stuff.

I feel so strongly about this product I’ve struck a special arrangement with Password Boss to offer readers free month’s trial. Go to to claim your gift now.

Please, please, please…

Whatever you do, do not write your master password down on a sticky note and put it on your monitor!


I miss Polaroids. With having a phone on me at all times, my Polaroid collection spends more time on my display shelves than it does on my person. I’ll spare you from my lament on digital everything, however there was something special about being a product of the 80s and having polaroid snapshots from events around the house. That being said, we thought we’d start incorporating a tip or two under Polaroid Portraits in each issue, as we’ve been getting more out reach on Instagram and Facebook for technique and purchasing tips and the like.

I’m an “in person” teacher, physical or online. Everyone and anyone who can hold a camera has a YouTube photo how-to page on this and that. Based on my time on location, in the studio, at Parsons, privately, guest lecturing or otherwise, I keep coming back to bits of photo gold that have worked for me, and that may or may not work for you. Polaroids.

That being said, there are thousands of photographers that can get into the nitty gritty technical far better than I could, or would want to for that matter. However, if you’re looking for a unique perspective to all things KARJAKA imaging, giddy up!

A quickie to start this edition… Are you making an image, or making content?

There is a difference. I’ve gotten this a few times this past week, so it bears repeating… when I go out and snap on the street, or am working with a client in the studio, I’m working on the craft, diving in a little deeper. There’s nothing ordinary about anyone or thing we capture, so I (we) don’t treat it as routine. Personally I don’t spend a ton of time looking at older photos, unless I’m doing a portfolio update, because I know that if I’m taking photos, the next ones ahead empirically are going to better, just like yours will be.

More to the point, I am not focused on this buzz word of content. Content with no quality is still garbage. Maybe you focus on hard light and shadow, or shallow depth of field, or graffiti, or the subtlety of an eyebrow,… who cares what it is, as long as it’s something other than gotta make images for instagram. Boring.

Expand yourself. Get the shot. Take risks and forget the content, unless you what to be a content creator, whatever that means.

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