Try This. Try That.

by | Apr 22, 2022 | 0 comments


I Photograph adequately. A sobering thought, no? And while more skilled than most, my art leaves much to be desired, not unlike my penmanship to my father’s chagrin. The journey to adequacy has been long, arduous, and not without its breakthroughs and breakdowns. And while I do mean adequate, there is no sense of emotional attachment. There is only the next work of art to be created next in the journey. 

Part of that journey is inspiration. (Overrated to Chuck Close and crew, a necessity to others.) I’m currently re-reading Dostoevsky’s The Gambler and am captured by his lament on adequacy throughout the short story. It’s been over a decade since I’ve read the work, and as I’ve grown since my mid 20’s, old passages read fresh and current with the struggles of this here photographer. Having written and taught at length on the need for obsession in this field, or any other for that matter, is to create something truly worthy. That first inclination as a child to make Art for the rest of time, a burden to bear that Damoclies himself dare not attempt. And yet in that golden guilded palace of our mind, there is a sobering truth that we must continue to gamble on ourselves and on the future.

So what does that mean exactly? 

The need for experimentation…

Try This/Try That

Yes, it’s a Chanel Bottle with KARJAKA photoshopped on to it. No, Chanel has not called begging for KARJAKA… yet. It’s a black box, a floating orb of wonder and nothingness, and it looks…fine.   

It is easy to do what you know. Me, I know eyes, the soul, heart, that grey area in the deep recesses of the mind. There’s a conversation in portraiture. Unfortunately products don’t talk back, let alone Fashion with a capital F. Products, Fashion have mission statements and mantras behind their shiny exteriors. That primary message? Love me, adore me, own me. Advertising 101, yet not far off from humans. Have you been on social media recently?Portraiture, however elicits the response to be seen,… to be seen when hiding in plain sight.

So a marriage must take shape in KARJAKA’s arduous journey to develop. Marry portraiture and product, portraiture and fashion. Don’t get wrapped up in the model, the client, the song of the soul. Tell the narrative embracing it all. So, we, I, get uncomfortable. Try this, try that.

Gambling is about strategy, investment, and when done right, calculated risk.  When on photo set charting new territory you’re never really quite sure what’s going to work. You have a rough idea, you storyboard your plans and then life happens as they say. For me, black on black, on black, on more black, with a black bottle and new faces/personalities equals brilliant, and not in that Oppenheimer sort of way. Alas, you have to start somewhere.

Then, through a slew of frustration and chaos while trying to collect your thoughts, there’s a glimmer of hope. The closeness of two models willing to experiment, a lighting concept that stays true to the classic ways without looking too dated,  a bit of playfulness with the fashion styling, and remembering you’re not a total novice a la prince Myshkin, an image is made. Not bad, not great… adequate. 

It’s not my job to say how the photos came out, good, bad or otherwise. I have feelings and inclincations naturally, but more importantly I tried something, something different, and that is always good. And if you’re reading this and getting the gist of things, you’re up for trying things, too. 

We artists leave the judgement up to our audience. It’s the learning process us gamblers bet on, because that’s all we’re really looking for, a bit more information to heighten our skills as we reach for beyond adequate, maybe even something extraordinary. In today’s world you have to be willing to risk it all, or get cast aside as the youngins come around the corner a knockin’. 

The one question you have to ask yourself is… Are you all in? Or will you play it safe?

Social Media 101 with Manager Amberlyn Wemmer

Things every Social Media Manager’s needs: Endless coffee, topic date calendar, notebook full of ideas, and organization. Meet Amberlyn Wemmer, the creative behind social media and marketing for CxRA, who took her career in writing and knowledge of styling and an eye for detail to create magic in the social media world. From the concept, to the deck, to the styling, to the collaboration with the chefs, Amberlyn looks at each picture as a story with intentional detail with a chance to create and make unique content.

Social media platforms are always changing, so marketing and management tactics must change along with them. She says you always learning new things and meeting new challenges. You’ll certainly never be bored! How many jobs allow you to combine critical thinking, strategic analysis, innovation, and good food? Creating an extremely influential social media presence is the key to creating persuasive and appealing content that will connect your audience instantly. A well thought out plan is not enough if it is not implemented the same way. That is why you need to create visually attractive content so that even before the customer reads what’s written, they should be impressed by what they see. Think of it like a subtle TV commercial that grabs your attention. It could be a graphically designed social media post, a video, or even a professionally photographed image of your food. In a world dominated by technology, social media is a powerful tool and catalyst of trends and news. Social media marketing and advertising can help you increase your return on investment, as the cost of advertising on these social media forums is often less than the return.

Just because you are a social media participant does not always mean you are a natural marketer. Here are my best recommendations for leveraging social media for business. Be consistent and active on all your platforms; this also means staying on trend so do your research. Focus on your audience, make sure the content is authentic and transparent and true to the brand. Get creative with your visuals and make sure your content really stands out. Most important- have fun! You get to create the voice of the brand, inspire action, and build trust! Find out what’s important, what’s trending, and what’s next to create something unique.

Limb Difference, Love & Grit

Jamie Taylor

“April showers bring May Flowers”. That is what we are reminded of when we think of the month of April. However, more importantly (yet less discussed), April is the awareness month for Autism and Limb Differences. Some people are born with limb differences while others live with the loss of a limb later in life. The awareness and knowledge that has been brought to light surrounding people that aren’t typical has changed the society in which we live and will only continue to improve the lives that we’re shaping for our children and others.

Having a child is one of the most beautiful, joyous, yet terrifying experiences in anyone’s life and to find out that your child will have a limb difference only adds to the overwhelming feeling of uncertainty. Your mind floods with concern, grief and anger and you worry about the impact that it will have on your unborn child. The biggest question that plays on repeat in your head is, “How will the world treat my baby?” You worry about the looks and the reactions that people will give you, the questions people will ask and the responses that you will have to give.

I will never forget the first moment my son was laid on my chest. He was absolutely perfect. The most beautiful representation of strength I had ever seen. A baby who was fortunately brought into the world at a time when inclusivity was at the forefront of everyday life; sharing knowledge and information is helping to break stigmas surrounding people who aren’t typical. There would always be challenges, but I knew in that moment, I would do everything possible to make anything possible for him.

I got the confirmation that my son had Amniotic Band Syndrome, which is a rare condition caused by strands of the amniotic sac that separate and entangle digits, limbs, or other parts of the fetus, causing them to not fully develop. After receiving that news the first question out of my doctor’s mouth was, “Have you done recreational drugs since you’ve been pregnant?”. As I choked back tears I quietly said “no”. All the while in my head I was screaming “If you only knew how hard it was for me to get pregnant and how much I’ve wanted to me a mom, you wouldn’t be asking this!”

I tried to move past the initial feeling of shame, however I only went into a darker head space asking; “What did I do to make my son deserve this? How could I have prevented this? How can I fix it? What is wrong with me?”

The simple answer to every question was “nothing”. But, I couldn’t accept that. I needed answers; answers that I never got until my son started growing and showing me how truly ignorant I was. I was so consumed by my thoughts and wondering what other people would say or think I never stopped to think about who he was as a person. I didn’t give myself time to get to know him before I pitied him and that is my greatest regret; a regret I will live with forever.

I now know that he is curious and so funny. He is smart and happy. He is unafraid and unhindered. He is full of wonder and creativity and he will always eat avocado over banana and he will choose Taylor Swift over anything else. He is the perfect combination of love and grit and I couldn’t be prouder to call him mine.

I will never stop advocating for my son and for anyone who may not be typical. Anyone can be an ally by educating themselves and their families on ways to be curious and engage in conversations that normalize differences. In the United States 1 out of 1,900 babies are born with a limb difference each year, and 1 in 190 are living with the loss of a limb due to amputation. There are resources that are widely available to educate and inspire and authors who celebrate all kids by writing inclusive books. Please utilize and engage with these resources and consider purchasing books to share with your family, friends or your local school to keep the conversation going and continue bringing awareness!

Dr. Strange & 15 Minute Workouts

Craig Thomas

Unlike my brother-in-law, I didn’t read comic books as a kid.  Since Ironman came out in 2008, I’ve become quite a fan of the whole universe.  My whole family is.  

I’m partial toward Thor because he’s a badass and wields god-like strength.  In addition, he can fly across space (this one I can’t explain and scientifically it makes no sense, but I just somehow think it fits) and throws frickin’ lightning.  If that doesn’t get girls, I don’t know what does.

Anyhow, as much as I dig Thor, Doctor Strange is the one I’m most envious of.  Yeah he’s just a human doctor—although supposedly one of the world’s best who drove collector edition sports cars—and he’s normal looking dude.  But he’s essentially the world’s time keeper. 

I can’t—and won’t—spend words conveying the significance of the idea of manipulating time.  It would take too long.  But time here on Earth is a law that we have to abide by. 

If only we could pause the clock for just an hour a day and get a chance to fit a 25-hour day a few times a week.  That’s all, right?

I get it.  One of the biggest challenges in our world today is the difficulty in fitting everything into our 24-hour day.  Our schedules are unforgiving:

—Work a full day

—Take care of kids

—Doing daily chores and tasks around the house

—Making time for our significant others

—Getting a full night’s sleep

And, of course, working out and getting programmed exercise in.

I realize that for many people, working out is not at the top of the laundry list of things to do.  It tends to lose its way onto our schedules when we see all the other things we need to do.  

Even worse, it has a tendency to snowball into consecutive days and even weeks of dormancy when we fall behind.  It becomes a mind game and gets even worse when we don’t know how to get back on the horse.

I think the most important thing to consider is getting some sort of exercise in at least 5 out of the 7 days of the week.  Even a half-workout is better to do than none at all.  You don’t need 60 minutes to workout.  Sometimes an intense 15 minutes is all you’ve got time for.  That’s cool.

There are a few days a week the max time in my windows for working out are two 15/20 minute segments.  That’s it.  So that’s what I do.  And I’m telling you it’s ok for you to follow that idea too. 

I break up my workout and do half in one 15/20 time period and the second half in the other 15/20 time minute period some of the days of the week. 

Other days I only have one 15-20 time window.  So I get in whatever I can get in that’s allowable.

One of the key factors to making this work is being ok with the idea that you can’t have a perfect workout every day.  If you stay on course with your nutrition, sleep and stress levels, you’ll be ok if a couple days a week only allows for a 15-20 minute workout.  

Getting a bodyweight workout in on the floor at home can be very challenging and fulfilling.  It can even be cardiovascularly intensive.

Stick mobility and Kinstretch are excellent joint strengtheners and energizers for the rest of your day and are a nice alternative to the garden variety workouts on social media.  

Even going for an intense high intensity interval run for 16-18 minutes or skipping rope next to your desk can be exactly what the body needs for the day when time is of the essence.

The crucial element of successful small incremental workouts is knowing the day before how limited your time is.  If you know a full 60 minute workout isn’t in the cards, schedule a small break in the lunch hour of your day that permits an intense, uninterrupted 20 minute workout described above.  Just make sure to adhere to the plan.

It does’t have to be perfect.  Only intense and focused.  All this without the talents of Doctor Strange.  I dig him.  He’s got the greatest gift there is in the universe.  But he’s not walking through your door.  And neither is his Time Stone (for you Marvel geeks out there—you know what that is).

But once you’ve mastered the mini-sessions, you’ll see staying on course throughout the week becomes easier.  It’ll help you stay on target with your nutrition and other health habits to keep you consistent.  

And you won’t need the good Doctor to manipulate a thing.

Act Now or Pay Later

Cybersecurity has never been more Critical for Small Businesses on the World Stage.

Howard Globus

On the 21st of March 2022, the White House released a statement and factsheet entitled “Act Now to Protect Against Potential Cyber Attacks”.  The significance of the statement, the factsheet, specific actions to take and speaking about the threat by the President of the United States needs to be put into historical perspective.

Cyber Crime and Cyber Security have been topics of conversation in discussions and press conferences before.  There has never been a time when a President of the United States took to a podium to specifically speak about this one issue.

Of course, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resulting political climate in Europe and domestically within the US are the backdrop and the reason for the actions taken by Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the White House.

Earlier in February, CISA, a federal agency tasked with monitoring and alerting on cyber threats to critical infrastructure within the US issued a warning entitled “Shields Up”.  CISA is a relatively recently formed agency, coming online November 16, 2018.  The “Shields Up” warning was the first of its kind issued by the agency, but given the time the agency has been in existence, this might not have been seen as unusual. 

The reason that the warning struck a chord with many in the IT and Infrastructure Security world was that the concern about cyberattacks was as a direct result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  When Russia moved on the Crimea region in 2014 Russia took action against online infrastructure in Ukraine.  Areas like water flow, power and gas were all crippled by the cyberattacks that Russia launched as part of its military action in Crimea.  

In 2022 Russia announced that countries or organizations like NATO that assisted Ukraine or were providing material support to Ukraine would be considered enemies of Russia and would face retribution for their interference.  

Between past performance and current threats, there was a real concern at the start of the war that Russia was going to hit many countries that were helping Ukraine.  

This sets the stage for the general concern when the original “Shields Up” warning was issued.

However, significant attack from Russia never came in the cyberspace.

Professionals and pundits have been speculating that Russia may be a paper tiger rather than a true near-peer when it comes to military might.  But why hasn’t Russia attacked in cyberspace?  

Over the last couple of weeks there have been reports of threats that have been stopped and attacks that have been defeated by Ukraine in the cyberspace.  In part this is a result of Ukraine having built up it’s defenses over the last 8 years.  In part the IT community of hackers and intelligence personnel have been actively working to counter attacks in the cyberspace to show solidarity and support for Ukraine during the Russian attacks.

The White House, however, took the unusual step of making an announcement with steps that businesses should take to keep themselves safe.  What changed?

Russia’s lack of quick success during its invasion, their huge personnel and material losses against what has been billed as a ragtag force, and the subsequent retreats to harden lines far removed from the originally stated goal of taking the capital Kiev have all been humiliating.  This humiliation is to Russia in general and President Putin in particular.

To save face and exert some wins in the varied battle spaces, security professionals believe that Russia will begin with a big push on cyberattacks.

On Wednesday, April 13th CISA released critical warning notices to Industrial Control Systems (systems that control things like water, chemical, natural gas and power systems nationally and locally) that there are nation state actors that have developed tools and have specifically targeted these systems.  CISA recommended immediate actions to take to secure critical systems in the US.

There are further concerns that even when we have cyber insurance policies, we may not be paid out.  Why?  At the beginning of December 2021, Lloyds of London notified insurance companies that they underwrite for that they may not pay for cyber claims when Nation-State actors are shown to be the source of ransomware and cyberattacks.  Lloyds underwriters 20% of the cyber insurance policies globally.  That means 1 in 5 polices that are held may not pay out if an attack is shown to be initiated by a Nation-State.

Given the criticality of the systems we are talking about and the potential affect on how and if business and regular daily life continues with minimal interruptions, it is in the best interest of the United States government to suggest, strongly, that businesses take a proactive approach to securing their businesses.  Insist too strongly and panic may ensue.  Do nothing and vital systems may be compromised.

So, what can we do to protect ourselves as small business

– Use multi-factor authentication on any and all online systems that are used for personal or business functions.  This will make it more difficult for an unauthorized user to gain access to your accounts and services.

– Put in place risk mitigation tools such as antivirus and extended threat detection systems.  An AV program that is updates regularly to meet the continuously changing and evolving threats is critical and checking on it regularly is a must.

– Work with your staff and family members to train on how to spot suspicious emails and links and be careful where you choose to enter your login data.

– Work with your cybersecurity professionals to patch all your systems (computers, laptops, tablets, phones) with the latest tested updates to mitigate problems.

– Backup your data and ensure it is separated from live data to lessen the likelihood of losing it to encryption.

– Have disaster recovery plans in place for your personal and business life.  If key data is compromised or lost, have a plan on how to restore it or work around to retrieve it from other locations/sources.

– Use complex password and a trusted password management tool to ensure that all your passwords are stored safely, are complex, and unique.

Security Evangelist Howard Globus has more than twenty years of experience designing, installing and supporting Windows server and workstation products in industries where security and reliability are critical. System engineering and administration experience includes customized Windows Server and Workstation installs, designed to be deployed using the latest automated technology available and managed using products found onsite at most Fortune 500 firms to ensure a wide variety of potential personnel to support the products in the future.

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