© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

Soul Searching & And The Road Less Traveled

© Paul Conrad / Pablo Conrad Photography

CoCo & Co. Hair Salon’s Antonio Cejedo performs his magic on a client during th3 Seattle SMUG Cancer Survivor’s photoshoot at the Baroness Hotel in Seattle, Wash.

As I said in Sunday’s post about the Seattle SMUG Cancer Survivor Charity Photo shoot, I would be back to explain my absence. Before Sunday, it was about 4 months since I’ve posted anything.

And that was just my annual Year in Photos. An easy blog posting with a simple slide-show.

Since last year I’ve had several major changes in my life.

First, I moved from Tulalip/Marysville, Wash., to Bellingham. The Ham, as locals call it, is 90 miles north of my favorite city Seattle. Bellingham is not so bad. It’s been hard trying to figure out what to do.

© Paul Conrad / Pablo Conrad Photography

My new wife Heidi and I at Mount Baker Ski Area.

The Second, and most important, major change: I married my Sweetpea Heidi. Yep. Married 6 months after we moved up here.

Now that things are beginning to settle down, I feel like I can concentrate on the direction I want to take my photography.

During these times, however, I’ve worked on a new website, updated my logo, and began shooting stuff that normally isn’t shot.

© Paul Conrad / Pablo Conrad Photography

My old and new logos. Yes, I got rid of the cowboy hats and the overused outdated font.

The biggest project of all was having my website redesigned. As a co-leader of the Seattle SMUG, SmugMug allows for free use of the website as well as hooking you up with free customization.

Charles Chung with Creative Soda helped steer my site to how you see it today. Clean and easy to navigate.

© Paul Conrad / Pablo Conrad Photography

My old, top, and new banners for my website. Much cleaner and easier to read.

Before I could do anything to my site, I needed a fresh, modern, updated logo and watermark. My old logo was, well, old. And to put it in the words of a web designer: “Just plain outdated, and get rid of the Papyrus font. It’s overused.”

With the help of my good friend, Kayden Christianson, we went and redesigned my logo to be cleaner and more modern.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

Chuckanut U16 player, left, struggles against a tackle by a visiting Liberty player.

Last year, I changed my business name from Sky Fire Photography to simply Pablo Conrad Photography. It was time to brand myself and not some ambiguous business name. You can read more here at From “Sky Fire” to the Real Me: Time to Brand Myself.

The main reason I did that as people not only know me as Pablo (the nickname I picked up in college), but know me as hardworking, try every angle to get the photo, constantly stretching my creativity, constantly trying new things, always learning, good guy with a big heart. I will keep shooting until I know I have the images necessary to tell the story.

The Boardwalk at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash. Photo © Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

The sun sets across Bellingham Bay as silhouettes the boardwalk at Boulevard Park. I like shooting scenics, but it must have a human element in the photo.

That’s me in a nutshell. Hardworking and dedicated. Ask any of my former editors.

One of the most beautiful things about photography is the great variety in styles and subject matter one can specialize in. I fell in love with the scenery of the Pacific Northwest when I moved here. In Colorado, I was always out and about photographing to my heart’s content the beauty of the Rockies. Here’s some of my images-  Rocky Mountain High: The Beauty of Colorado.

But after 15 years at newspapers shooting news, where do you go? This is where I’ve been the past 6 months or more, and where I got stuck at.

A fisherman at Deception Pass on Whidbey Island in Washington. Photo © Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

A fisherman tries his luck at Deception Pass during a brilliant winter sunset.

I love news. I miss the “deadline adrenaline” one gets when covering breaking news 15 minutes PAST a deadline. That really proves your mettle as a newspaper photographer. Not whether you can get nice photos of kids in the park, or the local sports teams, but what images you can capture using instinct, cunning, and creativity while moving fast on your feet.

You can translate that into shooting weddings. But as my wife told me, “It’s like Mario Andretti driving a bus. Sure he can do it, but does he want to?” Yes. I can shoot weddings. But do I want to?

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography

Rissa Miller and her new husband Nathaniel Corn dance their first dance during the recption.

Do I want to deal with “Bridezilla and Her Seven Bitches?” Not really. However, I do have fun shooting weddings. I’ve shot my family and friends performing their nuptials. And in reality, it is fun.

Like shooting news, weddings are challenging, I have to use my wits and cunning, I must anticipate, I must use all the tools necessary, and I have to meet a deadline. Several actually. Click here for examples: Weddings & Nuptials

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

Using available light for a portrait during the Seattle SMUG Cancer Survivor charity photo shoot.

The first being sending the Bride a few images of the event. The second is posting something on a social network such as Facebook, then a blog, uploading to a gallery, and finally having to sit down with the bride to show her what I have from her special day.

Then there’s the delivery deadline. Making the sure the Bride and Groom receive the goods in a timely fashion.

Keep the buzz going. Post a few during and immediately after the event. Post a few as you edit. Then when the Bride and Groom return from the honeymoon, post a few more. Several deadlines.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

Sunset at Squalicum Beach in Bellingham, Wash.

Then there’s portraiture. When you work at a newspaper, you have a major amount of flexibility of which image you choose for the assignment. However, in the business world, creativity counts for naught if a client does not like the work.

So you have to be flexible in that respect. Sure you can be creative, but you also have to shoot a few that the client wants. Cover your bases. And just like weddings, create a buzz and keep it going for the client. The faster you process and get the whole package done for them, the more business you’ll get. Here are some more samples of my portraiture: Personalities & Profiles

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

Chuckanut rugby player evades a tackle to score a try. Sports photography is one of my strongest assets. But how do I make it work?

And landscapes? I love the outdoors, from the high peaks of the Rockies to the lowlands of Death Valley. Landscapes are fun and challenging. Sure they’re mountains and will be there for another million years or so. The challenge is to photograph them anew each time you go see them

For example. I lived in Aspen, Colo., for over 7 years and only 10 miles away were the Maroon Bells. Yet each time I went, I found something fresh, or a new angle, or went a different time of day and night. Always a challenge to capture the soul of the mountain no matter each time. For more of my Landscapes, visit my gallery page Nature’s Beauty.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

The sun sets across Bellingham Bay during a slack low tide.

But all this aside, it’s the WHAT to shoot. It’s not a matter of IF, it’s a matter of WILL.

News has always been in my soul.

From the time I was 7 when my dad sat me down in front of the TV to watch the moon landing and said “You are watching History in the making,” I’ve liked news. I like watching it and reading it.

And when he returned from Vietnam, he gave me all his photo gear and books. Yet couldn’t understand why I love photography so much.

One thing is for certain, I must photograph people.

It seems writing this has helped me figure a few things out.

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Thank you for stopping by and reading. All comments are appreciated.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Pablo Conrad Photography

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  1. great blog … now listen to yourself and shoot news.. you go on and on and on about news then try to talk yourself out of it !! follow your heart and your skills !!! stop fighting it .


  2. Congratulations on the redesign and the new direction and taking on the challenges. Your hard work and generosity in mentoring others will be rewarded Paul. Those photographers near you are fortunate to have your presence to influence them in a positive way.


    1. Thanks Peter.

      It is rewarding to teach others how they can improve their photography. To give them tips and tricks so they go from taking snapshots, to capturing something wonderful. Or seeing that “AHA!” moment when they figure something out.


  3. Dear Pablo,

    Excellent post. It speaks to my heart because I’ve been in that same soul search but for the past year and a half. I left photography basically because my full time job was even more demanding after a promotion to a management position. I didn’t know I was going to miss photography so much! I don’t have nearly the many years of experience that you have, and in fact, you helped me a couple of times commenting my photos when I was workingnon my professional photography course (I do appreciate your time and critique). So, after reading a book that prompt me to ask me the question: if I were to die today, what things would I wish I had done differently in my life? I answered to myself: I would regret leaving my photography and not having the guts to start my business as I always dreamed. Always playing safe, always in my comfort zone. So, that’s it. I love photography. I thought I love wedding photography a lot, but every time I realize that my heart goes behind portraiture, because I love people, I love faces and facial expressions, I love to direct and see the light pop in their eyes when I give the right direction and they get the perfect pose, the perfect spark in their eyes. I am currently working on my business plan (this I never did before… epic fail!) and I’m telling you, I have the passion, the willingness and the determination to make it work.

    I love your new logo and the way you are reinventing yourself. I give you my full support in your soul search, and if the news is your passion, go for it! You will not regret it… ever!

    Veronica S.


    1. Thank you Veronika.

      It is about following your heart, your passion, your dream.

      And good luck in your adventure. For isn’t that what photography really is all about? Adventures in life?

      Thanks again.


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