Still Standing | Charlie Marcol | A Personal Project

Everyone has a story and Charlie Marcol is no exception. Charlie was one of the participants at our Still Standing Project, an annual giving back project that looks for opportunities to give back of our time and talent specifically to women who are, or have gone through some of life's challenges but come through and are 'still standing'. We seek to form a strong bond with those women and propel each other forward. We learn from and lean on each other. 

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Antique shopping? Not my thing. Why? Because I can't slow down long enough to see through all the stuff in an antique shop. That was until I went on a photo walk with Texas native and fellow photographer Nicki Evans Simpson who allowed me to tag along on one of her walks.

With no strict agenda, we met at Boomtown a small coffee shop in the Heights section of Houston, turns out they actually roast some pretty mean beans, great coffee, check them out if you're ever in the area.   Coffee over we took to the street where there was no shortage of shops so we had our pick. When Nicki stopped in front of A. G. Antiques my first instinct was nah! nothing to see here, move along. As in nothing to photograph here but in we went.  A.G. turned out to be an antique mall each stall is owned by a different vendor. Translation? there were lots and lots of different items from around the world. We got permission to photograph from the first couple we met, and with my preconceived notion of nothing to see here are my first two images.


The more I roamed around, the clearer it became that I was in for a treat, you didn't have to tell me there's a reason they call some items a rare find. I decided to slow down, open my eyes and think.

And then these happened ...

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On or off, that is the trending question.

There is no shortage of opinion on how to respond to Instagram’s decision to display posts based on their new algorithm. A simple Google search will confirm that. This is further compounded for wedding photographers and every visual artist.

- Turn ‘off’ which is the same as leave it as it currently is, meaning the default position and allow the new algorithm to take effect. Similar to Facebook, it determines the post it serves up based on what it thinks you like or will like. - Or, the new rave, turn ‘on’ so that you will be notified each time the profile you follow uploads a post.

Here is the major opportunity or challenge depending on your position.

- ON and you’ll never miss a post. In fact, you receive a ding (notification) each time that profile uploads a post. - Since you receive a notification per upload, question is, how many notifications do you wish to receive in a day? An hour? During peak post time? Because notification is based on post upload, for each profile are you following and have enabled. So, how many times do you wish to be notified again?

Let’s make this relevant, say just one of the profiles you follow uploads 5 posts, that equals 5 notifications right? Not bad. Now let’s multiply that by say 10 or 20 or maybe 50 of the profiles you have enabled … you see where I’m going with this? Don't worry, I’ll help with the math, that’s 50, 100 or 250 notifications respectively. And that’s only 50 of the how many profiles do you follow again? I don’t know about you but I often find myself constantly turning notification OFF in several Facebook posts simply because it interrupts my day. Why? I get caught up in ‘being social’ if I take a peep when it is not my dedicated ‘social’ time. By the time I look up I find I’ve been on Facebook longer than intended.

I did say in my Monday post to turn notification on for not only me but also for the profiles you know and love. To be clear, I will turn notification on for a handful of profiles I love because I wish to be notified when they upload a post. Those accounts have a message or are on a journey I wish to follow. For profiles I follow and love, and may have missed their post, I purposefully go out of my way to search their profiles for new posts if it is not presented in my current feed for whatever reason on both Facebook and Instagram. They may have posted at a time that’s different from my social interaction time, but because they are important to me I go searching and show some love.

My goal is not to tell you what to do – ON or OFF, rather it is to cause you to PAUSE before you turn notification on, and then MAKE THE BEST DECISION FOR YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS because it ‘fits’ your business style.

On or off? What is your position? Please comment below. And share this post if you find this blog post useful.

Social Media and Sanity Saving Apps For A Small Business

This week I continue with sharing three more go to tools and gadgets on my solopreneur adventure and achieving the work-life balance. The three tools are grouped into two categories - social media management and all round ‘sanity saving’ must have gadget.ronnie bliss photography


  1. Writing and publishing a blog has so many moving parts it is easy to want to throw in the towel but it doesn’t have to be. Preparing the images used in each blog post for social media used to send me back into Photoshop until Amy and Jordan Ramos did a review on Blog Stomp and I was hooked. As the app touts, “Blog like a boss, then relax – you’ve earned it.” Seriously, their website says so but of all the bells and whistles of this app, the following three features are my go to: a. Automatic image sizing, multiple layout with preview option before you ‘Stomp It!’. Be forewarned, the preview option can become your new friend. b. Writing my blog and having direct access to just the perfect image that is correctly sized for all hand held devices; all within the same app is an awesome timesaver. c. Add categories, alt or title tags for SEO (yes, there’s that too) and you’re ready to either publish directly or upload as draft to Word Press to add your finishing touches.
  2. Next is Hootsuite. Finding just the right time to post on Instagram and connecting with your ideal audience in a sea of visually stimulating images reminds me of mastering the art of tightrope walking. Enter Hootsuite! The social network management platform that performs wonders for my business. My two go to features are: a. Ability to manage my 3 social platforms – Facebook, Instagram and Google+ b. IT analyzes my audience interaction and recommends just the right time to post. When its time, Hootsuite sends a notification to my smartphone, follow about 3 or so prompts and it's done. As in posted. Online! That alone is worth the admission for me.
  3. Ever needed to save the day? Or your sanity and you’re stuck in a major metropolis traffic? Oh, like let’s say Maryland/DC/VA i495 beltway or Houston, TX loop? I have just the remedy. Waze App! This magic GPS uses the power of social media to “outsmart traffic” and I can vouch for their claim to fame. Here are the three of the features I LOVE. LOVE. LOVE the most: a. You can customize your preference and it remembers your favorite way home, or out. b. It alerts you on upcoming gridlock and automatically reroute based on that info. c. It very nicely informs you when one of the ‘state finest’ is up ahead, hidden or visible.

Wave outsmarts traffic so well I once considered making a donation just for saving my sanity after a particularly difficult rainy 45-minute-ride-turned-to-90-minutes on I495 beltway only to find Waze has been purchased by Google at which point I promptly put my card away, nah, Google doesn’t need my 2 cents but the app IS. THAT. GOOD!

As you already know, there are more apps out there that does similar or better than these three, they are simply the ones that I rely on for my business. Next week, I will share the three go to apps for my images. Full disclaimer, I use the free version of most applications and only subscribe until I absolutely have to.

I hope you find these apps useful. If you do please consider sharing it with your friends.



Ronnie-Bliss-Photography_0083.jpg Do something Good for someone this Monday.

First, an apology for missing a few series. I was on travel and should have prepared well in advance, but I was so giddy about the travel, visiting my 'motherland' after well over a decade. But now I'm back. Home sweet home!. On to today's series.

How was your Christmas? Was Santa good to you? Or were you the Santa? Did you make all your deliveries in time? Although Christmas is over, the spirit of giving lives on and that is our focus this week. We focus our attention on doing something good great for someone else.

Todays’ task? A gift. Just because.

Take a good look around. I bet you received more than one gift. And if by chance you only received one gift, take a look around the house, I know you're blessed with more than a single gift. Sometimes it just takes a different perspective, so today, take that different perspective as you look around the house. Is there a gift you can give someone else?

This Monday's Do Good For Someone Else task is not about re-gifting, although it's not a bad idea especially if you are not going to use that gift. Nor is it about gifting someone that has less than you because there simply is no way to determine what each one of us values and, therefore, hold close to our hearts. I am talking about gifting a friend, just because. Not for Christmas, not for New Year but just because you thought of that person, and you took the time to select just the right gift, wrap it up and deliver it. That's where the magic is.

For those who are at a loss for a gift idea, how about a gift of your time? Coffee, a meal, a movie together? Take turns reading a book, or a walk down memory lane. The idea is to make a difference today. Deliver a gift. Just because.

Do Something Good. Happy Monday!

Love the idea? Share the post. Have an idea? Let's hear it. Until next Monday…. Do something Good for someone.


Ronnie Bliss Photography_0083.jpg Do something Good for someone this Monday.

Welcome to another beautiful week. Even more special since it's Thanksgiving week this side of the world. A double header to do something good this Monday for someone else and give thanks all week long.

Todays’ task? Tell them.

Tell anyone and everyone around you that you are truly thankful to have in your life or sphere of influence what each person mean to you. Tell your families, friends, loved ones. How you tell them is up to you, but tell them, verbalize it, communicate, let them know what they mean to you. Tell your frenemies too because without them, you wouldn't be where you are today.

Take this a step further, it's Thanksgiving week afterall, count the many blessings you're thankful for, and tell each source of that blessing. Number your challenges too, they make us strong. Think of them as the speed bump in the road that slows us down when we suddenly find ourselves running the Indy 500 without a plan, it causes us to refocus.

Make a difference today, all week long, tell someone how thankful you are to have them in your life.

Do Something Good, for someone else. Happy Monday!

Love the idea? Share the post. Have an idea? Lets hear it. Until next Monday…. Do something Good for someone.


Ronnie Bliss Photography_0083.jpgDo something Good for someone this Monday.

How was your weekend? Busy? Got your much-needed rest? Welcome to another beautiful week. Another opportunity to do something good, for someone else.

Todays’ task? A Prayer.

Say a prayer for a complete stranger. Throughout today, the week really, or better yet, cultivate the habit of praying for strangers. You don't need to stop, kneel, clasp your hands, close your eyes or anything like that. Just pay in your spirit, or if you like openly. Don't worry, they won't think you strange, no more than when Bluetooth just took over and folks would ask are you speaking to them? Remember then? They will think you're on the Bluetooth or talking to your imaginary friend and in this case they'd be right. But seriously, lift someone else up in prayer, the people around you needs it, the world needs it and you need it too. This is probably going the be the easiest task, however, it is also easy to forget, because life gets in the way. Afterall, we have a million other things that demand our attention like that long never ending to-do list, you should see mine. Try it, do it, pick the next person you see, no don't touch them, just saw a word of prayer, start in general, everyone needs prayer, you know it, I know it, it's settled. Depending on your level of prayer, start with something simple like peace and watch your prayer muscle grow.

If you would like to take this a step further, ask your friends if they have a prayer request. Or keep your own list of people to pray for. In writing down names or need, you are likely to pray more often.

And the reward?

Take a good look around you, see that huge tree? or any tree for that matter, when was it planted? When was it watered to give the shade it offers today? That's the reward of your prayer. You're planting seeds that will, guaranteed, to grow into a tree, metaphorically speaking of course, offer shade to you and others when you least expect it and for the benefit of hundreds, thousands and millions. In your praying for others, someone else might just be praying for you. Sometimes the answer is a 'maybe', 'not yet, or 'no' for sure, and other times it is a resounding YES! but there is always an answer.

Make a difference today. Say a prayer. Your prayer may be the missing link all along.

Do Something Good, for someone else. Happy Monday!

Love the idea? Share the post. Have an idea? Lets hear it. Until next Monday…. Do something Good for someone.