• How To Photograph Your Kids…Fashionably


    Childhood is over in the blink of an eye. Take a picture—it certainly lasts longer. Modern parenthood practically corners you into taking up photography. You might as well learn to do it well given the one-upmanship landscape of Instagram and Facebook. Photographing your kids is no walk in the park though. They’re often unfocused. Poorly composed. Unruly. And that’s just your pictures. Here, a few personal tips on how to photograph (and tame) your kids.

    Have a Plan: pull tears from magazines, scour Tumblr, thumb through coffee table books of your favorite photographers' work in it. What you're looking for here is inspiration—ideas for posing, expressions, styling, concepts, etc. What's that? You’re into taking pictures and don’t have a favorite photographer? Find one. In fact, find several. This shot is likely the culmination of countless Peggy Sirota portraits I’ve pored over the last seven years.

    Style the Shoot: No one wants to look back on photographs of themselves 15 years from now wondering, "What was I wearing???" Your kids won't want to either...because they'll be 25. Aim for timeless and classic. Drop in to Ralph Lauren, Crewcuts, and GapKids for shrunken takes on grown-up classics. Just ensure the clothes fit your kids right now…not 6 months from now. Some kids’ clothes designers make this as challenging as possible. The boys and I cut over five inches off these Old Navy chino shorts just so they would hit a handbreadth above the knee.

    Little Bribes: I prefer the more civilized term "incentive" since that is how the world actually works. And your kids are better off knowing that the sooner the better. If you do x, you will be rewarded with y. When my boys were 4 and 5, it was candy—instant gratification candy. Toddlers need that in order to comprehend the arrangement of being rewarded for the request made of them. Now that my boys are Tweens, it's "I'll drop $15 into each of your iTunes accounts after we nail this shot.” Just don’t show your entire hand upfront. They learn to negotiate eventually.

    Sink to Their Level: Some of the best portraiture is shot around eye level of the subject. Kids are no exception. Get down on their level. You can ice your knees (and lumbar) afterwards.

    Get Wide, Get Close: Reach for a wide angle lens and then fill the frame with your kids. A wide angle lens practically forces your hand to get up close and personal with your subjects. Here, in the backseat of my ’87 Bimmer, I opt for a 20mm…yet, I’m still filling the frame with my boys.

    Work Quickly: No matter how incredible your bribe incentive, the law of diminishing returns quickly erodes its perceived value. In other words, you have 30 minutes (tops) to nail your shot. Go!

    Jul 28, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • The Vineyard with Kiel James Patrick


    Preppies love nature and trekking to remote locations. As a rule of thumb, the farther and more inconvenient the locale, the more gratifying the experience. If you're driving, it has to take at least three hours. Have to take a ferry? Even better. We secretly wear this degree of difficulty as a badge of honor.

    By these standards, Chappaquiddick Island is the preppiest place in New England. Eagle Scout merit badges should be awarded upon one's arrival. And that's exactly where I end up after a seven hour bus ride and two ferries. That's right—two. See, Chappaquiddick, or Chappy to the regulars, is an even smaller island off the small island of Martha's Vineyard. It is only when I arrive that I realize I'm standing on the edge of Heaven.

    Once I shake off the nine hour journey with the help of a Del's Lemonade, I'm ready to catch up with my old pal Kiel James Patrick. I'm here for the holiday weekend because Kiel thinks I need a respite from the city. I think he's right. My back shoulders a 50 lbs. pack with enough supplies for a week (be prepared!—Boy Scout motto). I'm sleeping outside for the weekend.

    The Chappy compound is teeming with the young KJP team, summer interns, and guests of guests. My tent proves to be my only reprieve from the hive of activity buzzing well into each morning. It comes at a price though. Friday night quickly turns into me versus the fringes of Hurricane Arthur. The following morning proves me the victor but Arthur's howl and spit affords me little shut eye.

    Me: 1 Nature: 0.

    The intoxicating wild innocence of youth instantly teleports me back to when that floral crown graced my own head. Eighteen, nineteen...years of wonder, naïveté, and endless hope. Years no one will ever be able to give back to them (or myself), it is at the same time bittersweet and a gentle reminder to seize every day, every moment, for what it truly is. With that revelation, I pull everyone into the outdoor shower to capture just that...a moment, wild and innocent.

    Jul 7, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • The Refined Man is Wild at Heart


    "Adventure is not outside man; it is within." —George Eliot

    Boys are wild.
    More creature than child, boys are untamed.

    Every man was once a boy. To carry this adventurous spirit into manhood is of paramount significance in the maturation of our boys. Sadly, today, that insatiable longing to explore is largely but a relic of childhood for many men. The adventurer is the child who survived. He is unapologetically wild at heart. He runs toward danger. Takes risks. Embraces spontaneity. In his book Wild at Heart, John Eldredge shrewdly notes, “Deep in his heart, every man longs for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.”

    How a man seeks his adventure is how he embraces his purpose.
    How he embraces his purpose is how he pursues his woman.
    How he pursues his woman is how he loves his children.
    How he loves his children is how he loves his neighbor.
    How he loves his neighbor is how he loves his God.

    There are two types of men in this world: those who love what they do and those who don't. Those who have found something to fight for and those who haven't. The former are men who go on to great achievements, lead extraordinary lives, and love deeply. They have explored the depths of their hearts, discovered their (present) purpose in this world, and pursue it with reckless abandon.

    The latter are confused, timid, drifters. They are lost boys—succumbing to a culture that would prefer we be docile, domesticated, well-behaved children. How do we, as men, reconnect with that indelible wildness? How do we recover the masculinity our emasculated society so desperately needs? We must look within. What did you love to do as a child? What would you do even if you weren't getting paid to do it? What turns you on inside? Fight tooth and nail for that.

    When was the last time you climbed a frozen waterfall? Slept under the stars? Or crossed an ocean? The refined man not only needs adventure, he seeks it. The passion for this is at the core of a man's spirit. The thrill of closing a big deal at the office, cheering your team on from the comfort of your couch, or emerging a war hero in Call of Duty are nothing more than metaphors and cheap substitutes for what your spirit truly wants—danger, risk...adventure. Get out there.

    There is no place in our society more desperate for the wild heart in man than in the pursuit of a woman. Women are designed to be pursued, wooed, to be caught up. No woman wakes up saying, "God, I hope I don't get swept off my feet today.” They long to be swept up into an adventure. Gentlemen, you get one chance to make a first impression—and I've witnessed it squandered so often over a cup of coffee...or a drink.

    Plan something outrageous and memorable. Anything but a meeting that resembles a job interview. I like to know right out of the gate if I can laugh with a woman, so I'll plan an experience conducive to that. A little imagination goes a long way gentlemen. Have fun with it—but most importantly, have a plan. Remember, if this girl is as amazing as you hope she is, she's been on more first dates than Drew Barrymore—make this unforgettable for her (hint: women love surprises). Be intentional in writing a gripping opening to your story together!

    The refined woman creates the space for the wild at heart...spontaneity...and the unknown to invade. It is incredible what transpires within relationships when a man is given the freedom to be a man. To be unapologetically wild. What results is a beautiful encounter between the masculine and feminine.

    Every man is an adventurer inside. But the choice to live one is his own.

    * Originally written for The Refined Woman.

    Jun 11, 2014 | Permalink (2) View/Leave Comments

    K McCurry left a comment on 6/11/2014 at 10:12 PM:

    This post is great! Where is that “Veritas” hat from? I really like it…

    Katherine left a comment on 6/11/2014 at 7:21 PM:

    Knowing your heart is an honor.  You are such a prolific writer + inspiring human being!  Thanks so much for sharing this with the world!

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  • Shoptalk Radio Interview

    Style | Miscellany  

    Nick Onken and I first met when I hired him to shoot branding images for my photography business. That was 2008. Fast forward to 2014 and not only have we become great friends but for much of that time, Nick served as one of my creative mentors. For that I am forever grateful. He possesses a youthful way of looking at the world in front of him—a unique blend of music, community, food, and pop culture.

    One thing I love about Nick is that the guy has a big heart. He is genuinely interested in people. In an effort to give back and inspire, he recently created a podcast that explores the entrepreneurial journeys of creatives he has personally come to know over the years. He’s interviewed over a dozen friends who are are up to big things in their lives—music moguls, dancers, non-profits, actors, and fashion designers—all living a unique and inspiring story. I listen on a regular basis and always walk away inspired to continue pursuing my own vision. When Nick recently asked to sit down with me, I was honored to dive into my own creative journey and look back at exactly how I got from there to here.

    You can listen here and check out the rest of the photo story Nick created. It’s a a real treat being shot by Nick…so of course I had to pogo around SoHo.

    Mar 25, 2014 | Permalink (6) View/Leave Comments

    610 left a comment on 5/11/2014 at 2:02 PM:

    This is amazing! I’ve started to follow your blog a couple of years ago. Back then I did not really care how I dressed, I did however love to go in here and look at the pictures. since my passion for style came way later than this I never took my time to read any of the posts. Now a couple of years later, after moving to London and working in the sartorial end of retail I realise what I have missed.

    Shame on me.

    ali left a comment on 4/23/2014 at 9:50 PM:

    What a great collection of photos. I wanted to pint out that I noticed your pogo stick was the standard issue silver color. Was it monogrammed? I could not tell. I am so sorry that you cannot find any pants that have the right inseam for you. Your poor feet must be so very cold.

    Cate left a comment on 4/17/2014 at 11:18 PM:

    great photos, great piece on nick’s site.

    Joey Dee left a comment on 4/8/2014 at 5:23 PM:

    Dear Fred:
    Your site & style will always be an inspiration! The content is always refreshing!
    Joey Dee

    Lauren left a comment on 3/31/2014 at 5:52 PM:

    Love your site!

    Jen K. left a comment on 3/26/2014 at 8:42 AM:

    That is so awesome! I’ve followed Nick’s blog for awhile!


  • The Wagon and the Road


    At the time I dreaded it. I had better things to do with my summers, like pump my best friend to the comic book shop, watch CHiPs, and build forts in the creek behind my backyard. It was the early 90s and my parents were very much into road trips. The more states the better. The combination of economy travel for five, around-the-clock sightseeing, and an ‘87 Mercedes-Benz diesel wagon made it the sensible choice to satisfy what wanderlust my parents needed to pacify.

    There is something very American about the road trip. Given our love affair with cars, it's no wonder. The 47,000+ miles of interstate highway, National Monuments, and roadside eats have made it about the journey, not simply the destination. Castleberry family road trips were no exception. Our destination was always home…with one caveat: never return the way you came. To drive in a huge loop was completely normal. In the summer of 1993 we circled the American Southwest...Sequoia National Park, the Grand Canyon, Delicate Arch in Utah—we hit it all in a week.

    The trips never came at a convenient break in the summers though. Occasionally, I'd enlist a friend from the neighborhood to join the circus come along. They never knew it but they were the buffer and served a very specific purpose. After all, I couldn’t think of anything worse than being cooped up with my younger brother and sister for nine hour stretches while dad threatened to pull the car over every other rest stop. My one reprieve was throwing my feet out the window and watching the world fly by.

    Today, I actually find myself pining for those road trips. Nostalgia seems to do that—romanticize our memories. My brother and sister now live overseas, sadly, and I rarely see them. Over the weekend, I found my way into the backseat again as spring hesitantly stepped out from behind winter's shadow. I just laid there. In the relative quiet, I propped my feet out the window, closed my eyes, and let the warmth of the sun take me back to that summer in ’93.

    Mar 13, 2014 | Permalink (3) View/Leave Comments

    Richard Ross left a comment on 3/18/2014 at 11:17 PM:

    I sure do love road trips. Our family road trip rule was that we couldn’t eat at chain restaurants. Only “road food”, as my dad would call it. I still apply that rule to my road trips with friends.

    Lee Emerson left a comment on 3/17/2014 at 8:09 AM:

    Road trips are big in Australia too. There’s something mesmerizing about them - like getting lost in time…

    scaleworm left a comment on 3/16/2014 at 10:02 PM:

    memories are always nice.
    thank you for sharing.


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