Ransom Coker

Posted: April 10, 2011 in Life

My first son, Ransom (Matthew Richard Michael) Coker, born at home on April 7th

More details to come…


Just moments after his birth…


Ransom with Mom after 26 hours of labour


Our Doula, and two Midwives with Mom and Ransom


Mom and Ransom, 5 am and ready for bed!

First visit from our Midwife later on April 7th


Mom and Ransom on day three





The great folks who rent our home to us put up this sign for Ransom!


Our first family walk on day three

Soakin up the sun!


Snuggling in a blanky from Grandma C.






I mentioned when I began this series of reflections that I got my start in “photography” when I was a kid. I just loved to capture the moment, and every once in a while I’d try something sort of artistic.

A couple summers ago my wife and I took photographs for a wedding in Toronto. It was a challenging day for me that got off to a rough start. I was supposed to meet up with the guys in the morning to take photos of them once they were dressed for the wedding. Unfortunately, they had to take off early, so I missed them. When I caught up with them things were a little chaotic and trying to get them all together for some formal shots just didn’t seem to be working. We all went for lunch at a near by pizza place. During lunch I just started snapping pictures. Oh, I know, “pictures of groomsmen scarfing pizza? Why did you take those?”

I have this weird “philosophy” went it comes to “photography.” I just want to capture the moment. Maybe it’s a facial expression, or the mess of wrapping paper on Christmas morning. After all, it’s not always the grand moments of artistic significance that a person looks back on. I’ve heard enough brides complain about their weddings to know that it’s the little details that make or break the day. So I captured a minor detail, lunch at a little pizza shop. Unconventional, I know. But I kinda suspect that the lunch is a detail worth looking back on.

As it turns out, the lunch was mentioned in an article about the pizza shop, and one of the photos I took was featured in the article. No doubt, there is much to be learned from books on professional photography (like showing up extra early and getting the “money shot” of the guys in their tuxes). But sometimes you need to just go with the flow and realize that lunch can be important too – especially to a group of guys!

Click here to check out the article.

I’m gonna start living out loud
My soul’s been dying
To scream and shout
And shatter the silence
It’s a beautiful sound when each moment counts
Starting right now, I’m gonna start living out loud

I’ve always been a quiet person. Avoiding confrontation. Introverted. You know the type. I’ve never minded it really, but it can be a little limiting. There are certain situations that I try to avoid and many jobs that I would never want (management, politician, etc.). Most of the jobs I’ve had have basically just been cheap labour. It’s kind of a bummer being young and thinking that I’ll have to settle for a job consisting of mindless repetition and ‘working for the weekend.’ When this photography job came along (which has ended for now), I got pretty excited. This was my first chance to have a full time job doing something that I enjoyed.

The job turned out to be more focused on the people that I was photographing rather than the photography itself. Not being a ‘people person,’ this was very difficult for me. There were days that I would come home feeling like a failure. I had one week that started off like hell. I listened to students all day complaining that they’ve never had a good school photo, or that they’re ugly, or they’re upset that they can’t make a goofy face (cause that’ll make for a nice attractive school photo right?).

That week was like a moment of truth for me. I either had to quit that job or figure out how to be the type of person that succeeds (whatever that might mean) in that sort of situation. Each day I conquered something. The job went from feeling like a factory process of taking crappy pictures of students with crappy attitudes, to this amazing job in which (in just a few seconds) I could get students thinking positive and having fun.

Not a bad week for somebody who so often fears people!

I kinda discovered a soundtrack of songs over that week.

Sugarland – Something More

Arron Lines – Living Out Loud

Garth Brooks – Do What You Gotta Do

Less than Jake – Soundtrack of My Life

Less Than Jake – Overrated

I was at a high school today doing picture day retakes. Naturally, on retake day at a high school, I get the really picky people who need a million shots before the smile or the hair is just right. Most of the people on retake day are pretty insecure.

Today a girl came to the camera and handed me her proof sheets. The original picture was actually pretty nice. I thought to myself this is gonna be another one of those ten minute sessions before she is satisfied with herself. To my surprise, she actually liked the original photo. It was her mom who didn’t like it. I asked her if her mom mentioned anything specific that she didn’t like in the photo. The girl said, “my face.” Oh.

A few days ago a couple of co-workers and I pulled up to an elementary school ready to tackle the day. I had been photographing high school kids for a couple weeks and was sort of looking forward to the challenge of younger kids. Well, the school dropped a bomb on us. Not literally of course. That would be bad for business. No, they dropped something worse than a bomb. They dropped three-year-olds on us. They started a pre-school this year, and with no warning we had to photograph them. And they were crying. Early mornings and crying kids do not belong together. Needless to say, it put a damper on the day.

I was a little stressed trying to learn how to get good expressions from tiny kids and the crying just didn’t help. Remember, it was them crying not me. As the classes got older the day went much more smoothly. Somewhere around grade 1 or 2 kids become, well, I’ll just say it. Human. They finally become human. They respond, sit still, and smile!

When I got to the grade 5 class they were starting to give a little attitude. All good for the most part. Right at the end of the class there was this little girl. She looked really cool. Cool shoes, cool hair. She’ll end up being an artist or something. She was pretty talkative and informed me that the picture wasn’t going to be any good because she was ugly. She’s in grade 5, how does she know what ugly is?

She sat on the block and fell almost perfectly into the pose. I got her to smile and the picture looked great. I don’t know what convinced this kid that she was ugly, but I really felt for her. I was so happy with the portrait that I decided to show it to her. I hardly ever do that because there just isn’t time for everybody to look at their picture. When she saw it, she said “that’s the best picture of me I’ve ever had.” I was on cloud 9 for like a week.

Not a bad day.

One of the most difficult parts of doing portrait photography is that I’m not really a “people person.” I love people, but I find it difficult talking with people that I don’t know. If you’re not a people person either then you know that awkward moment that I’m talking about when you say “hi” and then think now what? I have about 200 of those situations a day!

What makes it tough is that I feel like people know. They know I’m new at this. They know I’m nervous. They know I think that I suck. But I learned a trick to deal with this. Just act. I just act like I’m really friendly and I can’t wait to take their picture. I act like I’ve been doing this forever. I act like I’m not nervous.

Pretty soon, the act became a reality. I love meeting people for the first time now. I can’t wait for the students to start pouring into the gym at crazy early hours in the morning. I greet them like they’re old friends. Actually, some of them are the kids of my old friends!

One of the first lessons I learned as a Picture Day photographer is to forget about your self esteem problems. The first step to being a good photographer when you’re not really a photographer is to throw your self-consciousness to the wind, and have some fun with it.

I’ve worked with my boss a couple times (he’s a real photographer). Working with the little kids was so embarrassing. It was great watching him. Professional. Perfectionist. Real photographer. Great with little kids! He was tossing around stuffed animals, talking in funny voices and making the kids laugh. It was great. But it was my turn next. “That’s how you do it Mat.”

Oh boy. Deep breath.

Photographer By Accident

Posted: September 20, 2010 in Life, Music

When I started this blog all time ago, I intended it to be reflections on the music that I was listening to. Before I knew it, I was commenting on movies, sitcoms and other forms of ‘art.’ Now I add a new dimension; photography. Well. not photography really. More like stories-about-what-happens-when-you-give-a-guy-a-camera-who-doesn’t-really-know-what-he’s-doing. And stuff like that.

I have a camera, but I’m not sure that photographer is the right label. I describe myself as a photographer by accident.

As a kid, I was totally into photography. I had a simple point and shoot camera – a major investment in the days of film. I just took lot’s of picture to capture the moment. I really wasn’t into art or technique or anything.

In university, the student council was desperate for a yearbook editor so they asked me to do it. With no real experience and little potential I said ‘sure!’ This began my adventure with a digital SLR.

After a few months of snapping photos for the yearbook, some students asked me to photograph their wedding. Yikes. I did it, and I hope they still like the pictures.

A few weddings and a trip to Arizona later, I landed a job doing school photos. Everyday is Picture Day for me now!

None of these gigs have been intentional. They just sort of keep happening. Picture Day photos have been a wild ride, and I’m only on week three. I want to share a few stories in the weeks to come. You never know what will happen on Picture Day.

This song takes me back! It’s ‘Scattered’ by Green Day