Happy Thanksgiving and Thank You

Happy Thanksgiving

Just about a year ago, we had what seemed to be one calamity after another. A few months prior, my mom passed away. Then, in November we learned that we would no longer be carrying on duties at that other website. Needless to say, last Thanksgiving was not one of the more pleasant ones, as Debra and I wrestled with what we were going to do. We had some tough choices to make while still dealing with our exit from the old place.

I come from the school of thought that you never quit. Over the coming couple of months, as the news spread, we learned very quickly who our friends were and just how many friends we had. We felt blessed with encouragement from others to pursue our next direction. Since leaving Phase One, I have always had the dream of having a way to share my joy and knowledge of photography. I have been fortunate enough to have been successful in my career with photography. I have owned a successful studio, a software company, worked in the lab business and had a 13-year run with Phase One.

After a good bit of deliberation, I decided with Debra’s blessing to start a new website with the goal of forming a strong community of photographers. I was fortunate enough that I was able to reunite the whole team from before: Chris Sanderson, Michael Durr, and Debra. Together, we set out to design a website that would be able to allow us, along with the community of contributors, to share our passion for photography.

I spent hours designing a flow for the site and weeks looking for a development team that could build the site the way I wanted it. We were fortunate to find Ayokay, a small website developer in Indianapolis. Jack Shepler, the owner of Ayokay, embraced the vision I had, and with my flowchart and site map and his team’s skills, we set out to put a new website together and publish it in record time. I gave him a goal of publishing in June and we began development in February. This was no small template-designed site. This was going to be a customized WordPress site with many aspects of it tied together to make the navigation and use easier than many other sites out there. A clean design was paramount.

Happy Turkey Day
Happy Turkey Day

While the Ayokay team was developing the site, we were busy gathering content that we could use and developing relationships with advertisers, who all had to believe in what I had as a dream. As we approached the June deadline, we were finding that our schedule was slipping, mainly due to modifications to the original scope of the project. We kept adding new and cool features. We were now pushed back to July.

While all this was going on, I was also running workshops as part of Rockhopper Workshops, one of my other companies, as well as planning for future workshops. A typical workday was 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.everyday. It was fun work though and it was ours.

We also faced many personal challenges. On April 17, tragedy struck. In one day, we lost two of our cats to different types of cancer. Pixel and Lizzy were adopted on the same day and died on the same day. To have to euthanize two cats within minutes of each other was just too much to bear. It still brings tears to my eyes. These animals were part of our family. And, each was unique and gave back more love than you could ever know. How many more things could happen to us? It was one challenge after another.

Pixel and Liz
Pixel and Lizzy

There were days where I just wanted to quit. But, I remembered what my oldest son once said to me. He is in Special Forces, and when he was going through initial training, which you may know is brutal, I asked him how do you not manage to quit. His response was, “I can always quit tomorrow; just get through today.”

So, we just moved forward. We eventually adopted three new kittens, and these new additions to our family have quickly found their way into our hearts. Their names are Ansel, Nova, and Georgia, Ansel was named after Ansel Adams, Georgia after Georgia O’Keefe and Nova after the planetary event. They Joined Jupiter, who was only a few years old when he lost his two friends. Now, we have four cats and they are so kind and fun. They bring new love and especially new energy into our family.

Finally, in July, we had a soft launch of photoPXL.com, and then a few weeks later we announced that we were officially open for business. We couldn’t have asked for things to go better. This was a big site to develop and launch in just a few months, and the team did a marvelous job at fulfilling my vision for what a website for photographers should be all about. We are growing each day, and considering it has only been a few months, we count our blessings. We have a long way to go and a lot of ideas we are working on to make the experience on the site as well as content even better.

PhotoPXL and Rockhopperworkshops would not be possible without you the reader. The outpouring of positive emails, as well as financial contributions, have been overwhelming and especially appreciated. A great big thank you for helping us make it this far and I think you are going to like what we have planned.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, I want to express my thanks to Chris Sanderson, Michael Durr, my wife Debra, as well as Jack Shepler of Ayokay and his team. More than anything else, thank you to all of our readers and those that have contributed financially to our success. None of this would have been possible without the support of my mom, who had passed away in May of 2018. As you might know, this website is dedicated to the memory of my mom.

More importantly, a huge thanks to those that have contributed their time by sharing articles on this site, and the belief in sharing their passion for photography with others. The photographic community is a strong place, and I have always held the belief if everyone would take photographs and share in the joy we find in it, that this would be a much better world.

I aim to keep this a free site supported by advertising, workshops, and contributions from readers. Your help in this support makes me grateful.

Thank you again, and for all those in America please have a safe and fun Thanksgiving Day. I couldn’t have done this without you.

Kevin Raber
November 2019
Kevin Raber
Indianapolis, IN

Photography is my passion and has been for 50 plus years. My career in photography has allowed me to travel the world, meet some of the most interesting people on the planet and see things I could never have dreamed of. My goal is to share the passion of picture taking through photographs and teaching with as many people as I can, hoping it brings them as much joy and happiness as it has me. I do this through photoPXL.com, this site, as well as Rockhopper Workshops, and other projects, as well as teaching as Artist In Residence at the Indianapolis Art Center.

Article Type: News, Columns, MISC

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