You Never Know Where Your Camera Will Take You
Document it all; and get comfortable for story time
This morning I was checking messages as usual on my phone. I know it is Thanksgiving, yet old habits die hard, and it is difficult for me to take a day off, honestly.
I was perusing Facebook, and they have a feature that suggests memories of past photographs that you have uploaded there.
The above image came up two years ago at this time.
It was Thanksgiving in November of 2020, to be exact.
I had just gotten divorced less than a year prior, I was exiled from New York City, and I felt cold and alone.
I decided it would be best to spend time with family in Michigan, and this led me to clean out my Grandpa’s old workshop, where he left years of things just as they were when he passed.
Thankful for inspiration
As I was cleaning several months before Thanksgiving 2020, I got the inspiration one day to have a table on the front porch to draw and paint from.
It was a pandemic, and you couldn’t go anywhere or do much of anything, so I decided to invest time into my art.
I did not have money to buy a new table at the time, and I needed permission to enter a store in Covid times even if I had money.
So I did the next best thing. I decided that I was going to make myself a table.
I had always done projects like this alongside my Dad growing up. College sealed the deal when we had to go through an intensive program to learn many different mediums in art school.
So I began searching the house and the grounds for any material I could use to make a table.
My Mom suggested that there was an old table in the basement of the house in a cellar that no one had used or visited in some time.
I looked, and the top was filthy, the legs were half-rotten, and it was cumbersome.
It looked like a challenge.
I did not have anyone to help me get it out of the basement, so I cautiously rigged a pulley system to pull the 140lb (yes, I weighed it) table out of the basement to get a better look at it.
The build out and practicing gratitude
I dragged the power washer out of my Grandpa’s old shop and spent about an hour blasting dirt, mold, and whatever else was on the table away to reveal the raw wood.
I let the table dry in the sun for about a day and returned to examine it.
It looked pretty close to the above photo, which was rustic and had a lot of character.
I could see the beauty and potential in how this could become my drawing and painting table in addition to a conversation piece for the house.
I did not have a power saw, so it took me a half day to remove the old legs with a hand saw that had very dull teeth.
I started to repair the frame under the table where the antique nails had rusted and started to separate.
And once I got the top solidified, I found some old posts that used to be used for cow fences and turned them into legs with some old 2x4 that I found in the shop for braces.
It was not glamorous, yet it was my passion project. It kept me away from the dark thoughts of depression that I was experiencing from the prior divorce and exile from NYC.
Finishing the project before Thanksgiving
The idea of the table inspired me greatly.
If I could do this, I could find other supplies around the farm and turn them into furniture to flip for a living.
I finished the table by sealing it with polyurethane, and it became my mecca and my salvation.
Each night for a couple months before Thanksgiving, I would work on projects on this table, experimenting with what I could make out of old things I salvaged around the farm.
I found an old dresser that someone abandoned once and was half rotten in one of the barns.
I asked my family permission to salvage it, to which they gave me their blessing.
I sawed the top off and thought I could make it into a fireplace mantle shelf.
After much experimentation, I finished the piece. I experimented with a shabby chic look with a gray, black, and white glossy paint job.
I tried to post the piece on the Facebook marketplace to see if I could safely flip it with contactless pickup, but it never sold.
In the meantime, though, my Uncle dropped by to visit and had a chainsaw with him in his truck.
An ancient cedar tree on the property needed trimming away from some power lines, so I asked him if he would help me remove some limbs.
He asked me what I would do with the wood, to which I replied that I would make lamps out of it as I talked out my ass.
The truth is that I had never made a lamp in my life short of one experiment that I did in college.
Yet, I am a photographer, so it was only fitting to try to make something that has to do with light.
The above is the first lamp I created from cedar wood.
It was not “perfect,” but I learned a lot.
I could tell you about all of the lessons it taught me for life and how I relate these lessons to photography.
Still, I think I will share the process in photos instead:
In my process for any creative things (photography included), I like to start planning in my sketchbook.
I did a basic mock-up to give the project some direction with ideas for the finished product.
This is the raw cedar that I used for the very first lamp.
As you can see, there are several cuts everywhere on the workbench that I was experimenting with to work out my first design.
Here, I started to sand the piece and ordered a lamp kit on Amazon to use as the internal components.
I had to devise a way to make a base for the lamp to stand on, so I went back to a chunk of cedar and started making cookies.
The whole process was done with a hand saw that is very dull. lol
I spent about an hour or so fidgeting with the lamp components trying to figure out how to put them all together and make it aesthetically pleasing.
My Dad was very supportive of my project and gave me a set of spade bits that I could use to connect the base and top to hollow it out for the lamp kit.
After drilling and routing the base, I started to put it all together, which is what it looked like.
I was pleasantly surprised that it sat well and did not fall over and break.
Bananas and beer constantly drove me through this project and other projects I was working on.
I decided to seal the wood with polyurethane, which brought out a lot of the character of the wood in addition to a lot of the imperfections from my sanding job.
I bought a cheap Dremel on Amazon that showed up, and I decided it would be a good idea to route a spot for the electric plug to enter so that the lamp sat flat.
Later after many more experiments, my Dad sent me his old Craftsman router, which made the job much easier.
This is the finished lamp. This was the very first one that led to many other things after.
I kept it in my collection as it has a lot of sentimental value and lessons taught me as I learned.
And after the first lamp, I posted it on socials, and everyone started asking me where they could get one.
So I started a small Honey Creek Originals project, where I produced lamps, knives, and tables from locally sourced materials.
I launched it on Etsy, and I sold out everything I made.
I also taught myself how to make knives, which involved an experiment with a map gas torch that almost burned down the shop. I will save that story for another time. lol
And I taught myself how to make country-style tables and workbenches and build planters for fruits and vegetables.
The whole project kept my mind active and inspired me to keep going while reminding me of what I am most grateful for — family and home.
This Thanksgiving, I am far from several of my family members. Still, my wife and I are celebrating in the best way we can by enjoying family.
This is the most important lesson I have learned with any of my endeavors in life is to treasure and remember family.
Take your camera out with you today and take photos with your family. You will remember it for a lifetime.
And as I reflect back on the original photo that I started this piece with, I was happy simply with an axe and a machete on Thanksgiving day 2020 in my woods.
I did not need fancy things, places, or much extra. I have my family, and I have my art. And that is all that really matters.
All the best to you and your family today!
If you are sitting around the house, check out my other post, where you can take my photography class for free today, and then set up a Zoom call with me to help inspire your goals.
I am going to go eat turkey and take the rest of the day off!
Cheers! And Happy Thanksgiving!
Hi, I am Charlie Naebeck
I am a husband, photography coach, photographer, writer, podcaster, Youtuber, entrepreneur, and adventurer.
If you like what you read, please consider giving me a follow here on Medium.
I do Zoom photo coaching with students in over 42 different countries, and I would love to help you to inspire you with your photography goals also.
If you want to chat about photography coaching, let’s jump on a complimentary call together at: https://calendly.com/cnpcall/30min.
You Never Know Where Your Camera Will Take You was originally published in Share a Picture Magazine.com on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
Recent PostsHow to Be a Better Photographer Thirty Days to Learn Your Camera; A Photography Boot Camp You’ll Love Lesson Nineteen Thirty Days to Learn Your Camera; A Photography Boot Camp You’ll Love Lesson Eighteen How to Teach Photography in 70 Different Countries If You Could Learn One Thing in Photography in the New Year, What Is It? Thirty Days to Learn Your Camera; A Photography Boot Camp You’ll Love Lesson Seventeen Learning After Many Years; All It Takes is an Adventure Thirty Days to Learn Your Camera; A Photography Boot Camp You’ll Love Lesson Sixteen Hello everyone, I Released New Music Today