Adaptive + Camera

Commercial & Assignment Photography

Camera Malfunction and the Importance of Back-up Gear

Camera gear is expensive, and when you buy your first piece of professional gear, unless you are independently wealthy, it feels like a big investment. But it doesn't take long to realize that if you are going to work professionally, that it is not enough to have a good camera and a lens or two that you like. With photography equipment there are so many points of failure that you really have to have backups for everything. If you're working very much, especially if you are dealing with a variety of environmental conditions, it's not so much a matter of IF you're camera gear will fail, but when and how.

Points of failure:

  • Camera body
  • Lenses
  • SD cards
  • Batteries
  •  Flashes (and batteries) 
  • Stands 
  • Chargers 
  • Hard drive 

 So far, out of all of these, I've experienced camera failure, lens lock-up, battery failure, and hard drive failure. Luckily, in each instance I was in a position to do a work around when it happened. But I've become increasingly inclined to not only have back-ups, but back-ups for my back-ups. 

These travel with me. I shoot to two cards at the same time, using my second slot as a back-up copy. Then back them up after the shoot to my portable hard drive and I store the SD cards with duplicate files in separate bags.

There is nothing like the feeling of being on-site and have your camera stop functioning in the first hour of the first day of several back to back shoots in different locations on a tight schedule, especially when you have no way to verify that everything you've shot so far is safe and sound on the SD card because your back-up can't read the files from your main camera. It happens. And I'm realizing that these are the situations that define a photographer as much as anything - the ability to see forward as far as possible and have strategies for coping with problems that emerge. 

I've used knock off batteries as back ups for my camera, but I've had more failure with the knock off. I often run out of power, so it is imperative to have extra batteries even without failure, so that means carrying a reliable extra + 2 back-ups (at least) + a charger.

My coping method so far is to over prepare. I make lists. I streamline and duplicate. I make a plan with built in spaces for things to go wrong. And then I forget about everything that is not immediately in front of me. It is the paradox of pairing preparation and control with the ability to relax and go with the flow. To me, the security of duplicating gear and having a detailed plan creates the freedom to be completely engaged in the moment and do the work of photography. 

I have the plan on my phone, in my e-mail, and printed. I've lost power or had no internet access. I like having options and the ability to just keep on cruising when one avenue if information goes down. 

5 Reasons to Include Professional Photography in your Online Presence / Social Media Marketing


1. Content with an image attached gets more clicks

2. Photographs convey information immediately

3. Photographs connect emotionally to your clients

4. Better Photography has a bigger impact

5. Personalized imagery adds to your branding

What kind of images do you need to improve your social media marketing?

PEOPLE, PEOPLE, PEOPLE.

If you provide a service, you want potential clients to connect to the people in your company. You want to be seen working with others and doing your job competently. If you are selling a cause, you want people to connect emotionally to your work by seeing those affected or to see others like them involved in some way. High quality imagery should be a given for your website because this is the place where you are judged as trustworthy, competent, detail oriented, or likeable. All the high quality text in the world will not gain this emotional response. For social media campaigns, photographs should be integrated into your content marketing because it is not only an easy way to post content often, but it improves your visibility as a whole.

Showing Authenticity on the Web:  An Engineering Company Case Study

Professional services companies rely heavily on reputation and connections in their industry to get new business. So when it comes to designing the website, printed marketing materials or even presentations, they often shy away from using photos or images from stock catalogs. If you want to show that you provide engineering services for example, and think that you can grab an “engineer” photo from Getty Images, you are likely to hear from management: “This is no one from our staff, so we don’t want to use this photo”. Instead, what you have to work with is a motley assortment of phone or point-and-shoot camera photos, and the occasional professionally done image back in 1981 when the company performed on an especially glorious project. This is roughly the situation that IPS Engineering was in recently. A young company, they had completed a number of important projects but were so focused on the work that never remembered to document the results in beautiful and effective way, suitable for future promotional materials.

To an outsider helping to build IPS’ website, any quality photos of a pipeline being built would do. After all, don’t they all look alike; isn’t it like showing a factory line worker assembling a car? Actually, no, it turns out that when the core of the business is to build an object like a pipeline or a transmutation line, this object is treated as unique; it is named and should not be confused with any other. Knowledgeable clients may someday ask which project is a photo from specifically, so showing a generic image can blow your credibility.

A few months ago, IPS needed some new images for their redesigned, responsive, mobile-friendly website. They realized that even though the image library of their own past work was large, it was unsuitable for the website. They could, however, send out a photographer to one of their current jobs which was in the middle of construction. Adaptive Camera was fortunate to get the assignment. We spent two days on site, following the field construction manager from crew to crew and documenting people working. Pipeline construction involves a complex set of activities which gave us a chance to get a great variety of images. Our focus was on the people, their interactions and professionalism.

The images produced from that first assignment stood in sharp contrast to the photographs on the website. The company realized that rather than mixing the new photographs with the old, it would be better to have another assignment to capture some more images in areas not represented by the first shoot. We had a chance to visit a project site which IPS had completed several years ago, a functioning terminal in west Oklahoma. We were given a tour of the facility by the operations manager and were able to document the site which our client had built, and had been in operations for a while. While we were in Oklahoma, we stopped by the company’s office and photographer some of their key teams representing the various types of services they provide.

In the end, Adaptive Camera delivered high quality, authentic photographs to the client. The company has used them in their website extensively, as well as in brochures, presentations, and other printed marketing materials.

You can see IPS Engineering's new website here: www.ips-epc.com

Top 5 Reasons I LOVE to Work with Kids – Cuteness is Not One of Them

Here is how photography often works for me. I either go where the subject is thought to be found at a time when I think the conditions will be favorable, or else I get a subject to be in a place when I expect the conditions be favorable. Then I encourage something to happen and try to be in the right place when it does. With children, this strategy tends to work pretty well. Some of my favorite photos are those that spring pure of heart from the nature of a child.

Here are the top five great things that come to mind when I think about working with children:

1. Give her something to do and she DOES. It doesn’t take much to get a kid involved with full force in a game or activity that gives you something worth photographing. Even a child who is quiet and thoughtful is so with action. It’s like you can feel the energy pulsing through them even in stillness.

2. Emotion is close to the surface. Adults often suppress their feelings or mask them with a well rehearsed veneer that you have to gently polish away in order to secure an honest image. They don’t easily allow their emotions to be seen by strangers. I love being able to access the tears, laughter, curiosity, surprise, earnestness, and all the rest of the emotional rainbow that children display from moment to moment.

3. Questions and stories. Children love to ask questions and to tell you about their favorite things. Listening to them is an easy way to get them to trust you, and it is always interesting to see what is going on inside their heads. When they trust you, they are easy to photograph.

4. Being ignored, but really, truly ignored. Being ignored usually means that a kid has to do something else in order to keep from having to engage you. I think of this as “cat” mode, and I like cats. You just have to move slow and watch carefully until something happens – because something always happens.

5. Some children will just do anything to engage you. They’ll make faces, jump up and down, run in circles, play peek-a-boo (otherwise known as pretending to hide from you, but checking to see if you are still there), and sometimes make trouble. It’s dizzying for sure, but it’s a rich environment for photography. If you are fast, there will usually be some gems grow out of the chaos.


Keeshi Ingram is the founder and principal photographer at Adaptive Camera, an Austin, TX based studio offering location and assignment photography services for companies and nonprofits. Her work is often used for marketing, PR, fundraising and social media. To learn more about Adaptive Camera, please visit our website @ AdaptiveCamera.com, see Keeshi’s portfolio @ Keeshi.com, or follow her on Instagram.

Musings on Natural and Artificial Light in Photography

An example of natural light photography in which there is a little drama from the sun, in this case not so much on the subject. The light on the subject is soft and flat, but she is backlit and the flare adds a nice effect.

I hear it often, a photographer proclaiming to be a “natural light photographer.” Usually, the claim is made with a sense of pride, as if it is somehow nobler to catch the light than to make it. And to be honest, I bought into that for awhile, despite my own draw toward flash and strobe. But now I feel that the reasons to shoot in natural light have nothing to do with being noble, and neither do I believe natural light photographers are inherently better photographers, though it is absolutely true that all great photographers are masters of light, whatever the source.

First a definition: Natural light is the sun, plain and simple. Being a natural light photographer means knowing where the sun is going to be at any given time, and how the quality of that light changes throughout the day. The sun is a great teacher, the mother of all light. If your subject and the sun meet at just the right angle, it is magical, but if you cannot bring these together (or catch them together), your photography is dull and lifeless. There is no doubt that this challenge is what draws many of us into photography. It starts like a grand scavenger hunt – find the light, capture the light. And sometimes be heartbroken by the light. Eventually, every photographer will discover some simple truths that allow a repeat performance. A predictability of circumstances begins to emerge that make it possible to know which photographs are possible (and when they are possible) and which ones are not. It is this catalog of circumstances that distinguish a good from a not so good photographer in natural light.

At some point, however, I came to realize that natural light is not the same as available light. We live in a world awash with un-natural light. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for photographers. On the one hand the abundance of electric light has caused the design of many buildings to be dark, harsh, strangely colored places that limit sunshine. On the other hand, the use of lighting in the environment can be interesting and creative, and it definitely extends the hours of our lives deep into the nighttime where no sun shines in any case. This un-natural light is part of the ambiance in our lives. We expect it, and our eye has become attuned to its presence. What that basically means for a photographer is that it is possible to add light to a scene that seems perfectly natural in our daily lives. But doing that means becoming a lighting designer, not just a light finder.

The true distinction between a natural light photographer and a photographer who uses flash isn’t really in the photography so much. Photography as an activity is so vast, that lighting style becomes a way of setting the parameters of your work. Every photographer has to understand his or her camera, and every photographer has to understand light. But which sliver of light you work with can define your look, when you work, where you work, and what you shoot. If you are a “natural light photographer,” you are done when the sun goes down, and frankly, I think that’s the best reason to claim that moniker, so that you know what you won’t shoot. For those of us who just call ourselves photographers, we have to make that decision by some other means.

Let me be clear, I did aspire to be a natural light photographer for a time, but I love playing with lighting technology and have started using it enough that I no longer need to remain in the realm of natural light alone. I have done photo shoots in cloudy, miserable weather in which I would have loved to have had two more stops of light. I don’t mind working indoors in dark spaces because I love mimicking a window when there isn’t one. I love not having to push my ISO up into grainy territory to get a little extra speed. More than anything I love getting a photo that has color I can live with straight out of camera. And I absolutely love being able to turn around a situation in which I’m stuck with imperfect lighting and make it better, make it beautiful.

A few examples of situations in which I couldn't have gotten the shot without flash:

This photo would simply not have been possible without flash. There was very little light here, and to me the drama of the mom's face was the most important factor.  
There were windows here, but because it was stormy and raining, they were mainly creating difficult reflections. The light level was so low that I had the choice between a ridiculously high ISO or using flash to imitate what the window would have looked like, which I did. 
This photograph was taken after the sun went down. But the couch was lovely, and the action was fabulous. So I quickly pulled out a flash and made this happen.
Honestly, probably 90% of my food and botanical photos are done with artificial light. They are great to shoot when the weather is bad or when I simply want to control the look by providing my own light.


Keeshi Ingram is the founder and principal photographer at Adaptive Camera, an Austin, TX based studio offering location and assignment photography services for companies and nonprofits. Her work is often used for marketing, PR, fundraising and social media. To learn more about Adaptive Camera, please visit our website @ AdaptiveCamera.com, see Keeshi’s portfolio @ Keeshi.com, or follow her on Instagram.

Lettuce: From Field to Photo - A Marketing Campaign

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Tecolote is a small family farm in Austin, TX that has been growing organic produce for over 20 years. As part of their marketing efforts this season, they decided to update their website and more actively engage their customers on the various social media platforms. Understanding how important it is to their business to show the quality of their produce and the commitment of their employees, they partnered with us to document their work and supply them with compelling images that tell their story.

As a result, we have visited the farm periodically in order to capture the changing landscape of the fields, the beautiful fresh vegetables, and the amazing people who grow them. The steady stream of high quality photographs is gradually transforming their marketing materials and bringing the same sense of high quality to the website, brochures, newsletters and social media posts as the fresh organic produce they grow.

To see more, visit the album with sample work from the Tecolote Farm marketing campaign.


Keeshi Ingram is the founder and principal photographer at Adaptive Camera, an Austin, TX based studio offering location and assignment photography services for companies and nonprofits. Her work is often used for marketing, PR, fundraising and social media. To learn more about Adaptive Camera, please visit our website @ AdaptiveCamera.com, see Keeshi’s portfolio @ Keeshi.com, or follow her on Instagram.

. . . So You've Been Put In Charge of Marketing

Small and medium size businesses, especially in the service sector, often do not have a dedicated marketing department or even a marketing professional on staff, so the job of preparing materials for print or electronic distribution about the company falls on someone already shouldering other responsibilities. If you find yourself in that position, reading up on marketing techniques can be overwhelming: the field is vast and there is so much that can be done and can be learned. So here are three important issues to start with: creating compelling content, mastering effective distribution and focusing on quality.

1. Content. Creating content, articles and images, which inform the customer rather than promote your business directly, has long been used to build credibility and trust in a company. The Whole Earth Catalog, started in 1968, not only sold practical items to customers, but because of the extra content in its pages that went way beyond the simple description of each product, developed a cult following. Today, you can be a publisher as well, and create valuable content for your customers on your website. Take a hair salon for example, the ultimate small, local business. Most websites of the hair salons in Austin, TX list their location, hours and mention their stylists. As a customer however, what I am really interested in are hairstyles. If I google “current hairstyles Austin” I get several pages of salons that claim they do the latest hairstyles, but only one, theoryhairsalon.com, which has a whole gallery of images that I can pick from, and even request an appointment for the one I like. That is the type of content that can set your business apart from the rest, and give your customer the sense that you understand them better.

2. Distribution. Among the many existing channels for distributing your marketing materials, social media stands out these days both because everyone seems to talk about it, and because we do spend a lot of time in front of our devices. If you follow our first advice and create some useful and interesting content for your customers, you can post that content on multiple social platforms at the same time by using online software like Buffer or Hootsuite (both offer low cost and free plans that make it easy to get started and see which one suits you best.) The unique opportunity that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., give you as a marketer is the ability to put content easily in front of people who are interested in your products or services. Each of the networks allow you to convert a post quickly to an ad, and for a few dollars push it to thousands of users in your area, who match some demographic criteria you can pick. Remember that most people may only follow one of the social networks closely, but that network will be different for everyone, so post to as many as possible and spend your dollars on the one or two you think your customers use most. 

 3. Quality. How do you put together high-quality content without breaking the bank? You likely have the expertise in house to develop some written content that answers questions or concerns important to your customers. Sit down with the people in your business who build the product, help the customer, or deliver the service, and discuss what customers generally ask about (and take notes.) The topics that come up can be developed into separate articles and published on your site. Hire a professional photographer to take high quality photos of your product, or the people providing the service you sell. Just like I don’t try to fix my broken pipe because I have a wrench at home, you should not expect to be able to take amazing photos just because you have a camera. High quality graphics and images attract your customers’ attention, and can appeal to them emotionally, so you want those emotions to be positive. The photos taken by a service person on the job, with his phone, may be useful to show a manager the situation, but will be neutral or may even be perceived negatively by a client. 

 So if you find yourself filling the shoes of a marketing expert, you are not alone. Focus on understanding and what is important to your customers, and make sure it gets answered clearly on your website and across social media. Ask for help with writing, web design and photography if you need it, and you will have the materials to position your business for success. 



Keeshi Ingram is the founder and principal photographer at Adaptive Camera, an Austin, TX based studio offering location and assignment photography services for companies and nonprofits. Her work is often used for marketing, PR, fundraising and social media. To learn more about Adaptive Camera, please visit our website @ AdaptiveCamera.com, see Keeshi’s portfolio @ Keeshi.com, or follow her on Instagram.

Play

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Play is a universal activity that binds us across cultures. It reminds us that those other people over there are actually a lot like us. As a photographer, I’ve discovered that it is exactly the act of play that makes photographing children so fascinating. For them, there is seriousness in the act that is as potent as any human subject can be. It is both work and leisure together and can contain the full spectrum of human emotion. For children, it is a chance to explore and discover what it is to be in the world and to connect with others. For the camera, it is a form of raw humanity that comes across easily and is a joy to capture.

As it turns out, play has perhaps gotten short shrift as a human activity. Lately, there has been a blossoming of articles discussing new studies that have brought to light the value of play in a plethora of unexpected ways. For a very thoughtful article about how the west has considered play historically and philosophically, check out the excellent article Reclaiming the Power of Play by Stephen T. Asma that was in the New York Times this week.


Based in Austin Texas, Adaptive Camera offers on location photography services for companies and nonprofit organizations. The images we produce are often used for marketing, PR, fundraising and social media. To learn more about Adaptive Camera, please visit our website @ AdaptiveCamera.com, or give us a call @ 512-808-0413.

Using Professional Photography to Create Credibility for Your Business or Organization

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Orphan Care


Large brands understand that creating a visual presence online is fundamental to their success. No one expects a company like Coca Cola to simply write a long essay about why they are great. They connect with their audience by reflecting back to them the people who drink Coca-Cola, and of course having a great time doing it. But what about other small to mid-sized businesses, especially those who are service oriented? How does this apply them?


Think of it this way: When you get a recommendation from somebody about a business or make a connection with someone you consider working with, you google their company to see if you like them. The design of the company website and the imagery included impacts your view of their value and credibility. It’s emotional. If you don’t like what you see, you probably won’t take the time to read whatever they’ve written. For a service company, this means bringing in the service visually, the image of who you are and what you do. You don’t have to show your customers being cool using your product, but you HAVE to show that you are a group of people who look like you can reliably do the work you are hired to do.




Keeshi Ingram is the founder and principal photographer at Adaptive Camera, an Austin, TX based studio offering location and assignment photography services for companies and nonprofits. Her work is often used for marketing, PR, fundraising and social media. To learn more about Adaptive Camera, please visit our website @ AdaptiveCamera.com, see Keeshi’s portfolio @ Keeshi.com, or follow her on Instagram.

The Selfie Stick

The selfie stick is not just for the young, but all those young at heart!

Tecolote Farm in Spring

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As Tecolote farm was gearing up for the spring CSA, we stopped by to take a look at the fields and see what there was to photograph for Katie and David. March had brought a lot of rain which made working in the fields a challenge, and yet we found rows and rows of neatly planted lettuce, kale, chard, leeks, broccoli and more. The farm is small and nearly all work is done by hand but it is large enough for some of the workers to jump on a bicycle and dash between the barn and the field.






Photography and Identity

The film Frame by Frame, created by Alexandria Bombach and Mo Scarpelli and premiering last week at SXSW, caught my attention because of the following description:

In 1996, the Taliban banned photography in Afghanistan. Taking a photo was considered a crime. When the regime was removed from Kabul in 2001, their suppression of free speech and press disappeared. Since then, photography has become an outlet for Afghans determined to show the hidden stories of their country.

I had not given much thought to the idea that photography could or would be banned or what that might mean for people affected. I was intrigued by the premise and made an effort to fight the crowd and get into a screening.

The main goal of the film is not to delve into the meaning of a photography ban in very much depth; instead, it uses this episode in Afghan history as a kick-off point for exploring Afghanistan as a place and to put the work and lives of four Afghani photojournalists into context. Much of the documentary focuses on the struggles of the photographers themselves and the importance they give to their work, especially the ability to make visible to the world the struggles that could otherwise go unnoticed.

 At the same time, the reality of photography being absent or limited in a culture underlies the entire narrative of the film, particularly in shaping identity. A particularly moving example includes one of the photographers, a woman named Farzana Wahidy, holding up a book with a photo from the 70s showing a group of smartly dressed women at the university in Kabul. Wahidy comments on how difficult it is to imagine that this photograph represents the way life ever was in Afghanistan. 

 Wahidy’s work, we find out as the film progresses, focuses on the experience of women in her home country. Throughout the film, almost at every turn, she is blocked in her efforts and told repeatedly that photographing women is a very sensitive subject and one that she ought to avoid. But she persists, and though she captures a quiet beauty in her subject, most women withdraw from the gaze of the camera even as they allow her to photograph them. 

 Wahidy’s photographs show a very different world of women in Afghanistan than the 1970s photo she proudly held up for the camera and seemed to resemble in her own demeanor. I couldn’t help wondering how knowing about that lost history - seeing it for herself - impacted her own identity. Whether it did or not, I’ve been thinking about this idea ever since. 

 We are all impacted by the identities that advertisers try to sell us, and photography plays an important role in that transaction. My job as a photographer isn’t only to watch the light and capture the moment, but to work with those photographed to craft an image that they want to share with the world – and to eventually use as a gauge for future onlookers to reference for themselves when trying to understand their own identity. 

A Great Time for Photography

I recently ran across an article in the British Journal of Photography discussing an issue of the French newspaper Libération published without photos. The issue coincided with the Paris Photo fair of 2013 and was meant as a gesture to draw attention to the value of photography and the work of photojournalists at a time when photographers were feeling under-appreciated.

Source and more images: British Journal of Photography

It was apparently a shock to those who saw it, but it does act as a reminder that we have not always lived in such a photo saturated time. It is intriguing that photographers feel threatened by an era in which society is so dependent on visual information that we would be surprised to see a newspaper published without its photos.

But I get it. Everyone has a camera in hand and is able to contribute to the barrage of daily imagery that we all expect today. Photography is no longer confined to those who dedicate their lives to it. But the fact is that not all photography is great, and it seems that the more imagery we are surrounded by, the more we hunger for it. It has become a prime tool for communicating ideas and the value of photographers should remain high, especially as we look at the online presence of people and companies in order to judge their quality and sincerity. In an analysis of the potential of Twitter’s new image heavy interface, the social media distribution company Buffer claims, among other things, that Tweets with images get clicked on 18% more than those without , 89% more Favs, and 150% more Retweets(Buffer)

And why is that? 

Put succinctly, “your brain is wired to make sense of an image or photo in milliseconds. Giant portions of your noggin are devoted to doing nothing else except for analyzing and reacting what the eyes see.” Much of human communication is inherently non-verbal. We can understand layers of meaning instantly when confronted with an image, making it a very potent communication tool. Additionally, we have evolved to have a very strong emotional connection to what we perceive visually. So as more and more social and business activity has migrated online, we benefit from taking as many visual clues with us as we can, hence the even more important function of photography in society. 

And from the plethora of business articles that sprung up between 2013 and now about the implications for digital marketer of the shift from words to pictures(Forbes), I feel confident that this is a great time to be a photographer.


Orphan Care in Uganda

Over the last 30 years of relative peace and stability, Uganda has grown into a hub for a surprising mix of missionaries, tourists, and humanitarian aid workers. It’s a lush country full of fresh fruits and vegetables, red dirt, and lots of people.

I traveled to Uganda in January with the assistant director of Nightlight adoption agency to get a first-hand look at the work she has been doing there. The story is a sweet one. Her agency has helped a small “baby home”—that is, an orphanage for babies and young children—get on its feet and grow over the last several years. While a few babies ultimately end up adopted by parents in the US, most of the children there are re-homed within Uganda or moved into a regular orphanage as they age out of the facility, which is only permitted to handle children up to age six.

 Many of these children, sadly, are brought into the home after being abandoned. Some are ill or malnourished when they arrive. But the children find a loving environment there and are assigned to a nanny who becomes a personal stand in for a parent. Nightlight, being a Christian organization, coordinates funding through churches in the US to help support the baby home. But despite this tight financial relationship between adoption agency and home, adoption is not a given, even for a child that seems “adoptable.” There is a legal process that includes a thorough examination of the child’s family ties, and no baby can be adopted who has someone in Uganda who claims her. In order to be sustainable for the future, the baby home is working to find ways to become financially independent because donations are not always enough to make ends meet. 

 When I visited, the directors of the home proudly showed off a newly finished facility that they plan to use as a medical clinic that would serve the community around them. The hope is that it would raise enough money to keep a doctor on staff that could tend to any of the children they have in their care. The facility was built on funds donated and raised by a family who lost a baby to illness before they had a chance to adopt her. Some of the photos I took there will also go to this cause in an annual fundraiser held in memory of that little girl, Vivien. 

 Because of my former role as a family photographer, I was also asked to photograph each of the nannies with her group of children for the home. Wherever those children end up, the nannies have created bonds with them that they cherish and want to remember. Many of the photographs from this baby home and another will also be used as gifts to large donors in the form of a book. You can see the full project by following this link: Nightlight Uganda Program

Donations for orphanages are often collected and taken along to Uganda with people who travel there.

The book is a collaborative project that I am working on with the assistant director of Nightlight Christian Adoptions in Kentucky, so it will take some time to complete. I’ll post it when we have it ready.