Be a closer

I'm currently reading Atomic Habits by James Clear, a book I'm enjoying very much. There's a passage that caught my attention:

On the first day of class, Jerry Uelsmann, a professor at the University of Florida, divided his film photography students into two groups.

Everyone on the left side of the classroom, he explained, would be in the “quantity” group. They would be graded solely on the amount of work they produced. On the final day of class, he would tally the number of photos submitted by each student. One hundred photos would rate an A, ninety photos a B, eighty photos a C, and so on.

Meanwhile, everyone on the right side of the room would be in the “quality” group. They would be graded only on the excellence of their work. They would only need to produce one photo during the semester, but to get an A, it had to be a nearly perfect image.

At the end of the term, he was surprised to find that all the best photos were produced by the quantity group. During the semester, these students were busy taking photos, experimenting with composition and lighting, testing out various methods in the darkroom, and learning from their mistakes. In the process of creating hundreds of photos, they honed their skills. Meanwhile, the quality group sat around speculating about perfection. In the end, they had little to show for their efforts other than unverified theories and one mediocre photo.


This is yet another good example of why we shouldn't aim for perfection, why we should experiment and try different things and shoot a scene as much as we need.

We want to avoid overthinking our photography and become paralyzed.

Planning, strategizing and studying are all good and useful but eventually we will need to take action.

We need to finish what we start.

We need to be closers.

Loosen up

Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world. In a sport where every millisecond counts, you'd think he had the best running technique. He didn't.

The real difference comes to light when you compare him to his rivals. While everyone is tense before the race, he's smiling and already having fun. While everyone runs like perfect machines, his form is natural, light, and yet powerful.

Is he having fun because he's so good? Or is he so good because he's having fun?

I believe it's the latter.

Perhaps we could apply this to our photography. Perhaps we should loosen up, have more fun, improvise more, think less, forget about proper technique, dismiss proper composition.

Where does "aows" come from, anyway?

This is a question that comes up every once in a while.

Years ago I decided that I wanted an email address like It looked cool, I guess.

otero wasn't available in any of the major domains, so I started to look for alternatives. I eventually found ws. This is the domain for the country of Samoa and I guess they weren't selling many because they started promoting it as an acronym to website.

adrian - otero - website

That was the idea. I liked it.

Today, I don't know of anyone using that domain in that way.

Anyway, about that time, Twitter launched and I had to get a username. I went for "adrian otero ws", aows. I loved how short it was.

Over the years, I kept using the same username in every social network and platform I signed up for, including Instagram. That's where my photography career started, and since I couldn't find a better / easier username I stuck with it.

And this is where aows comes from.


What makes a photographer great is not their camera gear or their skills.

Photography is about the long game, it's about perseverance.

When everyone else sees nothing, they find something. In times when others shy away, they perform their best.

Determination is invincible.

Taking the Rolleiflex out

I took the Rolleiflex out and tried to make a few images in Chain O'Lakes, here in Indiana. I talk a little bit about the main features, what I like, and what I don't.

Every shot has to count


I used to believe that every frame should count. A higher ratio of "keepers" would definitely mean I was a good photographer.

I was dead wrong. No, not every shot has to count.

Photography should be more about experimenting than about being certain, more about playing and less about thinking.

A weekend in Indianapolis

I got to spend a couple of days in Indianapolis, the capital of Indiana. It was my first time there, and I really enjoyed the city. I didn't have a lot of time for photography, but I did what I could.

This is the video of our weekend in the city.

Images from the Elkhart County 4-H Fair

The Elkhart County Fair was one of my first experiences in America when I moved here back in 2013. It was definitely different from what I was used to, to say the least.

6 years later, I went back. It was a fun day of fair food, attractions and even a Demolition Derby.