Alchemy/noun/: a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination.
I’m usually working on some sort of project whether it’s with photography or otherwise. Having numerous developments helps me stay focused and creates new skillsets. I wanted to take a few moments and introduce one of my most beloved projects.
For quite some time, I’ve been driven to inspire others to take a deeper look and drop their self-projective filters. People tend to rationalize the mindset of “You need to think like me and see the world like me.” Everyone has their own stories and life experiences that exist within, and these confines tend to become all-encompassing until they only see their own perspective.
Constantly, I see people get stuck in life with no association, and human beings need that social connection. There is an emphasis on “what will best serve me” while negating other people. I’ve seen a lot of people expect to be understood without likewise seeking to understand others. This causes disconnect.
That’s where Project Alchemy comes in.
I began this project to show there’s more than what meets the eye when we look at someone. It’s my desire to help people understand that fellow humans are more than physical characteristics. I want to inspire people to take a moment to look deeper and realize people around them may be going through the same things as themselves, This small act creates common ground. Slowly, a transformation can be witnessed. It’s taking something common (a face to face interaction) and making it into something special (a deeper heartfelt connection). Project Alchemy is about the process of transformation to see the deeper parts of people — The goal of this project is to inspire you to see other people for who they are, where they come from, and where they are going.
I can’t wait to share more of this story with you.
I was more serious as a kid. More than anything, I loved the idea of strategy and thinking things through. While English was torture, my refuge was math. So when it came to games, chess quickly grabbed and held my attention.
From a very young age, I relentlessly wanted to play. I lost hundreds of games to my patient father who got a kick, I’m sure, from my persistence to win. And win I did, more and more, to the point that my dad hasn’t played me in years.
One of the last times I played was against a ranked chess Grandmaster. He humbly smiled as we sat down to play. I threw a few jokes out about needing a crash course on how the pieces move. He laughed and said, “You aren’t fooling me with that talk.” He had been undefeated for a while. In fact, he was quick to brag under his breath about his victories around the world against other ranked Grandmasters.
I was the hired photographer for that weekend’s wedding, and I was shooting the rehearsal and family gathering the night before the wedding when I met this fine fellow. Shortly after meeting, I experienced one of the most glorious moments of my life by saying the words “checkmate” with tamed excitement.
He scratched his head in disbelief as the whole family looked at the marvel they just witnessed. Their world renowned, undefeated, patriarch had just met his match. Eagerly rushing the game pieces back onto the board, he humbly requested a rematch. Instead, I simply stood up, extended my hand, and said “Thank you, sir. However, I must get back to work.”
With his attention remaining intent on a rematch, my dear friend had a line of family members eager to play him instead. I had inspired the idea that what was once impossible was now possible. Never let someone tell you that you can’t do something.
Hi there, and welcome. Once in a while, I think it’s important to introduce who we are as people. Getting a glimpse into the interworking of humanity ties us together. So who am I?
I’m Joel German.
I am an investor of my time and talents into the betterment of those I meet. I am goal oriented and have clear direction in multiple aspects of life, and I choose to be intentional with my time. It’s important to me to leave people better than I found them. I lead conversations, relationships, and interactions in the direction of progress while investing my time in learning and growing others. Daily, I deliberately expand my network of people.
More than anything, it’s imperative to invest time and energy into advancing my photography skill set until others see me as the best in the world because I see myself as the best photographer in the world. I spend time daily honing my skills as I have clear goals I want to achieve.
This is my career and my life’s work. I use my photography to influence and motivate.
My personality allows me to draw near to people and learn their stories. I’ve learned to break down barriers where others cannot, and I create a trust in the interactions and relationships I develop.
Every day, I’m learning to be a better version of myself. I hope you’ll follow me on this journey.
The alarm retired any further idea of quiet peace. The new day was upon us. With it came adventure, opportunities, and excitement. I stirred from my bed and made my way through a warm shower and quickly pulled on the new day’s outfit. Bags packed. Gear loaded. It was time to hunt down some hot coffee and journey toward the Charlotte Airport.
Delta safely delivers us and our camera gear to a chilly Chicago. The date is November 7. In case you have not walked the streets of downtown Chicago in November allow me to enlighten you. Think dark, Winter night (Yes, I know we just arrived during the day but the weather was overcast). The cold air cut through clothing with each whisper from the wind like a warm knife glides through soft butter. Layers? We found out the hard way that 3 layers just is not enough. So it is with great relief that we pile into our rental car and start our trek in the direction of photography needs.
The nature of our wintery wonderland adventure is photography based. Our client, Vintage Elements, has installed some of the most beautiful reclaimed French Oak hardwood floors feet have ever enjoyed. Our mission, as we chose to except, is to capture the naturally stunning character of the floors before us. And capture it we did. This is one of many elegant installments Vintage Elements has hand made for its clients.
The temperature is flirting with the freezing line. Rain is coming down hard as it overwhelms the earth with its power. The debate between the group of runners begins as a text plea for mercy from peers, “Are we running tonight?” The group leader offers a way out for everyone with mention that he is still overcoming the linger of a cough. One group member takes the bait and yields to the poor excuse not to rise above the occasion. It is in this moment that the dark of night starts to solidify the feeling of staying indoors — Comfort and laziness cheer on at the idea of their assumed victory. As the flicker of motivation dims in our minds a last attempt is made at rallying the group. “We are running!” Exclaims the newest group member. “It’s going to be cold. We will get wet. However, with proper gear and the right mindset we will own the night. Get ready. We are running!”
Another group member quickly backs up the motion with, “Grab headlights! Let’s do it!”
I head for my gear closet and uncover my headlamp. “Let’s see how the battery juice is since I used this thing last?” After examining it I exclaim, “Fully Charged! This thing is a beast!”
It’s been 12 years since I purchased my Black Diamond headlamp. I bought it off the shelf of my local Half Moon Outfitters and since have put it to countless tests. I have put this thing through the wringer. It has been all over the world with me and seen the wildest of situations. From cave exploring deep beneath the earth to late night construction jobs in South America. This thing has seen more camping adventures than any one friend of mine. It’s been dropped, smashed against rock faces, soaked, run through all temperatures. And now, it is about to help light the way for me on this 5 mile trail run through the freezing rain. Bring on the night!
Who knows how old these batteries are but they brought those Black Diamond LED’s to life as if if were their sole reason for being. I made my strap adjustments and mounted my headlamp. With the rest of my gear applied I stepped into the experience that was about to be my life for the proceeding near future. Hello Wintery Hell. With my muscles already starting to contract in the cold of night I took off with my group of runners. I had numb feet two minutes later after blitzing through flooded trail. Still I ran. My light continued to lead my way through what some would call a “No – go” situation. I was on a mission — I had a goal to accomplish.
Acquire tough. Acquire Black Diamond.
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She offered a warm smile back and said, “I’m good. . .”
Camera in hand I asked, “May I photograph you?”
“Yes, but I don’t take good photos” was her bashful reply.
“Just keep doing what you are doing, and I’ll take care of the rest. . .”
It all started with the intent to rise from bed at the early morning hour of 5:30 AM to catch the sun as it peaked over the horizon. My camera was eager for an adventure and the sun-lit ocean surface would make an attractive background for the photos I was to present to my client. In theory this was going to be an amazing photoshoot. However, at that hour my body had other priorities; like sleep. Needless to say my agenda was altered when I missed my alarm clock’s wakeup call. This now meant that I had to catch the sunset if I was going to capture some stellar photos by the water’s edge for my client.
As I concluded my other duties for the day I watched for the perfect time to venture to the beach. I suppose it was around 6:30 in the evening that this prime time presented itself. With my gear in tow I made my way toward the coast and found an elegant area of sand to support my shoot. The sun was peaking in and out from behind the dark blue clouds in the sky. The wind was maturing to a point of being noticed. The ocean was having its typical conversation with the shoreline but today their connection was especially soothing and smooth. It was my camera’s favorite weather conditions and the products I was shooting looked great against this backdrop. Naturally as I concluded the product pictures my lens got curious about its surroundings. As I glanced up from where I was stationed my eyes were met with a delicate view. At some point while I was preoccupied with my original shoot the section of beach directly in front of me had been cleared of its inhabitants. In the void sat a lone soul. My lens was quick to act as I arose to my feet. I gently stepped forward as if approaching a rare bird in its natural habitat, but not wanting to spook it. In view, all alone with only her thoughts, a peaceful young woman sat in the sand penning her mind to paper.
The wind was ever so gently brushing her hair from her neck and face. Her sun-kissed skin made an attractive contrast against the bleached sand. She sat with her toes eagerly reaching toward the water’s edge. Disappointed in the water’s distance she let her toes play freely in the sand. Piled on her righthand side was a small collection of belongings. The only thing she seemed concerned with in the moment was embracing the free feeling provided by her surroundings and capturing her thoughts with pen and paper.
Approaching from behind I took a knee in the sand. Like a sniper preparing for his shot I made my camera adjustments and composed my photo. My index finger found home. Snap! What a beautiful picture. I smiled to myself and thought “This is my favorite type of photography. The world rushes to the beat of time and often misses the little details of life. However, for me, getting lost in time with my camera. . . seeing beyond the surface of life. . . and exposing a story with a photograph is true bliss. This is the future of Fourth Dimension Photography.”
I am a photographer by profession and my work takes me all around the world. I rely on my gear, and that includes my footwear. I believe in employing the best gear available so I make it a point to wear my favorite OluKai sandals during every shoot (even weddings). My sandals get a lot of attention, especially when worn to formal events and during cold seasons. I take these opportunities to suggest that OluKai shoes are the most comfortable shoes in the world and that I am most productive with comfortable feet. That being said I recently made a special request to OluKai.
My letter to them is as follows.
“Hello My Friends at OluKai,
I’d like to start by thanking you for creating the world’s best shoes. Seven years ago I discovered OluKai sandals and I’ve been hooked on them since. I’ve lost track of how many pairs I’ve owned over the years. I share my love for your shoes by suggesting OluKai as a ‘must own’ at every opportunity.
The last three pairs of OluKai sandals I’ve had the pleasure of owning share the same unfortunate fate of the one’s in my attached photo — the thongs broke. Granted, I’ve been to four continents and trekked many miles in this particular pair of shoes in the last year. If my shoes could talk then they would fill your ears with vibrant stories of the many adventures on which they have taken me. However, it was during a photoshoot this past week that my favorite shoes met their demise. I had to continue the photoshoot barefoot. This caused me to ponder a remedy. What if my OluKai sandal thongs were reinforced with steel cable? What if underneath their beautiful leather straps were a thin cable that somehow looped through the sandal base and thong? In theory this would eliminate the ability to rip the thongs in my next pair of shoes. I am writing you now to ask about this possibility. I am willing to pay extra to have a custom pair of OluKai flip flops made for me. I will wear OluKai shoes for the rest of my life. Therefore, why not have a pair (or many) made that are even more equipped to withstand the adventures ahead. I still intend to buy new OluKai shoes every year — I feel one can never have too many sets of the best shoes in the world. I simply need the sandal thongs to be more durable if I am to continue to sport them as my first choice for any and all adventures.
If you have an alternate idea for a remedy to the thong issue or would like to discuss the cable idea further then I am all ears. I simply wanted to make this special request before befriending my next favorite pair of OluKai sandals.
Thank you again for all that you do! I look forward to hearing back from you soon.
After my email to OluKai I received the following reply.
Thank you for contacting OluKai and for your support! It sounds like you have been on some amazing adventures. We will be glad to pass your inquiry onto our design team.
Also, we do have a one year warranty that covers manufacturer’s defects. At this time, we do not offer any repairs; however, I would be able to have them replaced for you if they are within the warranty. Please provide us with a few more details below:
Photo of the inside strap. . .
. . . size and color
Date of purchase. . .
Shipping address. . .
Once I receive this information, I will review the photos and respond to you as soon as possible. Please note, without providing all of the information above, I am unable to process your request. Thank you for your patience in the matter and I look forward to hearing back from you. Have a wonderful day!
Consumer Customer Service Rep
As I read over Amery’s reply I was a bit eager to hear what the design team had to say about my cable idea. Knowing full well that my sandals were outside of their warranty I readied myself for my next purchase. My feet were missing their best friends. I offered Amery the requested information, thanked her for her reply, and informed her that I had owned said pair of sandals for over a year and a half so I understood if they could not/ would not replace them. They had served me well. I reminded Amery that I will always be a big supporter of Olukai and I hinted that if she were feeling generous enough to replace them then I could in turn suggest even more sales for Olukai with my story. I had stirred quite a bit of excitement among many friends and clients prior to my correspondence with OluKai so many were awaiting the outcome.
In fact, I was meeting with a future client when Amery’s next reply came through. Amery thanked me for providing the information requested then continued to inform me that OluKai was glad to make an exception and replace my footware. She went on to tell me that she had already placed the order and that my new sandals would be arriving at my door within 5-7 business days. Amery concluded by thanking me once again for supporting OluKai and wished me a wonderful day. I was overjoyed after reading this last email from Amery. My client, Randy, noted the smile on my face after I glanced at my phone and asked me, “what’s all the excitement about?” I quickly caught him up on the story and by the time I finished reading aloud Amery’s last reply I was being requested to bring up OluKai’s webpage. Randy was now just as excited as I was as he browsed through the collection of shoes on the webpage in front of him. I was busy telling him how well OluKai shoes support my arched feet and how much more comfortable my entire body is when wearing OluKai compared to other shoes. I started saying that OluKai makes the best shoes money can buy, they take care of their customers, and I’ve worn my last pair for countless activities like: hiking in three continents, skateboarding the streets of Medellin, touring numerous big cities, a year behind the bar mixing drinks, casual running. . . Then, suddenly, Randy eagerly exclaimed “I am going to get a pair for my wife! I’ve been looking for something to surprise her with and I believe these are just the thing! I’m also going to suggest to my son that he needs a pair. . .” If I ask Randy today it wouldn’t surprise me if everyone in his family now owns a pair. I’ve since met a few others who have purchased OluKai shoes after hearing my enthusiasm for them and they couldn’t be happier with their investment. Several more have proclaimed that their next shoe purchase will be a pair of OluKai sandals. More and more people are learning about the best gear one can acquire for their feet.
If I asked you today what your favorite shoes are then what would you say?
Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a pair of OluKai Sandals.
Justin Mohr is a native to Greenville, South Carolina, where he currently resides. He is a fun-loving guy who has big dreams. Coupling his vibrant piano talent and his passion to serve people Justin aims to set the world on fire. He is passionate about bringing the people of the community together. You can find him on Main Street in downtown Greenville street-performing on an upright piano when the weather is warm. So the next time you hear the sweet sound of piano hammers humming against their strings it just might be this mastermind at work. The donations he gets from “busking” on Saturdays all support local charities.
Justin is also co-owner of Domojam Productions, which is a production studio that does recording, mixing, mastering, music, and video production. Check out his website at www.domojam.com and follow him on Instagram at jmoplay123.