From Broken Ribs to a Book Contract

Kim and a friend at Park of the Pines campground.
Kim and a friend at Park of the Pines campground.

Thanks to Kim (on the left), I am a published book author. And therein lies a tale.

Kim was at a summer youth camp at Park of the Pines in northern Michigan and I was on the staff. One afternoon right before supper, she asked me to race her to the dining hall. At more than twice her age, it didn’t make sense to me so I said no. She asked again and I said no again. When she asked a third time I said yes. If it was that important to her, I would do it, no matter how foolish I looked.

I knew I wasn’t going to win the race, but I did my best and I was actually doing pretty well when my foot caught in an exposed tree root and I went down. Hard. On a boulder. The pain in my chest was the worst pain of my life. 

They took me to the nearest hospital for X-rays. Four broken ribs. The broken ribs were free floating. They weren’t even touching the rest of the rib cage so I ended up with the nickname “Short Ribs” for a while.

Driving four hours home after camp was an issue. Driving or riding in a car hurt. In fact just about anything physical was an issue. So many normal things I usually do caused me pain.

For a few weeks my doctor would not allow me to drive more than 15 minutes from my home. Then 30 minutes. Then 45 minutes. Much of my job involved travel to locations an hour or more from home, so for several weeks I was seriously limited in what I could do. I had a lot more time on my hands than usual.

For several years I had been teaching photography at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and my students had been bugging me to put up a web site. Now I finally had time to do that. I put up a lot of informational articles in the “Learn” section, including several articles on exposure and metering. 

Several years later an email arrived in my inbox from Barb Doyen, a respected literary agent. She had found my web site and the exposure articles. She was looking for an author who could write a book on exposure. Another author had started the book and backed out so she needed someone right away. She asked if I was interested. I was.

Before a contract was offered I had to write an outline for the whole book and one complete chapter. I did and they (Wiley Publishing) liked what I wrote. They offered me a contract to write a book for the well known Dummies series.

Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies

Four months of feverish writing, editing, and photo selections followed. Then the final revisions and decisions about final page layouts and the book went to press. It was an exciting day when I got my first copies in the mail and the book showed up at Amazon and in book stores.

Lightning over Lake Michigan.

Field trip, photography workshop, lightning over Lake Michigan.

I still go back to Park of the Pines in the summer, but instead of doing youth camps I am there to lead photography workshops. And when I do, I think back to that foot race. During one of the photography workshops Kim walked in the door. Without my knowledge, the workshop manager and Kim cooked that up. It was a very special surprise!

No race, no broken ribs. No broken ribs, no web site. No web site, no book. Kim felt bad for a long time about my broken ribs. But since it turned into a book contract, and one of the most highly rated photography books at Amazon, I think she has mostly gotten over her sense of guilt for challenging me to a foot race.

Thanks, Kim!


Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies at Amazon

All about Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies

Park of the Pines Photography Workshop, June 12-15, 2020

Park of the Pines on beautiful Lake Charlevoix near Boyne City Michigan