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Thankful 2015

So many people sharing what they are thankful for this season, I thought I would share my first 11:
1. Food – Have access to good food and water.

2. Shelter – Do not worry about being cold, wet, or hot during inclement weather.

3.  Clothing – have resources to keep my family warm & dry.

4.  Finances – Not wealthy however have sufficient resources not to worry day to day or check to check.

5.  Health – Our family is healthy and no terminal diseases.

6.  Future – Have the knowledge that the future is hopeful and full of opportunity.

7.  Work – Both Shalom and I have the ability to work with some of the best public safety and national security professionals in the business.

8.  Time – Our schedules allow for us to spend a lot of time with our girl growing up. The one resource that is not renewable.

9.  Location – Live in a place that has four seasons, access to outdoor activities and a community that is great.

10.  Wife – Married for the past 14 years to a wonderful wife who happens to be an awesome mother as well.

11.  Family / Daughter – We have been blessed with the most wonderful girl there is.  We may have nuts on this family tree but we love them all.  Our daughter isis energetic, healthy and learning each day.

There is a countless list of things to be thankful for but here are a few that came right to mind.

We wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.

Rick, Shalom & Enya Shoaf

Margaritaville with the family

Enya @ 2 years old



Chapters of Life – First two lessons

As I look at life, I view it not as years old but as chapters of life.

First chapter that I can remember was the toddler years.  What do I remember.  Running up and down stairs, running from a goose and sometimes mom.  Lesson learned from those days, watch where you are going or you could fall down, but the trick is to get up quickly and brush it off.

The next chapter I can remember was the first days of school.  Although I think there was a lot of running, the most memorable moments was on the soccer field and going ankle to ankle without a shin guard, after repeatedly being told to wear them by the nuns.  Lesson learned, listen to the nuns, and when you don’t, don’t curse, and when you do curse, don’t try to cover it up by some random thought like “Dam it, just like Hoover and Bagnel Dam”  Just to be honest, that was not the dam I was speaking of when in 2nd grade and the nun’s called me on it.

So as far as the first two chapters of life, I came up with two thoughts:  

1)  Run hard, fall quickly, watch where you are going then get up and run again.

2)  Listen to those who came before you and when you don’t listen to them, don’t complain about it.  

I will share some more chapters soon.  Share some of your lessons of life as well in the comments.

Your fellow adventurer in life,


Counter-Terrorism to Weddings (part 2) “What skill sets translate?”

By Richard Shoaf, Founder/Photographer, RS7 Studios & STCI

Last time I talked about making the leap from CT to photography.  This time I will discuss the 7 key elements that directly translate from one profession to the other.

1)            Training and Education:  Essential in both professions and the concept of being a “lifetime student” is critical.   “Iron sharpens Iron” as you will here over and over from our team at RS7 and STCI.  If you work and train with the best you will become and remain the best.

Shoot House - Range Day 2

Shoot House – Range Day 2

2)            Planning:  As for any commercial photography/cinema project, wedding or emergency operation, prior planning prevents poor performance.  The “peter principal” is still just as germane as in any profession.  Conditions change, (lighting, weather, schedule et. al.), plan for it. Know your location, scout the high ground and plan your shot.  Own the High Ground.

Wedding Venue Scouting in Ft. Myers

Wedding Venue Scouting in Ft. Myers

Get to the location before the opportunity presents itself.

Get to the location before the opportunity presents itself.

3)            Exercise & Trade Craft:  When scouting locations and planning your shot you need to train like you work.  Don’t simulate conditions, get out there in them and see how you will perform.  Get out and shoot in the cold and heat to see how you and your gear respond.  When it is raining see how you can adapt you and your equipment to perform when needed.

Get out and work on the location before you need to preform.

Get out and work on the location before you need to preform.

4)            Logistics:  Sun Tzu “ The line between disorder and order lies in logistics…”  You can be the best photographer or CT operator in the world but without the right equipment, at the right place, and at the right time you are useless.   Know your gear.  Stage your gear and prepare your gear.  Recently at a wedding we pre-staged lenses and spare lighting units forward from our location so as we progressed we would have them where we needed them.

5)            Accuracy & optics:  Sighted in your primary and secondary weapon it is mission critical.  Checking your optics and calibrating your focus sensors is just as important to a sport or wedding photographer.  You want your images to be tack sharp if at all possible.  Sometimes conditions do not allow for this however this should be your goal.

Range Day 1 - STCI - HazSWAT Operations

Range Day 1 – STCI – HazSWAT Operations

6)            Think then Act:  Observe behaviors and know when to take the shot.  As you observe people you can tell when and how the will act and when they make their motion to move you will be ready.  There is no reason for a professional to lock in and shoot 11 frames a second to get lucky for an image (save some sport photography – that’s another article).

7)            Develop unique skill sets:  This somewhat goes with training and education but you want to have a specialization and the ability to be a generalist.  You should have a base foundation of skills across multiple disciplines to translate into your work.  You also need to develop your specialization and hone your craft so it stands out from others.

In short, work and train hard with the best while developing your craft.

2012 in review for our blog at RS7 Studios & Richard Shoaf’s personal / professional blog

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The London Olympic Stadium is 53 meters high. This blog had about 750 visitors in 2012. If every visitor were a meter, this blog would be 14 times taller than the Olympic Stadium – not too shabby.

Click here to see the complete report.

Fiscal Cliff and the New Year

A parallel entrepreneur’s perspective By Richard C. A Shoaf, Founder STCI, RS7 Studios & Compass Consultant Services

Here we are again, setting on the edge of our seat awaiting the stalemate government debating to do their job and compromise to clear the log jam of government.

As a small business owner if we failed to set our budget for years on end with customer service ratings in the single digits for over 4 years we would not be in business.

Dear Senators and House Members:  Wake the heck up.  We are unhappy with your performance, on both sides. Democrats, time to cut the spending in a way that actually affects our budget.  It will require programs that your “favorite contributors and constituents’” like but its time to cut, cut and cut some more. Republicans, it will require an increase of revenue, caps on deductions and cuts to eliminate the deficit.  Yes this is to the military and homeland security.  There is waist, fraud and abuse across government programs and it is time to seek them out and fix it.  These people and programs will be better for it in the end and we as citizens don’t need ice delivered to our door an hour after the power goes out.  We can be self-reliant for a period of time.  We should, on our own have a plan, prepare and be ready for loss of power or heat.  Those who do not, then they suffer the consequences of not being prepared.


When we come upon financial hard times we tighten our belt and move forward.  We put money aside for the bad times and spend it wisely.  You continue to spend good money after bad.  Boys & Girls in congress, and you too Mr. President, time to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Is the fiscal cliff is actually all that bad?  Taxes go back to where they where not too long ago and government spending gets cut 10%.  Time to knock off these subsidy programs and let market value prevail too.  Foreign aid to countries that are not our allies needs to be dropped off as well.  A dollar saved is a dollar earned, but I don’t think that is how any of you think as your approval rating is in the single digits and the rest of us are watching.   As General George Patton said “Lead, follow or Get out of the Way“.

Getting the shot at the wedding, as a photojournalist…

By Richard Shoaf, RS7 Studios

There you are, working with your trusted fellow photographers at an amazing venue as a Saint Louis Wedding Photographer.  The location is all ready, the guests are arriving for the big day.  Your primary photographer is diligently creating the images that will be the new families heirlooms while you are functioning as the “second shooter”.

The term “second shooter” is not exactly what one would think sometimes.  The “other” photographer has lots of responsibilities and often is allowed the freedom to capture those unique moments of raw emotion while the primary photographer is being a good steward of their time creating images that are expected.


I find while “second shooting” I have the freedom to capture those emotional moments that are unscripted while disappearing into the landscape.  There are many rules of wedding photography.  One that should be headed is, a wedding should always have no less than two photographers.  Moments have and will be lost if you are only bringing one photographer to the big day.  Primary and secondary photographers are not necessarily subservient to each other; they are a team with the goal of capturing all of the moments while documenting the day for the couple to share with their children and grandchildren.

Limited Edition Prints for Christmas

Limited Edition Prints for Christmas.

Looking for that unique gift that is awe inspiring?  Stop by our art gallery and studio in Lake Saint Louis and see our Fine Art Prints on canvas, acrylic, and metal.  We can have them wrapped and delivered to you before the holidays.  We only release one new Limited Edition Fine Art Print a month.  Stay tuned for December’s announcement.