Back to the Basics

After taking some time to look closely at my website and evaluate what I want to accomplish with it, I decided it was time to give it a complete make over.

What started me on this process was that there’s a lot of talk about missing Livejournal among my friends and so I want to bring back that sense of conversation and community as much as possible. I think that for my website’s re-design, I am going to go for a much more radical simplification and will strip things down to the basics while putting the blog’s content front and center.

The pages it will contain will also be stripped down to the basics: About, Contact, Policies, and a basic Shop (it, too, will be simplified). It will also include re-working the back-end, reducing plugins and functionality down to the absolute minimum needed.

It will remain on a managed WordPress installation with Dreamhost (Affiliate link) rather than reducing it down to a shared-host account, mostly because of the attached WooCommerce shop and server-level caching and reverse-proxy that the DreamPress account provides.

If it means tearing out the page-builder and it’s myriad modules, so be it. If it means reducing the topics and categories, then that too. If it means removing or re-writing past posts, then I’ll do that, too. Switching themes to a default theme and working within it’s limitations is completely an option, too.

Minimal, functional, and deceptively simple.

I feel up to the challenge.

Donald Trump lost. Now what?

Photo by kat wilcox on Pexels.com

Donald Trump lost the election for the Office of the President of the United States of America to Joseph Biden.

It’s over, so we can relax now, right?

There is a lot of talk about “coming together,” and “reaching across the aisle,” and even speculating that Biden should pardon that rat.

On the one hand, pardoning requires acknowledgement of one’s crimes, and admitting one’s guilt; otherwise, there is nothing to pardon. Getting it on record may be an important step and faster than an actual courtroom trial and a federal pardon still does not, in any way, absolve one from state level prosecution for the same crimes. It also won’t be seen as heavily partisan as other options.

The rat couldn’t easily scream “witch hunt” if the Feds pardoned him and let him twist in the wind before state charges.

But it would not amount to a full public reckoning for and full rejection of that rat and his cult.

Allowing the judicial process to take place, on the other hand, will allow for digging deep and a very public exposure of one’s alleged crimes. A deeply damaging case can be laid out, in full, for the public to see. Just as entire towns and villages were made to walk into and through the various concentration camps in their jurisdictions and forced to confront the evil that many claimed having no knowledge of, forcing the United States to bear witness to the full rot committed by the MAGAt cult is an important and necessary step if we want the possibility of a complete repudiation and rejection of it.

But it carries an enormous risk.

A warning from history

On trial for treason after the Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler was given a very public platform for his beliefs in the courts and he took full advantage of it. The unfortunate effect of the trial was his greatly increased celebrity, and the legitimacy his beliefs were granted, by allowing him such a public forum. His sentence was incredibly light, and he was given plenty of liberties that, again, he took full advantage of. During his time in prison, he dictated his manifesto and put his beliefs down in writing.

The MAGAt’s biggest liability and advantage is his own mouth, unfortunately. The rest of us will hear his dottering gibberish, incoherent rambling, nonsensical non-sequiturs, and insane conspiracy theories and will naturally recoil but his cult — his fanatics? They will hear him, loud and clear, as they always have and they will make a martyr out of him no matter which direction a trial may go.

Trump consolidated multiple groups with similar beliefs, created a platform, and legitimized all of them with his weaponized Twitter account and his coast to coast mini Nuremberg rallies, and birthed a fanatical anti-American movement. What he did was no different than what Dietrich Eckart and Alfred Rosenberg did in Wiemar Germany. They set the stage. Hitler took the spotlight and, eventually, Germany.

Another thing to consider is that if Trump ultimately faces federal prosecution for any crimes he may have committed before, and during, his time in office, remember how many friendly judges the GOP rubber-stamped into the federal judiciary?

The danger has just begun

November 3, 2020 was only the beginning of the most dangerous period United States of America has faced in at least a century and a half.

Trump may have lost the election and been voted out of office but rumor is that he is already looking at a 2024 run. If not him, someone with his blessing will run. The next one, embracing that rat’s MAGAt platform will have far less of their predecessor’s mental liabilities and all of his cruelty.

Are America’s institutions stronger than the Wiemar Republic’s was? We are certainly much older, but they have never been tested quite like the last 4 years, and counting, have tested them nor have they faced the potential enduring threat that Trump’s MAGA cult will continue to be for a long time to come.

Shego Cosplay Photoshoot with Ashley

Cosplay Photoshoot – Shego from Kim Possible

I went to Worcester, this past Saturday, to meet with Ashley for a photoshoot idea she had contacted me about. Not gonna lie, it was a cold day.

Massachusetts is under a COVID-19 stay-at-home advisory between 10pm-5am for most people, so the timing was a little challenging. We scheduled the shoot early enough to have day light available to set up equipment and have plenty of time available for photography, and late enough that we would not be fighting with bright sunlight or waiting too long for darkness to happen, in case we had some flow toys to incorporate.

Ashley did bring an LED light-whip; however, conditions were not conducive to effective long exposure photography.

In order to simulate darker conditions, I decided to work with lower ISO, a shutter speed around 1/200″ and f-stops between 4.0 and 5.6, while using a speedlight for keylighting. Also, taking into account some fan-art of Shego using a greenish outline to her hair against black backgrounds, I used the mobility and hands-free operation of the RTMS2000 with a second speedlight with a green gel to provide hair lighting. You can see the full effect of those settings in the photo gallery below.

Once we got started, the shoot went surprisingly quickly and we were able to maintain strict distance and shooting protocols with COVID-19 in mind. There were a couple of occasions where I had to lower my mask due to my camera’s eyepiece fogging up a little, but it was a temporary measure as needed. By the time we packed up, what felt like three to four hours of photography ended up being about two hours and I was able to maintain consistency across images due to simulating darkness through in-camera settings.

Cosplay photography is something I don’t do all that often, but I am glad for the opportunity to exercise some creative muscles after a fairly sizable drought, due to the every worsening COVID-19 pandemic, here in the United States. As always, I am happy to be around people who take precautions seriously, and are willing to take the extra little steps necessary to watch out for each other.

Thank you to Ashley and the RTMS2000, without whom this photoshoot could not have happened!

Shego Cosplay Photo Gallery With Ashley

Halloween Photoshoot at Burrage Pond

Halloween Photoshoot With a Demon and a Witch at Burrage Pond

This past Saturday, I met with some friends at Burrage Pond in Hanson, MA for some much needed photoshoot therapy together. It was the first time I picked up my camera since this past February, so I was a little nervous. Because COVID-19 rates are climbing again in the United States, I was considerably nervous. I have asthma and it places me into a higher risk group for serious complications because of SARS-CoV-2.

While organizing the shoot, it was important to be sure everyone present was on the same page in terms of what to expect, and that included outlining some procedures for everyone’s health and safety. I required a COVID-19 test to be taken two days prior to the shoot and if it was not possible due to timing, then strict social-distancing measures would be necessary. Thankfully, everyone involved understood and took precautions very seriously.

The day of the shoot itself went smoothly. The group of us walked into Burrage Pond in the late afternoon so we had plenty of light to work with, and so we had options on how to light and caught up with mutual banter and friendly roasting while I set up my lighting kit. It’d been so long that I was having momentary brain-farts, like “so how many batteries do I need for this flash again?..” Ugh.

We set up along a wooded pathway, isolated from everyone else, and very private. Perfect place for a photographer and his assistant to lure set up a shoot with two gorgeous models. The area included a large boulder off the walking path that was another perfect spot to use for the shoot.

The set up was a simple three point lighting kit. 1 speedlight and umbrella for the keylight, two gelled speedlights for the background and accent lighting, one red, one bluish-purple, all on basic manual radio-triggers. At the boulder, lighting was even simpler. The red and blue lights were set up for the background and accent lighting again while the key light was a handheld LED video light mounted on a voice-activated, remote-controlled, semi-autonomous, all-terrain capable mobile light-stand (my assistant).

The sun was setting, and shooting at night isn’t an issue more than trying to put away gear in pitch black darkness would be, so rather than shoot from the afternoon until around 9pm, it was better to call it a day around 7pm instead.

It was good to get back into a creative head-space again, after 8 months of self-isolating due to COVID-19. It was even better, more importantly, to be among people who were willing to be responsible for each other’s health and safety and who, clearly, value each other’s friendship. This pandemic has revealed a lot about people, who can be trusted, who is responsible, and who is worth making an effort for. I’m looking forward to another creative session with good friends soon!

Full Photo Gallery

Models:

  • Shayna Rose – Demon
  • Danielle MacNevin – Witch

Assistant:

RTMS-2000 – Artemis

Remember when?…

Do you remember the United States, before Trump?

Do you remember when a Presidential speech didn’t insult your intelligence?

Or didn’t whine about how unfair/fake/complicated/difficult things ere?

Or didn’t complain/brag about water pressure/washers/faucets/toilets?

Do you remember when a Presidential speech left you feeling energized not exhausted, inspired not dejected, filled with hope not dread, valued not anxious, and proud of America not ashamed?

meme of donald trump hugging and molesting an american flag labeled "i steal from charities." adrianfeliciano.com

Do you remember when a President could undeniably reject white supremacists and dictators, while giving no relevance to crackpot conspiracy theories, infomercial hucksters, insane medical advice, or a stupid baseball cap?

That criminally incompetent buffoon, his cronies, his enablers, his sycophants, his family, his ideals, his values, his legacy, and his grossly un-American platform must be rejected — rejected loudly, rejected unquestionably, rejected totally.

Get out there and vote for an America that we can all be proud of, again.

Shopify, WordPress, WooCommerce, MAGAts, and Trust

FTC DISCLOSURE: This website may contain affiliate links to different products or services. You can help to support this website directly by clicking on the link and making a purchase or signing up for a service that I linked to. I may earn a small commission for each referral. You may rest assured that if I recommend it in an affiliate link then I have personally used it or verified it. Even though the links are sponsored, the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Thank you, as always, for your support!

-Adrian

I’ll get right to the point. Shopify has lost my trust. Here’s how.

This week, Shopify had a data breech. Though it is currently small in scope it looks like this may be the final factor to really take into account while I consider the benefits and issues I can face if I decide to migrate American Bogan™ away from Shopify onto a WordPress site.

This website is built with WordPress and hosted on Dreamhost (Affiliate Link). Originally, it was under a different domain existing on Squarespace. Migrating away from Squarespace onto WordPress was a project that was more complicated than it needed to be, and highlights the risks involved in subscribing to a full website building platform instead of a building a site on a real webhost’s infrastructure.

Fact is, I have been mulling it over for a bit, now, based on little things that have been popping up. Shopify’s data breech will most likely the final factor.

Beyond the data breech, which all providers are at risk for from multiple attack vectors, I am noticing how much each Shopify based store is used to promote Shopify, without necessarily informing their users about it. Some people are fine with this. I am not.

ConsentMatters and #PrivacyMatters

You can see “Powered by Shopify” links in the footers of Shopify based websites, for example. Some users leave it because they do not know how to change it. Other users can remove “Powered by Shopify” (Google Search) through Shopify’s backend to read “Powered by Clown Farts and Dick Blisters,” but it does not change the actual hyperlink. The average user won’t necessarily know how to change the hyperlink through editing the theme’s code, but they can look up how to change it on the backend.

Problem is that any text you change it to, using Shopify’s backend, will still link back to a campaign-tracked back link to Shopify. Back links remain a classic SEO component. Nearly every Shopify store is coded with, what amounts to be, a hidden back link that isn’t easy to get rid of for most users.

screenshot of Americanbogan.com showing "powered by shopify" anchor text changed to "RemoveTrump #BlackLivesMatter #FuckTrump" and displaying the hyperlink behind it. adrianfeliciano.com
I temporarily changed the “Powered by Shopify” anchor text on American Bogan™ to “RemoveTrump #BlackLivesMatter #FuckTrump” to demonstrate the tracked hyperlink behind it and then deleted it all together once I took this screenshot.

One can argue that isn’t an issue BeCaUsE iTz ShOpiFy’s SeRviCe aNd PLatForm, and that is an absolutely correct and valid argument to make. In the end, it IS Shopify’s platform. Not yours.

I’d be lying if I said that I don’t care about Shopify’s willingness to platform MAGAt oriented shops. Trump’s campaign, and Breitbart’s webshop come to mind right away. To be fair, Shopify also hosts shops whose values are much more in line with mine; however, by using hidden backlinks in the footers of websites, Shopify is giving their subtle endorsement of that particular web-shop’s policies and politics, as far as I am concerned.

screenshot of breitbart webshop showing "powered by shopify" anchor text and displaying hyperlink behind it. Also, #FuckTrump #RemoveTrump #FuckMAGA #FuckAltRight and #FuckNazis adrianfeliciano.com
Shopify is using “Powered by Shopify” on Breitbart’s webshop to track the backlink and benefit from the SEO effects it can have.

Beyond the monthly hosting fees and transaction fees (depending on your payment processor), Shopify’s SEO is benefiting from those sites by using them for their SERP-enhancing backlinks.

The biggest factor, however, comes down to trust in the platform and control over my own content. In a nutshell, if I lose trust in one service provider, how easily can I migrate to a new one? As a corporation, my trust in Shopify has always been tolerant at best, and nearly non-existent at worst. This data breech, how they’ve responded to it, their use of un-disclosed backlinks, and their willingness to give a platform to (and use those backlinks to gain additional benefit from) the MAGAt cult, and multiple other minor limitations and factors, which I will get into below, have really started to pile up on top of each other.

I’ve already seen how complicated of a process it was for migrating my website away from Squarespace when it was primarily a blog and portfolio based site. I am now looking at rebuilding a fully functional e-commerce shop because the products, themselves, won’t easily migrate away. Printful, the main print-on-demand vendor I am using, cannot re-connect one shop to another and push all product data back to the new platform.

Once the migration and rebuild is done, several things become possible:

  1. I can have daily, weekly, and monthly backups of the entire website and can restore them at anytime. Shopify does not have backup functionality available for users. This is an enormous risk.
  2. WordPress has more than a few free themes that include backlinks in their footers. No big deal. If I decide not to dig into PHP and CSS code snippets to change it, I can always install a different theme that doesn’t include backlinks in their footers.
  3. SEO can be improved greatly — Shopify SEO is notorious for its poor implementation.
  4. Not that any product I create needs more than three options and 100 variations, but they’d be unlimited under WordPress.
  5. I can create multiple pages and blog posts to look pretty much how I want. With Shopify, the homepage is where most of the ability to alter the design is, at least for the free themes. Separate pages and blog posts are rudimentary, at best, and are very basic in design.
  6. If Dreamhost ever lost my trust, migrating to another WordPress installation on a different host will take, at most, a day if I am feeling lazy. Two if I am feeling exceptionally lazy.
  7. I can add on a support forum or other social features, up to and including a full blown social media site, if I really feel up to the challenge.
  8. Speaking of social features, both platforms allow for guest-checkouts. You can order a product without creating an account. With WordPress, I can help increase the overall security of my customers by requiring a social media account to checkout. That way, no user password is ever stored on my servers.
  9. Product reviews are already built into a WordPress based shop
  10. All of this for about $30 less per month.

Things that I will be giving up are minor, to me:

  1. If I want live shipping rates, I can only use one fulfillment vendor. With WordPress and WooCommerce, I cannot have products from Printful and Printify in my shop and use live-rates from both vendors. I’d have to stick with complicated shipping tables, or just use flat rates and price accordingly. I do, however, have to pay Shopify an extra $20/month just to turn on live-shipping if I don’t want the full $80/month plan.
  2. Shopify does have multiple channels available to sell through, integrated nicely by default, and you can add more. If I want to create Facebook ads, I can do it from within Shopify but they are limited in scope, and not always very efficient. I’d have to do them by hand, through Facebook.
  3. That’s not really an issue, since half of my stuff gets hilariously auto-rejected by Facebook’s algorithms, anyway.
  4. Shopify has integrated a rudimentary abandoned-cart email function. I’d have to find an effective one under WordPress (Adrianfeliciano.com uses a free one that is already more functional than Shopify’s),

In conclusion

What I’ll be giving up, realistically, is only the convenience of a well integrated e-commerce backend and a highly competent front end, for the ability to fully own and control all of my website’s content on a webhost that I trust (Affiliate Link) where I can build it to be whatever I want, to help better protect the privacy and security of my customers by having backups and the ability to improve on our security posture, and to reject a platform that tacitly endorses and benefits from dangerous, anti-American, ideologies.

What do you think?

Given the line of thinking in the post above, would you still consider Shopify for your e-commerce shop? Please me know in the comments below. You can leave comment after securely logging in using your Social Media account. It helps to greatly reduce spam on this website.

The US Flag, Becky, Photography, and Fire

US Flag on fire | Source: Jennifer Parr / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

The US Flag and Photography

It irritates me to no end to see the United States Flag used as a patriotic virtue-signaling fetish object by multiple photographers. Meanwhile, kneeling during the National Anthem is still seen as disrespectful.

To begin with, I do not mean anything US Flag styled, an embroidered flag, a lapel pin, or any representation of the flag itself. For example:

  • Flag-pattered bikini? I’ve no issue. It’s not the flag, itself.
  • Got a shirt with red, white, and blue and stars? Same. It’s fine.
  • Repeating flag patterned leggings? Bogan, but still acceptable.
tanned woman with longer blonde hair wearing a red, white, and blue, stars and stripped string bikini at a beach and saluting obnoxiously. | image linked from imgflip.com | adrianfeliciano.com
God bless America, indeed, amirite? | Embed Source: imgflp.com

However

I do mean an actual honest-to-God, Stars and Stripes Forever, Iwo Jima planted, Star Spangled Banner, I bleed red, white, and blue from my asshole United States Flag.

  • Are you conducting a beachside implied nude-shoot only the flag for “modesty?” You’re tasteless.
  • Did you wrap your teeny-bopper kid with an actual flag in a high-school senior portrait photo session and love how people simp and fawn over how beautiful the photo of Becky is? You’re indulging in gross fetishism on several levels.
  • Did you just beat the shit out of a Russian machine that destroys anything it touches, and use the Flag as a towel over your shoulders while preaching to those godless Commie bastards about how we can all change? You’re obviously a palooka from Philly.

Speaking of Disrespecting the Flag and Russians

Are you wearing a tiny flag lapel-pin for the cameras because it makes you a patriot in the eyes of your cult of morons while, you know, simultaneously sniveling as Vladmir Putun’s lap-dog Russian puppet? You’re definitely this guy:

Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump, Friday, October 6, 2017. (Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead)

Are you screaming orgasmically in a bizarre attempt to suck up to your boyfriend’s is-he-or-isn’t-he incestuous father while gesticulating loudly to an empty room in front of a wall of flags, there to serve as a simplistic visual aid for the Cult of Morons’ benefit? You’re Kimberly Guilfoyle, and I’ve got nothing else for you. Get help.

BuT AdRiAn wHaTaBoUt bUrNiNg tHe fLaG????????

In 1989, The United States Supreme Court upheld that burning the flag is protected speech under the 1st Amendment. I may not always agree with it, and it sometimes makes me uncomfortable to see as a Veteran; however, that’s the point and it’s exactly why the 1st Amendment exists.

On paper, no one is at risk of life, limb, liberty, and property by the Government for exercising free speech. It’s a power left to The People, as it should be.

One could argue that wrapping your sister with a flag for a quick portrait shoot is an exercise of artistic free speech, (which it is) but free speech is not an absolute right. Depending on circumstance, and context, your expression could be subject to laws concerning commercial activity, defamation, false advertising, copyright infringement, privacy, pornography, and more.

daylight photo of a young woman with us flag draped across her shoulders. she is leaning against a brick wall. | source Unsplash.com | adrianfeliciano.com
Does US Flag Code prohibit this use? | Source: Dan Russo via Unsplash

For example, go ahead and start marketing cocaine today as a miracle cure for your hayfever problem, and see what could happen to you when the Feds find out.

If You Disrespect The Flag, Are You Actually A Traitor or Treasonous?

I really am not sure what the point of all this is, as there are much more immediate and pressing issues. Black lives still matter, Trump is an incompetently malignant cancer, COVID-19 is still rampaging across the United States, and children are still in ICE custody.

No component of the US Flag Code is enforceable, and thankfully it cannot be. No statutory penalties exist for violating any of the strongly-worded suggestions contained with in because if they did exist, the Flag Code would be unconstitutional.

The United States Constitution left it, again, as a Power for the People to decide for themselves about how the Flag, or any other National symbol, may ultimately be used, as it must be. No soldier or politician or “peace” officer ever swears an oath of loyalty to any piece cloth, book, or impeached president. They swear to support, defend, and bear true faith and allegiance to the document guarantees that their own government will never call free-expression, journalism, art, photography, Satanism, and saying that “Donald Trump is a munted cunt who absolutely must be removed from office,” an illegal act. It is also absolutely not treason; however, constantly betraying your oath to bear true faith and allegiance, and to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, for Russia’s benefit is, according to the letter of the law.

Also, Be Grateful This Song Exists

Conclusion and Stance on Flags

My stance is simple. I won’t ever support arresting people for burning a flag, or fining them for wearing a flag as a diaper in an adult-baby photo shoot, or blowing their nose in Made In China flag-tissues, but at the same time, I will I never call any of them traitors and scream about treason.

I will, however, absolutely base my judgement of you, good and bad, on what you choose to do in that grand old Flag’s name.

How to Confront Q-Anon and MAGA

Confronting Q-Anons and MAGAts Is a Waste of Time

Trying to challenge Q-Anon and MAGA is an exercise in pointless futility, just like confronting any abuser directly or trying to intervene with a friend enthralled in an abusive relationship. They will only continue to dig in. They want to wear you out intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.

Challenging Q-Anons Is Like The Siege of Troy

I once got into a discussion with one of my professors during a class about epic poetry (specifically we were on the Iliad and the Siege of Troy) on how to confront UMass Administration more effectively than marching into the building and making a loud spectacle inside. At the time, UMass had multiple sexual assaults that were getting covered up, or ignored, and students were expressing their frustrations about how they would write messages out in chalk that would get washed away daily and that maybe they should march to the admin building and stage a sit in.

I pointed out that direct assault on a fixed and fortified position was always the worst idea, given a choice, and the building was designed in the style of a classical fortress when you looked at it carefully. Look at the Greeks attacking Troy; it was going on for ten years already by the time the Illiad started. A siege is a horrible waste of time and resources.

My prof asked what I meant, so I explained that it was on raised ground, exterior walls are difficult to climb, and the primary entrance was via a long ramp that funneled all foot traffic into a very narrow approach, etc.

He asked how I figured that and I said I had just gotten out of the Army a year earlier, and those were the details I noticed. Prof Freeman then asked, “Okay, so how would YOU take on the Admin building?…I said it was simple. Sun Tzu has already figured it out.

Use The Art of War, by Sun Tzu to Counter Q-Anons and MAGA

Staging a sit in was fighting the last war (relative to 60s era styled protests) and the Admin building was designed to fight the last war. Don’t ever go direct. Starve them out. You don’t write chalk messages that can easily be washed away cuz UMass doesn’t care about you, the student. They already have your tuition. If they were to protest, do it right in front of the walking tours for prospective students from high school. Target your messages to them. Make them question whether their children (daughters specifically) will be safe at UMass while they are evaluating where to pay for school with the threat of missing out on incoming students the next year.

It’s the same with Q-Morons and MAGAt Red-caps. Never confront them directly. Mentally, that is what they want. They will make you try to prove over and over and over how wrong they are while laughing at the effort you make to convince them until you wear yourself out in mental exhaustion.

Even if they start throwing “bUt iTs a DeEp StAtE pEdO rInG aNd TrUmP iS gOnNa eXpOsE tHeM aLL dO YoU aGrEE WiTh PeDoZ?????” don’t take the intellectual bait. Don’t try to have a rational discussion or dO sOmE rEsEaRcH to support your side. It’s what they want you to do so they can wear you down. They will never be open to actual discourse.

The only way to handle them is to find ways to go over, above, below, and around them. Out vote them. Out organize them. Out think them. Out flank them. Out last them.

Aim your message at people not already in their orbit, and cut off their ability to “supply and sustain” themselves in the field. Isolate them and render them as irrelevant as they deserve to be and counter the relevance that they have been given.

Do Not Confront Q-Anons or MAGAts

They are desperate for any confrontation. It feeds their cravings for self-victimization and reinforces their narrative and sense of self-importance as a result.

Don’t give any more relevance to Q-Anon and MAGA.

Fuck them.

Is Cloudflare Necessary With DreamPress?

FTC DISCLOSURE: This website may contain affiliate links to different products or services. You can help to support this website directly by clicking on the link and making a purchase or signing up for a service that I linked to. I may earn a small commission for each referral. You may rest assured that if I recommend it in an affiliate link then I have personally used it or verified it. Even though the links are sponsored, the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Thank you, as always, for your support!

-Adrian

This is just quick entry about using DreamPress behind Cloudflare.

Some very broad observations:

Turns out that putting Adrianfeliciano.com behind Cloudflare didn’t seem to have a huge impact on improving overall performance and responsiveness on the public facing end. Originally, my purpose for using Cloudflare was to add another layer to help reduce the overall impact of heavy traffic on my website’s servers, including DDoS attacks, while blocking traffic based on country, to help significantly reduce comments from spam-bots.

Problem was that, in someways, I felt as if Cloudflare actually slowed down initial page loading, from the backend. WordPress is incredibly finicky as it is.

As a result, I removed Cloudflare, and saw an immediate improvement in responsiveness to my website’s front end. I use DreamHost (Affiliate Link) as my webhost and domain name registrar. They already have a solid proxy-cache in place built around NGINX, via my DreamPress Hosting Plan, that can take on a MASSIVE traffic load. Rather than blocking entire countries through Cloudflare or marking individual comments one at a time, I decided to prevent spam-bot comments by refusing guest comments all together. One is now required to be logged in to an active account in order to leave a comment.

If you have something to say, and it is important enough, then you can say it with your name attached.

The only other thing that Cloudflare helped with was domain privacy. By using them as a proxy, Cloudflare also blocked my domain’s registration information from being exposed publicly. Thing is that DreamHost already does this with every domain you register through them (GoDaddy and Hostgator charge extra for domain privacy).

Bottom line is simple:

I trust DreamHost (Affiliate Link) to host my WordPress based website.

The Best Advice for New Photographers

Headshot portrait of Gabi at Bull Mansion, in Worcester, MA

New Photographer Advice

I wanted to pass on some advice to new photogrphers. Something I learned that applies to sales in general, whether it’s screening applicants as a corporate recruiter or selling digital cameras at CompUSA, Best Buy, or Ritz Camera absolutely is advice that applies to you as well:

I’ll be blunt here:

As a photographer, people don’t buy your photos because you’re “the best!” photographer in the world. There will always be another photographer who is better or cheaper. Suck it up, hero.

In retail, people don’t buy the camera you’re selling because you work at Best Buy when they can get that exact model at Amazon, probably for cheaper and without getting hounded about that stupid extended warranty all retailers try to push on you.

As a job applicant, people don’t actually hire you for your “unique” skill-set. I say this as a former staffing specialist at a global staffing firm: there are a thousand other products applicants with the same skills, same generic resume, same blasé personality, and they’re probably wearing the same tie that you are wearing.

TeLL mE wHy ShUd I HiRe U?

The Jerk Who Should Be Hiring You

The simple truth is that a randomly generated 64 character ASCII string is statistically unique. Your “skills” are not. Seriously, according to the GRC Haystack, the fastest it would take to crack the following randomly generated 64 character string as a password is an estimated 12.06 million, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, centuries or 1.206 x 10^105 (120,600 googol?) years, according to a more mathematically-learned buddy of mine:

x~avk./i<hP^,)YW4^L!Qm}T`4Sg)f=F6VBSi5EjNR]@f&??:^Gu[VJxLq7QzSR

The point is:

In reality, we are all just selling the same crap and there is nothing unique about your products, your skills, and your rates. There will always be someone else selling the same camera, taking the same types of photos that you do, or who has a similar skill set. Someone else will always will be better, cheaper, hungrier, luckier, or more connected than you are. It is a frustratingly difficult lesson to learn and a brutally humbling truth to accept.

If that is true, then what actually differentiates you from any another sales person, new hire, or photographer trying to stand out from the huge crowd of your competitors? You do.

Yes, you.

You stand out because they are not you and they will never be you.

red haired woman with white gauze covering her eyes and clay smeared on her body. portrait of Sunshine © adrianfeliciano.com
Portrait of Sunshine as she gets prepped for an art project by Soyoon Cha.

Here’s a little secret advice:

The only reason why people buy from you or decide to hire you is because they like you. That’s it. That’s all.

As this article on Petapixel describes:

If you want to play in the ‘commodity’ lane and be compared on your prices, yeah, you’re gonna be made (sic) when someone comes out who is cheaper than you […] But if you manage to step out of that lane and sell yourself based on value and experience, then you never have to worry. Never once […]

Heather Lahtinen, The Flourish Academy

In the end, I, you, they — anyone with a camera really — can take a photo. Most will be god awful. Some will be much better than you. A lot better. So what? Do you, and keep taking photos.

Anyone with a camera can photograph poi spinning culturally-appropriative dready-haired spunion wooks and hoop spinning burner yoga goddesses at a festival. So what? Do you, and keep taking photos.

Anyone with a camera can do a half priced, fifteen minute, mini portrait session weekend flash sale at a park. So what? Do you, and keep taking photos.

Anyone with a camera can be an independent ‘tog who specializes in newborn, family, maternity, wedding, social media, product, influencer, mom-blogging, solopreneuer, boss-babe photography. So what? Do you, and keep taking photos.

Anyone with a camera can be a creepy GWC neckbearded fedora-tipping milady incel master-rigger with a sketchy modeling contract who trawls for “open minded” talent on Model Mayhem and FetLife for nude shibari “art” collabs. So what? Do you, and keep taking photos.

behind the scenes snapshot of a portrait photography session. the image shows the back view of photographer in black shirt, bdu pants, and boots directing a female bodied person, also in black, next to an off-camera flash and umbrella on light stand to frame-left. They are on a leaf covered trail in the woods near Burrage Pond, in Hanson, Massachusetts. | Image © Danielle MacNevin and is used with permission | Visit adrianfeliciano.com for more photography related content!
Sometimes, a good GWC can get models to meet them alone in the woods

Anyone with a camera can always be cheaper, more expensive, less skilled, have better equipment, use retro cheap gear, specialize in natural light, be a Strobist snob with a 3 pointed lighting kit and run an assembly line headshot boudoir business as they masturbate endlessly in photography oriented comments sections about off-camera flash, LED video lights, Sony ruleZ, laughs in EOS, Nikon 4 Lyfe, M4/3 cultism (RIP Olympus) while getting more likes on their vlog about photography (hit that Subscribe button!) than you ever will, all while hating on the latest Peter Lik abomination. So what? Do you, and keep taking photos.

Do what you will. Create your own market how ever you decide. Fill it with fanatics who love you and love your work. Market yourself as the best experience for your clients. Charge what you feel you are worth, charge the average for your market, overcharge, or give away the store. None of those options are sustainable in the wrong market, anyway. So what? Do you, and keep taking photos.

The photographer who is stalking your posts on Facebook and complaining about your choice to charge a fee or not? They don’t have a market that actually supports their photography. They haven’t differentiated themselves enough on anything but price simply because, as they’re unconsciously realizing, that anyone with a camera can be a photographer, and it terrifies them. So what? That’s entirely their problem to figure out. It’s never your problem. Do you, and keep taking photos.

Realize that you differentiate yourself from all those other people. You are not any of your “competitors,” and that is your greatest asset. Run your shit up the nearest flag-pole as high as it can go, and see who salutes it.

So, if I could pass on just one piece of advice, from one photographer to another, it is this:

Clients will hire you because they like you. Do you, and keep taking photos.

“The Best Advice for New Photographers,” by Adrian Feliciano

That’s it.

That’s all.

Good luck.