There are too many choices in life: coffee or tea, chocolate or vanilla, Coke or Pepsi, and Shark versus Dyson. Of course there is paper versus plastic, hot versus cold, and jam versus jelly. I could go on and on but you get the point.   I recently had to face the big brand duality when considering what type of vacuum to buy. I asked around, searched online, and read the descriptions and reviews. I was pretty thorough, as I am about most things.  It was an important issue given the necessity of keeping my work storage room clean. Maybe you don’t know it, but dust is the enemy of camera equipment and I go to great pains to seal the area and never open the window. When it does get dirty, I clean it by hand which is not that effective. Now that I have a Shark (the winner in the would-be competition), I can simply put on various attachments and get every little nook and cranny. I don’t expect my camera to show a flake of dust. It means that I have let my standards lapse.

I chose the Shark for many reasons in case you were wondering and are facing the same appliance dilemma. It is a bit cheaper and has a great reputation that rivals the phenomenal Dyson. The Shark comes with all sorts of attachments whereas with the comparable Dyson, you get only the four basic tools. I needed more than that: the crevasse tool, the small brush, the wood floor attachment, and the automatic duster. I wanted bagless and it was a tossup between the two. Neither uses this old fashioned form of dust trap. Both are easy to wipe down and fold up.

I wish all life’s decisions were as easy as deciding Shark vs Dyson. Picking ice cream was harder. Ha! I am thrilled with my vacuum and appreciate its compact size. It is light weight for maneuverability and every so easy to store in a rather small closet which is all I had left. Other available space has been given over to photography equipment old and new. Both brands were entirely possible and it came down to a matter of color, material, and design. I have an eye for these things as I am trained to look at the work intently with a great deal of focus. Once I made my pros and cons list, it was a quick decision and I have no regrets. The Shark is a superior machine, well-engineered and reliable. I don’t expect any problems. I can clean to my heart’s content. My dust rags are getting a rest.

It is a nightmare to get dust in your valuable equipment. It is hard to remove given all the tiny parts involved. It can affect a camera long term if you let it sit for a long time. I now have a regular routine. I call it Shark time.

Cleanliness is next to godliness. Who made that up because it is so true in my case? It could be my personal motto. I am so fastidious about keeping my camera equipment clean, not to mention my house. People say that I have become a fanatic and I don’t mind. I will stay on my quest for perfection. As for the camera, I have special cloths and solutions for the lens so nothing is harmed while it gets the once-over. Every tiny nook and cranny is inspected by my keen eyes. My assistant can barely stand to be around when I am in this cleaning mode. Why on earth did I hire him? If you want clean, you have to do it yourself.

Nothing in my house is exempt. I have the tidiest rooms, floors you could eat off, and the most spotless kitchen and bathrooms on the planet. What is my secret? I use deionized water in my cleaning solutions. Yes, I make my own thanks to my new reverse osmosis water filtering system from It produces the purity I require. Sure, I could buy the water at the store, but that is ridiculous. (Please, no comments).

Since the system was not that expensive – a mere few hundred dollars – it pays for itself every week in terms of my savings on bottled water. It is so pure that I could drink it. Of, course I do. I put it in the fridge in special bottles that I take with me wherever I go. As for cleaning, it produces streak-free windows and smudge-proof appliances. It was easy to install with the help of a pro who came without charge from the filter company. He assured me that there is no maintenance required so I can spend all my time cleaning my house instead of tending to the filter. Besides, he comes back every six months on his own to replace the old one. I can go on wiping down the bathroom tile, scouring the sinks, and ridding the wood floors of dirt and dust. If I had a pet, you wouldn’t see one stray hair.

How did I get this way? Did my mother beat me into submission if I refused to do chores? Of course, not. It is about hygiene and healthy habits. I abhor the idea of getting sick. This may be the true cause of my mania. I hate it when I have to use a phone that someone has spoken into. It must be loaded with germs. I will not use another person’s comb or brush. There is not even the smallest possibility of sharing a glass or toothbrush. So, let’s hear it for cleanliness. Who wants to live in a pigsty? I recommend a water filter for each and every one of you who wants to drink the best smelling and tasting water around. It can rival Evian, Fiji, and Sparklett’s any time.

As a photographer, I get plenty of work even though everyone has a mobile phone, mp3 player, laptop, and tablet. They are all cameras of sorts, but I won’t let them out me out of business. If people try to capture the great moments of life on their own, I tell them, “but are they good?” I know they aren’t. There will always be a place for the true artist with a trained eye. When it comes to her wedding, in particularly, the bride will never skimp. It is a once-in-a-lifetime milestone and she doesn’t want it ruined. The guests can take all the candid pix they want and post them on Facebook. No matter. I do the final wedding album for posterity. I know the traditional poses of the couple alone, during the ceremony, and with the cake, and of course the entire wedding party. Then there are all the shots of the reception with people dining, dancing, and rejoicing.

I have many stories about these wedding, mostly good. Occasionally something goes wrong but my photographs never show it—only happy smiling faces. That’s all people will remember twenty years from now. I greet old friends at the weddings in my area of Albany and I make new ones. We often know the same people. It is a wonderful opportunity to socialize. Recently, I ran into a florist I have known for some time and it was fun to catch up after my work was done and in the can, so to speak. She was making sure that I had captured her beautiful decorations when I noticed her cool backpack. It’s something I’ve been looking at getting for myself, so I instantly recognized the style from It was a business tote given that she was at work. I have a leather zippered camera bag and another all-purpose tote for accessories and odds and ends. While I was admiring her choice, we started talking about how important it is to have relationships with other wedding vendors for cross-referrals. Thus, she always brings a stack of business cards.

“It is part of marketing yourself,” she said. “Self-promotion doesn’t have to be offensive or obvious.” I can see that. People often come up to you and ask for the card before you even approach them. I always have a few on hand. “Bridesmaids are your target market,” she added. “Introduce yourself and talk about their future plans. Every woman dreams of the perfect wedding. But don’t pull out your sample book as it would be tacky. Give your website out for sure.” We agreed that exchanging phone numbers is acceptable but not if it takes too much time. After all, this is the bride and groom’s event.

Weddings are good business now and they always will be. No matter how the world turns and how modern life becomes, couples consider their marriage day to be a major event. Whether you design the flowers, cater the food, take the photos, or provide the entertainment, it is a day for you to shine.