Thomas E. Schmuki Photography

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Harley Davidson

The struggle between honesty, transparency, and marketing

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This may be one of the most difficult blogs to compose, and perhaps even more difficult to read.  Family and friends, please do NOT be offended by my brutal honesty in this BLOG.  Hey, it may be my last blog depending on the results.

A previous peer who I have not heard from for maybe 25+ years, fellow co worker and friend who has been silently following my works, my blog and my photography reached out to me yesterday.  Reggie thank you for reaching out to me after all these years.

Reggie was very complimentary of my photography and my commentary, and even my blogs.  Her comment haunts me … “I see a touch of sadness in your words, but thats understandable ….”

I learned a lot from her commentary.  First of all, I just may have followers, silent ones who read my words, appreciate and admire my photography, and perhaps even enjoy some of it.  Based on the lack of clicks, read throughs, and commentary, I always assume no one is seeing, no one is reading, and this whole thing is just a platform for a personal/public journal that only generations in future may see. Perhaps I see it as personally therapeutic.

My next door neighbor yesterday stopped her car while I was washing my motorcycle and told me how much she enjoyed and appreciated my journalistic commentary and photos of my motorcycle trip to North Carolina.   Again, I had never known she was watching, stalking from afar so to speak. It made me happy.

To get better context to my commentary, you may want to read or review the following blogs:

The Shy man with a Camera\

My Birthday Wish

Ten things you probably don’t know about me

The moment you find out your child is schizophrenic

Five things you probably don’t know about me

Yes Reggie, you are 100% correct, there is a tone of sadness to my prose.

So back to the title: The struggle between honesty, transparency, and marketing 

I have always known from day one that one of my biggest flaws is my transparency.  I tell the truth, my face and expressions tell the truth, sometimes it is brutal and hurtful.  This transparency made me a great manager and boss in almost any arena.  I would be quick to compliment, be thankful and get in the trenches with my staff.  This transparency also comes at a cost in business and in all areas of life both personal and professional.

Here it is: I struggle with sadness and depression, and have for years.  I can hardly remember what it feels like to wake up each day with a smile on my face.  I blame no one or nothing for my struggle nor my feelings.  It is NOT your fault.  This is the one thing I know!  For me depression is loneliness.  It does not matter if I am physically alone or in a crowd of dozens or hundreds of peers, family or friends.  I work very hard every day, every moment to mask this loneliness and depression.  

My motorcycle ride to North Carolina was done alone.  No family member wanted to go with me.  Hey, they are the smart ones.  The ride outside of Florida was miserable, lonely and COLD!

What makes me happy?  It is very simple.  Feeling truly appreciated.  Feeling I have provided something of real value to someone.  Something that lasts more than the “click” or “like”.  Photography makes me happy.  Not the specific click of the camera, but more about the experience of the shoot and most importantly the value of the product I created. I yearn for my work to be valued in a real way.  I ache to leave a legacy of work that will be cherished by generations.  The reality of falling far short of those expectations is part of my daily struggle.   

This commentary is the opposite of marketing.  It is 100% truth.  Those who read this will probably agree with Reggie at even a higher level.  

I ask if you silently read my blogs, or silently view my photos, please once in a while reach out to me and let me know.  It has more meaning than you will ever know.


My favorite places to ride a Motorcycle

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It’s the Journey, NOT the Destination

It may be surprising to many that I am an avid motorcyclist.  Fact is many people are surprised I ride at all.  I don’t look like a motorcycle guy:  no beard, no tattoos, no pony tail, and I don’t normally have a can of beer in my hand.  I have  actually ridden some sort of motorcycle since I was age 14 even though I never really looked like a rider.  There have been times I have been without my favorite transportation and times when it was my only transportation.  

Most of my riding in the last 30 years has been in the southeast and of course primarily Florida.  As my future retirement unfolds, I hope to travel to many new and exciting places on two wheels.

There are certain places or environments that make motorcycle riding more enjoyable.  Those include but are not limited to: the weather, the view, the traffic, the twists and turns (straight is way more boring), the slopes and or hills (flat is MUCH more boring), the music, the sounds, the silence, the companionship meaning other riders on their own bike or a partner on the back of mine. 

This blog will focus on a few of my chosen special riding routes.  Remember my opinion is also based on the combination of the above factors during the rides I have taken.

  • Key West: Interstate 1, favorite part is 7 mile bridge just southwest of the city of Marathon

  • A1A between Lake Worth Florida and West Palm Beach, Donald Trumps Mara Lago is always interesting to look into

  • Miami to Key Biscayne - Bill Baggs Lighthouse park at the end, State Road 913

  • Miami to Miami Beach - South Beach via MacArthur Causeway.  You may have seen my video from GOPRO helmet

  • Homestead Florida to Everglades National Park via State Hwy 9336.  One of the best rides in South Florida, lots of twists and turns and a perfect pace for a motorcyclist.  

  • On Florida’s WEST coast, Sanibel and Captiva Island via Sanibel Causeway

  • Orlando to Leesburg and Mt Dora via 441 - a beautiful drive with some nice hills and twists

  • Daytona Beach to St Augustine via A1A- beautiful coastal scenery with a great destination - St Augustine

  • The Blue Ridge Parkway (Smoky Mountains) - North Carolina

    • Tail of the Dragon - 11 mile section with 318 turns

  • Colorado Rocky Mountain National Park

That is my short list, my actual riding list is MUCH longer.

Now that I will be retired as of October 5th, 2018, hit me up, lets RIDE.

Ride for Meadow Pollack and 16 other fallen children at MSD High

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Ride for Meadow Pollack and 16 others who lost their lives on Valentine’s Day in Parkland Florida.

I decided to participate in this ride because my 18 year old daughter Allison brought it to my attention.  I thought I would bring along my camera just in case there were some special photography opportunities there. 

The event was organized to meet at the Palm Beach Harley Davidson, have breakfast and ride (motorcycle) to the Pollack’s house in Coral Springs for “a cold one”.  I am not sure how many people attended, but it seemed like 600+ attendees maybe 100 or so of them were Motorcycle Policeman supporting the event and helping the riders during their 50 mile trek from the dealership to the Pollack’s house.

When I pulled my camera out at the dealership, people seemed to naturally gravitate towards me and want their picture taken.  I keep mentioning that many feel very comfortable asking me to take their picture.  I love that sooooo much!  There were of course other photographers there, news crews there, newspapers and magazine coverage, you name it.  I had a blast and would like to thank the dealership for not kicking me out with my camera in hand and especially all those who supported this fantastic cause.

I am sure there were many famous people there not including the world famous photographer Thomas Schmuki ….  Some of those notables included Paul Teutul, Sr, star of the cable TV show “Orange County Choppers”, and former Miami Dolphins running back Terry Kirby and chef Ralph Pagano.

Unfortunately while riding my Harley to the Pollack's house in Coral Spring my Harley Davidson had a flat tire.  Thank goodness I did NOT loose control of my bike.  Happend right as I was getting off the Sawgrass expressway (freeway).  I therefore missed the goings on at the Pollacks house.

Included in this BLOG are a few of my photos from the event.  If you were there and your photo is not here, please reach out to me, I will attempt to get you your photo.

Tom Schmuki, photographer, motorcycle lover for 40+ years, father and husband.