Taking a photo walk to a BBQ

This month’s #tsql2sday is being hosted by Aaron Bertrand (t|b). Aaron gives us a choice this month to talk about our passions outside of the SQL Server community or our T-SQL bad habits. I don’t have enough time to bore you with all my T-SQL bad habits so I’ll try to inspire you with my #SQLBBQ & #SQLPhoto passions.

When I not architecting SQL Server solutions at Elon University, I’m usually behind a camera or BBQ cooker. Both of these passions allow me to exercise the creative part of my brain when I’m away from the office.

I got the photography bug right before my son was born. I started with a point-and-shoot Sony Cybershot but was so frustrated with the delay in taking a picture. I love the digital photos when they turned out, but getting a consistent focus was difficult. My next purchased a Nikon D70 DSLR. This camera was a life changer for me. Having the ability to shoot 3 frames per second was eye-opening. I no longer had to deal with missed shots or not knowing where the focus point was set. I used the D70 for another 6 years before upgrading to my current setup, the Nikon D300s.


I continued taking photos over the years but with the onset of smartphones I don’t pull out my Nikon as much. The iPhone has been an asset to my photography just because it is always with me. What I really enjoy doing is taking photos at PASS events. Back in 2012, before my first PASS Conference, I reached out to Pat Wright (b|t) about joining the photo walk during the conference. What ended up happening was a full day “pre-con” of photography on the Sunday before the conference. We ended up at Snoqualmie Falls and the surrounding area and I had blast taking photos with Pat. We continue to have our photo “pre-cons” before PASS and other SQL Saturday events. This is a great time to talk shop about photography and SQL Server. I’m looking forward to PASS 2018 in Seattle and future photo walks.

Photo Albums:

2012 PASS Summit

2014 PASS Summit

2016 PASS Summit


2017 SQL Sat Charlotte


My other passion is cooking, specifically BBQ. I own a few grills but my favorite is a cooker that has a 3×6 foot cooking surface. It is fueled by propane but has a shelf for a piece of wood like hickory or oak. I bought the cooker from a friend about 15 years ago and have loved experimenting with different cuts of meat. My go-to meal is whole chickens, baby back ribs, and mac & cheese. The best part about the mac & cheese is it is just store bought Stouffer’s, but when it is left on the cooker for a few hours, it comes out with an amazing smokey flavor. During last year’s #sqlvacation, Kevin Kline made a stop at our user group in Greensboro, NC and I brought in the cooker for the meeting. I love sharing the food and wish I had a bigger cooking surface to cook for an entire SQL Saturday event.

Hope to see you on a photo walk or cookout very soon!

Doug Purnell