Hello. My name is Keith Preston. Thanks for visiting my “hub” website, KeithPreston.com. I’m assuming you’ve clicked on the “About” page because you want to know more about me. Well then, here we go!
WARNING – there are two versions of this About page. Read the one that suits you best.
Short and to the point Version
I’m a lawyer in Birmingham, Alabama who does a lot of different stuff, including, practicing law, shooting video and renovating and managing real estate. I’m married to the lovely Joyce Preston. We have one amazing child named Michael.
Second version – Not short. Not to the point.
I’m a lot of different things. I do a lot of different things. None of them really define who I am. Sometimes I wonder if I do so many different things just to keep from being defined by what I do. Yes, that makes no sense. I know. But consider the partial list that follows:
I am a lawyer.
I started out as an Assistant State Attorney in Florida. That sounds like an important job. And it is. It is also a lot of power and responsibility to give someone fresh out of law school. But that is just the nature of the business. You get power and responsibility, but very little money. I tried literally hundreds of cases. It is a good job for the trial experience and on the job training and that is why the job is highly coveted. Even the job that I applied for and got in a very rural area probably had 40 to 50 people vying for it. I had no idea of any of this at the time and do not really know why I was chosen for the job. It’s just another example of me somehow getting what I needed regardless of what I thought I really wanted at the time.
I have run my own practice now in Alabama since 1994. I have handled cases and trials involving nearly everything you could think of from DUI’s to bank robbery and on the job injuries to wrongful death. Growing up I was never someone you would have thought would become a lawyer. I do not have the “lawyer personality” or ego although I have learned to be whoever I need to be at a given moment to get a job done. Although it has turned out that I am actually quite good at being an attorney I would have to say that it is only a part of who I am. I still have an active practice however, I have adopted a policy of associating another lawyer on litigation related cases that has unique experience in the area of the case. This spreads the workload out, actually makes the case flow smoother and allows me the time to handle other things. I am more comfortable in the role of case management and client contact. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the trial work, it is that if I am heavily involved in that type I find that I cannot do anything else because it consumes me. The thing that takes all the time, trouble and causes pain is all the stuff that leads up to the actual trial. Also, once you have tried a lot of the same kind of cases it is a bit like having the same argument over and over, just with different people. Also, there are long periods of mind numbing boredom punctuated only by brief moments of sheer terror. I actually got out of bed once and drove to the office around 1:00 a.m. to look at the statute of limitation date on a case. It was still a year away, but sometimes your mind can play tricks on you. Try that with around 100 active cases in the pre-internet, pre-smartphone era and let me know how you sleep.
I am a real estate entrepreneur
I have wanted to own and manage real estate for quite some time. For all of the ways that I thought about getting into it, I really ended basically falling into it. Through a complicated sequence of events that showed some early, quick profits I was able to buy and sell several pieces of real estate. From there I teamed with my father-in-law to buy another property which led to another and another and one that became my office.
More opportunities presented themselves and we were able to buy, improve, rent and refinance our way into quite a few properties right at the bottom of the local real estate market and right before the mortgage crisis, back when money was easy to come by from banks. So now, my father-in-law and our wives own a pretty decent amount of real estate that more than pays for itself but yet because of all the ongoing renovation and expenses does not currently provide an income to any of us. The outlook for the future is bright although I have to admit it is a lot more work, time and trouble than I had thought.
I have done a lot of hands-on work with the renovation of the properties. I can hang and finish drywall, rough wire electricity, rough-in plumbing, pour and finish concrete, run an airless sprayer, repair collapsed sewer lines, lay hardwood floor and tile and probably a few other things. I enjoy the amount of property that we have but I no longer have a desire for two or three times as many.
I am a videographer
I am not really quite sure how I got into to doing video. Admittedly, it is something that I have always had an interest in. Even since high school. It probably had more to do with the onslaught of computer based non-linear digital editing of music and video software. I never cared for the management of multiple VTR machines and mixing and overlaying live video. Also, it was way expensive. We’re talking well over $100,000.00 for even a basic set-up.
I dabbled for a while in what was called “Multi-Image” slideshows in the ’80′s. This was actually a very cool process where as many as 100 slide projectors were trained on three panorama like screens. There were thousands of images all intricately overlaid on one another and controlled by computers so that the pictures could even resemble moving video for short special effects. The whole thing was set to music and narration. Needless to say, this was a VERY expensive and enormously time consuming process. Eventually, video and computer grahics killed the entire industry.
I think it was one of my trips to the bookstore (pre- internet days) where I read an article in a computer magazine about some woman who ran a wedding video business out of her home that planted the seed. Later, I acquired friends who were a wedding caterer and a part-time videographer. Eventually I arranged to do my first wedding video as a freebie. Immediately afterward, I started booking paid weddings. I was able to afford a lot of nice equipment with money that had been produced by that very equipment. I was able to branch out to an area that really appealed to me more than weddings (which really don’t appeal to me at all). I began doing safety and training related videos.
I have worked for multi-billion dollar, worldwide corporations. The two things that impress me the most about that fact are that I did all the work while I was still working out of my basement and the second is the fact that these companies called me first. I did not solicit them in any way. There are several big dollar production houses in town, yet they called me. I also do a lot video for web sites and internet marketing. I enjoy putting audio and video together in a compelling way that tells a story or makes a point.
I am a web designer / SEO expert
It became apparent early on that the law practice would need a website. I tried several paid options with legal service providers and the phone company, etc. These were all garbage. I had a friend that did a lot of computer work as well as design websites. This was back in the hand coding days. I ended up with a functional website which was not bad for what was available at the time. Then came the beginning of my quest for knowledge regarding Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I don’t know where that that first site was in the search pages. All I know is that it was somewhere after page 125 because that’s where I stopped looking.
Since that time I have progressed to building my own websites. I use a combination of hand coding, CSS tweaking, script writing and plugins on top of a Content Management System called WordPress. I love WordPress. It can be as simple to understand as a brick or as multi-layered and complex as all that stuff on the inside of your computer. I have been a student of SEO now for about 5 years. I have learned an incredible amount but there is much more knowledge available. I can make WordPress look like a blog or I can make it look like anything you tell me you want it to look like. I enjoy the creation of the whole website experience from the look and feel of the site to the audio, video and pictures on the the site.
I am a welder
There is something powerful about fusing two pieces of metal together with a 4000 degree tool, inches from your face. It is also artful and inspiring as well as incredibly useful. I had had a mild interest in welding off and on for several years. My brother always talked about learning to weld. One day I just got a wild hair and decided to learn how to do it. I signed up for a twelve week course at a local trade school. My brother came with me and we both learned. I might could have learned from books or videos. I wanted to make sure that I was not going to blow myself up more than anything. The course taught a lot of theory and technique that would have been hard for me to pick up without the hands on instruction.
I experimented with a lot of different types of welding. Not so much the different processes like TIG, MIG, Stick, etc, but doing vastly different types of things. I tried making artsy type things that I saw at craft fairs and such. Turns out I am not artsy. I tried making simpler things like plate holders, racks, etc. This did not work out well either. I enjoy making things out of metal. I like the idea of joining two pieces of metal together in any way I need them to be and knowing that they will NOT come apart. The things I have built that have been the most rewarding and beneficial are things like a trailer for my father-in-law, a shelf to hold a hot water heater off the ground, a large desk for my recording studio and various brackets and such for needs that I had where there was nothing available commercially. Being a casual welder gives you respect for those who do it every day. It is a very hard, very dirty job, but it must be done.
I am a father
The joy of my life is my son Michael. If I could pick only one of things on this list to be, it would be to be Michael’s dad. Of all the cool and great things I have had opportunity to do in my life, none of them even come close to being Michael’s dad. I was changed the day my son was born. I nearly lost both my son and my wife that day as the doctors had to take Michael because of an extreme case of toxemia. He was born twelve weeks early at 1 pound, 15 ounces. I could hold him in one hand. His outlook was bleak at best. It broke my heart. I cried out to God to please save my son. To heal him. I know that a lot of parents ask for that and do not get it. God heard my prayer and the prayers of hundreds of others praying for my son and healed him. I can’t explain why He heard and answered my prayer and not the prayers of other parents in a similar situation. All I know is that my son would not be here were it not for the intervention and healing hand of God.
I don’t believe I slept for more than a few minutes at a time the entire first year. I didn’t get a good night’s sleep until he was three. He just turned twelve. No matter what else is going on in my life that I have to deal with, knowing that my son is here and is well makes everything else pale in comparison. Michael has had a rough time. He has given us many scares along the way. Other than some high frequency hearing loss he is 100%. He is the sweetest, most loving, compassionate, thoughtful and fun child I have ever seen. I would not change one thing about him for fear that that would affect the rest of him and who he is.
I am a husband
I am married to Joyce Preston. And I don’t deserve her. You can take that to be good or bad I know. I say that jokingly because I am truly blessed to have Joyce as my wife. I never knew I was missing my other half until I found Joyce. We understand each other and communicate on a level that does not require words. We are of the same mind. I have a saying that I keep trying to get her to be okay with to describe it. She hasn’t gotten there yet. I mean it in a very positive way. The saying is, “She wasn’t what I was looking for, but she was exactly what I needed.”
I am a Christian
I am not one to get hung up with denominations of churches. Personally, I have been a member at several Baptist and Presbyterian churches. I do not really care about the name of a church. I believe there is one God. That He created the earth and everything on it. That He has a Son named Jesus. That He sent Jesus to earth to show us how to live and to die and pay the price for the sin of all humanity. That there is a heaven and life ever after and that the only way to receive it is through the belief in and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior. I am not a perfect person. In fact, there is no such thing. However, as I try to live my life in a way that exemplifies Christ, every decision that I make is influenced by my belief and faith in Jesus Christ.
That’s actually quite a bit about me. I figured you wouldn’t read it if you weren’t interested. Also, if you did choose to read it, I thought you might actually want to know something about me instead of a bunch of fluff like is usually found on websites.