The “Help Me Pay My Docs Off” Sale… LOL

The “Help Me Pay My Docs Off” Sale… LOL

The “Help Me Pay My Docs Off” Sale



As many of you know, I was hospitalized for a week in August for a severe blood clot, and a PE which resulted in a heck of a lot of clots in my lungs. I am on the mend, and things are getting back to normal… but I also have a heck of a hospital bill to pay off.

This is the first sale I have ever done for a book, and I wanted to do it big. All proceeds will be going to my hospital and doctors. They were incredible, but I have many expenses tied to that adventure.

The bundle I am offering is:

  • All three of my books written for Amherst Media, personally signed to you as well as a fourth book specifically for this offer.
  • “Maine: Photographs” will contain some of the photographs from my “Maine” portfolio, and some you have not seen, and will only be seen in the book. I will number and sign each book for you as well. The “Maine” books are 6×8″ Softcover, and will be printed by Artifact Uprising on beautiful stock.
  • In addition you will receive a coupon for a free UDEMY course. I currently have three courses available on UDEMY, and am completing a fourth before years end. Choose whichever one you wish and a coupon code will be emailed to you ASAP

It has been a year full of challenges, and I very much appreciate your support.

Have a great holiday season, and next year will be a blast!

To Purchase:

Choose Bundle Class


“Everyone is a Photographer Now…”


A recent quote by photographer Mary Ellen Mark has had some angst-driven controversy:

““People are bidding on something that has no value. I thought it was a joke, so I just took a cell phone picture of a real photograph. It is easy to take a good picture and so hard, almost impossible, to take a great picture. It takes years of labor to do this well. Photography is a craft, an art, a point of view. Instagram is not meant to be fine art or a beautiful object; it is social media—a means of communication.”


And no.

As photography itself becomes ubiquitous, and slides farther and farther from the ‘craftsman’ column of definition, those practitioners of the craft will bitterly hold on to it – as a drowning person will a life-preserver.

They allowed their self-worth to be determined by the tools, the experience and the learning that they put into the creation of the image.

What used to take days now takes a half second. Or less.

What was a long and somewhat arduous road of practice/failure/practice is now an escalator with rest stops and arcades along the way.

What used to take a year’s salary to purchase can now be done on the phone you use to find out what time it is, or where the local diners are, or check on your favorite sports team’s score. Oh, and make calls too.

Those that fought for every new advance in film ability, or camera technique feel as though their very being was wasted. What good is it climbing up the mountain if at the top there is a parking lot with a mini-mall.

I always cringe when I hear someone say something along the lines of “everyone is a photographer now” with a bit of venom or resignation in their voice.


Tis true… but I don’t think that is bad. On the contrary, the amount of imagery, what that imagery is used for and how it is perceived is wonderful, uplifting and socially, personally exciting.

As with anything that has to do with technology, the changes usually end up making the process easier, the outcome more predictable, and the learning curve flatter. This is a sword with two edges – it has always been so.

I think she is right about one thing.

Photography is now communication. Language. A link between people and peoples.

Photography is no more in the residence of those who built it, painstakingly slow and with precision. That was photography as a ‘child’ – to be taught with rules and guidelines and arduous facts.

Photography is now a young person striking out on its own… and it has new rules, new tasks, new sensibilities.

Growth and maturity means a new entity.

What we called photography will endure, but it has a lot wider embrace, and a far deeper pool of practitioners.

That’s cool.

Reposted from Facebook.
Impatient Patience

Impatient Patience

Impatient Patience…Keeping The Momentum While Learning the Ropes

You know how you think about things around the edges, trying to formulate the thoughts into some kind of pattern that makes sense and can be challenged and won from various angles? You do?

Cool, then I’m not nuts. I do that all the time.

Recently I have been thinking about what I see as a disconnect between the level of competence beginning photographers have and their expectations.

We all know that the divide exists, but so often it is approached from a negative or insulting way… “Newbies! Killing the industry!” And that doesn’t work for me.

Not at all.

I am more concerned about people losing their dreams than the ‘health of the industry’. I really am.

The ‘industry’ will get along just fine, thanks, while some people will be devastated, demoralized or worse – and all relating to photography.

And I love photography. I don’t want making images be the catalyst for despair and regret. I would rather it be the beginning of a great love affair. It can be you know.

But we have to manage expectations, and managing them with what I call “impatient patience”.

“Hey Don, that doesn’t make any sense, partner… What the hell do you mean impatient patience?

Well, sit down for a moment and let me chat you up a bit about being impatient enough that you are totally immersed, but patient enough to know that it will still take some time to get ready.

First the impatient part.

Shoot. Shoot every opportunity you can get. Immerse yourself in weekend road trips and meetups and workshops and events and wherever you find yourself with your camera.

Don’t be patient… you want to learn it all. As fast and deep as you can. From exposure to Lightroom, lens selection to Photoshop Curves… it is all there for you to master. And it takes some time.

And that is where the patience comes in. Be patient with your impatience… KNOW that it takes more than a few shoots to get people to the place where they want to spend money for you to shoot them.

It doesn’t happen overnight. Even with impatiently shooting every other Saturday when it doesn’t rain because that is the only time LIFE has left you to work on your craft.

I was asked to review some work by a photographer through Facebook. She was trying to make it in the consumer world, and had put together her ‘best work’ on a website and was quite sad that no one was wanting to hire her.

I took a look and within four shots I knew why she was not getting hired.

Her pictures said “I am not ready”… and they said it quite loudly. On further discussion with her, she admitted that those were the best 23 images she had shot over her entire career as a photographer.

Which was nineteen months.

I asked her how many shoots she had done in that time and she responded with ‘twenty seven’.

Twenty seven shoots, and 22 photographs that ranged from snapshots of her kids to badly underexposed portraits and people photographs.

She was totally unhappy with the business and complained a bit about the “Craigslist shooters” who were taking all the work away from real professionals like herself.

Now she is a lovely person and I think she has the talent to do something cool, so I slowly talked her off the “cliff of insanity” where she was ready to chuck her gear and helped her understand that 27 photoshoots in 19 months was pathetic. That in order to make a dent in the life/learning/art curve she needed to multiply that number by a factor of 10.

270 photoshoots in a 19 month time frame makes more sense to me.

Impatient: 270 photoshoots.
Patience: 19 months.

Get it?

Understanding that it takes a certain amount of real world work and field study and a crap load of exposures to make a dent in the learning/artistic expression curve is powerful knowledge. And it would have ultimately been far more beneficial to her. I explained that at 27 photoshoots she is still a babe in the photographic world, and that there is a difference between a body of work and 22 images that are thrown together.

And to her credit, she got it. Definitely got it.

She is now much more committed to the work and is starting to understand what she doesn’t know – and then fix it. That is the most important part, you know, the part where you get it that what you are doing is your call, and the failure you are experiencing is the result of the hard work you are putting (or not) into the making of that call.

I wonder how many talented photographers quit before they ever had the opportunity to know what it feels like to have a strong body of work? Or how it feels when an AD calls and says, “I want you to shoot these images for me?” How many photographers misunderstood the nature of the business, and were then flummoxed and frustrated by it at every turn, only to give up because they think it is those CL shooters that are sucking up all the oxygen in the room?

That makes me feel a loss. I wonder how many incredible photographers were lurking deep inside waiting for some impatience to find them and pull them to the surface?

Now lost to us.

And to themselves.

I am not a patient guy. I know what I want to do, and I want to do it NOW. But I also realized that doing it before I am ready will create more headaches than if I know what I am doing. Or at least have more than a clue…

So I patiently spend impatient days learning and testing and re shooting to get it right.

And only when it is right, can I (we) say “I’ve got it.”

At least until the next thing comes along that we decide we want/need/must learn.

(This article first appeared in the Lighting Essentials Newsletter: “In The Frame” Subscribe on the right side bar to get it delivered straight to your inbox each Sunday.)

An Excerpt From New E-Book

bri-in-beam-of-light 2

Chapter Eight

Becoming Exceptional

As we move toward the beginning of our business plan, I want to take this time to
discuss becoming exceptional. Being exceptional means you are a cut above.
Maybe two. Being exceptional means you do things differently, and better. Your
business is better, your work is better, your relationships are better and the clients
who expect the mundane are always surprised by exceptionalism.

Unfortunately too many of us shy away from being exceptional. We keep hearing
people telling us that being that good is the same as being conceited or
egomaniacal. The movement all across the land is to denigrate the exceptional in
lieu of the mundane. No hurt feelings, or truama of having to deal with the fact that
you may not be as good as that other guy. The exceptional one.

What a load of crap. The ones who make it to the top of the mountain ARE the
exceptional ones. And anyone can go up the mountain, they just have to put one foot
in front of the other and not quit.

Not. Quit.

Never quitting is one of the prime ingredients in being exceptional.

(I feel I must state that sometimes one must withdraw, whether temporarily or for a
longer time. Withdrawing to regroup for a myriad of reasons is not quitting. When we
quit, we emotionally destroy any link to the goal we were chasing. And a little part of
us dies in the quitting. Withdrawing can be a strategic decision that leads to a
different path. Only you will know whether you are indeed quitting or withdrawing. I
just implore you to be honest with yourself if you have to make that decision
regarding anything that is important to you.)

Sure – some will get there in record time, and others may arrive late to the party and
exhausted. So? The feeling that only ‘special’ people are allowed in will be one of
the most debilitating thoughts we can ever have enter our mind.

And exceptional people are not conceited, they are good at what they do. That
others may INFER that they are somehow elitist cannot be helped these days. The
striving for centerline mediocrity seems to be surrounding us on many fronts.

I simply believe it is a ruse to keep people from trying to do the hard work. And
without the work there is no success. And without success there is no exceptionalism.
And without exceptionalism we can all experience the fairness of lowered

Recently a photographer published a ‘manifesto’ on becoming a great photographer.
It was full of ‘don’t bother learning’ and ‘just spray and pray’ and ‘sure, you’re good
enough if you think you are’ crap. I hardly think that the words contained within that
piece were helpful. To be fair, there was some good advice mixed in with what is
such a terrible hi-jacking of the ‘becoming a professional’ meme, but it was mostly
overshadowed by the silly, faux new agey approach.

The point is to be a stand out in this business, you must stand out. In all ways – from
your work to the way you treat your staff and even to how you follow up with those
you may NOT have to ever follow up with.

When we establish a pattern of exceptionalism, that pattern follows us into other
areas of our personal and professional lives.

I think our goal setting exercises from the previous week’s assignment must now be
tempered with some cold hard facts on how we will do those things with

And the cool thing about being in the ‘exceptional’ mode is that it is really pretty
easy, and it flows so smoothly. I think it is because being exceptional is the normal
state for us humans. The extraneous forces that push it away from us are quite
powerful. From pop-culture to politics to entertainment to where we get educated, to
stand out and work to be better is seen as a problem. “Go along to get along” can be
the prevailing process. Striving is seen as too ambitious, too ‘full of themselves’ – too
‘arrogant’ to think that they could actually do something cool.

Something big.

Really big.

So for this exercise we are going to look at being exceptional and then we can take
this exercise back to our goals and further make them real in our minds. How? By
envisioning each goal as being something we will achieve with exceptionalism. We
will also define some exceptional tactics to help get those goals off the ground and
into the air!

It’s time to fly.

(excerpted from Chapter 8 of my new book – as yet untitled)

Camera Phones and the Future


“Everyone is now fully aware that professional Dslr are going to be replaced by mobile phone cameras. It is just a question of time. Already, this year, there has been more phone cameras sold than point and shoots. One main reason: Phone cameras can now do pretty much what any point and shoot delivers but are less bulky to carry, have multiple other useful functions and we carry them all the time. While Dslr cameras offer much more than point and shoots, they are already threaten by the high quality files delivered by phones.

We also all know that print is dying. Slowly, we see print publication number’s dwindling and there is no sign of that trend changing. Everyone is moving to screen-based publishing, with various success. There is less and less need for large image files. Online, everything is 72 dpi with 1024 pixel wide on average. Some phones today deliver already much bigger files than that.”
Thoughts of a Bohemian

I think there is SOME merit to this, but I also think this is skewed toward the journalist photographer. I agree that the bigass DSLR will become a ‘professional only’ tool in the not too distant future, but I do not think it will be replaced by a camera phone. Too many photographers like knobs and controls and the feel of a camera in their hands… both younger and older shooters. The smaller hybrid and mirrorless cameras will become far more popular with many pros and pro-ams in the very NEAR future and of course the ubiquitous camera phone will continue to get better and better.

On printing. For magazines… well, there are a hell of a lot of magazines out there. Hit Barnes and Noble for a taste… and that doesn’t cover trade and business specific journals and magazines. I think that there is most definitely a move to the digital, that is not even a question anymore, but the idea that print will not be around in the near future seems a bit over the top.

Prints for walls and art… well, here is where WE photographers are dropping the ball. WE DON”T PRINT, so we cannot share the joy and art of a print with people. And if WE don’t value it, how do we expect others to value it?

The screen resolutions already make it feasible to make amazing images with even an entry level camera, and if that is where we as a group are going, then explain to me why we need 32MP’s and 24MP’s – hell, anything over 8MP’s is extreme overkill for online publication… including PDF’s, iBooks, Kindle Books and more.

This thing we call photography will have another big shake out coming – perhaps two – before we can see through the mist to what lies on the other side. Fortunately – or unfortunately for some – we may not have THAT long to wait.