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.


What’s Wrong With Photography? Nothing… Its Photo Writers We Should Question

What’s Wrong With Photography? Nothing… Its Photo Writers We Should Question

A review of an article written for F-Stoppers by Lee Morris.

The Nikon DF Represents Everything Wrong With Photography

Or does it?

I have a bad distaste for the bullshit club. The elitists who sit on the sidelines telling others what ‘should be’ without getting in the game. I have never held professional critics to high acclaim either… once it becomes a profession there is a compelling NEED to slam artists as the critics greatest fear is to be thought of as going ‘too lightly’ on someone who was less than stellar.

Add to that the need for the critic themselves to be thought of as far more sophisticated, and far more in tune with the art than the average schlub and you get film critics hailing slop like “Gravity” while passing on films that do well because they  were loved by the ‘masses’ – or to critics – ‘the dirty unwashed…’

Enter this terrible article by F-Stoppers written by a photographer named Lee Morris. It was a bitter, mean spirited article that sought to place Mr. Morris as that ‘on high’ photographer passing the judgement wand over those who didn’t quite ‘measure up’ to his high, high standards.


Look, let me be clear. If you have a camera, and you like that camera, you can keep that camera. No one will be taking away your camera and forcing you into another camera.
Thank you.

“The Nikon DF Represents Everything Wrong With Photography”

We could wonder at this statement as something to marvel at, but really – what does it mean? What is wrong with photography anyway? I did not know that the wheels were off the rails in photography, did you? But – hell, it’s an online journal and we all know the importance of link bait. Pulled me in – guess it works, eh?

“Are we excited about this camera because of the photography we will be able to capture with it or are we excited because we will look trendy and fashionable holding it?”

Reading a little further in the article, one wonders who ‘we’ is. Clearly not him.

And the question asked begs another question… Why are you so concerned? Does it matter to you what the reason is for another’s interest?

Motive is now a point of contention when wanting to buy a camera?


“Cameras look the way they do today because they have been made to fit comfortably in your hand. I’ve never heard a professional photographer complain that a camera was too big or too heavy.”

What? Cameras look the way they look today because some designer built them that way based on design points that were measured and specced based on lots of reasons. Ergonomics is only one… And really? If you wanted an ergonomically created camera, it would most definitely NOT look like a DSLR. They are built to look like film cameras. They even have a ‘film chamber’ style – box/back/lens to them.

I take from the statement about weight that he doesn’t remember the very successful campaign that Olympus did with the release of the OM and the OM2… all about weight. The Nikon F3 was smaller than the Nikon F2 – and lighter – and those were features.

That apparently no one wanted – at least in Mr/ Morris’s world.

Personally I have heard many a photographer – me raising hand – that would like to see a less bulky camera, although I do love the feeling of my motor driven old F2′s. Manly men type of machines.

And things change.

“It’s always been really strange to me that this whole micro 4/3 explosion has happened because I feel like I have a pretty decent camera built into my cell phone.”

OK. What do we do with this information, sir? You don’t get it, much of the rest of the photography world does. I guess you… don’t. Feel free to not purchase a micro 4/3 camera. It’s allowed.

“If I want to take a professional picture, then I’m going to grab my professional camera.”

No such thing, Mr. Morris.

Define a “professional” image.

Define a “professional” camera.

Really cannot be done. Professional photographers have been making images on everything from home-made pinhole cameras to the most expensive one-off’s ever created (think the massive Polaroid machine). There simply is no definition of either that makes any sense at all.

But what Mr. Morris is saying is that he feels more “professional” when he has his big DSLR in his hand. Fine – but isn’t that what you are telling the rest of us is ‘wrong’ with photography? That need for ‘show’?

“So please don’t try to tell me you need a DF because it’s so easy to travel with and then strap a 70-200mm to it.”

Ummm… OK… no, wait. I have to tell you that I won’t be finding it easier to travel with and then strap (strap?) a bigass zoom to it. I don’t use bigass zooms. I use really small primes. Don’t tell ME what lenses I have to use… fair?

And really, what if I did? Would that diminish your photographic experience or  life in any way… at all? Have you ever seen a 600MM on the front of a D4? I have… that massive lens makes the camera seem terribly small – and holding it quite a challenge.

So what?

“There is also no way that holding this camera with your fingers will ever be more comfortable than a full-handed grip on today’s cameras.”

So you are an expert in my fingers now? I shot with an F3 for nearly a dozen years. I am perfectly capable of knowing how my hands grip that camera… with love and affection. And no, they never got tired or irritated or – whatever.

So to that statement I simply say – “way”.

“I think it’s safe to say that this camera’s buttons were not chosen with ergonomics or speed in mind, they were chosen to make it look like an old camera.”

Hmmm. maybe. Why do you think speed is important? Not every photographer is into ‘speed’. You want to see speed, use “P”. Lots of photographers – me for one – like the idea of slowing down the process. I never had a winder for my Hasselblad… I LIKED cranking it. It made me pause between shots for a breath. I had motors on my F3′s and would fly through film – a roll in a few seconds in a lot of shoots… only to be handed a second camera from an assistant frantically rewinding and loading the first. And I would choose the large view cameras when I wanted to make sure that things slowed way down.

Those choices were important to me. They were important to a lot of photographers. In fact, up until the F4, whether to motorize the advance of the film was a choice we made as well. And lots of shooters like Eugene Smith chose lighter cameras over the weight of those early motors. Yeah – weight and size did matter to them as well.

“Do you know why older cameras had a mechanical shutter release cables? Because they hadn’t invented better technology like self timer, infrared, or radio triggers.”

Better? Never had the battery go out of my cable release, never had any interference issues with my cable release, and I never had to make sure I had the right frequency on my cable release.

Better sir, is a term not suited for this discussion.

(And the self timer is quite old in camera construction… makes me wonder how much the author really knows about this stuff.)

“When I saw a picture of this camera being used with a physical shutter release cable it was proof that my theory was correct: so many people don’t care about pictures anymore, they just want to be “photographers.” “

Another whiner. Soooo concerned about how many people are photographers… You know what, Mr. Morris, it is exactly that point that makes me excited. I LOVE that there are lots of photographers. I LOVE that others have found the absolute joy of image making, and are finding ways to express themselves. I don’t find it an abomination, nor do I think there is something ‘wrong’ with photography because of that newfound expression.

I genuinely feel a bit sorry for those photographers who seem to be so put out by the fact that their art is enjoyed by many others. And, Mr. Morris, we are ALL photographers now. Get used to it.

When I saw that cable release, I thought about the tactile thrill of holding that shutter button and pressing it at the exact moment when all came together in my viewfinder. I had a physical connection to the camera that was real. I do not feel that when connected by wireless – and there are most definitely a time and place for that wireless connection.

We get to make that choice. Choice is good in my world.

“Using an outdated/obsolete device to take a picture makes you more of an artist today.”

No, sir. It simply is a choice my hands and heart makes. You may feel free to not ever use these old, antiquated tools. I would like to make the choice TO use them if I wish. That OK with you? If I ask nicely?

“This product exists to appeal to the same people who have gone out and bought film cameras recently because they are “too artistic” to use digital like everyone else.”

(I promised myself to not go to my usually outraged voice, but this statement pushed me to the edge of that promise. Deep breaths…)

That statement is so arrogant, so self-centered and so desperately out of touch with the subjects he is talking about that it brings into question his bona-fides. “Like everyone else…”

Does he know about artists like Richard Rinaldi, or shooters like Jennifer Boomer?

Wait… no, he doesn’t. Never mind. Let’s move on.

“You may not shoot video, you may not care about video, you may hate that still photography and video are merging. It doesn’t matter what your opinion on video is, the fact is that removing features from a product does not make a product “revolutionary.” “

I have not seen that term used with this camera. Have you? We call that a “straw man” argument. And maybe the ‘revolutionaly’ approach is the size and the way the features ARE laid out – even though not to the liking of Mr. Morris.

I am glad I do not have to worry about my opinion on video while reading HIS opinion on this camera. So many opinions… I would get lost.

“If Nikon had a logical reason why this camera couldn’t shoot video then I would be fine with it but we all know with a simple software update the camera could shoot amazing video like every other DSLR.”

More arrogance (unfounded I am afraid) on display.

It doesn’t have video. I don’t want the camera to have video. I want the camera to be the camera. I have video on nearly every other camera, and I simply do not want it.

I still have the right to NOT want something, don’t I Mr. Morris? Is there a form that I need to submit to be allowed to want what I want?

“When I first saw this camera I have to admit that I was excited, and for many reasons I still am. But I had to ask myself why?”

No. Really. You didn’t.

“Is this camera going to help me take better pictures?”

An interesting question, Mr. Morris. Does any camera in your opinion help make a ‘better’ photograph? I am not in that group. I think that the photographer makes the image, and the image is all I care about. A crappy photographer with a Rebel can get a 5DMKIII and guess what – still shitty photographs, just sharper a bit.

And online it makes no difference anyway. And so many photographers are simply shooting for online delivery that the idea that a Rebel cannot compete with a 1D in a 900 pixel wide image is laughable.

But I am not laughing.

“Is my photography business going to improve if I buy it?”

Nope. Would your photography business improve if you bought a Hassy? If the answer is yes, move heaven and earth to get it. I simply cannot imagine what piece of gear could improve one’s business. Dollars for marketing, or a studio in a better neighborhood – maybe. But a camera?

“Am I only excited because this camera looks different than other current cameras, or does this product only appeal to me because it reminds me of the first camera I ever owned?”

I don’t know. If it was, is that wrong?

Are the people who lovingly restore their vintage cars everything that is wrong with transportation today?

Are those who ride the older style motorcycles, the retro Triumphs and BSA’s and Indians everything that is wrong with motorcycling today?

Are those who listen to music on vinyl, preferring it to the CD everything that is wrong with recorded music today?

Or are they folks that make a choice. They choose something that may remind them of a time when the camera was an extension of their eye, and did only what we wanted it to. When part of the process was to choose the film type, the ISO, the processing baths… when the camera was simply a tool for the eye to look through and the brain to calculate… the heart to feel.

Perhaps it is something that brings them closer to a time that they remember and love… like a sentimental Hallmark card, or watching Costner plow the field waiting for someone to come.

That is isn’t what is wrong with photography today.

What is wrong with photography is everybody getting all vexed over what someone else is doing. What is wrong is that we have a whole new crop of people TELLING us what is good, what fits our hand, what will not be worth it to us.

TELLING us instead of allowing us to make choices based on our own needs, wants and desires.

“I’m honestly really excited that Nikon is doing something “different” but at the same time I would hate to see this camera, which I believe in many ways is a massive step backwards, become the best selling “pro” camera simply because it looks cool. We buy things every day because of the way they make us feel and that’s fine. I believe this camera will bring a lot of people a lot of joy. I just don’t want you to forget that we are supposed to enjoy photography, and not just being fashionable photographers.” (And yeah, I left out the link to the author’s workshop in the Bahamas… will let you go there on your own.)

I am staggered by the arrogance and the fake humility on display here. He is trying to ‘save’ us from the pitfalls of buying a camera because we like it, or how it looks, or because we can stand around with it and a bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon listening to our AM radios and singing DooWop? It’s OK… we don’t really need saving. We are capable of making a $3000 camera purchase without being totally, you know, clueless.


No, there is nothing wrong with photography today. The problem is with photographers.

And possibly photo media… ya think.

Always has been.

EDIT… I was accused of removing a comment that was not favorable to me. I assure you I did not. Here is the screen shot for those of you who may have been told that I did. You can scroll to the comment on your own, but I thought this was really a cool way of adding a little graphic to the fun. Heh.


Just How Easy Is It To Be a Photographer?

Just How Easy Is It To Be a Photographer?

(Originally Published in “In The Frame” my weekly Sunday Dispatch. If you are not subscribed, there is a place to do it just to the right of this article.)

I recently received an eamail that made my day. It promised me a six figure income in photography and with nearly no effort. I would be able to accomplish all my dreams by understanding the secret. Or should I say, “SECRET”. And by knowing this secret, my career in photography would be easy.

I was not to share this information with anyone else, as that would make it less of a, you know, secret.

I wasn’t even tempted to open the link. Not a bit.

Because there is no ‘secret’. There is no ‘easy’.

To be a successful photographer (food on the table, bills paid, savings accumulating) takes hard work, perserverance and a lot of commitment.


Not in this day of quick answers, quick solutions… I want it now, so give me only what I need to be superstar material.

Not gonna happen.

Continued after this small promotion for a friend of mine who has a very cool new book – and an offer for you all.

A Special Price for the readers of this blog. Use the coupon code – LIGHTINGESSENTIALS40 – and save some dough.


Comprehensive Ebook Guide for Multicultural Wedding Photography Lighting Techniques
Andy Lim of Emotion in Pictures reveals how he uses speedlights to complement available light at multicultural wedding ceremonies or wedding receptions, to create amazing wedding photography.

Unlike portrait photography where you have the luxury of time, wedding day photography is fast-paced and unforgiving to beginners, because events happen very quickly and you only have one chance to get it right.


Click Here for the book.

One of the things that I like so much about Andy’s books is how he uses very clear text and very clear illustrations to show you – teach you – how the light works.

I enjoy his work and endorse this book. If you are a beginning wedding shooter, take a look at how he defines the subjects at these weddings using lighting gear that is simple and fairly easy to use.

Click Here for the book.


So I came up with 10 Non-Secrets for you. Ten really important things to consider. You have heard them before, but you will hear them again here… and I hope you hear them again somewhere else.

Because they are important.

1. There is no “Easy Button”. Anyone who tells you there is is either lying to you or trying to sell you something.

2. Set your bar higher. Becoming the best you can be takes more work than becoming better than the other guy/gal. Sure you can watch the perky photographer, take a bit from here and a bit from there and make cool images like them. Even better than them. But is that the best YOU can do?

3. You are unique. What brings you to photography and the desire to make images is known only to you. Find a small, quiet place and think about who YOU are. Then make photographs like YOU do. Finding your style is more about opening up to what you already have than looking outside for inspiration.

4. Buy only what you need. Not what you want, what you need. Save money like a monk… cause there is indeed going to be a time when you NEED something expensive. Rent what you can, purchase only what you absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt need. B&H will survive if you do not purchase that 300-400MM f4 zoom lens that you may shoot twice in a year.

5. Stop comparing your work to other people’s work. Sure, look at other people’s work, but stop comparing the work to your own. They have a different tool set, a different reason to be in photography, and a different time frame as well. If you are starting out, you will not have as many photographs as someone who has been in the business for 30 years. Unfair comparisons are not only limiting, they are also debilitatingly repressing your own creative endeavors.

6. Set goals. Short term, long term, way long term. Make them just out of reach, worth fighting for, and measurable. Write them down… on paper. Read them every Sunday morning… and every time you are feeling a bit creatively cramped.

7. Love the word YES! Be open to new things and opportunities. Take chances. Take risks. Be as cautious as necessary, but no more. We do not move up the mountain by being cautious and timid. Embrace the incredible possibilities that confront us nearly every day… and go get a few.

8. Love the word NO! Do not become a negative person, but know when to call time out. Know when you are being taken advantage of or not being appreciated when the appreciation is ALL you are really looking for. Don’t take crap from anyone. Ever. Stand up for your rights, your work and your vision. Own it.

9. Learn from every mistake. Do not put the images away until you KNOW everything you could do to make them better. Critique the hell out of them. Write the critiques down. (Yeah, I tell you to write it down for a reason. Studies have shown it is retained more than typing it into a computer screen. Don’t argue with me, I know stuff.) Next time you shoot, don’t make that mistake again. And do not worry, there are a ton of them waiting to be made, so there is no arrival point. Shoot, critique, adjust. Shoot, critique, adjust. Shoot, critique, adjust.

10. Take pictures like you will never have the chance again. I’m serious. What if next Wednesday you were leaving earth to go on a mission to a distant planet. You had a minimum of room and weight, but they said you could bring 20 photographs with you. Only 20. What would those images be? The only answer is in your heart, and I can’t say what to take or not to take photographs of.

But take them like they were part of the set you get to take to space with you. Believe in your images… own them and own your vision.

(My EBook on “Avoiding Internet Scams for Photographers Who Should Know Better Than To Be Scammed by Buying This Book” will be published soon. I am only asking $97 for it and it comes with a video of me telling you how dumb it was to buy my book… cool, eh? Only $97… Think of the possibilities… :-) )


First Roadtrip: Flagstaff and Jerome

First Roadtrip: Flagstaff and Jerome

I have not had the chance to do much roadtripping lately. The docs wanted me to stay pretty close to home for a while, but heading up to Flagstaff is only a couple of hours – well within the four hour limit.

I wanted to catch some fall foliage, something I have never really sought out before. I like the landscape stuff a lot, but need to have something of my own vision to do it right. I am only interested in doing it my way.

So a trip was on, and I woke at 4:30 for a 5Am departure. My good friend Megan Abshire came along to do some shooting as well, and it was great to have someone to chat with.

We arrived at Flagstaff a bit after 9AM and headed for the San Francisco Mountains just north of Flagstaff. As we were driving up, I was sorta disappointed in the lack of color. Seems we were a bit too early for the good stuff.


We headed up the mountain toward the ski lodge and saw a few stand of aspen all decked out in their yellow leaves and white bark. So that was something – and being there that early gave us some great backlight from the early morning sun.

It was cold too. Now if you are from Maine or Minnesota, you will probably laugh, but to us desert dwellers, 34 degrees F was pretty chilly.

We bailed out of the car at a grand point with a stand of Aspen right near us. I knew there was a photograph there, but I couldn’t see it until I positioned myself with the solitary pine tree in front of the sun. It was then that I saw my final photograph.

I knew what I was going to do with it in Pshop before the camera got to my eye. And that is exactly what I did.


This image was highly treated in post to bring out the light from behind the lone pine, as well as some highlights and shadow detail work.

A path going through the woods attracted me and I worked at getting a shot there. Again, I knew there was something there, but I am not sure if I found it or not. Great excuse to go back, eh?

Clouds were dancing around the sun and causing all kinds of little dappled pools of light to appear – then disappear as quickly as they came. It was a lot of fun working with the light.


I grabbed an overall shot as we were leaving. The sky was now devoid of any clouds, and we would be stuck with a blank blue canvas for the rest of the day.


We headed down through Oak Creek Canyon, but we were too early there as well. A couple of short hikes off the road didn’t bring us much photo interest so we headed to Jerome, a very old town on the north face of Mingus Mountain.

There I found a few of my old standby subjects – old doors and textures.


I think that doors are such incredible metaphorical symbols. Old ones add a level of age and mystery. These doors have been here exposed to the elements for a long, long time. I thought the were worthy of a portrait.


I thought this old wooden siding looked like a wrapped Christmas present. Shot in the cold light of the south sky, I had to warm it a bit in LR.

Below is a full shot of the building that the above was a detail shot. It is one of the older buildings in Jerome and houses a lot of artists studios these days. The old Mingus Mtn School.


As we were heading over the top of Mingus toward Prescott, we challenged ourself to stop at a set distance from the town and MAKE a photograph at that milepost. This is the shot I made there, and it is OK. Very bad light at that time of day, and it created a fairly flat scene with a lot of contrast. That is the contrasty parts were very contrasty and the flat parts were quite flat.


In most of my landscape work, something of humanity must be present… a trail, road, fence – something made by us and inserted into the landscape.

It just fits my vision of the landscape or environment. I leave the pristine work to others more qualified than I.

Well – that was my first road trip experience in 8 or 9 weeks and it was fun.

See you next time.


Kyle Jones Shoots the Reno Rodeo

Kyle Jones Shoots the Reno Rodeo

Project 52 Member Kyle Jones shot the rodeo in Reno recently. Kyle is a photographer of many interests and talents.

He is working on building a book and getting out in the Reno market by the first of the year. This fun shoot is one of the stories he is working on for his personal pages.

I love rodeos… this work makes me remember how much.

From Kyle:

It’s June in Reno, Nevada. That means one thing, the Reno Rodeo is coming to town. This year (2013) marks the 94th year since its inception. Being from upstate New York, I hadn’t really experienced many rodeos in my life, but, since moving to Reno in August 2009, I’ve been fortunate enough to attend every one. This year marks my fourth straight Reno Rodeo.

A day spent at the rodeo is fun and exciting. I thought this would be the perfect venue to document for my Project52 Pros assignment. There are many areas to photograph; the rides along the midway, vendors who set up shop in the buildings, people walking around the food court, and of course the main attraction, the rodeo itself.

This is a very challenging assignment with varying light conditions throughout the event combined with the fast action of a bareback bronc ride or bull ride. The sun is still high in the sky at 7 p.m. when the rodeo begins, shadows and strong sunlight can wreak havoc on composition. However, it isn’t long before the summer sun is setting on the horizon when the next challenge presents itself, stadium lighting. Time to crank up the ISO setting!

This year we had seats directly across the arena from where the broncs and bulls come out of the gate. I would get my camera positioned on the cowboy that was up next and when the gate was pulled, fire off frames as fast as technology would permit. I try my best to put the focus point on the cowboy’s face or chest. My goal was to document the excitement and family fun that a rodeo brings to a community by mixing up exciting shots of cowboys and cowgirls in action with the master of ceremonies on his horse and other intermission entertainment taking place between rodeo events.

I really enjoyed covering this event. At future rodeos I plan to cover even more by taking the whole day to capture more ‘behind the scenes’ shots of the stockyards and stable workers. I’ve met many people who volunteer their time to the Reno Rodeo each year, so, I’m confident that with persistence and asking, this goal will come to fruition.

– Kyle D. Jones

The Images:


My Neighborhood

My Neighborhood

I have been recovering and walking… lots of walking. The immediate neighborhood is of course the most logical place, so I traverse the streets around my home a couple of times per day.

When my friend Antony Northcutt asked to see some images from people’s neighborhoods and towns, I thought what the heck. I’m in.

At first I thought I would get some shots of Phoenix, but that idea went out the window… Phoenix is too vast a place to cover in a few images. I thought instead of shooting the things I see on my walks around my little part of this desert community.

So here you are Antony… a little slice of a little slice called Ahwatukee, Phoenix, Arizona.

(Technical: All images taken with a Nikon V1, 10-30MM lens and processed in Silver Effects. No further Pshop manipulations.)


Life: Rebooting and Re-Evaluating

Life: Rebooting and Re-Evaluating

I dodged the bullet and my health is steadily improving. I am beginning to get clear headed again, the recent fogginess resulting from lungs that were not sufficient to make oxygen for the brain.

The docs say the heart came through it with flying colors, even miraculously so, and I am getting stronger and stronger each day.

However, it has put me a bit “out of phase” and it is a bit difficult to explain what I mean.

Words do not seem the right vehicle for this roadtrip, but they are the only means I have to convey the thoughts.

When I remarked to my wife that I felt “out of phase” we both laughed and began recounting Star Trek episodes where someone was out of phase with the crew, or the universe, or time, or themselves.

“Well, kinda like that….” I laughed a bit and then we got quiet.

“My life feels different. I got another shot at something – anything… everything. When I was in the ICU, they brought in 5 more people. Three of them did not leave that floor.”

My wife smiled a wry smile and said she just knew I would be alright… “You are too tough to leave us”, she said.


I feel both lucky and perplexed. Alive is wonderful – perplexed at how the fickle finger of “you are most definitely screwed’ plays out.

So what now?

One of the things one thinks about when they are told not to plan for tomorrow, is what we did with yesterday. And the day before that.. and so on.

Was it worth something? To someone, somewhere?

I am a good dad, and a pretty good husband. And I have lots of friends all over the world. And for that I am most grateful.

But I want to do more, to see more, to meet more people and help as many reach their dreams as I can. I know I have lots to offer, and now I need to find the ways I can deliver it to the most people.

So I have plans.

Lighting Essentials is my flagship, although I may be the first to acknowledge it is less about “Lighting” these days as it is about the philosophy and action of photographing. I want that to continue, but I also know that there is more to do – more to teach – more to learn.

I have more plans for Lighting Essentials than I can execute by myself… but that is back to normal for me. I look forward to working with the site to make it more of a valuable resource to those who want it.

I read a couple of great essays lately, but one that has stayed with me is one from PetaPixel on the photography instructor no one wants… experience.

It made me realize how much I love doing Project 52, and how it delivers real world experience to photographers all over the world. No, it is not the same as actually assisting a photographer – but it as close as we can get with the limitations we have.

I also have two versions of the PRO group running and the work they are cranking out is exceptional, Project 52 PRO is one of our groups that started this summer, and they are ripping it up with exceptional work and creativity.

Recently there was a photo competition held on CreativeLIVE. Out of the thousands of images that were submitted, only twenty were chosen to be reviewed. Of that twenty, four were Project 52 members. That is pretty cool and I think a great testimonial to the work the photographers put into their images when they are in Project 52.

We will be doing it again next year, and will also be doing some “Business Talks” webinars for those who want to get the info quickly, find the clients and get to work. It is not easy, it is not fast, but it is a proven method. (In fact, Kyle Johnson who was recently on CreativeLIVE discussing the transition from amateur to professional pretty much laid it out. I go into more specifics, but it was very gratifying to see someone else extolling the methods and techniques needed to get out there and find commercial clients.

I have decided to do four workshops next year. After the grueling period a few years ago, I had to stop doing them. I was burned out on the curriculum and I was getting tired of the backend hassles to set them up.

These workshops will be quite intensive and not geared for the beginner, but instead to the photographer looking to get kicked in the butt and launched a few rungs up in both lighting and concepts.

Watch for more, and offer suggestions if you have any.

I am looking forward to posting more here – especially to other posts I find interesting.

Please consider signing up for the “newsletter” – In The Frame – it goes out every Sunday and is the kind of content you usually do not see in photographic newsletters.

Thanks for continuing to follow Lighting Essentials. And remember… Movement is Life. Remember to get up and stretch every hour or so, and get a good 5 minutes of movement in for every two hours you sit.

It can save you a lot of problems… heh.

Mike Moore: Surf Meet

Mike Moore: Surf Meet

Project 52 member, Mike Moore’s Project.

I live in Encinitas California. It is a small but growing city 25 miles north of San Diego. Known for its legendary surf spots, Pipes, Swami’s and Stonesteps to name a few, Encinitas is often described as laid-back and funky.

For my project I chose to focus on Stonesteps Beach; in particular, the 27th Annual Stonesteps Longboard surf contest. Held on one Saturday in August, this neighborhood event brings old friends back together again and offers an opportunity to make new friends. The event is completely run by volunteers and neighbors. Local businesses donate prizes for the winners of the contest.

My vision was to show the contestants surfing and spectators mingling. Also, I wanted to capture details showing you the spirit of the event. A behind the scenes view that most people may not think about but, once they see the photographs, have an “ah-ha” moment.

Here is my view of the 27th Annual Stonesteps Longboard surf contest…enjoy the ride!

-Mike Moore

Move. Seriously, Get Up and Move!

Move. Seriously, Get Up and Move!

The curtain to the ER room flew open. A white coated doctor stood there with some papers in his hand and just looked at me.

“You aren’t supposed to be here”, he said.

I smiled and said they were moving me to the ICU in a few minutes.

He kind of wryly smiled and said, “No, I mean you are not supposed to BE here. I only get charts like this from the morgue.”

It kinda hit me at that moment how much trouble I was in.

He walked over to me and put his hand on my shoulder and quietly asked if I had family. I nodded and he said, “call them and get them here.”

“Am I going to die”, I asked – seriously.

“There is a distinct possibility of that happening at any moment.” The look in his eyes told me I was sorta toast.

“Not tonight”, I said. And I smiled at him, then at my wife. “Not tonight.”

He grinned and said that sounded good to him.

They moved me to CVICU and hooked me up to a bunch of IV’s and heart monitors and they checked my lungs every 2 hours. All while cautioning me not to move. At all.

This was August, 15, 2013. (Beware the Ides of August… heh)

I was marked for the end, but I had dodged the bullet so to speak, and now they had to help me dodge it a second time.

I had a Pulmonary Embolism (a type of heart attack) and had not been aware of it happening. It had happened a few weeks earlier when I was working around the house. I suddenly became totally out of breath and had to take breaks and calm myself while doing mundane things.

We called the doctor. They diagnosed me with high blood pressure and onset Diabetes. No lung X-Ray or any attention to the fact that my pulse was near 140.

If I had been a hummingbird, I would have been flying high…

That medication did nothing for my pulse, and my blood pressure remained high.

That Thursday in August I awakened as usual with a bit of stiffness in my left leg. After taking my daughter to school, I came in from the driveway so exhausted from the short walk in that I laid down to take a short nap.

At noon I awakened to my left leg aching pretty bad. I thought I had slept on it wrong so I started to rub out the kink.

Instantly I knew something was wrong. My leg was as hard as a brick, and looking down I noticed it was also double the size of my right leg.

And it was purple.

Paramedics arrive, and they are worried looking. “It may be a DVT” one said.

Of course I thought – a DVT. What a DVT was I had no idea.

“You are going to the hospital now”, said one of them as he glanced at his partner. I could tell that they didn’t like what they saw.

On Friday we discussed options… there were some bad options. I could die with any breath. I could lose the leg. They could pump me full of a powerful blood thinner, but if I had even the tiniest ulcer or hemorrhage anywhere in my body I would bleed out.

Someone in the radiology department said they would try a very tricky, very risky surgery to isolate the blood clot and kill it in place without filling my body with deadly blood thinner.

You see, I had a DVT. A Deep Vein Thrombosis – a blood clot – in my main artery in the left leg and it was killing my leg. And me. The blood clot had broken off earlier when I had the heart attack and I had been extremely lucky.

The clot entered the heart, passed through the chambers and exited the heart into my lungs. All without getting caught or stuck or – well – killing me where I stood.

And the chances of that happening again were slim to none.

Now the DVT was being crushed by the swelling leg and would most assuredly throw another clot toward the heart.

They had to move fast.

Oh, and the blood clot I had was nearly 36CM… over 14 inches long.

I say go big or go home. Microscopic can kill, and I have one over a foot long.

Well, the surgery worked. I am no longer in dire danger.

Now the culprit. How had I gotten a 14 inch blood clot?

Sitting on my fat ass, that’s how.

I wrote three books in two years. I write every day. I shoot and edit at the computer. I took several long car trips. I flew frequently.

All of those activities are clot creating.

I have learned so much about sedentary dangers. I have no plans on having another one of these episodes. Believe me.

Sitting in one spot can let the blood ‘pool’ in your ass and your ankles. The pooling can create small clots. Many times your body will take care of them, but on the off-chance it doesn’t. You… could die.

That would turn an otherwise great day into one that sucks, ya know.

So here is the deal.


Movement is life.

  1. Set your phone or computer to remind you to get up and move at least a few minutes per hour.

  2. Try doing some work standing (as I am now doing this writing).

  3. When driving longer than two hours, stop and move around at least 10 minutes per hour and a half, or less. Stop. Take a photograph. Walk around and see the world you are passing through.

  4. On plane rides longer than three hours, make sure you move around each hour for a few minutes. At the very least, do leg exercises to move the blood.

  5. OK, this is hard to say… I don’t want to be some sort of nag. But seriously – let’s all work a little bit harder to get in shape. Walk more, take stairs yada yada yada. (Any magazine on the mag stand will have this same stuff in it, so pick one and do it.)

I am now on the mend. my BP is back to normal, and blood sugars are looking pretty good. I have lost 23 pounds and feeling pretty good.

My memory and retention are returning. (When one has massive blood clots in the lungs, they hardly work correctly. So they weren’t making oxygen for my brain. Another side effect of the PE, along with a very nasty nasty cough.)

I have taken two walks today, and my left leg is not cramping. I have stopped coughing and my lungs are working things out with the blood clots.

So that is why I haven’t been so active on this blog for the last few weeks.

I have a lot of stuff to add to the blog, but I wanted you to know what was happening.

And I want you to move. Movement is life.

A Concert in Boras, Sweden by Tomas Jansson (P52)

A Concert in Boras, Sweden by Tomas Jansson (P52)

Tomas Jansson is a Project 52 PRO. This is his project shoot.

“With my pictures I have tried to capture a story, give an overview of the area, the people and of course the concert.

Every Thursday for eight weeks in the summer there are festivities in my hometown of Borås in Sweden. The city invites everyone to a concert and people of all ages are out on the town together. It is always crowded with a large stage in the town square. This time the local really talented and entertaining rock band State of Drama appeared. With a drummer who delivered really amazing drum solos.

I decided in March to document the first concert on 27th of June and this is my result.

I took about 300 pictures and picked out 15 that I really liked. So, I used about 5% of the pictures.”

– Tomas Jansson

Vintage Clothing Expo, Malmo by Flora Cusi

Vintage Clothing Expo, Malmo by Flora Cusi

Vintagemässan i Malmö, 25th of May 2013
photographer: Flora Cusi

Project: I decided to visit the vintage expo in Malmö for my event project. My main interests are colors and patterns and less documenting the presence of people, although I did not exclude this second part. I just used part of the expo, like the catwalk to put the two things together. I made an effort to photograph the whole exposition but I had several problems with people as many were not willing to be photographed.

Difficulties: the main difficulty was to control the light. It was extremely bad lights almost everywhere, and a cloudy dark day not letting in a lot from the big windows.
Another problem was the lack of glamour. I expected something more styled and pompous, and surely there were a lot of inspired pin-ups walking around. But the whole presentation was quite shabby and I had to work on my own to isolate my subjects and make them look good.
Also, the quality was really varied. Some clothes were coming from Hollywood and had a real style, others were of the worst quality. It was hard to vary, much harder than I expected.

Intentions: I am not quite the person who document facts. I use photoshop and I reorganize my pictures. I don’t aim to become a press photographer or work with documentary. I suppose part of my pictures would still fit on a fashion magazine, but I don’t mind letting photoshop being quite evident in my work.

Creating unity was a challenge and I was not out to show clothes and clothes, although that was the main thing out. I wanted to catch a bit of variety and I suppose I managed, but I had to sort out a lot as as said they really were showing things in a real shabby way.

Thanks Flora… very interesting project.

Flora is a Project 52 PRO member and lives in Sweden.

Interview With Photographer Scott Toepfer

Interview With Photographer Scott Toepfer

I first found Scott’s work one day when a P52 member linked his great video on motorcycling, “It’s Better in the Wind”.

Watch it. All with DSLR video.

I became an instant fan. The words I use for Scott’s work are fresh, surprising, intimate and classic. I expected the work to be film, and much of it is, but Scott makes his digital files look more like film than digital.

Scott discusses the making of this short film in the first part of the interview.

I have been told on occasion that my interviews are too long. I think that they are as long as they have to be to cover what we need to cover. This interview is about an hour and 40 minutes cut into two parts for you. I don’t think of that as too long.

I think of that as a long form, detailed look into the work and thought process of a dynamic young photographer. One that you can’t get in a twelve minute discussion or 10 questions answered in text. This is the way I like to meet someone.

Grab a beer… hell, maybe two. And meet Scott Toepfer.

Scott Toepfer Website.

Scott Toepfer Blog

This is Part One: a discussion on Scott’s work, marketing and how he works with clients. It is 40 minutes or so.

This is Part Two: Scott shares some images with us, and we chat about the making of photographs. It is a tiny bit over an hour.

All images copyright Scott Toepfer.

Thanks Scott. I am very happy to have met you. And the beer is on me next time I come through Ventura.

Tour of California Bicycle Race: Adam Bendig

Tour of California Bicycle Race: Adam Bendig

Project 52 PROS is a group of highly motivated photographers who are spending a year with me working on their books, their marketing tools, marketing plans and becoming more familiar with shooting like a professional.

Adam Bendig is one of our pros,, and this is the project he took on earlier this year. I asked each participant to develop a project and some verbiage that could be used to give the images context.

Adam chose the Tour of California Bicycle Race and these are his words and images.


For the past two years I’ve attended the Tour of California bicycle race, and decided that this year was the time to make the leap, and cover the entire race from start to finish. 16 teams from around the world (China, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and a number of domestically based teams) descend upon the state of California, and for the first time traveled South to North this year. Cycling has long been a passion for me, starting with BMX as a wee lad, to mountain biking and road cycling as a young adult. Because of this, I feel that my cycling centric work is improved. I know the little things to look for, and the little things that are interesting to someone with an interest in the sport.

2013-05-14-ATOC_St3_Santa_Clarita-365---Version-3Earlier this year, I made the decision to fly to Louisville to cover the World Championships of cyclocross rather then purchase an awesome new photo-gear backpack. That paid off with some incredible imagery, and a few good connections for the future. So with this experience fresh in my mind, I set off on a road trip with grand intentions. I couch surfed when possible, but that’s one of the major takeaways from this. Because of the scale of this event, which took me over 1600 miles and more then 25 stops, I’ve learned how important it can be to stay near the event. Getting a hotel room rather then couch surfing would have saved me a couple of hundred miles, and a few hours behind the wheel. But, that’s why it’s important to get out and tackle these jobs that you want to be paid for well before you start getting paid for them. You’ve really got to find out what all goes into it. In addition to the crazy commuting, I also discovered just how much extra time it takes at the end of the day to put coverage together, but I’ll get to that later.

2013-05-13-ATOC_st2_Palm_Springs-1535I’m fortunate to have a friend with a lifestyle website that’s happy to publish my work (, and because of that I was able to turn my coverage of World’s into a media credential at this race. In addition to an air conditioned room with ice cold water at some of the beginning stages, I was able to meet Press Officers for a few of the teams, which began opening up the coverage that I really wanted out of this. I was invited to go slightly behind the scenes with a world class professional road racing team, telling the story of the people that make everything happen and allow the riders to do just what they need to do, ride. And win. This is the stuff that’s interesting to me. What happens on the race course, you can see live on the Tour Tracker app and after the race on a ton of other websites, but I want to see, and show, what goes on just off course. Unfortunately however, there are a bunch of other photographers that want to do the same.

The key for me was getting past my fear of speaking to someone, explaining what I was doing and what I wanted to cover, and then the doors opened. I was welcomed behind the caution tape. In a nice discussion with the contact after my coverage was published, he pointed out that was made exceptional work stand out over others, was the attention to details. Not just photographing the details, but captions explaining what’s going on. Including names. Telling the story in more then just pictures. A lot of photographers, a majority I’d say, are more comfortable behind the camera. I’m definitely one of those, and would use the camera as a way to experience something without having to be involved myself. It’s a crutch for sure, but breaking through that has made my work improve tremendously.

2013-05-13-ATOC_st2_Palm_Springs-1527Waking up with the sunrise and driving 70 miles to catch some bike riders walking out of an RV and hopping on a bike, then driving 80 more miles through two lane desert and then mountain roads to shoot a peloton passing by faster then you can react to, and then another 70 miles to a sweltering desert wasteland in triple digit heat for the finish, THEN driving home, that’s a lot of work. Now, sit down and import a few hundred photos, tag them, rate them, process the best. Now write a few hundred words about what happened in the race. Now, plan the next day. Figure out where you’ll start, what time you’ve got to leave, where you’ll be able to pick up the race while they’re riding, and try to get a little bit of sleep…it’s one of the best weeks I’ve ever had. It’d better be if that’s what I want to do on the regular! It was definitely more involved then I expected though. I didn’t get to bed before midnight once the entire week, and the day that I was going to be able to sleep in ’til 9, I automatically woke up at sunrise. Hard work, but the more I prepared myself for each day, the more I put myself out there to meet the people that can give me access, the more it paid off.

2013-05-14-ATOC_St3_Santa_Clarita-508This may just be a once a year race, but now I have a powerful set of images to turn into an ebook, to show magazines, sponsors and local teams. They say that the body of a bike racer changes after they’ve completed one of the three week Grand Tours. That the non stop punishment does something to the body, making them a better rider. This may have just been one week, and I had the luxury of pressing a gas pedal instead of turning a pedal over and over, but the experience of working from the road, meeting deadlines and having to create beautiful images in random conditions, it’s made me a better photographer and helped to prepare me for what’s to come. Just like the thousands of miles the racers will ride in the off-season, this is practice, and now I’ve met some of the people that I’ll soon be working for.

Adam Bendig

Adi Talwar, Photographer

Adi Talwar, Photographer

Adi Talwar has been a strong member of Project 52. His wit and charm infuse his work no matter whether it is lifestyle, photojournalism or portrait.

Adi was asked to do a show of some of his experimental work, and for those of you who may not be near NY at this moment, he has graciously let us view some of his work. These are a few shots that will be on display starting Thursday.

The show, at Illuminated Metropolis Gallery, will run from July 11 to August 3, 2013. I do hope all of you in the Metro NY area can join Adi for his opening Thursday evening.

Illuminated Metropolis Gallery
547 W 27th Street, Suite 529
New York, NY 10001
Betweenn 10th and 11th Ave

Artists Reception from 6-8PM.

From Adi’s website:

Adi Talwar is a self taught photographer who enjoys capturing emotions and making memories. His portfolio ranges from portraits on the street, to performances, appetizing food, Corporate events and personal work. His work has been published in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, City Limits Magazine, The Next American City, Daily News, Norwood News to name  a few.



I find this work to be quite interesting. The lines and compositions lead one to an abstract view of common subjects – and that is particularly cool.

See more of Adi’s work on his blog as well.

The images:

Thanks for sharing your work, Adi.

Two Photographs by Sheila Morgan

Two Photographs by Sheila Morgan

Sheila Morgan is a photographer that I worked with in the Bay Area on a One-on-One consultation. Her lighting skills needed a bit of a clean up and we spent a day in the studio and a day on location working on various lighting challenges. I really enjoy the one one one experiences, and for those of you who receive the newsletter, you have read what Sheila thought of it as well.

In this shot, she used lighting and Photoshop together to make an image that would have required more gear than she had on this trip. In addition it would have necessitated a setup that would have been quite difficult to do with the wind gusts.

We used a very simple technique to blend the non-problem areas with the areas that had the light and bright fall off.

This is a video of how it was done.

Photograph by Sheila Morgan

Photograph by Sheila Morgan

The Photograph was taken a little bit north of Santa Cruz, CA on Highway 1. There is no Photoshop on this image other than what you see in the video. Sheila may introduce some other post-processing, but for this article it is SOOC.

Bri in color on the beach

Photograph by Sheila Morgan (click to enlarge)

This photo was taken a few miles north at a beach we found right after the trees shot above. It was cold… no, I mean it was really cold… but we ventured on anyway.

We knew the speedlight was going to be a problem because in this wind, the tripod mounted camera would still be moving. We set up the “big gun” Profoto 300′s with a beauty dish and headed on out to this wonderful little ‘fort’ built out of driftwood. This was quite spectacularly created and the wood was extremely heavy.

We had a wonderfully subtle, but active sky and Sheila wanted to show that off. She began making her exposures based on the Sunny 16 Rule and settled on f-18 at 1/100 of a second at ISO 100. This effectively lowered the ambient about 2/3 to a stop. The sun was coming through a thin layer of clouds which was bringing down the direct sun by about a third every now and then. Sheila wanted Briana and the colors to stand out.

She based the exposure on the ambient being darker than the flash. The beauty dish was brought in to the correct distance and power for f-18 (what, you think I don’t have a rope-meter for myself?) and Sheila began shooting.

Note how she placed the sun to camera left, and slightly behind Bri to cast shadows forward and show the texture of the driftwood. The slight underexposure resulted in the sand not being as ‘hot’ as it was and muting slightly the sky and clouds. As before, this shot is straight out of camera but for a small piece of wood that was coming out from behind Briana’s head. We knew we had to take it out when she shot it,  but it was impossible to move and keep Bri in this perfect composition.

The beauty dish is right out of frame to camera right and at the same angle as the sun from the opposing side. I kept the angle of the BD straight up and down as well, as I didn’t want the shadow Bri was casting to be opened up with that tell-tale flash look.

Briana was quite the trooper for this shot as we were all freezing and Sheila and I were wearing coats.

I think Sheila and Bri did a great job on these two shots, and a big shout out to Shiela for letting me use them in this article.

More coming on this image deconstruction thing here on Lighting Essentials.

See more of Sheila’s work at her website.

Questions? Comments?

Use the comment section below.


Still Life Breakdown: Corn in Virginia

Still Life Breakdown: Corn in Virginia

This past weekend I was privileged to hang out with a bunch of photographers in Virginia. It was not a workshop, it was a hangout-and-shoot-your-ass-off weekend. Stephen and Michele were the gracious hosts who put it all together, and we had a blast.

Saturday had us shooting a wide variety of talent they had booked, and we shot in a very nice little studio in downtown Fredericksburg, Virginia. The weather cooperated and we had a couple of lovely days to shoot outside and in the studio.

More of those images on this Sunday’s dispatch “In The Frame” which you can sign up for free right over there on the right. We don’t spam you and we let you know if there is something for sale. Most of the time it is just a lot of fun, and stuff you will not find on this site.

One of the attendees, Bob Knill, wanted to step up his game in the still life / food arena, so he came prepared with two fresh ears of corn snapped up at the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market. (If you live near Fredericksburg, you really should check it out – Saturday mornings near downtown.)

We are going to take a look at this image from a different perspective… we are going to deconstruct it from finished to start. Instead of starting with the corn and adding in what we did, we will look at what happens when we take things away.

(I should mention that these are straight out of the camera with zero adjustments or modifications. They were processed from Raw in LR5, and exported to PS for JPEG.)

First let’s set the stage:


You can see all the major players here.

  • The main lighting is the scrim placed just above the set. That is lit by a small softbox about 4 inches from the scrim to make the light have shape. Backing it off fills the scrim, but moving it in close creates a hot spot on the scrim and lets Bob focus the main part of his light wherever he wants.
  • The second light is an unmodified speedlight on the left, passing through a glass block placed very close to the set.
  • Notice the glass block has a black card on the speedlight side and one on the corn side. Those small cards are helping to shape the light as it comes through the glass block. It also keeps unwanted light from spilling around the edges.
  • There are two small white cards propped up in front of the corn. They are adding a bit of fill, and something for the glistening corn to reflect on the shadow side.
  • Bob is shooting tethered here so he can see the nuances of his lighting.

The set is quite small – less than the coffee table we were shooting on. He set his shutter and aperture on a setting that assured no extraneous light would be added by the ambient.

ISO 200, f4.5, 1/60th of a second with a 50MM lens were the chosen tools and settings.

The first shot is with all the gear set as in the BTS above. Click on the images for a much larger experience.

Notice the smooth light, with delicate fill all around the corn. That is the combination of small speedlight and diffuser providing a nice ambient feel. The speedlight to camera right coming through the glass block gives the image some depth and interest, as well as shaping the top ear of corn with light and shadow. Notice how subtle the light is from the left.


In this shot we removed the black cards that were on the glass block. The light is less nuanced, but still interesting. It is your shot – make it your way. With the cards no longer shaping the light, the fill cards in front are now brighter and providing more fill than when they were not receiving so much of the speedlight from the left.


Now we remove the cards from in front of the corn and it goes much darker in front of the corn.



This shot is with the light to camera right shut off. Now the only light is from the diffuser and the small softbox above the corn. This has a very soft, natural light look to it as well.


On this shot we removed the scrim and just used the speedlight in the small softbox. You can see the entire feel of the ambient is now gone. This has a very point-source feel to it.


Interestingly enough, you may like any one of these for your work. There is no one way or right way to do this stuff. Experiment and have fun creating your own versions of how you want to light.

Bob spent a couple of hours on this, working out exactly what he wanted to do, and doing some cool variations. I hope he shares those on his blog when he is ready.

This shot shows how the little shelf blocked some light behind the set so it would create a shadow and some fall off for the background.

Paying attention to the smallest details is what this type of photography is all about.

BTW, it is a blast to work with subjects and light like this. Try a couple ears of corn or a head of broccoli or whatever you like. Blend the light, make the light do what you want it to do and don’t give up at the first shot. Keep working it till you get what you want.


Another shot of the set.


Sort of a ‘spy-cam’ feel, eh?

OK – see you next time.

BTW, if you would like to see more posts like this, please let me know. I am happy to do them.


On the Sun Times Firings… One Month Later

On the Sun Times Firings… One Month Later

(NOTE: I do not get any newspapers, nor am I at all interested in newspapers as they are printed… If I want yesterday’s news, I can listen to it on the radio. Newspapers are desperately trying to find a way to keep going without changing what they do. It is not possible, but they will continue to be surprised by every new trend that comes along until they shutter the doors, and sell off the furniture. Not if, but when. That is my personal opinion and of course may shade what I write.)

This may not win me any friends, but I have somethings to say about the Sun firings that I gotta get out. A comment on another thread got me thinking about it like this:

The Sun-Times fired all their staff photographers.

They were indeed the first to do this en-mass, but do remember that the NYT and LAT and SF Chronicle made massive cuts a few years ago. Also add ESPN and a few weekly magazines to the list. I think I read something about Sports Illustrated as well, but not sure if it was the entire staff.

The Sun may be the first newspaper to fire the entire crew, but they won’t be the last. Not by a long shot. Many other papers are down to only a small handful, and whether they fire them or let them retire will be a matter for the owners. (I have no doubt they will NOT do the honorable thing, most of newspaper owners are assholes. While that is not a scientific acknowledgement, I believe it to be true.)

Some say it is all about the bottom line, but I think in this case the bottom line is change.

Spot news has changed. The people on the scene now have technology that can record both video and photographs, and – they are there NOW. A PJ must be dispatched, sent across town, awakened… whatever, but they are usually NOT on the ground when the spot news is breaking.

Most people do not have any discerning taste regarding spot or hard news shots. Just watch the incredibly lame and terrible video that passes for local news any evening. Kids in garages could (and do) make better. How many people call the newspaper to complain about the tonal range or excessive sharpening of that shot of the car accident on Main? Sure, G+ photographers do, but who else?

As to the ‘beat’ photographer… the guy or gal who checks in at the local cop station and hangs around waiting for a grab shot or two… no one cares anymore. That was of interest to the public at an earlier time, it is not anymore.

A quick snap of an iPhone of the mayor giving a press conference is fine for most dailies. Think of the shots where the PJ’s are all lined up with cameras in the air shooting a talking head giving a press briefer… do we really need Pro’s for that anymore? The shots are generally tepid to boring.

Photo from this article which you should read as well.

iPhones in the hands of reporters can make tepid, boring photographs just fine. Add one of them cool camera phone filters and – wow. But I digress…

In this PP article, they show cover/cover comparisons of the Trib and the Sun side by side. And while the Stanley Cup covers can be held up as a “see we told you so” moment, the rest of the comparisons seem to be not so harshly decided. The Sun continues with the same sort of stuff it had before.

Is that surprising? It is disappointing?

Do YOU have a subscription to the Sun-Times?

Just asking…

I do not pretend to like this new trend, but I do recognize that it is a trend that will not be reversing any time soon. Every major story in the past 3 years has been covered by folks on the scene with camera phones and P&S’s, the PJ’s coming last to the scene.

The plane in the Hudson didn’t wait to sink till the PJ’s got there from Midtown, nor were any PJ’s on the scene in Boston when Muslim terrorists blew up innocent people. Riots in the streets of Cairo, to shootings in the streets of Washington DC, the people there have it… stills, video, the whole shebang. By the time the PJ gets there, they body is covered and the cops are taking statements.

That was enough then, it isn’t now. It won’t be going back to the old ways.

The world has changed… and PJ’s better change along with it.

Or risk being the subject of nostalgic documentaries made by those who did.