by Skip Cohen
It's Throwback Thursday and now and then I like to step away from the memories of old photographs and instead find early concepts I've shared in blog posts.
Seven years ago, my good buddy Scott Bourne wrote the post below about using your phone. At that time, picking up a phone and making a call was in the shadows of texting, email, and social media in general. Many of you didn't have a phone number even listed on your website. Well, the new norm has changed all that and made the phone one of your best tools for helping your business.
Talking to a client directly is second only to the benefits of meeting with them in person, which these days can be minimal. And a phone call, especially when you're not hard-selling anything, is perfect for helping maintain relationships important to sustaining your brand and reputation.
So, why not start today and set a goal of ten clients or friends a day you're going to call and just ask, "I'm just checking up on people I care about - how are you guys doing?" It really is that simple, and the phone is a great way to keep in touch!
Scott Bourne should be on your radar. Check out more great content and wisdom by visiting his blog, Picture Methods.
by Scott Bourne
This may come as a shock to some of you, but in the old days, not one single professional photographer on the planet had a Facebook account. Nor did they have a Flickr account, a blog, a website, an e-mail address or anything else that involved being "on line." Yep I know, I know, hard to conceive. But it's absolutely true. And in keeping with my status as "older than dirt" I know this is true because I was actually there!
Truth be told, I've spent more of my life operating without the Internet than WITH the Internet. I've sold more photographs, licensed more images, booked more shoots using the telephone than the Internet. Now here's the good news. The telephone still exists. Oh you don't hear about it very often, but yep, I checked. It's still there. You can get one just about anywhere. And you no longer need to rely on a lady named "Ma Bell" to pick one up.
Yes, the magical telephone still works and in my opinion, still has great value. So today's Marketing Monday tip is short and sweet. Get a telephone number, plaster that puppy everywhere. Use it. Share it. Actually answer it. Talk to people. It's an amazing thing. You can hear the happiness or sadness or joy or suspicion or whatever in the other person's voice. You don't have to rely on emoticons! You can just ask people how they are feeling, what they need, and they will tell you! Crazy right?
You should put your telephone number on every single piece of marketing material you hand out. And you should put it on your website, your blog, your social media accounts (at least the ones you use for business) and you should do so today!
People still use the telephone. They really do. Maybe not ALL people. But enough to warrant you investing in one, promoting the number and responding promptly to every single call, period.
I know what you're thinking. "But Scott if I put a telephone number on my website people will call me!" Yes! Isn't it wonderful? Clients and prospects will call and try to give you money. It's like magic. Give it a try. Really.
As always, Skip and I are rooting for you.
Intro by Skip Cohen
It's Throwback Thursday, and I usually turn back the clock exclusively to old images or videos. But this morning, wandering through my archives, I found one of my favorite guest posts from my good buddy, Scott Bourne. I've shared it a couple of times over the last few years.
Scott and I go back a lot of years to my Hasselblad days, later to helping me launch Skip's Summer School, then writing a book together and a never-ending stream of projects and new ideas year after year.
In 2012, while at Summer School, Bobbi Lane did her best to get the two of us to be serious for a portrait session. She was successful, but only for a minimal time!
The post below is so relevant today. Life is very different for this year's graduates than it was when Scott first wrote this. However, as much as things change, to his point, the importance of relationship-building NEVER varies.
Most people see the challenges created by the pandemic as a liability, but for this year's graduates, I see opportunities. So many things in our lives have changed, giving this year's grads the ability to indeed be pioneers in virtually every field.
While business may have slowed down over the last few months in photography, we're all part of an industry that itself has never slowed down. More than ever before, your greatest marketing tool is relationship building!
by Scott Bourne
Commencements are coming up all over the country in the next couple months. As someone with gray hair, I can’t help but have a very different perspective on photography than someone of college age. I am often asked what advice I’d give someone just breaking into professional photography. The usual response goes something like this…
“Be prepared for lots of hard work – sales and marketing should dominate your day – show the work every chance you get – network like crazy – shoot what you love – repeat.”
But while that’s all good advice, there’s more I would say if I were speaking at a commencement.
I’d talk about understanding the high degree of importance graduates should place in each and every relationship they engage in during their career. Whether it’s the mailman or the recent client, these relationships are really all that matters. I didn’t know this when I was young and it hurt me…both personally and professionally.
So obsess over gear and f/stops if you must, but if you really want to succeed, pay attention to the people in your professional life. Build solid, long-term relationships with them. Care about them. Help them. Put them and their interests ahead of your own. You never know where that will lead. You might be dealing with that person 30 years later. They’ll remember how you valued (or didn’t) the relationship when you were young. And so will you.
If you believe business is built on relationships, make building them your business.
Intro by Skip Cohen
After I posted a short rant a few weeks ago, which included projects several photographers have been doing, Steven Gotz wrote this as a response on Facebook. It really hit home, especially his last line:
The less time I feel sorry for myself, the better off I am.
I immediately caught up to him on an IM for permission to share what he wrote.
Unless you work for a company like Zoom, there is no silver lining to the challenges the pandemic has created. But there are things to have faith in and a reason for hope as things slowly return to some level of normalcy. Our definition of "normal" will continue to be different, as most of us miss the freedom to simply be out and about.
So, Steven, thanks for today's dose of inspiration. This is good stuff, and maybe it'll spark a few ideas with other photographers about things they can do to start rebuilding their revenue stream. Most important of all, as Mark Toal mentioned, photography is a way to keep his sanity!
by Steven Gotz
It is extremely easy for us to start feeling sorry for ourselves. Income streams for many of the best of us have dried up completely. Some may end up giving up on or postponing their lifelong dream of being a full time working photographer. Some may have to go back to the type of jobs they did before they went full time as a photographer.
Some of us are getting mad that we have to wear a mask, some people are outraged at others for not wearing masks. (I am staying in, so far, so no mask for me.)
All this during an election year with many people having to hold their nose to vote.
My personal solution to keeping my sanity is simple. I have been working on projects to help other people. I don't know how creative that is, but it really helps.
As long as it is not about me, I can continue on a lot easier. The less time I have to feel sorry for myself, the better off I am.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Mark Toal's back today with a quick introduction to Snapseed, which I just downloaded a few minutes ago myself. The original title of his post was "SOOC" (Straight Out of Camera). Every photographer's goal is a clean well-exposed image right out of the can. I know I'm dating myself to film with that expression, but it's still one of my favorites.
The truth is, how much you manipulate an image is up to you, and it's all personal taste. But to add two more points to Mark's message today - if you've done things right during capture, you don't have to spend hours cleaning up files when all you need or want is a tweak to the saturation, contrast, etc.
And while Lightroom and Photoshop are incredible tools, he missed my favorite, Luminar 4 from Skylum. I've been using it for the last two years, and I love the ease of use, especially with their presets for adjustments in clarity, exposure and saturation.
Last but not least, those purists who want to argue against manipulation of an image, or people who simply criticize what they don't like in your photographs:
Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!
My old buddy, Dean, was responsible for one of the greatest quotes in photography and sales. It doesn't matter what anybody thinks about your images except the client. Sometimes, when you're shooting for your own pleasure and not on the job, that client is YOU!
by Mark Toal
After showing a few of my photos in a class I was teaching, one the students asked if I processed my images or they were straight out of the camera (SOOC). I assured them not one of my photos is straight out of the camera and that I hate the term SOOC. Once in a while I say something in a class that I immediately regret, and this was one of them. I could tell that people wanted to hear that they don’t have to do anything to their photos.
I see the photos from my camera as a starting point for me to create something from. I’m not talking about drastic changes as you can see in these two examples. I’m mostly just adding contrast and saturation.
I understand that people don’t want to invest in Lightroom and Photoshop or pay a monthly subscription fee. There are other alternatives like Adobe Photoshop Elements or the App Snapseed for your phone. Most of the photos you see on my Facebook and Instagram pages have been transferred via wi-fi from my Lumix camera to the iPhone and adjusted in Snapseed.
If you’ve resisted trying Lightroom or Photoshop or any another program, and your sitting at home wondering what to do until the world re-opens, this might be a good time to download a free trial version and watch some videos on YouTube to learn to use it.
Intro by Skip Cohen
This series got started when my pal, Mark Toal, sent me an email saying he was taking off for a week and playing with photography, as opposed to his usual role at Panasonic with a camera in his hands. He asked if I'd be willing to run a new piece each day, and I jumped at the chance!
The pandemic has changed all of our lives, especially when it comes to keeping in touch with family and friends. Like many of you, Sheila and I have a regular Skype call with our kids, usually on Sunday afternoon, but they're adults.
I love this piece Mark's sharing today, along with his YouTube channel just for his granddaughters! Somehow, the "Hoboken Chicken Emergency" seems perfect for the challenges we're all facing these days! Besides, we've binge-watched every series on Netflix and Amazon we can find - time for the Mark Toal storybook channel!
by Mark Toal
When the shutdown for the Covid-19 virus first started the first thing that occurred to me is that I wasn’t going to see my granddaughters for a while. I could make do with less toilet paper and flour and trips to Costco, but not seeing Hadley and Eliza for weeks was too hard to think about.
We were able to FaceTime, but it just wasn’t enough, so I had the idea to read them books on video and upload them to YouTube. This might give them something to remember during this period with Papa Mark.
I’ve wanted to learn to be more comfortable on video and this seemed like a good way to practice and only have a 5 and 7-year old see it.
Because I’m a photographer it gave me the justification to buy the new wooden tripod that you can see in the photo of my simple video set-up. I also used my Lumix G9 with the Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8 lens and a Rode microphone.
Because I’m shooting these in my dining room, I set the camera to aperture priority in the custom video mode and choose f/2.8. This way the cluttered background would be out of focus. I used face detection to stay focused on my eyes and shot in 1080P to keep the file sizes smaller. I decided to keep in as simple as possible and just use window light.
Click on the title to see me reading The Hoboken Chicken Emergency by Daniel Pinkwater.
Mark's using the LUMIX G9 and LUMIX 12-35mm f2.8 lens. Just click on the thumbnails below for more information.
by Skip Cohen
The fun of this industry, especially these days, is keeping in touch with people. Whether on the phone, email, virtual meetings, or in social media, it's wonderful catching up with friends.
Meet Michael Novo from Chicago. Michael and I met at Skip's Summer School many years ago. We've kept in touch, and he recently told me about the image above. Seeing a coyote running down Michigan Avenue with no cars, no people just hit me like a scene from a sci-fi movie. Throw an ape on horseback, and we'd have the making of another Planet of the Apes movie.
Michael's description of the scene pretty much says it all:
For those who know Chicago, I was on the north side, off of Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Ave, which seemed like a great place to start for my personal shoot. With so few cars coming by, I thought I'd wait around for a window of the street being totally empty. When the moment arrived, the silence and solitude was broken by a less familiar sound of something behind me.
What I initially thought to be a dog, turned out to be a coyote running by as I swiveled my head. Not exactly a sight I was prepared for and missed the opportunity of a head-on shot. So instead, did the best I could to focus and recompose after he passed by. It's certainly not technically the 'best' image I've ever created, but once I saw it as a large print, it made a lasting impression of being in the right place at the right time.
Check out more of Michael's work with a click on the image above to visit his website. Plus, Michael's involved in a lot of different projects, and you'll find more of his images on his Instagram page as well.
by Skip Cohen
Wandering through Facebook this morning, I caught this image by Chris Withers in the Facebook Wedding Photographers forum. I immediately put in a call for permission to share his photograph. But just as high-impact as the image itself, what Chris wrote with his post was even more on point:
"Making the most of a crumby situation. This lovely couple was meant to be married this past weekend. Had to change their date. I was inspired to offer the chance to create a photo they could share with friends and family and also to remember this bizarre moment in time. Imagine the stories we will tell looking back. They will need memorable photographs."
If there was an award for optimism during a pandemic, Chris would have my vote! He's taken a "crumby situation" and turned it into a milestone memory-maker. And in the process of walking-the-talk, he's reminding all of you not to lose sight of your ability to continue to create magical moments for your clients.
Intro by Skip Cohen
The Internet has made the world a smaller place, and with it have come some terrific cyberspace friendships.
Meet Steven Gotz. Based in California, I first "met" Steven when he joined us for lunch with the f64 Lunch Bunch. During one of those webinar gatherings, he shared an idea for converting images to coloring book pages. Well, that led to a phone conversation and the start of a great little friendship.
I made the offer to help share his coloring book idea with my readers, and Steven was kind enough to do a guest post. Now, think about the power of this for any family with young children who are hunkered down trying to find things to keep the kids busy.
Even more valuable is the concept for those of you who are children and family photographers. Here's a way for you to share something with your clients - coloring book pages of their own family portraits!
A BIG thanks to Steven for sharing the idea and writing the post. He's a perfect reminder that we're all in this together! More of Steven's work with his FREE Shelter-in-Place coloring books and Wordsearch puzzles is just a click away below, as well as his KelbyOne Class, "The Art of Zootography."
by Steven Gotz
By way of introduction, I am a Headshot Photographer, as well as a Zootographer and Docent at the Oakland Zoo in Northern California.
With most of us forced to stay home due to shelter-in-place orders, and with most zoos being closed, in order to continue to give back to my community I have been keeping busy making coloring books of my animal images for the Oakland Zoo web site.
My takeaway from a lot of the Zoom sessions, chats and tutorials I have been watching lately is that photographers are looking for constructive ways to stay in touch with their clients. And, at the same time, many of them are looking for ways to keep their own children constructively occupied. Or, at least, quietly occupied.
It occurred to me that while children are enjoying coloring my photographs of animals, they might also enjoy coloring photos of themselves and their families.
If a photographer who shoots family or pet photos could keep in touch with clients by sending them a PDF with one or more coloring pages of the family, the children, the family pet, etc, then that photographer might well be remembered when we come out the other side of this crisis.
How about if the client were to take a smartphone photo of their children in their favorite superhero shirt, or their favorite sports team’s jersey, then send that photograph to the photographer? It only takes a few minutes to turn that photo into a coloring page and send it back. Now there is truly a two-way communication with clients.
While photos of families with younger children would most likely be more useful, for the purpose of this post, I chose to use a family with older children to respect privacy issues.
To create your own coloring pages, start by opening your photo in Photoshop. You can use a raw file, an edited PSD or TIF, or even a JPG. However, if you are using anything other than a raw file, please remember to edit a copy, not the original.
Duplicate the background layer.
With the background copy selected,
Image / Adjustments / Desaturate
Duplicate the desaturated background copy
With Background copy 2 selected
Image / Adjustments / Invert
With Background copy 2 still selected change the blend mode from normal to Color Dodge. This will likely make the layer almost completely white. No worries, that will change in the next step.
Apply a Gaussian Blur to taste.
In the tiger image I chose 9 pixels. I used 6 for the family photo.
You might find that using a levels adjustment on the black and white top level provides a bit better result. Each photo is different.
I use the Lightroom Print Module to organize the pages, and then I simply print to a PDF.
It is my hope that you find making coloring pages out of your photographs a constructive use of your time while staying home, and staying safe.
Images copyright Kevin Dooley. All rights reserved.
Often the fun of social media is about the people we meet just hanging out in cyberspace. A few weeks ago, when sharing a post on Facebook, I quoted T. Boone Pickens, with a line that's become a favorite over the years:
"When you are hunting elephants, don’t get distracted chasing rabbits."
Well, knowing I didn't mean it literally, Kevin Dooley read my post and threw in his vote for the elephants with the image on the right.
That's all it took to get me to look at his Facebook page. I fell in love with the image he used for his header, which is in today's spotlight. I sent an IM to Kevin, who's based in New Mexico and was up very early that day. That kicked off what I hope becomes a nice friendship.
He sent me the file to share and the "gearbox." The image was captured in South Africa while with Idube Photo Safaris. Kevin is the owner of Idube Photo Safaris, as well as being an accomplished wedding photographer at Kevin's Photography in Albuquerque.
What a kick to now have Kevin in my network. He needs to be on your radar. The Internet hasn't just changed the way we share images. It's changed the way we network and kick off new friendships! A big thanks to Kevin for allowing me to share his images!
Click on both images to view in the SCU Lightbox!
Intro by Skip Cohen
My buddy Bob Coates is no stranger to SCU, and many of you are familiar with his Successful-Photographer website. He's a photographer who not only believes in education but ALWAYS walks the talk when it comes to helping other artists.
While I shared the image to the right in a post last June, there's more to the story. And, if you're like me, and have the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico on your bucket list, there's no such thing as too many posts. It's one of the most incredible places on the planet this time of year.
Click on any of the images in this post to visit Bob's fine art site.
Note: Interested in some extended study time with Bob? He will be an instructor at the Texas School: the “Best Little Photography School in the World” April 26- May 1, 2020
All wildlife images in this post copyright Bob Coates. All rights reserved.
by Bob Coates
As the cover artist for the Festival of the Cranes I had the opportunity to spend another four days photographing at Bosque del Apache NWR. The cranes and large numbers white snow geese make an appearance each year. This is a target rich environment for wildlife photographers.
My main shooting combo was the Lumix G9 with the Leica 100-400mm f/4.0-6.3 lens. This is mounted on the Promaster GH25 Professional Gimbal Head on a carbon fiber tripod. I discovered one modification I’d like to make and recommend to all photographers photographing in cold weather. I’ll be wrapping my gimbal with some pipe insulation tape to keep contact with bare metal to a minimum. Even with gloves that metal shares the cold quite a bit.
In order to not be switching lenses while shooting I keep a second camera on my Peak Design camera strap. A Lumix GX85 with a 12-60mm f/2.8-4 lens covers my wide-angle zoom needs.
Yours in Creative Photography, Bob
In Bob's Camera Bag...
Click on any of Bob's favorite gear for more information.
I spend a lot of time looking at images, especially on Facebook. Now and then, one just catches me.
With the image above, it's just an old freighter on the water in Port Huron, Michigan. My podcast co-host, Chamira Young, posted it on her Facebook page, and I love it. And while she has no idea I'm doing a post about it and sharing it, my point isn't really about her artwork, but about your growth as an artist.
We're an industry where you can never kick back and rest on your laurels. You've got to keep experimenting and pushing the edge of the creative envelope. With the image above, Chamira wrote:
Yes, I need therapy. Art therapy! Funny how photography and digital art tend to intersect when I need a good ole' dose of creative elixir. It calms me down. Below is an artistic rendering from right here in Port Huron, produced from a photo. So many scenic places in this town. Fun!
While I do love the image, it's the process I appreciate the most. Put that together with the fact that Chamira NEVER slows down, and you've got all the ingredients for a growing career in imaging!
And one more thing to remember - no matter where you live, images are waiting to be captured and turned into art. So many times over the years, I've heard people from small towns, the midwest, etc. talk about how there's nothing to photograph in their area. Usually, it's a comment made in reaction to somebody's stunning images from the coast or mountains.
I know it sounds sappy, but there's beauty all around us - you just have to take the time for the "therapy" to help you stay grounded and remember why you became an artist in the first place. I can guarantee that Chamira wasn't thinking about the challenges of her business when she took the time to be creative!
Intro by Skip Cohen
Last April I met Kevin Kuster. The meeting was online, and all thanks to the kick-off of ClickCon in Chicago, where he was a keynote on the first day of the show. Since then, I've shared a few of his images and the words he pulls together to create each masterpiece.
This morning I caught a post of his on Facebook. He was on his way back from helping to make the world a better place through Watts of Love. I always text, IM, or call him for approval to share his thoughts in the SCU blog but today, I decided to take the risk and just post.
It's one thing to capture/create a stunning image, but it's another skill set altogether to write something that moves us as much as the photograph.
I watched movies. She slept.
I chose beef.She chose vegetarian.
I drank a coke. She drank water.
I kept my hiking￼ shoes on. She removed her sandals.
I got up three times to stretch my legs and use the restroom. She never left her seat except to let me pass.
I have a small tattoo on my ankle. She has henna all over her fingers, hands and wrist.
I kept my over head light off for the entire 9 hour flight. She was the only passenger to keep her overhead light on ￼for the entire 9 hour flight.
I have traveled the world and been to many countries. This was her first flight.
I have learned we are all more alike than we will ever understand.
We all want to be loved, told we are special, laugh with our friends, provide for our families and know that our lives matter.
I am a recorder of ordinary moments that contain the extraordinary complexities of life.
We are created equal but torn apart by comparison.
The image above is thanks to Carly Sullens, and it's a perfect example of my favorite thing about this industry, the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft.
Here's the very short backstory. Carly and I both spoke at ClickCon last August and will be there again next year. While we don't know each other well, like so many photographers, we share a lot of friends and companies we work with. Carly had a business question she sent my way, and I answered it. That started a conversation about photography, conventions, etc.
The image Carly captured above was one of her first as she started experimenting with a Platypod Ultra combined with two of her favorite pieces of equipment, a LUMIX GH5 and a LitraTorch 2.0 complete with barn doors. She sent it to me with the following comment:
"Extreme low light, the sun was setting. I wouldn't have gotten this sharp of an image without the Platypod and Litra accenting the still life."
Her exposure triad was F/2.8 @ 1/125 ISO 200.
Visit Carly's website to check out her work and educational opportunities for photographers. She regularly shares content to help you raise the bar on your skillset.
Platypod Black Friday Bundles - Click for more information
Image copyright Jeff Allen. All rights reserved.
The fun of sharing this image isn't just because it's so spectacular, but because knowing about it is the result of social media. Here's the short backstory:
Meet Jeff Allen, a photographer from Battle Ground, Washington. We met on Facebook when I sent him an IM meant for my buddy Jeff Allen over at Tamron. I was inviting "Tamron" Jeff to dinner the next time he and the Tamron crew were on the road doing a workshop here on the gulf coast of Florida. Well, Jeff Allen responded with, "I think you messaged the wrong Jeff Allen lol... But sure! We'd love to have dinner!"
Nothing beats a great sense of humor, and when Jeff posted this image on Facebook yesterday, I had to share it. As always, I asked for permission along with the specs on the photograph.
This was taken with my DJI Mavic 2 Pro with the Hasselblad 20mp camera.
It has a 1 inch sensor. I was 400 ft from the ground, which is already about 600 ft above sea level.
So technically I took this about 1000 ft above sea level.
f/5 @1/400 sec ISO 100
Jeff needs to be on your radar. Follow him on Instagram. He shares a lot of beautiful work and he's just a click away!
And to both Jeffs, the dinner offer still holds, whenever either of you show up!
Image copyright Dave Williams. All rights reserved.
Intro by Skip Cohen
As I've written so many times, the fun of this industry isn't just about photography, but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft.
Meet Dave Williams. He's a travel photographer, writer, educator, blogger and social media influencer based in the UK. Besides our mutual love for the craft, we share some great friendships, starting with the team at Platypod, the Kelby Media crew. I know as time goes on we'll find more common denominators.
Working together with the team at Tamron USA and Platypod, I saw one of Dave's images recently and talked him into a short guest post. The image above is a forty-seven-second exposure! It brings together Dave's creativity with Tamron's quality and Platypod's stability.
Dave might be based in the UK, and five-thousand miles away, but in cyberspace, it's only a click of a mouse! The Internet has made the world an incredibly small place, allowing us to share images, videos, and conversations in a way that's changing all of our lives!
Dave needs to be on your radar. Check out Dave's website with a click on his image above and follow his blog too. You'll also find more of Dave's work as part of "Travel Tuesday" today on the Platypod blog.
By Dave Williams
As part of a little mission to north Wales earlier this year I shot the lighthouse at Penmon Point.
Penmon Point Light is pretty iconic as far as UK lighthouses go. Guarding ships from the shallow, rocky waters of the Menai Strait between Anglesey and Puffin Island, this iconic black and white striped lighthouse has stood since 1838. Its purpose is to mark the channel of safe passage between the two islands. The sea here is rough, owing to the shallow waters, steep beaches, and underlying rocks. To get here involves crossing private land, and as such the landowner charges a toll of £3 ($4.50) which is used to maintain the road and land.
When you get to the end of the road there’s a car park and a small shop selling drinks and ice cream and offering restrooms at this popular spot, but I by-passed that and headed straight for the rocks. My aim in this visit was to shoot the lighthouse using a Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 and calming the sea with a 10-stop (ND3) filter.
I soon learned just how slippery the rocks were and began to take extra caution as I crossed them as far as I could to the waters edge, with that very water breaking around the rocks I was stepping on. I found my spot and set up my rig, which was entirely hanging around me from my BlackRapid strap: - I had my Nikon D810 with my Tamron 70 – 200mm f/2.8 lens which was attached to my Platypod Ultra with a 3LeggedThing ballhead, and I used the Platypod screw spikes to make sure nothing slid across the rocks.
On the front of the lens was my Gobe 10-stop filter, and firing the camera was a Pluto Trigger, controlled with my iPhone. The sky was overcast, which is fairly typical for us here in the UK, but there was just enough texture and difference in those clouds that the sky wasn’t completely flat. Just as the sun dipped below the horizon the clouds split, but I couldn’t hand around long as I had to go find my hotel for the night before shooting sunrise the next morning.
It was a long trip, but a trip that was absolutely worth making, and a shoot made simple and effective with the gear I was using.
Today, you've got the most creative tools in the history of photography. Many of them thanks to Tamron!
Tamron is manufacturing some of the finest glass in imaging optics. Isn't it time you visited your Tamron retailer?
Click on the banner above for more information about one of Dave's favorite lenses. And, check out the current instant savings promotion, which includes the 70-200 mm F/2.8 Di VC USD lens.
Intro by Skip Cohen
We all have a moment now and then when the "lightbulb" goes off above our head, and we've got an idea. This is a lot of fun for me to share, because it's from Chamira Young and she had an idea.
Most of you know Chamira from her podcast series on ProPhotographerJourney, and my co-host on Tamron Recipes, along with Mind Your Own Business and Beyond Technique. However, she's also a talented artist, photographer, and tech nerd when it comes to any product or technique that makes her life easier.
As a professional photographer outside Detroit, she's worked with a wide variety of clients from high school seniors to families, moms, and corporate clients. Recently she sat down to play with Westcott's Ice Light 2. She not only discovered a little insight into what her clients feel when they're in front of the camera, but she also had fun.
As I've written before, "fun" is one of those words so often lost in business today. It disappears under the stress of running a business. And, especially for artists who are chasing deadlines and the challenge to be more creative with their images.
Well, she showed me the final self-portrait, and I talked her into a guest post, which I hope is the first of many about her photography.
by Chamira Young
Truth be told, I’ve been drooling over the chance to use Westcott’s Ice Light for a while. The longer I work as a portrait photographer, the more I’ve come to value portable, lightweight equipment. And with the recent news that my amazing assistant has decided to move out of state, I’ve had to haul everything around myself, which has led me to appreciate the need to be as efficient as possible.
So when I was offered the chance to try the Ice Light 2, I jumped at the opportunity. In no time it’s quickly become a favorite key light for my corporate headshot clients. It’s also served as great fill light for the occasional outdoor senior high school portrait on cloudy days. However, I wanted the chance to use the Ice Light 2 in a more dramatic project. Hence, today’s self-portrait.
The Dramatic Self-Portrait
Self-portraits can be tricky. Having grown accustomed to being the one behind the lens, I found it a bit intimidating to break out my camera’s remote control and start snapping the shutter at myself. Immediate insecurities arose; ironically, the same insecurities that I’m constantly reassuring my clients about. Should I smile? Should I not smile? How’s my hair? Will my skin show my age?
Nevertheless, after setting up my tripod, camera, portable 5x7 black backdrop, and chair, I plopped down in the hot seat and flipped on the Ice Light 2.
The thing is like a powerful light saber. In fact, one of my teenage clients (who turned out to be an avid Star Wars fan) nearly refused to give it back when I let him hold it during a recent photo session.
Operation is easy: just turn it on! It has ten levels of brightness, so after some testing, I settled on a stetting of 6 and held it out slightly to the side, just outside of frame.
As I listened to my favorite tunes, a few practice shots quickly turned into an impromptu full session. As you'll see in the image, I didn't even bother to take my headphones off. Instead of having to reposition hefty softboxes, all I had to do was literally change the position of the Ice Light in my hand and adjust the output of the light if needed.
It took all of 30 minutes to get a series of shots to choose from. After making some basic edits in Lightroom, I took my favorite portrait over to Photoshop.
After hand-painting some streaks of color and adding in a bit of gritty texture, I was quite happy with the final result shown in the first image.
The Ice Light 2 has essentially changed the way I work, and for the better. It’s fun and it’s easy!
Images copyright Mark Toal. All rights reserved.
It's Monday and "Mirrorless Mark" (Mark Toal) kicks off the day with his version of what looks like an M.C. Escher print. Besides being so abstract and leaving us wondering what it is, capturing the image in black and white and with the detail captured by the LUMIX S1 added to the impact!
We've shared a lot of Mark's travels here on the SCU blog because he's ALWAYS got a camera with him. I've written about living vicariously through his travels, but it's really about seeing the world through another artist's eyes. He's always sharing images that so many of us might have just walked by and missed.
All three images in today's post were captured with the new full-frame LUMIX S1 and the 24-105 mm lens. It's a remarkable camera. Panasonic NEVER strays from their tagline of "Changing Photography."
In the almost 200 year history of photography, artists have never had more creative tools to help capture and create the ultimate image. So many of these tools are thanks to Panasonic!
Mark's blogs are always packed with great images, along with ideas and tips to be a better photographer? As I always suggest, check out the LUMIX Ambassador Team. They're an incredibly diverse group of artists focused on helping you raise the bar on your skillset and the quality of your images.
If you're not following the LUMIX Photographers page on Facebook, you're missing an opportunity to keep tabs on some great work by talented artists, including members of the Ambassador Team. It's just a click away.
by Mark Toal
As part of my job with Panasonic I get to take photographers to the coolest places. I recently went with a group of photographers to the Georgetown Steam Plant in Seattle, Washington. This is a great historic building dating back more than a hundred years that generated steam until the 1970’s.
I decided to use the Lumix full fame S1 camera with the 24-105mm lens. I choose the S1 for its ability to shoot detailed images in low light. I shot with a monopod at smaller apertures like f/11 to get everything in focus. My ISO ranged from 1600 for the black and white image to 12,600 for the red door.
Image copyright Mark Toal. All rights reserved.
"Mirrorless Mark" (Mark Toal) is back today with two stunning images. He was out and about in Las Vegas with the GX9 and the Leica 10-25mm lens. I love these short posts he shares because Mark is staying in tune with his surroundings and sharing his "adventures" during his never-ending travel, usually for business. If you've met Mark then you know photography runs through his veins and he's never without a camera.
Panasonic's tagline is "Changing Photography," and they've stayed true to that commitment with every LUMIX camera and lens they've introduced us to. Check out the GX9 and Leica lens with a click on either thumbnail below. And to see an even larger image, click on either one Mark's sharing today and view in the SCU Lightbox.
Looking for great images along with ideas and tips to be a better photographer? Check out Mark's blogs. You'll never be disappointed in the content he shares. And as I always suggest check out the LUMIX Ambassador team. They're an incredible group of artists and focused on helping you raise the bar on your skills set and the quality of your images.
by Mark Toal
Once in a while I’m lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. A while ago I was handed an early version of the new Panasonic Lecia 10-25mm f/1.7 lens and walked the Las Vegas strip with it. I’m a little biased since I work for Panasonic, so I’ll let the images speak for themselves. The camera body was a Lumix GX-9.
Yes, it is a little large, but to be able to shoot at 10mm, f/1.7 with auto focus makes it all worthwhile for me. I think this might replace the Lumix 7-14mm as my favorite Micro Four Thirds lens.
A week ago I announced a very special promotion in support of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, and teaming up with Westcott. SCU is a Westcott affiliate, which means 10% of whatever you buy from Westcott when you go through the SCU gateway is our sales commission. But we're NOT going to take it.
With everything you buy, when you click on a specific product in a blog post or when you go through the door above, 10% of what you spend, for the rest of 2019, is going to one of the industry's best-known nonprofits, NILMDTS. I've been a NILMDTS Ambassador for many years and couldn't be more proud of the help their photographers have provided families having to deal with the worst kind of pain - the loss of a baby.
One of the most read SCU guest posts about NILMDTS was published in 2013, only a few months after SCU launched. I wanted to bring it back today because it gives such a strong perspective on the gift these photographers provide each family.
In response to Aurora Daley Olmstead's guest post about photographing baby Dora, the mother of the child responded directly as a comment. I'm not sure there's any higher honor than for a photographer to hear back from the client directly, especially when it's the mother of a child who's died!
Westcott is manufacturing some of the finest and most diverse lighting gear in professional photography. And, if you're headed to Chicago for ClickCon in August, swing by the Westcott booth and meet some of the crew. They're always looking for ways to help you through the challenges of capturing stunning images...and now we're adding support for NILMDTS to the focus!
The Real Definition of the Ultimate Image
by Skip Cohen
When I asked Aurora Daley Olmstead if she'd do a guest post about her experiences with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep several years ago, I had no idea the significance of my request. Typical of most photographers, Aurora got busy, and it was at least three weeks before she was able to find the time to send me something. Even when I first read her guest post, while it obviously touched me, I still failed to recognize the true impact. But read what the baby's mother posted as a comment to Aurora's blog just a day or so later:
When I asked Aurora Daley Olmstead if she'd do a guest post about her experiences with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep several years ago, I had no idea the significance of my request. Typical of most photographers, Aurora got busy, and it was at least three weeks before she was able to find the time to send me something. Even when I first read her guest post, while it obviously touched me, I still failed to recognize the real impact. But read what the baby's mother posted as a comment to Aurora's blog just a day or so later:
Thank you so very much for the beautiful blog. My tears are pouring reading it and reliving the most precious moments in our lives! I also want to take a moment to thank all the photographers from the NILMDTS who volunteer their time to help families like ours walking through the darkest moments of their lives.
I also want to let you know how much we cherish the pictures you took. I carry Dora's picture in my wallet everyday. It reminds me not only of her beautiful face, but all the wonderful people she brought to us, including her aunt Aurora. I know my little girl is just as happy as we are now to see her little brother grow everyday, and to see more people like you bringing light to other people's lives.
Love and kisses to your little princesses!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
The ability of the baby's mother to open her heart and publicly comment on the meaning of Aurora's work and NILMDTS as an organization represents the rarest of feedback and affirmation of what everyone hopes to accomplish as a photographer. There could be no greater "thank you" than to receive a comment like this from a subject, a client who has now become part of Aurora's life as a professional photographer.
I've said it at the end of virtually every workshop, class or program where I've ever spoken and in dozens of blog posts. "Except for modern medicine, no career field has given society more than professional photography! "
Everyone dreams about capturing the ultimate image - that one shot nobody else could get that becomes your signature. Sometimes the ultimate image is a moment in time when you're given an opportunity to use your skill set or as Weihau put it... "help families like ours walking through the darkest moments of their lives."
Aurora said it best in one of her comments on the blog, "...my life and my heart are fuller for having given what I can to these families - it always fills my heart to know I've been able to help them even in some small way!"
Image copyright Daniel Venter. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
One of the most significant benefits of the Internet and in turn, social media, is how small the world has become. Facebook is often my greatest resource for meeting new artists and often seeing images I love to share.
Meet Daniel Venter, an accomplished photographer from Czechia. We met through the Facebook Wedding Photographers forum. I had shared a post about the importance of your "About" page as an element to help build trust. Daniel made the comment below:
I don't have one. It was my least visited page of my site since the advent of social media, so I stopped implementing it on new sites. Most people don't care about it because they want two things only: price and how awesome the photos are. The trust factor can be built on how often you show your photos to the world. When people see awesome photos they trust that you do the job well. Tell them through your photos that you are the one to go to! In this day and age where content is king, and social media is top layer, speed it key. People want to read less and see more because info is hitting them every few seconds, so even your website becomes less important when there are tons of reading to do. People don't wont to read, they want to scroll, get engaged by an awesome image and buy the service.
At first, I was ready to go into defensive mode, but then I went to Daniel's site and looked at his images. While I don't agree with him completely, his work is beautiful, and his point is definitely valid. He gave me another perspective to my original point in the post.
As I looked through his galleries, I loved the image above and contacted him for permission to share. I appreciated Daniel's comment, feedback and most important of all enjoyed the consistency of the work he's sharing. Click on his image above to visit his website, and to see what Daniel's sharing on Facebook (and in English) check out his Facebook page.
Daniel also has an educational site with support for the photographic community. Click on the banner below for more information.
We've postponed the f64 Lunch Bunch for a few weeks. There's so much going on in everybody's lives right now in terms of help and education. However, we're all still here to help and just an email away.
And if you missed the May 6 lunch with Bobbi Lane and Tony Corbell - it's pretty amazing. The video is just a click away.
ClickCon 2020 Circle the Dates!!
The pandemic may have moved the dates for 2020 to August 10-13, 2021, but that's NOT slowing Team ClickCon down. Stay tuned for new programs online with ClickCon Nation! It all starts on August 11th.
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.