by Skip Cohen...and Brian Palmer
Sunday Morning Reflections have ALWAYS been about something other than business, and this morning is no exception. I was thinking about what to write about when I noticed an IM from Brian Palmer about an old post he recently ran across. It became the perfect topic for today...the importance and roots of our most special friendships.
Here's the short backstory: In 2009, I resigned from Rangefinder Magazine and WPPI. While everyone thought I was nuts, I couldn't have been happier...or nervous. It was a recession, and I wasn't sure what I wanted to be when I grew up! I left California for Akron, Ohio. Sheila and I found a great house to rent together, but I knew nobody in the area.
Catching up to photographers online, I met a local artist, Brain Palmer. I'm the biggest lunch slut in photography, so we met for lunch. That kicked off a fantastic friendship that, ten years later, is still something Sheila and I cherish. Brian attended a couple of Skip's Summer Schools, and we got together socially with his wife Perla and daughter Sara.
At Skip's Summer School in 2010, Brian grabbed the shot above of Sheila and me. He sent me a print which has been in a frame on my desk all these years - it's one of my favorites of the two of us.
Meanwhile, Brian and his family moved to Tokyo, but we've never lost touch, thanks to social media. Today he lives in Melbourne, Australia, and this morning he ran across his post about the image, which he shared in September of 2010. I never saw it, but it's perfect for sharing today.
We're all fighting to keep our sanity through the pandemic and eight months of being hunkered down. But, hunkering down is about your health - it's about hiding from germs, NOT friends. Brian and I caught up a little on an IM this morning. Just a few IMs back and forth, but from the smile on my face and Sheila's when I told her about catching up to Brian, you'd think I'd won the lottery.
I wish all of you a day that keeps you in touch with great friends and memories that remind you that no matter where you are in the world - thanks to technology - you're NEVER really alone. And to Brian's point in his guest post today - you don't always need eye contact to capture a moment that's special to your subject.
Brian, Perla, and Sara - we sure do miss you guys! And you might be in Australia, but the world's getting to be a tiny place, thanks to social media. Thanks for catching up this morning - can't wait for the day we can figure out how to get beyond the pandemic and get together in person.
Happy Sunday, everybody. Make it a day worth remembering.
by Brian Palmer (Posted September, 2010)
As some of you know Perla and I were at Skip's Summer School this past August, which was an amazing experience, hosted by Skip Cohen. In addition to the speakers presentations there was a breakout session where Skip, Tony Corbell, Clay Blackmore, Scott Bourne, and Bambi Cantrell were having a Q&A session with anyone who wanted to participate.
As the session was winding down Skip & his wife, Shelia, turned in and I decided to play the photojournalist and capture a few moments of them leaving. Here is one I captured of them on the escalators.
I still cannot believe they didn't see me sneaking along behind them, as I was shooting with a 24-70mm so I didn't have a lot of reach. Would this had been a better shot with Skip and Shelia facing me? Maybe. But not interrupting that moment, regardless of what it was, will, in the long run, mean more to them than a posed straight on capture. This is in no way saying posed and camera aware captures do not have meaning, because they do, just as much and more just depends on what you are trying to accomplish. This write up is only a comparison between the two. Just food for thought.
**Word of advice - be careful when laying on the ground next at the top of an escalator! The edges are sharp.
by Skip Cohen
"Mirrorless Monday" went right on by as Labor Day, but who cares? It's Tuesday, and this short piece by my buddy and member of the LUMIX team, Mark Toal, is too much fun not to share on any day of the week.
We're all dealing with downtime, and even though business is starting to open up a little, being a photographer and artist is still a challenge. Time lapse is a whole new adventure, and if you think about things you're doing around the house, family time, etc. there are so many opportunities to have fun capturing a variety of events.
I'm also convinced that it's a great way to do your own video holiday card this year. Better yet, offer it as a product to your clients. It's not a new concept to any of us, but just like canvas prints - it's new to most of your clients, and something they'd get excited about!
Mark's description of how he captured refinishing his deck is below. There was one accessory to the capture that I couldn't be more proud to talk about, the link to the complete Platypod ecosystem.
Platypod products offer unlimited combinations of creative tools. They form an ecosystem of inspiration for photographers in macro, architecture, landscape, hiking, and traveling situations where tripods dare not go.
A big thanks to Mark for sharing one of his time-lapse adventures. Here's the link to Mark's website and blog. He's always sharing great content.
And take the time to get to know the LUMIX Ambassador team too. This group is one of the most diverse and creative teams in photo, and all the ambassadors should be on your radar. Looking for more great content? Check out the LUMIX Photographers Facebook page - there are always great conversations and images shared by LUMIX artists from around the world.
By Mark Toal
I've recently been refinishing the deck on my house and wanted to record the final step of staining the newly sanded wood.
I needed a way to set up the camera without a tripod since I didn't have space for one. I used a bungee cord to secure the Platypod to the deck railing, set my Lumix G9 with the 7-14mm lens to Time Lapse mode and shot a photo every 5 seconds until I was finished.
The camera created the video internally. I then used WiFi to transfer the video to my phone and uploaded it to Facebook and my Vimeo.com account.
Panasonic's tagline from the start of the LUMIX family has been "Changing Photography." Well, they've stayed true to that goal. I've been shooting with the G9 for over a year and love this camera. For more information, click on either of the thumbnails below.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Time is our most valuable commodity, but so often we throw it away worrying about what other people will think. Even when we've done our very best, we worry about criticism and outside opinions.
Well, it's Sunday morning and if you've followed me for even a short amount of time, you know I love to go off-topic from the business and marketing of photography once a week. Before I even thought about what I wanted to write about today, I got side-tracked with the post below from my good buddy, Scott Bourne.
It's too good not to share beyond his Facebook page. The best things about great friendships are what you learn from each other. Over the years he's been my sounding board on so many different ideas, and what he wrote this morning, once again hit home.
It also reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from Dean Collins:
Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!
Remember that often, especially when you're creating for your own enjoyment, you're the checkbook holder!
by Scott Bourne
People ask me how/why I produce so much content. It doesn't matter whether it's photography, painting, writing, music, etc. It's always the same simple answer.
I've come to realize that my own effort is the only thing I can control in this life. Period.
I can't control what people think of my effort or of me for that matter. I can't control what others say about my effort or about me for that matter. So why worry about it?
I spend 100% of my time on that which I CAN control. My own effort. I do everything I do with gusto. I don't ever go half way. I don't ever ask for permission. I just go for it. For me it's always pedal to the metal, from sun-up to sun-down, seven days a week. And that's the way I like it.
As artists, it's none of our business what others think of our art. That's a rabbit hole and if you go down it, you'll never know how much work product you lost and time you wasted searching for empty compliments and dealing with vapid trolls.
So my advice is direct and to the point. Just do the work. Throw yourself into it 100%. Express yourself. Give the world your point of view without fear. Don't look back. When others hate. We create.
That simple philosophy has served me very, very well for more than six and a half decades. I hope it will serve you too.
Scott should be on your radar. His blog is just a click away, and you'll never be disappointed in the content he shares.
Wishing everybody a terrific Sunday - a day filled with peace, minimal frustration with the pandemic, politics or anything that interrupts your ability to be creative. Smile more, bitch less and appreciate everything that's working right in your life, even though these days it's sometimes tough to recognize!
And to my pal Scott - thanks buddy. I needed this!
Happy Sunday everybody!
by Skip Cohen
It's a very different Throwback Thursday post this week, but so appropriate.
Glen Clark and I have been friends since we first met close to thirty years ago through another mutual friend, Terry Deglau, then at Kodak. We've worked together on a long list of projects, and he's one of a small group of buddies who's high on the call list when I need a lift.
He sent me the post below, and I'm ecstatic he's allowed me to share it here. It's Throwback Thursday, and these days none of us have to turn the clock back very far for the fun of old photographs and a walk down Memory Lane.
During the last five months of downtime, one of the most popular activities for every photographer has been cleaning out our closets. As I look at my own collection of photographs over the years, I'm a perfect candidate for a show on hoarding. I have an attic full of prints, many of them framed that will never see the light of day - but we're out of wall space!
Glen's dealing with a challenge we can all identify with - letting go of the footprints from our journey to make room for new ones. And the reason it's so hard? Jodi Picoult's quote, which I've shared numerous times says it all:
"This is what I like about photographs.
They're proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat, everything was perfect."
by Glen Clark
I am struggling through a sad reality…
As a photography professional, I've spent the better part of my life believing in and promoting that captured images represent memories, moments and milestones we will cherish during our lives and, in some cases, pass along as family heritage and precious treasures. And as an industry, we've promoted the value of large wall prints and decor items for home, office, and even commercial/business/public spaces. These "works of art" have enhanced our environments.
My wife and I have accumulated more than our fair share of photographic art pieces and wall prints, each representing moments in our lives we cherish. But, we're now at that stage when we are reducing, cutting back, and "lightening the load." Our cherished print collection has become a burden.
Our children and their children don't want the "Family Heritage" things we've collected (including our works of art). The sad reality is we need to let these things go. We've shared the few items wanted by family and friends.
Before our treasures are tossed, we're copying them, so we at least have digital memories. I'm now creating digital copies (another story in itself), followed by destroying the originals and throwing them in the trash. An hour after we grabbed the photograph above, the prints around me were gone. It was heartbreaking…but at the same time, it was a bit "freeing."
What advice would I share with my younger self if I could? Here are a few conclusions:
TRUTH – Having one readily available image when wanted is far more valuable than having multiples that need to be searched for to locate.
The one huge takeaway is this…
Cherish each moment for the beauty, friendship, love, etc. it contains and, if you want, keep a few things to remind you of the good times. However, remember that today is here and now, and therefore more valuable than yesterday and tomorrow is not guaranteed. Live well, enjoy each day, share your love with people, cherish those close to you, and thank God for it all.
Follow Glen on his Facebook page. You'll never be disappointed in what he's sharing!
Intro by Skip Cohen
For years I've written, the best thing about our industry is the friendships that grow out of everyone's mutual love for the craft. Since the start of the pandemic and being quarantined, the importance of those friendships has grown even faster and become more cherished.
Meet Erik Cooper. We've only been friends a few months, but thanks to Facebook and the phone, we've spent a lot of time talking. This morning we caught up on a great phone call, and he told me about a project he launched at the beginning of the pandemic.
Every week I've been sharing at least one post about something professional imaging artists are doing to make the most out of downtime. There are two aspects of Erik's project that I appreciate the most. First, he's bringing a group of people together who share a mutual love and respect for imaging. They've all helped each other raise the bar on their skill sets. Second, Erik chose to stand out from the crowd and implement a way to be a leader in education, but even more critical during these tough times, help everyone stay positive and focused. The Beatles' line of getting by with a little help from my friends couldn't be more accurate.
A big THANKS to Erik for writing something up about the project and especially to all the artists/models involved in the images in this post. The pandemic isn't slowing down, but for this group, neither is their positive attitude!
by Erik Cooper
We make choices everyday that determine just how positive we can remain during adversity. In March and April of 2020 our country moved into quarantine in order to lessen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was indeed a trying time for the US as well as other countries involved around the globe. Being located in Colorado, one of the first states to deal with the virus, our new agency, ECP Talent, decided to stick to a positive outlook in dealing with the shutdown.
Most of our model and talent team were locked up in their houses and looking for a new spin on time with their families or by themselves. As a photographer, I thought it a good idea to teach them lighting principles they could use for their postings.
We had six instructions on side, flare, butterfly, clamshell, low level and GOBO lighting. All of this with the design of staying positive during the lockdown. The response was amazing from the team as well as the public when we would post the resulting collages. The members were then able to apply these principles to future posts and the impact on their pages was notable.
I receive requests often to continue in this effort from the team. Staying positive is so important.
Note: Check out more of Erik's work with a visit to ECP Talent on Facebook, Erik Cooper Photography on Facebook and on Instagram, ECP Models on Instagram
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.
The pandemic may have moved the dates for ClickCon to August 10-13, 2021, but that's NOT slowing Team ClickCon down. ClickCon Nation launches this Sunday with nine months of programs!!!
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.