Monthly Archives May 2010

“Every child is an artist. The problem is…how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
–Pablo Picasso

I am frequently asked what were the events that lead to me becoming a photographer. As is always the case, it began at the beginning. It started with my very first childhood portrait session. You see, I have a confession to make.

I was the Gerber baby.


Those five words are perhaps the hardest words in the world for me to write, let alone tell someone. Being the Gerber baby is an event that has flavored everything that’s ever happened to me in the past fifty years. A day does not go by that I’m not affected by it. For example, take creamed spinach. Whenever I go out to dinner and on the plate is a mound of cream and green… spinach, I have wholesomeness flashbacks. God forbid if it should be on someone elses plate. It is silly, but I’m convinced that the moment the spinach touches their lips it will be…Bingo, light bulb over the head, I’m recognized.

You have no idea what it is like going through life knowing that your face, on the label of billions of jars of pulverized peas, has been seen by just about everyone you come in contact with. What’s worse is that I did not win this “honor” on my own good looks. The contest that Gerber Foods Corp. conducted was rigged. My aunt, the sister of the man who did my first portrait shoot, was the director of marketing. The guilt of knowing that the lil’ cherub of childhood wholesomeness was really a ringer was more than anyone should have to bare. The living of this constant lie was more than I could cope with.

Because of the burden of this guilt and the weight of this lie I was driven to become…a junk food junkie. As I mentioned before, it started at the beginning, when my mother used to feed me. Candied yams were my favorite. Warm or cold, I couldn’t care less. By the time I was in elementary school I was doing up bowls of Frosted Flakes before I had to catch the bus. During recess I would pop M&M’s….the reds. At lunch I used to snort the crumbs out of empty Frito bags.

The older I got, the more depraved I became. In high school I was scoring pounds of quarter pounders. Late at night I used to cruise behind the neighborhood Pizza Hut to eat the grease-soaked cardboards; even my face looked like a pizza. It was not until college that things came to a head. I remember one day reading an article in the school newspaper. It was an interview in which the ivory Snow Girl (Marylyn Chambers) claimed to have made love to the Gerber baby (me). Time stood still. Clammy hands and in a cold sweat, I tried to remember, but I couldn’t; just visions of sugar plums danced through my head. All I could think was, was the sex so good that it caused amnesia in my Egg McMuffin–induced euphoria? The next thing that I remember was that I went on a burger binge. It was on that day that I was arrested for attacking trees as I was looking for Keebler elves.

My life was looking up all right; it was flat on its back. I had become an empty jar of my former self. The only work that I could find was playing the meat in the movie Rocky.  It was then that I decided to go cold Twinkie. I was enrolled in the Betty Crocker Center. They helped to pick up the crumbs. Life for me is still no piece of cake but I can face myself whenever I am in the supermarket. I cannot walk through the aisle of pablum without fear or dread. Except when I pass the candied yams.

Ahhh, but I digress…. It was while I was at the “center” that I discovered photography. While others were gluing macaroni to paper plates (I was asked to leave these sessions because of a mysterious disappearance of all of the library paste as well as all of the pasta—and my sudden weight gain.) I was seriously exposing myself to the latent image. As the years have passed I have seriously found a home in photography. I have flourished. Right after Al Gore and I invented the internet, I found my true calling as a digital fine art photographer who specializes in super hyper intensive teaching of workflow.

As many of you know, I do a lot of work training the military, and it was this combined with being asked to join a group called “twit-tographers”—a group of photographers who tirelessly tweet. Well, I thought, if they can have their own group and come up with such a finely contracted and descriptive name like that…. That is how I got the idea that has become my new approach to teaching workflow. As you know, one of the things that the military does for efficiency is to contract and compound words as well as create acronyms.

For example, Combat Camera becomes “ComCam.” So I got to thinking, I am a Fine Art photographer. So that would make me a FArtographer and the images I create would therefore be FArts. I use a Raster Image Processor or RIP when I print and the goal of my imagery is to create Gorgeous, Aesthetically Special Prints or GASPs. So it is safe to say when I RIP one of my FArts through a printer I make a GASP.

The point of all of this silliness?


You should take your photography as serious as you take laughing. Because it is in absolute spontaneity that you get you get absolute truth. You can only be one way when you are spontaneous and that is truthful. And there is nothing more spontaneous than a laugh. Be always willing to play. Be open to the child that was and is the artist. Children play, they don’t take notes. Adults take notes and they don’t often play.  Be open to being silly and be serious about playing. Be willing to do what it takes to be the catalyst of the spontaneous moment. The way you feel in the moments that start as that giggle within you, is the place you need to be in to create the images that are your inner dream.

Photography is the only art form where people fall in love with an image, one that so moves them that they say to themselves, “I want to do that,” then spend the rest of their time with photography pursuing the technical, as if that is the secret to successful imagery.

Painters do not have “Popular Paint Brush” magazine and sculptors do not go to “Chisel World” and sit around discussing bit depth. There seems to be this unspoken belief that if you just make your images technically perfect that they will therefore be perfect images because of a technicality. Ansel Adams said, “I would rather have a fuzzy photograph of a sharp idea than a sharp photograph of a fuzzy idea.”

What is overlooked is the importance of imagination over technique. Cartier-Bresson said, “Give me inspiration over information.” And Sir Terry Pratchett said, “Teach a man to make a fire and he will be warm for the night. Set a man on fire and he will be warm for a lifetime.” It is all well and good to pursue the technical aspects of photography to the point where there is no technical rock unturned. But not at the expense of your vision, your voice, and your imagination. If all you do is explore the technical aspect of photography, you will, at best, be able to keep yourself warm for the night. But to go further, to truly allow yourself to be open to all of the possibilities, is to allow yourself to be on fire. When that flame burns you will have a creative lifetime full of moments that will be anything but dull. Be inspired by the images you create.

To better understand the imagination’s importance to photography one must first understand the duality of existence that occurs when you are so taken by a series of events that the experience and connection to that moment causes you to click the shutter.

Photography is one of the few forms of expression in which an individual is required to engage in the pursuit of the ineffable poetic dialectic.  That is, specifically, an inner dialog that is expressed not in many words but in a few words that contain much imagery and meaning. To allow yourself to engage in such a poetic way of seeing requires the photographer having to exist in two places at once, and to be two people that manifest themselves in the same body while occupying two time planes. You must be both the person connected to the events that are happening and the person making decisions about how, what, and when to capture the photograph.

It is through the use of imagination that the photographer accomplishes this. Imagination is the ability to “see” things by allowing them to make a mental picture that is more feeling than rhetoric. It is being able to see the felt moments in such a way that the viewer is moved the same way you, the photographer, was. It is, most importantly, the way in which the photographer breathes the life of the moment into images that causes the successful ones to feel as if they walk off the printed page. During every moment that the photographer is engaged in allowing the image to take him, there must be an awareness of both the external circumstances (those that surround the totality of the photograph) and the inner chain of emotional moments that captures both the heart and imagination of the photographer.

It is important not to confuse imagination with fantasy. Imagination creates things that can be, or can happen. Fantasy invents things that never will be, never will happen, and are not in existence. Imagination is the creative process that leads the photographer. It is, as with everything else that is involved with photography, something that cannot be forced, only coaxed. When one just pursues the technical aspects of photography one does exactly that, forces something that needs to be allowed to choose the moment it is seen.

On the other hand, it is important for the photographer to not sit back idly, a simple spectator. To be taken by a photograph requires that you be an open and active participant in the moment so that when the decisive moment shows itself, the photographer can capture that moment decisively. There has to be laughter in your heart—serious laughter—and a confidence that even if you do not know what you are going to do technically with the file you create, you know that you can find what you need to know. Being taken by the gesture of the moment is the goal, letting the spirit that moves in front of the camera be the force that pushes the shutter. Only by having an imaginary muscle so well practiced is how you will find that place, that’s the place where the images live that were the ones you fell in love with. In everything you do, every moment you live, choose to be open to it. Because if you move through the world of photography this way, when you see the moment the moment will see you. It is in that moment of mirroring that the image lives.

The next time you hold a camera, I invite you to envision yourself on fire with the flame of imagination. To find yourself in the mind of the beginner rather then in the mind of the expert; in the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s there are few. If you can do that, instead of waiting and waiting for the picture that you want to take, the poetry of the moment will giggle a whisper that is its name and the pictures you see will take you.

Also remember in the times we live in to always try to visualize whirled peas.


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Hi Gang. Here’s what’s up:

Surprise: The P-7000 Still Has Its Fans
OK, first I have to admit; I was a bit surprised to see that the Epson P-7000 has more fans (and with it more life) than I thought it did. I thought this would be a slam dunk for the iPad, since it’s so much more than just a storage device, but the P-series still resonates with some photographers. Perhaps the thing that surprised me the most was that so many people pegged the increased storage size as a big advantage for the Epson. It’s rare that I ever shoot 10GB in a single day, even when covering a sporting event, so a 64GB iPad would cover me for literally days before I had to back-up to my laptop, so that caught me off guard. Thanks to everyone who shared their comments yesterday, because now I’m having to reconsider giving my P-7000 the boot.

Flash Comes To The iPhone. No, Really!
Yesterday, I saw the Flash version of my photography portfolio, watched D-Town TV served up in Flash, and I even saw Adobe’s home page, in all it’s Flashy glory, all on my iPhone, thanks to an amazing new FREE App. Terry’s got it covered over at You will be amazed (well, at least I was).

Travel Photography Tips from Nat Geo
National Geographic published a nice series of travel photography tips (just in time for summer), so if you’ve got a sec, check ’em out right here.

Accept: The Concert Shots
My buddy, and concert photog, Scott Diussa recently shot the sold out New York City reunion concert of German rockers “Accept” and he got some absolutely killer shots. Here’s the link. Also, yesterday I got to see some of the concert photography of Drew Gurian (Joe McNally’s full time assistant), and I was very impressed with not only his concert work (which is outstanding), but his portraits as well. Stop by and check out Drew’s work here.

Photo Recipes Live” Lighting Techniques Reviewed
There’s an in-depth review by guest reviewer Brian Reed over at the Tenuous Thread Photography blog of my recent lighting techniques DVD/Book Bundle: Photo Recipes Live: Behind the Scenes. Here’s the link.

If you’re a Wedding photographer….
…and you want to take your shooting to the next level, you’ve gotta check out Cliff Maunter’s workshop. I got to see Cliff teach at the Photo Plus Expo last year in New York City and and Matt and I were blown away! (“American Photo magazine named him “…one of the top ten wedding photographers in the world”)

So much so, that we asked Cliff to come and teach for us at Kelby Training Online (he just wrapped up two classes for us), and this guy is just amazing! His in-depth workshops are always sold out in advance (his July workshop has been sold out for months), but he’s got just a few spots left for his November workshop in Philadelphia. If you’re serious about this stuff, you’ve gotta grab one of those last spots. Here’s the link with more details.

Mike’s New Photo Blog
My buddy Mike Myer just relaunched his photo blog, which features great photos of Skies, Clouds, Storms and Landscapes, and he’s really got an eye for color. Here’s the link if you’ve got a quick sec.

Am I going to see you in Atlanta on Friday?
Nearly 500 photographers have already registered for my “Photoshop For Digital Photographers” seminar in Atlanta this Friday, but there’s room for a few more if you’d like to join me. Here’s the link with the scoop (and you can still snag a seat while you’re there). Hope to see you in person this Friday.

That’s it, folks
I’ve gotta call it a day. Hope you guys have a great Tuesday, and that you join us again as we once again celebrate the anniversary of our “Guest Blog” program, featuring the man who came up with idea—-Vincent Versace.


….that’s right, it’s the man who came up with the whole idea of “Guest Blog Wednesday” and who in fact wrote the very first guest blog for me ever, Mr. Vincent Versace.

For over a 50th of a century here at The Photoshop Insider, it’s been a tradition to have “Vinny” do the anniversary guest blog. Tomorrow’s anniversary post marks his third, and it’s not only an honor to have him here, but I also owe him a debt of gratitude for coming up with something that has grown far beyond what I had hoped for, and helped and touched so many people along the way.

I invite you to join Vincent here tomorrow. His posts are always insightful, entertaining, and inspiring, and you don’t want to miss it.


I love my Epson P-7000 Multimedia viewer. I had a P-5000 before it, and P-3000 before that, and it’s been my go-to in-field photo back-up device for years now. It travels with me for every location shoot. But now so does my Apple iPad, and it now Apple has a camera connection kit for it, so you can see where this is going.

  • The P-7000 is $799 and has 160GB of storage.
  • The iPad has 64GB of storage for $699 (+$29 for the camera connection kit).

But of course, this story is about much more than storage space.

So, what do you guys see as the fate of the P-7000? Does it even have a future? Or does it have a future at a much lower price (like $299)? I’m interested to hear what you guys think. (By the way—neither support Flash, so let’s not even go there).


OK, it went up a little late (mostly because of me), but episode 2 (from season 3) is up live. Here’s what’s in this free episode:

Matt goes on location for tips on getting creative lens flare by shooting into the sun (He did a really great job with this—-the capture above is from his segment).
Larry Becker is back with a solution for a cheap DIY crossbar for backgrounds in his latest installment of Cheap Shots (Note: I found this one particularly clever).
– In the 2nd part of my three-part series for beginners, I show you when and how to use exposure compensation on Nikon and Canon cameras
– Top wedding photographer David Ziser drops by to talk about Highlight Tone Priority and Active-D Lighting to get extra exposure latitude for tough situations.
Matt shows off the Booq Python Blur backpack
– Check out this week’s featured photographer, Jeremy Cowart and his Voices of Haiti project!
– and you can leave a comment over at the D-Town Blog for your chance to win a copy of my Photo Recipes Live book/DVD combo! (here’s the link).

Anyway, if you get a chance, go and check it out right here.


My buddy and Photoshop User TV co-host Dave Cross just launched a great-looking new blog, and it’s got a slightly different address than the old site—it’s now at

When Dave announced on his old site that he had redesigned his blog from scratch using WordPress (same thing we use here), he gave RC Concepcion a shout-out, because he learned how to do it by taking RCs online “WordPress for Photographers” online class at Kelby Training Online. How sweet is that!

Anyway, make sure you check out Dave’s new digs. I love the layout, the look….the whole thing. Well done Dave!