Monthly Archives August 2010


OK, I know we’re a long way from the next version of Lightroom, but since Lightroom 3 has now shipped, I’m sure Adobe is already thinking about what’s going to be in the next version of Lightroom (which I imagine they’ll call Lightroom 4, but hey—ya never know).

Anyway, as much as I love Lightroom 3 (and I truly do), there are still some features I would dearly love to see make their way into Lightroom 4, and from taking my Lightroom 3 Live Tour on the road this year, I’ve heard from a lot of real world users about what’s next on their Lightroom wish list, too.

Carrying Your Message Forward
I’ve always felt like the regular photographer’s advocate when it comes to Lightroom. I know Adobe gets a lot of input from its high-end users, so when I pass these on (and have just sent this list directly to Adobe’s Lightroom Product Manager Tom Hogarty, who’s a really great guy by the way, and very committed to making Lightroom rock), I’m not just passing on my requests, but I’m also representing the wedding photographers in Atlanta, the senior portrait photographers from San Antonio, the landscape photographers from Manchester, and the travel photographers from Tucson.

I’ll start with the most requested and most important features, and then go module by module from there. Here goes:


(1) Photo Book Creation & Printing
I have to keep Apple’s Aperture 3 on my computer just so I can make photo books, because Aperture does a really brilliant job with photo book creation and printing. We need that same feature in Lightroom 4. But Adobe, I’m begging you, hire some amazing layout artists to create custom  book templates, so we can just drag and drop in our images and they look great. Give us fine art layouts, multiple wedding book layouts, proofing book layouts, travel layouts, and give us lots of them, all designed by top designers. Make the process painless, like Aperture has, with total flexibility to edit the templates the way we want, and then it’s just one click to upload the completed book and have it printed.

(2) A Great Slideshow Module
With all the tweaks Adobe has made to the slideshow module since Lightroom 1, it’s still the most limited slideshow on the planet (Apple’s free iPhoto application’s slideshow feature totally kicks Lightroom’s butt. In fact, I defy you to find any photo application from any company that offers a slideshow feature that doesn’t beat Lightroom’s hands down. That’s just not right). Everything they’ve done in Lightroom 2 and 3 thus far are just fixes to things that should have been there in the Slideshow module in Lightroom 1. We need someone at Adobe to say, “If this is going to be “the” program for photographers, we need to have a kick-butt slideshow module.” They won’t need 50 features to get there, but will they need at least these five:

(1) The ability to have more than one image per slide. A very popular layout for portfolio presentations, but of course, you can’t do that in Lightroom.

(2) You need to be able to sync the changing of a slide to a beat in the music (Apple’s Aperture does this brilliantly—you just play the background music, and tap a key on the keyboard when you want the slide to catch in time with the music. Couldn’t be easier). In fact, if anybody at Adobe is reading this, click on this link to see a demo slideshow from Apple made with Aperture’s slideshow feature. At least watch the one called “Holt County Fair” and maybe the Wedding slideshow demo. See that? That’s what we want to do, with the same degree of ease as Aperture.

(3) Give us a narration audio track, so if we want to tell a story, or do an interview with the person we’ve photographed, or want background audio from where we shot, we can add that on top of our background music. We need “ducking” too, so we can have the background music lower as the narration starts.

(4) We need real title slides—ones that stay on screen for more than a split second. Ones that we can customize every aspect of, from how long they appear on screen, to their background color, to lots of type control, to even using a backscreened image as a title. Also, let us add type on some slides that doesn’t appear on other slides, so if we need to start a new segment of our slideshow, we don’t have to go to Photoshop to create a custom slide and reimport it back into Lightroom. Plus, I want the ability to put a stroke around just the photos I choose, instead of applying a stroke to either every photo or no photos.

(5) Let us choose whether to cut or dissolve to the next slide. Give us “Ken Burns” like motion. Give us a few clever transitions. Make us actually want to make our slideshows in Lightroom.

(3) Decent Type Controls
I can’t think of a program that has more limited type features than Lightroom. Apple’s free “Stickies” widget has type controls that run circles around Lightroom’s, which is sad. So does any mail application (Aren’t you the guys that kind of invented modern day typography?). Don’t worry—we don’t need all the Type features of Photoshop, but we need the ability to create and easily edit multiple line text blocks we can position and size anywhere, and the ability to control tracking and leading. There is no other Adobe product where type is anywhere as limited as it is in Lightroom, so help us out and at least give us some minimal type control.

(4) Basic Video Editing
We just need what Aperture 3 has; simple trimming, previewing right within Lightroom, and the ability to mix video and still images in a simple slideshow. Don’t stuff a stripped down version of Adobe Premiere in there—we just need to be able to create and share simple slideshows with video. We’re photographers—if we want to do more serious video stuff, we’ll buy Premiere, but for now, just let us use the video we’re shooting with our DSLRs.

(4) Soft Proofing
I’m not a soft proofing guy on any level, but I hear from many photographers out there who would put this at the top of their wish list, so it would have to be included in the list of the biggies, even if it’s a feature I personally will never use. This is one case where soft proofing in Lightroom will have to be dramatically better than the soft proofing in Aperture 3 to be of any real value, but luckily Adobe totally has the vision and engineering muscle to make that happen, if they really want to. Soft Proofing alone will drive a lot of upgrades, which should be motivation enough.

(5) A Networked Lightroom
I have never done a Lightroom seminar where I didn’t get three or four people asking if there is a client/server version of Lightroom (where a group of people can all work on the same Lightroom catalog at the same time), so I know there are photographers who would put this at the top if their list. That being said, personally, I don’t think there’s a chance in %$#@ that we’ll see this in Lightroom 4. I don’t think the foundation of Lightroom was ever designed to become networkable, which means they’d almost have to create a separate version from scratch, and I just don’t see that happening. Of course, I could be totally wrong. Still, this would make a lot of photographer’s dreams come true.

(6) Built-in HDR
I know this just got added to Photoshop CS5, so you know and I know there’s no chance it’s going to be in Lightroom 4, but I thought it would be fun just to add it any way. Kind of a “prank” feature request, because we all know it’s not gonna happen.

(7) Automated Backup
A lot of people really struggle with this, and never really know if their catalog and photos are really backed up. Can we have a simple (really simple) and complete, automated backup so we can all finally sleep at night?

Now, onto the Module Specific wish list:


  • Can we finally have the Stacking feature in Collections? It’s in Folders, why can’t we have it in collections?
  • Can you make the Quick Develop panel have sliders, so we’ll actually use it? Those one-click buttons are sheer misery. I can’t tell you how many people complain that they don’t use Quick Develop for that very reason.
  • Can we change catalogs without having to quit and restart Lightroom? Is there another program out there for anything that has to quit and restart in the regular course of business and not from a crash? Seriously.
  • Cut the cord and make the shortcuts for the modules be the first letter of each word. You “D” for Develop, which makes sense, so you’d think “S” would be for slideshow right? Nope—it’s Option-Command-3 (of course, why I didn’t I think of that). Can’t we have L for Library, D for Develop, S for Slideshow, and so on. You’ll be doing the legions of people who will wind up coming over to Lightroom a world of good, and the rest of us already using Lightroom will adjust. Or, just give us the ability to create our own keyboard shortcuts (like we can in Photoshop).
  • I want a Light Table feature. I always have. No, it’s not terribly efficient—it’s just fun. There’s nothing wrong with fun.
  • Please give us a menu command for getting to these existing features: Creating Watermarks, Getting to the Export Actions Folder, Creating Metadata Templates and Naming Templates. Also, give us a simple way to delete any saved template without jumping through a bunch of hoops.
  • Can we finally just click on a file’s name in the Grid, and change it’s name? You can do that in the Bridge—why not in Lightroom?
  • For the Tethered Capture Heads Up Display, can you put a button that switches the HUD to a vertical layout, so we can tuck it over to the left or right side of the screen, so it doesn’t end up going right over my image, covering part of it up?
  • Sports photographers all use Photo Mechanic for two reasons: (1) They have built-in captioning macros, which make adding the required metadata the wire services require a breeze. It’s brutal in Lightroom (like you have no idea). And (2) Your thumbnails appear faster in Photo Mechanic, and so you’re already entering your captions while the Lightroom guys are waiting for their thumbnails to load. I don’t know a single pro sports photographer not using PhotoMechanic, and that just kills me. Both can be fixed (if Adobe really wants that business).
  • We need to be able to email an image directly from within Lightroom. Not exporting and passing it off to some email application—I mean, click on the photo, click the email button, then  all you do is enter the recipient’s email and hit send.


  • Give us a module for creating Duotone, Tritones and Quadtones (so we can stop faking it in the Split Toning panel).
  • I want to be able to toggle through the different White Balance presets and see image update full size as I highlight each one (using the up/down arrow keys on my keyboard).
  • I want the same quality of preview for Sharpening that we get in Photoshop, no matter what the zoom view I’m looking at. Photoshop does a nice job of this. Lightroom…..not so much.
  • I would love a High Pass Sharpening panel.

SLIDESHOW MODULE (already covered up in the biggies section above)


  • We need the ability to add a drop shadow behind images, just like in the Slideshow module
  • We need to be able to add a backscreened image (we need this for wedding book layouts desperately!
  • We need a one click button to create a full bleed image (overriding the Page Set-up settings).
  • Creating New Page Set-up presets for page sizes works counter-intuitively. Watch someone try to make one, and you’ll see what we mean.
  • We need to be able to add more than one graphic element to a page (so, more than one logo, or a logo and a graphic swatch or something. Being locked down to just one graphic makes it really tough to make compelling layouts. Of course, give us real type control (mentioned up in The Biggies) would be a huge boon here.
  • Give us the ability to add a Mat around our images. In fact, give us a Mat panel, with lots of controls (this is especially handy if you send your images to a lab to be printed and framed).
  • We would LOVE an edge effects panel. Give us a great set of built-in edge templates (designed by a great professional designer), and then let us import and share edges we’ve created in Photoshop, and imported into Lightroom.
  • We would love to see the ability to have different photos in Picture Package cells (now, you only get one photo repeated multiple times. Even in Photoshop’s old Picture Package script, you can swap out any one of the cells for a different image).
  • If we could have the ability to zoom in on our image while we’re in the Print Module, that would be sweet (otherwise, we have to change modules just to see if the image we’re about to print is actually sharp, or the right version, or if we see something we think we missed, like sensor dust).

Web Module

  • We need to ability to have multiple galleries on the same page. We need to have one main gallery page with links to separate gallery pages with your wedding photos, and your travel photos, and your personal projects, etc. We need what every single Web service out there already offers. Without this, you can pretty much skip the rest of my suggestions, cause nobody’s going to use the Web module anyway.
  • We need to be able to have a template that allows for customer proofing feedback. That way, then just click a checkbox by the images they want, and it sends us an email with their picks.
  • We need to be able to add a caption, or change the name of any individual photos right there on screen, without going back to the Library module and Metadata panel.
  • We need to be able to embed DSLR video into our Web pages. It’s 2010. I’m just sayin’.

Well, that’s pretty much it. Now, I know I missed a few things, and I’m hoping you guys will share your comments here so Adobe can hear directly from you, too.

“You’re THIS close!” You’re this close!!!! You’ve got a program that people love, and despite the fact that Aperture 3 has you beat in some areas (as noted above), you’ve got them beat in some really big areas (not to mention, there’s actually a Windows version of Lightroom), but there’s no reason why you have to stop short when you’re “This close” to having a kick-ass program.

We’re not asking you to create some new groundbreaking technology that simply doesn’t exist. We’re not asking you to come up with mathematical algorithms to do the impossible. We’re asking you to make Lightroom do the things you know it should. We’re asking you to polish, and smooth, and make our user experience easier and more fun, and give those missing things that force us to sometimes use other programs to do everyday work. Programs made by your competitors.

You’ve got the Raw processing down. You’ve got the metadata stuff down. Keywording down. Now add all those other little things that don’t matter that much to you, but mean the world to us, and take Lightroom to a new level. Take the slideshow module seriously. Know that we need decent control over Type. Know that we need a really usable Web module with multiple galleries. Add those things to printing that would make it best printing experience anywhere. You’re this close. This close!

You have in your hands the ability to make a program so brilliant that nobody would use anything else. You proved you can do it with Photoshop (I’m not even sure what’s in second place). Now do it with Lightroom 4, and we’ll pay you back by buying more copies than you can package. We’ll take your sales forecasts and throw them out the window, because there won’t be a photographer out there that can make a case why they shouldn’t be using it. You’re this close to brilliant. Take just one more step.

Thanks for listening. :)

Spam in mailbox

Hi Gang: Earlier this week I saw some comments that you’re posting comments but they’re not getting through. I don’t moderate my comments—-if you write them, they go live immediately, unless my blog’s built-in Spam filter thinks it’s spam.

It will usually mark it as spam if you include more than one link in your comment, or if you use the word Viagra. ;-)

Anyway, for some reason, it’s been blocking all sorts of comments in the past week, so I went back through all the thousands of spam comments I get in a week (over 240 pages worth), and I found a bunch of comments that you guys posted but got marked as spam.

First, I’m so sorry they were delayed, and we’re checking on the problem, and how to fix it.

Secondly, thanks to everyone who commented. There were lots of great comments, and I appreciate it very much. By the way: I read each and every comment you post, and occassionally respond back in the post, or in some cases, I just email you back directly (depending on my schedule, so I don’t get to answer nearly as many as I’d like), but either way—I read every single one.

Thanks for your patience while we get this spam comment thing worked out, but I’ll be keeping an eye out several times a day in case a legitimate comment gets tossed in the Spam Can. :)

All my best,



Hi Gang: Just a quick update from Los Angeles where I just spent an amazing day with entertainment photographer Jeremy Cowart shooting two live on-location classes for

I always feel like, if I take a class and I learn even one new thing, it was totally worth it. We were only about 30 minutes into Jeremy’s first class and I had already learned half a dozen new things. I was blown away! By the time the class was over, my head was swimming with new ideas, and things I just had never thought of. I called my wife at the end the day and here’s exactly what I told her:

“I learned more about photography today than I have in the past year!”

I’m not kidding. We filmed both classes in the same documentary style as our online class “A Day With Jay Maisel” but rather than doing a photo walk, instead we did a series of live location portrait shots in Venice Beach, California with Jeremy doing the shoots live with the cameras rolling, and I’m there asking him the same questions that I’d have if I were watching the class online. I also took your questions live via Twitter while we were shooting, and we had Jeremy answer your questions all day long during the shoots.

Two things I loved about these classes:

(1) Like Jay’s class, it wasn’t as much about the technical stuff (though he did share lots of settings all day long), but instead it was about the creativity, the vision, how to find and work locations, and how to get 10 different looks from one small area. And…

(2) He kept the lighting simple—using either just natural light or one flash with a small softbox, or a reflector. That’s it. What he got out of this simple set-up is just stunning, and you see exactly why he’s in such demand by TV networks, movies, big record companies, and celebrities.

Anyway, I had an amazing, eye-opening, exciting, and totally exhausting day, and now I’m beat, and headed back home with my crew, but man—what a day! One I won’t forget (and I can’t wait to try out all the new stuff I learned).

Thanks Jeremy—I can’t wait until these classes go live!


Hi Gang: I usually don’t post on Wednesday, but today we’re rolling out something totally new for Photoshop World—something we’ve never been before, but we gotten so many requests for it, we wanted to make it available.

It’s a one-day only pass to Photoshop World Las Vegas. That way, if you can’t attend the entire three day event, you can at least go for one day, take all the classes that day you want to take, check out the Expo floor, and do the whole experience, but without taking a week off of work.

You can use your one-day pass on these dates:

  • Wednesday (Sept. 1) and includes entrance to Opening Keynote from Adobe, expo floor, and you can attend party at House of Blues (party ticket required).
  • Thursday (Sept. 2) and can attend the “Art of Digital Photography” evening presentation, and/or Midnight Madness (tickets limited).
  • Friday (Sept. 3) includes all classes, and expo floor access, and special closing ceremony presentation

One day Pricing is $299 for NAPP members, or $349 for non members, (but non-members get a 90-day trial NAPP membership included with their one-day pass).

If you choose any one-day pass, you’re also eligible to sign-up for an optional pre-conference workshop held on August 31st. To snag one of these “first time ever” one day passes, click right here.

Fine Print: Of course, you can’t combine special promotional offers or discounts with a one-day pass purchase. One-day Pass holders are not eligible for a Pro Pass, Speed Pass, Portfolio Review or Guru Award competition.

Change Is Always Coming


Thirty-two years of professional photography and the best advice I can give to any photographer is: Change is always coming…be ready to alter course, reorganize, try something new.

Adaptability and flexibility are crucial attitudes for navigating through abrupt challenges and difficult seasons both personally and professionally. I’ve found that being willing to adjust to unforeseen circumstances can lead to a new assignment, project, or even a new genre of photography I may not have discovered otherwise.

Back in the early 90’s I was loving my job as a photojournalist for a newspaper’s Sunday magazine. I had been in the position almost ten years and assumed the ride would continue forever. It was a golden era for photojournalists.

Then, one day the staff was called in and we could all hear the proverbial pin drop as we were informed that our staff positions were being eliminated. When I called my wife, Vivian, to tell her the unsettling news, she replied with, “How exciting!” She was envisioning an open door to a myriad of thrilling opportunities but all I saw was a grave. A black nothingness of self-pity.

Vivian helped me see this “crisis” as a possible answer to spending more time with our growing family and traveling internationally together. I left the newspaper and we moved to Atlanta. Vivian and I began working full-time on conceptual stock photography (for what later became Getty Images). Looking back, the metamorphosis from employee to small business owner was not really that difficult. It was more like trading a pair of well worn shoes for a new pair that somehow felt already broken-in.


Even so, photographing spinning gears, happy couples running on a pristine beach, or creating the illusion of birds flying in a perfect arrow formation was a definite departure from my photojournalism roots. But the flexibility it gave me for overseas travel opened new avenues for my photography. I got connected with several faith-based groups who were helping people all around the world, and began to document their stories. Within five years of leaving the newspaper magazine, I had traveled to more than 40 countries shooting for various non-profits and NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) aid groups. Once again, staying flexible had led to a new kind of photography. This time, it awakened something inside me.

Elderly Mexican man with donkey cart

Shooting for NGO’s and non-profits has become a calling. Like David duChemin describes in Vision Mongers, “It’s as though there’s a voice beckoning us to distraction, a preoccupying whisper that, at some point, we give in to and follow.” I can’t NOT shoot this type of work. Stock is still a way to put bread and butter on the table. More than that, it gives me the freedom to engage a world that is hurting.

“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless. Maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:3-4) This verse from the Bible is the “why” that keeps me pursuing humanitarian photography. Do I think I can change the world? Maybe not…but I want to help in whatever ways I can, small or big.

I don’t have the skills of a doctor to ease the suffering of a refugee from Sudan. I am not a logistician that can organize massive airlifts of food to Haiti. I am not a missionary that can comfort a crying child day after day in a Kenyan orphanage. I am not a writer that can craft a book of golden prose to change the course of a nation. I am simply a photographer. However, I am aware that good photography has the power to open closed doors and hearts. Photography can change the destiny of people. By staying adaptable, I have found my own.

Young Pakistani girl at a school in Punjab Pakistan.

Men wait in line for food at IDP camp in Kenya following post el

Adjusting to change hasn’t just affected the type of photography I do, but most recently, has led to an idea for a fun personal project. Vivian and I call it “Visitors.” With the current emphasis on social media and internet, we wanted to get more “face” time with people. So much of our interaction with others is via Facebook, Twitter, etc. To remedy that, we determined to be more intentional about inviting people into our home. I then decided to take a portrait of everyone that visited, be they family, friends, workmen or random strangers. Now, more than a year later, 150 plus visitors have come into our studio to be photographed. Check out the first 100 in the video below.

Many thanks to Scott and Brad for this opportunity to share. If you have any questions on gear or photo techniques, feel free to ask. I try to be an open book! Oh yea…one more thing…here is a link to my packing list should you be interested. Be blessed and be a blessing!


What a perfect day! I just got back last night, I’m still grinning about the wonderful day I had shooting the Cubbies. Even though I was in/out the same day (flying up from Tampa for the game), it was totally worth it.


Wrigley Field is truly a Magical Place
I had never been to Wrigley field before (one of the last classic iconic ballparks in America), and as much as I love Boston’s Fenway Park, I think Wrigley truly takes the cake. It’s everything from the hand-updated scoreboard, to the ivy in the outfield, to the way the park blends in, lives, and breathes with the surrounding neighborhood. I can’t imagine a better place to take in a game.

Cubs pano 2sm

(Above: An 8-frame pano taken from the 2nd deck, right behind home plate—click on it for a larger view)

Cubs Fans Rule!
The Cubbies are having a really tough year, but despite that, Cubs fans packed every seat and cheered their Cubs on as if they were just 1 game back (even when they were behind by 8 runs). I was really impressed with how the fans carried themselves. Very classy.


Steve Green Rules!
Mike and I spent the day with Cubs Team Photographer Stephen Green (shown above), and he was an incredibly gracious host, and knew every nook and cranny of Wrigley, and how to get there fast. He’s a long time sports shooting pro, and he knew all the angles, all the best spots, and he made the day a lot of fun for us both. Everybody we met from the Cubs organization was just as gracious.


Surprise of the Day
The Cubs were playing the Cincinnati Reds and I’m in tight on one of the Red’s while he’s at bat, and when I zoom out a bit I notice the name on the back of his shirt. Cairo. It was my friend Miguel Cairo (I did a location portrait shoot with Miguel back when he was with the New York Yankees. Here a link to that post from 2007).

Between innings I switched over to the photo pit near the Cincinnati bench, and I yelled over to Miguel. He saw me and came out of the dugout onto the field to give me a hug (I’m glad the folks from the Cubs organization didn’t see that one). I don’t know who was more surprised to see the other—-me or Miguel (he was with the Phillies last year).

I shot his next At Bat from the Reds bench view and sent him the photo you see above. One thing I particularly like about this photo is that you can see his eye looking down the line of his bat, right above his arm. I have two more frames taken a split second after this one with all three of them looking to the sky following the ball, and they all have a clearer view of his face, but they don’t have the drama that this one does seeing just that one eye. Anyway, it was my favorite of the three.


My first real Chicago Style dog
OK, I had two (with all the fixin’s). I know, I know, somehow they’re better if you have them at Wrigley Field, but man, they were off the hook! It challenged my love of New York’s “Dirty Water” Sabrett hot dogs you buy on the street.


(Above: I thought I’d try a fish-eye shot or two. Taken with a 10.5mm lens).

The Weather Man was Half Right
As I sat on the plane in the morning, I checked the Chicago weather. It showed a 0% chance of rain. When I actually landed in Chicago 2+ hours later, it was already raining. Luckily, the rain cleared (after a short 10 minute rain delay), and it was a beautiful day (well, it was if you’re coming from steaming hot, humid Florida).


(Above: Another fisheye shot, but with the circular distortion fixed using Lightroom 3s built-in Lens Correction).

Getting Some Long Glass
I wanted to try out a different lens, so I rented a Nikon 300mm f/2.8 with a 1.4 tele-extender from (I love those guys—-highly recommended),  so it effectively became a 420mm f/4 lens. I also shot with a 200-400mm f/4; a 24-70mm f/2.8 (out wide at 24mm most of the time), or a 10.5mm fisheye. So I was either tight or really wide all day. For all the tight shots, I shot wide-open all day long at f/4 or f/2.8. For the few HDR shots and fisheye shots I took, I went to f/8 or f/11 to keep everything in focus. I included a few shots from the day here. Nothing great, but I still had a ball.


(Above: That’s my buddy, photographer Mike McCaskey in a shot taken right after the game).

Seeing the Ivy up Close
After the game, Steve took Mike (above) and I out to see the famous outfield ivy up close, and to stroll around the park just hanging out and swapping stories. It was a perfect day.


Even perfect days have to end
After the game, my buddy Mike and I headed to Carlucci’s Italian Restaurant in Rosemont for a great dinner, and then it was back to O’Hare for the flight home (I landed around midnight). Again, totally worth it. Luckily, my son waited up for me, and we stayed up late laughing and listening to some new tunes on his iPod until way too late. And I thought the day couldn’t get any better. :)  Thanks Mike, and Steve, for treating me to a day I won’t soon forget.