…and In Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto..and last year in London….and two weeks ago in Orlando…is that: photographers and Photoshop users everywhere are struggling with the exact same things. The same issues. The same hurdles. The same things that stump photographers in San Francisco, are stumping photographers in Germany.

(Above: Brad took this shot of my seminar in Amsterdam, just hours before his 27th birthday. Happy Birthday Braddo!)

So what is it?
It’s not just one thing—it’s lots of things. Here’s five common themes:

(1) Power They Didn’t Know They Had
A lot of people don’t realize that the things they want to do are actually in Photoshop or already in Lightroom, but since they’re kind of “hidden beneath the surface” (maybe it takes a hidden three-key shortcut, or its buried under a menu they never go under), they think they need to buy some other piece of software to get them where they want to go. I love to be able to show them that shortcut or hidden place. You can see them light up when they realize it’s already there. It’s one of the best parts of my job.

(2) Light Meters Terrify Them
Frank Doorhof (my guest speaker) did a fantastic demo about using light meters during my seminar in Amsterdam, and that’s probably why I’ve never had more comments about them. Apparently a lot of people already have them, but very few are actually using them, and they told me they’re very confused about using meters in general.

(3) Off Camera, Hot-shoe Flash.
A lot of people at my seminars already have an off-camera hot-shoe flash or two, but they are really struggling with getting the results they want. A lot are complaining about triggering problems (with line of sight triggering and TTL), and that their images look too “flashy” and obvious that flash is being used.

(4) Over Thinking Everything
When it comes to lighting, I talked with so many people who are over-thinking everything and they’re just plain overwhelmed. I blame the Internet. They read one person saying one thing, and then at the next site, somebody says something entirely different, and they have no idea which one is right (usually, they both are—because in all of this—there’s not just one way to get to the end result), so basically they’re paralyzed. I think these folks are making a lot of the process of lighting and correcting photos more complicated in their minds than it really is. They’re all tied up in Watt seconds, and the Inverse Square Law, and the physics of lighting, and it has their head already spinning before they even walk thru the door.

(5) They’re Not Sure What To Use
Because so many pros are using so many different tools, they just want some guidance. They don’t want to buy the wrong thing (the wrong softbox, the wrong lights), and they don’t know if they want to continue down the path of hot-shoe flash, or studio strobes, or continuous lights, or a mixture of both or whatever. They want to be smart with their time and their money, and I don’t blame them.

(6) They have business concerns
They’re struggling with either (a) making a living as a photographer, or (b) they’re planing on quitting their current job to become a full-time photographer (I hear that a lot), or (c) they just came out of school trained as a photographer, but they don’t have a job and they’re all looking for some tips to help them make it.

Here’s what nobody ever asks about:

(1) Composition

(2) Creativity

(3) Art

It’s all about sync speeds and settings. I also hear a lot about “Rules” as in “I read your never supposed to do [insert anything about lighting here].”

Oh yeah, more one thing. Most everybody, in every city is already using Lightroom (at least at my seminars). The few that are still on the Bridge/Camera Raw don’t know why they should be using Lightroom at all. They think it’s just another version of the Bridge and Camera Raw, and they already have those, so why switch? Sigh.

What I’m doing about it
I’ll pick up with that right here tomorrow. :)