Last weekend, I was very fortunate to get to speak at the Southwestern Photojournalism Conference in Ft. Worth Texas, and I have to say—I had an outstanding time. I met so many great people, plus I got to share the stage with two photographers I consider to be among the best: Bill Fortney and Jeremy Cowart. (Photo above by Stanley Leary)


An Amazing Opportunity for Students
They offer a student conference the day before, aimed at College students, and what a great program they put together. I went early to be a part of the Student Conference, and along with instructor Bill Bangham (heck of a nice guy) we took a group of five students to the Stockyard area of downtown Ft. Worth for a 2 hour photo walk. I had been to the Stockyards 10 years ago, without a camera, so it was fun to get to finally shoot it (some of my shots from the photo walk are shown in the Lightroom Grid above, and below—click on them for a much larger view). Our students were awesome, and I enjoyed getting the chance to teach one of the students how to shoot her first HDR photo.

I started the Photo Walk just kind of shooting anything, and then with only about 20 minutes left, I decided to give myself a practice assignment of shooting as if I was shooting for the Ft. Worth Visitor’s Bureau, trying to get images that capture the flavor of the Stockyards. I didn’t have enough shots of people at that point, but having a goal, an assignment like that, actually made that last 20 minutes more fun (and it made it absolutely fly by).

Here’s an HDR shot (above) taken inside a wonderful little boot shop we came across called the “Ponder boot company.” Amazing place, and the owners were kind enough to let our students shoot there as long as they liked. The image was processed using Photoshop CS5′s built-in HDR Pro, and then I hit it with the Tonal Contrast preset found in Nik Software’s Color Efex 3.0.

After we got back, we worked on the post processing for a few hours, and the students edited the photos down to just a few they would display to the entire group during the full conference. I got to spend some one-on-one time with the students in my group helping them with the post processing, and it was so cool to see them getting into it like they did. I was really glad I came a day early.

(Above: That’s Bill Bangham in the Ponder Boot Company store).

The Business Side of Things
On Friday night I did a presentation on the state of our industry, and what we can do to stay competitive, get an edge, and keep working in an industry with greatly increased competition and clients with very tight budgets. The crowd was really receptive, and I had lots of questions afterward.

Photoshop Time
On Saturday morning, I did a class on my current “Photoshop Seven Point System” for CS5 and we had a ball. What a terrific crowd to present to. Afterward I did a few one-on-one portfolio reviews (as seen above. (Photo above by Stanley Leary ), and before I knew it, I was on my way to the airport for my flight back home.

(Above: This shot was taken at our lunch stop—The Love Shack (Love baby, that’s where it’s at). Awesome place. Great live music, even at lunchtime).

I Was Really Impressed
The conference is coordinated by the Southern Baptist Photojournalists, with support from Christians in Photojournalism, and it was hosted at a beautiful conference center on the campus of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and I have to say, they absolutely put on a first class event. What a great job they’ve done bringing all these people together for such a great learning experience. I met so many really wonderful, really passionate instructors and participants, and I totally see why they get people like Bill and Jeremy (and past instructors like Joe McNally). Highly recommended. Here’s a link to their site in case you want to mark your calendars for next year.

I want to thank my friend and photo assistant Brad Moore for getting me involved in this event (Brad has been going to this conference for years now, and he was there this year as well). Also my personal  thanks to the SWPJC conference team: Stan Leary, Matt Miller, Morris Abernathy, Bill Bangham, Bob Carey and especially Jim Veneman for letting me be a part of their very special event.

P.S. Ashley Landis, one of the students at the conference, posted some B&W shots on her blog of me teaching which I actually like, which is saying somethin’ right there, because as you might already know, I pretty much hate all photos of me. Here’s the link.