Category Archives Guest Blogger

How I Met My First Pixel

I remember that cold day in spring, back in 1991, when I visited a photography fair in the Javits Center in Manhattan. At that time, I worked for Neil Molinaro as a first assistant in Clark, New Jersey. Neil is an unbelievebly creative advertising photographer and an blooming nice guy. Not only has he created his own lighting system, he also managed to bring scenes on film that were almost impossible to even think! And because that’s not enough, he hired a German guy named Uli Staiger as his assistant.

Slowly, stop. Uli Staiger, that’s me. I am a photographer, Photoshop addict and 3D artist based in Berlin, Germany. After an apprenticeship of three years I figured I could need some international experience and boom: After a few weeks working at a New Jersey gas station I found myself as Neil’s assistant. Crazy world! So we visited the mentioned fair in NYC. Fresh design for Hasselblad’s 500 CL. Nice. New film emulsion for Fuji slide films. Woohoo. But then it happened: I met my first pixel! I hate big words, but anyway: Imagine you meet the love of your livetime, maybe at rush hour in a crowded supermarket. You wouldn’t even realize it! That’s what happened to me in a way! I clearly remember seeing this television screen (monitor), where some guy zoomed into the middle of a sun flower (pan tool). Then all of a sudden, the film grain became square: PIXELS!! And I had no idea that the scene I just whitnessed would power up my live more than anything else did before.

Back in Germany, I started my own business. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube were not even in anybody’s mind (Mark Zuckerberg was nine years old), so marketing was a complete unknown planet for me. I worked analogue, photographing with an KODAK EPS, Tmax and Highspeed Infrared.
I also went to photography school in Potsdam near Berlin. One of my classmates had this software called Photoshop. Brand new version 3.05, and of course I was curious as hell, so he showed it to me. And believe me or not: Staring at the monitor I could FEEL my life was changing in the first ten seconds I sat there! This was the most amazing gadget I could think of and I needed it. Now. Somehow I rediscovered the girl in the supermarket…

Photoshop was the missing link I needed for my work without even knowing I missed it! Sure enough it took no longer than a couple of days and I had organized a PC with incredible 16 MB RAM, a scanner and a Photoshop instruction book (at this time, there was almost nothing you could buy concerning Photoshop, so I was happy to get a PS 2.5 book). I scanned my landscape photographs and combined them with new studio stills, focusing on kitchen tools. The results were mindblowing, at least for me they were. Photoshop still was a pretty new thing to Germany’s photography scene, so anything that was somehow composed was cool and modern. I sent a few works to a contest and for the first time I won! That encouraged me a lot and I sent more stuff to more contests, even to a few magazines, hoping for a story about me and my new buddy Photoshop.

Slowly, a new kind of creativity grew in Germany and the rest of the world, and I was a part of it! The internet no longer exclusively belonged to the Pentagon, and my busines partner and I started our first website and a complete new studio. I wrote several books about Photoshop and up to this day I write articles about my work for German and international magazines. I’ve done a bunch of training videos, stage workshops in several coutries and try to improve both my skills and my style.

One of the limits I realized after a few years was the fact that my ideas grew faster then my skills. That meant I had to learn Photoshop more profoundly, not only knowing how the tools work, but also what strategies can do for me. Let me give you an example: It is nice to see what blending methods can do to an image. Good to know that "multiply" is a great way to correct overexposure, while "negative multiply" works the other way round. But masking a hairy portrait, just by using a grey background and a layer mask, thats a strategy.

In CS3, Adobe implemented a brand new feature that I always wanted to work with: The possibility to use 3D objects. That was when I started to combine 3D with classic retouching. They took it further, brought in a powerful material system and a real raytrace renderer. Today, you can import just about any 3D object you want into Photoshop, texture it, light it, render it. I combine my Photoshop work with self built 3D models. I use Maxon’s Cinema 4D, a powerful tool that works perfectly with Photoshop. Some of my design studies are pure fantasy, others are inspired like the "Racer A" by Dough Chang or the "Detonator motorcycle" by great designer Daniel Simon:

Maybe you want to earn money with your creative work, maybe you are lucky and just work for your own pleasure. Anyway I have a few tips that would have helped me when I started out (but probably I would not have believed them in my early days, so be smarter then me and at least read it!):

Show your work!
Send your images to one or more platforms on the net! Discuss with others and don’t be sad if someone gives you a mean comment. Be happy about honest compliments, think about critique and forget insults (and let me know how you do that please).

Compare your work!
Look for contests. Some of them are just for the honour of taking part, others have great prizes to win. If you do not win anything, try to find out what the difference is between your work and the winner’s.

No secrets.
In a time of omnipresent internet you can be pretty sure that you are not the first person on the planet who found out about this or that Photoshop secret. So if anybody asks you how you did it: Tell it to them! We all get better by working together, not against each other.

New learning.
When I was a kid, learning meant going to school. But the possibilities of how we can learn changed dramatically: There are fantastic blogs like the one you are reading in this very moment. You can pick tips and tricks for free from the internet, follow a webinar or get a video training. Online, offline, wherever, whenever, your choice. Just do it. Learning means sharpening your mind.

That’s the most important of all tips. Only by practicing you join your knowledge and your creativity. It may take some time until the result comes close to your imagination, but once you achieve your aim you’ll realize it was more than worth it!

Personal Style
Don’t think about it, it’s like falling in love: You will KNOW when it happens, as you will know when you develop your own style. To achieve it: See the point above!

Find your topic!
You are interested in everything? Love portraits, street photography and little birds? That’s good. Don’t make a decision, which of these themes might be more important then the other. But be aware of the fact that probably just one of them will be "your" topic in the future. Or maybe you haven’t even discovered it yet?

Make a scribble!
I could never ever start any work by opening Photoshop at first. I start with an idea. It stays in my mind until I can feel the image. Then I draw a scribble (oh yes, everybody can do that). After the idea is scribbled on a piece of paper, I start collecting the images I need, and then, but only then, I put them together in Photoshop.

Take your own pictures!
Stock images are not really expensive. But they are compromises! You decide, whether it is smart to buy an image (snow covered mountains are hard to photograph in July when you live in Texas) or if you can take it yourself. Perfect lens, perfect lighting, perfect subject. Right? Right.

Take. Your. Time.
I know people who complain that nobody likes one of the 500 composed images they produce every year. Probably it would be better to produce just 5 great ones than 500 middle class ones. And never forget: Always go on full speed, but be aware of harbour walls:

Okay. Now you have a rough impression what I do and how I do it. Want to take a look at the studio? Paul Lundahl and Glen Janssens from emotionstudios in San Francisco did this videoportrait about me and my work:

You can see more of Uli’s work at, keep up with him on his blog, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook

Hellooooo There!

First off I just want to send a heartfelt thank you over to the amazing Scott Kelby, Brad Moore & Kelby Training Team for letting me borrow their blog this Wednesday. I have been a HUGE fan and follower for years now so this is quite the honor :)!!!

Today I figured I would talk a little about my journey/approach and dive into 10 tips on how one might begin a career in the wild world of fashion photography.

My Approach/Journey (The Cliff Notes Version)
Beautiful photographs have always captivated me beyond measure. Since a young age I remember getting lost in books and magazines. But not in their words, only in their images… and in these images I saw a world of dreams! The text was always an afterthought to me because as cliche as it sounds, "a picture truly is worth a thousand words," and you can convey an entire story in a single still image.

I became deeply engaged in photography, specifically fashion photography, the summer after my sophomore year of college while studying abroad in London with a world-renowned fashion photographer. It was that summer in which I learned how to "see" the world and I became enthralled at the idea of creating beauty within the lens. This idea of having the opportunity to bring your own visions to life in a single or series of pictures has captured my imagination and turned it into a full-time passion of making images with soul!

For those of you creative folks looking to break into the biz, here are 10 tidbits I've learned that have helped me along the way:

1. Assist other photographers or work in the industry you are interested in pursuing.

2. Study Fashion and find inspiration. To work as a fashion photographer, it is helpful to have some sort of understanding of fashion and what trends and styles are out there.

3. Join Photography and Business Trade Organizations to learn more about the industry. WPPI, PPA, APA, ASMP etc. are all great resources for learning the business and technical aspects of photography.

4. Keep it simple. There is no need to drop a bunch of cash on the best equipment when you're first starting out. Save that money and start creating with what you have. I began with only the Nikon D70s Camera and 50mm 1.8 Lens. As my business has grown, I've updated my equipment to the Nikon D3x and variety of lenses.

5. Shoot what you LOVE. Many new photographers become pigeonholed into shooting a particular niche because it pays the bills. Paying the bills is of course important but there is a way to still focus on where you want to be while still shooting jobs that pay. You do this by only posting and showing the kind of work that you are passionate about in your portfolio and website. This will begin to attract those type of clients and dream jobs to you. It may take a year or two to begin, but eventually you'll get to a point where people will be hiring you to shoot exactly the kind of work that you love.

6. Develop your style. This comes from shooting A LOT. Set up your own shoots that illustrate your vision and keep building upon that. Inspiration is everywhere.

7. Build your team. Your creative team and your business team. Your creative team consists of makeup artists, models, hairstylists, wardrobe stylists, retouchers, production assistants, digital techs, and the creative people that help make your shoots happen. Your business team consists of your accountant, lawyer, book-keeper, and mentors which help your business run smoothly. Keep in mind that I did not start out with all of these people in place, it started out with me, myself, and I. As you grow, you begin to meet and find these people along the way. Many of them I bartered services with in the beginning to get my business off the ground.

8. Create a portfolio of your strongest work. Your body of work should illustrate the unique way you see the world and show consistency in the way you shoot. That is so clients will have a better understanding of what kind of images they will end up with when they hire you.

9. Network yo booty off. Photography is all about relationships. People enjoy and hire people that they know and like working with. You must get out there and meet people in person for them to remember you and think about hiring you.

10. Create the experience. This one is huge. Creating the experience includes how you talk to clients and handle their direction, how you connect with subjects on set, the type of music playing when they enter your studio, the overall energy of your team and even the basic mundane tasks such as emailing and pre-production. It’s all in the details. The great experience you create is what keeps clients coming back.

Anyway, I think thats about it. I did leave out one important one though…. I can't remember where I found this quote but here ya go: "The life of your dreams, everything you would love to be, do or have, has always been closer to you than you knew, because the power to have everything you desire is inside you!"

If you read this, thank you very much for taking the time! Let’s all go out and rock it in 2013!!!! Cheers, dd

You can see more of Dixie’s work at, keep up with her on her blog, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook

On September 9, 2009, my sporadic photojournalism suddenly became as serious as it gets in the technology news business: I had to shoot a Steve Jobs keynote speech.

I work for CNET News, where a “Jobsnote” is a harrowing experience. Live coverage means reporters write and photographers write and shoot as the event progresses. Stupendously high reader interest can flatten even major Web sites, so there’s immense pressure to deliver. Because our regular photographer was out that day, CNET’s editors asked me to fill in for the event, at which Jobs returned to the stage looking skeletal after a surprise liver transplant.

For a full-time photojournalist, it wasn’t so awful: the lighting was reasonable, a dark background made for easy autofocus, and nearly every moment during an Apple product launch is photogenic. But I was a part-timer, so I was relieved when my photos turned out well enough.

For anyone who’s curious about my news photography job, I cover three topics here: The event details that freak me out, the gear I carry, and the wish list I fantasize about. Many thanks to Kelby Media for lending me Scott’s soapbox.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs speaking in 2009. This was shot at 1/200 sec., f4, ISO 6400 with a Canon 5D Mark II and EF 70-200mm f/4L IS

The Jobs speech was a trial-by-fire introduction to today’s tech photojournalism, a specialty that’s changing as fast as the technology it uses. Jack-of-all-trades journalists have extra value now that the walls between photojournalists and reporters are coming down. There are several reasons for the change: cameras are getting easier to use, digital workflow wiped out many technical hurdles, readers like photo galleries, and shrinking news budgets mean dedicated photographers are scarce. If a reporter can’t shoot an event, that can mean the news piece has no photos.

I got lucky because I live in both worlds. In most of my 20 years in journalism, photography was a useful but largely optional skill. In my earliest days I shot “wild art” — photos to enliven a gray page of newspaper text on a slow news day. My first digital SLR was a Canon Rebel XT in 2005, followed by a few nice lenses, Adobe Lightroom, a Canon 5D Mark II, and now a 5D3.

Taking product photos at dark launch events is difficult, but every now and again I get lucky with the weird lighting. It doesn’t look so good on faces

As I got more serious, photography became more important to my job, and now I consider photography essential to just about any event out of the office. I shoot press conferences, conference speeches, interviewee portraits, new products, and news stories like queueing Apple fans in Paris or the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator near Geneva.

To start, here are the concerns I face now:

Where’s The Network?
In days of yore, reporters would gather information, package it up, then publish or broadcast their reports. Nowadays at tech events, live blogging is the order of the day, which means you need a network. Unfortunately, at the big events with hundreds of smartphone-toting techies, the Wi-Fi almost always bombs shortly before the event begins. Occasionally an enlightened show organizer will assure coverage of its event by lacing the press seats with Ethernet cables, a gloriously stress-relieving luxury. More often, the only choice is a dongle for tapping into the mobile-phone network. For really important shows, it’s best to bring more than one. Even then sometimes the only option is a mad dash for the press room after the event.

A news photographer’s blessing: People are emotional about Apple products. This is an early customer of an iPhone 5 in Paris

Where’s The Power?
Editing photos hammers laptop batteries, and every milliamp-hour is precious during 18-hour trade shows. I sometimes have to work while waiting in a queue before an event begins or while riding public transit to a conference center. I take every chance I get to juice up.

Where Do I Sit?
In a conference hall, I need to be near the speakers, without obstructing teleprompters, but I also want to get straight-on shots of the presentation slides. Being on an aisle gives me flexibility to get up and walk, but if I’m writing, too, I’ll mostly be parked underneath a laptop. Outlets are usually on the edges of the halls, though sometimes you can poach power from an overhead projector or the sound guy. A table with Ethernet, power strips trumps all other considerations, but often there are more press personnel than seats available.

The worst location dilemma came at Mobile World Congress in February when I had to cover Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. Show organizers let reporters sit in the auditorium but quarantined photographers behind the back row. Apparently it was inconceivable one person would be both both writer and shooter. I opted for sitting in the audience to write — but then I pulled my camera out of my pack, snapped a dozen frames, made sure there was something usable, then stashed the camera again. In other words, I lied to get into the audience seating. That’ll be our little secret, OK?

The auto industry learned decades ago that blazing lights means products look better. This Mercedes was at the 2012 Paris Motor Show

Now, the gear. I’ve refined my on-the-road gear to this selection:

Canon 5D Mark III
If I were starting fresh, I’d take a serious look at Nikon, but I’ve got lens lock-in and am reasonably happy with Canon. This camera body is rugged, has vastly superior autofocus compared to its predecessor, shoots well in dim lighting, and has a silent mode that’s terrific for unobtrusive shooting. The SD Card support is terrific, too, for occasions when I’m swapping cards. I don’t do a lot of video, but it delivers the goods. Also, my personal photography inclines toward landscape and architecture, where the 5D3 is superb. Full-time photogs will carry another camera body so they don’t have to switch lenses, but I don’t have the budget or backpack for that.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS
This is my primary lens. Because I shoot mostly for publication on the Web, I have pixels to burn, so I can crop my photos instead of carrying a $7,000 supertelephoto. I love my Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS, which is sharp, durable, and relatively small. However, I must confess that a Sigma’s 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM I’ve been testing has stolen my affections. It’s bulkier and heavier, but the image stabilization works; it’s sharp; that extra stop helps tremendously; and the shallower depth of field is great for portraiture.

Usually when out of the office, I take product photos with Canon’s 50mm f/1.4 lens, but I didn’t have it with me when Nokia debuted its Lumia 620 smartphone. I shot this with Sigma’s 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM, which I’d brought for taking pictures of people, not gadgets, but it worked fine as long as somebody else was there to hold the phone.

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L and EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
Of my secondary lenses, I use the wide-angle zoom for slides in presentations, event venues, vendor booths, crowds, and product demos. The fast fifty is chiefly for product shots, since it has nice bokeh when I want it and a reasonably close focus distance for mobile phones. And it’s small enough to be portable and to use shooting one-handed so I can hold the latest smartphone or other trinket in my left hand.

15-inch Retina display MacBook Pro with Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture
This laptop has competitive performance and battery life, is very well built, has a great screen with good color, and almost never crashes on me. I can run it with the screen turned down to nearly nothing or even entirely off to save battery power, and the backlit keyboard is useful in dark auditoriums. Its SSD is way too small for photography’s storage needs, so I make sure I clear off old catalogs to my secondary storage before hitting the road. I like the portability of the MacBook Airs, but they’re just not powerful enough. For software, I usually use Lightroom, but I find Aperture faster as long as you don’t need to edit much, its tethering support is less flaky, and its white-balance tools work well for me. I can’t always shoot tethered, since it chains me to my seat, but it’s much faster during deadline events. I always shoot raw, though for time-critical events I’ll add JPEG to the mix.

I try to find what I can besides standard photos. This shows corkscrew contrails forming from an an Airbus 400M’s propeller tips at the Farnborough airshow in England.

Tamrack Series 5550 Adventure 10 Backpack
When I travel, I squeeze all my gear and a few days’ clothes into it. It’s served me well, but I’ll be honest: I’m in the market for something more rugged. The laptop zipper is busted, the inside stitching couldn’t handle the pressure, and one of the outside straps is partially detached. Also, when traveling on airlines like Lufthansa that are picky about your carry-on baggage weight, I bring a lightweight nylon bag that scrunches down into nothing. When the staff complains that my pack is over the weight limit, I move the camera and laptop over to the nylon bag. It also helps for warm-weather clothes or other overflow items.

Modahaus Tabletop Studio
When I’m shooting products in the comfort and safety of my own home, I use this tabletop studio. It’s a handy piece of washable plastic whose tabs fit together to make nice even background, and color inserts can spice up the view. Usually product photography is more relaxing than event photography, because there’s time to get things right and the lighting is better than cavernous convention centers. But shooting for CNET can be intense because of the deadlines; earlier this year I had just a few hours to test and photograph a new Google Chromebook laptop, write the review, edit the photos, and publish it all. And a lot of product photography I do is in the middle of product launches where dozens of others are jockeying for scarce examples of some new gadget or prototype.

She was just taking a video of people in the Apple iPhone 5, but it looks like an act of worship.

Last, let me share my wish list.

More Light
I should probably bite the bullet and shoot with a flash more often, but the baggage burden and technical complications discourage me. Most often I can get away without one with no trouble. I usually shoot between ISO 800 and 6,400, which the 5D Mark III handles well enough for my purposes. The tech industry has only begun learning what the car industry has long known: kilowatt-sucking arrays of blazing lights dramatically improve product photos. The worst lighting I’ve endured in recent memory was, perversely, Hasselblad’s unveiling of its “Lunar” camera prototype in a very dim room.

A Better Backpack
Why don’t camera bag makers offer a better selection of bags that can hold both camera gear and ordinary baggage? There are terrific high-capacity bags that you can stuff to the gills with lenses, camera bodies, and accessories, but I also need to fit in rain gear, fleece, first-aid kits, maps, guidebooks, and often lunch for a family of three. And I need it to hold up longer than a year.

I write about digital photography, too, which means I get to try some nice equipment. The 80-megapixel Phase One IQ180 medium-format camera captures color so well I broke my rule of not taking flower photos.

Networked Cameras
Someday perhaps, cameras will do a better job with wireless networking and GPS, but for now it seems the camera makers are at least five years behind smartphone makers when it comes to embracing the connected-device era. That’s why I find the Samsung Galaxy Camera interesting. In my perfect world, I could use inexpensive wireless tethering, with photos being stored on both my laptop and my phone, and my phone’s location could be easily registered by my camera for automatic geotagging. Sure, my phone doesn’t have enough storage space for all the photos I take, but in my fantasy realm it’ll have cheap enough data plans that my shots will be uploaded automatically to the cloud. We’re not there now, but I have some optimism that the present golden age of camera experimentation will produce something with a lens, image sensor, and awareness of the Internet. I’m impatient, but watching the tech industry’s progress in the last decade, I believe this dream eventually will come at least partly true.

I had the window open for better light while taking macro shots of a Google Chromebook when a ladybug arrived on the scene.

You can keep up with Stephen on CNET, and follow him on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook

Photo by Joe McNally

Back in October, I made my annual trek to New York City for Photo Plus Expo. But this year I did something that I hadn’t done in previous years… I signed up to have my portfolio reviewed while I was there.

These portfolio reviews are a little different than most others. They’re done by creative directors from major magazines, art buyers from ad agencies, photo editors from wire services, and other people who see tons of images every day from a multitude of photographers (and some of them are photographers themselves). My experience with this was a good one, but that’s another blog post for another day. I mention these portfolio reviews because one of them led to the events that took place this past weekend…

The last review I had was with a photo editor from Clear Channel Media + Entertainment, a company that owns 850 radio stations across the country. She liked my work so much that she wound up hiring me to cover the Jingle Ball concerts for Y100 in Miami and 93.3 FLZ in Tampa.

The lineups for these shows included everyone from up and coming artists like Walk The Moon, Karmin, and Austin Mahone…

Walk The Moon


Austin Mahone

…to megastars like Flo Rida, Enrique Iglesias, and Justin Bieber.

Flo Rida

Enrique Iglesias

Justin Bieber

And since I was shooting for Clear Channel, I got an all access pass to both shows. (more…)

I’m honored to be back here for a second time as Scott’s guest blogger. Like my last post, I’m going to share some non-technical thoughts because it’s too easy to get lost in gear and megapixels.

It’s hard to believe I’ve been a professional photographer for as long as I have, but here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.

People Still Love Prints

Technology is awesome. I sleep with my iPhone next to my bed and am at my computer within minutes of waking up. Photos look great on the iPad and my online portfolio is an important marketing tool.

But physical prints are still king.

When is the last time you held one of your favorite images in your hands, printed on 11X14 heavyweight matte paper? Try it. Have a real print made, frame it, and hang it on the wall. It feels good and looks good.

I’ve created a modern business by selling prints. I tour with a number of bands (most recently Bon Jovi), and offer officially licensed prints through my company It’s a fun gig, makes money, and fans seem to enjoy getting real prints.

Fans can buy various sizes of my 2011 image of Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora in Istanbul.

Prints have an impact that screen images just don’t have. You can scroll through hundreds of photos in a Facebook web gallery and they’re gone in a flash. But go through a box of mounted prints, and you’ll instinctively handle the artwork more carefully.

After I shoot a job, I try my best to make a big print of my best image, sign it, and mail it to the PR person, manager, subject, etc. Sometimes I actually get a call or email back thanking me for sending it, and the next time I see them, they remember me.

How often does that happen from a web gallery?

There Is More To Being A Professional Photographer Than Just Making Great Images

Photographers are everywhere. Digital cameras, autofocus, and Instagram have made it simple for anyone to make “decent” images.

But how many people do you know who are full-time, working professional photographers? There aren’t that many of us.


Because “point, click, and share” just isn’t enough.

I was fortunate to begin my career nearly 25 years ago, before technology lowered the entry barrier to the profession. What I learned is that “taking the picture” is only about 10% of the job.

There is so much more that goes into making a successful photography business: Marketing, promotion, invoicing, managing and archiving your image library, backups, balancing the books, buying and testing new gear, commercial insurance and workman’s comp, pre- and post-production, taxes, and more.

Of course, having the right gear for the job is important as well.

Here’s the gear I used at SuperBowl XLVI. If I missed a shot, I couldn’t ask the players to do it again.

Your Uncle Bob may have a shiny new DSLR, but would you trust him to capture a once-in-a-lifetime event like your wedding? What happens when his only battery dies or he’s in the bathroom during the cake cutting?

Just because you occasionally make a good photo doesn’t mean you should quit your day job.

Relationships Are Everything

People hire photographers that they know and like. It’s rare, if ever, that you’ll send in a portfolio or web link cold and get a gig. It just doesn’t happen that way.

If I go back far enough, I can trace most of my best jobs back to friends from college. You never know how it will happen: that guy was friends with this guy, I did a job for his sister and met this person at the gig, and ten years later he works at a big ad agency. Fast forward another ten years and, well, you get the point.

That doesn’t mean you don’t have to do the work. Once you get in the door, you still need to do a great job or they won’t hire you back or recommend you to anyone else.

I recently photographed my fifth Olympic Games, but it was my first time working for NBC. A few months later, when they put together a telethon to raise money for Hurricane Sandy relief, I called my contact at the network so I could do my part to help the storm victims. The next day, I found myself backstage shooting portraits of some of the artists before the show.

I photographed Jon Bon Jovi, Jon Stewart, Steven Tyler, Tina Fey, Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Joel, and others at the telethon.

I donated all of my profit from print sales of these images to the Red Cross. You can see them all at

Don’t burn any bridges. You never know when you’ll have to cross them.


Those are just a few of the important things I’ve learned over the years. Photography is a service business and, like any other, it’s important to be professional, valuable, and memorable. Treat your clients well and hopefully they’ll keep coming back for more.

You can see more of David’s work at and, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook

I, Photographer

I believe it was last summer when I was having dinner with Brad Moore at City Fish in Oldsmar, FL when he asked me to write my first post for Scott's illustrious Guest Blog series. I was humbled, giddy, and nervous. As a longtime follower of Scott's work, being asked to contribute marked a milestone in my career as a photographer. I fully admit modeling a lot of how I teach and relate with our users at onOne Software based on Scott's practices, so you can imagine my surprise when I got an email from Brad a few weeks ago with the subject, "It's that time again." I am truly honored to reprise my role as guest contributor and I'd like to thank Scott, Brad, Matt, RC, Corey, Stinky Pete and the rest of my good friends at Kelby Media for doing so much to help so many of us reach our own milestones as photographers.

<Cue the Wayne's World wave dissolve and smoothly segue to the post>

I will always remember the first time I admitted to actually being a photographer to someone. It was in late winter of 2009 and I was photographing the beautiful and frigid coastline of Provincetown, MA. At the time, I had a full time job at a software company that created products for the financial sector and I was also starting to make inroads with my own little commercial photography business. I already had a few solid gigs under my belt and had been lining up some more. Things were looking good and my goal was to move into doing this full time at some point in 2010. While I was photographing the Provincetown coastline, an elderly woman saw what I was doing, walked up to me, and asked me plainly, "What do you do?"

And to that, for the first time in my life, I answered, "I'm a photographer."

Prior to that, I would have likely stumbled and stammered to justify what I was doing and I'm sure that more than a few of you can relate. For some reason, there is this layer of self-doubt that we have when owning up to answering this particular question. It's almost as if we are trying to justify it to ourselves as we answer it. Before I move on to how this memory spurred the point of this post, let me clear the air. We are all photographers. Whether you are a casual hobbyist, an avid enthusiast or a part/full time paid professional, just by virtue of picking up a camera with the intention of freezing a moment in time, you are a photographer.

So why is it that so many of us get defensive when someone calls you an amateur photographer? It's such a beautiful word, so appropriate for so many of us out there, and yet in the same breath, it is seen as a form of denigrationâ”a lower rung in a caste system of photographers. Have you ever actually looked up the definition of amateur? While there are different interpretations of the word, the definition I wholeheartedly subscribe to is â˜a person who engages in a pursuit.' Doesn't that sound so lovely? It almost has a romantic feel to it. And it's true after all, isn't it? Aren't we all actively engaged in the pursuit of our photography? While I consider myself a working photographer, I also wholly consider myself an amateur. Photography is my life and I will dedicate my time here to mastering it in my own way and helping others find their own paths.

But let's go back to the issue at handâ”namely, the consternation that we feel when we have to justify whether we are photographers. It was in thinking about this that I realized what I should write about. The problem lies in this pervasive need to seek the approval of as many people as possible in order to justify whether you are a photographer, and worse, whether you are even a good photographer. For many of us, the quality of an image has been relegated to the response rate and engagement percentage of a post you made on your social media outlet of choice. Good, honest, quality feedback has been supplanted by mindless Likes and +1s. Our entire scale of artistic growth has been commoditized whereas the clear voices of a small group of mentors and trusted friends have been replaced by a cacophony of fleeting words and phrases left as comments. And then there are the trolls and the flame wars. Small-minded people getting off on slicing and dicing anything that you share with impunity, no matter what the nature is.

The culmination of investing your emotions and tying your growth to all of these things can be terribly destructive and stifling for those photographers out there who are doubtful of themselves and not sure whether they feel like they can contribute anything meaningful to the world with their work. All of this static may serve to turn someone away, making them gun-shy to share their work or even pick up a camera in the first place. I am saying this because I know it to be true. I have friends who are impacted in this way and it truly saddens me and that is why I wanted to bring it to light here. Photography is only what you make it out to be for yourself.

Understand this: photography isn't easy. There are no shortcuts. It's laden with frustration and disappointment, but it's also a labor of love. Yes, the barrier to entry for creating an image is extremely lowâ”just pick up any device capable of capturing an image and press a button. If that's as far as you want to take it, then by all means "snapshoot" away. I'll support you 100%.

There is one lesson I'm hoping you take away from this: true growth in photography, or in any craft or vocation, requires confidence in yourself and confidence in your ability to dust yourself off when you do fail, because you will. It also means that you have confidence to weed out the static and confidence to pursue meaningful growth from those you trust and who will give feedback that is both constructive and supportive and not laced with anything else.

If there is one concept that I am vehemently passionate about, it is sharing of work. I share my work because I believe that is how I infuse the last piece of soul into my image. I also share the anecdotes and technical details surrounding the creation of my images because I absolutely love teaching my techniques and giving away the farm. I don't share to get comments, +1s or Likes. They are most certainly appreciated but please understand that they aren't any sorts of driving forces for me. I share because I am a photographer and sharing is the elemental outcome of being a photographer.

I'd like to leave you with what my hope is that you'll take away from this post. Do you remember when I defined the word â˜Amateur' up above? It is a person who engages in a pursuit, and in this case, the pursuit is photography. What I'd like you to think about is â˜who are you pursuing photography for?' By determining the true answer to that question, I suspect you'll find your individualized path to artistic growth appear a bit more clearly.

And always remember: never stop shooting.

Thank you for your time.

You can see more of Brian’s work at, and find him on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.