Category Archives Guest Blogger

Let me start by saying that I’ve never blogged.

In fact “Blog” was one of those odd words that seemed to creep into our social consciousness one day completely out of the blue. No one had ever heard of a Blog and then all of a sudden everybody had one. It reminded me of the word ‘scud”. Nobody had ever heard of a ‘scud’ missile and then one day everybody seemed to have one of those too.

My using the word scud as an analogy is really no coincidence because the meaning of the verb ‘scud’ is: to move fast in a straight line because or as if driven by the wind: “we lie watching the clouds scudding across the sky”.

This represents what Scott has been kind enough to let me blog to you about today; how the digital world has scudded into our lives and not only changed the images that we’re making, but completely changed the process by which we make them.

Next, I’d like to say that I am not a hippie. The fact that I’m writing this blog from a tiny cabin in Woodstock is a coincidence. I’ve lived in New York City for 29 years and never really been to Woodstock. I’m here for the weekend and it’s pouring rain, so how better to spend my time than to blog.

I’m not a hippie, but I do have one or two strongholds in my soul that were spawned by a kind of “hippieish” psychology referred to as “Gestalt” that was founded in Germany in 1912 but developed into a type of therapy used by the psychologist Fritz Pearls during the late 60’s in Northern California.

One of the cornerstones of Gestalt therapy is attempting to be truly present, to attempt to live in the ‘here and now’.

I recall this being something that was actually doable and a philosophy I tried to practice from time to time throughout my life with some success…up until several years ago.

But before I go on, here’s a very brief synopsis of my career for those of you unfamiliar with my work.

My Dad was a very good amateur photographer and he gave me his 35mm Pentax camera when I was ten or eleven. He let me take photos then edit them from a contact sheet using a loupe and a grease pencil to outline my crops. He went to great expense allowing me the chance to choose and emend how I saw.

My Mother and sister photographed by my Father in 1958

By high school I was taking pictures regularly, mostly for the yearbook. I applied to Art College and by the end of my third year had taken every photography class in the program, so I moved to New York.

It was 1982 and just as difficult to break into the industry then as it is now. After a few months of working for whoever would hire me a fortunate set of circumstances landed me inside Annie Leibovitz’s studio. I had no idea what I was doing so I started out loading film but over time learned the ropes and became her first assistant. I worked alongside Annie for three years.
In the two years that followed, I freelanced for several other top photographers including Robert Mapplethorpe and Steven Meisel.

When I ventured out on my own, my first assignment was to photograph a dance company. Those photos became the basis for my first portfolio. When I showed them to magazines they saw bodies in tights and promptly assigned me fitness stories to shoot. Which wasn’t so bad because those exercise pictures helped get me a job photographing a series of twenty books for Time/Life on health, nutrition and fitness. The fitness work led to taking beauty pictures, which led to photographing actresses, which led to photographing mostly celebrities, eventually resulting in what I do now, which is primarily magazine work, television advertising, and movie posters.

New York Magazine, 2006

ABC Family, Los Angeles, 2010

Buena Vista Pictures, Los Angeles, 2006

I still shoot dancers and have been working exclusively with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater since 1999.

Alvin Ailey Dancers, New York, 2006

That’s the shorthand version of my ten-year overnight success. Let’s return to the idea of “here and now.”

(This post contains minor PG-13 nudity/sexiness beyond this point. If you’re offended by such things, please don’t click “Read More.”) (more…)

Find a Niche — And Fill It

As much time as editorial photographers spend bitching and moaning about how things just aren’t the way they used to be, you’d think we were witnessing the death of an entire genre. Personally, I think nothing could be further from the truth. I actually think we are in the midst of a renaissance that will prove to have been one of the most exciting times to have ever been a photographer.

True, newspapers and magazines cry poor house as the pool of available assignments slowly drains. That’s because along with the digital explosion there has been a massive repricing of information. Presses, trucks and dead trees are no longer needed to disseminate information. So the economic pricing moat that used to surround the publishing process no longer exists.

Publishers used to be guys who sat in corner offices and wielded great power along with their printing presses. In 2011, my ten-year-old kid is a publisher. He doesn’t have a blog. He has three blogs. And he won’t even let me help him. He does it all himself, and for free. This low-infrastructure model is the future of publishing.

Which is to say, that while the bad news is that newspaper and magazines are having a hard time supporting their now-bloated infrastructure, we no longer need the infrastructure. Photographers and writers are now near-zero-infrastructure publications waiting to happen.

If you think about that for a moment, it starts to reset your compass. You can either be a pawn in an outdated economic model or think of yourself as a near-virtual company, ready and able to run on a shoestring. The challenge is figuring out a niche that exists that you can fill, and then how to create value by doing so.

That process is happening all around you every day, and will continue to do so until every bit of information — both visual and otherwise — exists in every form possible and available to everyone. That is a tall order, and it is not even close to being filled yet.

At the large end of the scale, companies like Twitter and Facebook didn’t even exist just a few years ago. The niche they filled was to facilitate the ease of connection between people. On a smaller and more industry-specific scale, SportsShooter did the same thing for sports photographers. Ditto Strobist, for people who want to learn about light — which also did not exist until 2006.

As photographers, we have the ability to discover and create publications that fill visual niches. We live in a visual world, and we are content producers.

Nearly twenty years ago, I created all of the photography for a traditional coffee table book on Columbia, MD. It was on assignment for a publisher, but I had enough visibility into the process to see that the economics of small-press book publishing were brutal even then. So much so that I almost felt bad taking royalty checks.

But with internet publishing, the costs and infrastructure all goes away. If you have the commitment to produce something of value and quality, there are many ways to monetize the value that a comprehensive local project can produce. The hardest thing is probably finding a niche about which you are passionate that is ripe for exploration.

For a couple of years now, I have been divorcing myself from the idea of shooting editorial for other people and instead learning to think more entrepreneurially. I am thinking hyper-local, and looking at the inefficiency of coherent, quality visual information about the county where I live. It just seems logical to explore the options that exist right at my doorstep as publishing continues its major upheaval. And the more I study it, the more opportunity I see.

I have been gathering words and photos for a while now, and I am just starting to see the organizational structures that will help to build it into something that can be of value to a large number of people. And that will be important when it comes time to monetize it. As an entrepreneur, you are a one-man (or -woman) band. You have to learn everything you can about the business ecosystem you create.

If you are still thinking, “Who will pay me to take pictures?” you are heading down a very, very competitive path. Better to think, “What can I explore, define and create with my camera that will create value?” And then, “How can I monetize that value?”

As information continues to decentralize, those photographers who can learn to think entrepreneurially will be in the driver’s seat to create and capture new business models. And those who don’t will have more and more to complain about every day.

You can read more of David’s musings, ramblings, tips, tricks, and other stuff over at

First I would once again like to thank Scott Kelby for allowing me this forum to express and share ideas in. I am both honored and humbled every time I am given the privilege to contribute.

This year’s blog is an excerpt from the opening of my next book “From Oz to Kansas 2.0. Almost Every Black and White Conversion Technique Known to Man.” God willing, coming out this fall.


A Recipe for Creating

If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.
-Vincent Van Gough

Most of us can look at the artistic work of others and decide whether or not we like a particular piece. Why then, when we view an image of our own, are we frequently fraught with ambivalent feelings? I do not understand why we tend to be our own worst critics. Certainly there are enough people in the world who will find fault with anything that we do. We must learn not to assist them.

But why pursue anything creative if we are doomed to torture ourselves about what we did and approach being creative as if there is some cosmic score keeper that decides if we are ahead or behind? The truth is that nobody but you is keeping score. We spend too much time concerning ourselves with the notion that for our creative work to be valid, others have to like it.

All artists hear a call to express themselves creatively, but too often, that voice fades with time and is replaced by one that says, “You can’t do that.” or “If it was such a brilliant idea someone else would have thought of it first.” The quickest way to silence that voice is to do exactly the thing that you think you cannot.

Hardening of the Categories

Hardening of the categories causes art disease.
– W. Eugene Smith

If you want to take more interesting pictures, stand in front of more interesting stuff.
-Joe McNally

Every image you create is an expression of the artistic inspiration that moves you. You express your creative voice by developing the ability to show what moves you without screaming for the attention of others. It means getting out of your own way and, in the moments when your creative spirit is moved, trusting that what comes from those moments will be good. Your goal should be to trust what you feel and constantly strive toward personal excellence and elegant performance. When your effectiveness becomes effortless, your images will move the viewer solely by the power that caused you to be moved.

Because you are reading this blog, I assume that most of you have chosen photography to express how you feel to the outside world. However, regardless of the path you have chosen, it is you who drives the art form bus, not the other way around. Technique exists to better help you express yourself. If there is a battle between voice and technique, voice should always win. Emotionally full and technically imperfect trumps technically perfect and emotionally vacant every time.

I believe that there is no drug as addictive or as alluring as being successful creatively. To make a living from the fruits of one’s imagination is truly a blessed way to live. But herein lies the rub. With practice, and perhaps success, we find our groove. But grooves frequently become ruts, and ruts can become trenches, and trenches can become graves in which our creativity becomes buried.

So how do you become more creative and create diverse, emotionally moving images? If you want to have more creative work, find creative moments in your everyday life. If you want to have more emotionally captivating work, let your everyday life captivate you emotionally. If you want your work to be more diverse and interesting, lead a more diverse and interesting life. In simpler terms, your work is only as good as the inspiration that you find in the life you lead.

If You Have a Minute, Tell Me Everything You Know

I would say to any artist: ‘Don’t be repressed in your work, dare to experiment, consider any urge, if in a new direction all the better.’
-Edward Weston

A discussion about photography should be about why we are moved to create the images we do, and how to best practice the things that will help our voices be heard in the clearest, truest way. A discussion about technique that excludes one about why particular techniques are chosen is like having a conversation about a repair manual.

All creativity comes from a wellspring within us, and the more frequently and diversely we exercise our creative muscles, the stronger and clearer our emotional voice becomes. Feeling that you will never do something well, is no reason not do it. Let that something become your new best friend, because it is from doing that things never before seen are born.

For me, great photographic lessons were learned from shooting both portraits and landscapes. What I learned is to shoot my landscapes like portraits and my portraits like landscapes. When I photograph a flower, am I not taking the flower’s portrait? When I photograph a person, is it not the objective, with one frame, to lay bare the essence of that person in that instant? My most successful portraits and landscapes are the ones in which those things happen.

What makes images even more successful is bringing life experiences and a knowledge base of techniques to the table. This allows you to create an image that reflects what you felt when you were taken by the moment.

I would like to tell you a story. I love to cook and, even though I know it is unlikely that I will ever be as great a cook as one of the great chefs that I know, I keep trying to learn more about cooking creatively. I had the honor of spending a week in the kitchen of John Fraser, the chef at Restaurant Dovetail in New York City. By mid-week, I had finally graduated to “preparing ingredient,” specifically – the task of chopping carrots into the equivalent of pixel-sized cubes. About half way through my second bunch of carrots, Chef Fraser walked by and told me that my efforts were not acceptable. My first thought was “.. but they are just carrots.” Apparently, my face belied that thought, and Chef Fraser said, “I see you don’t understand.” Again, I must admit I was still thinking “.. but they are just carrots.” What I said was, “No, I do not.”

“Okay,” he said, “let’s talk about something I know you understand. These carrots are not visually acceptable. You need to be cutting cubes and you have cut rectangles and diamonds. The visual composition I want to create is squares in a circle. So compositionally what you have done does not work.” I did get that! “But the bigger issue is that because they are irregularly shaped and different sizes, they will cook differently. Some parts of the carrot will be over-cooked and some will be under-cooked. My goal is to create a dish that is so visually appealing that you almost don’t want to eat it because of how pretty it looks, and when you do, you will find that it tastes even better than it looks. By not cutting the carrots uniformly, you have disrupted the pleasure of the person eating this dish. Everything matters. Everything dovetails into everything else. It’s why the restaurant is named Dovetail.” That was one of the most important lessons I have ever learned. Everything matters, and everything dovetails into everything else.

Home Run Hitting 101

Don’t let the fear of striking out ever get in your way.
-Babe Ruth

Be careful of the artist who boasts of 35 years of experience. Such a person may have one year of creativity experienced thirty-five times. To me, a true artist practices by acting; by putting truth into his or her creations so that they have an elegant simplicity. Great art is created when the artist discovers that being an artist is about understanding themselves and expressing that. Knowing more about techniques helps that expression happen.

So why should you know every black-and-white conversion technique known to man and how to use all of them? Because the more you know about how to bring forth your vision, the clearer your voice will be heard. So what if you swing and miss? If you do not swing at all, you will never have the chance to knock it out of the ballpark.

The underlying goal is a simple one: to make a print of a picture that moves you, just like it moved you the first time you saw it. The joy of creation is in knowing that your photograph moves others.

The bigger and fuller you experience life, the bigger and fuller your creative expressions of life will be. It is on that note, that you should begin all your creative symphonies. It is on that note, that you should begin every breath you take.

You can see more of Vincent’s work at, and catch one of his upcoming workshops:
June 13 – 15
Pixel Boot Camp – San Francisco

July 3 – 9
Maine Media Workshops

Shoot Action and Make it Look Exciting!

Hi everyone, and thanks to Scott Kelby and Brad Moore for inviting me to post on the Kelby Blog.  This is truly an honor and I’m proud to have my writing alongside such world-class photographers!

Action sports are extremely exciting.  They are fun to watch, play, and shoot!  But how do you get your images to reflect how exciting the sport actually is?

When starting out, a lot of photographers will take images that don’t showcase how extreme or tough the sport is.  And no, this isn’t another action article that says to blur the athlete or they will look too static, I’ve never really agreed with that…  Frozen motion IS cool and the details retain more sharpness.  Blurred images can be great too but there is no need to blur your images to create a sense of motion.

With all types of photography, your angle and lens choice are some of the most important aspects to creating an exciting image.  More extreme angles and wider or longer lenses will create images that showcase how extreme the sport really is.  Take skateboarding for example.  A standard ollie (popping the board up into the air) will look LAME if shot from eye level with a 35mm lens.  The athlete simply can’t pop the board up high enough, and normal angles like this will lack excitement since it’s a “NORMAL” angle, see what I’m getting at here??

Now take the same shot, of the same ollie, and lower the camera to the ground with a wide-angle lens.  This makes the trick feel BIGGER, and the wide angle adds a certain degree of distortion to the image that will provide a look that you couldn’t see through your own eyes.  This makes the image way more exciting!  Flip through any skate magazine and you’ll see how many images are shot wide or with a fisheye.  They do this for a reason.

My advice?  Go low and wide, go high and wide, go far and zoomed, go far and wide, go far and high, or far and low.  Any combination of angles that are out of the ordinary will boost the image’s appeal.  If you can find higher ground to take the shot, head for it, or bring a ladder!  If you can get right under a feature or right up next to the athlete, get in close and go wide!  Think out of the box.  Frame the shot with trees, or a cool net, do absolutely anything to make your image different from everyone else’s.

Action sports generally take place in cool and unique locations.  Show these locations in your images!  Sure, a photo of a skier going off a big cliff will always be impressive.  But take the same shot at a different angle to show the incredible mountain range in the background, and prepare for an eye-popping, jaw-dropping, heart-pounding image that really shows the lifestyle and just how extreme the athlete is!

With all images it’s important to try and tell the story.  There can be mystery to the image but you’ll want the viewer to at least have an idea of what is happening.  If the sport involves an air-born trick, include the landing, takeoff, or both to show the viewer what’s happening.  “Guy in the Sky” shots went out in the 80’s and aren’t coming back….  This is because the location never applies to a guy in the sky shot and anyone could take the same shot anywhere.  Be different.

Here’s a secret that will make your work even more awesome and different…  Shoot with flash!  And no, I’m not telling you to put a shiny gold grill over your teeth while you shoot along with your favorite gold chain.  I’m talking about the kind of flash that pops more light into the image.  Fill flash will make your images more unique than the majority of photographers.  Flash is the advantage that will take your work to the next level.  It’s also an important component for those low and wide shots since the sun will be above the athlete casting them in shadows.

Try shooting with a remote flash to really spice things up.  This will add more depth and dimension to the image, rendering it even cooler!  And with the new PocketWizard remotes, there’s no reason not to shoot remote since you can now push high sync speeds.  Using HyperSync I’ve been getting 1/1600th to 1/2000th sync speeds making for perfectly sharp and brilliantly lit images.

Strive to find the best angles you can that showcase the environment along with the feature, to create great action images.  Mix in a flash, and you’ll be on your way to becoming a top-notch action sports photographer!  Put that mouse down, get out there, and make incredible images.

Connor Walberg is a 23 year old professional photographer specializing in action photography, including skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, and skateboarding.  His work has been published in several major publications around the world and is sold through Getty Images.  His sponsors include: Lensbaby, LumiQuest, and Datacolor.

You can learn more about shooting all types of action at, and view Connor’s work at

15,889 photos.

That’s the number of photos I shot, captioned, and submitted for publication as a staff photographer at my former newspaper before going freelance.  Why does this matter?  Because it is an insane amount of photos which represent a lot of time spent shooting for the proverbial “Man.”  It’s not a bad thing.  In fact, shooting for The Man gave me ample time to learn, develop my vision, and figure out what didn’t matter to me and what did in my photography.

The newspaper was my first full-time newspaper gig, which I left last year to pursue my freelance career.  In the matter of 8 years I made a lot of bad photos at bad assignments. I also made some great photos at great assignments.  Making great photos from bad assignments?  It was a challenge to myself.  It’s not the newspaper’s fault that bad assignments exist, it’s just the nature of the grind at a daily newspaper – especially this day and age with dwindled staff and depleted resources.  Most of your time is spent feeding the beast, churning out 2-4 assignments a day for prominent display in next morning’s recycle bin.  It’s making Chicken Salad out of Chicken Sh*t.  I’ve made my fair share of Chicken Salad.

Working as a staff photojournalist has its challenges.  How do you stay inspired, happy, and passionate about photographing a white guy in a suit standing in front of a building?  How can you make compelling images that give your photo subjects a voice in their own community when you can only stay for only 10 minutes?  Why am I photographing this plate of food that barely resembles food?  How do you make a picture that says “ribbon-cutting” without literally shooting the ribbon being cut?

You just do.  Here’s how:

Shoot for yourself.

He won’t remember this at all, but I sat down with Los Angeles Times photojournalist Rick Loomis to get my portfolio reviewed at the Eddie Adams Workshop right after landing my job.  I admired his work and wanted to show off my stuff.  I had won some contests, and was totally confident.  He flipped through my work quietly, took a pause, looked at me with a straight face and said, “You shoot like you want to win contests.”

My initial reaction?  Well, isn’t that the point?  I had no idea what it meant at the time.  I was in my 20’s (I’m 33 now) and full of eagerness to get to a big city metro paper and take his job.  It stung.  All of my portfolio reviews for years had gone amazingly well, and he crushed me.  I didn’t know how much his honest assessment in one short sentence helped until a couple years later.

My work wasn’t personal.  I was pressing the shutter, but what came out wasn’t by me, for me, or my subjects.

I made a huge decision after that realization.  I knew how I wanted my vision to look and made the decision to just start shooting for myself.  I stopped looking at contest results.  I stopped caring about how my photos ran in the paper.  I turned in my photos and forgot about them.  It wasn’t about my paper and the newsroom, which I loved, it was more about myself.  I knew the only way to grow my vision was to kick my own butt.  I started caring immensely more about what I was placing inside the four corners of my viewfinder.   I started seeing images that only I could see in a way that made me excited.

I stayed at a job for 8 years I had plans to stay at for 2 years max, because I knew I could make pictures where I was already happy – building myself both professionally and personally.  Sarasota is a small town full of snowbirds, weird news, and a palate of colors that I began using as my muse to change my work visually.  I fell in love with my community, this strange state of Florida, and everything about both.  Once that happened the picture-making process was less of a job or career, it was what I loved to do and happened to get paid for.

It’s one of the main reasons I left a cushy job and solid paycheck.  I was getting too comfortable.  That breeds staleness.  Stale is not what I want to be.

All of this has culminated to this point where I am on my own doing work for myself and marketing Me.  “The Man” is now me.  I control my own work, growth, and success.  This is a new thing for me, and it was quite an adjustment going from 15-20 assignments a week to maybe 1 or 2 a week for editors that are sometimes a voice on the phone or email address.  I’m shooting weddings, commercial, and learning how important retaining my copyright is.  I can say “no” to bad gigs and bad contracts.  It’s nice to land a photo on A1 or double truck in a magazine, but it doesn’t drive what I do anymore.  I make photos that I want to make, publish them on my blog, and if a new client likes what they see and can use my vision, then sweet.  When I don’t have a client, I go shoot a self-assignment as a sort of visual pilates.  It’s a refreshing way to work.

How all this relates to you, my friends, is that it doesn’t matter where you are, what you do, or what you shoot with.  You could live in a one-stoplight town.  You could be an accountant with a love of photography.  You could have a shiny, new Leica and not know how freaking jealous of you I am.  You can make pictures in any situation with the right attitude.  That attitude may not adhere to company policy, but in the end it is about the rectangles – and your happiness with what’s in them.

To see more of Chip’s work, visit his website, and check out his blog for more of his ramblings!

Hi everyone, it’s a privilege to be invited to contribute to this community. Thank you Scott and Brad for the opportunity to share a little here as well as to discover so much rich content from previous posts.

I’m astonished by the rate of change in our craft and our industry. There has never been a better time to be a creative person, or to be in the media business. The number of opportunities are expanding at a rate that’s hard to wrap one’s mind around and, accordingly, it’s hard to determine which new avenues to go after and to pursue them with the consistency that success typically requires. Attention has become the scarcest of resources.

Above: “My Dark Little Room” from the Hasselblad Masters Book

In the midst of this exponentially growing number of balls to chase, the act of creating photographic images has not changed all that much. Digital took over film, but you still operate the camera almost exactly the same. Lens selection is identical. Lighting is identical. And the content in front of the camera still trumps everything.

Photography has always required a personal commitment and many forms of the craft demand a persistent solitary pursuit to create a body of work to later distribute. Richard Avedon said that he began shooting to get closer to the things he was afraid of, citing examples such as women and death. The camera was a protective tool to explore something within himself. And it still can be.

Above: The Witch Hotel

It seems to me that another dimension of photography is gaining new prominence – the performance of photography is emerging as a part of our field like never before.

All the social sharing and audience building and enhanced communication has brought a heightened focus to the process of capturing the image. Everything we do in all aspects of our lives is documented and broadcast on a scale never before seen. And this is equally true for those of us who freeze time with cameras. Whether it’s online discussion, behind-the-scenes photos and videos, or the growing wealth of training media, dissecting and examining the act of photography (apart from the finished image) is on the rise.

Musicians always had this dichotomy – they did their recorded music and their performances. The recorded music has served largely as an invitation to look closer and see the more complete process in the performance.

Above: “Circus Life” from the Hasselblad Masters Book

This is all another way of saying that the work itself no longer exists in a vacuum, but as part of a larger discussion and that we as artists add value to our work and to the community by engaging in a greater dialogue. Many of the most elite photographers in the most high profile segments have virtually no presence or public face beyond their work. The process and persona behind the camera is shrouded in mystery. All of these artists rose prior to the digital communication revolution, and I don’t think we will see this as a norm ever again.

The discussion around the creation of a piece of work is now intricately connected to the work itself, giving it greater meaning and resonance. I think the dialogue is every bit as valuable, perhaps more so, than the framed image.

Above: Masked Beauty

And this focus on the act of creation is not only valuable for a public audience, but for the artist’s inner self as well.

The one experience I have had with yoga left me with sore muscles and a single thought. The instructor said that “the yoga” is not the pose. It’s not the routine, or the workout. The yoga, he said, is how you hold your cup of coffee. It’s how you open the door. The poses are merely exercises to practice applying the deliberate, conscious, in-the-moment approach that you should then bring to every aspect of your life. This easily extends to photography.

Above: Better Living Through Bomb Shelters

When I first started shooting I was hyper conscious of my camera and what I was doing since I was unsure of the tool and of myself. This kind of deliberation was an obstacle. As I internalized the tool and the grew comfortable with the process of working with people on set, I stopped thinking much at all about the craft of shooting, and focused on the end result. The shoot itself was something to get through on the way to an end goal.

Eventually, I made an effort to go back to being conscious of the act of shooting, but with more comfort in the process. Now, I enjoy the act of shooting for its own sake, not necessarily racing toward a goal using the moment of shooting as a means to an end. It makes the process more playful, and I experiment and try more things along the way.

Above: Portraits of actress Dawn Olivieri (Vampire Diaries, Heroes)

When I shoot fashion or conceptual work, it’s like I’m doing sculpture – minutely crafting each part of the composition: the pose, the set, the props, the light. When shooting portraiture, it’s like jazz. I’m riffing with the subject, we’re feeding off of each other’s energy and improvising the direction and tone.

Above: Electric Light

And while the gear is the same and the setup and preparation has not changed, I can see a response in the team around me and in the subject before the camera when I’m in this zone of being more present and intimately connected to the process of shooting. So it’s certainly more enjoyable, which is reward enough. And though it’s impossible to measure, I also believe this heightened attention and joy in the act of shooting can’t help but lead to better results in the final work.

Above: A behind-the-scenes look into a recent commercial fashion shoot

I would love to hear if others have had similar journeys and discoveries.