Category Archives Guest Blogger

[Note from Brad: Nick was getting questions about this topic after his first guest blog, so he offered to do a follow-up post about it. Enjoy!]

Additive Color Theory and How to Have Fun with Flash Gels
Since the success of my guest post last month, I have received a few emails from people wanting to know the process behind the multi-colored, multi-shadowed image.

Flash setup

Final image

I will now break it down for you, starting from the beginning.

My absolute favorite publication and source of constant inspiration (and self-doubt) is Interview Magazine. A few months ago, there was an interview and editorial of Game of Thrones actor Michael Huisman, shot by master S¸lve Sundsb¸. Being the lighting phenom that he is, Sundsb¸ once again peeled back my brain with his insanely gorgeous and experimental images of the actor. And being the lighting nerd that I am, I immediately started trying to reverse engineer his techniques, based on shadow hardness and direction.

I could tell that he was using 3-4 hard (un-modified) lights from the side. It just so happens that I own 3 speedlites, so I immediately set up a test shoot with the first model that was available (I am an impatient guy). I locked in Stephnaie Flor, a illustration major from a local art college, and I met her in the hallway outside her classroom (after all, all I needed was 15 minutes and a white wall). In Sundsb¸'s image, difference in flash distance from the subject was the cause, I reasoned, for varying opacities in shadow. So I set up the three flashes, a bit lower than her head, keeping six inches between them and staggering them one foot in front of another.

Flash setup

Successful homage to Sundsb¸

I was happy with the results, but wanted to play with the technique a bit more.

A week or so after this experiment, I found myself thinking a lot about additive color theory. I had taken a color theory course in college and had really enjoyed it. I loved learning that there is a science behind which colors complement each other and why. I had also learned about how to balance the Cyan, Magenta and Yellow adjustments in the darkroom, with the color enlargers. For reasons unknown to me, I had started thinking back to what I had learned about different color theories- specifically CMYK and RGB and the difference between the two. I was fuzzy on the info, so I looked it up. To sum up, when red, green and blue light overlap, they create cyan, magenta and yellow light. When cyan, magenta and yellow light overlaps, white light is created.

It just so happened that my flash gel kit contains cyan, magenta and yellow gels and I own three flashes. Serendipity. So I grabbed a vase of flowers (best thing I could find in the five minutes I spent looking) and set up a product shot.

Flash setup

I had no preconceived notion of what the resulting image would look like, or if the experiment would even work at all. I was just experimenting on a slow day of work. I placed one flash on either side of the flowers and one directly overhead, zooming the flash heads in to 105mm. I aimed the heads so that they would all intersect on the flower vase.  And wouldn't you know it- it worked!

Cyan + Magenta + Yellow = White Light

The cool, unexpected thing that I came from the experiment was the unplanned, happy accidents.  I hadn't accounted for the chaos factor. For example, if one flower petal or leaf blocked the yellow strobe from lighting part of the vase, only the cyan and magenta light was illuminating it, resulting in a purple shadow. Likewise, if the magenta light was blocked, only cyan and yellow light was mixing, creating a green shadow. And so on. The layered colors didn't just create white light, but it created a layered, complex light. Compare the previous shot to this shot, lit with un-gelled lights…

Un-gelled flashes

Kinda bring, right? Now to try with a real life model.

This is when the two experiments came together in my mind. I found myself connecting the dots between the shoot with Stephanie, where I staggered three flashes, and the shoot with the flowers, where I was arranged three, gelled lights. What if I arranged the lights the same way I did with Stephanie, but they were gelled cyan, magenta and yellow? Why wouldn't it work? Well it sure as hell would, and did.

Raw file

As with the flower experimentation, I was figuring out the process as I went. When all three flashes overlapped, white light was created on the model, resulting in a black shadow. Also, like with the flower, when one of the three colors was blocked by part of the model, only two of the colors were able to mix, resulting in multi-colored shadows.

Cyan, magenta, and yellow light overlapped to create white light, resulting in black shadows

Once I saw the kind of colorful chaos that was created when parts of the body blocked a color, I immediately knew that I needed to photograph a dancer, using this method. So I reached out to my ballerina friend, Kristie Latham, and asked her to come by ASAP. I had her bring a white outfit and a black outfit option. For this shoot, I actually needed to use a white sweep, rather than a wall, since I wanted to capture a seamless shadow (with no floor to wall transition). I prefaced the shoot by directing her to place her arms, hands, legs, whatever, between herself and the flashes as she moved, in order to create multi-colored shadows on her body. It worked splendidly.

Clean light, multi-colored shadow

When a body part comes between Kristie and the light, a multi-colored shadow is created

All that to say⦠experiment! If work is slow, try new techniques. Don't have any ideas? Go pick up a magazine and reverse engineer an interesting lighting scenario and try it out. Even if you fail at recreating it exactly, you've learned something in the process, which is a win.

If you enjoyed this experimenting process with me, you may also enjoy my new book, Studio Anywhere: A Photographer's Guide to Shooting in Unconventional Locations.

You can see more of Nick’s work at, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and YouTube.

Firstly thanks to Scott and Brad for the opportunity, and also thanks to Glyn Dewis for introducing me.

Hi Everyone, My names James Hole, I'm from Brighton, UK and I've been given the wonderful opportunity to guest post on Scott's blog today.

I began my journey in photography at the end of 2012, when a friend asked me to take a couple of DJ promo shots for him. I didn't really know anything about photographing people or using and shaping light. So I chucked a speed light (I bought on eBay that same week) on a light stand armed with a snoot fashioned from a bunch of drinking straws, I watched a couple of YouTube videos and believe it or not the shoot actually went ok. I clearly remember that moment when I began looking at everything differently, realising that I wasn't limited to just what was in front of me to make a picture. With these basic tools I could create an image that looked completely different from the way a scene appeared to the eye. An idea that continues to excite me every time I make a picture.

At the time I was in the construction industry. I'd been looking for a career change for a while and had been considering going back to college. I decided that I’d see where this could take me, so I began reaching out to friend and picked up a bunch of small shoots and managed to get paid a little bit for them. I was just happy to be taking pictures. A little later on I decided with the support of my wife, I was going to give it shot full time. That was about mid-2013 and things have been going well since.

One of the most important things in starting my career was the personal work, the friends and family that I worked with to create a small portfolio. I can attribute the beginning of my career to one particular image. It was an idea I'd had for a while to photograph my Dad playing guitar on the deck at the back of my house. I put the shoot together in about 10 mins and shot for another 10 mins while my wife was cooking dinner one evening. The same day I'd had some ND filters arrive in the post that I was desperate to try out. The image above is the result of that test. The sun was setting (the flare is real, I only colour toned the shot) I popped a strobe in an umbrella and used about 5 stops of ND. I was so excited, I posted it up everywhere! About two weeks later I was asked to quote for an ad campaign and that shot was the main reference for the campaign.

I realised recently when deciding what to write in this guest post that I hadn't been shooting like this anywhere near enough recently. So this is a reminder for me too, to get out and make images that excite me and push me in the direction I want to be going in!

Make work you love, not what you think people want to see!

If I could share a few things I've learned during my short career it would be.

1) You need to be excited about the work you're creating. It shows through.

2) Network! People like to work with people they know and like.

3) Show your work! Don't keep waiting till you have this or that ready to be ready to show, tell your audience it's on its way with a teaser at the very least. Potential clients can't see something that isn't out there to be seen! (I'd recommend reading Show Your Work and Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon for inspiration on this).

I’m in the early stages of my career and far from having it all figured out, but I'm excited and grateful to have the opportunity to keep making images and see where this journey will take me. At the moment I am concentrating on editorial and commercial portraits and carving a path into the entertainment industry. Hopefully you've enjoyed reading my post and possibly found something interesting or useful to takeaway.

If you'd like to stay in touch with James, drop him a line on Twitter or Instagram, and check out more of his work at

The views and opinions expressed in the Guest Blog series are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Scott Kelby or Kelby Media Group.

First off, I’d like to thank Scott for giving me the opportunity to share this invitation with you.  Next Saturday June 13, 2015 I will have a few of my images shown at the Joshua Liner Gallery in New York City as part of Canon’s #FromLightToInk campaign.  As a NYer, born and raised – I can’t begin to explain how exciting and humbling it is to have my work there, if for such a short amount of time.  If you are in the area, I would totally love it if you could stop in.

I also wanted to share with you a little bit about the project – and why I was even happier to participate once I knew the social media involvement in it – not having it be about me.

More Than Just Us

The project came about as a partnership with Canon to have people more familiar with their large format imagePROGRAF printers (if you want to learn more about the imagePROGRAF printers, click here) .  To me, the print really is the final step in the process, and no matter where you do it, you really owe it to yourself to see your image in this final form.  I tend to want to see my images as big as possible.  I feel like it really gives a user the feeling of being wrapped in the process.

Canon’s idea was to create a gallery around the concept of “Embrace” – giving you a very wide latitude of shooting subjects that let you jump in on that as well as show off some work.  To that end, they asked if I would be willing to go and shoot some images and submit some of my earlier work to share in the gallery.

This however was just the start.

They also asked if I would reach out to other Canon shooters as well – asking if they would like to share images they felt would fit in this theme.  I shared the information over social media and many people participated in the project.  Out of the many entries that were submitted, we had the job of bringing these images to two winners.

Erin Monroe:

Erin’s shot of a father and child really took the embrace concept literally and let us step into a touching moment shot perfectly well. The use of black and white really lent to the feeling of the image, and its something that definitely warranted being seen on a much bigger scale.

Rachel Tine:

Rachel’s fine art approach to the subject really made me look at the image over and over again.  The posing of the subject against the lines really drew you in and the overall feel of the piece really gave this classic art feel to it – begging to see it in a bigger scale.  Just great work!

Rachel and Erin will each get to bring a guest and be flown to NYC, put up in a hotel, and get to see their work featured alongside mine on the gallery on June 13.  I loved how we were given the opportunity to reach out to all of you to share in this moment – and I have a greater amount of joy to know that Rachel and Erin both will get to share in that experience.  Your images deserve it!

Join Us

If you are in the NYC area on the 13th, I would really dig it if you came down and said hello.  There will be plenty to see in the gallery beyond my stuff – and the day can serve as both inspiration and an opportunity for me to say thank you to all of you for letting me do what I do.

I really hope to see you there!


A self-portrait of my Veterans Portrait Project location studio set-up

Howdy Scott, Brad, Kelby-crew and readers! Can you believe it's been just over four years since my last guest blog post? So much has happened since then I'd like to share with y'all. But first, I need to extend a thank you to Scott and Brad for inviting me back for a follow-up.

Okay, let's get to it! As you know from my previous post, I began a personal endeavor, the Veterans Portrait Project, while recovering from combat injuries I sustained in Iraq while documenting the war as a military combat photographer. After spending hours in Veteran Administration hospital waiting rooms surrounded by veterans from every generation and branch of service, I felt compelled to honor and thank them in the only way I knew how, photography. The Project became my new mission. In a way, it was my therapy too, and over time I began to heal both physically and mentally.

The journalist in me felt compelled to take my personal project public, to share the unique stories of these extraordinary citizens. Eventually it became a way to raise awareness too. I wanted to show what veterans really look like: Black, Hispanic, Asian, Caucasian, Native American, male, female, homosexual, heterosexual, young, old, homeless, married, single, disabled, and everybody in between. After all, everyone has his or her own idea of what a veteran looks like, about their background, and their reasons for serving. Admittedly, I did tooâ”white, male, middle-aged combat veteran. And, yes, 92.5 percent are male and 79.2 percent are white, but what's interested me most throughout my experience with the Veterans' Portrait Project has been the smaller groups of veterans, including those like myself, who don't necessarily fit the iconic veteran image.

A self-portrait for my Veterans Portrait Project archive

With the current popularity of war hero movies, such as Lone Survivor and American Sniper, people are inundated with images of Special Forces operators creating a misconception that all veterans fit the aforementioned attributes - young and chiseled. These portrayals, while compelling and worth our attention, are just a small representation of the veteran community. Through the Veterans Portrait Project, I strive to showcase all who've served and to educate and entertain the general public with real American military veterans' stories and to archive the military histories of all service men and women.

[pearsall_slideshow1/] Veterans Portrait Project by Stacy Pearsall

Since starting the Project in 2008, I've photographed thousands of veterans in countless cities nationwide, hosted community-based exhibitions, and conducted numerous public speeches and town hall style discussions on veterans' issues. I continue working worldwide as a photographer, educator, military consultant, and public speaker, but the Veterans Portrait Project is my heart and passion. It has been fuel for my soul.

After every WWII veteran's portrait session, I take a selfie-smooch-picture and post it to Instagram. I've amassed quiet a distinguished collection. I have to say, my heart flutters with every stolen kiss. I'm a lucky gal for sure!

On top of conducting portrait sessions across the U.S., I've been active in organizations such as Songwriting with Soldiers, Fatigues to Fabulous, Defense Centers of Excellence, Veterans of Foreign War, and American Legion. Can you believe it? I've been given awards for what I'm doing - and doing what I love, no less! Yes, the Daughters of the American Revolution presented little ole me with the Margaret Cochran Corbin Award and The White House declared me a White House Champion of Change. Whoa.

Despite the accolades however, I still believe those most deserving of awards are in front of my camera, and not the gal behind it.

Communities nationwide have received the Veterans Portrait Project positively and it's gained so much momentum in just the last three years. My head is reeling.

The Veterans Portrait Project has been fortunate enough to gain a wide breadth of media exposure both nationally and abroad. A documentary series by PBS titled, Coming Back with Wes Moore, included a bit about me, and the work I'm doing with the Project. There have been print and online articles that have reached halfway around the world.

One day I received an email from a retired British Army soldier, and combat veteran, by the name of Stephen Porteous. Here's an excerpt from his correspondence dated December 11, 2014.

"When the funeral corteges and repatriation ceremonies of our service personnel who'd been killed in Afghanistan began appearing on British TV it struck a cord with the general public. However in the short space of time since we've left Afghanistan it is evident we [veterans] are becoming less newsworthy. In a bid to give something back, and play my part in keeping British Forces and veterans on the public radar, I decided I would act on the inspiration you provided through photography. My plan would be to mirror your project for UK veterans. It will be completely non-profit and, for the most part, self funded. Would you be prepared to endorse such an endeavor?"

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I was truly humbled by Stephen's missive. However, I was also hesitant to relinquish my Project, albeit a separate division, into the hands of someone else. That required faith they'd treat the Project, and the veterans involved, with the same admiration and respect I have for so long. I took a few days to consider the proposal and did some soul-searching within. Ultimately, I decided to give Stephen a chance under the condition I'd fly to London to train him. Only then would he have my endorsement.

We decided upon the first week of May 2015, which happened to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day! You can watch a video from our day with the amazing Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioners HERE.

[pearsall_slideshow2/] The Chelsea Pensioners

In the end, it felt amazing empowering Stephen with the tools he needed to stand up the Veterans Portrait Project UK, and to share the healing powers of photography with someone else. I'm encouraged by Stephen's enthusiasm and passion - I recognize myself in him quiet a bit. Truly, it was meant to be and I believe he'll do very well. He already is.

So what's next for me this year? Well, I've got 20+ more Veterans Portrait Project engagements on the calendar, six or so exhibits, a few more speeches, and I'm also teaching a class called Starting a Personal Project (08/11/15 from 3:14-4:15 p.m.) and giving a presentation about my career titled, Shooter: Combat from Behind the Camera (08/12/15 from 8:15-9:15 a.m.) at Photoshop World 2015!  If you're attending, I'd love to meet you! If you can't make it, please be sure to follow the Veterans Portrait Project Facebook page to see if I'll be in your neighborhood.

Other than the growth of the Veterans Portrait Project, here are a few things of note that have also happened since I last blogged: wrote and published Shooter: Combat from Behind the Camera, wrote and published A Photojournalist's Field Guide: In the Trenches with Stacy Pearsall, walked the runway during New York Fashion Week, judged the 2015 Pulitzer Prize, recognized by PDN in the Photo Annual 2015 for Personal Projects, ran the Marine Corps Marathon and celebrated my ninth wedding anniversary with my hubby, Andy Dunaway.

The best part of it all, being able to share my small victories with you! I've had so much encouragement and motivation from so many wonderful, amazing people like you. I couldn't have done any of these things alone either - from my dedicated assistants and supportive husband, to my stalwart sponsors and unfaltering cohorts, you've all had a hand in my success. For that, thank you!

Until next time y'all, salute!

If you would like to contribute to the continued success of the Veterans Portrait Project, you may do so by visiting our Crowdrise site HERE. You can see more of Stacy’s work at, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Photo by Sam Haddix

Hi! I'm Kaylee. And I'm going to tell you something that will knock your socks right off. Ready?

I love dogs.

And oh my gosh, I wish I could say this in a sort of casual, non-chalant, “Yeah I think dogs are pretty cool, no big deal,” sort of way. But you guys… I mean it. I mean like, in a totally and completely bonafide ‘crazy dog lady’ kind of way.

So, it's kind of embarrassing when I walk down the street and audibly and uncontrollably squeal with delight over every little wiggling, passing pup I see. My friends actually try and deter me from the path of an oncoming dog as we walk down the sidewalk – for fear that we'll get stuck in a 25 minute interaction that includes me excessively ogling, squishing and kissing a strange dog with a sometimes slightly terrified owner looking on.

The truth is, I find more beauty, purity and joy inside the iris of a happy dog than I do anywhere else in the world. When all else seems to fail me – I find solace in the smile of a dog. Dogs have this perfect ability to live simply – to live in the moment. And that just fascinates me.

Luckily for me, I was blessed enough to be able to turn my copious amounts of â˜dog crazy' into passion – and that passion into a profession.

Yup, you heard it here folks – I am a professional dog photographer.

I know, I know. â˜A WHAT?' (accompanied by a cocked head, big eyes and sometimes a giggle at my expense; this is the typical response I get when people first discover my job title.) A professional dog photographer. I'm wildly humbled and grateful to say that I've turned that passion into a very busy reality that has me booked almost one full year ahead with both private and commercial shoots. Who would've thought that could even be within the scope of reality for someone who only photographs dogs?! Good gravy! Sometimes I have to pinch myself. I wake up every day and smile. I smile because life is so silly and full of wonder. I smile because Im living my real live dream. And that dream is called Dog Breath Photography.

If you told my five-year-old self what my profession would one day turn out to be – I think her head would have actually popped off with joy. If you hang on just a sec, I think I can hear her squeals of delight from all the way back in 1990. Holy banana sandwiches.

So, after being invited to write this guest post on Scott's blog (but not before I finished the elaborate robot dance of joy that I executed quite fabulously all alone in my studio with my dog looking on judging me harshly), I thought how wonderful it would be to share some of my best tips and tricks. The little golden nuggets of wisdom that I've felt blessed to have learned over the past 5 years of my dog photography adventures. While getting great photos of your client's or your own pets sometimes feels impossible â” I can assure you with the utmost conviction – it's not.

I've got some stuff up my sleeve that you just might find helpful – especially when you've got Rufus set up for the most perfect shot, arranged meticulously in the gorgeous, golden afternoon lightâ” and he suddenly runs off in the direction of that squirrel for the 45th time. (Let me tell you now, as much as you try to reason with them, dogs just don't appreciate the nuances of really good light.)

So, let's dive into some content that will help you get amazing shots of your pets, that will create the illusion that you're working with a perfectly trained dog every time.

As we all know, your average dog is anything but stagnant. No, he moves. And when I say â˜he moves,' I mean like, 65mph moves. Like with more quickness and speed than the fastest, angriest ostrich on the savannah.

And not only does he move – but he drools. He barks. He chases his tail in endless circles. He has the attention span of a gnat.

But most significantly, he speaks an entirely different language than you and I. I know what you're thinking. Not the easiest subject for a photograph, right? Precisely.

Some of the first things that people ask me when they see my images are:

â˜How do you get all these dogs to pose so perfectly for you like that?' â˜Do these dogs just sit there, hold exactly still and smile for you?!' â˜Are these magic dogs from a magical land?'

The answer to that last question is an enthusiastic â˜no.’ While I've had a few dreams about this (these elusive, magical, still dogs), I photograph regular dogs. Real dogs. The dogs you see walking down the street every day. The dogs that fly through the dog park at about a gazillion miles an hour. The naughty dogs that dig holes in their owner's tulip gardens and bury bones in their backyards. Dogs that sniff other dogs' butts. Dogs that lie on their family's couches and fart.

You know, those kinds of dogs.

In addition to working with lots of regular family dogsâ” I also volunteer my time to busy, overburdened animal shelters – photographing homeless and abandoned animals who are waiting for a new family to adopt them. Some of these shelter dogs can be rife with a whole different set of behavioral and emotional issues due to the transitionary states of their lives – fearfulness, abandonment, aggression, loneliness, confusion. Even with these sweet, sweet lost souls who lack the stability of a home and family to call their own – with enough knowledge, kindness of heart and patience â” you can get a winning image.

You wouldn't travel to a foreign country and expect them to speak your language right? The same thing goes for dogs. Don't enter a dog's world and expect them to speak your language â” you need to speak theirs.

Dogs talk through their eyes. Their ears. Their tails. Their body posture. Dogs talk with sounds – growls, whines, barks – you name it. If you want to understand the language of a dog – you need to immerse yourself in their world. Be quiet and listen. Once you spend enough time with a dog you'll learn about what most motivates them. You'll find that canines tend to go totally gaga over one or more of the following things:

  • TREATS (because, you know…yum!)
  • PEANUT BUTTER (this stuff is most dogs' kryptonite, I’m serious! For dogs that can't have peanut butter, cream cheese or canned pumpkin will also work just fine.)
  • TOYS (ask me how many Barbie dolls I had when I was 9…I totally get this one.)
  • SOUNDS (things that go squeak! The most successful way to evoke the elusive and highly coveted â˜head tilt.' And a great way to get the mouth closed and ears pricked up at attention.)
  • PRAISE (dogs LOVE praise. â˜HEY DOG! YOU ARE AWESOME!!')
  • THEIR OWNERS (oh HELLO my humans! I want to love you forever and ever and ever and ever ::slobbery kisses::)


When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.
-Albert Einstein

I have come to believe that my job, why I was put on this earth, is to tell the truth and see the pretty. My job is to walk all over the planet and allow myself to be taken by the moment and to record the truth, beauty and moments of abandon with a camera. Interesting work if you can get it. What I discovered is so long as I stay on this path I (mostly) stay out of trouble. What I have also discovered is that coincidence is the universe's attempt at remaining anonymous. I live in a world where my fantasy as a child has come true, to make my living creating art. To make one's living solely from being a visual artist is to experience life as if you are in a waking dream only to find yourself waking up into a deeper dream.

This story starts with being asked in 2012 by the director of the Palm Beach Photographic Centre. "Hey, would you like to teach a five day travel workshop in Cuba?" As you can imagine it was a difficult decision to make, requiring much time and consideration⦠Roughly about the length of time it takes to say "HELL YES."

For those of us who grew up in the 1960's, Cuba has always been a great fascination. A forbidden place trapped in a time warp. Cigars, Rum, The Kennedys, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Black September airplane hijackings landing at the Havana Airport – all the way to today and Guantanamo Bay. So to be afforded an opportunity to enter Cuba legally in 2012 something not to say no to.

The issue that I did not know then, but discovered later, was that on my first trip to Cuba I was about to break one of the few dogmas I have: Do not walk into a shoot with any preconceptions. That the only thing you should visualize preconceiving is to prepare to be amazed by every little thing around you.

Ansel Adams said, "Without pre-visualization photography is a five finger exercise." Paul Caponigro said, "If you believe in pre-visualization you deserve what you get." Who's right? They both are. What is at issue is not whether to pre-visualize or to not pre-visualize. The issue is the misconception between pre-conception and pre-visualization and the very, very, very fine line as to when to start the visualization process.

From the moment I was asked to the time I left I allowed myself to become a victim of entropy. I allowed my pre-conception of what I thought Cuba should be to color and affect what Cuba is. During the first time I was there I kept finding myself having a running dialog about, "How this isn't right⦠This is supposed to be like this." Don't get me wrong, I had a great time; I just didn't realize it until I got home. Somehow I had allowed myself to be looking for the moment rather than letting myself be taken by the moment.

Simply put Ansel Adams broke the creation of an image process down this way:

1)  The need/desire to photograph
2)  Discovery
3)  Visualization
4)  Execution

The first is fairly obvious, "The need/desire to photograph," either you are on assignment (the gig) or you are where you are because you want to be there with a camera. The second, "Discovery," for me is the moment when the picture takes you (not the other way around) and you are pulled through the lens and the impulse to click the shutter is driven by being grabbed by the moment.  The third, "Visualization," is the one step in the process that tends to do us in, and if you do not take care, you do indeed get what you deserve. The time you should pre-visualize is after the moment has taken you. Not before and not during. At that moment, after being taken by the picture, is when you should be thinking about what else you need to make the image successful. It is this, that is the catalyst for "execution." Why this is is because the speed of life moves much faster today behind the digital camera then it did back in Ansel's day behind the film camera with all of the considerations you need to make at point of capture. As to the speed of the thrill of photographing life? That speed remains the same, both faster than, as well as slower than, we as photographers are often capable of moving.

I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wasn't exactly happy with of my images from my first trip to Cuba, my image capture take for me was very low, I was frustrated with the experience and I did not know why. I mean it was Havana for goodness sake! It wasn't until I was sitting with Jay Maisel showing him my images that he pointed out something to me, which was this: I was in my images. That I took them and not the other way around. That I had pre-conceived a vision and imposed that on the place and made my images fit the pre-conception.

Did I mention that coincidence is the universe's attempt at remaining anonymous? I walked away from that conversation with the dream of going back to Cuba. So in July of 2014 the director of PBPC asked me if I wanted to go back to Cuba in December and would I be interested in going again in 2015. Lightning does not often strike twice in the same place. Next thing I knew I found myself going to Cuba three times over 15 weeks.

This time I let the place take me. I did not focus on politics or what I thought I should be shooting. I just walked the streets with my students and allowed the spirit of the place and the people to take charge. I gave in and gave up to simply being. The outcome of this is a 103-image gallery exhibition and an additional 200 plus "keeper" images I have yet to post process.

Soooo⦠My point is this: Don't think about the image before the image happens. Don't go into the moment with a belief of what you expect to see, just go in and see what there is to see. Don't worry about not taking any images, if they are there for you to take they will find you if you slow down enough to let them land on you. The baggage that you carry with you should be left in the hotel room with your luggage when go out to shoot.

If you still feel the need to pre-visualize before you pick up the camera, just fantasize this: I am about to be amazed by every little thing around me.

Vincent Versace
Nikon Ambassador: United States

Cuba Slide Show

Walk Through of Show

Cuba Exhibition at Palm Beach Photographic Centre

You can see more of Vincent’s work at, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Instagram.