Category Archives Misc


Hey gang, Brad here filling in for Scott again.  He’s down in Ft. Lauderdale today, kicking off the new and improved Lightroom LIVE Tour, so he wanted me to let you know that today is “No-Blog Monday” since he’s been busy prepping for that.

But… I did want to share something with you that I got from last week’s guest blogger, John Wright. He was so thankful for the response his blog got that he emailed me to say this…

“For what it’s worth I’d like to send a really heartfelt ‘thank you’ to all your readers who responded so generously and positively to my post. The reach of Scott’s blog is vast and to think that my words may have resonated so positively with so many photographers and readers is incredible. To hear of people who are about to shoot jobs like John S, about to shoot his first wedding in 30 years, and to know that what was a simple, though genuine, stream of consciousness may help him approach what could be a daunting project, with a little more confidence, is not only flattering but kinda humbling. A very real ‘thank you’ to everyone who read my words and to those with whom they resonated, I’m SO glad they did! :)”

So, that’s it for today.  If you happened to miss Friday’s blog on “The Shot,” or even if you caught it early in the day, go back and give it a read then browse through the comments.  There were some pretty killer shots in there from some of you, so it’s worth a quick look back!  Thanks again to all of you who chimed in on the discussion and shared your best-so-far images!


Today is Memorial Day in the United States, and our offices are closed as we honor and remember those who gave their lives in service to our country.

This post is also dedicated each year to the memory of David Leimbach, (brother of our own Jeff Leimbach), who died two years ago in combat in Afghanistan.

Just a humble word of thanks to the dedicated men and women of our armed services and to all those who came before them who laid down their lives to protect the freedoms we enjoy each day.

All we have of freedom, all we use or know –
This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.
~Rudyard Kipling, The Old Issue, 1899

by RC Concepcion

Hey everyone – I figured while we were in the guest blog mood with no guest blog, I’d fill in and talk a little bit about something that seems to be a hot topic as of late – Flash on mobile devices. In what seems to be an open debate – Conan vs. Leno Style – the arguments have spilled out into the open as to whether the Flash technology will die because of its inability to be on smart phones. This argument reached fever pitch when Steve Jobs himself wrote an open letter – defending the decision not to run Flash on their devices.

Now, I personally disagreed with the open letter and posted my own rant about it on my personal blog arguing point by point why I thought Mr. Jobs was looking at it the wrong way. That said- I still don’t think that the iPod/iPad should be forced to have Flash installed on them. I’d like it.. It’d be nice… It’d be even better with an on/off switch.. but it’s ultimately Apple’s call – and you have to respect that. At its core, I just took issue with -how- the argument was presented and how I felt like the choice was limiting – but consumers should ultimately decide with their wallets.

This would beg the question as to whether Flash “is Dead” (as it’s clamored on the net these days). I’d say – don’t count them out yet. Here’s a few reasons why. Come on.. you know you’re curious.. :)



(I’m going to go ahead and apologize up front… There aren’t many, well, any, images in this post to help break up the text [I know, I should’ve had my camera with me the whole time!], but I’ve done my best to break the text up into smaller chunks to make it easier to get through. Hope it’s worth the read!)

How did I get to where I am today?

That’s a question that I get asked somewhat often when people meet me, so I figured I would share it here. That way, if we do meet some day, you’ll already know and we can talk about something besides me :)

I was born at a young age in the hills of East Tennessee…

Actually, let’s fast forward to the part where I pick up a camera, cool? Thought so.



For quite a few years now at my live seminars I’ve been saying that one of the challenges with learning new techniques in Photoshop is that we are creatures of habit. We tend to do things the way we always have, because, well, we just do.

In an effort to figure out how to our Photoshop habits are formed I went looking for more information on habits, and found the following (interestingly enough on a blog by Ian Newby-Clark called “Creatures of Habit”).

“As creatures, we have needs. We need to eat, and so we eat. As rather intelligent and social creatures, we like to chat with one another, and so we do. We take turns and finish our conversations gracefully. And there are dozens and dozens more behaviors that are just as complicated, if not more so. How on Earth do we get all of this done?

That’s where habits come in. Habits help us through our day. When we are doing something that is habitual, we are not engaged in the task in the same way as when we are doing something that is not habitual. Just as an example, consider making breakfast in your own kitchen on any given weekday. Next time you do it, watch how effortlessly it happens. It’s not exactly like an out-of-body experience, but it’s close. Your movements through the kitchen are stereotyped. You grab the milk out of the fridge, turn toward the counter and give the door that little nudge you with your foot that you know it needs. If something is on your mind, you might not notice that you’re sitting at the table and munching on your second piece of toast until you’re halfway through it. Now, compare that to getting breakfast at a friend’s house. Maybe you’re dog sitting (you’re so nice!) Where’s the milk? The bread? Oh my goodness, so complicated!”

So true, right? At home we do things almost unconsciously, to some degree “going through the motions”.

I think for many of us, working in Photoshop (or that other program that starts with L) is the same. We open a photo and immediately go into our habitual methods of cloning, brightening, fixing or editing. Unfortunately, sometimes that may mean that we are missing out on methods that are faster, easier, more accurate or more flexible because these “new” techniques involve change.

Here’s an example: for years I’ve been preaching the non-destructive workflow idea, using layers and making merged copies rather than flattening. I would keep my layers and then press Command-Option-Shift E (PC: Ctrl-Alt-Shift-E) to make a merged copy, giving me the equivalent of a flattened layer but with all the layers below. Problem is, if you need to make any changes to the underlying layers you have to delete the merged layer and make a new one once you’ve made that changed. It works fine, and it’s definitely better that flattening.

So that’s been a habit of mine. Almost happens without thinking sometimes.

Then the other day it struck me that it would be much easier better faster more efficient to use a Smart Object. (In case you’ve been hiding under a rock – or Photoshop 7 – Smart Objects have been around the last few versions of Photoshop). So I tried taking multiple layers and making them into a Smart Object before continuing to edit. (Insert Angels singing sound here). Wow! So much simpler, and yet it took me a while (and some effort) to break my old habit and try this.

(Here’s a tutorial I recorded for the NAPP site, complete with one of my traditional goofy endings)

So the point is, where the pressure’s on to get something done, we tend to go with the tried-and-true ways: our habits. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, I encourage you – neigh, I challenge you – to try some of the new features of Photoshop (or even existing tools and techniques that you’ve never tried). Maybe you’ll find some great timesavers that will become part of your new work habits…until the next version of Photoshop comes along. Then maybe it’ll be time to break those habits and develop some new ones.

Rack of Lamb Photo by Scott Kelby // Camera Photo by Brad Moore

[Note: This is a slightly edited recent post from my blog. Scott liked it and suggested I share it here as well!]

If you’ve been in the photography business very long, you know it’s about way more than just being able to work behind the camera. There are tons of moving parts that you have to maintain in order to be successful.

Lately I’ve been watching Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. In this show, Chef Gordon Ramsay (also of Hell’s Kitchen fame) goes into failing restaurants and helps turn them around. After watching a few episodes, it’s easy to pick up on the key things that make for a successful restaurant.

But these things aren’t just what make restaurants successful, they’re what make businesses successful.

And many of these things can easily apply to the photo business, so here we go…


Six Things I’ve Learned from Kitchen Nightmares:

1) Product Quality Is King
99% of the time, the food in these failing restaurants is terrible. No amount of ambiance and decor will bring back returning customers if the product sucks. Some of these restaurants even cut back on the quality of the food when they struggle, yet still charge the same prices they’ve always charged.

As photographers, we need to provide the best quality product we possibly can and charge accordingly. People are willing to pay for a quality product. If they’re not, they may not be the customers you want. But if they’re happy with their experience, they’ll keep coming back. They’ll also tell their friends and family about you.

2) Be Unique
Sometimes Chef Ramsay will completely transform the restaurant if it’s in the middle of an over-saturated market. He’ll look at the competition in the surrounding area determine what isn’t there that could thrive in the town. Maybe it’s an affluent town without a steakhouse, so the restaurant become a steakhouse. Or maybe they just need to be known for a specialty, like fresh homemade pasta or mozzarella, family-style dining, or a great raw bar.

Look at your market. Who are your competitors? What can you do that they’re not doing? What holes are in the market that you could fill? What’s the one thing that could make you stand out from everyone else? Don’t be afraid to be different. Think outside of the box. Be a trendsetter. Just be careful… There’s a fine line between unique and weird. ;-)

3) Don’t Be All Things To All People
Bloated menus are a common problem in these failing restaurants. They try to appeal to a wide variety of people by offering a wide variety of dishes. The result is an unfocused chef who is trying to juggle too many types of food in the kitchen, which slows them down. This leaves customers waiting far too long for food they end up being unsatisfied with because of its diminished quality.

In cases like these, Chef Ramsay will simplify the menu so that it focuses on a certain type of food and streamlines the process in the kitchen. This decreases prep time in the kitchen and helps the chef focus on fewer dishes. Customers receive their food more quickly and are much more satisfied in the end.

Do you know any photographers who shoot baby portraits, engagement portraits, weddings, concerts, football games, food, products, and still life? How stressed are they most of the time? Is it because they’re always super busy? Because they’re struggling to pay the rent? Could it be because they’re unable to focus on doing one thing really well?

Pick the type of photography you enjoy doing most and focus on that. If you enjoy it, it will show in the end product and your clients will be happier.  Otherwise you’ll always be pulled in fifteen different directions, and all of your endeavors will suffer.

4) Décor and Ambiance
I’ve only seen one episode in which a struggling restaurant didn’t get a complete interior makeover. And even that one had other minor updates. Common problems range from being outdated to uninviting to just plain ugly.  No one wants to spend hours eating dinner in a place where they feel uncomfortable.

If you have an office or storefront, make it an inviting place that people enjoy visiting. If you only have a website, make sure it’s designed with relevance to your audience in mind. Don’t ask yourself who your audience is, but who you want your audience to be.

A perfect example of this is He explains in depth on his blog why he made every single design and functionality choice when undergoing a redesign. Some people would say he made a bad choice in building a Flash-based website, but those aren’t the people he cares about. He’s going after art directors who are sitting at their desks in front of their 30″ Cinema Displays, so that’s who he made the site for – people who potentially will be signing checks, not online forum-dwellers sitting in their parents’ basements.

5) Here’s Your Sign
Along with the décor makeover, Chef Ramsay often replaces the sign outside the restaurant.  Why?

The sign is a potential customer’s first encounter with the restaurant. It could either draw them in or make them decide to drive on by.

As photographers, our brand is our sign. Our branding defines who we are, and vice versa. It makes clients say, “Oh he’s that kind of photographer!” as soon as they see it. This includes our logo, the style or look of our photography, the feel of our website, our business cards, and even our interactions with clients.

Know who you are as a photographer, and let that dictate your branding. Otherwise we’re trying to be something we’re not.

6) Denial Is A Killer
[This one wasn’t in my original post, but was pointed out by Jon Diener in the comments (thanks Jon!).]

Almost every single one of the restaurant owners on this show is in denial about something. They don’t think their food is bad, there’s nothing wrong with the way they’re managing things, their kitchen isn’t dirty, people love the oversized portions, New Jerseyans love to eat in the middle of a tropical jungle… Any number of things.

[By the way, this is the part of the show that always dumbfounds me. Your restaurant is failing, so you call someone who obviously knows what they’re doing for help. When he shows up and tells you how to fix things, you tell him he’s wrong. It boggles the mind…]

Anyway, what are you in denial about? What is it that’s keeping you from being a successful photographer? Do your photos suck but you won’t admit it because your family tells you they’re great? Are you overcharging for the quality of work you’re doing? Are you undercharging because you’re afraid of losing what little business you have? Do think that if you can just get the right equipment or a ticket to Italy (where the light is sooo much better!), you could get that one image that could put you on the map…?

There’s a scene in the documentary It Might Get Loud where Jack White builds a guitar out of a couple pieces of wood, some nails, a bottle and a wire. He plays it for a few seconds then asks, “Who says you need to buy a guitar?” This is the same guy who took a $200 plastic guitar and made a signature sound out of it.

You are the only thing standing in the way of your own success. Everyone has obstacles they have to overcome; you’re not special (sorry). Figure out how to overcome them and, here’s the key… DO IT! Get off your butt and make it happen. No one else is going to do it for you.

The difference between success and failure can often be humility. As there is a fine line between unique and weird, there is also a fine line between confidence and ego. Careful that you don’t cross it, because as soon as you do the path could easily lead to failure.


I hope these insights have been helpful. You can catch all episodes of Kitchen Nightmares on if you want to look for other tidbits of business savvy from the master chef/businessman!