That’s right! It’s Friday and you know what that means – It’s “Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks” Friday!

The collage you see above is only one part of today’s trick, which has a whole bunch of steps, but every single one of them is easy, and you’ll learn all sorts of cool things along the way, so don’t let the amount of steps dissuade you. By the way — the US Military makes loads and loads of images available for download for free — just do a Google search and you’ll find about a bazillion to use to practice along. OK, here we go:


The Lightroom and Photoshop Seminar Tour with Ben Willmore
Ben Willmore
is back with a brand new tour that shows how best to integrate Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop. He’ll show you how to take best advantage of the new features in Lightroom CC as well as how to move beyond its limitations by taking advantage of Photoshop’s advanced image processing features. You’ll learn how to get the most out of Lightroom by utilizing many hidden features that require the intimate knowledge that only an expert can provide. He’ll share the best methods for organizing your images, show you how to push your image optimization abilities beyond what you thought was possible and then show how to best integrate Photoshop into your workflow. Ben has been using both programs since they were introduced and is known for pushing them beyond what they were originally designed for to get more out of them than what anyone else can teach you. Don’t miss your chance to learn from a digital imaging legend… you’ll be amazed at what you can learn in just one day!

Leave a comment for your chance to win a free ticket to one of these upcoming events!

Last Week’s Winner
Jerry Ghionis Wedding Photography Bundle
– Banh

If that’s you, we’ll be in touch soon. Have a great Thursday!


Want to spend a couple of days learning from one of the best in the industry? Join Cliff Mautner for his Lighting and Skillset Bootcamp October 27-29! The Bootcamp helps photographers improve their work and develop their own distinct style. The main goal of this workshop is for every photographer in attendance to drastically improve their skills and give them the confidence to go after their own style.

During the Bootcamp, Cliff will cover a number of topics including…

  • Comprehensive overview of Technical Aspects of Photography & Your Gear
  • Understanding the Difference between Quantity & Quality of Light
  • How to Employ a multitude of simple, Creative Flash Techniques
  • Lighting Subjects from Noon to Midnight
  • Live Bridal Shoot On Location in Philadelphia
  • Client Interaction & Relationships
  • General Marketing and Pricing
  • Frequent Discussions About Business Practices
  • Building Referral Base through Vendor/Partner Relationships
  • Workflow from Capture to Proof

And a whole lot more!

There are only a couple of openings left, so you can find out much more and register for the workshop right here.


Ciao people!

I’m Nicola Bernardi but please, call me Nico.
I’m a rather big, tall Italian dude that suspiciously looks like a thumb with a goatee.

I’m not the best at explaining what kind of stuff I shoot so.. I’ll just show you instead, ok?


When I got asked to be the guest blogger for this week I panicked. Like, big time. At first, I wanted to cram as much of my work as possible and promote myself like crazy.

“But c’mon Nico! You’re better than that!”
Fair enough. What to talk about then?
Let’s be inspirational, let’s inspire people with wise words, write something so deep and meaningful that’ll make people go, “OMG you totally got to me, you’re my new favorite thing in the world, nothing will ever be the same again, marry me!”

Perfect plan!

And so I wrote for a week. The more I wrote, the more delusions of grandeur I had thinking that this was going to be the next big TED talk. Standing ovation.
Me saying, “And that’s when it all changed for me,” sipping on fancy drinks with tiny umbrellas.


Talk about turning a scream for attention into a more refined, better worded, self indulgent request for even MORE attention!

Damn. Well played ego, I see what you did there. You almost had me for a second (actually, for a whole week).

Now, approximately half the people that started reading this blog post are already gone.
Raise your hand if you are dying to check Facebook for notifications…

The other half of you, the ones that are still reading, are probably asking themselves “So, where is this guy going with this, exactly?”

The point is: I don’t know.

If I did know what to talk about in front of the audience of this blog, I’d probably be a writer.
But I’m not. Instead, I’m a photographer.

Photography hasn’t always been in my life: I picked up my first camera a little over 5 years ago, while living in Japan.
Before that, I had always studied languages. Italian, English, German, Japanese.
Learning new languages is freaking awesome, especially if you are a naturally extroverted Italian kid that can’t shut up to save his life. More languages equals more people I can annoy with my never-ending “blablabla.”

When I started with photography, I couldn’t make sense of why it took over everything else in my life and became my drug, my sole obsession. Nothing could stand in its way.

Luckily, I didn’t ask myself too many questions and didn’t look for too many answers.
I just followed my heart. I wanted to take pictures SO BADLY, and that was enough for me.

Flash forward to 2 years ago. I was commissioned to take pictures of Savina, a dancer in London. The brief was quite simple: take good photos of this girl dancing, for her online presence and for casting purposes.

I flew to England and met her for the first time. The day before the shoot we scouted the location and got to know each other a little better. I was amazed by her true passion, the deep love she had for dancing, regardless of how many times she had been crushed in the pursuit of her dreams.

I was in awe the whole time. I felt I had a giant standing in front of me, an alien. Someone with a such a bright and strong fire in their belly couldn’t possibly be from the same planet as me. And I felt I couldn’t just take photos of her dancing, It had to be more. I HAD to tell her story, I HAD to let everyone else about her passion, drive, strength. And about her fragility, her humanity.


These photos changed me forever.
For the first time, I didn’t just capture the subject that was in front of me.
I had told a story. HER story.
And in doing that, I had found the humanity in this giant, in this incredible amazing artist, the only point where I could finally connect with her.
I had finally found my voice. Or better, my message.
And all of a sudden, it became pretty clear why photography came into my life after studying languages and wiped absolutely everything else away from the get go: it was the new language that I had just began studying.

Because you know what? Photography IS a language!
Think about it: when you start learning a new language, the first thing you are faced with are grammar and vocabulary. It takes some time and some studying before you are even remotely able to put a sentence together. At first, all the crazy grammar rules of a new language make NO SENSE. The new words that you learn sound so weird, so hard to remember. Almost impossible to link to the ones that you know.

And it’s no different when it comes to photography: when a camera magically appears for the first time in your hands, your photos are… let’s say, sloppy. You start reading about ISO, Aperture, Shutter speeds. It makes little to no sense.
Add lighting for the first time because you saw someone mention flash on YouTube and you find yourself banging your head on the wall in desperation: Inverse square law? Light source to subject ratio? Modifiers? Oh god.

When first studying a language, you feel like even after giving your sweat and tears for it, you can’t yet put two words together to say even the simplest of things. But as time goes by, things start to make sense. You start acquiring the grammar, you master some vocabulary.
You start with simple sentences. With time, energy and experience, you start making sense of the new language. And so goes for photography: the technicalities become second nature. You begin to know WHY you choose a certain ISO, Aperture or Shutter speed. You understand WHY you want to use a certain lens and not another. Flash, that once was your nemesis, becomes your friend.

Congratulations, you have now learned a new language. You now KNOW photography.
But is that enough? Of course not. Absolutely not.

My father once told me these wise words while I was studying Japanese in University: “Nicola, knowing a language is a beautiful thing. But if you have nothing to say, no one will listen to you.”
And he was SO RIGHT.

But it wasn’t until I took Savina’s photos that I realized WHAT MY MESSAGE is. What is it that I talk about with my language, photography.

I have always been drawn to and surrounded myself with all these incredible people. Artists, musicians, performers, characters.
People that put so much love and passion in what they do, in what they truly believe in. And in doing so, they make the world a better place.

And regardless of the case, I have always felt like I wasn’t up to their level. I was always nothing more than a tiny man surrounded by giants. Photography gave me the words to tell the stories of these incredible people and to find the humanity in them, making me realize time after time that we do, in fact, come from the same planet.

Because photography is how I talk about things. Things that matter to me.
And the only thing that matters to me is PEOPLE. And how freaking amazing they are.
And you know what the most beautiful thing is? I’ll never run out of things to say!

Now, have a look at some of these beautiful giants that I’ve met.


If you’ve made it this far reading this WAY-TOO-LONG blog post, let me say something : THANK YOU.
Thank you so much for giving me some of your time, for allowing me to tell you my story and what my message is.

Lastly, let me ask you something: What do YOU talk about, with your language?


(A huge thank you to Scott Kelby, Brad Moore and all the team behind this amazing blog, you guys are teaching all of us SO MUCH time after time!)

Nicola is an Italian portrait photographer currently living in Melbourne, Australia. You can see more of his work at, and follow him on Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter.

Scott, are you serious? After all the heat you took over:

(a) Buying your first Apple watch, and
(b) Then returning it for a full refund, you’re going to buy another one? Really?

Yes, really.

Here’s a quick Q&A on why:

Q. So, I thought your big problem with it was that you didn’t want to take your watch off each night to charge it? Isn’t the battery life still the same?
A. Yes, that was absolutely my main gripe — I like to wear my watch at night, but apparently that’s when it should be charging.

Q. So what changed your mind?
A. Apple releasing Watch OS2 (supposed to be tomorrow I believe). It has a new nightstand mode that lets you lay it on its side while charging on your nightstand – it flips the watch face sideways, and if you need to see the time in the middle of the night, you just tap the watch face.

Q. That’s not nearly as convenient as just wearing it though.
A. I know, but it’s at least a step in the right direction, so I’m willing to give it a try.

Q. Really, that’s all it took?
A. Well, quite honestly there are three other reasons:

  1. When I returned my original Apple watch for a full refund I went back to my Fossil watch, which never needs charging and looks pretty decent, but I hate the watch band like you cannot believe, and after having the Apple Watch, I realized that it’s a “dumb watch.” It just tells the time, looks nice and that’s about it. The Apple watch at least did cool stuff – it was lighter, and I liked being able to change the watch face on a whim.
  2. This article called “The thing with the Apple watch is everybody thought about it wrong” really made me see the Apple Watch in a whole new light, and it’s the best explanation of why the tech bloggers and writers just “don’t get it.”
  3. My old Fossil watch was heavy and I hated the strap (the end kept popping out of the two thin loops), whereas the Apple Watch is really lightweight (I didn’t realize how heavy my old watch felt, or how much I liked the Apple Watch strap until I put my old Fossil watch back on).

Q. When you returned your first watch, you said you actually liked the watch itself – it was just the charging thing. Is that still correct?
A. I must admit, though I still don’t like the charging, I actually missed the watch itself, which is another big motivating factor.

Q. But didn’t you get slammed for buying it in the first place, and then slammed again for returning it?
A. Oh man, did I ever. Here’s just one (of many) I received after returning my first Apple watch – the first line is referring to something I wrote in that post, so his words start with “What about…:

I really needed to know what time it was, and my iPhone was charging on the other side of the house, so I had to find my iPad just to know what time it was.”

What about the oven, microwave, television, computer, any number of other devices within steps of you inside your own home. Did you try glancing at any one of those you pathetic douchebag! This is the most absurd article I have ever read, and you should be ashamed of yourself for bitching about needing to buy a second watch because you are too [deleted super bad words] worthless and lazy to be bothered to get off your fat a@# and figure it out. Go [really bad word] yourself [bad]hole.”

[Note: I edited his last line by adding in  those @#’s in his naughty words. His original comment of course didn’t have those].

He wrote me that comment because I returned my first watch for a refund.

Q. Ouch! Why was he so mad that YOU returned YOUR watch? It’s not like you forced him to return HIS watch?
A. I know. Welcome to my world. I’ve learned that if you say anything positive or negative about Apple, there are a certain percentage of people who just absolutely freak out, and they pretty much fit into two groups: Apple apologists are people who can’t imagine Apple creating or doing anything that isn’t perfect, so if someone complains about their Apple product they immediately blame the user (me, in this case), because they can’t bring themselves to blame Apple. Apple haters on the other hand, are just haters, and just the mention of Apple’s name brings them out in droves. You’ll see them here in the comments, even though I just called them out. They just can’t help it — haters gotta hate.


Q. So which model did you get?
A. I got the Stainless Steel version this time rather than the aluminum Sport Watch (it was $150 more), after seeing them all in person at the Apple store yesterday (it’s the one in the center above, with the white band). I also bought a black band (yes, you have to buy them separately if you don’t want the one that came with your watch, and they ain’t cheap — $50 for their lowest priced one. The one I really wanted turned out to be $445. For just the watch band. Um…I passed on that one.). The bands just slide in/out surprisingly easy — you push a button on the back and they slide out. Very cleverly designed.


Q. What if it doesn’t work out this time? What if you don’t like the new nightstand mode?
A. I’ll know within just a few days how I like it, and of course I can return it for a full refund (within 14 days), but honestly, I don’t think I will this time because I realize that I actually miss having an Apple Watch, and with Watch OS2 it seems like it has more of what I liked about it in the first place. Plus, I’m tired of having a “dumb watch.” So, I’d be pretty surprised if I wound up returning it this time.

Q. But you could be wrong, right?
A. Right. Just ask anybody. ;-)

Q. But the Apple watch isn’t nearly as advanced as [insert the one you like better here]. Why’d you get that one instead of [insert the one you bought here]?
A. Read that article in Reason #2 above. That pretty much explains why.

Well, despite the fact that I decided to give the Apple Watch another try, I still hope you have a great Tuesday. :)



P.S. I’m also trying out a PC Laptop, a Harley Davidson motorcycle, and a set of Bose Headphones, so load your weapons. ;-)