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  • backupdrive.jpg
    I was talking with my buddy Terry White earlier this week about my photo storage problems. It seems that no matter how much extra drive space I add, before long I’m out of space again. He’s got the same problem. Maybe worse.

    Part of the problem is our files are just too darn big; now even entry-level DSLRs are 12 megapixels, and a Canon 50D is up to 15 megapixels. If you shoot in raw, after five or six clicks you’ve eaten up nearly 100MB, and if you’re shooting a wedding or event, you can eat up 10 or 12GB fairly easily. If you have a 500GB hard drive for backing up your photos, and you only shoot one wedding a week, it’ll start getting kinda full in around 8 or so months.

    What got me to thinkin’
    In a moment, I’m going to go over my backup strategy, but before we even get there, I honestly think I might be backing up too much. Here’s what made me start thinking like that. Terry recently did a portrait shoot where he took 710 photos during the shoot. His subject reviewed the images in Lightroom, and choose the shots she liked (around 70 initially, then she narrowed it down to her favorite 5 or 6). Then Terry picked his favorites, and he chose 5 or 6.

    So, what do we all do next? That’s right, we back up all 710 photos, even though the subject has already said, “I only like these 70.” She looked at them all, told the photographer straight up, “I don’t want any of the other 640 images” but we back them all up anyway. Now, Terry asked me, “What are the chances that she is going to come back some time in the future and ask for one of the ones she didn’t like? Right. Slim to none. Yet, we still store ’em, and watch them eat up our drive space, and add more complexity to our file management. Like Terry says, “Those 640 images are never going to see the light of day. I don’t have any use for them. She doesn’t have any use for them, but I’m backing ’em up anyway. Why?”

    Client Work Backups
    Now, Terry can make a good case for not backing up all 710 shots, but if you’re

    So a few days ago, I'm standing in my kitchen, having a bowl a cereal, and I notice a large bird flying right outside my kitchen window, and I say, out loud (with nobody around but me), "Oh my gosh was that a bald Eagle???!!!!!" I've lived in Florida my entire life, and I can tell you the only time I've ever seen an American Bald Eagle in person was in a zoo, and now there's one in my backyard. Anyway, I keep looking out the window and he lands at the top of a tree right in my backyard. I am stunned. So, I grab my camera, put my new 200-400mm f/4 lens on, attach a monopod, and go running out the door. Amazingly, he's still there once I get back there with my gear, but I'm not 100% certain it's really a…

    One thing I didn't expect during my sideline shoot at the Chicago Bears vs. Eagles game, was that I'd meet celebrities Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore before the game (I've learned since, that Ashton is a longtime devoted Bears fan). My buddy, Bears Chairman Mike McCaskey, brought me over to meet them for minute before the game, and they were both just as nice as they could be. They talked about their Fantasy teams (they each have one), and how they have big football parties at their house on Sundays, and they just seemed really nice and regular (Demi was much more petite than I realized), despite the fact that everyone standing around them were freaking out as if a bald eagle had flown into their back yard (see the post above). ;-) As I stepped away, another field photographer came up and asked,…

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    My Evolution as a Photographer
    When I was in high school, I thought I wanted to grow up to become a professional photographer. When I was in collage, I took darkroom and studio photography classes, but in the end got distracted and became a graphic designer. In my role as a graphic designer, I mainly worked with other photographer’s images and would occasionally direct a photo shoot. As the years passed, I found myself taking fewer and fewer photographs. Then, once day about fifteen years ago, I quit my job and started to teach Photoshop. When digital cameras started to become popular, I started to shoot once again, but primarily shot “when I had time”, which was either when I was on vacation, or when I needed a specific image for a Photoshop technique I wanted to teach. I eventually moved to into a beautiful house in the mountains of Colorado. It was a log home on the edge of a meadow with only a few homes in the view. I thought I was living an ideal life until I realized there was one area of my life were I wasn’t being fulfilled–my passion for photography. Two and a half years ago, I decided to take some drastic steps in an effort to reconnect with my passion for photography. One day I decided to sell my house and 98% of my material possessions and start to live a mobile lifestyle on a 40′ tour bus. The whole idea was to allow me to feed my passion for photography. This post is about how my approach to photography has changed since making that transition. I hope you come away with some ideas that might have you evolve as a photographer as well.

    Here’s a shot of my home on wheels:

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    Landscapes
    When started living on the open road my first thought was the explore all the national parks and make some classic landscape shots. I spent time exploring the West and discovering some beautiful places. I found I kept referring to a few resources for advice on shooting locations over and over again. My two favorite resources were the Photograph America newsletter (www.photographamerica.com) and a series of three books titled Photographing the Southwest by Laurent Martres.

    At this point in my evolution as a photographer, I found that every place that I was visiting had been shot so many times before by so many people that I found my shots were not living up to my expectations. Someone else had visited the same location at a better time of year at a time of day that had better light while capturing a great composition. That’s when I turned to Photoshop in an attempt to make up for what were often less than ideal shooting conditions. I also started to learn a lot more about composition and how big of a difference cropping make. Here are some before and after images that show the type of digital transformation I was making:

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    Before

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    After

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    Before

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    After

    I forced myself to take notes after every shooting session to make sure I was

    This is going to sound far from revolutionary, but I tried something a little different in my new Lightroom 2 book; we "bolded" all the keyboard shortcuts to make it easier for them to stand out if you're searching for them later on. I got the idea from an attendee to my previous Lightroom Live Tour; in their evaluation form they noted that if they have to go back to their workbook to find a particular shortcut, it would make it easier if they were bolded, so in their search they could skip over paragraphs (or entire pages) without bolded shortcuts. Plus, they thought it would just be helpful, and more eye-catching in general. So, the reason why I'm bringing this up now is; I haven't heard any feedback one way or another on this particular aspect of the book. Maybe nobody noticed; maybe…

    ...one of the most gifted Photoshop instructors on the entire planet. Photoshop Hall of Famer, Photoshop World Instructor, Bestselling Author, and all around Photoshop Uber-Brain; Ben Willmore. I've sat in on Ben's classes numerous times over the years, and I've never sat in one where I didn't learn something new, or understand something at a whole new level. Ben has a way of connecting with his students that is really unique, and I can't wait to see what he has cooked up for us tomorrow as my Special Guest blogger, so make sure you check back then.

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