Between Meetings
Rediscovering My Passion for Photography
By Dan (Dano) Steinhardt

Photographic Birth
I was 13 and barricaded myself in a small bathroom. A towel was jammed under the door for complete privacy allowing a new and mysterious adult-like red glow to fill the room. The smells were intoxicating as I watched the 5 X 7 inch white sheet of paper slowly turn into an image. It was an amazing moment of alchemy meeting art, combined with something special I had never experienced before. I squinted in pain as the light went on like an electric shock in a Sci-Fi movie and there I saw my first print gently bobbing in the fixer. I was immediately hooked. Not only had I developed my first photograph, what I really began to develop was my passion for photography.

That passion was cultivated by my amazing high school photo instructor Warren King who exposed me to the works of Dorothea Lang, Arnold Newman and W. Eugene Smith who would come to have a profound influence on my style. Warren became my first mentor and an equally important critic. I traveled all around my native Los Angeles shooting everything and discovered photography could capture amazing moments on the streets of LA that most did not see. But whenever I talked about the great pictures I shot over the weekend Warren would point to the sign above his desk which 30 years later continues to resonate, "Don't Tell Me How Good You Are, Show Me".

Fast Forward
After graduating from Brooks Institute I was running my own advertising photography business in Chicago. Everything was captured on 8 x 10 film and when it came time to Scheimpflug (for those who remember view cameras) I was world-class. But new opportunities presented themselves and I found myself working in the New York City Photo District for Kodak and soon moved into strategic marketing on a worldwide basis. It was during these years that my focus was business. To paraphrase a song, I was sent away and taught how to be sensible, logical, responsible, practical, intellectual and clinical. I was studying in Executive Programs at leading business schools and advancing in my career. I loved it and I still love business, but I didn't touch a camera from 1987-2000 and hadn't used a 35mm camera since High School. Then I got a call from a relatively new company in the photo world called Epson and was asked to develop and lead its marketing programs for professional photographers and advanced amateurs.

In 2001 digital printing was still relatively new and the market was reaching out for information and education. I developed the Epson Print Academy (shameless plug) as a way to meet this market need (link). We went on the road to videotape leading photographers and fine-art printmakers. My goal was to glean all the technical stuff there from the best of the best. The pre-production notes were a checklist of mission critical items from color spaces, to file formats to advanced color management. But when the video camera was on, these artists talked to how Epson printers reminded them of teenage years, watching their first print develop in a darkroom, fueling their passion for photography. I started to recall the glow of that red safelight, the smell of fixer and the joy I used to experience with the camera. I bought a Nikon D100 in 2002, tapped into my analog experiences from high school and via digital photography became a teenager all over again.

So What Have You Shot For Me Lately?
I travel a lot in my job. I also have the incredible honor to work with the some of the most well-known photographers on the planet. One of those legends is Jay Maisel who has become my new mentor. With all my business travel I took Jay's advice, "Carry the camera because without it, it's really tough to take pictures." In the process I essentially returned to my roots of street photography versus the comfort and control of the studio.

I'm in Las Vegas 3-4 times a year for different trade shows including Photoshop World. I love to shoot in Vegas because there is so much extraordinary to be found in the ordinary like the valet running to retrieve a rental car, the early morning joggers in front of a hotel and the pool chairs stacked in the beautiful light at the end of the day. When I have some free time (and the light is right) I head straight for the tourist traps looking for interesting images of people vs. the actual attraction like the silhouetted person in front of the fountains or the shadow of a person walking in front of a famous hotel.






I also remember Jay Maisel's advice to look 180 degrees in the opposite direction as it (more…)

…Photoshop World Instructor, the man behind the Epson Print Academy, Marketing Manager for the Professional Market for Epson USA, and one of my all-time favorite urban/city/people photographers, Dan Steinhardt.

Dan (better known as Dano to those who know him), has an amazing advantage, in that in his role at Epson, he’s got access to all the coolest new printers even before they’re out, and because of that, I don’t imagine Dano spends a lot on paper or inks. He also has an amazing disadvantage, and that is because he is so well known as “Dano from Epson” I don’t think he gets nearly the attention his work deserves as he is just a flat-out amazing urban/city/people photographer.

Here’s an example, on the day I spent in New York earlier this year with Jay Maisel, at one point during the day, he started raving to me about Dano’s work, and said, “Dano has the city people thing down. He’s got it!” When Jay Maisel is raving about your work, “You’ve got it!” Dano gave me a heads up of his subject for tomorrow’s guest blog, and if you want to be inspired and informed, make sure you check back here.


Howdy folks, here’s what’s up:

  • Nancy Masse, (our in-house copywriter and Baroness of Social Web Marketing), sent me the photo above last week, and when I first looked at it, I didn’t immediately hit me what it was. Then I was like, “Wow…that is so cool!” As impressed as I was with the very clever idea, I was really blown away once I realized that this isn’t something composited together in Photoshop—what you’re seeing is a photo of a set built at full size. That took it over the top for me. This image is now popping up all over the web (it’s totally going viral), and so I had Nancy track down the original source, and here’s what she found: The photo was taken by photographer Anton Ismael, for the Jakarta-based ad agency Bates 141, for their client software-asli.com) and the only thing more impressive than their incredible idea, is the flawless execution. Here’s the link to a flickr page with shots of the set under construction. My hat’s off to the entire production crew, creative director Hendra Lesmono, and art directors Andreas Junus & Irawandahani Karmarga for really coming up with something special.
  • Friend of the blog, Syl Arena has a terrific article on high-speed sync when using off-camera flash (which can open a whole new world of daytime flash photography for you). I read the article last night and if you’re into off-camera flash, this article is an absolute must-read. Very well done, and illustrated. Way to go Syl!
  • Photoshop Hall-of-Famer Stephen Johnson has two workshops coming up, and if you act quickly you can still snag a seat. His first is called “Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on,” which runs from December 4-7, 2008 (here’s the link), and then in January he’s doing an on-location workshop called “Death Valley in Winter” from January 31 – Feb 3, 2009 (here’s the link to that one). Stephen teaches for us at Photoshop World, and he’s an amazing teacher, and his workshops always get rave reviews. If you get a chance to spend some time learning from Stephen—you’ll be amazed at where it will take you.
  • If you’re out in the LA-area, just a reminder that I’m bringing my “Lightroom 2 Live!” to the Los Angeles Convention Center on December 4, 2008, and it’s already filling up fast, so if you want to go, here’s the link to sign up (or for more details). The seminar is $99 for the full day (includes my step-by-step class workbook), and it’s only $79 if you’re a NAPP member. Hope to see you there!
  • Lastly, just a word of thanks to those of you who posted such kind comments yesterday. It means more than you know. :-)

That’s it for today. Have a great Tuesday everybody!


BIG NEWS: My favorite photography podcast, formerly known as “The Digital Photography Show” (hosted by Scott Sherman and Michael Stein) has found a new home, and a new name—it’s now called “Digital Photography Life: Make Every Shot Count” and I am totally honored that they asked me to be the first guest on their new show (which you can hear by clicking here).

The interview is pretty in-depth, and we talk about everything (and I mean everything), including a lot about Lightroom 2, so give it a listen when you get some time—I think you’ll totally dig it.

Congratulations to Scott and Michael on re-launching the show (it’s a long story, but I’m SO glad they’re back), and I wish you guys continued success!!!

I had a lot of questions and comments from the MacBook Pro review I posted last week, so I thought I’d address a few of them of them here.

Q. Why don’t you just use a mouse?
A. The reason I have a MacBook Pro at all, is because of travel (as I said in the review; I have a MacPro at home, which is my main machine for doing photography, retouching, and editing). You can’t easily use a mouse on a plane, or in a taxi, or in the airport, or in all the places I bought a MacBook Pro for in the first place, like where I’m sitting writing this right now, where my “laptop” is in my lap.

Q. How can anyone seriously use Photoshop with a trackpad?
A. I’ve been doing it for years now, and  while I’m not a trackpad fan to begin with, I was starting to get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and was having to sleep with arm braces on all night, and take other measures. When I stopped using the mouse, and only used the trackpad or a Wacom tablet, it all went away, and I haven’t had a problem since.

Q. While I feel I should be the last person to give you advice about color correction, here goes: if you are relying on your screen to determine how your prints will look, you're doing it wrong.
A.  When I send prints to a printing press,  I go by the numbers. When my output is the Epson on my desk, or to a photo lab, I go by my screen. That’s why they make hardware calibration devices in the first place.

Q. A number of people posted really nasty comments about your review, including a number that include swearing at you, racial slurs, calling you stupid, a loser, and much worse. This stuff usually doesn’t happen on this blog—-why now?
A. It happens anytime you write something negative about Apple, no matter how minor.

Q. I also noticed that a number of PC users posted angry anti-Apple comments. Why is that?
A. It happens anytime you write something positive about Apple, no matter how minor.

Q. Where are those comments now?
A. I deleted most of them, but if you really want to see what a huge stupid loser I am, read unedited cussing, and references to my mother, (and much more), go check out the 209 comments about my review at Digg.com. Here’s the link (for your convenience).

Q. Don’t they know you’ve been an Apple supporter for many years?
A. It’s doesn’t matter—no one is allow to criticize Apple. Just ask Terry White (who runs MacGroup Detroit—if he posts the most minor criticism of an Apple product, he gets slammed). When I criticize Adobe, nobody gets upset, and I hope it’s because they know I’m not an Adobe-hater; I only point these things out because I want Adobe to keep improving their products, which they do. Adobe listens. When I criticize Apple, it’s for the same reasons, (In this case, I want them to give me a preference to turn off the gestures, or I want Adobe to give me a preference to turn off Rotate View”) but when you criticize Apple “All bets are off.” I’m not an Apple-hater on any level. But I’m hatin’ that trackpad. Whoops—I did it again.

Q. Have you gotten your prints back from MPIX yet, to compare screen to output?
A. Not yet (it’s a long story why), but I won’t have them back until next week. More on this then.

Q. Anything else?
A. Nope. I await your angry responses. In all caps, if possible, and don’t forget to use a fake name and anonymous email address.


Well it’s Friday (yippie!) and here’s what’s going on to take us into the weekend.

  • First, a big thanks to my buddy RC Concepcion for such a very cool guest blog post Wednesday. One thing I really loved about RC’s post is that it was so “RC.” That’s him—the Swiss Army Knife of digital imaging and design, and he totally took the guest blog in a different direction, and I think that’s really cool. Thanks RC–you rocked it, baby!
  • This weekend, Photoshop User magazine will start arriving in NAPP members mailboxes (well, at least those here in the U.S.), and in this issue is (that’s right), my 3rd Annual Gonzo Holiday Gear Guide!!!! In the past, my Gear Guide has been part of Layers magazine, but Layers Managing Editor Chris Main pointed out that so many of the things on my guide are for photographers, that maybe it was a better fit in Photoshop User magazine, and I totally agreed, so it’s found its new home in print there. However, we’ve posted the online version of my Gonzo Gear Guide over at Layersmagazine.com.
    Also, my buddy Terry White just posted his Holiday Gift Guide over at his tech blog (here’s that link).
  • One of my readers, James Shanks, sent me the shot you see above with this note. “I was in Poland recently visiting my wife’s family and saw [the Polish translation] of your book prominently displayed in the window at this little bookstore. I thought that was cool (it was one of the only interesting books in the store) – I thought you might get a kick out of it.” He was right—I did! Thanks, James. :-)
  • Funny story: I was in the airport a couple of days ago and I stopped into the store that sells movies, CDs, and accessories for travelers, and while I was checking out, I noticed that behind the counter they had Microsoft “Zunes” for sale. I asked the guy, “Do you guys sell any Zunes?” and he replied, “Hey, the new Zunes have some really cool features.” I said, “Yeah, but do you actually sell any?” He paused and said, “No. Everybody wants the iPods.” I cracked up.
  • I left something out of my review of the new Apple MacBook Pro; the process of changing batteries couldn’t be worse (well, I guess it could be, but you’d have to try). Now, I use two spare batteries, because I fly a lot, so if you don’t have at least a 2nd battery, this won’t matter to you one bit, but you used to be able to just turn your MacBook over, pop-up out the battery, and pop in a new one. Now, you have to turn your laptop over and remove a battery door because the battery is now inside your Mac; not outside. Once the door is off, there’s a little tab you pull, and it pops out. You slide the new battery inside, then fit the door back on, and it snaps down with a button (I’ll bet that’s fun to do on a plane). Anyway, not only does it take twice as long— the batteries themselves are twice as long (they’re now too long to fit in the battery pockets of my laptop case), and worse yet, unless I’m totally missing something (which is possible) there’s no way to tell by looking at the battery itself if it has a change or not—you have to put the battery into your Mac to check the battery gauge on the side of your Mac. Arrrrrggggh!!!!
  • Let’s wrap up this week on a high note, by checking out the amazing photography of Douglas Sonders. I just love this guy’s style, composition, and post processing (He’s “The triple threat!”) Very cool stuff—check it out right here.

That’s it for this Friday. I hope you all have a downright phenomenal weekend, and I hope you’ll join me back here on Monday.