It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Ron Martinsen!

by Brad Moore  |  19 Comments

Photo by Rod Mar

Like many people today, I love photography and photo editing. I also enjoy sharing my experiences with friends, so blogging about my passion has been a labor of love. However, I’ve been on a rollercoaster journey filled with great successes as well as moments of doubt. My reason for sharing this story is because I know that I am not alone in the quest for that creative outlet that allows you to do what you love the most.  The path that I have taken and the pitfalls that I have faced will be familiar to many of you, so I hope you might get a chuckle out of my challenges. I also hope to inspire you to find your creative outlet so that you may continue your journey wherever it may lead you.

This is my story.

Ever since I was a young boy, I’ve loved mastering electronics gadgets. I enjoyed doing things with them that made my family and friends say “wow.” This led me to become a computer programmer where the challenge of making mundane or complex tasks easy for everyone was a big thrill. The work I did was run on computers around the world, yet the thrill I got from programming waned. Depressed, and ultimately divorced after a long marriage, I longed for something to occupy my mind. I decided to return to my boyhood passion of photography and do something completely outrageous – I broke the bank moving to the world of DSLR photography!

The year was 2007, and despite a long history with film photography dating back to the early 1980s, I had never really mastered the mechanics of the camera. To address this problem, the geek in me began consuming photography books like they were potato chips. In fact, some of my favorite photographers have admitted that I was mastering photography gear better than they ever will. However, like most geeks, my pictures were horrible. It was not because I didn’t know how to use a camera, but because I was only looking at the camera as an electronics device that I could master. I had mastered the machine, but I had not exercised one artistic bone in my body.

Simple shots can still be extremely successful

At first the harsh reality was okay because I had a great-paying day job with benefits. Like many, my only objective was to have fun with photography. If I took a picture of my dirty keyboard that made me say, “wow,” I was happy. I also would come to learn from my pro photography mentors that the greatest photography job in the world is one where you only shoot for yourself to please yourself. However, something bad happened – people started telling me my photos sucked.

I was crushed but I also became defensive. I insisted that I meant to put the subject in the center of the frame, and that those “distractions” in the background were there because I thought they made the photo interesting. Seeking the validation I had enjoyed from my friends and family, I turned to photography forums where I’d show my work with pride only to have rude members tell me hateful things that made me want to give up on photography. I didn’t quit, but I did get mad – really mad.

Beautiful subjects are always a great place to start

My frustration motivated me to wonder why my photos were “wrong” if they pleased me? At first, I took the geek approach of learning more about photography as an art form and the rules of composition. I also started to carefully study the works of my favorite photographers. It worked because I became so finely attuned to what a great photo was supposed to be that I could see “the wrong” in photos. In fact, every photo I looked at had something wrong with it! Even my favorite photographers’ work began to look less impressive and everything I had ever done was unacceptable. Now I was the one telling myself that my photos sucked and that I should give up on photography.

Sound familiar?

As time has taught me, if I take something that I believe is perfect and I ask a room full of people for their opinion, I’ll get a few people who agree with me, a few who won’t say what they think, and a few who attack me and the things I hold dear. It’s human nature, but it’s up to me to filter the noise into something more constructive. This life lesson eventually taught me to listen to the rude people who had offended me to see if there was a valuable suggestion masked by their venom. Sometimes there was something useful. Sometimes they were just being rude. I then realized that this phenomenon in photography was really no different than my world as a programmer where magazine reviewers would do the same thing. As a programmer, I had learned to take the feedback and used it to make great software. This made me wonder, why couldn’t I do that as a photographer?

Shots that make you day dream are often appreciated by others too

In the last five years I’ve tried to adopt this philosophy to improve my skills. While I’ve had great success around the world as a professional photographer, I still look at every shot of my own like I would a computer program. I always see room for improvement. However, I also matured and now accept that it is okay if my work is not perfect as long as I have pleased my client and/or myself. While I may never please the web trolls, it’s okay because my client that pays the bills is me. I have a great job, and I’ve experienced first-hand that greatness in the court of public opinion doesn’t always pay the mortgage.

Successfully mimicking your idols work helps to build confidence

With this in mind, I began to accept my good fortune of having a job with a consistent paycheck and benefits. Many famous photographers made me aware of the not-so glamorous side of the business where a slow month could mean big debt and missed mortgage payments. I began to appreciate being able to take photos of things that interested me, and editing them at my leisure, instead of having to photograph things that didn’t interest me and editing rushes to meet unrealistic deadlines. However, I need a goal and an outlet for my work. I needed something to motivate me to shoot and improve, and a place where I could interact with those who had passions similar to mine. This led me to the realization that I could have all the things I wanted, yet still keep my steady day job, by becoming a photography blogger.

I have enjoyed great success in my photography career, but nothing has been more rewarding than sharing what I have learned with my blog readers. It has allowed me to apply my goal-oriented nature to do things that I hope will help others, but it also helps me to exercise my creative energy towards photography topics that excite me.

I’ve worked hard to provide reviews that readers can trust at a time when some writers seem afraid to say anything negative for fear of the consequences. As a programmer, honest feedback from reviewers helped me improve my products, so I hope to extend that same courtesy to product makers who read my reviews. By providing honest feedback, I hope to help to provide suggestions that lead to product improvements, as well as help my readers make more informed decisions. It’s the technology circle of life, and I’m happy that people like you let me be a part of it.

Always photograph those things that make you say “wow”

As I talk to so many friends and readers, I frequently hear of people who are quitting their stable jobs to pursue their dream of what it means to be a photographer. Unfortunately many people who try this discover the reality of inconsistent income and losing jobs to part-time photographers who will work for free. I can relate with this dream to throw it all away and live a fantasy. However, I’d like to encourage people in this situation to stop for a moment and focus on what it is they really seek. The thing many of us are looking to do is apply our creative energy and receive the satisfaction of being acknowledged for something we take pride in.

It is my wish for all of my fellow photography friends who have made it this far that you won’t give up your passion. I encourage you to find ways to do it where you do not become a slave to your work. It saddens me to see friends who had so much excitement about being their own boss and living a life as a photographer hating their life as a high volume photographer because that’s what is required to pay the bills. A better way is to maintain the job security that many of my readers enjoy, yet find a niche that allows you to use your creative side as purely a labor of love.

Never be afraid to experiment outside of your comfort zone

Your niche is out there and your path will be different from mine and the others before you. For some it will be the challenge of printing, for others it will be as a part-time freelancer, yet others will seek excitement out of sharing their passion with friends on weekend or travel adventures. The important part is to keep the fun in photography. This will let you photograph what you love in a way that sparks your emotions and your best photos are inevitable.

I have included images in this article with common tips that I share with my students. I chose these images because of the defining moment that many of them had on my career

Thanks for reading and for your support! I welcome you all to join me on as my photographic journey continues. I hope my articles, discounts, books and tutorials will help you keep you as excited during your photography journey as I am with mine.

Gary Parker – My mentor who inspired me to keep going when the going got tough

You can see more of Ron’s work at, keep up with his blog at, follow him on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter, and get his eBook, Printing 101, right here!


Acrylic Mounting for Images Totally Rocks!!!!

by Scott Kelby  |  30 Comments

I had one of my favorite shots from last football season made into a HUGE print with acrylic-photo mounting, and although you can’t really tell from this picture, it is just insane!!! The clarity and quality is just off the hook (I got this one from By the way, look how calm Brad looks holding this print. He had been drinking for hours. Well, as far as I could tell anyway.

One thing you can’t see from our photo is that the acrylic sits on top of the image, so I made a screen cap of their site (above) and you can see how it plays out. See how thick the acrylic is on top of the photo? That’s what gives it its look. By the way, if you’re wondering if all that acrylic adds to the weight of the image, it absolutely does. Big time! (Now, it’s not quite that thick on my giant wall-sized print, so it’s not crazy heavy, but on smaller images like one Brad had made of a concert shot, you can really feel the weight, so you probably don’t want to go walking around all day long carrying it. Just sayin’).

Anyway, I’m always looking for some new interesting way to display printed images, and I thought this one was pretty unique (Everybody that’s seen it in our offices always raves about how it came out). Once we get it hung (later this week, I hope), I’ll share a photo of it hanging over on my Facebook and Twitter pages.

Hope you all have a great Tuesday, and we’ll see you here tomorrow for Guest Blog Wednesday. :)


Is It Time To Demand “Unplugged Weddings?”

by Scott Kelby  |  40 Comments

This weekend I ran across an Interesting article over on CNN about wedding guests taking photos when there’s already a pro wedding photographer hired by the bride and groom. Of course, sadly today that’s the norm, and different photographers deal with it in different ways.

Going “unplugged”
I think the really valuable takeaway from this article is the “unplugged” wedding concept (which they outline in the article), which basically has the bride and groom asking the guests not to take photos of any kind during the actual ceremony itself. Afterward, at the reception, or during the formals, it’s OK, but during the ceremony they’re asking them to please allow the photographer to do the job they were hired to do, and the guests can just enjoy…well…being guests.

Not only do I love this idea, I wouldn’t take a wedding gig where the bride/groom didn’t buy into this concept (which means I would probably starve to death as a full-time wedding photographer), but I believe I could make a pretty convincing case to the wedding couple that it will: (a) lower their stress (b) let their guests actually experience the ceremony as it happens, and (c) they’ll get the kind of images they hired a pro photographer for in the first place.

Sadly, (a) I wouldn’t always be able to convince them of this, and (b) some of the guests would complain that they can’t take photos during the ceremony (in fact, I believe the article mentions that very situation).

Besides the very timely and thought-provoking article, I learned about a new App you can integrate into your next wedding shoot (and use as part of this unplugged concept). Some very useful ideas here:

Here’s wishing you a totally unplugged Monday! :)





It’s Free Stuff Thursday!

by Brad Moore  |  72 Comments

Speed of Light: Motorcycle Photography with Tim Wallace
Tim Wallace is a commercial photographer known for his stunning automotive photography, but he is no stranger to all modes of transport. From super yachts to trucks and motorbikes Tim has worked with them in all corners of the world. In Speed of Light: Motorcycle Photography, Tim walks us through a studio shoot with a 100% custom Harley-Davidson V-Rod. From building the set to placing the lights, and from making his selects to putting together the final composite, Tim shares tips and insights into the way he works at each step of the process.

Leave a comment for your chance to win a free rental of this class!

The Business Side of Dave Black: Get Paid Shooting What You Love
Join’s own Larry Becker and world renowned sports photographer Dave Black as they sit down to discuss what it takes to succeed as a sports photographer in Dave’s latest class, Get Paid Shooting What You Love. Dave’s love of sports combined with his love of photography and his ability to continually improve his game has fueled a career that spans three decades and sports coverage all around the world. Over the course of an hour Dave shares stories, advice, and practical tips on topics that range from how to embrace the transitions that will happen in your career to how to keep raising the bar on yourself to remain competitive, and from choosing your gear to challenging yourself to find ways to produce a different kind of picture.

Leave a comment for your chance to win a free rental of this class!

Photoshop World
Ever wonder what Photoshop World is like? Watch the video above to see what people have to say about the conference! And if you need to convince your boss (whether at work or at home) to let you go, we’ve put together something to help you out! And don’t forget, if you register before August 2, you save $100!

Leave a comment for your chance to win a full-conference pass!

Kelby Training Live
Want to spend a day with Scott Kelby, Joe McNally, Ben Willmore, or Matt Kloskowski? Check out these seminar tours!

Shoot Like A Pro with Scott Kelby
July 29 – Colorado Springs, CO
Aug 16 – San Antonio, TX
Aug 21 – Indianapolis, IN
Aug 27 – San Jose, CA

Photographic Artistry with Ben Willmore
July 22 – Cleveland, OH

One Light, Two Light with Joe McNally
July 31 – Virginia Beach, VA
Aug 7 – Charlotte, NC
Aug 9 – Pittsburgh, PA

Lightroom 5 with Matt Kloskowski
Aug 2 – Hartford, CT

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

Adobe Photoshop CC: Classroom In A Book
From the Adobe Creative Team comes Adobe Photoshop CC: Classroom In A Book, the book that takes you into the latest version of Photoshop and covers all the basics, along with extra tips and techniques to help you become more productive with the program!

Leave a comment to win a free copy of this book, or head over to to get 40% off until July 15!

Budapest Master Class Workshop with David Ziser
Join legendary photographers David Ziser and Clay Blackmore for a week in Budapest, September 9-16, for their Master Class Workshop! They’ll be showing you everything from composition and lighting techniques to camera gear and posing, all in exotic locations. You can find out more over at David’s blog, and sign up right here.

There are only three spots left for this workshop, so sign up sooner than later so you don’t miss out! And leave a comment for your chance to win a free rental of one of David Ziser’s classes on

Photoshop World Pass
-Marty Fox

Copyright Essentials Rental
-Pedro Oliveira

Kelby Training Live Ticket
-Gregg Lowrimore

If you’re one of the lucky winners, we’ll be in touch soon! Have a great Thursday!


It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Brooke Shaden!

by Brad Moore  |  16 Comments

ART, For the Sake of Passion

My story of passion would not be complete unless I took you back 10 years ago when I met my husband. I was 16 years old. We decided suddenly, instantly, and permanently that we could not live full lives without one another. It was at 16 years old that I threw myself into a love and passion and life that would keep me sustained for all my years to come.

Why is this important, and how does it relate to photography? Everything that I knew stemmed from that electric moment that I connected with my husband. In ways that he may never understand, he introduced me to the art that I love, the way I like to create, and the courage to believe in those things wholeheartedly. The story of meeting my husband is important because it was the first time that I had believed in something so much that I never doubted it for a moment. I learned to believe in my photography because of the confidence I gained from believing in love.

Photography, art, and creating in general are no different from making that type of commitment. So often people say to me, “It is almost like you aren’t a photographer, but instead an artist.” I believe that all photographers have the potential to be artists, and there is only a fine line between photographer and artist when there is a gap. What is it that puts that fine line into play? Passion.

You may think I am some crazy, new-age hippie. Admittedly I can be, and my headbands and oversized clothes add fuel to the fire, but what I preach is what I believe: Passion is the life-blood that runs through any artist, and every photographer has the capacity to capture it.

When I began photography I did not understand the world of art. I did not understand the world of photography any better. The only thing that I knew was what I liked and what I didn’t like. I knew what made my heart skip a beat and what I cared not to think about. I knew up from down within my little bubble of creating, but nothing outside of that. Knowing nothing turned out to be my greatest asset in my journey as a photographer. Because I didn’t understand how the business of photography worked, I had no constraints to work within. I began photography out of passion for telling stories, and so I started out doing just that: creating the stories I wanted to tell.

I had no preconceived notions of how much money I should be making, how I should be making my money, or how to run my business. When I started realizing that money would be a good thing to have if I wanted to continue to grow in my craft, I began thinking in terms of business; yet it wasn’t business as usual. I was working a full-time job. I had entered the “real world” of “grown-up work,” as I began photography just after I graduated from college. I was working as a receptionist, and then as a legal assistant. I understood one fundamental thing about the jobs I held: I didn’t want to do them. When I started looking at photography in a way that could lend itself to a sustainable business, I asked myself one very important question that has continued to define how I run my business: What do I want to spend my time doing?

I set very simple and very straightforward goals for myself. I wanted to show in galleries. I wanted to teach workshops. I wanted to write a book. No task seemed too big or too small. It was simply what I wanted to do with my time, and with no idea of how to achieve these goals, the weight of living up to someone else’s standard was taken away. I did things my way, for better or worse.

I have always viewed creating images in the same way. I knew nothing about photography when I started except that other people had stood where I was and had succeeded. I knew that someone had mastered Photoshop, and that others knew their cameras inside and out. I wasn’t interested in their methods, but simply in the inspiration that it could be done. I began creating self-portraits to practice photography and get the ideas in my mind out into the world.

When I began photography, it was in an effort to tell stories that I loved thinking about. I have always had stories in my mind, and still feel as though, even if I turned out images like a machine, I could never tell the amount of stories I have floating in my mind. Photography allowed me an outlet to make my imagination a reality. I approach photography the same as business. I do not have to live up to anyone else’s standards but instead set my own standards that I can judge myself against. Instead of looking to others for inspiration, I look inward and figure out why I love telling stories and how I can do so effectively.

From my first image that I captured in December 2008 to now, not much of my process has changed. I still create self-portraits. I still shoot with almost no budget. I am still inspired by the same props, wardrobe, and themes that ignited the spark of passion then. My creation process is quite simple, but what I love about creating is that it can be different for everyone. There is no right or wrong way to create. There is no industry standard, and if someone says there is, I can only believe it is a myth. There are endless paths leading to the same end goal. My end goal is to create an image that I am passionate about, and while my methods may be unconventional, I still get from point A to point B.

So often I walk out of my door with my equipment on my back, carrying props in my arms while wearing a fluffy dress, ready to create an image. My neighbors watch skeptically as I walk down the street and into the forest, to be alone in nature and to create something that inspires me. So often people walk past, watching, and ask questions, like if I know how silly I look, or sometimes offer to help. There is something so special to me about knowing that I am creating in a way that is personally fulfilling. Even if nothing comes of the photo shoot I just did, the experience made it worthwhile.

A large part of my process is editing, and I consider Photoshop just as much of a journey. Indeed, I am not going on a trip to the forest and jumping about as I take pictures, but I am re-visiting that feeling. I get to be back in the forest with my character. I get to immerse myself in the process that turns a picture into a whole new world. I think of everything that I do as a journey; business, shooting, editing, and even networking. They are all a way of creating a meaningful experience so that I, and hopefully others, can live a more passionate life.

I believe that finding passion is not as difficult as keeping it. Finding passion can be as simple as being honest with yourself about what you love and why you love it. Once you know that, the hard part is keeping that passion alive. Life gets in the way. Money gets in the way. Self-doubt and self-worth play into the equation of keeping passion running strong.

One of the most motivating thoughts that I have is remember how important my own happiness is. I believe that if I am pursuing my dreams, others will be encouraged to pursue theirs. I want nothing more than for everyone to be able to live their dream, and I would be a hypocrite if I weren’t trying to do the same. I am motivated to be happy because everyone around me will be happier for it.

If you are reading this, I can only hope that photography, or something else that is wonderfully meaningful, has come into your life to give you happiness. It is important to remember that your passion is worth pursuing. You never know how many other people will be touched by your dedication.

You can see more of Brooke’s work at, and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr.

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