#TravelTuesday at Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider means one thing: I’m here! I’m Dave Williams, a travel photographer and writer from the UK. I like long walks, I can spin a pen around my thumb, I can partially dislocate my jaw to fit more food in my face, and I have a disturbingly good memory for anything I’m told except for your name! Enough about me, though. Let’s talk about self-promotion online!

There’s a fine line in the creative industry when it comes to self-promotion, particularly with respect to social media. It kind of relates to giving away too much, such as with pricing. A lot of people who find us on social media and online searches will be looking for prices because projects are more often than not determined by budget rather than the actual content. It’s from this, of course, that the photographer, in particular, wants to respond to the question, “How much is it?” with, “What’s your budget?

 

 

Here’s the thing, though: even with a budget-driven approach, that content and its quality is usually the first thing noticed in either case. It’s important, therefore, to focus properly on marketing, social media, and the larger umbrella of “shameless self-promotion.”

Getting that right is tricky. It brings to mind a little nugget of wisdom I was told by Glyn Dewis a few years ago. He said to me, “Don’t take yourself too seriously, but take what you do seriously.” It makes me think of being at school and being told that nobody likes a show-off!

Striking a balance between what is productive and what is destructive is the trick. It’s certainly true that engagement leads to reciprocated engagement, but you have to give people something to engage with if that’s the aim. It’s also true to say that you don’t always need to post something positive to get that engagement. In fact, being overly positive can potentially lead to destructive consequences and criticism. The thing is, people like to feel like they know something. If you feed information, it can be positive and be shared, which means you yourself are being shared.  Also worth noting is that it’s okay to make mistakes sometimes. Leading on from people liking to feel like they know something if you make a simple mistake, the swathe of people wanting to point it out and correct it will, itself, drive engagement to the post.

There are some pretty stubborn people out there using their social media to observe rather than promote, and to those people, I say this: There is always going to be someone out there working harder than you and there is always going to be someone out there better than you. If you’re the one standing out from the crowd on social media or blogs, you’re the one who’s going to get the next gig because you’ve made yourself noticed. The risk of being told something you don’t like isn’t something worth considering. If you stand out, you face being criticised as a result of having yourself and your work examined by an army of keyboard warriors, but that risk is negligible against the potential gains. In this industry, we face challenges and this is just one of them. Marketing yourself effectively and efficiently is an art. Your knowledge, art, brand, experience, and YOU are things you should be marketing to grab that next client or agency, and with a little practice and a little commitment this shameless self-promotion will pay off.

Some ideas: 

  • Team up on Instagram and provide content for larger accounts—paid or unpaid, it leads to engagement, which leads to cold, hard, cash! I’ve done Instagram takeovers and projects with KelbyOne, Platypod, Lonely Planet, Extreme Iceland, and a few others. It ALWAYS generates something.
  • Show people behind the scenes. It gives away some of the secrets, and people absolutely love that!
  • Write for blogs to get your name spread further. There are plenty of blogs, particularly those of the products you use, who are willing to feature a good story if you just dig around a little and find the right person to send it to.
  • Tag accounts relevant to a social media post. For example, tag a product you used to take the shot or the location in which you made the image. Get their attention!

 

 

A behind the scenes shot can be anything from a complex look at a studio setup explaining the whats, wheres, and whys, or it can simply be a selfie with an albino kangaroo you’d been shooting just outside of Melbourne, Australia! People love to talk about themselves, and other people love to hear about it! There’s a reason selfies are such a big deal!

You may be the world’s best photographer, but you won’t be getting work if nobody can see just how amazing you are. Generally, we create our work out of a passion for our art rather than a thirst for profit, and that is sometimes what hinders this selfless self-promotion we need to be getting involved with. Work out which platforms you want to be using, be it Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, 500px, Flickr, LinkedIn, Google+, whichever, and start being consistent with it. Work out when your followers are more likely to engage, and give them something to engage with. Put your marketing hat on and sell yourself. Show people behind the scenes. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll thank me. ;)

Much love

Dave

  • Amecameca, Mexico
  • Quchan, Iran
  • Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, USA
  • Naga, Bicol, Philippines
  • Birmingham, Alabama, USA
  • Kanpur, UP, India
  • Cebu City, Philippines
  • Mashhad, Razavi Khorasan Province, Iran
  • Paris, Ile-de-France, France
  • Muratpasa, Antalya, Turkey
  • Ruston, Washington, USA

These are all cities that recently added photo walks as part of my 11th Annual Worldwide Photo Walk (sponsored by the awesome folks at Canon USA).

We are just 19-days away from the walk on Saturday, October 6th
Whoo hoo, it’s gettin’ close! We have already approved leaders in over 1,000 walks in cities around the world, and nearly 800 of them are already online for you to join a walk near you!

To find out if there’s a walk near you, click here. 

Lots of fun, and new friends, and new photos await. The photo walk is free, and you might win some amazing prizes if you want to submit an image to the photo contest (totally optional, but entry is free, too). Grab a group of your friends and sign up to be a part of the walk, today! :)

I’m off to Rome, Italy for my travel photography workshop…
But I’ll be thinking about you all (not really). ;-)

Have a great week, and enjoy that amazing pasta (oh, s0rry — me again). ;-)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Even though I’m not here this week, we recorded a special episode of The Grid on Friday that will air on Wednesday at its normal time. Our topic is “How to not get suckered when picking out your next camera.” 

 

If you shoot long exposure photography with your DSLR, this tip is for you, because one of the things you have to deal with (especially with exposures longer than 1-minute) is “light leak.” That’s light that enters your camera through your viewfinder during long exposures and it can totally mess up your shot. So, you need a way to cover that viewfinder completely, and that’s the tip — you probably didn’t realize that you already have an accessory that’s actually made for that very thing — covering your viewfinder to keep out any extraneous light. 

Now that you know you probably have this “eyepiece cover,” where do you find it? They come with most DSLRs, but if you’re a Canon user start by looking on your camera strap. See that little rubber piece attached to it that you never knew what it was for? That’s it — that’s your eyepiece cover. (well, it’s there on most Canon camera straps). You just pop off the viewfinder cover (on mine, you just press up from the bottom and it pops off), and then you take that part of your camera strap and just slide it right over your viewfinder opening (you don’t take it off the strap — this will make more sense when you try it yourself). When you’re done with the shot; pop off the rubber cover; snap the eyepiece cover back on, and you’re done. That’s it — it’s always with you, and takes just 5-seconds to use. 

Here (below) is a great youtube video from ZY Productions that shows how this cover works (and I have it set to start right where he shows how it’s done). This will help a lot.

Note: Some high-end DSLRs, like my Canon 1Dx, and the Nikon D3, D4, and so on, have an “eyepiece shutter” which is a level you engage and it literally covers the viewfinder for you. 

Nikon Users: Your accessory for covering the eyepiece on your DSLR is called the Nikon DK-5 Eyepiece Shield (shown above), and it’s probably still in the box from when you bought your camera, but if you can’t find yours, you can pick up a replacement from B&H Photo — they’re only $3.50

Sony shooters or any camera brand the doesn’t have a custom-made eyepiece cover: you can use a piece of gaffers tape (which is what I did before I learned this tip). I just wrapped a long piece of gaffer’s tape around my tripod’s leg (above where they expand and collapse), and then when I need a piece to cover my viewfinder, I would just tear a little piece from that leg, and boom — done. 

Hope you found that helpful. :)

We’re less than a month away from the Worldwide Photo Walk
There are nearly 800 walks in cities all over the world – if you haven’t signed up to join a free photo walk near you (it’s Saturday, October 6, 2018), then head over to worldwidephotowalk.com and click the “Find a Walk” button. Lots of fun, awesome prizes, and a chance to make friends and make some cool pictures. 

Have a great weekend, everybody – I’ll catch ya here on Monday. :)

Best, 

-Scott

Pro Quality Headshots Using A Simple Setup with Kristi Sherk
Learn how to create pro-level headshots with with Kristi Sherk! You may know Kristi as an amazing retoucher, but corporate headshots are a large part of her business. In the first part of this class Kristi takes you through her lighting setup, teaches you how to prepare for the shoot with the goal of saving you time in post production, how to coach your subjects, and how she reviews the shoot with the client to make the final selects. The second part of class is all about how to deal with some of the more problematic retouching situations you might encounter, such as reflections on glasses or reducing wrinkles on clothing. Kristi is all about saving you time in post production, so she wraps up the class with a look at actions and plug-ins you can leverage in your workflow.

In Case You Missed It
Join Kristina Sherk from Shark Pixel for an entire class dedicated to teaching you the best methods for retouching eyes using Photoshop. The eyes are the windows to the soul, and the first things viewers connect with when looking at your photographs. Correctly retouching eyes, without going overboard, is one of the most crucial aspects of portrait retouching, and can make or break a photo. In this class you’ll learn all aspects of eye retouching, including under the eyes, opening the eyes, whitening, adding lashes, exaggerating color, improving catchlights, and more. By the end of the class you’ll have a new bundle of tools, tips, and techniques for improving your retouching skills, as well as a free set of brushes you can download and use.

It’s six am and I’ve been sitting in front of my computer for an hour trying to figure out how to put onto paper what I want to express with this soap box I’ve been given, by being asked to write this guest blog.

Internally I know what I want to tell you. I know why I’ve been given this opportunity to guest blog for Scott freakin’ Kelby, I created the opportunity by believing that it would happen.

Through this journey of mine, I have been approached by many people thanking me for allowing them the opportunity to feel like they could be themselves and create art that speaks to their soul. 2018 Kelly can’t believe that anyone would feel like they are unable to express themselves and be their authentic self. 2018 Kelly needs to take a step back and remember the path she took to get to this point.

I was where you are right now….

I know sometimes you’re scared and you feel like you are not enough. I’ve been there. There are so many amazing photographers and SO MUCH beautiful work.

The question of how will you find your niche and create amazing art probably runs through your mind like a railcar… I know there are so many moments when you feel fear. 

Fear of failure

Fear that your goals won’t be achieved

Fear of stepping outside of the box

I know this, because I have dealt with those emotions for as long as I can remember.

Before I started focusing on how my internal dialog affected my every day life, I was a mess.

Seriously.

My childhood was not an easy one, and I used those experiences to make excuses for my drama, my emotions and– at times– my negative attitude.

I told myself it was okay to lack confidence and doubt myself because I had heard it so often as a child.

I allowed myself to be taken advantage of and allowed my creative and internal voice to be muffled to accommodate other people’s agendas because I was afraid if I created something weird or out of the ordinary, people wouldn’t like me.

There was a time, not long ago, when I would be riddled with jealousy every time someone succeeded in a way I wanted to succeed.

You’ve felt it, too, haven’t you?

It was easy to find reasons to diminish their accomplishments and make myself feel better for not existing in a space where I felt successful and happy. 

I recoiled at questions regarding my photography and art in fear of them stealing a piece of my pie, and the possibility of someone else moving ahead and creating the reality I wanted.

But that way of thinking was not projecting my passions forward…it was holding me back.

I knew I wasn’t happy, and that artistically I wasn’t even close to where I wanted to be. I needed a change, so I began engaging with others in a positive way. Even if they had negative feedback, I would try to answer and explain in the most loving way I could. Meditation and focusing on my spirituality became a driving force in my creativity, and to this day I feel out of sorts if I miss a day of self contemplation and personal focus. I realized how little effort I put into self preservation and happiness.

Every morning I set my intention for the day, and even though I may get derailed from time to time, try to live in the most positive way I can.

You don’t have to be scared. I know this because I have seen the proof in my own life and career over and over in the last three years and it has changed every aspect of who I am.

Through this journey, I consistently resonate with the belief that we create our own reality and that we have the ability to create the life we choose.

This has been a driving force throughout my entire life.

It wasn’t until I took the time to focus and realize it, that it truly changed my life.

Not long ago, the certainty of this showed itself to me.

March 2017 I created a mock-up of my art on a wall. The images were huge, and in a gallery-like atmosphere.

I felt an overwhelming sense of pride when I looked at that image.

I hung it at my desk and told everyone that within the year, it would become a reality. I was well-aware that it would be no small task, as it was crazy and completely out of the realm of what my reality would allow in that moment.

Fast forward to April 2018 I walked into the studio of RGG EDU to film my retouching tutorial, having had no input into the set that was created, the aesthetic, or the set up. That was one of the most jaw dropping, awe inspiring, amazing moments of my life.

Everything I had intended to happen was literally right in front of me.

Now, I’m not saying that you just need to print out an image, stick it on your wall and it will become a truth. It simply comes down to what your subconscious truly believes.

Have faith in yourself and your abilities. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? I still struggle with self doubt, self esteem issues and at times, negative talk. The difference is that I’m aware of how those feelings impact my subconscious, and that those feelings will attract more negativity into my life.

There is enough to go around.  I had to put aside my fear of sharing my knowledge and my fear that others would succeed in place of me, and realize that there is enough for everyone. That is definitely not an easy feeling to overcome, but once you realize the impact of sharing what you’ve learned and how you’ve accomplished it can have on others, it makes it a bit easier. 

Lending a hand and sharing our knowledge only helps to bring about amazing things, incredible people and abundance into our lives. What you do for others, you do for yourself.

Set goals. Focus and decide what you want to achieve. Understand why you want to achieve your goal and start looking for ways to get it done. Don’t wait for life to happen.

Be nice people. I don’t think this needs much explanation. Life is too short, and there is too much beauty to allow negativity into our lives. React with kindness, compassion and love always.

I want to tell you that its ok to be weird, strange and kooky, I’ll still like you! 

It’s okay if your art doesn’t fit into a box.

Rules are boring. 

Your thoughts become things—you are a product of those thoughts and it will show itself in your work. So be positive, work hard and believe that you can have the life you want.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader” – John Quincy Adams

Inspire others….become the leader!

You can see more of Kelly’s work at KellyRobitaille.com, and keep up with her on Etsy, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

#TravelTuesday has come around again, and so soon! Right here at Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider, that means I, Dave Williams, get to share something with you from the world of photography, Photoshop, travel, and life. Today, I’ve opted for photography and I’m going to lay down some tips to step up your shooting, right after I check in with the latest news!

Over at Layers Magazine, the new #MondayMotivation series of guest posts is going great! Yesterday, we saw a superb piece by Douglas Young, who goes by the monicker Doug Does Disney. It was so sparkly and inspirational—I loved it! If you haven’t seen it, go check it out!

Just one more thing I wanted to mention: my next foreign mission is to Norway, and when that happens, I’ll be taking over the KelbyOne Instagram Story, so be sure you follow that and follow me!

Right, let’s go!

Have a subject

This is something that puts landscape photography in the forefront of my mind. The specific thought is Moose Peterson, smiling and pointing at me, saying, “stop shooting sticks and stumps!” Well, it’s those sticks and stumps that are the subject. The foreground interest. Maybe Moose is right, maybe we should switch out the sticks and stumps for something more interesting! The important thing here is that when we’re shooting a large scene, what’s often happening in the thought process that made us bring the camera up to our eye and shoot is that being there, present in the scene at that time, it looked beautiful to you. The difference is that it doesn’t always translate that way into something beautiful to the viewer who wasn’t there—it’s simply a large expanse. We’ve taken that huge scene, flattened it, and made it into a little rectangle. Adding that foreground element into our large scene, whether it be right in front of the lens or simply close enough relative to the background, will create a feeling of depth and allow our eye and mind to really be entertained looking at that image.

When we start out in photography, we learn from a whole range of sources. Everybody’s different, so whether you’re the type to watch videos, read books, or get hands-on with courses, you’ll still end up in the same place with the same kind of knowledge. The knowledge comes from education, but also from practice and experience. I’ve had a lot of messages over on my Instagram lately, asking about how to get good photos, so today I’ll take it to grassroots and flip that around, giving my best advice for stepping up your shooting. The aim here is to gift new photographers with some knowledge and simultaneously remind the more seasoned of us what we should be considering when we have the camera in our hands.

 

 

This shot from Massachusetts, USA, is cool. It has colour, it has reflection, but more importantly it has a subject. Without that cute little family of birds swimming in for bedtime, it would just be a sunset. With the birds, there’s something about it to focus on and to make it more interesting. (By the way, when I took this shot, Kaylee Greer was standing next to me making the strangest noises over how cute this little family was. I think she wanted to take them home!)

Get Closer

I remember Scott saying to me once, “That could be closer.” I was a little miffed—I’d taken what I thought was an absolute cracker of a shot. He was right. If you think your photos aren’t good enough, get closer! The art of the crop is something I’ve written about before, and there’s good reason for it. Closing in on the subject and filling the frame right up is a technique to force the viewer’s attention on the detail. It conveys emotion whilst, at the same time, removing the sense of place and other things we think about when we scan an image. This leaves only one thing to think about: the subject.

 

 

Take this shot of a peacock I took in Maidenhead, UK. It is cropped in tight, giving absolutely no reference of the location, but forcing us to look at nothing but the detail. If I’d shot the whole bird and its surroundings, it would’ve been pretty, but this steps it right up and removes all those distractions, creating a totally different image. Do the same thing to someone’s face in a portrait and their emotion is conveyed so much clearer to the viewer, too.

Shoot tack sharp

That phrase “tack sharp,” has been lifted straight from Scott’s books. It makes perfect sense and it’s a nice, catchy reminder to check focus constantly. Having intentional blur in an image can look great when it’s done right, but when focus is missed, it can have disastrous consequences. There are so many tutorials out there on how to achieve perfect focus by concentrating on ISO and aperture, and their relationship to shutter speed. Further to that, there are a whole bunch of tutorials teaching us what exactly to lay our focus spot on when we take a shot. The important thing to remember is that focusing correctly can make or break an image.

 

 

I shot this pair of Icelandic horses one cold day in January 2016, and getting focus in such difficult conditions with numb fingers and trying to lock on to the eyes of a pair of frolicking horses was tricky. Had I not spent the time getting it right, however, I would’ve ended up never being able to show this image and I would’ve been cold for nothing!

Compose

Watch your horizon, scan your scene for its various elements, and line everything up nicely to match a compositional technique that works. Get this done when you’re there taking the shot and you’ll be well on your way to a winning image. You may have to move, and it may take a little consideration to get everything right, but it’ll pay off. One thing that shows the difference between a photographer and a “camera owner” is composition, so give it all due consideration.

 

 

Take a look at this image I made on the roof of a monastery in Piazza de San Francisco, Havana, Cuba. We’ve got a lot of compositional elements working together here. First, the subject, the couple, are showing you where to look, but so are the lines on the building to the right. The horizon is straight and it’s sitting at about the top third. There’s a wall to the left boarding the image, which is subliminally bouncing your eye away from that edge and keeping it in the frame. All too often we’ll see something cool, stop dead, and pick up the camera and fire off a shot, then turn and walk away. Taking the time to put all the pieces together in a nice, considered way will show that you know exactly what you’re doing.

I hope this has been useful!

Much love

Dave

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