Mornin’, gang, and happy Friday! I finally got some of my favorite shots together from my recent workshop trip to rural China, and I shared the final images, with lots of behind-the-scenes shots and videos, and the stories behind it all.

Here’s the link if you’ve got a minute. I hope you can give them a look.

TIP: At the end of the post, I shared how I set up my three Custom Modes on my camera. Most cameras these days have the ability to set up your own custom modes, and man do they make your life easier! Hope you find those helpful.

Heads up: if you participated in the Worldwide Photo Walk last week, Monday is the deadline to enter the photo contest

The contest prizes this year are pretty amazing (including a Canon EOS RP Mirrorless Camera with a 24-105mm lens, and the Adobe Creative Suite, and a B&H Gift Card, a whole bunch more!). Even the finalist prizes are crazy good, so make sure you enter your best shot from the walk. Hey, ya never know, right?

Here’s wishing you all a great Friday, a rockin’ weekend (#rolltide), and hopefully you’ll stop back by on Monday to see what’s going on. :)


P.S. I shared a technique today over at on how to edit in Lightroom Classic on your laptop when you’re traveling, and then how to merge all that you did; the images, sorting, editing — the works, with your main computer back home. Here’s the link if that sounds like something that might interest you.

Post-Processing Milky Way Landscape Photography with Erik Kuna

Join Erik Kuna for the post processing companion to his previous class, Demystifying Milky Way Landscape Photography! In this class Erik shares his Lightroom Classic and Photoshop techniques, tips, and tricks for bringing your Milky Way photos to life. Erik demonstrates each step in the process with examples taken during the first class. You’ll learn how to nail white balance, correct distortion, adjust tonal values, add presence and color, make localized adjustments, reduce noise, composite multiple exposures together, and so much more. Erik reinforces the techniques with a start to finish workflow to bring it all home.

In Case You Missed It: Demystifying Photo Pills

Learn how to get the most out of PhotoPills when planning your next outdoor photography adventure! Join Erik Kuna as he explains exactly what this app can do, why photographers should care about using an app like PhotoPills, and how best utilize all of the features and functions within the app.

In this class you’ll learn the basic terminology needed to use the planner, how to use the app to plan a photo shoot based around the position of the sun, the moon, or the milky way, how to discover when the next eclipse will occur at a given location, how to perform useful calculations, and so much more! Erik even breaks down all the steps he used in planning for a variety of different photographic scenarios. By the end of the class you’ll have a whole new appreciation for the ability to plan around celestial events using PhotoPills.

Photo by Nadra Farina-Hess

Things I Wish I’d Known Before Going Pro

Thank you to Scott and Brad for having me back here as a guest blogger. When Brad asked if I would be interested in doing another guest blog, I thought for a long time about what I could write about that would help those reading this blog. In past guest blog posts, I have talked about sorting and editing using Bridge, what it’s like to shoot a full day concert, photographing pets, and of course, more concert stuff. 

This time around I want to talk about what I wished I had known before giving up my day job and going into photography full time. I made lots of mistakes, and I still make mistakes. But I make fewer than when I started, which is a good thing. Many of you know that I am a concert photographer, but I earn most of my income from photographing corporate events, some private and some public. This post is about that work, as it’s where I earn my living and where I have made the most mistakes. So here are five things I wish I’d known before going pro.

Blues Traveler in concert. (Photo © Alan Hess)

You Have To Run A Business As A Business

I wish I had taken more business classes in college. An accounting class would have been really useful. I thought that being in a creative field like photography would mean less spreadsheets and more fun, but working for myself means that I have to deal with a lot of stuff that isn’t photography. I actually spend much more time on the non-photography stuff than I do making photos, like…

  • Finding the work (that’s a whole different blog post).
  • Creating budgets and scheduling the work.
  • Creating invoices, tracking payments, and keeping track of what’s owed and when.
  • All that business stuff isn’t taking photos or very creative at all.

I ended up going back to community college to take an accounting class just so I could understand the math behind my business. This ties right into being able to say no to work sometimes. You need to understand how to price your work. And if you don’t understand how to do that, how will you know when you should turn down a job offer because the money isn’t right? 

One more thing about running a business, you need to make sure you use contacts and legal forms. This protects you and the client. 

A lot more spreadsheets than I expected.
Freeman 90th Gala at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas, TX. (Photo © Alan Hess)

Can’t Do It Alone

This one took me a while to understand and even longer to embrace. I honestly thought the I was in direct competition with every other photographer in San Diego. While there is some competition (as there is with every job) having a group of photographers you can work with is way more beneficial than working alone. Let me give you a few examples of what Im talking about.

The first involves one of my best clients, a company that has hired me consistently over the past four years for multiple jobs in San Diego, Dallas and Nashville. This client only found out about me because another photographer here in San Diego gave them my name when he couldn’t take a job due to a scheduling conflict. If it wasn’t for the relationship I have with this other local photographer, I would never have been introduced to this client. 

Don Freeman photographed at the Freeman 90 year anniversary gala. (Photo © Alan Hess)
The cast of Scream Queens photographed for FOX/FX at San Diego Comic Con International. (Photo © Alan Hess)
Stan “The Man “ Lee photographed at the Fox booth during the San Diego Comic Con International. (Photo © Alan Hess)

For the last decade, I have been photographing the San Diego Comic Con for a variety of clients. You can hear all the details on the He Shoots He Draws podcast (episode 87). In this interview, I discuss how for the last three years I have had Hasbro as a client but I needed to put together a team of photographers to do the job.

I was able to reach out to a group of local photographers that I know, and trust, to work with me to get the client everything they need. Had I not had a good working relationship with a group of local photographers, I would not have been able to take the job at all. So just keep in mind that while there will always be some healthy competition, cooperation can really help move your business forward.

Learn To Say No 

This one might be the hardest lesson to learn, at least it was for me. I really thought that I needed to take every job that was offered to me. Boy, was that a mistake. I would say yes to jobs that didn’t fit my style or what I wanted to photograph. I would end up unhappy, and the client would end up unhappy which really didn’t help my business grow.

For example, I was recently asked to do a newborn shoot by someone I know from photographing concerts. They know me as a photographer, so they asked if I could do this for them. Knowing how important these types of shoots are and that it’s not something I do, I had to say no, but I did offer to put them in contact with someone better suited to their needs. This is another great example of why you need to have photographer you know and trust.

Dick Enberg and Bill Walton at the 2014 SLI Winter Conference. (Photo © Alan Hess)
Experience Freeman. (Photo © Alan Hess)

The other time I had to learn to say no is when the job would end up costing me more than I would make from it. That’s a great way to go out of business slowly. I know hard hard it is to say no to a paying photo gig, I used to just say yes to all of them. Then I started to think like a business person and did a little math and started saying no. I am not saying that you should never work for a low payment or even take a job for free now and then, just make sure that it is worth your time and energy. I still take photos at charity events for a greatly reduced fee and will still even shoot for free if I think the images created will help me book future work or its something I believe in. 

Consistency Is Key

Make sure the you can recreate the photos in your portfolio. Clients are going to hire you on your ability to create images for them in the style and look of the photos in your portfolio. Makes perfect sense, yet we tend to pack our portfolio with the very best images we have taken, even if those images were shot at workshops or when there was help with the lighting or styling. This is a huge mistake unless you are confident you can recreate the image yourself. The best way to avoid this, is to recreate the image in question and add that one to the portfolio instead. 

Every image in my portfolios (yes I have different portfolios for different job types) was taken by me without any help, and the look and style of the images can be recreated for my clients without worry. Most clients that hire me for my conference work want a full set of good images that can be used to show what the conference was like, and can be used if they ever put on that event again (or one like it). I have heard from clients that the sets of images I produced at past events are still being used to to this day. 

This type of image can be used by the client not just to show what was going on at the current event, but in the future. Think of it as a custom stock image for that client. (Photo © Alan Hess)
Knowing that I was going to have to photograph some award winners against the video wall, I made sure I took some practice shots before the ceremony took place. This allowed for consistent images of all the award winners. (Photo © Alan Hess)
Impromptu group portrait taken at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas TX, during the Freeman 90th Gala. I saw a spot where the light was just great and started to take multiple group shots of the attendees. You always have to keep your eyes open. (Photo © Alan Hess)

Have A Shot List

One of the reasons I have repeat clients is that they know what they are going to get from me. I make sure that we discuss the job beforehand and that I have no questions about their needs. When I started out, I assumed I knew exactly what the client wanted without actually talking to them. This led to some awkward moments when the client asked about a specific image and I didn’t have it. Now I make sure that I discuss the shot list in depth and if the client doesn’t have a shot list, I ask them to create one or we can create one together. 

Many times the hardest shot to take are the ones the client thinks are the easiest. This usually end up being a large group shot in poor lighting conditions without any way to get everyone in the shot. In the two following examples, I made it work in really terrible lighting conditions without any extra gear or preparation time. In the second shot, I had people stand on furniture and I stood on a chair myself. 

A quick group shot of the early morning running crew at a workshop. With this few people, I just staggered the three rows and stood on a narrow staircase to get a little height. (Photo © Alan Hess)
After a great Guitars in the Classroom meeting at the NAMM show, we decided to get a quick group shot in a very poorly lit ballroom. The key was getting some of the subjects to climb up on chairs to stagger the three rows of people/ (Photo © Alan Hess)

I was recently on a four day job covering a conference / workshop with about 150 people. They wanted me to take a group shot of all 150 attendees on the last day inside the workshop area. I had never seen the location before, so I had to rely on my problem solving skills and my past experience on taking large group photos. Turns out the ceiling was really low and there were pillars in the middle of the room. I worked out a way to use the staircase and the landing, along with a couch to gain as much height as possible and got the shot. I was only able to get this shot (I can’t post it here due to client restrictions) because I had worked out the best way to do it and I have had practice in that type of image. Still, it was the most stressful part of the job.

I really hope that some of these help you if and when you decide to turn a hobby or passion into a business. 

You can see more of Alan’s work at, check out his portfolio, and keep up with him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

#TravelTuesday has come round again, and I’m here on I’m Dave Williams and this week, I want to start by saying, “well done” to all the walk leaders of events around the globe as part of Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo Walk®! Great work, team! To everyone who attended a walk, I hope you had a fantastic time and made some great, new friends! Don’t forget to enter the contests as there are some top-notch prizes on offer across all the categories!

The thing I want to address in today’s post is about photography on social media. Specifically, how to deal with a problem I recently encountered. You know those interactive panoramas on Facebook? Well, there’s a piece of code that figures out whether your image is suitable by checking whether or not it’s a panorama when you upload. It checks the height vs width ratio of your image as one factor, but this isn’t the deciding factor as to whether your image is posted as an interactive panorama or a 360° photo. I learned this to my frustration recently with this post.

When I was in Iceland last week I saw the most spectacular show Mother Nature has to offer—the Northern Lights were filling the entire sky, all night long, owing to a geomagnetic storm. I set up my tripod on the road at the top of a mountain pass in north-east Iceland, far away from civilisation, and shot 16 exposures over-lapped, covering an entire circle around my position. I used Adobe Photoshop to stitch the exposures together as a panorama when I got home, using Merge to Panorama.

I shot the images using my Nikon Z6 (remember this for a second). When I went to upload the panorama to Facebook, it was looking just like this: –

I wanted the image to be an interactive panorama, but the code in Facebook wasn’t picking up that it was a panorama for some reason, and I couldn’t work out why. I tried uploading from my computer and from my phone, but it just wasn’t making a difference.

I was reading about how Facebook decides whether a photo is a panorama, and whether it’s solely the aspect ratio. As I said already, it turned out this wasn’t the only deciding factor. The camera used to take a panorama is also a factor, so I had to manipulate Facebook and trick it into making my panorama one of those cool, interactive ones, just like I wanted. Here’s how: –

Facebook recognises images of a certain aspect ratio taken on a phone as being an interactive panorama, or a 360° photo, however, we know my image was shot on the Nikon Z6, not on a phone. I had to make Facebook think it was a phone shot, but how? Well, it’s quite simple: If you use an EXIF editor, you can change all manner of details about an image. One such thing is the make and model of camera used to take the shot. By simply uploading the image at and changing the EXIF data to show that the image was taken on an Apple iPhone, rather than a Nikon Z6, this was sufficient for Facebook to accept the uploaded file as a 360° photo, and allowed my social media followers to get a sense of what I was seeing at 2 a.m. on the top of a mountain pass in Iceland. Simple!

I’ll be sharing a lot more detailed info on the Northern Lights really soon, so stay tuned if you want to know more.

Much love


That’s my awesome Chicago group on a beautiful day downtown.

Good morning, everybody – I’m back from leading the local Photo walk in downtown Chicago.

We were blessed with perfect weather and a really great walk route created by my buddy, Chicaoean Paul Kober. Chicago is such a great city for a Photo Walk, with its mix of modern and classic architecture (and great food – did I mention the food?). We wound up at Epic Burger on State Street and shared lots of stories, photos, and laughs. A great to wrap up my Chicago walk.

Thanks for helping the Orphanage (and if you haven’t yet, it’s not too late)

Thanks to all the gracious photographers who donated to help those less fortunate by donating to the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Nakuru, Kenya, which this photo walk has adopted as our own. We’re well behind last year’s numbers, so I hope you’ll find a way to help out with a donation — they are really counting on us. Just $1.00 would make a difference.

Group Shots From Around the World

One of the highlights for me each year, is seeing the group shots from around the world come pouring in — it’s such a treat to see all those smiling faces, from every part of the globe, having fun and enjoying one of the great joys of being a photographer, which is hanging out with other photographers and making new friends in the process.

I’m going to post a few shots here, but I would love it if you’d upload the group shot from your walk here in the comments (don’t forget to name your image with the city and country name of your photo walk).

La union ilocos region, Philippines 
Graz, Austria
Braunschweig, Germany
Gamcheon Village. Busan, South Korea
Lisbon, Portugal (with Chicky Nando!)
Old Town Spring, Texas, USA
Sooke, BC, Canada
The happiest photowalk on earth: Disneyland, Anaheim, California, USA
London, England. City – New and Old
Celebration, Florida, USA
Johnson City, Tennessee, USA
San Diego, California, USA (at Balboa Park)
Davao Photograhers Club and Guests. Santa Cruz, Davao del Sur, Philippines
Bryan Salazar Calbayog City, Western Samar, Philippines
Houston, Texas downtown at night.
Butuan City, Philippines
Gingoog City, Philippines
Tumon, Guam
Egypt , grees village , menofia
Calbayog City, Western Samar, Philippines
Bood Promontory Eco Park, Butuan City, Philippines
Westworth Village, Texas / Airfield Falls
Rochester MN, USA
Olo-olo Mangrove Forest in Lobo, Batangas, Philippines
PHOTOGRAPHERS CLUB OF CEBU – Magellan’s Cross Cebu City Philippines
Lancaster, California, USA

More Group Shot photos to come! :)

Thanks to our awesome sponsors!

Thanks to our wonderful main sponsor, Canon USA — we couldn’t have done it without them, and we’re so grateful for their help, enthusiasm and support, and the awesome prizes!

A big shout out to all our official awesome sponsors:

Rocky Nook
Think Tank Photo
B&H Photo
and FJ Westcott

Their support means the world to this photo walk.

Now it‘s time for the photo competitions!

The optional local, leader and worldwide photo walk competitions (with awesome prizes at stake) are just beginning, so look for more as we enter the competition phase. :)

Thanks to everybody who participated in walks around the world. Hope you got lots of great shots, made some new friends, and had a lot of fun making photographs.


It’s here and I’m so excited (and I can’t believe this is the 12th year in a row right?)

Greetings from beautiful Chicago, where this morning I’m leading a local walk here with 50 awesome photographers (My co-host on ‘The Grid’ Erik Kuna is here with me along with my buddy, Chicagoan Paul Kober) as part of my 12th Annual Worldwide Photo Walk, sponsored by the great folks at CanonUSA.

Here’s some “Day of Walk” stuff from me and the crew:

1. Our hashtag is #WWPW2019

On Twitter, follow @kelbyone and talk to us about photo walk using the hashtag #WWPW2019

2. Post your group shots here

One of my biggest thrills is seeing the Group Shots from walks all over the world come in, so if you have yours, please send me the link or leave me a link here in the comments so I can share them. DON’T FORGET to tell me your city and country for your group shot (in fact, it’s really helpful if you name your file with the city name and country, too!).

3. Keep an eye out for an email from us on where to upload your images to share with your other walkers

Once the walk is completed, we will ALSO email all of you so you’re aware of how to upload a picture for the optional walk competition.

4. A big, big thanks to our sponsors, including our premier sponsor Canon USA, for their gracious support and awesome prizes:

Here’s wishing you all beautiful weather, a safe fun walk, a chance to make new friends, and some of your best photos yet!


P.S. Don’t forget that the Spring of Hope Orphanage in Nakuru, Kenya is counting on us – I urge you to give the $1 donation and help some kids you don’t even know, which is makes it all the better because you’re truly giving from your heart. Here’s the link to donate. :)