It’s #TravelTuesday and I, Dave Williams, am here as always to bring you something from the photography world. This week I want to broach a subject that pops up constantly and one that we all see in photography business groups on social media and it’s ‘exposure’.

We often find ourselves being approached by friends and family in particular, but also by companies, asking us to work for free. The question won’t be phrased in such a way but more often than not it includes the term ‘exposure’ or eludes to the fact that the customer will share our social account to their audience, implying that they’re helping us. It’s a tricky ground to be on and I’ll start with this thought.

Maybe it will benefit us.

There’s a chance that it’s in our interest to do a job for free but the decision needs to come from us, not for the customer. If we’re approached to work for ‘exposure’ it’s important that we consider whether that exposure true has any value. Value can be referral to other methods of income and other clients, or it can be something to add to our resumé or blog. A prestigious client can be valuable to add to our resumé every now and then, but ‘exposure’ certainly doesn’t pay the bills by itself. So, what do we do if we really don’t want to take on the unpaid job being proposed to us? We have a few options: –

Firstly, we can say yes but add on the payment. Our response will look something like this:

“Thanks for considering me for this opportunity. I’m more than happy to show some samples from my portfolio to ensure we’re correctly matched. I cannot take on any extra work without payment right now, but I’m happy to work together.”

Or, if we want to step it up a gear, perhaps our response will look like this:

“Thank you for considering me for this project. Unfortunately, I’m unable to take on unpaid projects at the moment. If that changes in the future, I will get in touch with you.”

If we want to send out a hard ‘no’ in a polite and professional way, we can go with something like this:

“Thanks for thinking of me for this project, but I have too much on my plate right now”.

There are situations where you feel like a client is expecting you to work for free but they haven’t actually said that, in which case this may be a good response:

“That sounds like a great project! I’d love to discuss your specific needs in detail so I can send you a quote for it.”

Sometimes a client may have already paid for a particular service but they ask for more, and we can deal with it like this:

“Yes, I can help you with that. However, it is out of our original contract’s scope. I can do that for you within ‘X’ consulting hours at the same hourly rate as our original contract. Let me know if that works for you so I can put together the contract addendum.”

It’s always possible to politely and professionally respond to any request, no matter how outrageous, and it’s very important that we think carefully about any unpaid work we take on. As I mentioned, it can benefit us, but if it doesn’t benefit us it will merely burn us out and stand in the way of paid gigs. Ultimately, it’s ok to say “no”, and we have to consider everything when someone asks us to work for free. I hope that’s been a little useful to you!

Much love

New KelbyOne Course – Retouching in Lightroom: It’s All in the Details

Portrait photographer, Tracy Sweeney, will share with you her “It’s all in the details” approach to crafting captivating, creative portraits in Lightroom Classic. In this session you’ll focus on texture and clarity sliders in Lightroom Classic, and learn how to elevate your portraits with simple techniques that will enhance details and diminish distractions, resulting in wow factor photos.

In Case You Missed It: Pro Tips for Photographing Toddlers with Tracy Sweeney

Don’t be afraid of toddlers! Join Tracy Sweeney as she shares her best practices for photographing these little movers like a pro. In this class Tracy teaches you the importance of setting expectations with the parents and shares her tips for coaching the families through a session. You’ll learn her approach to posing toddlers and creating natural opportunities for keeping them engaged.

You’ll get to see Tracy putting it into practice through three different live shoots with toddlers and their parents, and at the end of the class Tracy shares her post processing workflow to help you become more efficient at creating your final images. With all of these tips and techniques in your bag of tricks you’ll be ready to create dynamic portraits that your clients will cherish.

Editor’s Note: In honor of Tracy’s new KelbyOne course, Retouching In Lightroom: It’s All In The Details, we’re sharing her guest post from September 2020!


Well Hello! Tracy Sweeney here, owner/photographer of Elan Studio in Bristol, Rhode Island. I’m thrilled to return and guest blog about an absolutely important topic in family photography.

Have you ever viewed an image that was so powerfully driven in “something” that it physically stirred you? Perhaps it was “something” so evocative, a single moment crafted from someone else’s time, and yet the picture’s energy mirrored an indelible memory of your own, bringing forth genuine connection? Or possibly there was a level of emotion that resonated so profoundly that it made you just feel “something?” That “something,” that thing that pulls us, draws us in and makes us wonder, anticipate, relive, laugh, cry, gasp, pause, that “something” is authenticity. 

Authentic imagery is powerful, and because I know that, I approach every photo session with the goal of crafting beautiful images through authentic means. Authentic, in elementary form, is defined as real and genuine. And through this consideration, it might seem paradoxical that my entire aim is authenticity, because, after all, I am a child and family photographer who poses, orchestrates, and directs; I am not a lifestyle photographer. Do I capture candids? Absolutely, but my style is certainly not photojournalistic. So then, how does one, under these self-imposed parameters (that have shaped my business), create natural, authentic imagery?


The key to creating natural, authentic images is quite simple: be authentic yourself. That seems rudimentary, right? Perhaps there was a specific tool you were hoping I suggest, or an actual phrase, game, gear, or direction I would give to guarantee that, even in a melange of subjects, you would be able to draw each out naturally, and each of their best selves would shine.

Well, in part, that’s true, because your authenticity, your approach that makes you feel so natural and fluid, will attract that likeness, and in other trending words, “your vibe will attract your tribe.” If you are interacting with your clients in a way that feels fluid and true to you, your subjects will respond effortlessly and relaxed, allowing you to capture them naturally. This applies to adults and children.


It’s #TravelTuesday and I, Dave Williams, am here as always bringing you a dose of my world. This week is no different and in fact, there’s a familiar face to include – Vanelli!

You may or may not know that Vanelli is the Director of Education over at Skylum and we caught up at The Photography Show last week, having not seen each other for a few years. The usual antics occurred – I tried to sneak up on him with my super-stealthy skills but was thwarted by his super-human strength whenever I got too close, however I was able to steal the keys to the Vanelli-mobile and take it for a spin of the show floor at the NEC! I’m taking that as a small win. But let’s stay on track – today I want to tell you a little about Luminar Neo. If you’re a reader of Photoshop User you’ll see a more in-depth review soon, but here’s what I have for today: –

There are several companies on the scene giving us Adobe Photoshop plug-ins (and more) right now, and each has their own merits. I have all the main players’ software for use and review so I’m in a position to point out the benefits and downfalls of each of them, and I have to say that I’m particularly impressed with Luminar Neo. You’ll have noticed, I’m sure, that it’s all about Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, and this is even reflected within Photoshop’s Neural Filters. Luminar Neo has taken the input of millions of images to kick out some killer image processing abilities, with more coming soon. There’s Sky AI, Relight AI, Atmosphere AI, Face AI, Skin AI, Structure AI, the list goes on and on. Each of these tools is on-point.

Some photographers are extremely averse to the AI tech we’re seeing introduced all around us but let me tell you, it isn’t going away. We have to find the tech that will help us and improve our photography and creative processes, and embrace it as part of our workflow. Software like this is here to help us so it’s important that we give it a try (which I mean quite literally – they all offer a free trial.)

The funny thing is that all the tricks we’ve learned in Photoshop for our edits are now simplified into ‘one-click’ actions, which kind of makes all our previous learning obsolete in places but also makes our lives that much easier moving forward. The thing is, if it’s going to make our lives easier it really shouldn’t require any real effort or further learning, which is why I place Luminar Neo above its competitors. Each of the pieces of software out there looks and feels different, but Luminar Neo is intuitive and easy. Every tool is where you’d expect it to be and it’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into the UX and UI. Having such an effective and intuitive aesthetic within the software and combining it with such powerful tools driven by AI is a game-changer for us as photographers and creatives.

Much love

(PS – I got hold of an extra copy to give away to one of you! To win, check my Facebook)

This is such an eye-opening video from ‘Studio Builder’ (a full-time working pro photographer), and he’s got some eye-opening takes on Vero for all those photographers who are thinking of moving there as an answer to Instagram’s recent changes (SPOILER ALERT: where Instagram is designed around photography, Vero clearly is not – as you’ll see, but there’s much more to it).

I even went back and started posting on Vero again myself, but this video is making me rethink investing time and energy there. Check it out:

Also, when Vero started back in 2018, with its promise of no algorithms and no ads, a lot of photographers did grab a spot over there (myself included), but then everybody kind of left in a hurry (Google it for the reason), but this video (above) doesn’t go into all that – just why it’s not what you think (or hope) it is, or would be. Give it a look – he did a LOT of research, and it makes a lot of sense.

OK, we’re off to a kind of a chippy Monday. Let’s turn it around and make this a kick-butt day!


Two separate topics that taste great together. First, check out what we just announced – our last training conference of the year – ‘The Travel Photography Conference.’ Check out the trailer below and why this is the perfect time for a conference like this, which covers the shooting, traveling, gear, the post-processing, and more:

You can sign up right here (and don’t forget – you get the entire conference, all the classes, archived for an entire year, so you can stream any session again, or any missed, on demand.

Burger King Totally Blew It!

Chicken Sandwich Wars Important Update: Burger King had it. They had one of the top contenders in the entire Chicken Sandwich war in their “Ch’King” chicken sandwich. It was pretty incredible. So much so that it made me actually go to Burger King, perhaps my least favorite restaurant anywhere. Never been a fan, but the Ch’King changed my mind. It made me a believer, and a customer. Until last week, when I was at the Burger King drive-thru near me, ordered a Ch’King, and they told me it had been discontinued. What? That’s right – it’s no longer available. Apparently, a lot of people loved it, but there was a problem. Here’s how a top exec at Burger King explained the problem:

“The Ch’King “was a great product that was difficult or challenging for teams to execute on.”

So, they didn’t replace the Ch’King with something that tastes better. They replaced it with something easier to make. It’s not about their customers. It’s about how easy it is for them to make.

But I gave them the benefit of the doubt since they’re running TV ads non-stop for their new “BK Royal Crispy Chicken Sandwich,” so after ‘The Grid’ last week, I bought one to give it a try (even though one of our viewers commented that they had already tried it, and it was totally “meh”).

I tried it, and I can tell you this: It’s misnamed. It should have been called, “It’s our old boring chicken sandwich back again,” and their TV campaign could have been, “You didn’t like it before, and now it’s back.” It was completely ‘meh.’ Super ‘meh.’ They quit. They gave up. Save your money.

We Have a New Champ!

I mentioned this on The Grid recently, but we have a chicken sandwich that finally (finally) beats the famed Popeye’s spicy chicken sandwich (and it’s close 2nd place entry from Zaxby’s), and I am crowning it the new reigning champion of all Chicken Sandwich wars contenders. It is from the Outback Steakhouse’s new fast food chain called “The Aussie Grill,” and their ‘Crispy Sriracha Chicken Sandwich” is remarkable. Truly. It is the new ‘king’ and Burger King…well…they totally blew it.

Have a great weekend, everybody. Hope your chicken is crispy and spicy!