Monthly Archives April 2012

Today’s the big announce day at Adobe, and I’m out here in San Francisco for the CS6 launch event, and everybody here is really psyched.

Of course, for me it’s all about Photoshop CS6, but obviously for a lot of folks that’s just one part of a big Creative Suite package that was made much bigger by today’s launch of the Adobe Creative Cloud. Get the full scoop on the Creative Cloud right here (it’s cooler than you’d think, and Adobe really reached out to those folks still using CS3, and CS4 with a special deal for them, which I thought was really cool on their part).

First go here
David Wadhwani over at Adobe did a really great, to-the-point, quick summary of what the Creative Cloud is all about, and who it’s designed for (and why), and it’s definitely worth checking out. Here’s the link.

Next go here
Your next stop should probably be Adobe’s own Photoshop page (they would probably want you to visit their Creative Suite page, but hey — I’m a Photoshop Guy). Here’s the link.

Then go here
If you want to know about the other suite stuff, go check out Terry’s Tech Blog, (here’s the link) as he’s got lots of cool videos and stuff on the rest of the suite products, like InDesign and Illustrator (among others).

I’ll have more news tomorrow, after the event, but when I get back I’ve got a lot to share (and some stuff in Photoshop CS6 I’m really, really, psyched about but that isn’t getting the attention it deserves because everybody is still blacking out about Content Aware Move). ;-)



Two weeks ago, on the “The Grid” we talked about Social Media for photographers, and we talked about Twitter, and Google+, and the new kid on the block (which is now reportedly the third largest social media site), Pinterest.

I asked my wife Kalebra to join us on the show, (she’s hooked on Google+ and has a really dedicated, fun, fully engaged group over there — link), and she loves Pinterest as well, so we talked quite a bit about both (I mostly griped about Twitter and their 140 character limit. Don’t get me started).

Anyway, last night she did a cute post about Pinterest over on Google+, and one of the people who follow her there wrote this comment:

“I’m reluctant to sign up for yet another social venue given my trouble keeping up with the four accounts I now have (fb, twit, linked,g+) but have been hearing enough about Pinterest that I’m intrigued. Can you clue me in to how Pinterest fits into the general mix? please and thank you!”

OK, now I get it
My wife wrote back a comment to him that I thought was the best description of what Pinterest is all about I had ever heard. I asked her if I could share it here with you today, because I think it will help a lot of folks understand what Pinterest is all about. She wrote…

I’d be happy to —- just remember it’s only how I see it. ;)

Have you ever torn a travel picture or recipe out of a magazine and stuck it in a folder? How about a photo for inspiration for your next shoot? Well because we view so many of these things on the web now Pinterest is a way to do the same thing we did with magazines but online.

For instance, I love to travel! So, I have a folder (Pinterest calls them “boards”) I named “Places” (link) and it’s full of photos of places I’ve been, and places I want to go. I am also a pilot so I have a board named “Of Flight and Fancy (link) and I LOVE chocolate so I have a board for that too (link).

You could have boards like these for any of your own interests – it’s lots of fun to manage (and have instant access to) all of the things that interest and inspire you.

Another thing I’ve heard people say they like about it is that interaction is not really required–you can–but it’s not expected. I hope this helps. Happy Pinning! :)

Thanks Sweetie (er, I mean…Kalebra) for letting me share that with my readers. I haven’t done a lot on Pinterest yet, but every time I see Kalebra’s boards I sure want to. Maybe when I get back from London.

Here’s wishing you all a really fun weekend, and we’ll see you back here on Monday. Oh, in the meantime, here’s a taste of Kalebra’s Chocolate board. ;-)


Photo Walks at The Google+ Photographer’s Conference
The Google+ Photographer’s Conference is next month in San Francisco, and while the main sessions will be broadcast live, you can only be part of the Photo Walks if you’re there in person! Scott Kelby will be leading one at Golden Gate Park, plus lots of others around San Francisco will be led by Trey Ratcliff, Catherine Hall, RC Concepcion, Lindsay Adler, and more! Get all the info and register at

The Lightroom 4 Book for Digital Photographers
Since Lightroom first launched, Scott Kelby's The Lightroom Book for Digital Photographers has been the world's #1 best-selling Lightroom book. His latest version for Lightroom 4 is being printed as we speak and it’s available for pre-order now here. Scott uses his same step-by-step, plain-English style and layout to make learning Lightroom easy and fun in this edition. He doesn’t just show you which sliders do what and what the new features are â” instead he will teach you how to create your own photography workflow using Lightroom. In the spirit of Free Stuff Thursday, you can grab a chapter from the book here.

Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. LIVE! in London
We’re just nine days away from the last ever Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. LIVE! seminar with Scott Kelby! We’re heading to Islington, London, UK on April 28 for a day of awesomeness that you won’t want to miss. Sign up here, or leave a comment for your chance to win a free ticket!

Lightroom 4 Live
Matt Kloskowski is hitting the road with the Lightroom 4 Live seminar tour. Head over to for dates and registration, or leave a comment for your chance to win a free ticket to one of these seminars! Make sure you specify which city.

How about $2,500 and a Wacom Intuos4 Tablet for free?
If you can create a kick butt political t-shirt design you could walk away with those prizes and more! NAPP and have teamed up to offer you the chance to put your Photoshop skills to the test and win amazing prizes in a Political T-shirt Design Contest.The 2012 political race is heating up, so now is the perfect time to show off your best and most exciting political design ideas. The grand prize winner will be walking away with $2,500, a Wacom Intuos4 Tablet, a one year membership to NAPP and a one year subscription to Kelby Training! In today's world, designers must be not only talented, but also savvy when it comes to using their skills. Take your creativity and expertise off the screen and paper and apply it to a real world product! The contest is open to anyone, but hurry, because Sunday, April 22nd is the deadline. For complete details, visit the contest page.

Fay Sirkis – Wild About Animals DVD
OK - so you know those amazingly cool photographs you take? Did you know that in Photoshop, you can turn them into hand painted works of art! Yep, that’s right and our very own Fay Sirkis will show you how in this 2 Disc DVD set called, Wild About Animals - A Photo Painting Safari.

Just leave a comment and as always, we’ll randomly draw for 3 winners before next week’s Free Stuff Thursday post.

Think Tank Products Now Available at B&H!
That’s right, the full line of Think Tank Photo products is now available at B&H Photo Video! Two of our favorite companies together at last. Head on over to B&H to shop for camera bags, laptop bags, card holders, and everything else from Think Tank Photo!

Rick Sammon’s Big Cats App
Rick Sammon’s 7th app is Rick’s Big Cats: For big (and small) cat lovers. For just $.99, you get 20 photos to use as iPad and iPhone wallpapers! Head on over to for all the details.
Environmental Light and Automotive Photography, the latest class from the ever-popular Tim Wallace is now available at! If you’ve ever wanted to get into automotive photography but weren’t sure where to start, this is the perfect class for you. Tim shows you how to get the most out of one camera, one lens, and available light to make some killer car photos!

Last Week’s Winners
Here are the winners of last week’s giveaways:

Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. LIVE! in London
Jim Diedrich and CJ Evans

Lightroom 4 Live Seminar
Marc Myton, Jennifer, and Glenn Nieciag

David Ziser’s Live Wedding Shoot DVD

Photoshop Quiz Game
Don, Randy, and RFrazier

Congratulations, and we’ll be in touch soon!

That’s it for today. Have a great Thursday!

Sorry to interrupt Guest Blog Wednesday, but I know a lot of you have been waiting for the next “Live Blind Critique” episode of “The Grid” and well, it’s been just over a month since the last one, so it’s today.

If you’d like to have your work considered for today’s blind critiques (we show your images but don’t mention your name on the air), just leave us a link to your portfolio right here:, or to some images you’ve posted online, and we’ll pick 20 or so photographer’s work to go over on the show (not based on who posted first — we choose based on showing variety and images we think can help our viewers).

Then, we’ll see you at 4:00 pm today at (by the way, I’m holding a note in the photo above. Not really, but it sounds better than catching flies).

The first time I picked up a camera with actual intent, I hadn't yet decided to become a photographer - but I certainly knew that I wanted to suck less at photography than I did.

So I started studying pretty much anything I could get my hands on at the time. As this was nearly ten years ago, I was able to access about 10% of what I could if I were starting out as a photographer today.

I set out to learn my camera from the ground up, and that included shooting in manual mode and putting myself through the paces until I learned enough about responding to a variety of situations that I finally felt in control of my equipment. That also meant I took on quite a variety of work for some time - if I could gain experience, get paid, and stay out of any sort of legal snafu, or at least prison time, I'd do it. In my first few years as a photographer, I shot weddings, editorial, headshots, children, family portraits, glamour, political campaigns, newborns, maternity, travel photography, landscapes, food, commercial work, editorial work, stock, architecture & interiors, and sports.

I didn't attempt underwater photography or aerial photography, but that's about all I didn't cover; I was essentially an everything-on-land photographer.

But everything-on-land is a lot of ground to cover and although I enjoyed the experience of shooting nearly all of it, it wasn't long before I recognized that I was becoming a great generalist and a pretty crappy specialist. I wanted to master something. Or at least I wanted to start the process of mastering something because, as it turns out, by the time you master anything in photography, all the rules change - and then you just end up building from there, working towards a new type of mastery.

I decided to narrow the field down to portraits and really place my focus there. The biggest surprise was finding out that those years of shooting so much variety taught me more than I would have ever guessed. I learned that shooting weddings (especially several hundred weddings) prepares you for being able to shoot anything, anywhere, and in any lighting situation - especially if you believe that your job, as the photographer, is to be able to roll with the day and be up for anything that unfolds, no matter what.

I also learned that shooting sports teaches you to anticipate the look of frozen movement, like the precise moment a runner tucks an elbow back and in while lifting his knee in symmetry, which is different than anticipating emotion, like the sweet moment a resistant father of the bride finally gives in to overwhelming sentiment.

(I also learned that you should never skimp on great lenses ⦠and you need to get past any body consciousness you might have when you're in the pool shooting an Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer with 1% body fat - but I digress.)

The reason I was most drawn to portraits is because that is where I found the most significant amount of connection between my subjects and me. It was also my best opportunity to build long-term relationships that would pay off exponentially not only in referrals and sales, but in having a front row seat to follow the lives of those I came to care about a great deal.

A great example is actually tied to the new book I just wrote, Envisioning Family. The focus of the book is about making meaningful portraits of the modern family - but the cover image is a pretty meaningful portrait in and of itself.

What's compelling to me about this cover is that I have been photographing this family since 2003, and so much has changed for them before and after this specific portrait was shot. Initially, nine years ago, it was just the couple and their baby. Then the second daughter came along. Then a third little girl came joined in - and suddenly life got more difficult, about the same time the army came calling. The family of five moved to the West coast and Dad was called up for a long-term deployment to Afghanistan. Mom became a single parent to three kids, as well as a doctor, working the night shift at a very busy Easy Bay hospital ER. And their middle child, the one on the cover of this book, was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that caused all of her hair, everywhere on her body, to fall out. Her parents were told that it was not going to grow back. And this diagnosis came through while dad was very far away – and would still be very far away for the rest of the year. It was simply a very rough time for them. And, yet, you can look at that image and still see such sweetness and care. You can see that this child would be protected.

As happens between portrait sessions, time moved forward, and we just had another shoot two weeks ago. Dad is now home and out of the military (with decidedly longer hair), they moved back to their hometown, mom's work life improved dramatically, they gave birth to a brand new baby boy - and, an unexplained medical miracle, their little girl just started growing hair again: beautiful, bouncy, auburn hair. She's the little photographer in the top photo of this post - and here she is in her very own portrait:

We know it's a privilege to do the work we do, especially for appreciative clients. We also know that the reason it is called work is because it's just that: there's a significant effort involved in producing portraits that capture something genuine, expressive, soulful, and beautiful, while still being shot technically well with respect to solid exposure and great lighting. Since so much needs to come together in the right instant, challenges abound in each shoot. Especially when you're photographing children.

Like when your subject is wearing a beautiful dress, but it also happens to be mega-bright white, and you're shooting on an extremely sunny day at the worst time of day (thank you, reflector-that-acts-as-a-flag):

Or when you find an amazing new location, but realize right after you get the great shot, that there are ticks everywhere, and you're suddenly swarmed (you pluck them off as best you can and then make a run for it):

Or those times your subject takes a while to warm up and won't put on "the good clothes" (you distance yourself considerably, talk in a soft voice, use a 200m focal length – and then just wait as long as it takes):

Or if you happen to be shooting in dappled sunlight and you can't remember which twin is which (reflector as shade, pop in some fill flash, and create brand new, interchangeable names for them for the length of the shoot):

Or that evening when there's a lot of wind on the beach and you're shooting belly-to-the-sand (keep two lenses attached to two bodies and use a lens hood and, depending on spray, a plastic bag):

Or if you're facing a very nervous little girl who is being photographed for a workshop you're leading, and the crowd of shooters behind you is scaring her to bits (stay close to her with a wide lens, speak to her gently but consistently and calm her further by maintaining eye contact and moving the lens ever so slightly away from your face):

Or when it's near freezing, rainy and cloudy (encourage color, shoot low to show less sky and more local scene, and make it a game that your subject will jump several times, until you get what you need):

Or in the not-uncommon instance when a little girl is all done with the shoot and just wants to go home now (simply take one last photo and then let her go ;)

I could go on and on when it comes to listing challenges and found solutions, but I can nearly hear Brad and Scott whispering that this is a blog post and not a manifesto, so instead I'll summarize by saying that most of the joy of portrait photography comes from the consistent practice of:

– Learning the technical specifics so well that you don't have to let thoughts of equipment interrupt the interaction with your subject
– Understanding that connecting with your subjects is just as important as any other aspect of portrait photography, if not the most important aspect
– Falling back on quotes as a wonderful way to end your blog posts

So, lastly, in the wonderful words of Erik Christopher Zeeman, remember this:

"Technical skill is mastery of complexity, while creativity is mastery of simplicity."

You can see more of Tamara’s work at, find her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter, and circle her on Google+

What an amazing response we got to yesterday’s launch of the Google+ Photographer’s Conference. A big thanks to everybody that helped spread the word online, and we were overwhelmed with the interest, sign-ups, and people just wanting to help out, and be a part of this history-making event.

I thought I follow-up today with a brief Q&A to answer some of the questions some folks have sent out way. Here’s goes:

Q. If I can’t make it to the Conference, will the sessions be broadcast?
A. Absolutely, but even better than that, the main conference sessions will all be broadcast LIVE as Google+ OnAir Hangouts for FREE (thanks to the folks at Google for that!!!). Also, the sessions will be archived so if you miss the live broadcasts, you can still catch the sessions when you can.

Q. If the conference is streamed live for free, why would I pay to go?
A. Because you’re loose with money. (Kidding. I hope). Actually it’s because if you’re there in person, you’ll get to do photo shoots, meet new people and make new friends, shoot on location, learn and shoot in the studio, meet the instructors face-to-face, do Photo Walks, get one-on-one portfolio reviews, see your work in the gallery, participate in the Un-Conference sessions, making important connections, and do loads of fun things of instead of just watching on your computer. :-)

Q. Why don’t you guys bring this conference to New York. Or the UK?
A. This conference is literally just one-day old (we just announced it yesterday). Whatdayasay we actually do one first, ya know, before we start planning to take the show “on the road.” eh? ;-)

Q. Is Jeremy Cowart as dreamy in person as he appears online?
A. Define “Dreamy?”

Q. It looks all misty around him, and it looks like he’s running in slow motion but with a fan blowing his hair.
A. Yup. That’s pretty much him.

Q. Do you charge extra for photo walks and one-on-one portfolio reviews?
A. Nope — it’s all included.

Q. Cool, how do I sign up?
A. What a great question (and so unexpected). Just go to and all the details are there.

OK gang —- hope that helps. Hope to see you in SF (I’ll be standing near the guy in all the mist). ;-)