Monthly Archives January 2018

Don’t Wait To Create
We all have great potential. It’s my belief that we’re all capable of more. I want to share my thoughts on how to achieve more than you thought you could handle.

I can’t stress how important it is to try your best to keep the fire burning for the thing that you love. Ideas and creative thoughts may seem to come and go, but when you think they’ve left you and you’re left with nowhere to go, just close your eyes and begin walking forward. So many times we let anxiety prevent us from even beginning our work. But that’s the moment we’re challenged with making the choice to let that frustrate and rob us of our valuable time, or we can choose to find a new a approach at drawing that idea or creative wave right back to us.

It’s not enough to say you’re “not feeling it” when it comes to creating content for companies that demand and expect proper turnaround and delivery of images. So until we can overcome the obstacles that fear and anxiety bring to the process, it may be difficult for us to elevate our creative hobby into a professional creative career.

I believe every creative comes to a bottleneck in their art making process, something that causes a hang up in time or productivity. For me, I used to get overwhelmed, not knowing where to get started on larger projects and productions. I realized if I wanted to get more done in a day, week, month, and year, I couldn’t waste time worrying instead of working.

I read a book on habits and realized that I can change the way I typically react in the moments when I feel like I’m stuck in my workflow and anxiety prevents me from being able to create or think.

When I’ve arrived at a bottleneck moment and notice I’m beginning to be filled with fear and anxiety, I now decide to stand up, take a walk around the room, and choose a different activity altogether to change both my physical environment and mental headspace. I typically find that when I change my scenery, my brain takes a break from stressing out and resets by taking in new surroundings. The goal of this exercise is to prevent stress-causing anxiety from stealing your productivity. Moments like these can cost us the better part of a day and lead to being even more frustrated after not accomplishing the long list of goals you had set for your day.

I find it important to be completely present and fully engaged when I’m working on my craft. I want to put everything I’ve got into every piece I create. I don’t want to hand a product or image to a client knowing that I could have done it better. I want to deliver the best shot I had at using all my skills to make the highest quality piece that I can. I also don’t have all the time in world to complete it. That’s why anything that steals your time is stealing the opportunity for you to present your absolute best. And who wants to turn in anything other than their best?!

First, recognize the value of time. It’s not that if you have more time, you’ll create a better piece of work. It’s that when you get started on time, and get to the place you would usually stop, you have time to take your finished work from an A to an A++ and given extra credit. I like to keep things as nice and natural as they come. So, not much over-editing in my post process, but pre-production is JUST AS crucial when processing your time. The more pre-production we can put into a project, the more room we can save for our entire project. We can then use some of that room for experimentation, and the extra wiggle room allows for creativity to elevate our projects.

Our own mental strength isn’t always as obvious to us as our physical strength. It’s healthy to give your mental strength a weigh-in from time to time. You may know that you can’t bench press a certain weight, and you can find out immediately by trying to push the bar and weights up and off the stand. However, it’s much less obvious to know just how strong and powerful our own mental strength and capacity are for heavy lifting. Sometimes we may be so used to reaching a point of exhaustion or stress, that we default to a time stealing activity to distract our minds from thinking about the stress. That’s the very moment we need to exercise that mental muscle and reach for one more attempt at staying in the creative element. Once succumbing to less productive activities and distractive activities begin, it’s so much harder to make the full swing back into our work.

Changing our scenery or just something about our current work situation helps tremendously. It can be as simple as standing instead of sitting while editing, or maybe as extreme as taking a weekend to go off the grid to find focused attention and intentional time for project creation, just try switching it up.

The point that I’m trying to make is that we should want to make our best work. Our best isn’t always what comes out in the first try, or third or fourth. But it is important to keep seeking and finding ways of getting our work to reach its personal best. By reaching for our best each time, we examine the most useful approach for us to complete our best work. So, be courageous and give yourself the push you need to get through any of those time stealing situations. And know just how valuable your time is in relation to the process of completing your most honest, truest, authentic art. Giving your best should show all of those great feelings and emotions you have for your work because it means you found the time to make it great! You’re not only happy, but proud to turn it in and be shown with the world. If YOU’RE happy with it, you can see that you pushed yourself and elevated your work because you poured more into it than you thought you had. That’s a great feeling. It’s one that drives us to work hard and make each project better than the last.

I think the best way to sum it all up is with this cheesy phrase I like to say from time to time… “Giving all you’ve got means giving your best, and if you give it your best, that’s all you’ve got to give!”

You can see more of Chris’s work at, and follow him on Instagram, Vimeo, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Thanks for coming by. It’s #HybridDaveTuesdays here at once again, and this week to keep in theme with the money-related posts from the past few weeks, I’m going to cap it off with one more – the value of you! My intention is to give you a gentle reminder of just how much you’re worth as a photographer, or other creative, and why.

So, here’s what happens: That gripe we all have surfaces – we moan endlessly as photographers about being approached by people and asked to shoot something for nothing. The phrase, “you can use it for your portfolio” seems to be the favourite. On social forums, we share our experiences and offer advice, usually in the form of a rant, and rage about how a plumber doesn’t work for free so why should people expect us to? Well, here’s something that also happens: we’re approached by a prospective client, who maybe is a friend of a friend, and rather than pitching a price we’ll say, “yeah, I’ll shoot that for you for nothing.” It’s true, I’m afraid. We’re our own worst enemies! The reason we get the “will you do it for free?” question is because we will. We will do it for free, for a friend, for our portfolio, for the recognition, or for the foot in the door. It’s a two-way street and a causal factor to the questioning pitched is our willingness to impress and say yes.

It’s a big world out there, and there’s a lot of competition. It’s true that when it comes to hiring a photographer you get what you pay for. Take it to another market – airlines. If I fly from London to Canada on WestJet I’m getting a bargain price, but I’m not getting fed, not getting a baggage allowance, not getting a high-quality entertainment console, and likely not getting much legroom. If I splash some more cash, I can tap up British Airways and get a meal or two, a suitcase, a range of movies, and my knees are probably not going to be up by my ears. Lenses – Do I want the one I found on eBay for fifty bucks, with innards made of warped plastic and sealing so bad it turns into a flask when it rains? Or should I spend that little bit more for the Canon lens made of real glass, weather sealed to the max, and accompanied with a guarantee to boot? I know the answer, you know the answer, so why do we undervalue ourselves? Why do we cause the very problem, as an industry, that we complain about?

It’s important that we value ourselves. Give the value of you, and give yourself value. Here’s an example:  If you shoot weddings, you can command £10,000 for what is, tangibly, almost the same thing as you’d be giving someone for £1,000. It’s the same hours, the same venue, the same “models,” and most likely, not a dissimilar album or online gallery received at the end of it. Sure there can be some differences, but essentially it’s not far from being the same thing. So, how do you arrive at charging £10,000? Well, it’s in the value of you!

The intention of this blog post is not to deliver a class in how to price yourself as a photographer or creative, it’s to point you in the right direction to setting the highest price you can achieve. Whether you set your price per hour, per image, or per job, it makes no difference to setting a true value for yourself and your ability. The difference it does make, however, is between being able to pay your bills or not!

I quickly learned when starting out in photography that the repeat customer is crucial to stability. I wanted to make sure that if I had a client book me for a corporate shoot that they wanted me again for the next one. I wanted to make sure that if I shot a wedding I was noticed by the guests to shoot their upcoming weddings and their families and friends, too. And I did just that, all because I valued myself and, even after occasionally knocking off 10% to seal the deal, I set my price as a true reflection of what I was able to deliver and the quality of my images.

That relates now, too. With agencies contacting me and asking for quotes, I must ensure I set the figure correctly. One example is this:-

I got a brief from Mars UK at the beginning of December to shoot a situational product shot – a box of their chocolates and a Christmas tree. The brief was a couple of pages, but that’s essentially what they were asking. I went and got the product, took the shot, composed my offer price and submitted the lot. They got what they wanted, and they loved the shot. My entry price was £120 – it reflected the expenses I had incurred, the time I had used, the engagement the photo was likely to receive, and ultimately it reflected my value. The thing is, alongside saying that they loved the shot, the client also asked me to reduce my fee to £50. £50! They said they had a limited budget and wanted to get as many influencers on board as possible. The industry guidance for the reach I get, and the audience due to see my photos in this arena, says that I should be charging £100-180 per photo. I landed at the lower end of this figure with the mindset at the time that it’s Christmas, I need Christmas photos anyway, and although it was work, it wasn’t exactly hard work. To then get a slap-in-the-face £50 offer, totally devaluing me, it’s probably obvious how this story ends, but I’ll tell you anyway: suffice to say, I never posted that shot. You may be wondering why I turned down £50. Here’s why:-

When you give something to a client for cheap or free because they have a small budget, what happens on their next job when they have a large budget? Let’s say you are the one who says yes and accepts the small budget fee, and they also ask me but I say no. I tell them that’s not enough; I’m worth more than that. Just as soon as their large budget job arrives, and they’re looking for photographers to fulfill the job, is it you who they remember for shooting cheap? No, it’s me they remember – I’m the one that commands the right price and has the tenacity to turn down the wrong price. So, in their eyes, I’m the one that’s worth spending the bigger bucks on. I’m the expensive guy. I must be better, right? Finally, flip it around and think of it from a client’s point of view: if you pay me well, I’ll want to do a great job, and keep coming back to do more great jobs in the future.

If you want to take a look in detail at how to conduct yourself business-wise in the world of photography, I’d totally recommend watching Tim Wallace’s class on But, for now, I hope I’ve provoked your thoughts just a little, and that you’ll take a look at whether you really are reflecting the value of you when you set your price!

Much love


You’ve got a nice looking subject, with some fun accessories and an interesting blouse, and still you wound up with a really crappy picture. That’s because the background stinks. Although we’re focused on the subject when we’re taking the shot, our viewer sees the entire scene (ugly background and all), and busy, unattractive, distracting backgrounds like the one you see above can absolutely kill your shot.

Want to see your location portraits take a big leap forward?
Start being really concerned about the background behind your subject. Either put the background so out of focus that it no longer becomes an issue, or compose the shot to avoid as much of the background as possible (one thing you could have done here would have been to get down really low, and compose the shot so the clouds on the right side become the background, instead of the tin roof, and boxes and yard signs, etc..

When you start really paying attention to the background, and you position your subject, (or your camera) to get a clean background before you start shooting, then you can focus on the expression and emotion from your subject, knowing you’re not going to get stung later by a distracting background killing your shot.

I know when this realization hit me, it made a really big difference in my portrait work. I hope you found that helpful. :)



I’m way, way overdue for sharing these images from my trip to Morocco (and you thought my post about my Lisbon trip shots was late), but I finally got a chance to get a Spark page put together with them. Thanks for everybody that asked about them, and that has been so patient as well.

I shared the images, story, and behind-the-scenes shots using Adobe Spark Page. Here’s the link. 

Thanks for letting me share these images with you. :)

Have a great weekend everybody (and I have a trailer for you to watch below if you want to learn some cool stuff this weekend).



P.S. If you could learn Photoshop in an hour…would ya? Of course you would – let’s do it this weekend. Check out the official trailer below: 

Breathtaking Bird Photography: Pro Settings and Techniques with Rick Sammon
Join Rick Sammon in Bosque del Apache as he teaches you how to master the art and craft of bird photography! You’ll always have fun in Rick’s class, as he shares tips on stopping action, capturing gesture, shooting at different times of day, composition techniques, the gear he uses, and so much more. From birds on the ground to birds in flight, Rick covers all the situations and scenarios you’re likely to encounter!

In Case You Missed It
Join Rick Sammon and learn how to get the most out of photographing Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. These parks are close together, and a must-see destination for landscape and wildlife photographers. In this class Rick shares his favorite locations within both parks, and teaches you how to prepare for your trip, tips for creating powerful compositions, overcoming exposure challenges, how to shoot time-lapse and HDR, and a host of tips, tricks and techniques for landscape and wildlife photography.

Hey guys. Nick Fancher here. I wrote a couple of guest posts in 2015 after publishing Studio Anywhere and Studio Anywhere 2. I am wrapping up a new book of color techniques called Chroma, which will be released on Rocky Nook in July. I thought it would be appropriate to update some of the processes that I explained in my previous posts.

As I discussed in my last post, the science behind the multi-colored shadow technique is that when cyan, magenta, and yellow (or red, green, and blue) light overlaps, white light is created. Because of this, if we were to take three lights and gel them, where they overlap, colorless light is formed. Colored shadows occur when something blocks one of the colored lights, resulting in only one or two of the other colors lighting an area, Figure 1.

Figure 1 When cyan, magenta, and yellow light overlaps, colorless light is created. Multi-colored shadows are a result of one or more of the colored lights being blocked by an object or person.

I first discussed this technique in my previous book, Studio Anywhere 2: A Photographer’s Guide to Shaping Hard Light (which bore that image on its cover). Two years have passed since I wrote it and I’ve had a lot of time to explore the many variations of using this technique. I’ve learned that you can still achieve neutral light without using magenta, as is illustrated by Kevin Hart’s yellow and cyan shadows (Figure 2). I’ve also experimented with different methods of creating shadows, including by hair movement (Figure 3). I’ve also minimized my gear rig needed to execute this technique.

Figure 2 I’ve learned that neutral light can still be achieved using just cyan and yellow gels, as is illustrated here with actor Kevin Hart.

Figure 3 Since this technique relies on the creation of shadows, creating many shadows with wet or wind-blown hair, for example, makes for a colorful image.

The technique requires the use of two or three flashes. I use Cactus RF60 flashes with a V6II transmitter. When I first began using this technique, I lugged three light stands with me to shoot. This is a frustrating task, especially when working alone, as I often do. I’ve since come up with a lightweight (and cheap) solution: cold shoe extension rails. In Figure 4 you can see that I have two, 16-inch rails, connected to a Nikon AS-19 speedlight stand (it’s way better than the one that comes with the Cactus flashes). I also used a small metal corner brace that I flattened out and used to join the two rails. The joint not only bears the weight in the middle (rather than the flash stand), but it levels out the two rails, which otherwise sag under the weight of the flashes.

Figure 4 I use two, 16-inch cold shoe extension rails with a metal corner brace in the middle to bear the weight. This allows a broad spacing of the lights on a single light stand.

The greater the distance between the lights, the longer the colored shadows will be. In Figure 5, the three lights are positioned next to each other, resulting in short colored shadows, but also a large, colorless shadow, where the lights all overlap. When I added one foot of space between each light, the colored shadows grew in space, while the colorless shadow decreased, Figure 6. Also, by having all three lights on one stand, it’s easy to quickly reposition them, if I wanted to position them to the side, for example, to get longer shadows, Figure 7.

Figure 5 The three colored flashes are positioned next to each other to make this shot, resulting shorter colored shadows and a large, colorless shadow.
Figure 6 The three colored flashes are placed a foot 14 inches apart to make this shot, resulting in longer colored shadows and a minimal colorless shadow.
Figure 7 With all three flashes on one stand I can easily reposition them, to the side for example, to change the length of the shadows.

I recently did a beauty shoot with a model in which she was covered in jewels. As in they were literally glued all over her face and chest. I was already planning to use this tri-colored technique, but I also decided to add a Hoya star filter to my lens, to transform the specular highlights that were coming from the jewels into starbursts.

I positioned my lights at such an angle in relation to my model that I could see the lights reflecting in the jewels, in order to maximize the starbursts, Figure 8. Since my flashes don’t have modeling lights, I always hit the “test” button on the transmitter as I watch to see where the light is falling (making sure to first tell the model to look away from the flashes).

Figure 8 The setup. My light(s) are positioned to my left at an elevated position in relation to the model in order to maximize the lens flare reflections in the jewels.

The first thing you need to do when using this technique is balance the output between the three lights. Your light outputs will vary depending on the density of the shades of the colors you’re working with, Figure 9. I’ve found that my green light (1/2) tends to be twice as bright as my red light (1/4), which is twice as bright as my blue light (1/8), making the green light four times brighter than the blue in order to achieve balance, Figure 10. With the Cactus V6II transmitter, I can quickly adjust each output to a perfect balance, lighting in layers, one at a time. I can adjust each light in 1/3-stop increments and once the perfect color ratio is achieved, I can dial the global power up or down, maintaining the integrity of the ratio (pretty cool, huh?), Figure 11.

Figure 9 The lighting diagram. To achieve balance between the three colored gels, my green light is at ½, my red light is four times lower at 1/8, and my blue light is even lower at 1/16.

Figure 10 I put each color on their own channel, dialing them in one at a time. Then I turn on all the channels and make sure I get a neutral color.
Figure 11 The invaluable feature of the Cactus V6II transmitter is that once I get a balanced ration between the lights, I can power them all up or down while maintaining the integrity of the ratio.

Once I had my settings figured out, I asked the model to make slight movements between each shot as I shot from a number of angles to ensure I get the best possible starburst, Figure 12. The best part of using this technique is the beautiful chaos that occurs whenever she moves, causing more colorful shadows, Figure 13. As you can see in my setup shot, I use a stool on castors, which allows me to move to my gear rack, to my light stand, or back/forth for my composition, without a lot of standing up/sitting down/walking on my knees. Basically it saves me a lot of time and energy.

Figure 12 The raw file. Maddie is now not only colorful, she’s also sparkly.
Figure 13 My favorite part of this technique are the unplanned, colorful shadows that result from the subjects movements.

In Lightroom, Figure 14, I decided to add a warm tone to the image, by lowering the highlight points in the green and blue tones curves (which added magenta and yellow to it). Though I could’ve simply adjusted the color temperature if I wanted a warmer image, by instead lowering the highlight points of the cooler tone curves, I added warmth to the highlight portions of the image, while at the same time reducing the shininess in her skin, Figure 15.

Figure 14 The Lightroom settings. In order to minimize the glossy highlights on the models skin, I lowered the right side of the blue tone curve, adding a warmth to the highlights.
Figure 15 The final shot. Maddie shines bright like a diamond.

Now let’s take it step further an add an extra layer of colorful chaos. Many cameras have a multiple exposure feature. In the Canon 5DIII, there a few options to choose from before you get going. You need to select how many exposures are in one shot; if each exposure is saved or just the resulting image is saved; and how the images are blended together, Figure 16.

Figure 16 When making an in-camera multiple exposure with a Canon 5DIII, you have several options, such as how many exposures are in one shot, have they are blended, and if every shot is saved or just the final image.

In Figure 17, you can see the colorful shadows on Curtis’ shirt, which were created by cyan/magenta/yellow light falling on his hair. As usual, I have each of the three lights on their own channel. When I make a multiple exposure, I set my camera to take three exposures with the blending mode set to “average”. For each 3-shot portrait, I start by toggling off Channels B and C, leaving on just A, and take a shot. Then I toggle off A, and turn on B and take a shot. Then the same with C, Figure 18. In the second between each exposure, as I am toggling channels on and off, my composition shifts slightly, as does my subject. This means that each colored exposure is different, Figure 19, resulting in an even more vibrant, chaotic image, Figure 20.

Figure 17 Here I used cyan, magenta, and yellow lights to get colorful shadows on Curtis.
Figure 18 Next I made a multiple exposure, making three exposures. One exposure was made using only the cyan channel, one with only the magenta, and one with only the yellow.

Figure 19 Since I was hand-holding the camera, each of the exposures moves slightly when I toggle the different channels on and off.
Figure 20 The result is a much more colorful image than the original, multi-colored portrait.

There are endless possibilities once you start experimenting with multiple exposures. When I am making a multiple exposure, I make sure to explain to my subject how many exposures there are in each sequence, giving them a better idea of what I’m doing and when we’ve moved on to a new shot. Sometimes I direct them to be still, while other times I invite large movements, such as having them look side to side or moving the camera dramatically between each exposure, Figure 21.

Figure 21 When I am using this technique, I often direct my subject to make movements or I move the camera dramatically between each exposure, resulting in a colorful, often abstract image.

You can also experiment with using different numbers of exposures or different blending modes. You can see how dramatically different each image looks with each blending mode, Figure 22. In Figure 23 I used the same technique as I did with Curtis in Figure 20, except this time I used red, green, and blue gels, with the blending mode set to “bright”. That shot is straight out of camera. Zero editing. The resulting images makes me think of what it may look like if each colored layer of a screen print came to life and started moving on its own.

Figure 22 The image changes dramatically just by switching the blending modes. The first was done with an additive balance, then average, bright, and dark.
Figure 23 To make this un-edited image I used the same technique as I did with Curtis in Figure 20 except the blending mode was set to “bright.”

Based on the variety of techniques in this article alone, it should be clear that colored shadows can be created in a myriad of ways. Explore layering different color combinations or mixing in other techniques such as shutter drag with multiple exposures. The exploration is the best part.

You can see more of Nick’s work at, follow him on Instagram, and Twitter, and check out his Chroma Workshop Tour!