Monthly Archives January 2020

If you take an honest look at your photography from last year, and you don’t feel like you really pushed yourself forward in your work, I have something that might really help you push and stretch yourself in 2020. It’s about going outside your comfort zone and doing things you maybe haven’t done before or perhaps even thought of doing. It’s about making the most of the year, so in 2021 you can look back and see real progress — something very real and tangible.

OK, ready to push yourself? Let’s do this:

Put One Of Your Prints Up For Sale

Just one. It’s a start. There are elaborate ways to sell your prints online, everything from SmugMug to Zenfolio, but of course, you can just do a simple Facebook post; show the image you’ve chosen to sell; list your price, and let buyers contact you in the comments. iI you don’t have your own printer, get MPIX or BayPhoto to do the printing and ship directly to your client for you. Remember — it’s not other photographers who will be buying your prints — it’s people who will be thinking, “That would look perfect in my dining room!” so stop judging your work as a photographer would see it. There are people out there who would love to have one of your prints hanging in their home.

PLAN B: If you don’t feel like you can sell one of your prints at this point, your backup plan is to make a large print (16×24″ or larger) and gift it to someone. When you experience their reaction, you’ll start to realize the value of a print.

Invest In Your Photography Instead of Investing In More Gear

Whatever camera gear you already own can take great photos. Your phone can take great photos, so surely your DSLR or Mirrorless can, so instead of buying more gear, invest in your photography. Instead of a new lens, buy an airline ticket to someplace you’ve always wanted to shoot. Maybe a landscape location somewhere out West, or a trip to Europe (I saw roundtrip flights from Florida to London in January for $364 on British Airways. Yes, it’s cold there in January, but you can make some amazing pictures in the English countryside; dress warm). If you want to take great fashion shots, fly up to New York and hire a real New York model (it costs less than you’d think), and a hair and make up artist (costs more than you’d think, but worth it). If you’re into food photography, hire a food stylist and make your food photography shot of the year.

Invest in yourself; invest in creating great images, instead of buying more stuff.

Enter one your images in a photography contest

Over the years, I’ve been very fortunate to be one of the judges in photography competitions all over the world. I’m currently one of the judges for the Malta International Photo Awards (link), and I can tell you that in most cases, when you talk with the winner, they always say the same thing, “I never thought I would win.” If you’re thinking that same thing, you’re in good company. 

Many contests are free to enter (including the Gallery Competition we hold for KelbyOne members), and some you might have to spend $20 or $30 to enter one of your images. This comes under that category of “Investing in yourself.” If you don’t win or don’t make one of the finalists, don’t worry — they don’t post a list of the people who didn’t win. They don’t call you out. The only person who will know you didn’t win is you, but on a personal level, it’s still a win because you did it. You entered. You put yourself out there. You went outside your comfort zone. And of course, there’s always the possibility that you will win. Hey, you never know. 

Learn that Thing On Your Camera You’ve Always Wanted To Learn

Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to shoot flash. I don’t mean just learning how to make it work wireless — I mean learning how to make beautiful portraits with flash. Or maybe you’ve wanted to learn to shoot in Manual mode. One I would recommend would be to learn how to set-up custom shooting modes on your camera, so you can stop messing with settings and start focusing on composition (it’s easier than you’d think; more powerful and fun than you’d imagine, and I’m doing a blog post to take you through exactly how to set it up, and unlock its power, shortly here on the blog). Maybe it’s how to use Exposure Compensation, or how to do Custom White Balance. Whatever that thing is that you’ve wanted to learn Camera-wise, don’t let another month go by not learning how to do it. This is probably the easiest one to do on this list, but it’s a substantial step forward.

Do Actual Real Honest-to-Goodness Practice

Not going out and shooting with a friend. Not just doing a photo walk. Not doing the same stuff you always do. None of those really push you forward. Shooting the things you’re already good at is fun, and photography is supposed to be fun, but it doesn’t make you better. It’s just fun. If you actually want to get better, you have to do what musicians do, and what golfers do, and what painter’s do. Real practice. Pick something that you want to get really good at, and do it again and again and again, until you’ve nailed it. I remember a quote from top pro photographer and educator Joel Grimes. At one of his workshops, a student in his class came up and showed Joel a composite he had created from what he learned in the workshop. Joel told him (I’m paraphrasing here), “I am impressed — that looks great. Nice job! Now go do that 300 more times.” Such great advice.

The thing about doing real, honest-to-goodness practice is that when you do go out shooting with a friend, and you’re out there just for fun, the experience is actually more fun because your results are so much better. Instead of getting 8 “keepers’ from your shoot, now you’re getting 30. Practice isn’t just for dancers or musicians or athletes. This, alone has the power to transform your work in the coming year.

The Rest is Up To You

The ball’s in your court. You can end 2020 where you ended 2019, or you can be in a totally different place with your photography; doing things you never thought you could do; making images you never thought you could create; selling your work, and growing in your love of the craft.

I wish you great success in 2020, and I hope these ideas gave you a few jumping-off points to help make this coming year your most successful one.



Happy New Year, everybody! Some quick stuff to kick off the new year (I’m technically still on vacation until Monday, so don’t tell anybody I was blogging here today, and over Here’s what’s up:

My Top Nine Most-Liked Photos From 2019

Thanks to everybody who stopped, liked, or commented in 2019. Much appreciated! :) To see your own nine most-liked photos in Instagram for 2019, visit

My New New Travel Photography Course on how to Make Portraits of the Locals

For a lot of travel photographers, it’s one of the hardest, most intimidating things to do — getting photos of local people in the place you’re visiting. So much so, that many travel photographers return home and the only people in their images are other tourists. That’s why Rick Sammon and I put this new online class together — to give you proven strategies and techniques so you come home with more than just shots of monuments and tourist attractions — you’ll come home with great shots of the locals, adding an entirely different dimension to your travel photos.

We cover a wide range of tips, tricks, and real-world scenarios to change the way you capture travel images of people from this day forward. I think you’ll find it really helpful and it will make a big difference in your travel photography. Here’s the link to the course and the official trailer where Rick and I go into more detail about the class. I think you’ll find it really helpful.

Photoshop Upsizing Tip from Viktor Fejes

I’m a big Viktor Fejes fan — and his tip here for increasing the size of your image and keeping as much detail as possible is a really great one. It’s short and sweet (part of our KelbyOne “Photo Tip Friday” Series). If you’re a KelbyOne member, and you’re a bit more advanced, make sure you’re checking out Viktor’s Photoshop, color and retouching courses. They are ‘next level’ type of stuff.

Well, that’s it for my “vacation day” post. LOL!! Hope you guys have a wonderful weekend, and we’ll catch you back here on Monday for your regularly scheduled blogging experience. :)


Travel Photography: Making Portraits of the Locals with Rick Sammon and Scott Kelby

Learn how to take better portraits of the locals when you are traveling! Join Scott Kelby and Rick Sammon as they teach you a progression of techniques that you can use to make your travel photos come alive by including people in the scenes you capture. Scott and Rick start the class with a discussion of their favorite gear, and then jump right into giving you the tools you need to come back home with photos you are proud of and really show the culture of the location you visited.

In this class you’ll learn about approaches for candid (and semi-candid) portraits, photographing the vendors and staff you interact with, getting the locals to pose, paying locals, hiring models, and so much more! Watch this class and decide to take these few extra steps on your next travel adventure and you’re sure to see an immediate change in your photography!

In Case You Missed It: The 20 Time Proven Rules of Composition

Don’t just take pictures, make pictures! Join Rick Sammon as he dives deep into his 20 time proven rules of composition. It’s up to you to tell your story with creative composition, and in this class Rick provides you with new ways of seeing when you are holding your camera in hand.

Whether you call them rules or recommended guidelines, Rick shares over 250 visual examples to help you understand how to use these tools to make great shots instead of snapshots. In the end you’ll be a better photographer for not only knowing the rules, but knowing when to break them, and have fun while doing it.

On stage at Self Help Festival 2018. Thanks to Adam Elmakias for the photo!

The Joy of Live Music Photography

First, thank you to Scott for the opportunity to do another guest post. And thanks to Brad for all the work you do here too. Both of you inspire me daily.

As you can probably guess by the title of this post, I’m a concert photographer, and I think every photographer should try photographing a concert at least once. It is one of the most fun photo environments you will ever encounter. It will also require that you can operate your gear without thought.

Unlike some other areas of photography, where we might position the subject, and control or shape the light, in live music photography you can’t do any of that. The lead singer may be in front of you with the perfect expression, and then gone before you can get focus. He may be in low light as you set exposure, and under bright landing lights by the time you shoot the shot. The lighting director will try to push the limits of what the human eye can see, and since the camera sees much less dynamic range than our eyes, your images may be clipped on both ends of the histogram.

For photographers that are accustomed to having full control, concerts will challenge you at every turn. Like with any type of photography, there is a lot more to concert photography than I can cover here. My hope is to give you a few general tips below, in case you ever try this yourself.

Terror at Self Help Fest 2019. ISO 6400, 70mm, f/2.8, 1/400

My first tip is to ignore the noise. We music photographers live at ISO settings that make some people cry. Just crank the ISO as needed to allow a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the action, and a sharp noisy shot is always better than a blurry clean shot. That is not to say you can’t play with motion and blur, just that when needed be sure you can get the shot you want or need.

What is Concert Photography?

The answer to this question is part of the reason I love this genre. At its core, concert photograph is really just Low Light Action Photography, similar to photographing some sporting events. But, it is also event photography, environmental portraiture, and photojournalism.

Rob Halford of Judas Priest. ISO 1600, 140mm, f/2.8, 1/400

Depending on who you are shooting for it could be any one of those, a combination of some, or all of the above.

Getting Started

The most important thing to know about shooting live music is that you can’t just walk into a Foo Fighters concert with a pro camera. Major artists, the ones that play festivals and arenas, want press coverage.

Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters. ISO 3200, 185mm, f/2.8 1/500

That means you will generally need media credentials to shoot the show. How do get those?