Monthly Archives March 2020

#TravelTuesday has come around again, and the lockdown is still confining many of us to within our four walls. It’s important to maintain mental well-being, as well as social distancing, and education is a great tool for that because of the stimulus it creates. Looking at it from a photographer’s perspective, we know that we have two main elements to being creative: producing content and consuming content. We take and retouch photos to demonstrate our creativity, but we also read, watch, and learn from other sources to test our creativity and absorb ideas, opinions, and creative processes.

When learning about photography I turned to books, YouTube, KelbyOne, blogs, practice, all manner of methods. One thing worth noting here is that four of those five things are attainable during lockdown and the remaining one, practice, can be done indoors or out, so it isn’t 100% ruled out. 

I have a couple of ideas to put out to you this week to help you learn and practice. Let’s start with learning: –

Reading about photography is a great insight into some of our favorite photographers’ minds, and these books are a wealth of valuable information because the time and effort that has gone into creating them to ensure their success is a huge priority for the authors and the publishers. If you haven’t read them already, some great places to start are with Scott’s The Landscape Photography Book, Glyn Dewis’ Photoshop Like a Thief, Dave Clayton’s How Do I Do That In InDesign?, and of course, I have a Northern Lights book out (and I think we may just about be back to normal in time for next season!).

When it comes to YouTube, Glyn is high on the list again, with an awesome recent video about printing. Among KelbyOne instructors, Terry White, Unmesh Dinda (PixImperfect) and Colin Smith (PhotoshopCAFE) have some great videos on Photoshop, while Larry Becker will show you some tech and how to use it.

KelbyOne classes are always a go-to for learning, but right now, as well as the plethora, née, the smorgasbord of classes, there are live streams accessible to all by Scott and the team.

In terms of blogs, you’re already on a great one, but there’s also Scott’s Lightroom Killer Tips, and I also write for DIYPhotography where there’s a load of inspiration and news.

But then, there’s the practice. If you want to practice at home, I made a terrible little eBook, which you can download here, and I have now taken it up a gear by making 31 of my RAW files from around the world available for download. So long as you only use them for personal use, you may do as you wish. I’d love to see your interpretation and retouching, so be sure to tag me – I’m @idavewilliams on every platform. Here’s what Cheeky Nando made from one of them, from the Lofoten Islands, Norway.

Have fun, stay safe!

Much love

PROGRAMMING UPDATE: I’m sharing a great strategy for backing up your photo library and LR catalog – another of our free live Webinars (normally just for Kelbyone members, but we’re opening it to all photographers) today at 11:00 AM ET. Taking your questions, too

OK, I may have mentioned in a previous post that this would be a four-part series, but as it turned out, it’s a five-parter, and this is Part 4 (of 5), but this one won’t take you too long, and though you may not realize it yet, this actually helps to move you closer to making the kind of images you want to be making. Also, if you missed, Part 1, Part 2 or Part 3, well…there are the links. Ready to jump into Part 4? Let’s go!

Here’s what we’ve done so far:

(1) We went to Instagram and identified around 20 or so images that are the exact type of images we want to be making.

(2) We played detective and I gave you a list of how to break down those images to their basic elements.

(3) We went through that list one-by-one and gave a 1-5 ranking for which things we left were the most important elements in making each image special. What were the things the photographer did that make that image what it is.

Now, here in Part 4, go back through that list you made last week and look for a common thread that runs through your picks. Look at your #1s and #2s, and see if they share a common thread? Do you see the same type of comments appearing over and over.

Here’s a sample list as an example:

So, above I went through a bunch of shots I liked, and briefly noted the #1, and #2 most important things to me — the things that I think made that photo special. OK, what can we learn about our photography from this list of shots you admire?

I highlighted in red each time I noted the LOCATION was one of the two most important features. That tells me, for the type of images I want to be making, the location of the shot is a very important factor. Are the location landscape locations or travel locations? Are the shots you choose portraits, and you feel it’s the background or environment that made all the difference? Make note of each time you wrote location, and then write down where or what those locations were. Is there a common thread? Are the indoors, outdoors? Maybe sweeping coastal landscapes, or are they portraits in a studio. Write this down on paper, and look for the common thread. I’ll bet there is some common denominator that is typing them together somehow.

OK, let’s keep digging it a little further:

Look at how many times (above in red) I chose that Light, or Lighting, was one of the two top features. If the shots are portraits, is the lighting in those shots dramatic? Bright and high key? Is it one light, two lights, more? Or, if they are landscape shots, is it dramatic light? Beams of light? Dawn light or sunset light? Mid-afternoon light. Try and define exactly which type of light is happening in each, and see if there’s a common thread — some type of lighting that you’re drawn to.

Another feature that pops up on my list quite a bit, is color. I always knew I’m drawn to color, and this list just confirms it. The color in these shots really drew them to me. Now, can I find a common thread between them? Is the color I’m drawn to a warm color? A cool color? Contrasting colors. If I can determine exactly which type of colors, that will help in Part 5.

Look at how many times “people” (or people related things, like clothing or expression) show up in the list above? What does this tell you? It looks like you’re (well I am) drawn to people. Look at the people shots and see if you can see a thread — something that repeats. Is it the clothes? The styling? The location where the shots are taken? You know how that you’re drawn to lighting, so is it the lighting? How about the over color or the color of the clothes they’re wearing. Is it that they’re great subjects? Maybe a fantastic model, or a person with an interesting or fascinating look? Find that common thread that runs between those shots.

Here’s another common theme from my list – simplicity. I’m obviously drawn to shots that have a simple composition or simple lighting, or maybe both. Maybe instead of trying to add things to my photos to make them better, maybe I should try taking things away, and simplifying the scene that’s in front of me?

You know what to do next…

For this to work, you have to write this stuff down. On paper, on your phone, or your iPad — you have to write it for it to stick. If you do, it will start paying off very soon. In fact, I think you’ll find that it already has started to reveal things to you about the type of images you want to be making. More to come in Part 5.

Stay healthy, stay indoors, and keep pushing your learning forward, so that when this awful virus is behind, you’re set up for success.

Wishing you good health. :)


This week, Erik Kuna and I did an episode of “The Grid” (our weekly live podcast) that we’ve been told was super helpful to photographers who have their portfolios online. We did a critique of the design, usability, and layout of their sites, and when you watch it (it’s embedded below), you’ll see a lot of photographers making the same mistakes again and again, and you’ll see why certain layouts and designs work, and which ones don’t.

Even though we may not have gotten to your site if you submitted one, you’ll still pick up a ton from seeing what works and what doesn’t.

Hope you found that helpful, and we’ll catch you here on Monday for the final part of my four-part series on learning more about your photography (where you want to go, and how to get there).

Have a safe, stay-indoors, wash your hands kinda weekend. :)



P.S. My book editor Kim Doty is giving away some copies of the eBook edition of my “Natural Light Photography Book” today over on her Facebook page. Here’s the link (and good luck). :)

Hands On with the Nikon D780: Everything You Need to Know to Get Great Shots with Larry Becker

Get a hands on look at the Nikon D780 with Larry Becker! The D780 is an amazingly powerful performance camera that’s packed with features. In this class Larry gets you started quickly with a few need to know items before digging into the buttons and dials, metering modes, white balance, focusing controls, important settings, customization controls, and rounds it out with an explanation of the features and settings every D780 owner needs to know.

In Case You Missed It… Hands On with the Canon EOS R: Everything you Need to Know to Get Great Shots

Join Larry Becker to learn the ins and outs of the amazing Canon EOS R! Whether you just picked one up or are thinking about adding one to your kit, you’ll want to learn all the hidden features and pro tips that set this camera apart. From features such as programmable controls to flexible priority mode to shooting video, Larry teaches you how to set them up (and more!) and get the most out of them.

Larry wraps up the class with three interviews with professional photographers, Joel Grimes, Roberto Valenzuela, and Rick Sammon who have a lot of insights to share from their early hands on experience with the EOS R.

Welcome To The Endless World Of Photo Manipulation

I started my creative journey 20 years ago, when I got my first copy of Photoshop as a birthday gift. It was a time of no YouTube, really slow dial-up internet connection, and not so many places to learn Photoshop from.

So, I needed to learn it on my own.

I practiced a lot, experimenting with the tools and having fun with Photoshop.

The first tools I learned how to use were the Magic Wand Tool and Lasso Tool. With those two tools I was able to select and extract objects from scanned photos. And that was how I made my first photo manipulation. My father standing in the mountain near the camp fire with a rifle in his hand.

That was the time when I opened a door to the world of endless possibilities.

The photo manipulation world is such a great place to be, because you can do whatever you want. The only limitation is your imagination, and the knowledge to use the tools necessary to turn your imagination into reality.

Today I will walk you through the process of making a photo manipulation. I will tell you what is important to know to be able to create a realistic result, and how to make your life easier by following some general rules.

This is from back when we were allowed to get this close.

#TravelTuesday is lacking 50% of the elements required to fulfill the name right now, but we steam ahead regardless. Today my plan is to take you to some parts of the world for an insight into what’s going on with the members of Team Epic (or QuaranTEAM Epic, for now.)

Here in the UK, we effectively went into lockdown last night, so there will be some changes here for the coming weeks.

Team Epic is a rogue band of photographers of which I am a proud member, and we have members spread throughout the northern hemisphere. Let’s check in with them right here, right now, and see what self-isolation means for them.

Peter Treadway

I returned from a two week trip to India at the end of February this year just as it seemed the world had begun to shut its borders and whole cities started to go into lockdown.

When I left the UK, there were just three reported cases of COVID-19 in the whole country but at the time of writing, there are now 5,683 confirmed cases, with London (my city) making up a disproportionately large percentage of that number. It may come as no surprise then that I am currently five days into a 14 day isolation period, due to my wife presenting with symptoms of the virus last Tuesday! (She’s fine, BTW. Luckily for her, it was a few days of fever and achiness and now a dry cough.) As such, we are currently holed up in our house, so as not to spread the disease further.

As well as currently being isolated though, all of the weddings I was due to shoot over the next few months have now been postponed until later in the year. So what does a wedding photographer with all that time on their hands do? Well, I’m actually quite looking forward to doing all those little photography admin type jobs that are constantly being put off to shoot paid work. So I’ll be updating my website, curating new portfolio galleries for prospective clients and starting to design some new marketing material. There are also personal projects that I shot ages ago but never edited, images from the most amazing photo trips with friends that have yet to see the light of day and, most excitingly for me, I now have time to start building the YouTube studio in my garage that I’ve been planning for years and (hopefully!) eventually start making some photography related video content. None of this would have been possible without this enforced break in work.

So although things may look pretty bleak right now, it does at least give us a chance to stop, catch a breath and take stock of everything we’ve achieved and what is yet to be achieved with just a little hard work (and some unexpected spare time).

So stay safe, stay well and especially important #stayhome to beat this thing!

Website / Instagram

Cathy Baitson Weatherston

Greetings from Ireland!

Right now I am self-isolating and have been doing so for the past week, except on Mother’s Day when I went to the beach to photograph sunrise and it was so quiet that social distancing was easy enough. 

During that time, I’ve been busy catching up on editing my work from previous weeks but from next week onwards I plan to do as much as I can on my very long “to-do” list, starting with making a new website, which Roby Pisconti has kindly offered to help me with. But, for now, I can be found on Instagram. 

Also on my list is to make some digital backgrounds for my newborn photos, knit some hats and maybe an outfit for them too. I also want to learn digital painting but that might take me a bit longer than a few weeks. 

Ireland has many Instagram accounts that are giving daily photography challenges, workouts and musicians playing live to keep everyone’s spirits up. 

So whatever you do during these weeks in isolation, make the most of it, enjoy it and #staysafe. 


Fernando Santos

This is Chicky Nando reporting from a secret bunker near Lisbon, Portugal. Well, not really secret, and certainly not a bunker. Just like everyone else, I’m stuck at home! So far, so good.

I’ve been really busy riding the coronavirus tsunami the best I can, running my IT company and trying to run my photography business. While photo walks are not possible at the moment, and neither is Lightroom training in class, being stuck at home, I have reinventing myself and I’m now working as your personal Lightroom Classic tutor, helping Lightroom users one-to-one. I’m also cooking a lot, taking care of my mom and my son, and checking on my daughter who lives in a different country. I’m also in contact with friends across the world, and that includes Team Epic, obviously! I’ve been mostly worried for my friend Roby Pisco who is in Italy: in case something bad would happen to him, he promised me his lens as long as I wouldn’t tell his family how much he paid for them! I prefer to be able to shoot with him again, even though he does have some nice gear… 😊

Soon, everything will be fine, and we will all have a blast at Photoshop World (or whatever it will be called in 2021). Stay healthy! Stay inside! And wash your hands!

Website / Instagram

Roberto Pisconti

It’s the fifteenth day of quarantine here in Padua in the Veneto region, the second Italian region most affected by Covid-19. The latest decree issued today by President Giuseppe Conte orders the closure of any unnecessary activity that adds to the closure of schools, bars, restaurants and all places of congregation. We can only leave the house if we have a proven need, such as to go shopping, go to work or provide assistance to the sick, and we must bring a self-certification with us. If we leave without reason, we are liable to a fine in case of a police check. In the evening the silence is surreal, looking out from my balcony I can’t even hear a voice in the distance. Sounds like an apocalyptic scenario, doesn’t it? Instead, it is the strength of a Country that reacts to the threat of the virus with the only weapon available – isolation. 

How do you spend day after day at home? Well, you have no idea how many things you can do when you have so much time to spend. They have already told you about books, the internet, online courses etc., but here are five things that will surely commit you and make your day productive:

1. Reorder the drawers. We all have a drawer at home where, for years, we have accumulated all sorts of things: – old photos, odds and ends, keys we don’t know what door they open.

2. Change the arrangement of furniture in a room. In addition to being rewarding, it is also excellent exercise. Once you are done you will find that it was better before but this is another story.

3. Experience new types of photography. For three years I had everything needed for the “Water Drop Photograph” in the drawer (the one in point 1), I finally used it and the results were really satisfying.

4. Learn to play the ukulele. Contrary to popular belief, the ukulele is a complete fun instrument and thanks to its small size, once the quarantine is over, you can always carry it with you and your friends will thank you very much.

5. Paperclip Game. I’ll let you find out what it is by clicking here. Just know that it is addictive.

As you can see, staying at home for many days creates a lot of opportunities. For example, I discovered that the floor of my kitchen has exactly sixty-two tiles and that to go from the bathroom to the bedroom it takes nine steps, eight if I have slippers, only eight can you believe it? Staying indoors also does not create any problem for your mental health, believe me, the pink unicorn, Goofy and the king of rock and roll Elvis who are sitting in my living room confirmed it to me two minutes ago.

To conclude seriously, I want to leave you some advice derived from my experience. Wash your hands often, avoid crowded places, stay home as much as possible, call neighbors to find out if they need anything. The period is bad and it will probably get worse but together we will be able to overcome it.


Stephanie Richer

In my part of the world, Nashville just went into lockdown like NYC and LA, and all bars and restaurants are closed statewide, the exception being the latter can do takeout and delivery. Some people are worried because a lot of people came into the Smoky Mountains area for their Spring Break (schools are normally closed for a week this time of year). They brought tourist dollars but did they also bring COVID-19?

Right now, most of Tennessee’s cases are in Nashville. So, what am I doing? Well, there is my book writing. But I am also thinking of how my business will recover financially. A lot of people will come back to work slowly and I think photographers have to make some adjustments to help them. I may offer different price points, as an example. But when this passes, I do think people will have a greater appreciation for what is important in life.

Expect more weddings, more celebrations – and above all, MORE BABIES!

Website / Instagram

Scott Kelby

I’m in the self-isolating crew, too, with the exception that I sometimes have to isolate myself at the office for webinars (see above), where I’m the only one on the set, so we all keep a safe social distance from each other. My co-host for The Grid, Erik Kuna, is across the room from me on a different set, and we only have one person in the broadcast booth (either Jason or Ron), and no cameraman on set — they set the cameras in place before I get there, so the set is literally empty when we broadcast, but we’re preparing for an official lockdown where Erik and I will Skype in from our homes to do The Grid and webcasts so we won’t even be in the same building.

Yesterday I did a live online full-day seminar for the photographers in Houston who signed up for my live seminar (I was supposed to actually be in Houston teaching), and tomorrow I’ll do the same thing for photographers in Los Angeles. It’s weird because when we took our lunch break, we’re all sitting 20-feet from each other, but that’s the way it has to be for now.

I’m not really doing anything shooting-wise, but I’m watching online videos and trying to learn new things, which I love, so I feel I’m still moving ahead even though I’m not actually holding a camera in my hands.

At home (we don’t go out, and haven’t for a while now), I’m working on putting together a home recording studio (for music, not webcasting), and so I’m working on some songs right now (I’m in the middle of recording all the instruments for Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” — I download the original vocal track from youtube, then I recreate all the instruments myself, playing all the guitar parts, bass guitar, and drum parts). My goal is to make it so you can’t tell the difference from the original, and that takes a lot of time and research, and of course, I have to learn to play all those parts. The whole process can take up to two weeks for one song, but if you don’t go to those lengths, it sounds like karaoke, so it’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun when it starts really coming together.

The kids are all here, so that makes it so much fun, and we play card games, and board games and playing online games together. Everybody stays indoors all day, but sometimes my daughter gets stir crazy so we take a 30-minute drive. We don’t get out of the car — just a change of scenery. Kalebra is spending time in her studio, mostly drawing and listening to smooth jazz (LOL), but she loves it in there. The doggos are having a ball with everybody here — they’re getting even more attention than usual (if that’s possible).

We’re trying to make the best of this downtime, and enjoying being together as a family, but I can’t wait until this is all behind us. I worry about my friends, like my friends in Team Epic, and I worry about our staff, and our friends and family, and our country and the economy, and the world. I worry about the photographers struggling to find work right now, and I worry about restaurant servers and staff and their situation. I guess I’m doing a lot of worrying, but I’m also doing a lot of praying for everybody, too. We could all use another prayer or two. Thanks to everybody who sent me a note that they’re saying ones for me and my family. It means more than you know. Hope you all stay safe. Brighter days are ahead.

Sian Elizabeth

As portraits of people is now a little harder due to social distancing, my aim for this time is to get some great portraits of my two rescue dogs. They are notoriously terrible models, as they never listen and I more often than not get their back ends whilst they’re walking away! (See image for example!) So I’m going to watch Kaylee’s class on KelbyOne to grab some tips for dog photography and fingers crossed, get some print-worthy shots of my fur babies! I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, so this is giving me the time to really focus on this goal! 

Website / Instagram

Wherever you are, it seems the simplest, safest course of action right now is to #StayHome.

I put together a terrible little eBook which you can download here or in the KelbyOne member’s toolkit if you’d like to get some more ideas for photography in isolation.

Much love