Monthly Archives April 2020

Photo by David Rizzo Photography

First, I would like to thank Scott and Brad for having me on as their guest this week.

I am a sports photographer covering the Boston market for USA Today Sports, and also a portrait photographer and graphic designer.

I started my sports shooting journey with USA Today Sports back in June 2011, shortly after the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup. My second assignment had me covering a Red Sox game against the A’s and little did I know, the Stanley Cup Champs would be at Fenway as well – with the Stanley Cup. Prior to covering sports for USA Today Sports, I was shooting for a small wire service where I was able to gain experience and knowledge.

June 19, 2011; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara shows off the Stanley Cup to Boston Red Sox fans as part of pre-game ceremonies at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-US PRESSWIRE

Rewind to 2008 when I purchased my first digital camera, a Nikon D80. I had no idea how to use it, I knew nothing about the lenses that came with it. All I knew is I wanted to make great photos.

Having been a NAPP member for years, following Scott, and reading his blog daily, I knew he was into photography and had written some great books. I ended up buying his Digital Photography Book series, which was the foundation that enabled me to become the photographer I am today.

Apr 23, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (41) pitches during the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Slowly, I began learning more about exposure, composition, shutter speed and aperture, but really had no idea what area of photography I wanted to excel in. I was taking pictures of everything from plants, to landscapes and cars, to portraits of my kids in hopes of making some good photos.

Sep 30, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (41) has champagne poured on him by his teammates after clinching the American League East against the Houston Astros at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

At this time my oldest son was playing little league baseball. What a perfect opportunity to do some sports photography. For the next 3 years I photographed every one of his little league games. I upgraded some of my gear, buying a 70-200mm, a D300 and a 300mm that came with a 1.4x teleconverter and I started covering high school sports for MaxPreps. I was gaining more and more experience, getting into a comfort zone, and meeting other shooters along the way who graciously offered tips and advice.

Tom Brady runs onto the field at Gillette Stadium

I met a local photographer who also covered games for MaxPreps. We shared stories on our experiences covering games at the high school level and he was kind enough to look at some of my work and offer advice on composition, among other things. Having looked at his website, I noticed he had some game action photos of the New England Patriots and I asked him how he got access. He said he freelanced for a small wire service. He was kind enough to give me contact info, and I sent out an email stating my interest in working with them. Within a week I was covering AHL and college hockey.

After covering numerous games at the college and minor league level, I wanted more. I felt ready enough to step up my game and start covering the major sports teams here in Boston.

Dec 25, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) reacts after making a three point basket during overtime against the Philadelphia 76ers at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

I sent emails to AP, Getty Images, US Presswire (which is now USA Today Sports) in the spring of 2011 voicing my interest in being a contributor. After several weeks, US Presswire had responded to my inquiry and explained their process for hiring new photographers.

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#TravelTuesday has come around again, and in these times, there’s less travel and more Tuesday. I’m Dave Williams and this week, I have some confessions.

First up, here are two truths: –

#1 – You are not stuck at home, you are safe at home.

#2 – Instagram is a lie.

Let me elaborate. During this time when we are unable to travel, Instagram is demonstrating that it is a version of reality, and not reality itself. It is a way for us to show our art and creativity, but the “time-stamp” element is removed. Instagram is not so much showing us the now; it is showing us the past. It’s much deeper than that, too. Instagram for the majority is a social media, but for us photographers, it’s a shop window. It’s our facility to show ourselves to the world, and that is part of a struggle we constantly face—showing ourselves.

To get booked and commissioned we need clients, and we find those clients in a variety of ways, but it’s certainly fair to say that Instagram has a lot to do with it, particularly with the popularity of micro-influencing. Personally, I don’t just get clients from Instagram, I also utilise Instagram for those clients. But it all starts somewhere, and each successful photographer has a backstory from which they’ve learned valuable lessons about their craft. Here’s some of my story:

We are all struggling. Learning to become a pro photographer and basing an income on it is not all it’s imagined to be. It’s a long, hard slog. First up on the list of reality checks is that it’s actually far less about photography than you’d think. You have far less freedom than you’d think. A lot of photography work is seasonal—think weddings, schools, landscapes, and the like. Maintaining a certain level of work across all the seasons, and dedicating the time to marketing your portfolio and reaching out to clients, you’re likely to achieve greater success, but it will consume your time.

Something that always comes up, and which I’ve seen firsthand even with some of the best photographers I know, is a lack of self-confidence. In certain light, people are happy to call their business a business, but in others, they aren’t. There’s a niggling intimidation in certain company or certain arenas, which drains our confidence (and sometimes our creativity) and even makes us afraid to invest in ourselves. In extreme circumstances, it can even make us want to give up. This tends to be a problem at the start of our profession, but that’s not at all exclusive—it can happen at any time. As I said, some seriously good vets still doubt their work, and a certain level of this doubt is good. Look at it from a Betari Box point of view: we should have the correct level of competence and confidence, and not let confidence outweigh competence.

This lack of confidence caused by self-doubt can be overcome. The first question to ask yourself if this sounds familiar is this: –

What are you losing by not solving the problem?

The longer the situation runs on, and the longer we suffer a lack of creativity or self-belief, the harder it will be to remedy. By not solving the problem, we face a potential loss of clients or prospective clients. We can start to focus on gaining more appropriate clients (read: better clients) by getting better at sending out the right message to show what we’re actually providing. This can be the correct marketing or an effective website. The message we need to send is not only that we’re competent, but that we have value through every stage from planning through to post-production. Attracting and working with better clients is ultimately the goal with this, and the value we provide is the big point we need to put across in order to attract the right clients.

Pro photographers tend to have this nailed, but getting to this point led every one of them down the same path where self-doubt was present and they all hid behind their gear. We will all profess to you that “the best camera is the one you have,” but we all know why we say that, and we heard it, too. Photographers often feel that maybe they aren’t going to be able to produce a quality result because they have the wrong gear. Here’s a secret that my experience has taught me: there will always be a better camera! No matter which camera you have, a better camera with better specs, will be out there, and although the camera does a grand job, it doesn’t beat the job being done by the person holding it. That’s right, the best thing about any camera is the six inches behind it. It’s evident in just a little look at the non-photography world—we all know this one. It’s the people who ask what camera we have when we show them a photo they like. Most of us have learned to just answer the question and take the compliment, but it’s obviously not about the camera, it’s about who took the photo. Some of my favourite photos were taken on my iPhone.

Build your brand and your confidence (in line with your competence). Use this lockdown time to work out a business model and marketing strategy that demonstrates your value and will grow your career in photography.

Much love
Dave


I know it’s Monday, but the sake of this “Photo Tip Friday” let’s just pretend it’s Friday. I won’t tell if you don’t.

Not bad, eh? Almost makes you wish it actually was Friday. Hey….wait a minute! ;-)

Hope that helps get your Monday off to a good start. Stay healthy, stay creative, and stay inside! :)

-Scott

P.S. Don’t forget — Our Two-Day Lightroom Conference is Coming May 5-6th, 2020. Hundreds of photographers from all over have already signed up and you don’t want to miss you. Get the details, and tickets, over at lightroomconference.com – you are so going to want to be a part of this live-streamed Lightroom training event of the year!

Well, you probably don’t have to wait until this weekend — you can watch ’em now. Here are three of our KelbyOne Webcasts — normally just for KelbyOne Pro Members, but since we’re all stuck indoors, and we’re all in this together, we’re making this Webcasts free and open to everybody. Check ’em out below:

A hands-on Webinar: From Flat to Fabulous in Lightroom

NOTE: Download Link for the RAW images so you can follow right along with me.

Another hands-on Webinar: Beginner Compositing for Portrait and Landscape photographers

NOTE: Download Link for the class images so you can follow right along with me.

A Path To Making The Kind of Images You Really Want To Make

Hope these help you focus on something creative, something fun, and something that can move you forward so when this awful virus is behind us you’re in a great position to use these new skills for something great.

Have a fun, safe weekend everybody and we’ll catch you back here next week. :)

-Scott

P.S. Just want to make sure you heard the news — on May 5-6, 2020 we’re kicking of the KelbyOne Lightroom Conference (sponsored by Adobe); its two-days, two tracks of learning from an absolutely all-star cast, and it’s so affordable anyone can be a part of it (and hundreds of photographers have already signed up). Tickets and more info at http://lightroomconference.com

What’s The Right Canon Lens For The Job? Scott’s Top Picks, When and Why with Scott Kelby

Heads up Canon shooters, this is a class just for you! Join Scott Kelby as he shares his recommendations for which lenses he suggests using for each different genre of photography. These are the same recommendations he gives friends who ask him these types of questions all the time.

From landscapes to weddings and astrophotography to street photography, Scott discusses the reasons behind each lens choice and gives suggestions for full frame, mirrorless, and crop sensor camera bodies. By the end of the class you’ll find that there are just a few key lenses that will probably cover the majority of your favorite photography scenarios.


In Case You Missed It: A Clear Vision of Lenses for Photographers

Join Larry Becker for a class designed to give you a firm understanding of lens characteristics, capabilities, technologies, and key terms. Lens manufacturing has advanced at a rapid rate, and it is important to stay up to date with the advantages newer lenses have over those in the past.

Larry takes you through the variety of lens mounts, aperture settings, focusing concerns, image stabilization, and cutting edge lens technologies that will make you a better lens consumer. Larry wraps up the class with a closer look at a few popular lens configurations currently available.

The More Things Change…

A little over 10 years ago Scott asked me to write a guest blog post. At the time I was working at a small advertising agency in Monroe, LA with a passion for doing photography. I had a few opportunities to photograph Louisiana Tech sporting events alongside Donald Page. I’m not sure either one of us really had any idea of where the future would take us, but it’s amazing what all you can pack into a 10 year span.  I’ll do my best…


ATL

In 2012 I got my shot with the Atlanta Falcons. Scott posted about the journey here. It was go time. I knew this was what I wanted to do and I knew I wanted to rise in the industry.

I spent two seasons with the Falcons. This was my first time spent as a creative for a sports team. By no means was this a new position in sports.  My boss, Michael Benford, I believe was going on his 10th year at the time.  My eyes were wide open. In 2011, when I was doing everything I could do to make any sort of name for myself as a sports creative, it was mostly just creating at my house. No flash. So imagine when I went from Spencer St., in Ruston, LA, to the Atlanta Falcons Headquarters. I was surrounded by likeminded people who ate, slept, and breathed sports the same way I did. Mike hired me as a graphic designer but he also knew that I could take a pretty decent game photo. So I had that going for me.

In 2012, in sports, there really weren’t a lot of options as a creative. You had graphic designers, videographers and a director. Social media was just starting to really become a thing. We had Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, obviously, but from a creative stand point I remember really only doing a handful of graphics that would server as headers for articles or promote our matchups. Most of the other things fell on to the web as banner advertisements.

I learned under Benford about the importance of brand and brand consistency. The ‘why’ we do something. Before, I would just do things that I thought were cool with no real reason for it. Michael taught me how to mesh the cool with goals of our brand. And on Sundays, well Sundays we took the field and I did so with my camera in my hand. The same camera that got me to this point.

I was at home on the sideline. Each weekend I would look for a way to sharpen my skills a little bit more. I watched how most photographers clumped together and shot from the same elevation with monopods…so I moved away and never used a monopod. I shoot low. I want the hero shot. I want the ‘other’ shots. The game unfolds between the lines…you follow it.  But there are other things.

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