Monthly Archives January 2021

9 Top Tips From For Taking Better Photos in 2021

Hi from England, and I hope that you are safe, well and warm wherever you are.

I don’t seem to have taken many photos in 2020. The global pandemic has not helped but doing other stuff has also restricted my opportunities in what has been an incredibly difficult year for all of us.

Time to look forward to better days I say. I have decided that 2021 is the year that I get back to taking more photos, both for my clients, my business and also for myself. And with that thought in mind I am going to be making a concerted effort to take better photos as well. And this leads me seamlessly into this post (blimey – it almost sounds like I know what I am doing here), which I am delighted to be writing for Scott’s website.

These are my own words, thoughts, and opinions based on well over 30 years of photographic experience.

Ok let’s get in to all this good stuff.


1. Get Out and Take Photos

Yep, this is my number one tip. The number one way for you and I to improve our photography is to get off our collective backsides, get off the sofa, computer, tablet, phone, TV or games thing and get out there and take photos.

And it is so good for our physical and mental wellbeing to get out and about. Sure, there are restrictions that are in place now, but they will be gone hopefully and in 2021 we can all get back to normal life.

I still love doing this.

I find this one thing exciting even now, after well over 30 years of practising and enjoying my photography – I still get a buzz from packing my (small – see later) camera bag knowing that I am off to explore somewhere new.

And fresh air is good for us of course.

It is all good.

There is no negative to going out taking photos, unless you spend all your time doing this and neglect your nearest and dearest that is. And I am not advocating that of course!

Or if you still use film which is not cheap these days!

You will feel better for getting out and about, refreshed and invigorated, and you never know you might have some great photos to enjoy forever and a day.

So, get out and take some great photos with me in 2021. Well not actually with me but you know what I mean.

Talking of which, this is me photographing the wonderful Durdle Door.

There is only one thing that I can guarantee though – if you do not get out and take photos you will not get any great new images.


2. Stop Looking at New Gear

I spent years doing this. I would buy some shiny new gear and use it and then be on the lookout for something else.

I even bought gear that I never actually used.

And do you know what – I spent more time looking at gear than I did taking photos.

And where did that get me?

Poorer and with cupboards full of stuff that I did not need. And my photography at a standstill.

Yep I did this for years. And then the penny dropped.

I was looking for something specific, and in looking for it I had to go plough through a whole heap of gear that I had either hardly used or not used at all.

The One-Year Rule

I put all this gear in a box (or three) and put that lot in the garage and invented the one-year rule.

And one year later the stuff was still there unused. I sold it all.

And unusually for me I learned from this lesson, and now only buy something if I specifically need it, or if I see something that will help me take better photos.

Ongoing Gear Lust

OK I’m not perfect – I have bought the odd thing that I did not need. But the real takeaway from this is that I do not look for gear any more – what I do is look for gear to fix a problem when a problem arises.

This is where I prove myself.

I am still using a Canon 6D Mk 1 – it took great photos in 2014 when I bought it and it still takes great photos in 2020. And will do so in 2021.

Which takes me nicely on to the next point…

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#TravelTuesday with Dave (that’s me) is here again! Starting with the travel before we get into the photography, it’s getting closer and closer to a re-booked flight to Iceland I postponed from late last year. I was due to travel in October but things weren’t looking good, COVID-wise, so I shifted the trip to March. I’m starting to think that maybe I had false hope! We’ll see, only time will tell, but in the meantime I’m looking forward to the Travel Photography Conference next week where I’ll be presenting two classes:

But today I actually want to lay down some particularly useful photo gear advice. Here it is!

There are two pieces of gear which are worth investing in because they support our most important items – our camera and our lens. Those two things are our tripod and our straps.

3 Legged Thing in Iceland

When it comes to tripods, think of it this way: that three legged thing (see what I did there?) is responsible for holding up our camera and it’s important we choose a tripod that can achieve this without compromise. It needs to be strong, robust, sturdy, and a whole load of other adjectives, so that it meets this goal and performs not only to help us capture the best images whilst being portable and functional, but also protects the gear it carries. I’ve tried and tested plenty of tripods and derivatives thereof, and I’ve landed on the following two companies to ensure my gear is kept safe whilst being all-round awesome when it comes to photography: –

3LeggedThing, and Platypod

Both of these companies are run by people who have a genuine passion for photography and who pay great attention to detail to ensure only the very best quality ends up in our arsenal.

Platypod in Norway

The other item on the agenda, straps, is exactly the same but in reverse. Rather than having our gear mounted atop, it hangs below. The strength, quality, and robustness of the camera strap we choose is incredibly important. Before I made the very smart decision to use BlackRapid straps every time my camera was slung, I made the very silly decision to buy a cheap alternative. It was whilst shooting a wedding some years back that I realised just how silly a decision that was when my camera hit the deck after the low-quality stitching on the strap failed and my camera, complete with a heavy lens and hotshoe flash, dropped a couple of feet. It was only because of the way they fell and the foot they hit that it didn’t cost me a new lens!

BlackRapid versus arctic Fox

My point today has been made, but to summarise:

There are things among our photography gear where it can be effective and worthwhile taking a risk on a lower priced item. When it comes to straps and tripods, do not take this risk! The survival of our most expensive and main tool – our camera – depends on our wise choices with these two things. Trust me.

So for this week, with fingers crossed that the world opens up again soon, that’s me done.

Much love

Dave

It happened again this weekend — I got a panicked email from a friend who lost the contents of his computer and didn’t have a backup. Thankfully, he had the bulk of his photos backed, but not all the photos on his laptop — not his Lightroom catalog (with all this edits), and not all his documents.

So, what does he do now?

Nothing. There’s nothing he can do. He’s lost everything on his computer, so know he’s pretty much starting over. He doesn’t even know everything he’s lost, but he knows it’s a lot, and I feel terrible for him. It’s heartbreaking.

Don’t let this happen to you, and it’s not a matter of “if” this will happen. It’s just a matter of “when.” But it doesn’t have to be a disaster like it was for my friend. It can just be a minor inconvenience. So don’t just backup your photo library. Back up your computer. Right. Now.

I use a program called “Carbon Copy Cloner”

Carbon Copy Cloner (from Bombich Software) is the easiest backup program I’ve ever used. It’s pretty much a no-brainer — you plug in your external backup hard drive (by the way — please use an external hard drive so if your computer dies, your backup doesn’t die with it), and it makes an exact duplicate backup of your computer. Yes, it’s that easy.

It reminds you to back up, too (which I love). It can remind you weekly, daily, every two-weeks, once a month — your choice, and when it does, all you do is connect your external drive and it automatically runs a backup in the background.

Why not do this today?

Why not start this year off with peace of mind and get your computer fully backed up.

Here’s an external hard drive I’ve used for years. It’s a WD (Western Digital), USB-3 drive and it’s a full two Terabytes which is enough to backup most hard computer hard drives, and it’s only $62.99 and you can have it tomorrow. $62.99. Tomorrow. Here’s the link.

I hope you’ll give this some serious thought today. Maybe one day you’ll post a comment here how it saved your butt, and we’ll both be happy. :)

-Scott

P.S. We’re less than 10-days from our first online conference of the year — the “Travel Photography Conference” and the day before I’m doing a pre-conference session for anyone registered for the conference on, “What makes a great travel photo” — that kicks off a week from Tuesday, and I hope you can join us. Tickets and more info here.  

I’m putting the official conference trailer below in case you’ve got a sec. I hope you’ll give it quick look (it’s short).

The Grid: How To Achieve Photography Goals for 2021 – Episode 455

It’s a new year, and there’s no better time to figure out what you want to do this year with your photography! Scott Kelby and Erik Kuna are joined by Kristina Sherk of Shark Pixel on the latest episode of The Grid to discuss plans for achieving your photography goals for 2021.

New KelbyOne Course: Lightroom Classic – Importing Like A Pro with Scott Kelby

Become a master of the Lightroom Classic import process! Join Scott Kelby as he demystifies the Lightroom Classic import window, explains the core workflow, orients you to all of the options, and shows you methods to make this process more efficient and reliable. Once you fully understand this aspect of the workflow it will make your Lightroom Classic life so much easier!

Of all the visual arts, photography has historically been most prized for capturing reality. Snapshots that preserve the truth of the way life was. Black and white impressions of caissons wheeling bodies off the field of battle during the American Civil War gave mute but powerful testimony to the horrors of battle. From unsmiling tintypes to migrant mothers and now ubiquitous sunset family portraits, we instinctively see these images as depictions of reality.

But, of course, they’re not.

Almost since the inception of photography, people have been trying to capture the world not as it is, but how they saw it. From the “decisive moment” to staged poses and careful post production manipulation, photographers have always aimed to create visuals that represent their own ideas. Certainly there is truth involved, but of a much more complex sort that is, more often than not, exaggerated in some way.

Rather than being a form of falsehood or “cheating,” this ability to infuse photography with some level of the fantastical reveals truths about the photographer, who they are, and how they see both their subjects, and the world. How they choose to frame an image, what they shoot, where the focus is, all these things give the viewer clues about the creator of the work.

Now that photographers have more powerful post-production tools at their disposal than ever before, this ability to reveal truths through fantasy is in the beginning of a golden age. And for those of us who focus on the fantasy genre, it is a particular blessing.

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This is all getting a bit strange now. It’s nearly a year of #TravelTuesday with Dave, but without the travel! I posted my review of 2020 on my own blog recently and the numbers compared to previous years are just not worth talking about. Coming up with new and inspiring content is becoming a challenge, but it’s a challenge I’m accepting. That said, this week I aim to give you all two ideas of productive things to do for yourself and your photography at a time when perhaps, like me, you’re confined to your home because of government measures.

Thing number 1: – Sort out your social situation

Being unable to interact for real means social media is fairly important for us, and even more so in order to promote ourselves and our businesses. Things change constantly behind the scenes on social media platforms, which makes it tricky to work out what will perform well and what won’t. So, instead of trying to do what most people do and concentrate on what photos to post, when to post them, and other such things to try and stay ahead of the algorithm, try this: the key is engagement. If we expect people to engage with us, we must also engage with them. Make it a priority in 2021 to dedicate time to engaging sincerely with other photographers if something you want to do is grow your social media presence and, therefore, your photography business.

Thing number 2: – Sort out your filing

I’m talking about having photos across hard drives and cards in nonsensical, lacklustre filing systems bearing no semblance of organisation. If your file management isn’t on point, just take a moment to consider this: if you don’t have your images, you don’t have your photography history. The most critical part of this is to ensure a good system of file management is met with a good system of backups. Losing an image, be it a RAW file or a final edit, is devastating to any photographer. There’s never a good time for it to happen and there are never good consequences. We must do all we can to prevent the loss of our images and having a good back-up system in place will achieve this, so we never have to experience the cost of losing images, or memories. 

So, welcome to 2021! Let’s see how this goes….

Much love
Dave

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