Monthly Archives March 2021

(Editor’s Note: This is a two-part guest blog from our good friends Dave Clayton and Alan Hess. We’ll hear from Dave this week, and Alan next week!)

Hello and thanks for checking in to Scott’s blog today. I am very fortunate enough to have been a guest blogger here before. Each time I was able to share my story, and each time it was nice to actually write down what I had achieved, not just to say, “Hey, look at me,” but to share how we can all take good things from opportunities afforded to us. 

Since my beginning as an “evangelist” way back in 2009, I worked hard and was fortunate to become an instructor for KelbyOne, both online and at Photoshop World. I became a regular writer for Photoshop User Magazine (the very magazine that convinced me to join NAPP/KelbyOne in the first place. I then went on to write a book for Scott, How Do I Do That In InDesign,” with Rocky Nook and all those things enabled me to teach at Adobe Max for the first time in 2020. The reason I mention these events is because becoming part of this wonderful community of photographers, designers and creatives encouraged me to start a podcast back in 2018. You can see my guest post about it.

I think we can all say that 2020 threw us all a massive and unexpected curve ball. But it meant that the events went away, we were all staying at home and trying to adapt to this strange new time. But having the He Shoots, He Draws podcast was one thing that actually bloomed during this time.

Around April 2020, Glyn Dewis (fellow KelbyOne/Photoshop World instructor and cofounder of HSHD) had to step away from podcast duties to focus on his other ventures such as the 3945 Portraits Project and also try to move home just as the pandemic took hold. Our good friend Alan Hess, also the first ever guest we had on the show, kindly and very quickly stepped in to help support the show as the “He Shoots…” part of the double act. I couldn’t have wished for a better cohost like him to fill Glyn’s shoes. 

Being at home a lot can start to weigh heavy on you. Working and living from home with little to no escape can drive you stir crazy, but having the podcast really helped. Alan and myself would chat frequently over Zoom, the new communication tool of 2020… (Skype, what happened to you dude?!) Alan was already familiar with the format of the show (I will pretend that the show is professionally planned and scripted of course….it isn’t). Between us, we already knew most of the previous guests, and Alan was able to introduce some great photography guests to the show that I wouldn’t have thought of. 

Finding guests was easier, whereas previously it was harder to pin someone down pre-pandemic, everyone had nowhere to go and it meant we were able to book some really fun guests over the year. These included familiar names to those that have followed KelbyOne over the years such as:

Scott Kelby, Rod Sylvan, Dan Gregory, Kristi Sherk, Katrin Eismann, Theresa Jackson, Douglas Sonders, Ant Pruitt, Howard Pinsky, Brian Freidman, Dustin Jack, Meredith Stotzner, Russell Preston Brown, Jesus Ramirez, Elise Swopes, Adam Elmakias, Khara Plicanic, Scott Diussa, Victoria Bampton, Bryan O’Neill Hughes and Donald Page to name a few….we are still waiting on Brad Moore, such a diva ;)

With 153 episodes under our belt as you read this, we just achieved the milestone of 250,000 downloads worldwide….and that’s in over 125 different countries!!

One thing I know I can take away from this past year, it’s that 2020 not only leveled everyone out, it also enabled us to adapt and find new ways to improve our own skillsets. We spent more time communicating, sharing stories, helping each other and finding work for each other. Online events began to thrive, people got recommended and started their own path in teaching. Many new podcasts started to show in the photography and design space, people were happy to share knowledge and assist one another with experience and connections.

Listening to our guests made me realise how close we all are in the same boat. It humbles us, it makes us realise what is important to us and who is important to us. Some of our guests endured covid or lost loved ones because of it. It’s a defining time in our lives and I hope it’s made most of us better people. It’s reminded us that no matter how high up we are in our respective careers, we all matter when it comes down to it, and everyone has the time to help others.

I know my relationship with Alan has always been close, but doing the podcast with him and chatting for another two hours after recording an episode was therapeutic in itself. We laugh, joke, talk politics, discuss new gear, gossip etc. He really gave me some sanity back and I want to personally thank him for stepping in and just doing what good mates do, support you even when their own world is turned upside down, and in the middle of writing a huge book for Rocky Nook!

Alan lost 99% of his own work. He shoots gigs as a house photographer for the Pechanga Arena in San Diego, as well as other live events. So for Alan it was a massive loss and a big change for him. Had he been working as much as he was pre-pandemic, he may not have been able to join the podcast, but for now, I am grateful to have him onboard.

As we now enter a period of positivity and a little hope of getting our lives back, I do hope that everyone comes back stronger, a little more patient and caring, finding time for others, especially like podcasts. We want to share your story and amplify you. We learn so much from our guests and each one has given us a little something extra along the way that’s made us better interviewers, better creatives and better people.

I can’t wait for events to come back, to be teaching to people again, to be at Photoshop World, Adobe Max, Creative South, Crop Conference and more. And when we do, make more time and effort to communicate with your peers. We all have stories to share, whether they are podcasts or not. Make your own little conversation your own personal podcast!

Stay safe, get vaccinated ,and hopefully I will see you soon at an event somewhere in the world!

And thanks for listening to the podcast – if you haven’t yet, please give it a try :)

PRIZE: Listen to the podcast episode with Scott Kelby. In it we both discuss our favourite TV show of 2020 and Scott mentions that I (Dave) am the UK version of this character. First person to email me what that show/character is, to podcast@heshootshedraws.com will win some goodies :) 


You can see more from Dave at ItsDaveClayton.com, keep up with him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and check out his great courses on KelbyOne. Come back next week to hear from Alan Hess, and check out all of the episodes of He Shoots, He Draws in the mean time!

It’s #TravelTuesday again and I, Dave Williams, am here as always with something from the world of travel photography. This week I want to take you all vicariously out of quarantine for your morning cup of coffee to one of my favourite places on earth. I’m actually still a little sore over the fact that I was meant to be in this place but the flight was cancelled (thanks ‘rona!), however it’s something I’ve enjoyed seeing via social media. Also, I’m not entirely sure of my punctuation combination in that previous sentence, but I’m giving myself a break and letting it slide! Who says you can’t use a comma after an exclamation mark?!

I’d like to begin by introducing two friends – Ása and Dagur. They’re both photographers and travel professionals based in Iceland.

Ása is happiest outdoors and grew up surrounded by rugged, extreme landscapes. She’s established herself with an outstanding Instagram presence and works with many Icelandic brands.

Dagur is a qualified fine art photographer. He specialises in tailored, private tours of the island showing off the dramatic landscapes and dancing northern lights.

So, every now and then we’re presented with a once in a lifetime opporunity. Right now in Iceland there really is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and these two talented legends have both been fortunate enough to be in a position to take that opportunity.

On the Reykjanes peninsula, the south-west point of the fault line that runs all the way through Iceland. It’s the fault line that seperates the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. If you’ve ever been here you’ll know it’s a spectuacular landscape formed by the twisting and splitting of land, filled back in with emerging lava from the earths core. One of the most famous spots to see an example of the two plates is the Bridge Between Continents. Iceland is home to very many volcanoes and, very cleverly, utilises the energy from them to generate power and heat their hot water – geothermally.

We all know of the infamous eruption of Eyjafallajokull in 2010, throwing airspace around the world into chaos because of the ash cloud that came alongside it. But did you know there’s an eruption occuring right now? Right on the Reykjanes peninsula, following weeks of tremours and earthquakes, the magma finally reached the surface just outside the town of Grindavik. It’s all fairly safe, as far as volcanic eruptions can be, and locals have been visiting and exploring the area.

Here’s one of Dagur’s images showing visitors to the site, which I imagine would be starkly different if we weren’t in a global pandemic. Even so , there’s a fair amount of people who have hiked out to see it with their own eyes (and lenses).

Ása has explored by helicopter and drone, as well as on foot. Here’s one of her images from the site of the eruption.

The point fo the post today is to impress upon you all the fact that once in a lifetime opportunities are just that – they’re once in a lifetime. There are very few people who have the opportunity to witness magma oozing from the earth like this. Whenever we’re presented with such a chance, we should take it.

Along with the amazing sights presented with this spectacle, which we can all use our skills to capture in photographs, come other things. In this case the smells of the sulphur and the mesmerising flow of lava must be incredible to experience first hand, and this kind of experience is translatable to many others which we can seize on our journeys as photographers. I implore you to take a moment to look at Ása and Dagurs work, and I will leave you with this line: –

Once in a lifetime as often as you can.

Much love

Dave

There’s been some discussion recently from people who have submitted images to “The Grid” (our live weekly photography talkshow) for our “Blind Photo Critique” episode.

It’s a blind critique in that we don’t reveal the photographer’s name whose work we’re critiquing (and we don’t even know their name). The reason we do this is so we can give an honest critique without publicly embarrassing the photographer who submitted their work.

It’s hard to get an honest opinion of your photography because often the people we’re showing our work to are our friends, or family, or co-workers who don’t want to hurt your feelings. They’re often not serious photographers themselves, so they’re not looking at them with the critical eye of a photographer. They’re looking at it like they’re your friend who likes pictures. You’re not going to get any of those folks to tell you, “You know, Bill — you’re just not very good.” It’s not going to happen, so that’s why it’s so important that things like blind critiques exist.

It’s not called “Blind Praise.” It’s a “Blind Critique”

Some people who submit their images for critique aren’t really submitting them for an actual critique. They are convinced the shots they’re sending are great, so what they’re really looking for is public recognition of their great photography, and if we point out anything wrong with their work, they’re angry. Friends and family members, and even folks in their local photo club told them they they liked these shots, so how could we have criticized them like we did? Because finally, somebody is telling them the truth.

I guess what they should say when submitting their images, is, “Here are my images for your blind critique. I think they’re really good, but if you don’t agree, I do not want to hear that, and I won’t accept it, so please only critique them on air if you think they’re really good and want to heap praise on me.”

Luckily, most of the folks who submit their images are doing it for the right reasons. They want to get better at their photography, and they’re looking for advice on making better images. We get emails all the time from people who have been critiqued, and there were some serious problems with their images, but they take the critique in the spirit it was delivered, and they tell us they now have a clear path forward with their work. They often resubmit images after they’ve addressed the issues we pointed out during the critiques, and their new images are literally night and day improvements over their previous work, and that is a home run for everybody! Erik and I are thrilled when see see them taking that advice, and creating better images. That’s really what the episode is about — helping photographers make better images, so you can imagine how happy that makes Erik and me, seeing that the critiques really made a difference.

If this isn’t what you’re looking for, don’t send them in

It’s a critique. Our job is to evaluate the image from a technical standpoint (is it in focus, is the exposure correct, does the light look good, and so on?) and from an impact and emotional standpoint. Does it make us say “wow” or “oooohhh!” or create any time of response, other than “meh?”

Oftentimes, the problem we see isn’t a technique one. The photographer understands their camera and exposure and all that type of stuff. They’re just making boring images. They’re creating images that are technically correct but have no chance of making someone say, “Wow!” No chance of moving someone emotionally, or telling an interesting story through their image, or getting a response of any kind. Their images have no ‘soul.’

They’re not “working” to make great images. They’re just shooting what’s in front of them. Taking a photo of a coffee cup and putting the background out of focus, doesn’t make it a great shot. We’ll all seen coffee cups. Yawn. I talked about this very topic — why it takes work to make interesting shots, in a post just a few weeks ago (you can read it here).

Now, sometimes we get images that are so good, Erik and I can only say, “These are awesome — just keep doing what you’re doing,” but most of the time, there are a lot of things the photographer can do, from composition to lighting to choice of subject or in the post-processing stage that would make a big difference, and we point those out. If that’s not what you’re looking for, don’t send your images in for a blind critique. If you can’t take criticism and don’t want to hear what’s wrong, there’s an easy solution – don’t send ’em in for a critique.

Your Back Story Doesn’t Matter

One thing we sometimes hear is that we didn’t like the photo because we didn’t know the backstory behind the image. That’s why we didn’t appreciate the image for how awesome it is. Here’s the truth — your backstory only makes the photo better to you — no one else. You see an image taken on a perfect day — it was cool and breezy that night, and it was your birthday, and you were with your finance walking hand in hand on the beach. Everything was just perfect, and you see and feel all this when you look at that photo, but what I see is another dock at sunset shot like every other dock at sunset shot, but maybe not as good.

I’m not 100% on who said this, but I believe it was Jay Maisel who once said (I’m paraphrasing here):

“Your image has to stand on its own. If it’s hanging in a gallery, you’re not going to be standing beside it to tell everyone who comes by that’s it’s really better than it looks because of what it means to you or what went into making it. You shouldn’t have to explain it. It’s either a good photo, or it’s not.”

— Jay maisel (i think)

The Value Of The Truth

Over the years, I’ve been very fortunate to have my work critiqued by some of the top pros in our industry. When I sat down for my critiques, I told them to give it to me straight. I wanted to hear the truth, and I told them not to sugarcoat or go easy on me because we’re friends. Let me tell you; they did not hold back. Ouch!

No one in the history of “The Grid” has ever endured the harshness of some of the one-on-one portfolio critiques I’ve received on my photography. I remember one where he looked me in the eye and said, “Are you serious? What the hell are you thinking? Why is this image in here?” My response was, “Well, it’s not in there any more,” and I removed that image (and a few more) immediately after the critique. They saw and pointed out problems in my images that I had totally missed, or didn’t even realize were problems.

While these critiques were brutally honest (that’s what I asked for) and, I had many cringe-worthy, and embarrassing moments throughout the critique experience, they were absolutely invaluable. I learned so much from them and I immediately changed a number of aspects of my photography from that point forward. I have to say that taking those critiques to heart moved me years ahead in my work. Years! Hard as they were to endure, they were some of the best, most important, most transformative things that ever happened to my photography.

When it comes to photo critiques, if you don’t have the right attitude going in — if you didn’t ask for a critique for the right reasons, what you’re left with is anger and frustration, and you don’t get any better. Your work doesn’t improve — instead, you dig your heels in, double-down, and complain about the critique and tell yourself that you’re right and the critiquer was wrong. How did that help you? How does that move you forward?

Learning From Other People’s Critiques

What’s cool about these critique shows is that even if it’s not your images being critiqued (and we hear this all the time), our viewers learn a lot from seeing these critiques and spotting similar mistakes they make in their work. They take those ideas and apply these suggestions to their photography, and their work moves ahead, even though they weren’t the one being critiqued, which is awesome.

Before you consider submitting images for a critique, ask yourself what you’re hoping to get from it. What are you expecting from the critique, and what are you prepared to do with what you hear during it? Depending on your attitude going into this, it can be an experience where you end up being angry and frustrated, or it could be a turning point in your photography — one that propels you and your work forward in a very real, tangible way. I hope you choose the latter.

Here’s to a great week — one where we all move forward with our work. :)

-Scott

The Grid: How Would I Edit Your Photo? – Episode 464

Tune in to the latest episode of The Grid with Scott Kelby and Erik Kuna to see how they edit and process viewer photos. You can always learn something to apply to your own post-processing by watching others, and this is a master class!

New KelbyOne Course: How To Customize Photoshop Like A Pro!

Make Photoshop your own! Join Terry White as he digs deep into all of the various ways you can customize Photoshop to make it work better for you. You’ll learn how to customize the Toolbar, menus, keyboard shortcuts, panels, workspaces, and more. Terry will show you what preference settings you can leverage to change the interface colors, font sizes, and even certain application behaviors. By the end of the class you’ll be excited and ready to set up Photoshop like a pro!

I’m Dave Williams and today it’s #TravelTuesday, which means I’m here again. I’m knee-deep in my latest project and it got me thinking about skills transferable to and from photography. This particular project is a van build—if you’re following my social media, you’ll know a little about what I’m up to already. If you don’t, here’s a peek: –

That’s the insulated interior of the van, ready for walls, flooring, and a ceiling to cover it up. But, what transferable skills help us in photography?

Attention to detail

In fixing up this van and getting it ready for furniture to go in, I’ve had to pay a lot of attention to detail. It’s strange, though, because it’s things that nobody else will notice. I’ve had to deal with small patches of rust to stop them from spreading, for example. But, these small patches, after having been treated, were covered up with paint, then insulation, then more insulation, meaning only I know that they’re there. The same thing happens in photography in that we pay very close attention to details that are likely not even noticed, or we hope aren’t noticed, in the final image. Darkening an area that’s not particularly interesting in the hope that people don’t pay it any attention, or cloning an area to change its makeup are translatable, and they’re both things we do as photographers to improve our photos, but that we don’t want people to ever see.

Repetition

We often repeat ourselves. We often repeat ourselves. Learning a new skill or art involves repetition. They say, “practice makes perfect.” I don’t know who “they” are, but it’s true. Learning how to build a van involves picking up a lot of new skills, which in turn, means a lot of practice and subsequent repetition. Once a new skill pops up and needs to be utilised, a lot of learning through repetition helps to make it easy and eventually put us on autopilot.

Reflection

After we do almost anything in life, we reflect. We wonder if we could have done it better, or perhaps just differently so that we can consider our approach the next time. It’s all part of our own personal development and, as photographers, it’s also part of our professional development. By our very nature, we are critical, and being critical of ourselves forms a part of this.

Whatever we’re doing in our life, we can transfer thoughts, ideas, and even processes in and out of our photography. It’s all part of our journey, and it will always help us to grow. For now, I have to get back to building this van.

Until next week…

Much love

Dave

While today’s post is not necessarily about photography, there are many, many photographers that enjoy a really incredible chicken sandwich; this is a well-known fact (you can Google it). It’s on this very thin premise that today I bring you “The Ultimate and Definitive Chicken Sandwich Wars taste test” to end all chicken war taste-tests.

You may not know this about me, but I consider myself to be somewhat of a “Chickenado,” and so I personally visited all the fast-food locations that claimed to be in the current “chicken sandwich war” to taste-test their latest entries (sometimes twice, sometimes three times just to be sure). I took this seriously and wanted to be certain of the results because…ya know…this stuff is important to photographers (and other humans).

Now, it’s time to share my carefully researched findings, so let us don our ceremonial robes, light the candles, repeat the sacred chant, and begin:

Popeyes is the target

Their amazing chicken sandwich and its off-the-chart runaway success is why we have a “Chicken Sandwich War” in the first place. Their sandwich is what every chain is aiming to at least meet or, better yet, beat.

If you haven’t tried one of Popeye’s chicken sandwiches yet (available in regular or spicy) — it’s pretty incredible. Life-changing. It makes you rethink the entire trajectory of your life and why we’re all here in the first place. You will come to a place where you realize that you would crawl across 3-miles of fishing hooks and rose thorns just to lick the discarded wrapper from the last person that ate one. Yes, they are that good. It turned the entire fast food industry upside down with people waiting literally in mile-long lines just to get one of these magical chickeny beauties.

So, Popeyes (for the sake of our test) is ranked a “10 out of 10.” It’s generally accepted (by photographers and other people who move infrequently) to be the best fast-food chicken sandwich of all time. So, all my rankings will be based on a scale where Popeye’s is a 10 (10 being best), and one being the worst, (probably the chicken sandwich at Checkers), but I digress. Let the rankin’ get to crankin’ (note: should be on a t-shirt).

McDonalds Crispy Chicken Sandwich | 5/10

The new McDonalds Crispy Chicken Sandwich (available in spicy and regular, and deluxe with added lettuce and tomato) I believe is the best chicken sandwich McDonalds has ever made. Way better than the McChicken sandwich we’ve been saddled with all these years, so it’s a step in the right direction, but Popeyes has nothing to worry about whatsoever from this entry. It’s fairly small size wise, and it’s not anywhere near the crispy crunchiness of the Popeyes sandwich — it’s not even close. So, good on McDonald’s for making their chicken sandwich better, but they’re on the outside looking in. In the context of the Chicken Sandwich War, they’re a 5 out of 10. Maybe a 5-1/2 on a good day. Before we move on, take a look at that image of it above again (also note the dry-looking bun). Now move to the next one, and compare it.

Burger King’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich | 9/10

I need to say this upfront — I am not a Burger King fan. Never have been, and if I go there, it’s probably to get my wife their plant-based Impossible Burger, which she loves, but as I said — not a fan. Which is why I guess I was so surprised at how great their new chicken sandwich is. It’s like they sat in a conference room, gave everyone a Popeye’s chicken sandwich, and said, “We need to make our version of this. It has to be at least as good if not better” and it shows. It’s really, really good! Great, in fact. Blows away McDonald’s by a mile. Just look at it — it even looks like the Popeye’s sandwich (and comparing this image with the one of McDonald’s chicken sandwich — that tells a lot of the story right there). Then bun is excellent (it’s not one of Burger King’s usual sesame seed buns); the chicken is big and crispy and juicy, and folks as much as I hate to admit it (as a non-Burger fan), maybe now I’m a fan. They’ve got a real winner with this one, and if I passed a Burger King on my way to a Popeyes a couple miles down the road, I’d probably just stop at Burger King — it is that good.

Wendy’s New Classic Chicken Sandwich | 4/10

I need to say this upfront. I love Wendy’s. I’ve been a fan forever, and I love their burgers and their salads, and I love their baked potatoes, and frosty’s and well…pretty much everything. But their new Classic Chicken Sandwich is pretty awful. Awful! It is just about tasteless. I actually went back to a different location to try one again to make sure I didn’t order the wrong one, or I got their old chicken sandwich, or something went wrong in the kitchen, or there was somehow a mix-up. Nope. Still bad.

The folks at Wendy’s apparently skipped that meeting the folks at Burger King had about making something to compete with Popeyes. Part of the reason may be there is not a Popeye’s in Dublin, Ohio (where Wendy’s is headquartered), so maybe they weren’t able to get a fresh Popeye’s sandwich to compare it to, so they just made their new chicken sandwich anecdotally — on hearsay, not actually tasting or even looking at a Popeyes sandwich. It’s like someone in a Wendy’s meeting said, “Hey, Earl in shipping went to a Popeye’s in Columbus, and he said their chicken sandwich is much better than ours. So, let’s tweak ours a little,” and they did. But even Earl would have to admit, Wendy’s missed the mark by 10 miles. It’s bland, lifeless, dry, and just so totally “meh” of a chicken sandwich that I’m surprised Wendy’s can sell this into the chicken sandwich war with a straight face. In fact, I would have to say Wendy’s has withdrawn from the Chicken Sandwich war altogether. They lost the battle. They have surrendered. They may as well sign just the truce and get back to making great burgers.

The New Zaxby’s Signature Sandwich | 9.8/10

Zaxby’s wasn’t even on my Chicken Sandwich Wars list, but just by chance, I was driving by the Zaxby’s near our office, and I look over to see a banner across the front of their restaurant that read, “The Chicken Sandwich WAR ain’t over yet!” so I turned around to give it a try. Now, I’ve been a Zaxby’s fan for years (I love their chicken, but their homemade potato chips and dipping sauce is legendary). I would get their chicken tenders on my way to shoot Bucs games (I pass one on my way to the stadium), but I didn’t realize they had “entered the war” until that moment. I went through, ordered both the regular and the spicy — tried both and was BLOWN A-WAY!!! They nailed it. NAILED IT!!! Fantastic, soft, fresh bun — great sauce (and enough of it); perfect pickles, crispy super-yummy chicken, and the spicy version is spicy enough without being too hot — really just about as great of a Popeye’s competitor as you could come up with. So much so, if they were across the street from each other, I’d just go to the one with a shorter line at the drive-thru. Yes, it is that good! I did not see that one coming.

NOTE: Because Zaxby’s homemade potato chips are so much better than any side item you’d get with a Popeye’s combo meal, this just might tilt the overall “combo meal experience” to Zaxbys. That’s sayin’ something. A big High-five to the Zaxby’s folks for not only making a sandwich that looks and tastes about as good as Popeye’s, but to their marketing folks for hoisting that banner on the front of the building. They are right — they war ain’t over yet, and they are massing their troops on the border!

KFC New Chicken Sandwich | 9.8/10

I knew that being a chicken chain and having great crispy chicken tenders already, this was not going to be a big stretch for Kentucky Fried Chicken. I was expected a lot, especially after seeing their TV ads this past week about their entry into the war, and they did not disappoint. They totally rocked their chicken sandwich. Rocked it! They clearly were going after Popeye’s, and the look, feel, taste, and texture is spot-on!!! Seriously, just amazing, and I’m so glad there’s not a KFC anywhere near me (the closest one is about a 20-minute drive), because I would soon wind up in a circus sideshow as the world’s largest human. Plus, their sides (like their Mashed potatoes with gravy, Mac & Cheese and their delicious biscuits) might put them over the top if both were across the street from each other and I could only pick one, even if the line were a bit longer at Popeye’s, I’ll still probably still head to KFC. I wasn’t a big KFC fan before, but I surely am now.

So why not 10/10 for Zaxby’s and KFC?

It’s Popeye’s bun. I think it’s their secret weapon. There is something magical about their bun (my buddy Terry tried just their bun alone as part of his own chicken wars research and he feels there’s something sweet-tasting about their bun, and I have to agree with him). Zaxby’s and KFC nailed the rest (the chicken, the crispiness, the juiciness, the sauce, the wedged pickle chips — all of it). Still, there’s something about that Popeye’s bun that gives it that 2/10 of 1% edge over the rest, but it’s so close that honestly, any one of these three is a truly great warrior in this Chicken Sandwich War of 2021 (and honestly, Burger King is pretty much right there with them — it’s all so close).

What about Chick-fil-A?

They never really entered the Chicken Sandwich Wars. They serve the same chicken sandwich they always have, and they have a huge dedicated fan base for theirs, so they’re not going to mess with it. To me, their chicken sandwich is “OK,” but if you took a real Chick-fil-a fan and did a blind taste test with it against any of these mentioned above (except for Wendy’s, which is trash), I’ll bet Chick-fil-a would lose a lot of long-time fans, or at the very least Popeye’s, KFC, Zaxby’s and Burger King would gain a lot more (though you still cannot beat the service at Chick-fil-a which is second-to-none, and I love their chicken minis for breakfast. Ask them to add American Cheese on top. It activates the chicken).

Honorable Mention to a Neutral Country Goes To…

PDQ, particularly their Baby Bleu sandwich, which up until the Chicken Sandwich Wars, made the best fast-food chicken sandwich anywhere, and it’s still incredibly good. It’s like a gourmet chicken sandwich and everybody I’ve turned on to it has fallen in love with it. One more worth mentioning, but it’s not fast-food, so it’s not in the war, but Chili’s Buffalo Chicken Ranch sandwich is very, very good, and they’ll even bring it out to your car for curbside delivery. Thought they deserved a shout-out.

OK, but if I had to pick just one…

I would choose Zaxby’s, even over Popeyes, but certainly over the rest. It was shockingly good and their sides put it over the top.

We’ve got so many great choices for chicken sandwiches now, to which we owe a big thank you to Popeye’s. They elevated everyone’s game, which should be used in schools as another example of how competition drives the creation of better products for everyone.

Thanks for taking the time to read this deviation from the regular photography, Lightroom and Photoshop stuff I usually post here. If you miss that stuff today, pop on over to LightroomKillerTips.com where I rarely talk about chicken sandwiches, which quite frankly is a shame. ;-)

Have a crispy, crunchy, juicy, saucy, week everybody!

-Scott

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