You’ve got questions, Scott Kelby and Erik Kuna have answers (well, at least they hope so)! Cameras, Photoshop, Lightroom, and more are all covered in this episode. Dive in and see where the conversation goes!
New KelbyOne Course: Mastering the Adjustment Brush Tool in Lightroom
The Adjustment Brush is part of a family of local adjustment tools that includes the Graduated and Radial Filters, and you’ll learn about all three in this class, and how to use them together. From learning the nuances of the brush settings to pro-level tips and tricks, as well as a variety of techniques for masking your brush strokes, you’ll come away from this class knowing what works, what doesn’t, and how to get the most out of this powerful suite of tools.
Monday was International Women’s Day, so I thought I would take this opportunity to highlight just a few of the outstanding women of photography that I’m a big fan of. This list is in absolutely no particular order, and this is by no means an exhaustive list. There are so many amazing women in our industry, the list would never end if all of them were included! Head to the comments and share some of the women who stand out in your mind.
You know Kaylee as the high-energy dog photographer whose photos are as bright and bold as her personality and hair! Not only is she a fantastic photographer, but she’s one of the most kind and caring people I know.
If you follow the photo industry at all, you’ll have a hard time NOT seeing Polly pop up somewhere these days, as she’s constantly working to promote her database of Black Women Photographers (link below). Whether she’s running a giveaway with Nikon, or chatting with Kelly Clarkson, she’s out there promoting some amazing women!
Speaking of Polly, she introduced me to Zaria Love last year, and I was immediately impressed by her and her work. Her clean, quiet style is subtly attention grabbing and beautiful. She also discusses being a working photographer with Multiple Sclerosis and how it’s become her superpower in her guest blog from this past September (link below).
Super mom, kick-ass photographer, retouching wizard, fantasy creator, hilariously twisted… These are just a few of the words that come to mind when I think of Gilmar Smith. To know her is to love her, but also be a bit jealous of her because it seems like there’s nothing she isn’t amazing at!
Rugby photographer Claire Jones saw an opportunity to get her foot in the door with the Northampton Saints years ago, and has photographed hundreds of matches since! Not only is she a fantastic photographer, she found a way to be even more memorable by adopting her trademark Red Hat that everyone knows her by.
Look! It’s a retoucher/photographer, it’s a shark/mermaid, it’s… Kristi Sherk! Whether she’s behind the camera, wielding a Wacom pen, or in the water with a fin or a tail, she’s absolutely rocking whatever she’s doing.
Stacy is one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, and wickedly funny to boot. One very memorable experience was watching her presentation during the “An Evening with Stacy Pearsall” event at Photoshop World, where she shared story after story of her years as a military photographer. Her efforts to tell the stories of other veterans through the Veterans Portrait Project, as well as give back to them, has even landed her on The Today Show!
Not only is Melissa an amazing photojournalist and portrait photographer, she’s also a strong advocate for photographers, having served on the board and as president of the NPPA. As if all of that wasn’t enough to keep her busy, she also founded A Photo A Day, which in turn led to creating GeekFest, both surrounding a community of photographers who support each other through mentorships and grants. She really is a hero to so so many people in the industry, and we’re all stronger for having her in our corner!
#TravelTuesday is here again, and travel photography is the whole reason I’m guesting on this blog every Tuesday, so I figured this week, I’ll tell you exactly what travel photography is in my eyes. I’m Dave Williams, a travel photographer from the UK – let’s get into it!
I started getting serious about photography around 12 years ago. I knew I enjoyed photography and wanted to find out what it was that I really liked. I tried everything – landscapes, flowers, portraits, architecture – and I couldn’t quite put my finger on exactly what I liked, all I knew was this journey was making me a little better at taking photos and it was making me move around. As part of this journey, I also discovered that I needed some new gear, and that was going to cost me. I knew I was good enough to make some money from my photography to pay for the new gear I wanted, so I started to venture into paid work. I still didn’t know what my niche was, though.
As I continued to explore in search of my niche, combined with a thirst to see the world as a result of some personal circumstances, I still wasn’t quite sure where I fit in among the photography genres. I was shooting paid work at events and weddings, but when it came to my personal photography I was shooting all kinds of things. I was still shooting architecture, nature, landscapes, macro, food, you name it, I was shooting it, but here’s the thing: – I was enjoying it! I was aware that in order to push forward with professional photography I needed to find my niche, but I was confused because I just wasn’t finding it – I was shooting everything.
I think it was around this point that I realised my niche was not so much the subject, but it was the feeling. I was travelling and taking photos, and I was shooting those photos with the purpose of showing off the location. I was shooting travel.
Travel photography isn’t a genre like any other, as I discovered. Travel photography takes landscapes, cities, street photography, night photography, and all other genres, and any or all of them can be travel photography if one thing is achieved, and that one thing is this: – it’s not a subject – it’s a feeling.
Travel photography is imagery that makes the viewer want to be there, at that place, at that time, experiencing that feeling. It’s any image that makes us want to be there.
My niche was travel photography. I’d found it. And I absolutely love it.
Last week on “The Grid” (our weekly photography talk show) was our monthly “Blind Photo Critiques” episode where we ask our viewers to send in their images for a live on-air critique. We call it a “blind” critique because we don’t mention the photographer’s name on the air (in fact, I don’t even know the photographer’s name whose images we’re critiquing). That way, we can give an honest critique without publicly embarrassing someone’s whose critique didn’t go the way they were hoping.
Making “Average” Images
One of the photographers whose images we critiqued last week was just kind of “meh,” and we said so. They were properly exposed, well-composed, no technical issues really at all — the photographer knew what they were doing, but the images themselves were just…boring. It was regular photos of regular stuff. A glass bottle on a table late in the day. A horse drinking water from a pond. They were “meh” shots. Average at best.
A little later in that same show, up comes a photo of the beautiful Hungarian Parliament House along the banks of the Danube river, and we were all like, “Oh yeah, now that’s a nice shot!” It wasn’t that this photographer’s shot was better exposed or masterfully composed, but it was the fact that it was an image of an architectural masterpiece in an idyllic setting and something we don’t see every day, and that right there makes it special. It got an emotional response from us. Maybe it’s because we long to travel there ourselves, or we’ve always loved that building, or maybe we’ve never seen that building before. Whatever it was, it moved us. It didn’t bring us to tears or have us jumping for joy, but when we saw it, we instantly had a positive reaction to it. One we didn’t have to the bottle or the horse or their third photo, which I can’t even remember what it was.
Luck isn’t a reliable photography strategy
Every once in a while, we all get lucky, and a get a great shot that just falls in our lap. Sadly, that’s usually not the case. But I hear people say things like,
Though I would argue I’ve seen lots and lots of shots of that building that are far from great, they’re still missing the point, and it’s one that was brought to mind by the great Joe McNally. I was at a workshop with Joe where he said something that always stuck with me. It was something his Photo Editor said to him while he was shooting for Life magazine many years ago. His Editor said:
Nailed it. That was it, and that was what this photographer taking the bottle shot was missing. They need to stand in front of more interesting things, and that means putting the work in.
I used my Grid co-host, Erik Kuna, as an example to this other photographer. Erik drives for hours on end to get to parts of Florida where the light pollution is low enough for him to make some really great Milky Way pictures (see below). Sometimes his driving round-trip alone is six or seven hours. Once he gets there, there’s often an hour or two of hiking in pitch darkness, and hours of planning beforehand, and shooting in some swampy yucky areas most of us wouldn’t consider hiking two hours to shoot in (much less stand in). But he gets the shot because he’s willing to put the work in.
Same thing with Erik’s rocket photography. He drives hours over to the Cape, often winds up having to get a hotel room for the night (on his own dime), ends up waiting hours for NASA to shuttle them out to the pad to set up the cameras, and there’s a 50/50 chance (or more) that they scrub the launch due to whether or technical issues and he never even gets to fire off a single shot. He often has to wait until the next day to go tear down all his gear just to come back, sometimes days or even weeks later, to try it all over again on another day (long drive, hotel, and all). It’s a lot of work, especially with the chance the launch might get scrubbed, but he wants the shot badly enough to do all the work it requires, and it pays off — he gets shots that not only get an emotional response, people like them enough that he regularly sells prints (helps pay for all those hotel nights).
It’s Decision Time
Are you willing to do the work, to travel, plan, or find a way to get access or permission and maybe rent the gear you need to make the type of images that move people? Images that get an emotional response? Honestly, learning how today’s cameras work is easy. They’ll almost take a great shot for you. Heck, our iPhones take great photos with little input from us other than pressing a shutter button. It’s not the gear. It’s whether we’re willing to put in the work to make those kinds of shots. It may be all that’s standing between you and the types of images you really want to make.
I’d love to hear your stories of times when you put the work in and how it paid off for you. Drop me a comment below with your story.
Here’s wishing you a week of good health, happiness, and great images. :)
P.S. We’re just a week away from our online two-day Wildlife Photography Conference.Details and tickets here. It’s going to be something special, both educational and inspirational, and I hope you can join us.
This is a quick one, from KelbyOne Instructor, Larry Becker, and it’s a great tip about setting your camera’s diopter, and it’s handier than you might think. It’s only 60-seconds – totally worth checking out.
Next week is the B&H Photo Depth of Field 2021 Conference
My session, on “Just one light” is on Monday at 2:00 PM ET, and then I’m doing a live Q&A at 3:00 PM ET, so I hope you can attend. Here’s the link to register.
Have a great weekend, everybody. Hope to catch you next week at the conference!
It’s time for blind photo critiques with Scott Kelby and Erik Kuna again! Check out the latest episode of The Grid as they share their feedback on viewer photos and give advice on how to improve.
New KelbyOne Course: Hands-On with the Nikon Z6 II: Everything you Need to Know to Get Great Shots
If a Nikon Z6 II is on your shopping list or in your camera bag, then this class is for you! Join Larry Becker as he gets you up to speed with everything you need to know to start using it to its full potential.
After starting with some quick tips to get you going, Larry takes a deep dive into the buttons and dials, as well as the settings and functions you can change, such as drive mode, focus mode, focus area, and much more. Larry wraps up the class with a rapid fire round of features that power users will want to know. Due to the similarities in form and function with the Nikon Z7 II, folks with that camera can benefit from this class too!