Monthly Archives July 2021

PERSONAL PROJECTS AND THE IMPORTANCE OF STAYING CREATIVE

Hi, Kersten here. You may not know me (yet), unless you’re one of the tens of people who listen to my podcast, the Camera Shake Podcast, in which case – well done! Nice to meet you!

Now, I mention this not to callously promote my ‘cast but because it’s strangely relevant to today’s topic: Personal Projects and the Importance of Staying Creative.

In this blog, I’ll be telling you about two of my own projects which have both changed my creative thinking, broadened my horizons as a photographer and helped me overcome one of the most challenging times of my life.

HEADS UP

Ok, let me explain. I live in the UK and the past 18 months have been, shall we say, challenging. As if you didn’t know already, there’s been a global pandemic and our government decided to shut down the country completely. 

But let’s roll back a few months. In late 2019, when life still seemed normal and the idea of a global virus pandemic was largely part of science fiction lore, I was in the process of updating my website and as such needed a new headshot for the ‘About’ page. I wanted to create a casual, yet stylish self portrait, that showed that I was serious but didn’t take myself too seriously. Thinking up a number of different scenarios I decided on a particular style of image and went to work.

What was needed was some kind of table top, beauty lighting and a neutral black backdrop. My table didn’t make the grade, looking dull and uninspiring. However, some time earlier I had come across a wooden oak board with an interesting grain and just the right amount of gritty ruggedness around the edges. I had previously used it as a backdrop for a range of different images, from flat lays to YouTube thumbnails and it had always delivered the goods. This, I gathered, was going to be perfect as a table top. Add a few props to illustrate what I’m all about (like a camera because no-one, absolutely no-one could guess that I’m a photographer, right?) and Bob’s your uncle.

So I set up the lights, installed the backdrop and got into position. Taking elaborate selfies using anything other than a cell phone turned out to be more complicated than it needed to be. Firstly, the shutter had to be controlled remotely with several seconds of delay so I could drop the thing and act natural. Next, some immediate feedback was required, which made tethering essential. But once the Gremlins had been eliminated, I was ready to get started. I tried out a range of different poses and all was going well. All I had to do was hit the remote, drop the thing like a hot bun, get into position and 2 seconds later – flash bang wallop. Shooting tethered and being able to see the images coming through on a laptop screen really helped dialling in the posing. It all seemed to go well until I pressed the remote, got distracted by something and the camera fired, catching me by surprise in mid move, hands flailing with a not-so-flattering deer in the headlights expression on my face. 

This, I thought, wasn’t going to make it as my profile picture. But on closer inspection, the shot had something. Not the serious, Clint Eastwood-esque cool of the professional I wanted to convey of course, but rather the depiction of a bumbling idiot, too dense to take his own passport photo and utterly bewildered by his own reflection in the water. 

Loved it. 

My wife, always happy to critique my latest creations, agreed that this outtake represented my personality much better than any serious portrait ever could. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still managed to create an image for the ‘About’ page – but I kept thinking about this absurd and comical, yet slightly bemusing mishap of a photograph. It was engaging and immediately made me want to see more. How much fun would it be to photograph other people like this? And who would willingly subject themselves to complete and utter photographic ridicule? Well, all of you who have kids will know what happened next.

And thus, the idea for a personal project was born. Several beverages later I had come to the conclusion that what needed to be done was to create a triptych, or series, of three images in which the subject interacts with personal objects of their own choice. We all own things that are dear to us, maybe for some sentimental reason or another or just because it exemplifies our character, personality or career choice. Also, this would give me plenty of ammunition for conversation and a chance to get to know the subject a little better, essential when pushing the envelope toward the farcical, especially when you’re photographing people who are not used to having a massive lens stuck in their face. 

I called it ‘Three Heads in a Row’ and seeing that Instagram’s grid allows for three posts in a single row, it made for the perfect platform to display the images. Something I loved and still love about this project was the connection you’re able to establish between photographer and model. 

This was fast becoming my number one personal project for 2019/2020. Little did I know.

And then…Covid happened. 

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This week for #TravelTuesday, we’re going to sleuth around and learn to easily and quickly find any images we may feel have been stolen and used online. I’m Dave Williams, and every week I’m here for Travel Tuesday with Dave. Let’s crack on!

I’ve written recently about the problem with image theft and the problems it causes. In the post, I mentioned reverse image searches. This is a search function incorporated well by Google into their search engine, but it’s particularly well done with the Google app. Here’s an image I took from Cape Canaveral a couple of years ago, having been told about the spot by Erik “the Rocketman” Kuna.

The reason I’m choosing to search this image is because I know it’s out there on the internet, so Google should be able to find it wherever it exists. I said in the intro that there’s a very easy way to do this in the Google app, and here it is:

First up, fire up the app.

At the right side of the search bar, there’s a camera icon. Go ahead and tap that.

Google Lens will open up. This is a very smart searching tool so I encourage you to try it out, but what we’ll do instead is change the mode to the image search by tapping the framed image beside the shutter/search button.

We now have our camera roll, and from here we can choose the image we want to search. I’ve selected the image and this screen came back to me:

The top match is presented, along with the option to “See more.” This top result is from The Express, a British newspaper.

Now we can simply go over the results to make sure any use of our images complies with any permissions or licenses we’ve granted. It’s as simple as that!

Much love

Dave

OK, this is technically a Photo Tip Friday but we’re running it on Monday because it’s just so good (and it’s just one minute long). It’s from portrait photographer Lenworth Johnson, and this is really great stuff. Check it out below:

Come on — you gotta love that! One light, and one reflector. Lenworth rocks! (his new class is now on KelbyOne. Here’s the link.

Aviation Photographers: Don’t Miss Out!

Can you imagine spending a couple of days with the man who literally wrote the book on aviation photography at a live seminar? If you’re into aviation photography, this is just an incredible opportunity to learn from the very best (in person on online). More details and tickets right here.

The Best Instructors in the World Are Here!

They’re all coming together for the Photoshop World Conference 2021 — August 31-Sept 2nd, 2021, and you can be a part of it from anywhere in the world this time around, as it’s three days, all online, all awesome, and you get the conference archived for a full year. For more information, or to reserve your spots now using the early-bird discount, click this link right here, and we’ll see you at the conference.

Check out this year’s instructor lineup:

Thanks it for today, folks. Have a good one!

-Scott

P.S. Last week on “The Grid” our topic was “Copyright, Model Releases and how to protect your work” with guests Intellectual Property Rights Attorney Ed Greenberg and Copyright advocate Jack Resnicki. Absolutely fantastic, eye-opening, educational, and funny episode. Here’s the link.

Why Photographers Should Protect Work w/Jack Reznicki & Ed Greenberg | The Grid Ep. 477

Join the Copyright Kings, Jack Reznicki and Ed Greenberg, as they discuss why (and how) photographers should protect their work with Scott Kelby and Erik Kuna! This is the stuff that a lot of photographers don’t think about until it’s either too late or becomes an emergency, so you DEFINITELY want to hear everything these guys have to say!

New KelbyOne Course: Lighting for Food Photography

Join Aaron Van, a commercial food and beverage photographer, as he teaches you the fundamental skills to capture amazing looking food in the studio. Aaron loves telling stories with food, and starting with the basics in camera gear, lighting, and settings, he’ll take you step-by-step through his process of creating stunning food shots from a variety of angles. Each lesson builds on the concepts of the previous lessons as he changes out subjects, lighting, modifiers, and camera angles to give you the foundational skills to make informed decisions in your own shoots. You’ll even learn how to stop motion with flash! Be sure to eat before watching this class, as it will leave you hungry for more.

My blog today is to talk a little bit about things I wish I knew about photography when I began, and how weird and wonderful it can be. It’ll be a bit messy but hopefully you can get some insight from me and hang on til the end!

I started photography back when I was 15, a teacher gave me a bridge camera to take home over the weekend and told me to take photos of whatever caught my attention. The pictures I took were horrific and I edited them very very badly on Picnik… RIP. Unfortunately I can’t show the photographs because I deleted them as soon as I became embarrassed by them being online!

As you can see below I over edited all of my images, angles didn’t exist and shooting in any direction was my thing, I also enjoyed the use of colour selection and I absolutely did not know how to colour balance!

As a photographer or any type of creative person, you should just allow yourself to evolve! I know it’s hard but try to stop stressing out about how many likes you’re getting on social media and just create work that YOU enjoy. I understand that if you’re working for a client then you may have to stick to a specific brief, however if you are working for yourself and creating content that you enjoy by messing around with new techniques, things that interest you or making work by trial and error then I guarantee that you will enjoy more of what you create.

Over the last 10 years I’ve developed my skills in different aspects of photography and tried not to just stick to one niche like a lot of photographers do. Sometimes I think it would have been easier to throw myself into a specific aspect of photography but I’m glad I didn’t because I don’t want to trap myself and become stagnant.

It can be a overwhelming place to be in when you can’t creatively express yourself, I’ve found that trying to stick to a specific theme or style can be tiring, I trialed this for a month on my instagram and the likes don’t change, nor do the comments or shares! It’s all subjective and if you become obsessive with social media then it can really stunt your creative flow and your courage you have to post things. This happens to me in waves, I will be going out all the time to shoot for a while and suddenly it’s been a month and I haven’t picked up my camera or posted anything online. Yeah that grid below looks pretty, but oh my was it boring..

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Hi team! Dave here for #TravelTuesday again, and this week my congratulations go out to Italy for winning the European Championships over here on this side of the pond! It didn’t come home, but there’s always next time. Personally I think we have some work to do in terms of dealing with hate first, though. But that’s another story.

Shifting the focus back to photography, this week I want to touch on watermarks.

If, like me, you’re a member of any photography groups on Facebook, you’ll notice that the question of whether or not to watermark an image is a good idea. By ‘good’ I mean whether it offers any advantage to us in terms of protecting our photos and therefore protecting us as photographers and creators.

Ultimately the decision is yours. I’ll get straight to highlighting my stance, but I’ll offer arguments for both cases. But mostly mine ;)

Team Yes

The base argument for Team Yes is that applying a watermark to an image, be it bold and aggressive or minimally intrusive on the content, means that anyone considering using an image where they perhaps shouldn’t had a moral dilemma. If they misappropriate our watermarked image they are displaying to the world (or the one viewer, whichever it may be) that they have taken it from elsewhere and it belongs to someone else. The watermark itself may even prevent this from happening in the first instance.

Team No

Team No generally have one of two thought processes. Either they don’t care if their image is stolen, or they will allow it to be stolen and deal with the matter afterwards, proportionally and professionally. I take the latter stance. Images contain metadata and although this can be altered, it takes someone who knows a little about what they’re doing to make the necessary changes and even so it doesn’t change the fact that the copyright belongs to us. There are also reverse image search engines, Google being the simplest to use, that we can employ to find our images if we fear they have been used. This is easy, but quite arduous. We can have this done automatically by using services like Pixar.com to find our images for us and even issue takedown notices or proceed with legal action.

The reason I don’t watermark my images is because I will use these systems to find my images and take action where it’s appropriate. If someone shares my photo on Facebook it’s no biggie deal to me, but if a company uses my image to advertise their services or products it definitely is a big deal and I’ll send them a bill along with an explanation. I haven’t had anyone refuse to settle the bill yet. If I’ve created a photo for a client with any exclusivity, I simply won’t be sharing it and therefore there’s no risk of it being stolen.

Watermarks are horrible looking things that take a lot away from an image I created and I’d much rather deal with image theft than ruin my photos. Looking over the responses to this question on the Facebook groups I belong to it’s quite clear that there’s a strong divide between those who watermark and those who don’t.

So with my two cents, here’s the big question: –

Are you Team Yes or Team No?

Much love

Dave

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