In Case You Missed It Join Tim Wallace as he takes you through his entire process, from planning through completing the final composite, of photographing an airplane for a commercial project. In this class you’ll learn how Tim approaches the job, the planning that goes into each element of the final image, what factors you need to keep in mind when shooting, and how Tim pulls it all together in post processing. Through each step in the process, Tim shares tips and techniques he’s learned and developed from years of shooting similar commercial transport projects all over the world.
I Believe In Magic – Discovering the Magic in Your Photography You are a magician, a sorcerer, an illusionist. You wield power that can inspire the soul and expand the imagination. Are you using it? Like any good story, you are yet to unlock its full potential. You overlook the opportunity sitting right in front of you. No, sadly, this is not your new age letter to wizarding school, nor is this the beginning of your superhero origin story. This is an invitation. An invitation to start wielding a type of magic that can suspend disbelief and change the impossible to reality. You are a photographer, and this is your chance.
My journey into the world of photography started six years ago. Like many of you reading this, I started by taking pictures of everything. Friends, family, landscapes, pets, wildlife, events, products, and weddings… you name it, I shot it. I waited for something to stick. I narrowed down what I shot, but nothing set my soul on fire. When the “real world” got busy, my hobby was put on the shelf. There it sat until 2016 when I moved to central Florida and became a Walt Disney World local. Here I rediscovered the magic of photography and found the spark I searched for.
November 1st, 2016, months after my move, I was bored. I settled into my new job, apartment, and life. I wanted to start something big. A soul-searching endeavor to help fill the void in the creative side of my life. I longed to find beauty and joy in my surroundings.My mind felt dull and sluggish, so I made a commitment to form a new habit. I forced myself to create something on a daily basis. My goal? Post once a day on Instagram for thirty days. With nothing but my cell phone and a mission, I set out on a new adventure that felt oh so familiar. I searched for a subject and found myself drawn to the theme parks.
My life changed.
Disney World was the setting of my dreams. Fireworks for long exposure, the dynamic lights of Tomorrowland, the beauty of princes and princesses that came alive on a daily basis. Yup, this is something I could get in to. I was a fan of Disney and Walt Disney World practically since birth, so it was natural that I gravitated there searching for inspiration. After thirty days of posting consistently I had built a habit, I kept posting, I couldn’t stop. I purchased my first DSLR in six years so that I could continue to do more with the subject I fell so deeply in love with. The theme parks of central Florida had awakened in me a desire to shoot and create again.
After hundreds of photos had passed through my workflow and out onto the web I felt stuck. All my pictures looked the same. The spark of creativity that was once a roaring flame dulled to the somber glow of embers. Something had to change, this is when I discovered the magic hidden in my images.
How could I take the same subjects I fell in love with and turn them into something new? Walt Disney World was less than likely to let me start construction in their parks, set up massive scenes with props or bring large groups of people in costumes to take my pictures… so I turned to post-production.
My first attempt? I added stars to a blank sky, adding some “pixie dust” to an image that needed something extra. It looked strange. I posted it anyway. I braced myself for ridicule and relentless comments for faking part of my image.
What happened? Nobody noticed.
The real kicker? My audience felt something. They loved the image. They believed, even just for a moment, that the beautiful starry sky behind Cinderella Castle was real. They got their fix of Disney magic for the day, and for those who can’t visit the parks often that is a big deal. This was exactly what I wanted. I made people who loved Disney as much as I do feel “Home” for just a moment.
I continued to add stars, change skies, and add sunsets to my images. Every so often I get a respectful private message asking what had been changed and how I did it, but never the outrage I originally expected. My social media platform became a mix of images edited to different extremes. Many images I barely touch, slight changes to exposure, contrast, and colors and I’m set. Others I’ll add a small sunburst, lens flare, or stars. In a select few I’ll create a composite with many photos to create a complete fantasy scene.
The variety of edits has created an environment where the lines of reality are blurred. What is real? What has been faked? Is empty Main Street USA really empty or were people removed? The end result for me can only be summed up as Magic. My camera is my wand and my computer is my spellbook. Together with a little creativity, we wield the power to awe and inspire. This magic has opened doors for me, and taught me some very valuable lessons.
The first lesson is that by using different techniques, post-processing, or just by traveling to somewhere new, we can create an environment where fantasy and reality meet. Our viewers can escape the norm and allow themselves to get entangled in the world that we have created for them. This escape is not only welcome but often sought after. Who doesn’t love searching for something impossible? Remember your way doesn’t have to be my way. Think back to the first time you saw star trails or long exposures of fireworks, it was almost otherworldly! These did not come from post processing but different techniques.
The second is that our images don’t have to be perfect; mine rarely are. What they should be is something we enjoy doing. The emotion we put into the process is felt by the viewer in the images we share. Do it with love even when you’re frustrated. Don’t beat yourself up when you’re on a downswing either. We all hit those and have to fight our way out!
The final lesson is to embrace the journey, not just the end result. I’m not ashamed of my beginnings. If you’re brave enough to venture deep into the early photos of my Instagram feed, there are some horrendous things lurking with far too many HDR filters and vibrancy that could blind you. If I submitted them to the Grid for a portfolio review, it’s likely that the studio would explode. I keep these images there as a reminder of where I’ve come from, and the potential of how far I can go.
With each new step you take in your creative journey, take pride in your failures. I fail often, more than I would like. Each time I fail, I try to learn something from it and apply it to my next image. Consistency in your work ethic is the key. There is no magic formula, just keep pushing forward! There will be a moment where you finally produce an image you love, look back on all those other images and realize the follies of your past were just the stepping stones to that moment.
Thank you for reading and being a part of my adventure. It has been an honor and a privilege being a guest blogger and will go down as a milestone in my photographic journey. I truly hope you find your own brand of magic in your photography and it brings you as much joy as I’ve found in mine.
How To Get More Attention On Social Media Using Adobe Spark with Terry White Join Terry White to learn how to leverage the tools in Adobe Spark to gain more attention to your social media efforts! Adobe Spark is a free social media content creation platform from Adobe that consists of three parts: Spark Post, Spark Video, and Spark Page. Spark Post is for creating single graphic posts with text, Spark Video makes it easy to combine stills, motion, text, and audio into easy to share videos, and Spark Page is a fantastic tool for telling any story in a single scrolling web page. All three are accessible from any web browser or an iOS device. In this class Terry takes you through each Spark component, step-by-step, to show you how to create dynamic and engaging content.
In Case You Missed It It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see! Join Karen Hutton for an exploration of how to find your voice, and share it with the world. Finding your voice takes a lifetime, but you don’t need to wait to start using it. In this class Karen shares a simple process, using many visual examples, for how you can look at your own life and connect who you are to what you do with your photography. Your voice is who you are, and the world needs you to weave things that matter into what you want to say with your art. From having a vision to practical examples and exercises, Karen shares what has helped her find her voice and bring it to bear in her work. This class was filmed in front of a live audience, so be sure to stick around for the Q&A session at the end.
Rick & Susan Sammon Hit the Road – The Mother Road Route 66 has been called The Mother Road – because it offers one of the most awesome road trips, filled with endless photo opportunities, in the United States. Although Route 66 runs from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California, most of the iconic Route 66 photography locations are in Arizona and New Mexico.
Truth is, there is no more official Route 66. Rather, as you drive along Interstate 40, the super highway that basically caused Route 66 to be almost totally abandoned, you see brown signs indicating exits for towns along Historic Route 66.
We hope these photographs, just a small sampling from our book, inspire you to make a road trip and photography pilgrimage on what we call “the prime cut” of Route 66.
Hurray for HDR When shooting into the sun (sunrise here), and when you want to see both the inside and outside of a building, HDR is a must. Sure, you can pull a lot out of the shadows and tone down the highlights in Adobe Camera Raw and in Lightroom, but in very high contrast scenes, it’s HDR to the rescue. Location: Blue Swallow Motel, Tucumcari, New Mexico.
Make Pictures; Don’t Just Take Pictures Here’s another shot of the Blue Swallow Motel. I took this non-HDR image at sunset. I made the photograph by hosing down the area in front of the motel. My goal was to create an image with a nice reflection of the neon lights.
Here’s another example of making pictures. Susan drove our rental car past the front of the diner several times so I could get these cool red streaks from the taillights in my image. Location: 66 Diner, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
This image is a combination of making a picture (I rearranged the tables and chairs) and using HDR to capture the entire dynamic range of the scene. Location: 66 Diner, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Picture People People pictures make slide shows, photo books and guest blog posts come alive. When it comes to people pictures, you basically have two choices: a portrait or an environmental portrait, that is, a picture of the person in his or her environment. Without the environment of the interior of Absolutely Neon, a portrait (a head shot) of owner Robert Randazzo could have been taken in my garage. Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Speaking of people pictures, here is a photograph of Angel Delgadillo – the angel of Route 66 and founder of the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona. Through his hard work, Angel has inspired many travelers to preserve Historic Route 66. This picture was taken in front of his barbershop. When I told his daughter that I was in town to see her dad, Angel rode his bicycle from his home to the store.Kind of cool for a 92 year-old! Many Route 66 travelers visit his barbershop and gift store in the hope of meeting this kind and gentle man. Location: Seligman, Arizona.
Foreground Elements are Essential Foreground elements add a sense of depth to an image. When you don’t have a foreground element, use the ground as your foreground element. Location: A famous corner in Winslow, Arizona.
Seek Separation We see the world in 3-D, while our cameras see in 2-D. To isolate objects in a scene, seek to separate them. This composition technique will add more depth to an image. Location: Wigwam Motel, Holbrook, Arizona.
Tell a Story Pack a variety of lenses to help tell the story of your road trip. Here I used my Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens set at 15mm on my Canon 5D Mark IV to show the interior of this vintage car, as well as some of the outside surrounding area. Location: Route 66 Auto Museum, Santa Rosa, New Mexico.
Here’s another view of the Route 66 Auto Museum. It’s a hand-held panorama. The idea here: make panoramas indoors as well as outdoors – again to tell your story.
Use Border Patrol Before you take a photograph, run your eye around the border of the frame to make sure what you want is in the frame, and what you don’t want is not in the frame. The same goes for when you are cropping a photograph. Location: Trading Post, Tucumcari, New Mexico.
Make a Plan The Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico is famous for its “Miraculous Staircase,” a beautifully curved spiral that appears suspended without support.
We were first on line and, as the saying goes, “the early bird catches the worm.” We made pictures that capture the beauty of the amazing structure . . . before several people with Route 66 t-shirts would have been standing in the frame. So the tip here is to check the opening times, which vary throughout the year, so you are first in line. We arrived ½ hour before the church opened.
You can take a hand-held shot in chapel, but you’d need to boost your ISO to about 4000, so you may get some digital noise in your image. I used a tripod, which let me shoot at ISO 400 in the relatively dark church. I used my 16-35mm lens on my Canon 5D Mark IV to get as much of the chapel in the frame as possible. To enhance the beauty of the scene, I made a sepia tone image in Lightroom. Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Play with Plug-ins Susan shot this photo with her iPhone, and then processed the image with Snapseed. It’s good fun to play with plug-ins. Trains and old cars are wonderful subjects for the grungy look. Location: Williams, Arizona.
Take the Fun Shots Sure, work hard making great photographs on your road trip. But also take the fun shots! They will help bring back great memories of your time cruising down the “memory lane” of Route 66. Location: Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner, Kingman, Arizona.
The Secret To Creating Super Sharp Images with Moose Peterson Join Moose Peterson as he shares his hard earned tips, tricks, and techniques for creating super sharp photographs from the moment of capture through printing! The second thing a viewer’s eye locks onto when looking at a photo is sharpness, so it is critical that you get it right in camera, and maintain that sharpness through to output. In this class you’ll learn the importance of your camera settings, hand holding and long lens techniques, the danger of heat shimmer, how to use depth of focus to your advantage, what you can do during post processing, and Moose’s own secret recipe for sharp prints. Your photography is all about you and the story you want to tell, so learn how to create the sharpest photos you can to share with the world.
In Case You Missed It Join Moose Peterson for an in-depth lesson in how to pack your camera bag for air travel. If you’ve ever had to get from point A to point B with your gear, been worried about what to bring, what gear to check, how to make it all fit, and how to do it safely, then this is the class for you. Moose talks through several different job specific gear load outs, and packs each lesson with hard earned tips learned from traveling thousands of miles each year. It’s not all about the gear though, you’ll learn the importance of planning ahead, how your attitude can make all the difference, and much much more.
How Far Do You Need To Travel To Become A Travel Photographer? I have been very fortunate, even blessed, to have received a lot of GREAT advice throughout my life. But very little has been as life-changing and eye-opening as the advice I received from my good friend and mentor, photographer Gary S. Chapman, over a breakfast in Panama City, Panama.
I don’t think he knew it at the time, but I was in one of many “professional soul searching” moments of my life. I had recently, within the last two years, decided to become a full-time photographer, and to make my living out of this trade. However, I faced several perceived problems: No formal education in photography; No real connections in the field other than a few photographers who, like Gary, had showed mercy on me and befriended me; No editors or steady clients; Little equipment; Based out of Panama City, Panama, a small Central American country with a very small and traditional photographic scene at that time.
And as if all of that wasn’t enough, I didn’t want to just be a photographer and make my living with a camera. I could have easily chosen to specialize as a portrait or wedding photographer and gotten jobs right away, but that seemed too easy for my stubborn self. I wanted to become a travel/documentary photographer just like the ones that I saw and read about in Nat Geo, Life, Time Magazine, etc. I wanted to see interesting people, explore the world, and tell stories. How was I going to do that? Where would I start? Who was I to even think I could? That’s where Gary’s words came in to change my perspective.
As I expressed to Gary, my desire was to travel the world, maybe move to Asia, or at least see how often could I visit in search of good and interesting pictures. Gary looked at me and in his calm, soft way of speaking he said, “Why? Why would you want to go there if there are hundreds of thousands of photos coming out of those places every day?” He continued, “How many stories coming out of Asia or Africa do you see in the big magazines a year? Lots, right? But how many stories do you see coming out of Panama? Not me, or anyone that comes in can or will know Panama, its people or culture better than you or any local. Who can tell these stories better than one of her own? There are lots of stories to tell that you are already here with all the time to tell them the right way.”
It sounded so basic, so simple, yet it blew my mind. I had been so caught up in and inspired by all the stories I saw from around the world that I never even considered the stories from home could compete. I was wrong. I began to focus my efforts on three things:
1) Trying to find interesting stories, people, and places
2) Using the internet for exposure so that the world could see my work.
3) I also applied and got a job at a local newspaper to gain experience as a storyteller since I was completely self-taught. I had done my research and figured at least 8 out of my top 10 favorite travel photographers had one thing in common: they all started at a newspaper, I didn’t have that. I put all my energy into that job and considered it my schooling. It paid off.
It wasn’t much later, after only 2 years at the newspaper, I received an offer to work as a “stringer,” or freelance local photo correspondent, for the Associated Press (AP). Soon after, a fellow AP photographer recommended me for a story in the Travel section of The New York Times. From then on, editors, local and international, began to discover my work via recommendations, my website, and professional accounts like Flickr, and offer me assignments in Panama.
With time, those same editors would gain more trust in me and give me international assignments in the neighboring countries of Costa Rica or Colombia, later the Caribbean and eventually they would send me around the world. By no means was this a fast or painless learning process, but it is one I think all photographers should go through in order to understand the trade. It helps those of us who have been through it to push ourselves, to think outside the box. It’s a process that makes us humble and value our jobs.
One of the most common mistakes beginners make in photography, myself included, is thinking we need to travel to remote locations to find an interesting subject or moment. But the whole world, regardless of where you are, is filled with interesting people, subject, light, moments, and stories to tell.
Over the last almost two decades, I have worked hard to remind myself and to teach others the concept of “from ordinary to extraordinary.” Regardless of where you are in the world and whatever you are looking at, that one person, place, activity, time of year or day that may seem boring and “normal” to you may blow the mind of someone on the other side of the world who had no idea that place existed or that unique moment happened. To people in Nura, Kazakhstan, looking at traditional eagle hunters may be an everyday “ordinary” thing, just as it is for me to see the Panama Canal, one of the eight wonders of the world. My failure to take notice of a place I see daily doesn’t make the Panama Canal any less photogenic or impressive. And although they may bore the people in Central Asia, I still love a good picture of a traditional eagle hunters.
The biggest challenges for a good photographer are not about having all the right gear, travel arrangements or even money… It’s trying to always be creative, to keep your eyes, emotions, and senses aware enough to capitalize on the good subjects and moments.
Casco Viejo, in Panama City is probably the second most photographed part of the country, competing with the Panama Canal. It’s a place I frequent for many reasons, professionally and personally. Magazines, both local and international, are always looking for “Casco” photos It’s challenging to continue photographing this familiar place in a way that is interesting to me.
The first time I was contacted directly by TIME magazine was for a story about Casco Viejo focusing mainly in that little area rather than on Panama City as a whole. I have to always, regardless of how often I see something, try to think of places as if it were the first time or the complete opposite. Because I know it so well, I find that one spot of light in a particular corner that only happens once a day for a few minutes that most people don’t notice. That’s what I did for TIME and it got me a double truck in the magazine.
By now I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel a lot for work, mainly throughout my region of the world, but also in Asia and Europe. I can tell you, based on my experiences, whether you are in Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Manhattan or Brazil, teenagers are teenagers, people love their pets, the old ladies at the local market will act pretty much the same (either loving to have their picture taken or hating it and sending you to hell), and moments of good light happen everywhere.
I have found the same purple / orange afternoon “magic hour” light in Peru, Panama, Puerto Rico, Havana and Ho Chi Ming. I have found as many interesting subjects inside the kitchens of the Guna Yala (San Blas Islands) of Panama as I have inside the rural kitchens of Trinidad and Tobago.
If you can’t find inspiration in the familiar; If you can’t identify a good location, good light, an interesting subject or a good moment in your own town: If you don’t have the drive, the curiosity, chances are you won’t find any of it anywhere else in the world either.
Travel photography is not so much about getting to a place as it is knowing when to go and when to wait. Sometimes all you need to do to find a great story is go to the next town over.
I have had the chance to work with many editors and one thing I have learned is this: exotic locations don’t “wow” editors as much as intimate, personal, close-to-home stories. It’s easier to get a good picture of a native in most parts of the world. Usually they even pose for cameras. But a good inside story of a person or a place with intimate, non-traditional points of view, draws attention to special moments and says a lot about you as a photographer and your ability to connect and gain access.
When I have the opportunity to shoot one of the many festivals in my country, as I often do, I am usually able to identify the experienced shooters quickly. Instead of fighting for a spot on the road where the parade is sure to pass, we are moving all around the town, behind the scenes in search of a unique or interesting subject. Everyone will see that parade on the news, in local newspapers, and on social media. How can I, as a photographer, make this “ordinary” event into something interesting to you? What can I show them that will help them notice something new about this event they have being looking at for years? Those are the types of photos that will make you stand out.
You can do much more with one camera, one lens and an open mind, than you can with a backpack full of the latest gear and no idea what to shoot or where to start.
Be yourself and shoot what you love. It sounds incredibly cliché, but it’s so true. If people really move you, people will move you regardless of where in the world you are. If you are not a people person, forget about it.
There are a lot more things that I could tell you, based on my experience, but let me end with this:
Travel photography is not so much about the subject itself (place or person) as it about how that subject is presented. Anything can be interesting and anything can be boring. It’s up to you, your creativity, and your determination to try and make, for your self, something that is ordinary into something extraordinary by the way you present it in your images.
If you can see a photo of a place you see everyday and think, “Wow, I have never seen this like this,” you may be off to a good start. That’s what the viewers of your images, be they clients, editors, family or friends, expect to be shown. They want to see the world in a way they have never seen it before or at a moment of light they never expected.
Travel photography is not about going to exotic places, but about captivating viewers with the places you are, regardless of where in the world that is.
There is a world waiting to be documented. Go out and find it. It is not about “being big” or “making it big…” it’s about loving what you do and doing it with passion. Eventually that passion will reflect in your work and people will notice. I have done so many things I never believed I could, and worked for clients I used to only dream of, and now I’m a guest writer here… imagine that.