Posts By David Williams

#TravelTuesday at Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider means one thing: I’m here! I’m Dave Williams, a travel photographer and writer from the UK. I like long walks, I can spin a pen around my thumb, I can partially dislocate my jaw to fit more food in my face, and I have a disturbingly good memory for anything I’m told except for your name! Enough about me, though. Let’s talk about self-promotion online!

There’s a fine line in the creative industry when it comes to self-promotion, particularly with respect to social media. It kind of relates to giving away too much, such as with pricing. A lot of people who find us on social media and online searches will be looking for prices because projects are more often than not determined by budget rather than the actual content. It’s from this, of course, that the photographer, in particular, wants to respond to the question, “How much is it?” with, “What’s your budget?

 

 

Here’s the thing, though: even with a budget-driven approach, that content and its quality is usually the first thing noticed in either case. It’s important, therefore, to focus properly on marketing, social media, and the larger umbrella of “shameless self-promotion.”

Getting that right is tricky. It brings to mind a little nugget of wisdom I was told by Glyn Dewis a few years ago. He said to me, “Don’t take yourself too seriously, but take what you do seriously.” It makes me think of being at school and being told that nobody likes a show-off!

Striking a balance between what is productive and what is destructive is the trick. It’s certainly true that engagement leads to reciprocated engagement, but you have to give people something to engage with if that’s the aim. It’s also true to say that you don’t always need to post something positive to get that engagement. In fact, being overly positive can potentially lead to destructive consequences and criticism. The thing is, people like to feel like they know something. If you feed information, it can be positive and be shared, which means you yourself are being shared.  Also worth noting is that it’s okay to make mistakes sometimes. Leading on from people liking to feel like they know something if you make a simple mistake, the swathe of people wanting to point it out and correct it will, itself, drive engagement to the post.

There are some pretty stubborn people out there using their social media to observe rather than promote, and to those people, I say this: There is always going to be someone out there working harder than you and there is always going to be someone out there better than you. If you’re the one standing out from the crowd on social media or blogs, you’re the one who’s going to get the next gig because you’ve made yourself noticed. The risk of being told something you don’t like isn’t something worth considering. If you stand out, you face being criticised as a result of having yourself and your work examined by an army of keyboard warriors, but that risk is negligible against the potential gains. In this industry, we face challenges and this is just one of them. Marketing yourself effectively and efficiently is an art. Your knowledge, art, brand, experience, and YOU are things you should be marketing to grab that next client or agency, and with a little practice and a little commitment this shameless self-promotion will pay off.

Some ideas: 

  • Team up on Instagram and provide content for larger accounts—paid or unpaid, it leads to engagement, which leads to cold, hard, cash! I’ve done Instagram takeovers and projects with KelbyOne, Platypod, Lonely Planet, Extreme Iceland, and a few others. It ALWAYS generates something.
  • Show people behind the scenes. It gives away some of the secrets, and people absolutely love that!
  • Write for blogs to get your name spread further. There are plenty of blogs, particularly those of the products you use, who are willing to feature a good story if you just dig around a little and find the right person to send it to.
  • Tag accounts relevant to a social media post. For example, tag a product you used to take the shot or the location in which you made the image. Get their attention!

 

 

A behind the scenes shot can be anything from a complex look at a studio setup explaining the whats, wheres, and whys, or it can simply be a selfie with an albino kangaroo you’d been shooting just outside of Melbourne, Australia! People love to talk about themselves, and other people love to hear about it! There’s a reason selfies are such a big deal!

You may be the world’s best photographer, but you won’t be getting work if nobody can see just how amazing you are. Generally, we create our work out of a passion for our art rather than a thirst for profit, and that is sometimes what hinders this selfless self-promotion we need to be getting involved with. Work out which platforms you want to be using, be it Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, 500px, Flickr, LinkedIn, Google+, whichever, and start being consistent with it. Work out when your followers are more likely to engage, and give them something to engage with. Put your marketing hat on and sell yourself. Show people behind the scenes. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll thank me. ;)

Much love

Dave

#TravelTuesday has come around again, and so soon! Right here at Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider, that means I, Dave Williams, get to share something with you from the world of photography, Photoshop, travel, and life. Today, I’ve opted for photography and I’m going to lay down some tips to step up your shooting, right after I check in with the latest news!

Over at Layers Magazine, the new #MondayMotivation series of guest posts is going great! Yesterday, we saw a superb piece by Douglas Young, who goes by the monicker Doug Does Disney. It was so sparkly and inspirational—I loved it! If you haven’t seen it, go check it out!

Just one more thing I wanted to mention: my next foreign mission is to Norway, and when that happens, I’ll be taking over the KelbyOne Instagram Story, so be sure you follow that and follow me!

Right, let’s go!

Have a subject

This is something that puts landscape photography in the forefront of my mind. The specific thought is Moose Peterson, smiling and pointing at me, saying, “stop shooting sticks and stumps!” Well, it’s those sticks and stumps that are the subject. The foreground interest. Maybe Moose is right, maybe we should switch out the sticks and stumps for something more interesting! The important thing here is that when we’re shooting a large scene, what’s often happening in the thought process that made us bring the camera up to our eye and shoot is that being there, present in the scene at that time, it looked beautiful to you. The difference is that it doesn’t always translate that way into something beautiful to the viewer who wasn’t there—it’s simply a large expanse. We’ve taken that huge scene, flattened it, and made it into a little rectangle. Adding that foreground element into our large scene, whether it be right in front of the lens or simply close enough relative to the background, will create a feeling of depth and allow our eye and mind to really be entertained looking at that image.

When we start out in photography, we learn from a whole range of sources. Everybody’s different, so whether you’re the type to watch videos, read books, or get hands-on with courses, you’ll still end up in the same place with the same kind of knowledge. The knowledge comes from education, but also from practice and experience. I’ve had a lot of messages over on my Instagram lately, asking about how to get good photos, so today I’ll take it to grassroots and flip that around, giving my best advice for stepping up your shooting. The aim here is to gift new photographers with some knowledge and simultaneously remind the more seasoned of us what we should be considering when we have the camera in our hands.

 

 

This shot from Massachusetts, USA, is cool. It has colour, it has reflection, but more importantly it has a subject. Without that cute little family of birds swimming in for bedtime, it would just be a sunset. With the birds, there’s something about it to focus on and to make it more interesting. (By the way, when I took this shot, Kaylee Greer was standing next to me making the strangest noises over how cute this little family was. I think she wanted to take them home!)

Get Closer

I remember Scott saying to me once, “That could be closer.” I was a little miffed—I’d taken what I thought was an absolute cracker of a shot. He was right. If you think your photos aren’t good enough, get closer! The art of the crop is something I’ve written about before, and there’s good reason for it. Closing in on the subject and filling the frame right up is a technique to force the viewer’s attention on the detail. It conveys emotion whilst, at the same time, removing the sense of place and other things we think about when we scan an image. This leaves only one thing to think about: the subject.

 

 

Take this shot of a peacock I took in Maidenhead, UK. It is cropped in tight, giving absolutely no reference of the location, but forcing us to look at nothing but the detail. If I’d shot the whole bird and its surroundings, it would’ve been pretty, but this steps it right up and removes all those distractions, creating a totally different image. Do the same thing to someone’s face in a portrait and their emotion is conveyed so much clearer to the viewer, too.

Shoot tack sharp

That phrase “tack sharp,” has been lifted straight from Scott’s books. It makes perfect sense and it’s a nice, catchy reminder to check focus constantly. Having intentional blur in an image can look great when it’s done right, but when focus is missed, it can have disastrous consequences. There are so many tutorials out there on how to achieve perfect focus by concentrating on ISO and aperture, and their relationship to shutter speed. Further to that, there are a whole bunch of tutorials teaching us what exactly to lay our focus spot on when we take a shot. The important thing to remember is that focusing correctly can make or break an image.

 

 

I shot this pair of Icelandic horses one cold day in January 2016, and getting focus in such difficult conditions with numb fingers and trying to lock on to the eyes of a pair of frolicking horses was tricky. Had I not spent the time getting it right, however, I would’ve ended up never being able to show this image and I would’ve been cold for nothing!

Compose

Watch your horizon, scan your scene for its various elements, and line everything up nicely to match a compositional technique that works. Get this done when you’re there taking the shot and you’ll be well on your way to a winning image. You may have to move, and it may take a little consideration to get everything right, but it’ll pay off. One thing that shows the difference between a photographer and a “camera owner” is composition, so give it all due consideration.

 

 

Take a look at this image I made on the roof of a monastery in Piazza de San Francisco, Havana, Cuba. We’ve got a lot of compositional elements working together here. First, the subject, the couple, are showing you where to look, but so are the lines on the building to the right. The horizon is straight and it’s sitting at about the top third. There’s a wall to the left boarding the image, which is subliminally bouncing your eye away from that edge and keeping it in the frame. All too often we’ll see something cool, stop dead, and pick up the camera and fire off a shot, then turn and walk away. Taking the time to put all the pieces together in a nice, considered way will show that you know exactly what you’re doing.

I hope this has been useful!

Much love

Dave

Hey all! It’s #TravelTuesday right here at Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider and today I, Dave Williams, want to share with you a little bit about how photo intentions affect travel. Today, I want to provoke your thoughts.

On that note, Scott has a new class out now on KelbyOne called The Photographer’s Guide to Traveling Light. Go check that out!

 

 

Take a look around and note how much influence media has on our everyday lives. I’m talking about the entire range from personal Instagram accounts, right through to National Geographic and other such epic documentaries. You’ll even find influence coming from KelbyOne in respect of what I’m talking about today. The travel industry, in particular, is absolutely dominated by social media and influencers, so it’s absolutely no surprise that travel and photography are intrinsically linked. More and more often we are finding that our travel plans are weighed up against how “Instagrammable” (definitely a real word) the destination is. It’s actually my job to do that very thing.

Here’s something very interesting, which has popped up recently; something that’s worth giving a little thought: Studies have recently shown that us humans are now very likely to recall our experiences and our photos from a third person perspective. What we’re doing, as I’m sure you will have noticed, is showing the world our images with the intention of gaining likes, comments, shares, and engagement. We’re no longer looking to have experiences, but rather we’re looking to share. It seems that our number one priority is not to reflect on the moments within ourselves, but to consider how the perception of our experience would be evaluated by our followers.

 

 

This information is worth keeping in the front of our minds because travel (and indeed travel photography) is about experience. Our travel experience is tragically becoming hindered by sharing. We give undue consideration to our photo sharing over our internal forbearance and reflection on the circumstances we face to give us the experiences we see and feel in travel, and this is a necessary evil in some regards and some situations, particularly for myself as a professional travel photographer and writer. The fact that social media has a massive impact on our experiences is now a part of everyday life, and we are still getting used to it. It has hit us all in the face, and in some cases has become a genuine obsession. We can, if we aren’t careful, become obsessed with getting something “grammable,” something worthy of a Facebook post, and the subsequent likes and follows. It can take over us and take us beyond the reason we shoot and travel. The focus. The present moment.

It takes discipline to deal with social media effectively and productively, but similarly, it takes discipline to not let social media steal your time. With respect to how this is becoming “the norm,” just remember this:  if you’re always trying to be normal, you’ll never know how amazing you can be. In a world where everything is disclosed, perhaps it’s sometimes a good thing to remain a mystery. Make experiences, remember to actually experience them yourself, and don’t use your social media to try to impress people. Use it to make an impact. Give it value.

Much love

Dave

It’s #TravelTuesday again! Doesn’t it come around quick? It seems like only a week since the last one! Well, here at Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider that means the reigns are passed on to me, Dave Williams, to share something about Photoshop, photography, travel, and life. Today, I’m going to tackle a thing that us photographers are faced with over and over and over again. It’s “that question,” which comes at you constantly from all angles. You know the one:

“What camera shall I get?”

Well, basically, there is no right answer! There’s that old adage thrown around pretty much daily: the best camera you can have is the one in your pocket. If anyone asks you which camera to get, feel free to direct them right here!

The best advice, really, is this: buy the camera that you can afford!

Getting a new camera for yourself or as a gift for a loved one getting into photography is quite an overwhelming and potentially daunting experience. Every camera out there claims, in one way or another, to be the best one. Every shop wants you to buy from them. Every salesperson seems to know best and wants to upsell whatever they have in stock. It can all be a bit too much, particularly when you don’t know what you’re looking for. Well, here’s what you’re looking for!

  •  Manual mode – This allows you to take complete control of the camera. It isn’t something a beginner will necessarily want to do from the outset, but it absolutely is something to work up to. And, having that feature there will mean you won’t have to splash out on another camera when you get to it.
  • ISO – The ISO is the sensitivity to light. Look for a camera that performs well at about ISO 1600 so that you can produce clean images in low light.
  • Autofocus – A decent, fast autofocus system can make the difference between getting the shot or not, particulary in fast-paced situations.
  • Megapixels – It’s not all about the megapixels, but the more the merrier, right? If you want to print your shots, which I suggest you do, the megapixels matter. The more megapixels, the bigger you can print.
  • RAW – A camera that shoots in RAW format will make for a far better experience in editing the photos in Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom because every bit of data that makes the image is stored in detail rather than being compressed in the JPEG format.
  • Ergonomics – Obviously, this is an important factor. The look and feel of a camera can be just as important as your clothing style. If it doesn’t suit you, will you be encouraged to use it? Similarly, the size and weight will be a consideration for how often it gets used, too.

So, all that considered, how about brands? Well, if you ask a photographer which camera to buy, you’ll likely get a response encouraging you to buy their brand. #TeamNikon right here will push you towards a Nikon, whereas if you ask Scott you’ll probably be told all about #TeamCanon, or Glyn Dewis may persuade you to join #TeamSony. Photographers are aggressively true to their brand, on the whole. The reason is quite practical in that if you start off using a brand, you are stuck with that brand’s glass and accessories, which is a very expensive thing to switch from. It’s all masked by a fued of commitment and alliegance to the brand! Right now the top three brands are Canon, Nikon, and Sony.

So, what about the type of camera? 

  • DSLR – This means Digital Single Lens Reflex. Which translates to “it has moving parts and you can look through it.” The image from the lens is reflected on a mirror to the viewfinder, and when you hit the shutter release button, the mirror quickly flips out of the way and the shutter curtain shoots across the sensor to let the light create an image. They’re generally big, heavy, and pretty delicate. They are also the best option in terms of accessories and lenses because they’ve been around for so long and are essentially the grandchildren of film cameras.
  • Mirrorless – These cameras are becoming very popular because they also have interchangeable lenses, but they’re smaller and have far fewer moving parts. They perform differently and they mostly have cropped sensors, meaning smaller images.
  • Point and shoot – These are far smaller, lighter, cheaper, and more or less completely automatic. It might be what you need, though!

Where shall I buy it?

The best place is a proper camera store like B&H in New York or London Camera Exchange in London. You’ll find a good variety of kits, and some pretty sound advice because the people who work in camera stores tend to love photography and know what they’re talking about. Amazon comes in next, but mostly because there’s so much on offer at good prices.

Does that answer the question? Probably not, because there isn’t really an answer, but hopefully it’s enough to steer you in the right direction.

Much love

Dave

#TravelTuesday has come around again, and I’m right here as always to impart some of the bountiful wisdom filed amongst the mayhem in my mind! It really has been mayhem, too. I moved home this past week, heading out of the big smoke that is London and landing nice and gently in the Great British countryside. It’s fabulous to be able to see the stars again, but I’ve hit a brick wall with my internet provider – Vodafone, if you’re wondering. The connection date was exactly one week ago and I still have no internet. I’m resorting to coffee shops to hop on Wi-Fi in order to do all that I need to do online, which is slowing me down a lot, so my apologies for any glitches in regular service! Anyway, I’m Dave Williams, and I’m going to share some travel photography insider secrets with you today! Let’s do this!

Now, in the world of travel photography, the shooter has many skills but fits them all into one job – to make the viewer want to be in the picture! There are tips and tricks within the trade to help create an image which achieves that result and sells, and today eight of those insider secrets from my years of shooting travel are yours, gratis!

1 – Turn around!

There’s almost always a great view in the opposite direction. It’s very, very common to turn up somewhere at a tourist location and see everyone facing one way, usually at a spot labelled “sunset point” or “scenic vista” on Google Maps. These places aren’t wrong – they tend to afford an incredible viewpoint over whichever location you’re in and going hand-in-hand with them there’s usually a snack shop, souvenir stall, car park, and ease of access for all. One thing I’ve seen taken to some extremes and which is 99% true is that there’s also a nice view where people aren’t looking. Go against the grain, pull out your rebellious side, and see what’s behind the crowd. Don’t be the sheep – take a step away from the average tourist and get the shot people aren’t getting!

2 – Avoid touristy shots

On a par with number one, and a piece of advice I’ve given time and time again in blog posts, articles, and face to face, is this one: don’t shoot tourist shots! If you shoot what everyone else is shooting, it’s really, really, really difficult to make that image captivating. It’s really difficult to have it stand out amongst the crowd in a portfolio or in a stock catalogue. Here’s the background: the starting point of moving away from the tourist shot is to think like a tourist in order to stop thinking like a tourist! A tourist takes out a camera, faces forward, brings the camera up to eye level, and shoots with the subject centre frame. Think about that. ;)

 

 

3 – Put people there

Now, don’t tell her, but this is something I often to and fro with, with Stephanie Richer. She firmly believes that putting a person in the frame is what should be done and she’s absolutely right. (But, don’t tell her I said that!) It’s probably the easiest way to make your shot unique, and side by side with that it can help to convey emotion, scale, and a story. Further to that, the pose or activity the person is doing can change the story altogether. For example, putting a person running in the image will give it so much more energy, or putting a couple in the photo can show a harmonious solitude.

4 – Check before you leave

There have been far too many times that I’ve been somewhere cool and have come back to find I screwed up the focus or didn’t compose quite how I intended to because I didn’t check the frame after I shot it. Having spent time and hard cash getting to the location, its the last thing you want. It can all come to light when you submit to a stock agency and have it rejected because of a technical or creative error, so check your shot every time to make sure you nailed it!

 

 

5 – Close in

One thing I’ve heard Scott say time and again is this: “Get tighter!” He’s absolutely on the money, and if you think that your shot isn’t good enough, try it out. Just get closer. Crop in on something within the frame, or on the subject you’re already on and notice the difference. It’s more detailed, more intimate, and just better.

6 – Lose the embarrassment

One thing common among photographers is an embarrassment or shyness. It’s weird, but it’s true. Don’t be afraid to get in there, shoot people, stand out from the crowd, and get something unique and personal. Sometimes, when it comes to shooting people, it’s a very good idea to ask. You’ll usually get a positive response and getting used to asking strangers for a photo will make it easier the next time, and the next time.

 

 

7 – Shoot blue

Blue sells! Have you noticed? Next time you’re in WH Smiths or Barnes and Noble, take a look at the covers of the travel magazines and travel guidebooks. There’s a very common theme running through the majority of them and it’s the colour blue. Photography magazines with landscapes will have dark, deep tones and moody skies, whereas travel magazines will have blue skies and blue water. Blue sells in travel.

8 – Right place, right time

This can’t always be pre-planned, and often the best shots are the ones you didn’t intend to take, however, it’s important to be in the right place at the right time as far as you can. Know when the sun is rising and setting, know which direction it’ll be in, and put yourself in the right place by planning properly. The rest will all fall into place!

If you have any more travel photography tips, I’d love to hear them! You can find me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook :)

Much love

Dave

Happy #TravelTuesday to you all, from me, Dave Williams. Today I want to pull inspiration from a legend, Mr Dave Clayton, in a little tip post. More on that shortly, though. First on the agenda is this: –

Mimo Meiday, Scott Kelby, Rome! Come on! Thats some serious education and banter right there!

Next up – the Worldwide Photowalk! It’s October 6th, and it’s everywhere! Get yourself signed up to the world’s largest social photography event!

And third, linking in with today’s subject matter, there’s a brand new class on KelbyOne by Dave Clayton! It’s Dave’s Top 25 Photoshop Tips For Designers. Go check that out!

So, here’s the real deal – the whole point of today’s post – lines!

The reason behind this topic today is that Dave Clayton has it all absolutely bang on the mark. Whether you’re a photographer (shoots) or a designer (draws) you’re a visual artist. All of us visual artists have one common goal. We want to create an image and give it impact. The difference, perhaps, is the canvas. Where a photographer starts with a full canvas, which is the scene ahead, and has to decide how to make a composition from that and what parts of that scene stay and what goes, the designer generally starts way over at the opposite end with a blank canvas and constructs their ‘scene’ from nothing. In either case, from either starting point, the two roles will meet at the end point.

The graphic designer will create their own vectors and arrange their own composition, but the job of the photographer is to use what you’ve got already in place and position it (and position yourself) to create the scene. We bring order out of chaos. We arrange elements in front of us. We evaluate the scene and generally, perhaps without even realising, we utilise rules and elements of design to create the image.

Once you realise what the common elements of design are and you begin to actively look for them, you may be surprised at how often you’ll see them in the world around you! It’s one of those which I want to talk to you about today…

Lines

Lines are the Billy Basic, the rule numero uno, the fundamental. Lines are what direct us in real life, and what direct us in imagery. They give our viewer a path to follow across the image we’ve made, and understanding the sheer power of lines in both graphic design and photography will give you an edge in your photography.

Different lines have different uses and effects.

Leading lines are the ones we hear about time and time again. Leading lines can come from almost anywhere and they lead our viewers eye to the focus point or the main subject of our image.

Vertical lines portray strength and grandeur. They’re tall trees, towering skyscrapers, mighty waterfalls, and they give our image a sense of power!

Horizontal lines are our horizons and they’re calming. They exude a sense of peace.

Diagonal lines often represent movement and energy. They’re roads, train lines, and they’re fast!

Curved lines are the (excuse me) curve ball! They’re bridges, arches, spirals, and they take the viewers eye on a journey through the image.

Ladies and Gents, lines in our imagery have power in photography just as they do in graphic design, and I implore you to learn more about graphic design and translate those skills into your photography. You’ll thank me, and you’ll certainly thank Dave Clayton when your image is more impactive than you ever thought it could be!

For now, that’s that

Much love

Dave

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