Happy #TravelTuesday one and all! I’m Dave Williams, and I’m here today (and every Tuesday) with some photography wisdom for you. This week, I’m in Croatia! I arrived a couple of days ago and, so far, I’ve also hopped some borders and checked out Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Montenegro. If you were wondering—they’re beautiful!
I caught sunrise in Mostar, Bosnia, and framed up a lovely series of shots down the Neretva River of the town’s famous bridge. Now, I arrived before sunrise and caught the sun coming up over the bridge, then I drove half an hour down the road to Blagaj Tekija, a monastery on a beautiful pool next to a cliff edge, built by Dervish monks in the 16th Century. The reason I’m telling you this is to point out something that photographers don’t necessarily always consider when shooting sunrise and sunset situations, and that thing is this: –
The sunrise and sunset times will vary if you’re in mountains! Yes, simple, right? My pro tip for you if you don’t know the actual sunset time is to hold your clenched fist out, thumb up, to the horizon. Because of the beautiful piece of nature that is the golden equation, the God number, the divine proportion, whatever else you want to call it, the sun will sink approximately the distance your fist occupies every hour. Therefore if the sun is one fist’s height above the mountain next to you, you have about an hour until sunset!
(That’s a top-secret pro tip, don’t tell anyone!)
So, although it may seem simple, it may not actually be considered. Mountains and other such high terrain affect the sunrise and sunset, which is something I took full advantage of in Bosnia and Herzegovina by having two sunrises!
If you were wondering, sunrise totally beats sunset! That time of day is calm, relaxed, the rest of the world hasn’t woken up yet, there’s no traffic to get where you’re going, when you get there you can always find a place to park, and the light is amazing. It’s just all-around better!
Seriously, photography is good for you! But first of all, let me introduce myself—I’m Dave Williams and every Tuesday here at ScottKelby.com is #TravelTuesday with me instead of Scott (let’s be honest, he deserves a break on Tuesdays), and today, I want to tell you why I feel photography is so good for you!
First of all, photography is documenting life. Whether it’s your child growing up, your first dates, or simply selfies, photography is the ultimate tool when it comes to documenting things that may otherwise fade into history, preserving these precious moments and locking them in time. This is just one benefit; there are plenty more!
Photography relieves stress. When we turn our attention to photography we can make problems disappear. Focussing our thoughts on whatever’s happening through the viewfinder literally tunnels our mind and vision, removing (even momentarily) all the other distractions and focussing us on the light, the composition, and the moment. The moment could be a mountain, a waterfall, flowers, your pet dog—whatever’s happening down that narrow viewfinder can magically block everything else out.
Through focussing our attention, photography makes it possible to see things we may otherwise have missed. Furthermore, it makes beautiful sights last longer. I love to shoot sunrises, but they undoubtedly feel as if they’re over just when they’ve begun. Photography immortalises every single sunrise we capture, showing off the interaction of the cool and warm tones of the days beginning, and they allow us to look at the specific elements of a scene after we’ve taken in the overall view.
In terms of our growth and development, photography skills develop over time and this improvement boosts our self-esteem. Our skills getting better, our photos receiving feedback online from friends and family, it gives us pride and that’s good for us. The creativity involved receives this positive and constructive feedback, and this gives us new ideas in other walks of life.
Photography is good for us, as well as our profession, so it’s only going to be a good thing to explore other areas of photography and to use photography as a tool to alleviate stress and explore our creativity. Trust me.
It’s #TravelTuesday with me, Dave Williams, and today I’m in the KelbyOne studios recording some classes for you beautiful people! If you’re waiting to learn a little more about how to make some money and about how to prepare for travel photography, you’ll love my two new classes! But before they land, I’d love all you KelbyOne members to join me in an exclusive webcast about where to shoot in Iceland, and if you aren’t a KelbyOne member you can sign up for a free.
Today, I want to touch on something else. Right now I’m planning on changing my camera, and it made me think a little about that age-old conundrum: whether or not gear makes the photographer. Well, my answer is no, and my argument is that if you give a pro photographer a $700 camera, and give a rookie a $5,000 camera, the pro will produce the better image. One main reason for this argument is that the pro will be concentrating on the creativity whereas the rookie is more likely to be focused on the gear. Here’s why: –
When a pro photographer and a rookie photographer each shoot 100 images, the pro is more likely to say that one is good, and the rookie is more likely to say that 90 are good. If they then look at each other’s images, the pro is likely to say that one of the rookie’s is good, and the rookie is likely to say that 90 of the pro’s are good. Self-criticism lands front and centre, and the pro is far more critical of themselves than others. But it goes beyond that: –
When the pro screws up, they are far more likely to blame themselves than to blame the gear. They are probably shooting Manual, may have added some extra gear, such as filters or lighting, and have planned the shot. If something goes wrong, they are far more likely to blame the application of their knowledge than they are to blame the gear. Here’s the point: they will use the same gear and try again until they get it right, working on correcting their technique rather than switching out the gear.
There’s a lesson to be taken from this. Being honest about your skills, having the understanding to apply them, and giving objective evaluation to your creative vision will help you to become a better photographer and not to rely on the gear, rather to rely on yourself. I’ve been through this process and continue to do so, as does every other pro photographer, and it’s extremely valuable to think this way.
I hope to catch you all in the comments tomorrow on The Grid!
It’s #TravelTuesday with Dave! I’m Dave Williams and I’m here every Tuesday with something for you from the world of Photoshop, Photography, Travel, or life, and today was never going to be the exception! This past Saturday I had the pleasure of hooking up with The Kelby’s in my home town, London, England. Scott and his son, Jordan, were over in Europe on a trip and we went on a little jaunt to Greenwich in South East London, and this is the inspiration for today’s post.
Travel photography doesn’t actually require travel! Big news, right? Well here’s why: – the whole point behind travel photography is to make the viewer want to be there, in the photo, seeing the sights, smelling the smells, and feeling the feels. It doesn’t mean you, the photographer, have to be in another country, rather it means the viewer needs to be seeing a place with which they aren’t familiar or where they want to go. Whatever the underlying style, be it landscape, architecture, lifestyle, portraits, so long as the image makes the viewer want to be in the place depicted you’re succeeding as a travel photographer.
From this we know that travel photography can be a little closer to home for us, so that’s exactly what I did with Scott and Jordan. We went to Greenwich to shoot travel – architecture in this instance, but travel nonetheless. The location is just down the road from me, thousands of miles from Scott and Jordan, but regardless of distance it’s travel in that we wanted to show the location in its best light and, from our photos, make people want to be there. Well, Scott and I did. Jordan maybe not so much, but it seemed he was having a good time learning that the paint on the walls is probably older than the USA!
As Scott explained here yesterday, he was here to be a tourist. He wanted to get some shots checked off the list. For me the little exploration mission was travel photography, but it wasn’t travel. I hadn’t actually gone anywhere. It hit the point home that travel photography isn’t necessarily about the photographer travelling, rather it’s about everything else I’ve mentioned. We had a good look around at Greenwich before heading back to central London: –
What a pleasure it was to take Scott and Jordan on tour in London, and next week I’ll be writing from KelbyOne where I’ll be recording some classes. Show me your travel photography and keep up with mine on Instagram!
Hi all! It’s #TravelTuesday here on Scott Kelby’s blog and that means I’m here to lay down something from the world of Photoshop, photography, travel, and life. Today is no exception! I’m Dave Williams—let me tell you a sad story.
There’s a shot I want to get so bad. It’s here in the UK and it’s dangerous! I want to get out on the water of the English Channel to shoot the Beachy Head Lighthouse from the sea. The problem, however, is that where there’s a lighthouse, there tends to be a reason! The lighthouse is accessible from land about 1.5 miles west or 2 miles east because of the high cliffs behind it. The only way is to launch from one of these two points and going via the water.
The shot will look amazing. I want to get a wide shot with the stereotypical red and white lighthouse centre-frame and have the enormous white cliffs taper off in either direction, and I want it at sunrise. I’ve tried to get this shot three times and failed. Here’s what happened: –
The first time I had an inflatable kayak. I drove through the night (it’s a 170-miles round trip) to arrive in time for sunrise. I was there on time and the twilight gave me the blue hour, so I hauled my gear—the kayak, life vest, paddle, waterproof bag with camera and drone—down a dead-steep hill to the cliffs and then down the cracks and ledges in the limestone, and was at the water’s edge about 15 minutes before dawn. The water was rough and I walked along the tide line trying to find a safe spot. The water was just too rough, though, for an inflatable kayak and there was no safe place to launch, so I had to turn myself back around and carry everything back up that insanely steep hill, back to the car, and try again another day. My legs were burning from lactic acid with all that weight on such a steep hill, and it was all for nothing.
The next time I quit halfway there, the weather report changed and it wasn’t even worth going. That’s two goes, and a couple of days ago was attempt number three. I left home before 1:00 a.m. to make it down to the coast. First light was forecast at 4:00 a.m. and sunrise at 4:46, so I had to get there with plenty of time to get in position. The first challenge I had was, with this attempt being at the other location, I needed to carry the rigid kayak I’d got down the stairs to the stone beach I’d launch from. It wasn’t light!
The next challenge was the launch. All the planning I’d put in by checking weather, wind, tides etc., was telling me there’d be a high neap tide with low wind, which tends to suggest the waves will be minimal. What I actually faced was something altogether different: –
The waves were enormous, but I pushed on. First, I put the kayak at the water’s edge and climbed in with my waterproof bag between my legs. But, before I could get the spray deck attached, the water swept over me and flooded me out. Unperturbed by this setback (as is my nature), I pulled the kayak back, turned it over to empty it out, and tried again. The second launch wasn’t all that much better though, turning me sideways and showing me the sheer power of the water. I was done in again by the sea and gathered everything back together to try again. Third time’s a charm, right? Unfortunately not. This time I’d managed to get settled and get the spray deck attached in time for the first big wave to come in and hit me, but the power of the sea was still just too much and I was fully inverted. I had to give up.
When I said this shot was dangerous, I meant life-threateningly so. I was cold and drenched through every layer—the sea had beaten me and I still don’t have the shot! Shame too because the sunrise was pretty cool that day.
But here’s the thing: if you have a target in your sights, don’t give up on it. I’ll be back to get that shot! (By the way, if anybody reading this has a boat in Eastbourne, please feel free to get in touch!) I’m not giving up on this shot—I’ll get it one way or another. It’s not worth giving up on something good just because it’s a bit difficult.
Don’t give up just because things are hard. I have a tattoo on my left arm which says “aut viam inveniam aut faciam” which is Latin and means either find a way or make one. If you can’t stop thinking about it, don’t stop working for it, because some things that are worth having don’t come easy. You are so much stronger than you think. Someday you’ll look back on all the progress you made and be glad you didn’t quit. If you fall three times, stand up four, because winners aren’t people who don’t fail—they’re people who don’t quit.
I’m Dave Williams, and today in writing I’m facing a challenge. The Tuesday after Photoshop World was never going to be easy on any of us, but now I’m afraid I have to interrupt for #TravelTuesday proceedings to take effect. Something that was so astoundingly evident at Photoshop World was the multitude of diverse personalities. I am so fortunate to be able to call a lot of the people there my friends but beyond that there’s one thing in particular that stood out to me. Identity.
The importance of brand identity for a photographer is, I would argue, more important than in any other field, and here’s why. A photographer is selling a service to the masses, whatever service that may be, and they must not only stand out among a crowd of other skilled photographers but also demonstrate their value over and above the technical abilities of the person off-the-street wielding the expensive camera and who calls themselves a photographer because they took a really good photo that one time (you know these people.)
The real reason a photographer needs a good, strong brand identity is because they aren’t simply selling their photos – they’re also selling themselves. Take a look around and you’ll see want I mean. There at Photoshop World was, among others: –
Sam Haddix – an unmistakable look owing in part to the gear set-up and in part to the retouching abilities possessed by this man, trying and testing combinations of techniques until the right fit was found. Check him out here.
Peter Hurley – a strong identity as the world’s leading headshot specialist, coining memorable terms to suit his model directing, having a signature lighting set-up, and a distinct look to his shots. See him here.
Kaylee Greer – an unbelievably amazing, unmistakeable style of shot obtained with a consistently specific style with huge, open skies, incredible vibrance, and similarly amazing model direction. Banana sandwiches are here.
Tim Wallace – technically perfect, colourful but not saturated, with perfect compositions on every single detail shot, and the man is an actual, real-life architect of light. Have a look right here.
You see how they all have that brand identity? It’s the brand identity, a combination of their shooting style and their personality, which has caused these incredible photographers to be able to stand above the head and shoulders of the competition.
Further to this, and a big boost to your brand identity, what Dave Claytonsays is absolutely true – a graphic designer is a photographers best friend. Having a good brand identity includes having a good, clean, effective website and logo. When someone is attracted to you somehow, perhaps on social media, and they decide to look further and go check out your website it’s so important that you’re able to pull them in further by having them look around with thoughts like, ‘this person is really professional’ and, ‘it looks like they know what they’re doing’ rather than be put off by a bad logo or a clumsy website.
Ladies and Gentlemen – in photography your brand is you, and you are your brand. Make sure you succeed by leaving no stone unturned to ensure your brand identity resonates with the people who you want to be your customers.