Posts By David Williams

I’m Dave Williams and it’s #TravelTuesday here on Scott’s blog. This week, I’m going to tip most articles on their head.

When we start out in photography, we seek inspiration and education from all manner of sources—YouTube, KelbyOne, magazines, blogs, workshops— but I think the most important way to learn is to make mistakes.

The thing these methods all have in common is that they tell you what to do. Obviously! They tell us the mistakes to avoid, so that we can be better photographers. But, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my journey and I strongly recommend you do too! (Stick with me here!)

I’m not saying make all the mistakes I’ve made—for example, don’t drop your camera from a rock on the coast of Iceland straight into a rock pool (it survived), or don’t continuously trek to a remote location to shoot only to realise when you arrive that you have one bar left on your battery. I’m talking about other mistakes.

We learn in life from mistakes, and often it’s the best way to learn. A combination of both regret and education, mistakes are something from which we learn how to do something and how not to do something, as the lesson from the experience is etched into our memory.

Shooting at too high an ISO and having an overly noisy image is one of the mistakes that’s important to make in order to understand how your camera’s sensor interacts with the available light, and how your manipulation of the camera’s settings affect the final image. The extra effort that would have gone into using a tripod and shooting a longer exposure at a lower ISO would be the fix and the lesson to learn in such circumstances.

Speaking of ISO, when I used to shoot weddings, I lost track of the number of times I’d be shooting inside a beautiful church at a high ISO to balance the tonal range of the images, but then stepped outside continuing to shoot at that high ISO and ruining the first handful of images. It was essentially a learning curve—it happened a few times, but once I eventually got it in my mind, it never happened again!

On the same sort of level, one thing that used to often happen when I was shooting in the high north during winter, is that I would go out to shoot the Northern Lights (or at least look for them!) and have my camera set on a long exposure to capture the motion, with a high ISO to be sensitive to the level of light coming at me (which I obviously wouldn’t overlook), but I’d also have the autofocus switched off! The following morning I’d grab the camera, having seen a cool-looking mountain or something, and shoot it, having adjusted the ISO and shutter speed to suit, but forgotten about the autofocus! Again, once I’d made the mistake a few times, it was set in my mind and it hasn’t happened since.

And again, on the same sort of level, the cold, in this case. Have you ever had a wet tripod and not dried it off properly? The result is terrible—trust me! It’s a lesson not forgotten when everything seizes up!

Over-processing is a mistake often made in the early days, and it’s worth noting here that if you want to make your images look unrealistic and have a halo around every object, make sure you crank the Clarity and Saturation sliders right up. ;)

See the big shadow, here, in the sky over Turkey? A reminder to clean the sensor or lens is learned from the mistake of not doing just that!

Making mistakes is very important. I’d like to say we only make them once, and although that is often the case, it’s not always the case. Nevertheless, when we make mistakes, we (sooner or later) won’t repeat them and will get our time to shine and get it right every time. It’s in our nature to make mistakes, and it’s also in our nature to learn from them. I just wish I didn’t make the same mistake twice!

Just be yourself; it’ll all fall into place.

Much love

Dave

If you want something, go and get it! Find a way or make one!

I’m Dave Williams and, as always, I’m here on Scott’s blog for #TravelTuesday for you! I aim to enlighten and inspire every week with something to do with photography, Photoshop, and life. Today, I want to provoke you to take last week’s personal project and monetise it, either directly or indirectly.

When we shoot as professionals, that is to say, we are making money from our photography, we are doing more or less everything with a goal in mind—a bill that needs paying! Removing that element of life and shooting for self-development allows a relief of the stresses and pressures placed upon us (by others or by ourselves), so we can afford more of our efforts on the creative aspects of the shoot rather than the “end goal.” It’s important to have that creativity in the moment, to enjoy the moment, rather than simply aiming for that end goal, and it’s an aspect of photography that is worth incorporating into everyday life. Here’s why: –

Whilst it’s good and often important to have a goal in sight, staring at that goal won’t get you anywhere on its own. Concentrating your energy and efforts on the here and now is what makes things change and ultimately what shows your value as a person. It’s what shows your commitment and understanding, not of what you want to achieve but how you’ll achieve it.

I’ve found that whilst I can take a good image of a place the first time I visit, I often think of better images and better techniques and want to revisit until I nail it. It’s this which prompted me to undertake personal projects, which develop my skill as a photographer (and storyteller) and allow me to get better images the first time around. But, that said, the second visit (and third and fourth) will never go away because…

“There’s no such thing as ‘just one last shot'” –Peter Treadway, 2014

This kinda has a few meanings to us photographers. It can mean that we’re usually such perfectionists that an image is never really finished, or it can mean that, actually, it is finished but we just find it hard to recognise when! That’s something to think about.

Here’s my current go-to example of second visits: –

Mont St-Michel, France. The image above was taken about five years ago, and the below image was taken a couple of months ago. I’d like to think both images work, and they’ve both sold so each has their own merit, but that is the very point—each has their own merit. Each shows the same place but in entirely different ways. It’s going to my development as a photographer that that’s happened, through grit, determination, practice, perseverance, and through personal projects! So, what about that one word I just said: “sold.” Let’s talk about that.

I’ve been talking to a few photographers lately about this, and whether it’s for the purpose of paying your bills or simply for funding new gear for your hobby, I implore you to get involved with monetising your photography. The people I’ve been talking to have been largely successful in the first stages of getting into stock photography, but there are other ways to monetise your photos. The world is a small place; you no longer need to be “famous” to make a living from photography, nor do you need to drive from home to home with a strobe and a backdrop in your car shooting family portraits. Here’s the thing: –

All those photos you see on billboards, in magazines, on leaflets, in menus, in newspapers, in brochures, on packaging, on computer screensavers, in books, on ads you scroll past online, literally everywhere, they all came from somewhere. Why not come from you?

Signing up for stock photography for these things is easy—all you have to remember is to play by the rules. For example, a test submission to a stock agency will state “common theme, not overly retouched, no brand names. in focus,” etc., etc., and as long as you stick to the rules (so that you pass the test submission), you can start to sell your images! It doesn’t have to be stock, of course. You can monetise your Instagram account in a similar way—find agencies who are looking for people and, again, follow the rules! Perhaps the rules are a common theme, signature look, 5,000+ followers, good engagement—follow the rules and you’re in! How about postcards? Take a look on the back of postcards next time you see a display rack and you’ll see the company who produces them printed on the back. Why not send them an e-mail? Send a few of your best images over and see how you get on—at worst, they say “no thanks,” and at best, you’re making money!

Seriously, no more excuses! It’s 2k19; it’s time to make your photography pay!

The cover image here is of me 13 years ago when I was living in South Africa. I was busy shooting thorns in the Klein Karoo area with my SLR (yes, SLR, no screen) and working out what kind of a photographer I was. Essentially, a whole series of personal projects, one after the other, finding a niche through the process.

Much love

Dave

Not every trip I take is about making money. Some are about bettering myself, challenging myself, and throwing myself out of my comfort zone in the interest of self-development. Personal projects are key to staying on your A game in photography, or in fact, in any creative art. As such, it’s very important for us to take a break from what is “normal” in our style of photography to learn some of the transferrable skills in other aspects of the art that we can translate into our own, everyday work, thus improving ourselves.

Personal projects are the leading method in this self-improvement. Have a little think about it and you’ll notice, consciously or otherwise, that there are so many personal projects out there ready-made for us to jump on. The “photo-a-day” challenge, the alphabet challenge, the colour challenge, the season challenge, they all serve to help us criticise ourselves, and this self-critique inevitably leads to improvement (although, in rare cases, it may lead to us throwing our gear down in frustration as well!).

If we are to stand out among a crowd, which is ever-growing and ever-changing, we must be noticeably different than the rest. If, in this industry, we remain stagnant, then we risk collapse. Everybody else will be racing forward, while we’re still stationary and stuck in our ways. Here’s a case study: –

Kaylee Greer, a great friend and an all-around amazing human being, told me about a problem she had. Her dog photography is world-class and she employs a simple setup and simple technique to create amazing portraits of doggos. She was approached by KelbyOne and asked to teach this technique, which she did. This meant that her “signature look” was being emulated the world over and she had a whole foray of photogs essentially catching her up. She was being joined by a crowd, from which she needed again to stand out! She told me what she did to step her shoots up a gear—I won’t elaborate, but needless to say, it was a personal project that was copied into her everyday shoots, and it worked!

At Imaging USA, I noticed that Joel Grimes was demonstrating a technique that was traditionally reserved for architecture photography, however, he was using it to photograph people! Models! And, in applying this technique from what was undoubtedly a curious personal project, he’s come up with something that is, for all intents and purposes, groundbreaking!

The cream of the crop, as you can see from these very specific examples, are pushing themselves with personal projects rather than simply “riding the cloud” because they know how very important they are. For me personally, I try to occasionally take whole trips which are “personal projects”—not having any prior knowledge of a location and testing myself in seeing what I can get, pushing the content to things I’m not comfortable shooting, and deliberately trying to make the best of bad light. It’s these personal projects which have carried me to where I am as a travel photographer, and if I may reference it, it’s my past life as a wedding photographer which has helped me understand composition and given me the ability to see light, alongside batting ideas off my partner in crime, Peter Treadway.

So, here’s my challenge to you: –

You may only venture 50 paces from your front door (communal front door if you live in a block) and I want to see you photograph light. Portray light, show that you can see light, read light, represent light, and use the experience to improve your skill as a photographer.

Then, I want you to upload a photo to Instagram using the hashtag #lightpp as part of this personal project, so we can all see.

Good luck!

Much love

Dave

Happy #TravelTuesday one and all! I’m Dave Williams, coming at you from Tallinn, Estonia where I’m exploring this old city in search of coffee, burgers, and awesome views! This week, I have a secret tip for your drone photography.

 

 

Everyone wants to know what they’re doing wrong, right? Well, here’s what you’re doing wrong! The top rookie drone pilot mistake, aside from flying in the wrong places (I won’t go there, though), is…

When people get a drone they go through actions not dissimilar to when they get a window seat on a plane. What us humans tend to do is take a photo of that place down below us, familiar to us, from a new perspective. We get on the plane and, as it takes off over our local city, we see things we recognise out of the window and shoot them for the sake of shooting them. It’s not a bad thing; I’m not saying that at all. If anything, it’s pretty cool to get that new perspective of such a familiar place and to see how things look relative to one another from up there. It’s tantamount to what we all did when we first discovered Google Street View—we suddenly had the technological ability to literally go anywhere we wanted in the entire world and despite that, we all did the exact same thing. We opened up the map, we took hold of that little man, and we all dragged him and dropped him into the exact same position: our front door! We like to see things from a new perspective; it’s clearly in our nature. This little trait we all seem to have rubs off in our drone photography and we need simply to be aware of it in order to avoid it.

 

 

When flying a drone, as I’ve explained in my KelbyOne class, we need to fly like a movie director. This means not simply lifting off and turning the camera to view the place we took off from. It means applying all that we know about photography, such as light, composition, and subject matter, and applying it to the new camera up in the air. It’s simply another camera, which is now removed from us—the same rules and principles apply.

Don’t be the passenger in the window seat. Make your drone photography stand out among the crowd.

Much love

Dave

 

Welcome to another #TravelTuesday here on Scott’s blog. I’m Dave Williams, and I’m here weekly, writing for you.

Light is something you should be seeing as a photographer. If you’re not, just keep practicing and practicing and, eventually, it will just click one day and you’ll see it. Today, I want to explain what a difference it makes to landscapes and how to apply it.

 

 

Photography is the art of portraying light, right? Using light to make the subject, the model, the landscape, look its absolute best is the art form we love. In the process of learning to see light, there are many techniques we can employ, but the important thing is to keep the end goal in sight.

Photography is subjective and we want people’s interpretation of our photography to be that it’s beautiful. To do this, we need beautiful light on our subject, whatever our subject may be. Without light, there are no photographs – it’s that important.

Seeing light is the key skill that will come one day through practice. Through reading, through watching tutorials, through shooting in different conditions, and learning what changes each time, it all contributes to us learning to see light. Not to “see,” don’t misunderstand – to “see light.” Ways to practice seeing light often don’t involve photography at all. Noticing subtle differences caused by different temperatures of light cast at different times of day, through different natural filters, and falling from different angles are all the things we need to pay attention to. Watching how it falls on our hand, on the faces of people around us, and how the shadows are cast, too, are all things to pay attention to and consider when we’re learning to see light.

 

 

Relating to landscapes, visit a location time after time in different conditions and at different times, and you’ll see how the light changes the entire scene, changes colours, and even moves the scene somehow. The difference is dramatic and it truly makes such an impactive difference to see a photo with great use of light versus a snapshot with flat, dull light.

There is, in most cases, nothing as good as using natural light effectively in portraiture, as well. The light cast from a well-filtered, softened natural source of light can make a subject really pop and evoke an emotional connection between the subject and the viewer, owing to the causal effect of good use of light and nothing more.

Taking the time as a photographer to really concentrate on light and learn how to really see it will, if you haven’t reached that level, take your experience to a totally different place, and if you can see light just don’t stop practicing!

Much love

Dave

It’s #TravelTuesday again right here on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider. Usually I, Dave Williams, take the opportunity to use this platform to share some pearls of wisdom with you all about photography, Photoshop, travel, or life. Well today I’m using this platform to do something altogether different and share some wisdom from somebody else.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce 20 year old Abdulazez Dukhan. I won’t introduce him further than that, I’ll simply share the transcript of our conversation with you here, alongside some of his photos.

 

 

I am from Homs, Syria, and now I live in Belgium. After three years of war in my home we left for Turkey. It was there that my story with art began. I started to watch videos online to learn about Adobe Photoshop. In the beginning it was hard but I wanted to learn it and develop my new skill so that I could express myself in images rather than through lots of words. I have watched many different courses and put in a lot of hours of practice to try and get better in cutting images, understand colour, and all the other knowledge that goes into retouching. Since I started  to use Photoshop I became more interested in photography, but it was so hard to buy a camera as I never had enough money. In January 2016 we left Turkey and moved through to Greece. I found myself in a refugee camp along with thousands of other people, living without any knowing of what the next day had in store for us. There I decided to start with the photography that had been on my mind. In the beginning I took photos on my phone to document what was happening around me. I decided to start volunteering to improve my English. I met many volunteers in the refugee camps. One of them was an Italian named Annalisa. When she went back to Italy she insisted that she want to send me a gift to thank me for helping. I declined initially but eventually after she insisted I said, “a small trip camera would be really helpful as I can document the situation,” and so my story started with photography – I had my first small camera. I trusted myself that I can be a photographer and I started taking photos. I made a small album, put it online, and started to take more and more photos. A Spanish volunteer, Carles, saw my work online and wanted to support it. He very generously sent me a Nikon D3300 as a birthday gift. I had an upgrade and my photos started to get better as my understanding of light, composition, and the technical elements of creativity grew. This time my new camera had manual mode and it allowed me to start practicing more, and in a better way. I spent many hours every day practicing and trying to understand the difference between ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. After almost a year in Greece I asked a German photographer friend named Geo about a lens I was interested in and I was surprised when he said “I want to buy a new camera and I want to send you mine.” I was amazed and through such generosity I now have my own professional camera. A Canon 60D. Where I lived and what I have seen has always inspired me, those who didn’t know me but believed what I believed, that I can be photographer, gave me a feeling of strength through adversity. Living in hard conditions taught me that there is no such word as ‘impossible.’ I’ve thought hard about it and I’ve decided on the name ‘AzYeux,’ which is a combination of my name and the French word for ‘eyes.’ Creating a website and brand today makes me very glad. I always wanted to have all of my work on one website. I would love to take my photography and art to a more professional level, and do commercial work, commissions, travel, and work on big projects. I would love to meet other photographers and artists who I can learn from.

 

I asked Abdulazez to briefly explain some photos of his that stood out to me. Here they are, along with his explanations: –

 


Sometimes falling down isn’t like our world. Sometimes falling down is going up, or falling up. It reminds me a lot of pain. At some points on my journey I really felt I was making the wrong choice, but then I was surprised that it was better than the others.

I have always heard about Superman but everyone knows he is just a superhero character from movies, so I wanted to show that it is not in a movie. There are many real supermen, not in the superpower or the clothes maybe, but the goals.

I wanted to make it very clear for many people why refugees leave their countries. I used art to cut the original photo and edit it.

I took this photo in Karamanlis refugee camp in Greece. The text wasn’t exactly that, it was “save me and my children it is very cold” but as it was with the kid it didn’t work so I asked permission and changed the text to message I wanted to reach to people.

Sometimes there are just scenes you see in your mind before you make a photo. While swiping photos of Syria, I saw it as something different in my mind so I took what I learned about compositing and I made it into what I was seeing.

Through photos I tried to focus on the situation, to try to reach to media and reach out to people. People have been stuck in camps for a long time and this was an idea just to try and say, “we are still here.” #IDeserveLife

Photos in the ‘I wish I could be’ series that I have taken and edited show that these kids deserve to live and have dreams just like any other kids in the world

Thank you so much for taking the time to read a little into Abdulazez’s story and taking a look at the photos he’s made through self-taught creative skills which were realised because of the opportunities he was given from the kindness of strangers. You can find him on Instagram or on his website if you’d like to see more. I’d like to thank Abdulazez for letting me share this portion of his story and his journey, and a massive thanks to KelbyOne for giving him access to their courses to further develop his skill, and to Platypod and BlackRapid for giving him an Ultra and a Sport Breathe strap to add to his collection of gear.
Much Love
Dave
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