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Checklists, Formulas, Learning, Socializing, Spotting Emerging Trends, and Feedback — Stuff That May Sound Boring but Makes You A Better Photographer (PLUS It Can Improve the Bottom Line)

The title says it all, but let’s dig in a little, so this stuff makes sense.

Whether you’re a working commercial photographer, or simply an enthusiast who enjoys the art and craft of photography, there is a huge benefit to improving and staying on the leading edge of the craft. In the business world, it means you can make a better living. And if you’re an enthusiast, it keeps things fun and keeps you learning and growing. The tools I have used as the manager of a video production team, and now as a solopreneur, can be adapted and applied to just about any photographer or videographer to improve your skillset, and speed up your workflow.


Really? Checklists? Everybody knows about checklists. But that’s why they get ignored so often. We used checklists when I managed my team filming video segments for commercial clients. That’s because it was easy to forget something small, like a camera setting, and then the video would have to be reshot. But the problem happens when we do something often enough that we think we remember everything, and we don’t need to take the few seconds to go through a checklist. I fly small planes, and one thing you learn very quickly is that, no matter how many times you’ve flown a plane, or how often you fly, you ALWAYS go through an actual checklist. Because if you miss the wrong little checklist item, you die.

Now, nobody’s gonna die if you forget to set your white balance correctly, but it can cost you at least some time. Maybe that’s extra time you have to spend post-processing your images or reshooting. And I don’t know many photographers who enjoy the idea of going through all the necessary setup to do a shoot, only to have to redo the exact same shoot. We want to move on and shoot new things.

You should have a checklist for each kind of photography you do. For example, one for senior portraits, one for daytime landscapes, one for products shots, etc. And if you do any photography on the road, you’ll want a checklist of all your gear. If you do commercial shoots which require model releases, be sure to include those kinds of things on your checklists too.

I suggest you create all of your checklists on your smartphone. That way they’re with you all the time. I use an outliner program called CarbonFin Outliner. It’s iOS, but I’m sure you can easily find an outliner for Androids too. The reason I like this approach is that with an outline layout, I can show or hide sub-categories, and all my photography checklists can be in one small place, rather than having some giant text file somewhere, or trying to make them fit in my Reminders app.

Formulas / Recipes

These days I’m doing video production and teaching photographers how to add simple video productions as a part of their photography. Beyond checklists, simple formulas have been a key to helping my clients understand what they need to do without getting overwhelmed. That’s because most still shooters want to be still shooters who are capable a little simple, professional looking video production.

They don’t want to know everything about cinematography and filmmaking and camera moves. If you want that kind of thing, then you want full blown film school. So, without going to film school and learning all about various kinds of shots so they can plan out and visualize a project for a client, with a few simple formulas, it’s much easier to plan the project and capture the necessary footage.

For example, a lot of commercial photographers and wedding photographers have clients ask, “Do you do video too?” While most photographers have shot some video with their cameras, they understand that there’s a lot that goes into professional video productions, and since they haven’t been through film school, they usually say no. But if they can learn how to create a few simple kinds of projects, then that ‘no’ becomes a ‘yes,’ and that means a better bottom line.

It’s fairly easy to learn how to capture interview style footage for a testimonial video, or product footage for a product demo video. And if you shoot weddings, Justin Wojtczak has some great training on KelbyOne about how wedding shooters can capture great footage for their clients while shooting stills at the same time. By the way, if simple video recipes sound interesting, I have a free eBook for still shooters you can download here.


Here’s another one of those things we all know intellectually, but we tend to not follow through like we should. It’s like diet or exercise. We understand the benefits of learning, but we don’t always follow through. Then when we do, a lot of the time, the results are beyond what we had expected.

I saw it for years when I worked at Kelby and I still see it every single time at Photoshop World. Attendees, especially first timers, come up to me and say how excited they are to have learned something new about Photoshop or photography that will save them hours or that sparks a whole new creative interest.

When I was the Executive Director of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, and Photoshop World was planned for Orlando, I invited my brother (who lives in Orlando) to be my guest for the event. He’s a designer and uses Photoshop daily as a part of his job, but he couldn’t convince his boss to let him off work for the event. We were both kind of amazed because this was free training, in his field, with no travel expenses, and even the cost of admission was covered!! Wow! — So the next year we started planning a few months early and did a bit of a campaign to get the boss to let him go to the next Photoshop World.

We could tell the boss wasn’t totally on board, but my brother was finally able to convince his boss to give him the 3 days needed to attend. But the big victory happened 2 weeks after Photoshop World. My brother’s boss dropped by his office one afternoon and said, “When is the next one of those conferences? Ever since you got back from there you’ve been cranking out great designs and getting things done so much faster!! I want you to keep going to that conference every year!”


Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, there are good things that come from socializing. And you’ll want to keep your photography business in mind when you socialize. I’m not saying you should be pushy and obnoxiously ‘always selling,’ but if you are thinking about your business while you’re doing something social, you can learn from others or possibly find prospects. Socializing might get you in front of a prospective client you never knew about, or it might just push you in a direction you had never considered. As my friend Rick Sammon points out, there are things you can learn from non-photographers that you can apply to your photography. The bottom line is that some of your best ideas, inspirations, and connections could come from people outside the world of photography.

Spotting Emerging Trends

It takes a lot of work to be on the “Bleeding Edge,” but it’s not so hard to be on the Leading edge, and it’s just as effective. If you can spot a new look and master it before everybody else does, that can give you an edge in the photo world. And if you look in the right places, it’s relatively easy to be ahead of the curve enough that you can leverage a new technique or style to your advantage.

Over the years I’ve seen some really amazing things happen with emerging styles, and I’ve also noticed that new looks are happening faster and faster. Back when I was NAPP’s Exec Director, things like selective color images or photos that had a painterly look and feel (created in Photoshop) were really compelling. But back then it was only pros and advanced amateurs who were creating these images. And when a pro was known for a particular look in their local market, they could get a lot of business because people hadn’t seen that look all over the place.

I specifically remember when HDR photography started to roll out. Everybody who was a NAPP or Kelby Training member wanted to know how it was done, and the best tips and suggestions for workflows that allowed for variations to deliver images from slightly wider dynamic range images to extreme, supernatural looking pieces. The Photoshop Guys did countless tutorials and classes on best practices and tips and tricks for nailing the effects people wanted. But these days, most DSLRs can do in-camera HDR, and social media image filters can recreate just about any kind of HDR look, not to mention everything from antique photos, to line drawings, with a click or two.

So that leads us to a couple of important questions… Where do you find out what new looks and image processing techniques are emerging so you can capitalize on new trends? And, how can you even find something new today? Something that that people can’t already do on their smartphone with simple apps?

The answer is far easier if you aren’t a Photoshop or photography instructor. In my view, people who work at KelbyOne (like Scott himself) have it really tough because they have to consume a LOT of images to see new looks and emerging trends. Then they have to determine how people are creating those kinds of images. Then they have to create training to pass along these emerging styles to their customers. They stay relevant to students by constantly helping discover and teach the new trends. So that’s the answer. Pay attention to what the leading trainers in our field are teaching and you not only learn what’s new, you learn easy ways to do it yourself.

And it turns out, that’s the answer to the second question too. For example, there’s an image animation process that allows most of your image to be frozen, while a part of the image, like the flowing hair or gown of a model, billows softly with a smoothly repeating animation. The term I’m familiar with to describe this is “Cinemagraph.” But as I learned from a Trey Ratcliff class that came out on KelbyOne six months ago, Cinemagraph is a term that refers to something that was originally a movie that has parts frozen in place with other parts that move around it. The new technology is called a “plotagraph,” which starts as a still image and has things within the image animated so they appear to flow or wave. And Trey points out, these get 20 to 50 times more engagement on social media than still images!! If you’re a photographer who’s looking to capture people’s attention on social media and get some jobs as a result, you should definitely look into plotagraphs!


There’s a reason people hire coaches and pay professionals to critique their work. That’s because our friends and loved ones usually just tell us what they think we want to hear. And unless your significant other is a photographer as well, you probably won’t gain too many helpful insights to improve your work. But a good, honest critique, from a true professional, can push you in new directions and reveal shortcomings in your work that you don’t even see yet.

Critiques are available in all kinds of places. Taking your portfolio to a tradeshow or local photography meetup group is a good start. Online groups (maybe Facebook groups) are another place to go for insights. The challenge as the artist whose work is being reviewed, is that you have to consider the skills and the agenda of the critic. If you’re at Photoshop World and you’re a landscape photographer and you have a sit-down critique session with somebody like Rick Sammon or Matt Kloskowski, you’ll probably get some really solid insights and instruction for what to do next. On the other hand, if you post your work in a Facebook photography group, you might get a few helpful tips mixed with some awful, hateful comments, or some random BS that’s totally irrelevant. Throw away whatever doesn’t serve you to grow your craft. Ignore the trolls!

And even when a “professional” reviewer has your best interests at heart, their suggestions might not line up with your style or your goals. You might very well find that their insights don’t direct you where you really want to go. Listen. Consider the advice. Then do whatever YOU think you should do next. Even the best in the industry might not see what you see.


I have a photography podcast with my friend Rick Sammon called Picturing Success, where we talk with the best photographers in the world.

We talk about the business side of things, the emotional impact, the technical skills, and the things that influence our photography. And in my regular conversations with Rick, as well as our interviews with leading photographers, I’m constantly learning. And when I talk with photographers I admire, and who I consider to be at the top of their game, they readily admit that they are constantly learning and improving too. So whoever you look up to and admire… whoever you think is at the top of the photographic world… they’re still learning just like you and me. So use these tools: Checklists, Formulas, Learning, Socializing, Spotting Emerging Trends, and Feedback, and keep growing.

That’s where the fun is!

Working on both sides of the camera, Larry Becker is primarily known for this on-camera presentations for Fortune 100 companies, as a spokesperson, as well as a camera reviewer. Larry hosts Photoshop World annually, he has hosted countless web based photography shows, live webcasts, authored camera and software tutorials, and served as an official NAB Show Live anchor again this year.

Larry spent years managing a video production team in a multi-million dollar studio, with clients including Canon USA, B&H Photo NY, and others. These days, when Larry isn’t on camera as a spokesperson, he coaches still shooters wanting to learn video, and on-camera talent, helping them produce quality business videos.

According to Becker, “Video is exploding as a communications tool for business online, and I help photographers and other business people understand how to maximize profit using video, with very little extra effort. For presenters, I help beginners craft their message and develop their persona, and I help pros adjust their style to connect even better.”

Keep up with Larry at, and on Facebook and Twitter.

For the past few months, we’ve been quietly testing a new membership tier for aspiring photographers who have wanted to join KelbyOne’s Pro Plan but the $19.95 a month was just a little out of their reach. Well, this new lower-priced tier has been such a hit, that now we’ve made it official and we’re starting to spread the word. Here’s how it works:

This new tier is called the KelbyOne Plus Plan, and this new plan gives users on-demand 24/7 access to stream more than 300 of our most popular online courses on Photoshop, Lightroom, and photography for just $9.99 a month. There are no long-term contracts and subscribers can cancel anytime.

At just $10 a month, that averages around just .40¢ a course annually. That’s a seriously incredible value, especially when you see individual classes being sold out there for $49, $99, even $299 for just one class. Also, this new Plus Plan has a world-class instructor roster, including Peter Hurley, Joe McNally, Lindsay Adler, Moose Peterson, Jeremy Cowart, Joel Grimes, Kristina Sherk, Jay Maisel, Matt Kloskowski, Terry White, Dave Black, and Kaylee Greer, among others (of course, I have a bunch of courses in there, too).

This new plan, at just $10 a month, with no long-term contracts, and the fact you can cancel anytime, it’s going to open the doors to a lot of folks who wanted to join KelbyOne but just weren’t ready for our Pro Plan yet. We’re really excited about where this going, and to be able to welcome so many new members to this level of education. I do hope you’ll check it out.

Here’s the link with more details, and you can sign up right there, too. Hope you do, and we’ll see you in class. :)

Have a great Monday everybody, and we’ll catch you back here tomorrow for Travel Tuesday with Dave.



How To Make Beautiful Prints In Lightroom Classic with Scott Kelby
Fall deeper in love with printing! Join Scott Kelby as he takes you through all the steps for creating beautiful prints in Lightroom. Lightroom has an amazing print engine, and once you learn the process there’s no turning back. From choosing your image settings to sharpening and soft proofing, Scott teaches you everything you need to know. Scott not only shows you the right steps to take, but he even demonstrates how to solve the most common problems you’re likely to encounter. Printing is a craft, and you’ll only get better with every print you make.

In Case You Missed It
Make your fine art prints stand out from the pack! Join Steve Hansen for an in-depth look at all of the steps involved in creating a large format fine art print. In this class you’ll learn what makes a print a fine art print, how Steve takes a photo from capture to post production to print, the importance of a test print, and how to decide what type of paper, ink, and printer is best for your type of photographs. Throughout the class Steve shares tips, tricks, and techniques for working in Lightroom, Photoshop, and with all of the materials used in creating the final print. Creating a fine art print is all about bringing your vision to life in a print, and by exploring a variety of finishing options that fit your style you can add value to your work and make it stand out from all of the rest.

Last time I wrote a post here, I was seven months pregnant, on bed rest, and stuffing my face with tiramisu ice cream.

A lot has happened since then; I didn’t have any idea what life had in store for me.

I lost my fiancé a year after our baby was born. And that completely changed my life forever.

Just a month after my fiancé passed away I sold all of my belongings in a garage sale, got my kids in my car, and moved back to Orlando. I knew I needed to be in a place I love, and Orlando has always been my happy place.

I decided to not only get back into photography, but to do it full time. Yes, I know, it sounds like a dumb idea because we all know this is not the easiest industry to make money from, but I needed to do something creative, something I love. Also, I needed to do something that allowed me to be present in my kids’ lives, especially after everything we went through.

So, I gave myself a year to make it happen and this is what’ve learned so far.

I started redesigning every element of my life to keep myself on track.

There were a few seconds every morning when I woke up, and everything was fine until the realization of him being gone hit me. It felt like he died every single morning for at least the first six months. But, still, I had to get up, take care of my kids, and make their life beautiful. I didn’t want them to look back at their childhood with sadness. So, instead of staying in bed and crying as many times I wanted to, I made the best out of my day.

It’s all about how you use the time you have.

Instead Of Listening To Music, Listen To Audiobooks And Podcasts
Sorry, Adele, it’s not you, it’s me. In order to have the right mindset, I needed to invest my time wisely. I needed to keep myself inspired. And, as much as I love Adele, I had to ditch her. I started listening to self development, business, photography and inspirational podcasts and audiobooks. That made a massive change in my life. I still listen to them in my car, when I’m editing and even when I’m getting ready to go out.

Keep A Journal With The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
This not only allows me to get everything out of my head, but it also gives me perspective. And it’s a way to track my progress.

Be Thankful
As the first year of my fiancé’s death approached, I felt emotionally burnt out. That night, I sat alone in my bed and started writing the names of people and the things I was thankful for, and, to my surprise, the list was huge. 2016 was a rough year, but I will never forget the support and the kind gestures I received from mostly everybody I know. I wouldn’t have made it through that year if it wasn’t for them. The photography community is full of people with HUGE  hearts.

Since then, I give thanks every night before I go to sleep.

Build Your Tribe
I try to surround myself with creative, positive, inspiring, hardworking, and badass people. People with big ideas and talents.

This is why I love going to Photoshop World so much. I’ve been going to PSW since 2013. It’s the perfect environment for creatives. I’ve met many of my best friends there, and we keep in touch throughout the year to talk about our projects and support each other.

Keep Your Thoughts, Words, And Actions In Check
Everything starts with a thought, comes out of your mouth and, it’s turned into action. So, be aware of what’s happening in the roof.

Do Something Nice For Somebody On A Daily Basis
This one became a habit to me. I’ve been in the dark so much; I know how a kind gesture can bring light to someone’s life. I try to spread a little bit of joy every day. This is not hard at all. Check on your friends, answer questions, be a cheerleader, help someone out, give compliments, hug somebody, share their work.   

But do not give yourself away (I tend to get too invested sometimes when helping people) so, know your limits and establish boundaries.

Recognize And Embrace Your Uniqueness
There are many things that make us different from each other. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last two years. I made peace with my flaws, I accepted my misfortunes, and I keep trying to learn from my mistakes. I know who I am, what I’m willing to do, and what I’m not willing to sacrifice in my life for my business. Sometimes, I’m too much for some people. Maybe I talk too much; I’m too passionate, I’m too happy, or too opinionated. Those comments used to bother me and put me into negative self-critique mode. But now, I embrace them instead and see them as qualities.

When Was The Last Time You Did Something For The First Time?
There’s nothing more refreshing and exciting than doing something for the first time. A few months ago I was asked to cast for a TV commercial. I have no experience with acting. But, I said yes, and I went to the audition. I didn’t get the part but I had a lot of fun!

Go ahead and do something exciting! Go on a doors off helicopter ride! I did that recently with my friend Dave Williams, and it was a blast.

Find Balance
I’m a single mom of two, and I run a business. Sounds simple right? Well, it is not, especially when you want to do everything so perfectly. I usually find myself in front of my computer making things happen, either writing content or editing pictures, with my three year old girl sitting on my lap. My kids are very involved in my photography. They love to model and to come up with concepts for Photoshoots. It’s essential for me that they can enjoy and understand what I do for a living.

You can see a lot of the projects we do together in my portfolio.

Write Lists, Follow Up, And Have Deadlines
My desk is covered by sticky notes. I have written on a blackboard all of the important due dates and projects I’m working on. I have all kind of reminders on my phone, and the Evernote app is my best friend. Without all those, I’m not able to function. I get distracted too easily, especially with a little girl pulling my arm asking for ice cream and cookies about ten times a day.

Make The Best With What You Have
I still shoot with the first and only camera I’ve ever had. My trusty Canon 5D Mark II. I bought my Elinchrom strobes at around the same time I bought my camera. It was probably September of 2011, and those are still the only ones I have. My computer is about that old too. It even died on me a couple of months ago, and I got a new hard drive, a new battery, turned to YouTube, and fixed it myself. This is proof that when you want something you go for it. I can’t make excuses. I do drool over gear, but I’m supporting two kids on my own and building my empire brick by brick. So, I make the best with what I have.

Develop A Personal Style
It goes back to what makes you unique. I get a lot of messages from people asking me how can they jump into the photography business to make a living. And, to be honest, those questions were the inspiration to write this blog post.

I don’t have all the answers. My process hasn’t been easy. I’ve gotten a lot of doors shut on my face, and I’ve had to dust myself off, get up and try again. But I’ve been fully committed all the time.

First, find your niche, then, make your work stand out from the rest. You can only do that by investing long hours on your craft. Try different techniques. There’s no shortcut. Put the hours in and be creative.

Be Nice, Play Nice
This is a big one. Relationships are the mother of every business. I’m genuinely a people person. I love human connection, deep conversations, I love making friends and keeping in touch. I’m not afraid to approach people.

I also don’t believe in competition. On the contrary, I’m the first one to support other photographers and celebrate their successes. I think there’s room for each one of us in the industry and we all have a different thing to bring to the table.

Bring Value
Are you a giver or a taker? I always do my best to bring something positive to every relationship I’m in, whether it’s a personal or a business relationship. Yes, you can expect people to shower you with love and goodies, but if you don’t give anything in return, chances are that relationship won’t last long.

Ask people what you can bring to the table, what kind of help they need, how you can benefit each other.

I’m approaching my third-year mark of doing photography full time, and I’m not yet where I want to be. But the last couple of months have been incredible, and my hard work is finally paying off.

I want to give a big thanks to everybody who has put their trust in me in these last three years. My friends, my wonderful clients, everybody at KelbyOne, Platypod, Spectacular Themes and the amazing people at 3 Legged Thing for making me part of their Pro Team. I finally can say I’m starting to live my dream!

So, go ahead, take the leap, be brave, be constant and live the dream!

You can see more of Gilmar’s work at, and keep up with her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Well, hello there!

It’s #TravelTuesday here at Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider and I’ve just completed a mission and a half! Let me tell you about it!

I’m currently running a challenge and I want you to get involved. It’s a sunrise challenge!

Until July 15th, I want to see your sunrise photos. Just upload them to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, use the hashtag #SunriseWithDave, and you can win a KelbyOne membership and a Platypod Ultra!!! That’s definitely worthy of all three of those exclamation marks!

So, here’s how I started it: –

Last night, I shot the sunset at Land’s End, the western-most point in England.



I quickly retouched the shot, uploaded it, and then I got on my motorcycle and headed east. This morning—450 miles later and with 5 minutes to spare—I arrived at Ness Point, the eastern-most point in England. The race against the sun was to kick off the sunrise challenge, but unfortunately, Mother Nature gave me a typical British sunrise: –



But, never mind, the point of the challenge and the contest is to encourage as many people as possible to shoot sunrise. I can’t wait to see the images you make this week!

Check out all of the details here.



For me, I’m finishing my coffee and headed home to think up the next stupid idea!

Much love


I’m very excited to announce that a limited number of my prints are now available through Photographic Fine Art Gallery YellowKorner, both in their 75+ galleries around the world (including galleries here in the US in California, New York, Chicago and up in Canada in Toronto, too), and from their online print gallery as well.

The images are part of my “The Great Indoors” series, and you can view them and purchase them online right there.

Thanks to the folks at YellowKorner — I’m delighted to be in their gallery (I wish I had realized they had a gallery in Bergen — I would have stopped by for sure when I was there a couple of weeks ago).

Hope you all have a great week and don’t forget to catch Dave William’s travel photography column here tomorrow. :)

All my best,


P.S. On Wednesday I’m in Raleigh and Friday in Lansing. Hope I’ll run into there.