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We actually launched the book last night with a live “Book Chat” (now kind of a tradition) where I talked about the book, how it works, and revealed the basis of “The System” through a series of tutorials, and I’m embedded the whole book chat below, in case you’ve got a chance to check it out.

These Book Chats are fun and very informal, but there’s a lot of cool Lightroom stuff, too. My publisher literally gave 50% deals on the book (in print or ebook or both), and the deals are good all week (here’s the link).

You can also order it direct from Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.com

Thanks for giving that a look — hope you found it helpful. Have a great weekend everybody, and we’ll catch ya next week. :)

-Scott

PERSONAL PROJECTS AND THE IMPORTANCE OF STAYING CREATIVE

Hi, Kersten here. You may not know me (yet), unless you’re one of the tens of people who listen to my podcast, the Camera Shake Podcast, in which case – well done! Nice to meet you!

Now, I mention this not to callously promote my ‘cast but because it’s strangely relevant to today’s topic: Personal Projects and the Importance of Staying Creative.

In this blog, I’ll be telling you about two of my own projects which have both changed my creative thinking, broadened my horizons as a photographer and helped me overcome one of the most challenging times of my life.

HEADS UP

Ok, let me explain. I live in the UK and the past 18 months have been, shall we say, challenging. As if you didn’t know already, there’s been a global pandemic and our government decided to shut down the country completely. 

But let’s roll back a few months. In late 2019, when life still seemed normal and the idea of a global virus pandemic was largely part of science fiction lore, I was in the process of updating my website and as such needed a new headshot for the ‘About’ page. I wanted to create a casual, yet stylish self portrait, that showed that I was serious but didn’t take myself too seriously. Thinking up a number of different scenarios I decided on a particular style of image and went to work.

What was needed was some kind of table top, beauty lighting and a neutral black backdrop. My table didn’t make the grade, looking dull and uninspiring. However, some time earlier I had come across a wooden oak board with an interesting grain and just the right amount of gritty ruggedness around the edges. I had previously used it as a backdrop for a range of different images, from flat lays to YouTube thumbnails and it had always delivered the goods. This, I gathered, was going to be perfect as a table top. Add a few props to illustrate what I’m all about (like a camera because no-one, absolutely no-one could guess that I’m a photographer, right?) and Bob’s your uncle.

So I set up the lights, installed the backdrop and got into position. Taking elaborate selfies using anything other than a cell phone turned out to be more complicated than it needed to be. Firstly, the shutter had to be controlled remotely with several seconds of delay so I could drop the thing and act natural. Next, some immediate feedback was required, which made tethering essential. But once the Gremlins had been eliminated, I was ready to get started. I tried out a range of different poses and all was going well. All I had to do was hit the remote, drop the thing like a hot bun, get into position and 2 seconds later – flash bang wallop. Shooting tethered and being able to see the images coming through on a laptop screen really helped dialling in the posing. It all seemed to go well until I pressed the remote, got distracted by something and the camera fired, catching me by surprise in mid move, hands flailing with a not-so-flattering deer in the headlights expression on my face. 

This, I thought, wasn’t going to make it as my profile picture. But on closer inspection, the shot had something. Not the serious, Clint Eastwood-esque cool of the professional I wanted to convey of course, but rather the depiction of a bumbling idiot, too dense to take his own passport photo and utterly bewildered by his own reflection in the water. 

Loved it. 

My wife, always happy to critique my latest creations, agreed that this outtake represented my personality much better than any serious portrait ever could. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still managed to create an image for the ‘About’ page – but I kept thinking about this absurd and comical, yet slightly bemusing mishap of a photograph. It was engaging and immediately made me want to see more. How much fun would it be to photograph other people like this? And who would willingly subject themselves to complete and utter photographic ridicule? Well, all of you who have kids will know what happened next.

And thus, the idea for a personal project was born. Several beverages later I had come to the conclusion that what needed to be done was to create a triptych, or series, of three images in which the subject interacts with personal objects of their own choice. We all own things that are dear to us, maybe for some sentimental reason or another or just because it exemplifies our character, personality or career choice. Also, this would give me plenty of ammunition for conversation and a chance to get to know the subject a little better, essential when pushing the envelope toward the farcical, especially when you’re photographing people who are not used to having a massive lens stuck in their face. 

I called it ‘Three Heads in a Row’ and seeing that Instagram’s grid allows for three posts in a single row, it made for the perfect platform to display the images. Something I loved and still love about this project was the connection you’re able to establish between photographer and model. 

This was fast becoming my number one personal project for 2019/2020. Little did I know.

And then…Covid happened. 

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This week for #TravelTuesday, we’re going to sleuth around and learn to easily and quickly find any images we may feel have been stolen and used online. I’m Dave Williams, and every week I’m here for Travel Tuesday with Dave. Let’s crack on!

I’ve written recently about the problem with image theft and the problems it causes. In the post, I mentioned reverse image searches. This is a search function incorporated well by Google into their search engine, but it’s particularly well done with the Google app. Here’s an image I took from Cape Canaveral a couple of years ago, having been told about the spot by Erik “the Rocketman” Kuna.

The reason I’m choosing to search this image is because I know it’s out there on the internet, so Google should be able to find it wherever it exists. I said in the intro that there’s a very easy way to do this in the Google app, and here it is:

First up, fire up the app.

At the right side of the search bar, there’s a camera icon. Go ahead and tap that.

Google Lens will open up. This is a very smart searching tool so I encourage you to try it out, but what we’ll do instead is change the mode to the image search by tapping the framed image beside the shutter/search button.

We now have our camera roll, and from here we can choose the image we want to search. I’ve selected the image and this screen came back to me:

The top match is presented, along with the option to “See more.” This top result is from The Express, a British newspaper.

Now we can simply go over the results to make sure any use of our images complies with any permissions or licenses we’ve granted. It’s as simple as that!

Much love

Dave

OK, this is technically a Photo Tip Friday but we’re running it on Monday because it’s just so good (and it’s just one minute long). It’s from portrait photographer Lenworth Johnson, and this is really great stuff. Check it out below:

Come on — you gotta love that! One light, and one reflector. Lenworth rocks! (his new class is now on KelbyOne. Here’s the link.

Aviation Photographers: Don’t Miss Out!

Can you imagine spending a couple of days with the man who literally wrote the book on aviation photography at a live seminar? If you’re into aviation photography, this is just an incredible opportunity to learn from the very best (in person on online). More details and tickets right here.

The Best Instructors in the World Are Here!

They’re all coming together for the Photoshop World Conference 2021 — August 31-Sept 2nd, 2021, and you can be a part of it from anywhere in the world this time around, as it’s three days, all online, all awesome, and you get the conference archived for a full year. For more information, or to reserve your spots now using the early-bird discount, click this link right here, and we’ll see you at the conference.

Check out this year’s instructor lineup:

Thanks it for today, folks. Have a good one!

-Scott

P.S. Last week on “The Grid” our topic was “Copyright, Model Releases and how to protect your work” with guests Intellectual Property Rights Attorney Ed Greenberg and Copyright advocate Jack Resnicki. Absolutely fantastic, eye-opening, educational, and funny episode. Here’s the link.

My blog today is to talk a little bit about things I wish I knew about photography when I began, and how weird and wonderful it can be. It’ll be a bit messy but hopefully you can get some insight from me and hang on til the end!

I started photography back when I was 15, a teacher gave me a bridge camera to take home over the weekend and told me to take photos of whatever caught my attention. The pictures I took were horrific and I edited them very very badly on Picnik… RIP. Unfortunately I can’t show the photographs because I deleted them as soon as I became embarrassed by them being online!

As you can see below I over edited all of my images, angles didn’t exist and shooting in any direction was my thing, I also enjoyed the use of colour selection and I absolutely did not know how to colour balance!

As a photographer or any type of creative person, you should just allow yourself to evolve! I know it’s hard but try to stop stressing out about how many likes you’re getting on social media and just create work that YOU enjoy. I understand that if you’re working for a client then you may have to stick to a specific brief, however if you are working for yourself and creating content that you enjoy by messing around with new techniques, things that interest you or making work by trial and error then I guarantee that you will enjoy more of what you create.

Over the last 10 years I’ve developed my skills in different aspects of photography and tried not to just stick to one niche like a lot of photographers do. Sometimes I think it would have been easier to throw myself into a specific aspect of photography but I’m glad I didn’t because I don’t want to trap myself and become stagnant.

It can be a overwhelming place to be in when you can’t creatively express yourself, I’ve found that trying to stick to a specific theme or style can be tiring, I trialed this for a month on my instagram and the likes don’t change, nor do the comments or shares! It’s all subjective and if you become obsessive with social media then it can really stunt your creative flow and your courage you have to post things. This happens to me in waves, I will be going out all the time to shoot for a while and suddenly it’s been a month and I haven’t picked up my camera or posted anything online. Yeah that grid below looks pretty, but oh my was it boring..

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When we do an online conference, we usually wrap up the conference with a live Q&A session with each of the conference instructors (it’s way more fun and entertaining than it sounds, and our attendees love it). During these sessions you’ll invariably get a question like:

“Yesterday morning, Instructor [insert name here] said their favorite lens for shooting portraits was a 50mm, but in your session you said you wouldn’t recommend a 50mm lens for portraits, and then another instructor said they use it for weddings, but not for anything else. So, which one of you is correct?”

This type of conflicting information happens every day, all day, in the photography community, and the best place to see it in action is in your social media news feed, where one headline will read, “This is the only lens you need to take amazing landscape photos” and then 30-seconds later another headline scrolls by stating, “These are the three landscape lens every serious landscape photographer must own.” So, do I need one lens or three? Who’s right?

First, are those headlines “clickbait?

No. Neither of them are (even though folks who don’t fully understand the meaning of “Clickbait” would accuse them of being just that). Clickbait is a headline or photo that is deceptive or misleading. It’s designed to trick you into clicking on the article and then it doesn’t deliver what it says it would. If you clicked on that “The one lens you need…” article, you can bet they would tell you which lens it is and why they chose it. You may not agree with it, but that doesn’t make it deceptive or misleading.

The Bottomline

The bottomline is — the reason we get such conflicting info on all these topics is — what you’re reading (or hearing) are opinions. The person who wrote the “This is the only lens you need…” believes that’s all you need. The person who said you need three, believes you need three. These two writers could sit at the bar and argue their point until last call, and there would be no clear winner because they are their opinions based on their experience. If you can get the job done with one lens great, but if you the article and think three might better, that’s OK, too. The vast majority of what we read today about photography are opinion pieces, but that doesn’t make them any less valuable.

There is no “International Council of What’s Right in Photography” (That would be the ICWRP, which is an awful acronym and probably the real reason behind why their is no ICWRP). We’re all just trying to make informed decisions on gear and technique, and my goal is to seek out people’s whose opinions I can trust.

If Moose Peterson says a particular piece of gear is good, I know it’s good. I’ve followed his advice for years and it’s served me well. Same with Terry White. If Terry’s jazzed about it, I know I will be, too. Same for Joe McNally, Rick Sammon, Karen Hutton, Frank Doorhof, Tracy Sweeney, Dave Black — the list goes on, but these are people whose OPINIONS I trust. They all don’t always agree with each other, which is why, at the end of the day, we’re ultimately the one who has the final say. We gather up the info from our trusted sources, we see which ones make the most sense for us — for how we shoot and what we shoot, and we try to make the best choice we can. What I love about these photographers I trust is — their advice is real world stuff. It’s not about nerd tech specs or stuff measured on an oscilloscope in a lab environment. They just tell like it is, and that’s what I need to hear.

I’ve been doing this my whole career — taking in guidance from different sources I trust, and rarely have I been led astray, but even if a particular choice didn’t work out for me…it doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right choice for them.

I hope that helps shed a little light on why we have such conflicting and just straight up different info out there on everything from which camera, lens, technique, light, and even brand of memory card we all should be using. By the way — the one you should be using is whichever one I mention here on the blog. ;-)

Hope your Monday is a great one!

-Scott

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