I’m Dave Williams, here on ScottKelby.com every Tuesday (even in lockdown).
Something I do often, or at least I did often, pre-Corona, is use photography as a tool for mindfulness. Photography makes me happy; therefore, photography is therapeutic to me. Lately, with the lack of ability to travel (the other therapy for me), I’ve been seriously lacking creativity. To be honest, I even struggled with what to write here today, before I ended up deciding that, actually, the struggle to come up with something should perhaps form the inspiration for the content.
Writing is also something I find therapeutic, for the record. I often wondered whether to push my photography and writing beyond being hobbies because I worried that if I made them “work,” they’d become tedious, like any other job does. So far, so good, and I’m glad I pushed both fields. Keeping them fun, rather than making them become “work,” has been the result of mindfulness in the application of both jobs.
So, how does it apply? Let me give you some insight into how photography is good for your mind in two different ways: –
First up, taking photos. We know photography is good for the mind—that’s why we have it as a hobby in the first place. The reason we enjoy taking photos could be because the creative process involves creating and analysing the scene and the light, flipping it into ourselves to understand personal healing, growth, and both conscious and unconscious understanding. Active and passive exploration and reflection of our photographs help us develop, and can carry a far greater strength in times such as these. To that end, let’s look at that side of things.
One of the things I first found useful in self-critique was to describe the feelings I had at a place where I took a photo and tried to realistically see whether those feelings were conveyed in the photo or not. The reason for this is to see whether I could make someone feel like they were in that place, because travel photography to me is all about making somebody want to be there. If I’d succeeded in that, I’d done my job right.
Reflecting on your own photographs is great for mental well-being and creative development. In most instances, when looking at self-critique, we are looking at technical things, such as the correct sharpness, depth of field, colour, etc. What we can do, instead, is explore the creative elements. One major factor is composition. It really isn’t that easy to compose a shot well. It’s a knack, a kind of habit, to be able to do it time after time, and that comes from reflection and practice. The things that make it up are subject placement, framing, the makeup of elements within the scene, depth, and the proper, detailed, and no-holds-barred analysis of our own images. With regard, these things can really help to make us better photographers and fill some time whilst on lockdown and unable to get out and create more images.
Taking this a step further, we can spend the time and effort also finding and reflecting our vision. Take an image to critique and think back to when and where you took it. At the time, what was the vision? Does this image describe this vision? Was your goal attained? Technical analysis aside, this is the skill that makes us consistent and separates us from others. If we are able to deliver images that are demonstrated in our portfolio. We need to create images that say more than, “Look, I was there.” We need to make images that people stop scrolling to really look at, and that make people want to be there in that place, having that experience. Taking this little bit of time in lockdown to reflect on our photos is, as I have said, good for both our mental well-being and our personal development. Here’s a little footnote rundown: –
Amid lockdown and isolation, #TravelTuesday just isn’t the same right now. Regardless, I’m full of optimism and hope that this will be over soon, and I’ll be able to get moving around the planet once again. I’m Dave Williams, here every Tuesday on ScottKelby.com, from the UK to all of you.
This week, my post is inspired by the seemingly endless reminder that I’ve had three trips cancelled or postponed, along with two conferences. I can’t wait to be back to normal and get out on some photographic missions, and I know I’m not the only one.
What I want to do today is show you where I most want to go back to, and ask you where you most want to go.
Monument Valley, summer of 2019, as seen at sunrise from the balcony of my hotel. Monument Valley is a strange place. It has a feel to it. It feels naturally peaceful and powerful. This Colorado plateau is packed with tales of lore from the Navajo Nation, and from every angle, at every time of day, there’s something incredible to cast our eyes on. These buttes have featured in many movies, including Forrest Gump and many movies by director John Ford, and when you see them, you’ll understand why. Taking the 17-mile dirt road through the park is worth every last moment, with such enchanting names for the features as Hunts Mesa, Artist’s Point, and Mystery Valley.
A Rocky Mountain sunrise, like this one in the Canadian Rockies just outside Jasper, Alberta, is simply incredible. The vast expanse of nothing but wilderness in all directions, save for a small town here and there, really puts nature and life in perspective. Approaching the Rockies from the plains of Alberta is stunning in itself, with these gargantuan mountains rising suddenly out of nothing, and the range itself has so many inaccessible valleys and unchartered peaks that there really could be anything going on there and we’d be none the wiser. If I were isolating here, rather than at home, there’d be no shortage of inspiration.
Zermatt, Switzerland, is the picturesque and iconic inspiration behind the Toblerone logo. Or rather the Matterhorn is. The pointed, angled mountain rises above the skiing town of Zermatt, which in turn lies at the end of the road (and train tracks) and is a force for green efficiency. The only vehicles allowed in the town are electric, and this has resulted in an unrivaled peacefulness nestled in the Swiss Alps. The view over the town towards the epochal mountain is a nice easy walk away from the cafes and chocolate shops of the middle of town.
The Bean, or Cloud Gate, in Chicago, IL, is something you can see all alone, but right now, I wonder how many fewer people are seeing it than usual. Inspired by liquid mercury, the design reflects the city skyline and distorts it to focus the attention to the sculpture, whilst simultaneously merging it with its surroundings. To see this all alone requires a very early alarm call, and the hope that yours was the only one.
Plitvice Lakes in Croatia—normally heaving with tourists, both local and international—is one of the major draws to the country, alongside the Game of Thrones filming locations in Dubrovnik and Split. An isolated experience in Plitvice is rare but well worth hunting down for the serenity of the peaceful, running water and the azure blue hues of the lakes as they cascade into one another.
When I visited Estonia I wasn’t anticipating the remoteness of the farmland outside of Tallinn. The wintry scenes were akin to something straight outta Lapland.
If you want next-level remote, the Faroe Islands is where you’ll find it. The population of sheep outnumbers the human population, and the only airport (with both of its gates) is at the exact opposite end of the country to Tórhavn, the capital. The chances of bumping into somebody on even the most popular hiking trails are slim to none. It has a feeling which combines Scotland and Iceland, with extraordinary, dramatic scenery.
Speaking of Iceland, sparsity is easy to find here. The power of nature is demonstrated with every turn through this rugged, young landscape. Geothermal activity is evident throughout the whole country, divided diagonally with a rift separating the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. It’s no surprise that tourism here has skyrocketed, with tourists significantly outnumbering residents at quite a rate. I know I go on about Iceland a lot, but there’s a reason!
Brazil has been hard-hit by the Coronavirus, so hopefully, their recovery will be good, but here’s a view of the beach at Copacabana with just one person walking with his display of sunglasses to sell to the unprepared tourists. The bustle of this contemporary city is shown in relative calm here.
In stark contrast, Venice is a place I can’t wait to see filled with guests again. This region of Italy has been hit hard by the virus and Venice is basically a ghost town. The local economy, like many others, is highly-dependant on tourism to survive, so when all this is over I can’t wait to revisit some of my favourite places on this planet to show my support and do my little bit to bring everything back to life.
#TravelTuesday is still based at home! I’m Dave Williams, here again on ScottKelby.com to bring some motivation and inspiration, and this week, I’ve reached out to see what the photographic community is doing. Specifically, I asked to see people’s “work from home” setups. During these challenging times, creativity is amazing for mindfulness because it gives us a mental release from the physical confines of lockdown. Here in the UK, it’s a government-mandated lockdown, but I realize that a lot of you may be on a self-imposed lockdown instead. Whichever it is, I hope you’re all safe and sound, and keeping yourselves busy and productive until this is all over.
Let’s dive in to take a look at each other’s work-from-home situations, and please feel free to post your own (don’t forget to tag @idavewilliams and @kelbyonepics on Instagram so we can see!).
Here’s Victoria Pavlov’s situation…
Chris White’s setup…
Stephen Brkich working from home…
Tim Wallace’s new setup…
Abe Curland’s B&H setup…
Rosie Kerin’s situation…
Speaking of Terry White…
Now, Stephanie Richer…
My side of the pond, here’s Stewart Chambers’ situation…
Sir Kevin Scott’s setup…
Duncan Ferguson at home…
Deb Uscilka is all about…
Rob Kennedy in Ireland…
Ben and Brigitte have…
Jack Koskowsky is rocking…
Clare Jones is using…
Alan Hess shows his rock-star office…
Christopher Georgia shares this rig…
We all have our own shape and size, and our own needs for our situation. Having seen these setups from around the world, kindly sent in by each of the photographers, I hope you find that just as you have “dream items” missing from your office, so do all of us. We all work hard to produce awesome images from different workspaces, and it’s not all about the kit— it’s about the skill and creativity of who’s using it.
Don’t forget, I’ve made 31 of my RAW files available for you to play with. They’re available for download here.
#TravelTuesday has come around again, and the lockdown is still confining many of us to within our four walls. It’s important to maintain mental well-being, as well as social distancing, and education is a great tool for that because of the stimulus it creates. Looking at it from a photographer’s perspective, we know that we have two main elements to being creative: producing content and consuming content. We take and retouch photos to demonstrate our creativity, but we also read, watch, and learn from other sources to test our creativity and absorb ideas, opinions, and creative processes.
When learning about photography I turned to books, YouTube, KelbyOne, blogs, practice, all manner of methods. One thing worth noting here is that four of those five things are attainable during lockdown and the remaining one, practice, can be done indoors or out, so it isn’t 100% ruled out.
I have a couple of ideas to put out to you this week to help you learn and practice. Let’s start with learning: –
Reading about photography is a great insight into some of our favorite photographers’ minds, and these books are a wealth of valuable information because the time and effort that has gone into creating them to ensure their success is a huge priority for the authors and the publishers. If you haven’t read them already, some great places to start are with Scott’s The Landscape Photography Book, Glyn Dewis’ Photoshop Like a Thief, Dave Clayton’s How Do I Do That In InDesign?, and of course, I have a Northern Lights book out (and I think we may just about be back to normal in time for next season!).
When it comes to YouTube, Glyn is high on the list again, with an awesome recent video about printing. Among KelbyOne instructors, Terry White, Unmesh Dinda (PixImperfect) and Colin Smith (PhotoshopCAFE) have some great videos on Photoshop, while Larry Becker will show you some tech and how to use it.
KelbyOne classes are always a go-to for learning, but right now, as well as the plethora, née, the smorgasbord of classes, there are live streams accessible to all by Scott and the team.
In terms of blogs, you’re already on a great one, but there’s also Scott’s Lightroom Killer Tips, and I also write for DIYPhotography where there’s a load of inspiration and news.
But then, there’s the practice. If you want to practice at home, I made a terrible little eBook, which you can download here, and I have now taken it up a gear by making 31 of my RAW files from around the world available for download. So long as you only use them for personal use, you may do as you wish. I’d love to see your interpretation and retouching, so be sure to tag me – I’m @idavewilliams on every platform. Here’s what Cheeky Nando made from one of them, from the Lofoten Islands, Norway.
#TravelTuesday is lacking 50% of the elements required to fulfill the name right now, but we steam ahead regardless. Today my plan is to take you to some parts of the world for an insight into what’s going on with the members of Team Epic (or QuaranTEAM Epic, for now.)
Here in the UK, we effectively went into lockdown last night, so there will be some changes here for the coming weeks.
Team Epic is a rogue band of photographers of which I am a proud member, and we have members spread throughout the northern hemisphere. Let’s check in with them right here, right now, and see what self-isolation means for them.
I returned from a two week trip to India at the end of February this year just as it seemed the world had begun to shut its borders and whole cities started to go into lockdown.
When I left the UK, there were just three reported cases of COVID-19 in the whole country but at the time of writing, there are now 5,683 confirmed cases, with London (my city) making up a disproportionately large percentage of that number. It may come as no surprise then that I am currently five days into a 14 day isolation period, due to my wife presenting with symptoms of the virus last Tuesday! (She’s fine, BTW. Luckily for her, it was a few days of fever and achiness and now a dry cough.) As such, we are currently holed up in our house, so as not to spread the disease further.
As well as currently being isolated though, all of the weddings I was due to shoot over the next few months have now been postponed until later in the year. So what does a wedding photographer with all that time on their hands do? Well, I’m actually quite looking forward to doing all those little photography admin type jobs that are constantly being put off to shoot paid work. So I’ll be updating my website, curating new portfolio galleries for prospective clients and starting to design some new marketing material. There are also personal projects that I shot ages ago but never edited, images from the most amazing photo trips with friends that have yet to see the light of day and, most excitingly for me, I now have time to start building the YouTube studio in my garage that I’ve been planning for years and (hopefully!) eventually start making some photography related video content. None of this would have been possible without this enforced break in work.
So although things may look pretty bleak right now, it does at least give us a chance to stop, catch a breath and take stock of everything we’ve achieved and what is yet to be achieved with just a little hard work (and some unexpected spare time).
So stay safe, stay well and especially important #stayhome to beat this thing!
Right now I am self-isolating and have been doing so for the past week, except on Mother’s Day when I went to the beach to photograph sunrise and it was so quiet that social distancing was easy enough.
During that time, I’ve been busy catching up on editing my work from previous weeks but from next week onwards I plan to do as much as I can on my very long “to-do” list, starting with making a new website, which Roby Pisconti has kindly offered to help me with. But, for now, I can be found on Instagram.
Also on my list is to make some digital backgrounds for my newborn photos, knit some hats and maybe an outfit for them too. I also want to learn digital painting but that might take me a bit longer than a few weeks.
Ireland has many Instagram accounts that are giving daily photography challenges, workouts and musicians playing live to keep everyone’s spirits up.
So whatever you do during these weeks in isolation, make the most of it, enjoy it and #staysafe.
This is Chicky Nando reporting from a secret bunker near Lisbon, Portugal. Well, not really secret, and certainly not a bunker. Just like everyone else, I’m stuck at home! So far, so good.
I’ve been really busy riding the coronavirus tsunami the best I can, running my IT company and trying to run my photography business. While photo walks are not possible at the moment, and neither is Lightroom training in class, being stuck at home, I have reinventing myself and I’m now working as your personal Lightroom Classic tutor, helping Lightroom users one-to-one. I’m also cooking a lot, taking care of my mom and my son, and checking on my daughter who lives in a different country. I’m also in contact with friends across the world, and that includes Team Epic, obviously! I’ve been mostly worried for my friend Roby Pisco who is in Italy: in case something bad would happen to him, he promised me his lens as long as I wouldn’t tell his family how much he paid for them! I prefer to be able to shoot with him again, even though he does have some nice gear… 😊
Soon, everything will be fine, and we will all have a blast at Photoshop World (or whatever it will be called in 2021). Stay healthy! Stay inside! And wash your hands!
It’s the fifteenth day of quarantine here in Padua in the Veneto region, the second Italian region most affected by Covid-19. The latest decree issued today by President Giuseppe Conte orders the closure of any unnecessary activity that adds to the closure of schools, bars, restaurants and all places of congregation. We can only leave the house if we have a proven need, such as to go shopping, go to work or provide assistance to the sick, and we must bring a self-certification with us. If we leave without reason, we are liable to a fine in case of a police check. In the evening the silence is surreal, looking out from my balcony I can’t even hear a voice in the distance. Sounds like an apocalyptic scenario, doesn’t it? Instead, it is the strength of a Country that reacts to the threat of the virus with the only weapon available – isolation.
How do you spend day after day at home? Well, you have no idea how many things you can do when you have so much time to spend. They have already told you about books, the internet, online courses etc., but here are five things that will surely commit you and make your day productive:
1. Reorder the drawers. We all have a drawer at home where, for years, we have accumulated all sorts of things: – old photos, odds and ends, keys we don’t know what door they open.
2. Change the arrangement of furniture in a room. In addition to being rewarding, it is also excellent exercise. Once you are done you will find that it was better before but this is another story.
3. Experience new types of photography. For three years I had everything needed for the “Water Drop Photograph” in the drawer (the one in point 1), I finally used it and the results were really satisfying.
4. Learn to play the ukulele. Contrary to popular belief, the ukulele is a complete fun instrument and thanks to its small size, once the quarantine is over, you can always carry it with you and your friends will thank you very much.
5. Paperclip Game. I’ll let you find out what it is by clicking here. Just know that it is addictive.
As you can see, staying at home for many days creates a lot of opportunities. For example, I discovered that the floor of my kitchen has exactly sixty-two tiles and that to go from the bathroom to the bedroom it takes nine steps, eight if I have slippers, only eight can you believe it? Staying indoors also does not create any problem for your mental health, believe me, the pink unicorn, Goofy and the king of rock and roll Elvis who are sitting in my living room confirmed it to me two minutes ago.
To conclude seriously, I want to leave you some advice derived from my experience. Wash your hands often, avoid crowded places, stay home as much as possible, call neighbors to find out if they need anything. The period is bad and it will probably get worse but together we will be able to overcome it.
In my part of the world, Nashville just went into lockdown like NYC and LA, and all bars and restaurants are closed statewide, the exception being the latter can do takeout and delivery. Some people are worried because a lot of people came into the Smoky Mountains area for their Spring Break (schools are normally closed for a week this time of year). They brought tourist dollars but did they also bring COVID-19?
Right now, most of Tennessee’s cases are in Nashville. So, what am I doing? Well, there is my book writing. But I am also thinking of how my business will recover financially. A lot of people will come back to work slowly and I think photographers have to make some adjustments to help them. I may offer different price points, as an example. But when this passes, I do think people will have a greater appreciation for what is important in life.
Expect more weddings, more celebrations – and above all, MORE BABIES!
I’m in the self-isolating crew, too, with the exception that I sometimes have to isolate myself at the office for webinars (see above), where I’m the only one on the set, so we all keep a safe social distance from each other. My co-host for The Grid, Erik Kuna, is across the room from me on a different set, and we only have one person in the broadcast booth (either Jason or Ron), and no cameraman on set — they set the cameras in place before I get there, so the set is literally empty when we broadcast, but we’re preparing for an official lockdown where Erik and I will Skype in from our homes to do The Grid and webcasts so we won’t even be in the same building.
Yesterday I did a live online full-day seminar for the photographers in Houston who signed up for my live seminar (I was supposed to actually be in Houston teaching), and tomorrow I’ll do the same thing for photographers in Los Angeles. It’s weird because when we took our lunch break, we’re all sitting 20-feet from each other, but that’s the way it has to be for now.
I’m not really doing anything shooting-wise, but I’m watching online videos and trying to learn new things, which I love, so I feel I’m still moving ahead even though I’m not actually holding a camera in my hands.
At home (we don’t go out, and haven’t for a while now), I’m working on putting together a home recording studio (for music, not webcasting), and so I’m working on some songs right now (I’m in the middle of recording all the instruments for Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” — I download the original vocal track from youtube, then I recreate all the instruments myself, playing all the guitar parts, bass guitar, and drum parts). My goal is to make it so you can’t tell the difference from the original, and that takes a lot of time and research, and of course, I have to learn to play all those parts. The whole process can take up to two weeks for one song, but if you don’t go to those lengths, it sounds like karaoke, so it’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun when it starts really coming together.
The kids are all here, so that makes it so much fun, and we play card games, and board games and playing online games together. Everybody stays indoors all day, but sometimes my daughter gets stir crazy so we take a 30-minute drive. We don’t get out of the car — just a change of scenery. Kalebra is spending time in her studio, mostly drawing and listening to smooth jazz (LOL), but she loves it in there. The doggos are having a ball with everybody here — they’re getting even more attention than usual (if that’s possible).
We’re trying to make the best of this downtime, and enjoying being together as a family, but I can’t wait until this is all behind us. I worry about my friends, like my friends in Team Epic, and I worry about our staff, and our friends and family, and our country and the economy, and the world. I worry about the photographers struggling to find work right now, and I worry about restaurant servers and staff and their situation. I guess I’m doing a lot of worrying, but I’m also doing a lot of praying for everybody, too. We could all use another prayer or two. Thanks to everybody who sent me a note that they’re saying ones for me and my family. It means more than you know. Hope you all stay safe. Brighter days are ahead.
As portraits of people is now a little harder due to social distancing, my aim for this time is to get some great portraits of my two rescue dogs. They are notoriously terrible models, as they never listen and I more often than not get their back ends whilst they’re walking away! (See image for example!) So I’m going to watch Kaylee’s class on KelbyOne to grab some tips for dog photography and fingers crossed, get some print-worthy shots of my fur babies! I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, so this is giving me the time to really focus on this goal!
#TravelTuesday doesn’t seem to involve a lot of travel right now, but nevertheless I, Dave, am here for you! I’ve got your back, people! I’ve done the whole COVID-19 topic already, and we all know what we know about that, so let’s focus on something a little happier—spring!
Spring is right around the corner and that means changing photographic opportunities. For me, it means less snow and ice, or a different kind at least. I have a trip to Iceland coming up (fingers crossed) and spring there is just beautiful, but what opportunities can springtime bring us in general? What can we focus on?
Seeing as everyone loves a list—here’s a list!
1 – Consider the Wider Scene
There can be a temptation to shoot narrow. The spring vibe is all about flowers, blossoms, birds, and bees. To shoot these subjects, we tend to focus on them, and them alone. We can shoot these things within a larger scene, allowing them to be a feature of the photo rather than the subject of it. I feel like I’ve said that a lot—maybe it should be my tagline! But it’s true, we can take a step back and let composition be king. Blossoming flower beds rather than an individual flower can, if shot correctly, be awesome! Take a look at this shot at Provence in France for an example to iterate my point—the building is a feature, the lavenders are a feature, and the composition makes it all come together.
2 – Early Mornings
The mornings are warming up and wildlife gets up early. So, drag yourself out of bed before the crack of dawn to make the most of the change of seasons and the reaction of the world that comes with it. Sunrise is amazing, and the world is so much more still at sunrise than sunset. The sunrises during spring and autumn/fall are so much more dramatic than in summer, so let’s take advantage. This stag in London’s Richmond Park was shot at sunrise a few springs back, and he’s clearly taking note of the season changing around him at dawn.
3 – Pick Out Some Details
Firstly, point number one still stands strong! While it can be effective to shoot wide and nail a composition, it can also be very effective to crop in tight and pick out some detail. If you want to practice macro, try following some bees around and see how you get on with this tricky style, but if not, pick a stand-out subject and shoot it as the main focus of a considered image. This image went through to the final round of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and probably because it has got a definitive subject with no distractions. Whether you have a macro lens or not, get out and try to shoot something (big or small) and make it the definitive subject of the frame.
4 – April Showers
With the rain that accompanies the spring in much of the world, plan for those April showers! Getting indoors and shooting some awesome architecture is a great way to deal with staying dry, and it’s often part of my contingency when I’m traveling. I always know what’s nearby in terms of interiors, just in case that rain falls, and it’s something you should have in your back-up arsenal, too. This is from one of my trips to Paris—the beautiful stained glass of St Chapelle.
5 – Keep Learning
Take every opportunity to learn that you can! I know for a fact that Scott and all the KelbyOne instructors will back me up on this—we must always learn in order to stay in top shape and on top of our game. When we stop learning and become complacent it shows in our photography, so as spring arrives, keep learning, keep practicing, and keep developing as a photographer!