I’m the guest on today’s episode of “He Shoots | He Draws” with host, British Superstar (and Britain’s version of Ted Lasso), Dave Clayton. We had such a great chat — we talked about everything from music to life, and everything in-between, it was an awful lot of fun. More like two guys just sitting at the bar chatting away.
Thanks to Dave for having me on — it really was a treat!
If you missed my live “Book Chat” from last Wednesday…
…celebrating the launch of the all-new version of my bestselling book ever, “The Digital Photography Book,” you can catch the replay (BELOW). It’s really…well…I guess you just have to see it. Wouldn’t hurt if you poured yourself a glass of wine, or two. Or four. ;-)
Deal of the century on my new book!
During that podcast, my publisher offered the deal of the century on my new book: just $15 for the print edition, and it’s in stock now ready to ship (just $20 if you want both the print and ebook edition). Here’s the link for the book deal: rockynook.com/kelbyafterhours
This year’s Worldwide Photo Walk 2020 is On! :)
In cast you missed the news — we announced my 13th Annual “Worldwide Photo Walk” on Friday. We had to kind of rethink how to pull off an in-person event like this during a pandemic, but with the help of our awesome community, we did it. It’s a bit different, but it’ll be awesome. I’ve embedded the video that explains everything below — please give it a watch because we’ve had to change a bunch of thing, but I think you’ll dig it. You can join a walk at worldwidephotowalk.com
That’s a lot for a Monday — hoping yours is a really good one!
#TravelTuesday is here once again and it comes with me, Dave Williams, here on ScottKelby.com to inject a dose of motivation into your day. Here’s hoping that happens as we touch on something from the world of post-process in the form of a very simple yet effective tip.
Before I get too deep into it I’m going to vent a little, corona-wise. Amongst a plethora of cancelled trips was Iceland. Plethora was definitely the correct term to use there, by the way! I was supposed to be in Iceland right now, but their quarantine rules have changed for us Brits and all many other incoming nationalities. With a two week quarantine, it simply isn’t worth going for me, having to lose out on two weeks worth of accommodation payments before being able to get out there and shoot. One thing I was supposed to do was hook up with local guide Alex Palmi, who sent me this last night.
It translates to something like, ‘my evening walk.’ So if we could all just take responsibility and wear masks, avoid crowding, and maintain hygiene, that’d be great! It’s not about whether or not Covid-19 is a conspiracy or an election tool, it’s about getting back to life as normal and reducing infection transmission (and saving lives!) I’d quite like to see the rest of the world again sometime soon.
So, the half rule…
When we work on our images it’s tricky to get the retouching balance just right. We often reach out to friends and peers for confirmation and critique, and there are lots of things we can do to make sure we haven’t over-retouched our images, such as taking a break for a short period of time and coming back to look at the image again with a fresher pair of eyes. This technique, along with others, certainly does work, but here’s an idea I’d like to share with you about how to implement changes to our images and maintain some realism.
The half rule is something I’ve been doing for a while and it’s so simple and effective. All we need to do is consider halving our slider adjustments, be that in Adobe Camera Raw, Photoshop, or Lightroom. For every slider adjustment we make, all we need to do is remember the figure beside the slider and half it, making comparisons to our original image. The reason this works so well is because we quite often over-zealously shift our sliders and end up with something too powerful and overbearing, when in fact we are simply targeting the correct adjustment just a bit too much. By breaking the adjustment in half we can often give the right amount of that edit, or at least use it to consider something somewhere in between the original and the half which sits easier with people and doesn’t look so unrealistic.
This trick works with all the sliders, but more-so with those outside of the Basic adjustments, such as Clarity, Dehaze, HSL, etc. It’s simply a case of using this method to work out whether or not the initial adjustment is too much, too intense, too unreal, and using the half rule as a point of reference to work this out. It’s not hard and fast, but it’s a brilliant back-pocket technique.
So, before I go, please all keep your fingers crossed that my next trip (Norway, mid-October) doesn’t get cancelled! I leave you with someone else’s view of Iceland last night.
I’m Dave Williams, here every #TravelTuesday on ScottKelby.com. Yesterday I got back from a mission in Norway where I was focussed on trying to capture some of the tranquillity and the ruggedness of the north at the change of the seasons, just at the end of the regular hiking season before the snow starts to fall. It got me thinking, which in turn made me think that I need to think about thinking. What was I thinking? What is it that makes my ‘thinking’ that of a travel photographer?
I was isolated everywhere I went – save for the odd camper or hiker here and there, it was just me. I was free to shoot what I wanted, how I wanted. But imagine the not all too unfamiliar sight of a bunch of photographers stood shoulder to shoulder, all shooting the same subject from the same perspective, no doubt using the same settings and composition. We’ve all seen it in popular places – a squad in a linear formation at the Place du Trocadéro awaiting the rising sun behind the Eiffel Tower, or the team abreast on the beaches of Malibu, CA, shooting the golden sunset beside a lifeguard tower. Each wants the perfect image, yet each has the same image.
Try as we might in situations like these our shot may be the best of the bunch, but it isn’t unique enough among a dozen similar shots. I say similar – perhaps I meant to say almost identical. Shooting that famous or familiar scene may be something we merely need to tick off our personal shot list, in which case please crack on and do it, but it isn’t the shot that’s going to bag us a buck or two. To achieve that we need to think like a travel photographer, which kinda involves thinking like a marketer as well as a photographer.
What is it about a location that makes people want to be there? What will make people want to visit? How can we represent that visually? Simply taking ten paces one way or another can make a huge difference to a scene, or even concentrating our efforts on something that is iconic of the place but not necessarily iconic in itself, like moving away from the majestic fjords and concentrating on the solemnity of a lake at a time many people won’t see it like in this shot: –
If we take a moment to think outside the box and think like a travel photographer, capturing the essence and the story of a place rather than simply it’s iconic sites, we stand a far better chance of making that sale and having our images stand out among the crowd.
The right balance of skills and inspiration can make a good photographer great. It can help us to think about what we’re doing, and what else we can be doing. A good photographer can make a mundane scene look wildly interesting and captivating, and it’s all down to the way we shoot it rather than what the actual subject is. It’s important to have a style because that helps us to create these kinds of images, but remember that our style is dynamic and our vision should be clear. When I am on an assignment it’s clear what my objective is, but when I’m shooting self-assigned it can be quite different so in those cases I like to assign myself, and I recommend you do too. Imagine the editor of National Geographic has given you an assignment – stick with it and achieve the goals and objectives in it. Make believe may seem a bit child-like, but just go with it! Think like a travel photographer, capture the essence of a place, and think about what it is that makes people want to go there and incorporate that into your shots.
#TravelTuesday is back to relative normality, with travel corridors opened up in lots of Europe. Hopefully travel to and within the United States and Canada will also resume – getting infection rates down by reducing contact and wearing a mask when near anybody else will bring back travel and the economy. But anyway, I’m Dave Williams, and I’m here to talk photography!
Today I’m on day two of a takeover of the KelbyOne Instagram Story where I’m sharing some landscape photography tips from Iceland. One of the tips is about the relationship between foreground and background in a photo, and I’d like to explore that a little more with you right here.
Any great photo has a foreground and a background; most also have some sort of middle-ground. The foreground is simply the part of the image that is closest to the camera, the background is the part that’s further away, and the middle-ground falls somewhere in the middle. If we consider all three and a link between them we will end up with a better image.
There’s one simple trick to start composing stronger images by filling the foreground, middle-ground, and background of your images and it’s this: –
Think before you press the shutter button. When I took the bad iceberg photo above, I’m sure there was something nearby that could have made for a more interesting foreground if I’d just looked for it. Another smaller iceberg in the foreground is far more inviting and adds a whole level of depth to the image.
For the better photo, I just took a few minutes to play around with different compositions until I found something I liked. It was simply a case of trying different foreground features. Once we start thinking deliberately, we’ll automatically start taking stronger photos.
One of the easiest ways to start using the foreground is to get close to something with wide-angle lens. In the photo below, I was just a couple of feet away from the rocks in the black sand which make up the foreground; the middle-ground and background then just happen naturally.
If we’re taking portraits, we probably won’t have much of a middle-ground, but the background is even more important. A bad background can distract from an otherwise great portrait. We can use a wide aperture and a good prime lens to make the subject the foreground element and isolate them from the background.
An isolated, blurry background doesn’t have to be boring. It’s still part of the image, and this is where we can play around with different textures and objects behind our subject.
As with any photography “rule”, play around with it and feel free to break it if you’ve got a good reason to. Sometimes your best photos will fly in the face of every convention.
While saying ‘make sure your photos have a foreground, a background, and, if possible, a middle-ground’ may seem like really obvious advice, you’d be surprised at how many photographers fail to consider it. Start thinking about what elements are in each part when you take your photos, try and link them together, and I guarantee you’ll become a better photographer.
It’s #TravelTuesday, I’m Dave Williams, and I’m a professional photographer. But what does that mean?
One commonly asked question in the industry these days is around the definition of what actually constitutes a ‘professional photographer.’ The usual definition is that it is somebody who is shooting for pay. I suppose in the strictest sense of the definition, that is true. A professional person gets paid for what they do. What’s more important though, is professional conduct and skill.
What I’m going to attempt to do today is express my own views on what I believe constitutes professional behavior in photography. This is my opinion and although it may be shared by others, it isn’t shared by all.
I think a large amount of the confusion stems from education, or more specifically, the lack of it. If standards are not clear to photographers themselves, it becomes very difficult for the general public to have any idea of what to expect when engaging or working with a photographer. I have no photography education from ‘the institution,’ my education comes from self-teaching, trial-and-error, online training, books, workshops, etc etc.
Professions are trades or crafts that have enforced standards, regulatory bodies, certification requirements, and some sort of formal training. Medicine, law, accounting, architecture, etc. are all good examples of this; each of these professions has one or two major internationally-recognised accreditation bodies which uphold standards and ensure members comply with minimum requirements and, more importantly, educate customers about what they should expect.
This set of standards is not reflected in our industry. It makes our industry more accessible, more competitive, and the door is opened for photographers with less integrity and lower skill. It makes it harder for all of us. This also means that most photographers do not bother with certification. I will tell you now, I’m one of those people. The increased costs and requirements do not translate into increased revenue, customers, or profitability. It serves as ‘club membership’ and an internal status symbol.
There are some exceptions to this — The Photographers Guild, The Societies, Royal Photographic Society, NPS, CPS etc. for instance — but even that tends to be rather fragmented with mixed standards and virtually zero general consumer awareness. Perhaps part of the problem is that, because the nature of our work is so subjective in the first place, it becomes difficult to apply quality control standards to the result itself. This is obviously not the same for, say, medicine.
There are agency or brand associations, too. The public perceives acceptance to these groups as a stamp of quality (or minimum quality). Generally, this is reasonable. The caveat though – just because a photographer takes excellent portraits for one agency, or for their portfolio, it doesn’t mean that their standards for portraiture also apply to architecture, or travel, or product photography.
Perhaps a better solution here is not to look at the quality of work, but the conduct of the photographer. I firmly believe that, regardless of occupation, there are some minimum standards required of all humans who offer a service. There is a level of trust and commitment given to you by your client on the basis of belief that we will deliver as we promised to, and it is our duty to ensure that we deliver on that promise.
Will you, as a photographer, take this pledge?
Professional Photographers Pledge
I will deliver on time and to spec, as promised
I will uphold my agreements and if I can’t, I will say so in advance, and will try to mutually work towards a solution
I will do my best, and will not accept compromise unless there is no other choice, in which case I will inform my clients so there are no misunderstandings
I will do my best to try and work for my client’s needs. For whatever reason, what they think they need may not be the same as what they actually need, and I will find the best solution
I will deliver at a consistent level of quality regardless of external circumstances that may affect us personally, and I will never compromise that quality – it is better to under-promise and over-deliver
I will uphold basic standards of courtesy, including timeliness and professionalism of communication via any medium
I will respect my clients time and timescales
I will respect my subject — whether this be treating models/talent/fauna/flora with courtesy and friendliness, or carefully handling product and props as if they were my precious things
I will maintain my integrity and be fully transparent in my pricing, even if I get things wrong. If there are big variances or changes in scope, then I will communicate this and reason with the client
I will clearly detail the scope and deliverables of all assignments
I will do my part to educate clients where necessary, whether this be to do with technical or creative choices, licensing or otherwise
I will respect the creative rights of other photographers and clients so that they will respect mine
I will value my own work and will not fight others on price alone, retaining credibility and economy for the entire industry rather than damaging it
I will have spares and backups
I will make a contingency to meet eventualities that are within my control to resolve should anything go wrong
I will not ‘fix it later in post’ when this would mean delivering a sub-standard result that could be remedied in camera
I will maintain my skills and training to ensure I am always at the top of my game
There are stories all over the internet on photography media sites. It’s clear that photographers are not observing any of these standards. In turn, the expectations are lower, trust is not there, and the overall lack of confidence in our industry from the client’s perspective translates into lower value all around. A few bad apples spoil the barrel.
I think you can see why we have a recurrent crisis in our industry. It doesn’t help that a lot of the practicing photographers have no work experience outside of this; it means that they have no idea what’s to be expected in a normal professional workplace.
All we can do is ensure that we do our best to adhere to our Professional Photographers Pledge, and make an effort to educate those who are not where possible. In the long run, it’s in everybody’s best interest.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Tonight at 8:00 PM ET I’m doing another of my now legendary live “Book Chats” and everybody’s invited. Tonight’s featured book is “The Flash Book” and I’ll be sharing tips from the book, answering your questions on Flash, we’ve got some cool giveaways, some killer deals on books, and some really stupid stuff I have planned. Go grab a glass of wine – a fresh can of Spray Cheese, and join me tonight at my Facebook page. OK, on to our Lightroom Q&A:
Whoo hoo!!! Here are just five of the short 60-second tips we release each Friday at KelbyOne featuring some of our awesome KelbyOne.com photography training instructors.
Bob Davis on “Wedding Details”
Dealing with long exposure Light Leaks (with Larry Becker)
Mark Heaps with a really cool color change trick in Photoshop
The always awesome “Moose Peterson” with a trip for catching that perfect prop spin in your aviation photos
And Troy Plotya with a tip on using Motion Art Overlays
If you follow KelbyOne on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll see another one of these tips every Friday, cause…well…it’s “Photo Tip Friday.”
Hey, if you’re not already a KelbyOne member, this might be a great weekend to give us a try. Head over to the site right now; check out my short video that describes what we’re all about, and then start learning right away. We’ll get you started with on a training track for whatever topic you’re interested in, from wedding photography to Photoshop, lighting to Lightroom, landscape to wildlife and everything in-between.
Anyway, I’d super dig-it if you checked us out. I’m really proud of what we’ve put together for you, and we’ve got special pricing right now while we’re going through all this. Hope you’ll give it a look. Have a great weekend, everybody. Stay safe, and we’ll catch up next week. :)
P.S. If you live on the East Coast of the US or Canada, I’m doing a live-stream of my entire full-day “Ultimate Photography Crash Course” seminar next Tuesday, May 26th. I hope you can join me for the day. It’s just $99 for the full-day (including a 153 page workbook), and it’s 100% money-back guaranteed. Tickets and info right here.