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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Hi team! Dave here for #TravelTuesday again, and this week my congratulations go out to Italy for winning the European Championships over here on this side of the pond! It didn’t come home, but there’s always next time. Personally I think we have some work to do in terms of dealing with hate first, though. But that’s another story.

Shifting the focus back to photography, this week I want to touch on watermarks.

If, like me, you’re a member of any photography groups on Facebook, you’ll notice that the question of whether or not to watermark an image is a good idea. By ‘good’ I mean whether it offers any advantage to us in terms of protecting our photos and therefore protecting us as photographers and creators.

Ultimately the decision is yours. I’ll get straight to highlighting my stance, but I’ll offer arguments for both cases. But mostly mine ;)

Team Yes

The base argument for Team Yes is that applying a watermark to an image, be it bold and aggressive or minimally intrusive on the content, means that anyone considering using an image where they perhaps shouldn’t had a moral dilemma. If they misappropriate our watermarked image they are displaying to the world (or the one viewer, whichever it may be) that they have taken it from elsewhere and it belongs to someone else. The watermark itself may even prevent this from happening in the first instance.

Team No

Team No generally have one of two thought processes. Either they don’t care if their image is stolen, or they will allow it to be stolen and deal with the matter afterwards, proportionally and professionally. I take the latter stance. Images contain metadata and although this can be altered, it takes someone who knows a little about what they’re doing to make the necessary changes and even so it doesn’t change the fact that the copyright belongs to us. There are also reverse image search engines, Google being the simplest to use, that we can employ to find our images if we fear they have been used. This is easy, but quite arduous. We can have this done automatically by using services like Pixar.com to find our images for us and even issue takedown notices or proceed with legal action.

The reason I don’t watermark my images is because I will use these systems to find my images and take action where it’s appropriate. If someone shares my photo on Facebook it’s no biggie deal to me, but if a company uses my image to advertise their services or products it definitely is a big deal and I’ll send them a bill along with an explanation. I haven’t had anyone refuse to settle the bill yet. If I’ve created a photo for a client with any exclusivity, I simply won’t be sharing it and therefore there’s no risk of it being stolen.

Watermarks are horrible looking things that take a lot away from an image I created and I’d much rather deal with image theft than ruin my photos. Looking over the responses to this question on the Facebook groups I belong to it’s quite clear that there’s a strong divide between those who watermark and those who don’t.

So with my two cents, here’s the big question: –

Are you Team Yes or Team No?

Much love

Dave

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

It’s three full days, multiple training tracks, all online, Featuring your favorite Photoshop World instructors, and the Photoshop World experience, complete with an opening keynote, Midnight Madness, the attendee party, the Guru Awards — the whole nine yards as we aim to make it as close to the in-person event as possible, which means it’s going to be awesome!

Just like always, you can watch any session in any of the tracks, and we archive the entire conference for a full year so you can catch any sessions you missed or re-watch any sessions you want to see again.

Tickets and Info

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.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

-Scott

New KelbyOne Course – From Concept to Creation: Making Impactful Fashion and Beauty Portraits with Lenworth Johnson

Join Lenworth Johnson, a beauty and fashion photographer, as he takes you through his process for creating fashion portraits with impact. In this class you’ll learn how to develop your concept into a visual message, the importance of building a team to support your creative efforts, how to convey your ideas to your team, the tools you need, how to get your light right, how to work with models on set, and many more tips to help you elevate your craft! You’ll get to see it all come together in three separate shoots as Lenworth transitions his concept from the basics to extravagant.

Hi all! Dave Williams here for another #TravelTuesday post. I hope you’re all well and that you all had a great day on Sunday for the 4th!

Straight off the bay, I couldn’t come up with a better feature image for this post than what I’m going to call ‘real life Photoshop’ with my bestie Peter Treadway.

Today I want to touch on something that’s come off the back of a bit of news from Norway. Legislators there have made it a legal requirement for influencers and advertisers to label images that have been retouched or have filters applied in a bid to address “body pressure in society.”

The law is an amendment to the marketing Act 2009 and was passed with an overwhelming majority support of 75 to 15 in Norwegian Parliament.

The law, due to be introduced shortly, will require that any sponsored or advertising posts need to declare where a “body’s shape, size or skin has been changed by retouching or other manipulation” be clearly marked to declare the presence of edits. Failure to mark such images will result in a fine being issued.

The changes are outlined with a list of examples that includes enlarged lips, narrowed waists, pronounced muscles, and other such edits. But what’s behind all this?

We all know that it’s extremely rare for one of our images to be Straight Out Of Camera (SOOC) and not edited or retouched in some way. If we take this news at first glance, that is to say that we haven’t made ourselves familiar with the finer details about the extent of the retouching done, it can appear that almost every image on social media in Norway is to display this label of having been retouched. Society has normalised retouching but it is in a different way to that we expect as photographers. When we retouch images we tend to approach it from the perspective that we are looking to make the image more appealing, to gain more traction, or to attract more clients for ourselves because of the quality and calibre of our work both in camera and in post. We’ve ended up in a situation where we are stuck in a bit of a touch position because the world uses the word ‘Photoshop’ as a verb, so an image that looks good is seen as something that must have been ‘Photoshopped’. An unfortunate circumstance that has come out of this is that the youth of our society are influenced, hence the term ‘influencer’ I suppose, but with that come negative implications in that body dysmorphia comes to the forefront, sometimes to quite extreme ends.

Young people, particularly young girls, grow up receiving the influence of the world around them and with that comes an impression cast upon them of what they are meant to be like, and look like. There are those breaking the trend, of course, but this is still commonplace and carries a certain mental health stigma in that people will go to extreme lengths in order to appear a particular way because of something or someone they’ve seen on social media, such as a Kardashian with a warped door frame behind their retouched body parts, or extra hands for example. There was a campaign some years ago by Snickers that highlighted this quite well. I took a moment to retouch Snickers advertising image and ‘fix it’. Here’s the image highlighting the errors: –

It isn’t these errors that are causing a problem, of course. It’s the photos that are passing as genuine and in turn having a negative impact on the youth worldwide who pick up on the retouched images and perceive them as being real, altering their habits and aspiring to be something that isn’t real because society is leaving that impression. I for one hope none of us are the cause of this and that it actually is the influencers and advertisers, but it’s important that we, as photographers, consider our actions when retouching and the impact it could have. Perhaps Norway have taken a step in the right direction.

Much love

Dave

PS – here’s my ‘fixed’ version

PPS – if you’re interested in finding out what’s behind my van situation, here’s a little bit of reading

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