Editor’s Note: This was originally published in 2018. Karen’s latest KelbyOne course, The Complete Guide to Fall Photography, was just released, so be sure to check it out!

Love and awe.

Two of my favorite concepts in all of art and Life itself.

Oh, also pithy. I freakin’ love that word. It means: “a language or style that is concise and forcefully expressive.” Yeah, pithy is cool. And fun to say!

Scott Kelby… thank you for providing a place for all three of my favorite things to thrive in uncountable ways. And I don’t just mean for me – I mean for everyone who loves photography and learning. You are indeed a force of nature for Good.

BTW… I still get such positive comments about this episode of “The Chat” (a show I self-produced a few years ago, just for fun), from all the way back in 2014, I wanted to re-share it here. It was a revelation…

Which brings us in perfect full-circle manner back to Love and Awe; two of the most powerful creative forces in the universe.

Photography is Love Made Visible

That’s a statement, isn’t it? I could also say that “Art” is love made visible. Or creativity, period – if it results in something that is actually visible.

In my opinion, if you want to take a beautiful, defining image that speaks from your soul, you have to fall in love with it. Madly, truly, deeply in love.

A picture is a poem without words. -Horace

People sometimes think I’m a little “woo-woo” about all this. They (mistakenly) think I don’t focus on the technical aspects of photography.

Mais non!

At a certain point in my life, I got busy and focused so MUCH on the technical aspects of my photography that it simply doesn’t lead the show anymore. Sufficiently internalized, technique becomes like muscle memory in photography, just as it does in sports. It’s just there, like a car with a full tank of gas, engine humming, waiting to see where to next. Which, in turn, frees you to focus upon the feeling, vision or the message of your art. I call it: Technique in Service of Vision.

Of course,  if a new technique were to present itself that I really wanted to master, then I’d get busy! I’d practice it, repeat it, over and over, till it was embedded into my nervous system, so that I could speak fluently in its language without thinking about it. Only then could I spontaneously create with it.

Mastering technique so you can go do cool stuff with it was basic to every sport and artistic discipline I’ve done to a high level, whether it was acting, singing, figure skating, equestrian sports, downhill skiing, voiceovers. I’m a great believer in “technique will set you free” in most disciplines. But only if it’s set into its proper place; which is “in service of” performing said discipline in a signature fashion – and not as an end unto itself.

Here’s how I see it… 


It’s #TravelTuesday and I, Dave Williams, am here, this week from Scotland! I’m currently testing my van, Kofifernweh, to make sure everything is ship-shape ahead of my winter trip to the Arctic coming next month. This trip to Scotland is primarily for the purpose of van testing and second to that comes adventurizing!

This week I want to touch on a drone photography subject but one that can relate to what I suppose is called ‘terrestrial’ photography. Social media and the use of our smartphones has meant a lot more photos are best viewed in portrait orientation than before. When we shoot this way intentionally it’s important to bear in mind all the usual rules of composition, especially when we’re shooting with drones. Take this example:


This three-shot vertical panorama includes the mountain and forest draped with clouds in the background, the majority section of the forest as the middle-ground, and the twisting road in the foreground. This gives our image layers and depth as well as giving it interest. It’s far too easy to let some of these elements go when we shoot a vertical panorama (which we should definitely try doing!) and especially so when shooting from a drone where it’s easy to fall foul of the plane window effect.

The plane window effect is the name I’ve given to a condition that befalls a lot of us when we shoot with a drone. We often forget some photographic principles, merely playing with the drone and being impressed with this birds-eye perspective. Consider everything you already know about photography when flying a drone and try to be more intentional about it.


Shooting top-down drone shots is a perfect example of having to think harder. We have to rely on color, texture, patterns and composition to make up for the lack of sky and the often-repetitive elements in the scene.

Try vertical panoramas to make your social media photos pack more punch!

Much love

Capturing Action with Mirrorless Cameras with Erik Kuna & Jason Ralph Stevens | The Grid Ep. 533

Ever wonder what it takes to capture that pivotal moment with a mirrorless camera? Erik Kuna and Jason Ralph Stevens have you covered on the latest episode of The Grid! They discuss their experiences with using mirrorless cameras, the stories behind their photos, and even share some settings that will help you in your quest for that next amazing image.

New KelbyOne Course – Our Treasured Lands: Bringing Home the Memories with Moose Peterson

We are incredibly fortunate to have some amazing national treasures all across the land. Some like Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Canyon are well known. Others like the Redwoods, Badlands and others are not so well known. Let’s take a photographic journey through these lands with Moose Peterson and talk about planning, best times, best locations, hidden treasures and making the iconic shots so we can bring home the memories and share them!

Photo by Emerson Chen

Editor’s Note: This was originally published March 2017, but is still as relevant today as it was then!

You Know You’re Learning If You’re Falling Down

I have no clue why these thoughts cross my mind, but they do. When the shooting gets slow and I’m with some friends and we just start talking to kill the time, my mind wanders to the bad side. Someone leaves their camera sitting on a tripod unattended, I slip over, remove the battery and then go back innocently to my own shooting. There’s the time I slip my CF memory card wallet vertically in the shade of a fellow photographer’s big lens. They can’t see it through the viewfinder but the AF can’t function at all. And of course, there’s the always-immature move of taking photos with another’s camera when they aren’t looking. A photo they definitely would not have taken themselves. My favorite comes from the days of film when someone would ask, “Got any good photos?” I had a dummy roll of film in my vest pocket that I would take out, grasp the leader, pull out all the film and look through it at the sun, then simply shrug. Oh the look on their faces when I did that! My only excuse for all of this is, photography has gotta be FUN!

I’m very blessed with two great sons who had to suffer through dad’s teaching as well as bad jokes. When the opportunity arose though for the shoe to be on the other foot, they made good use of it. Both are great cross-country skiers, something I will never be able to do despite all the help they provided and the fun we had together. Brent said something once though that I will never forget, because it so pertains to photography. I had all the right gear on, had read all I should do, and watched the videos. But falling I did with absolutely no grace. We were up on the mountain and I was soaking wet from falling so many times in my attempt to XC ski. Brent simply looked down at me as he helped me up and said, “You know you’re learning if you’re falling down.”

While simply said and blatantly true, it’s pretty darn deep if you ponder it at all. In order to learn how to ski, you gotta fall down, and a lot until you master staying up. This directly applies to photography. Your photography will only grow if you fall down, fail. The thing is, you have to learn from your failures or you’ll either just keep failing, or worse, give up. Just how can we learn from photographic failures so we can keep growing? Having been falling for four decades and still being able to laugh at myself, I think I might have a suggestion or two to pass along.

It’s Only A Photograph!

The first is to understand this very important principle. It’s only a photograph! The right photograph taken of a powerful subject in a powerful way at a time when its clarity is needed by the world can have a huge impact. And I always remind folks their photographs can change the world. But at the same time, I also realize that if I totally toast a photograph, the sun will still rise tomorrow and life will go on. It is just a photograph. We put so much pressure on ourselves when we’re shooting that really shouldn’t be put there. Ever go back and look at photos you took a year ago, really look at them and think back at your thoughts when taking them? It’s those times if I were standing next to you, I might pull one of my bad photographic jokes on you just to remind you that it’s just a photograph.


The second is to remind you of the KISS theorem…Keep It Simple Stupid (the last word being key). We tend to not only take our photography too seriously but also make it too complicated. While there are times for fun, we go complicated. But making that part of our regular photographic ritual is suicidal for so many reasons. The main reason relates to, it’s just a photograph. When we make things complicated, they become a task, a chore. And how do we mentally treat chores? We tend to put them off. But more importantly in taking advantage of the best teacher we all have for our photography, ourselves, complicated makes learning really hard.

When we KISS, when we are successful, it’s really easy to figure out what we did right so we can repeat it again and again. But when we make it complicated, determining what went wrong is difficult so we run the risk of repeating that mistake. Failure is so important to our learning only when we learn from that failure. There is the practical side of KISS that you might like even more it – costs less! It takes a whole lot less gear and time to KISS than make it complicated. And when you take all you’ve learned, working with KISS and removing the stress of the importance of a photograph, you know what happens in time? You become a better photographer and that’s the whole goal (perhaps why my mind wanders and I cause trouble…hmmmm).

Wanna prove my point to yourself? Next time you’re working in the digital darkroom with a friend and they leave to take a break, take a screen shot of what’s on their computer. Then open that screen shot in Photoshop, make it full screen, and just leave it. They will come back and click on it like a madman to make it work, but nothing will happen because it’s just a screen shot. KISS! Take a deep breath, enjoy the amazing rewards photography brings to us every time we venture into it and remember to not take it too seriously. KISS and the most important thing, you know you’re learning if you’re falling down.

You can see more of Moose’s work and listen to all 300+ episodes of his podcast at MoosePeterson.com, and keep up with him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

It’s #TravelTuesday and I, Dave Williams, am back! This week I bring news – after taking the van to the arctic last winter, I’m now planning any return. I can’t wait!

Last winter I took my self-conversion Mercedes Sprinter, Kofifernweh, to the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and a whole bunch more countries. This year I want to spend more time in a smaller area to really focus on a few subjects, including the northern lights.

A narrow timeframe in northern Norway and Lapland last year meant I spent a lot of time fighting the weather. This year I’ll spend a lot more time in these places, skipping the other destinations. Because of the Schengen clock (which I now have to consider owing to Brexit) I’ll be there for about nine weeks in order to keep up with other commitments at other times.

This season the northern lights have already given some stunning, strong displays, and I want to maximise on this during solar maximum. I’ll need to be mindful of temperatures in Lapland because of the time of year. Last year I experienced -37˚ and it was intense! I’ll be testing and showcasing some new tech as well, with partnerships lined up and in place with a few brands including Insta360. I hope to be able to bring you all with me virtually and hopefully show you the northern lights in 360˚ video. It’ll all be on my Instagram and YouTube, so be sure you’re following if you don’t want to miss anything. I’ll also be posting a bit to VERO, but I’m yet to decide whether that platform has legs.

I’ll be starting the journey soon with a warm-up trip to Scotland to make sure the van is in tip-top condition (which is code for ‘good enough’) and I’m open to ideas for locations, activities, and even gear to try. Get in touch with any ideas. I’ll be reporting back right here as well as finding more photography news, opinion and inspiration to share every Tuesday. If you’re a KelbyOne member you’ll even see some of the content I’m creating in Photoshop User. I can’t wait to hit the road again!

Come with me!

Much love