It’s that time of the week again! #HybridDaveTuesdays come around pretty quick, right? Well this week the timing is perfect for me to give you my big five tips for a fantastic photowalk!

The annual Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk 2017 is right around the corner and if you haven’t signed up for one yet, you’re seriously missing out on an awesome day! Sign up here.

For the past couple of years I’ve had the pleasure of running a London walk, last year in fact I only made it by the skin of my teeth! I was away on a Polar assignment in Svalbard (average temperature -10.3 degrees C, or -13.4 F) and my succession of flights, starting at Longyearbyen and hopping through Tromsø, Oslo and Copenhagen before touching the tarmac at London Heathrow took a tad longer than I had anticipated and I literally made it to the start point – London’s best coffee shop, Bar Italia – with moments to spare. Fortunately my walkers were very understanding of my situation (or maybe they were distracted by the piles of free pizza, panini and Prosecco, or Damaris who modelled for the day) and the rest of the walk went down without a hitch.

 

My 2015 group for that year’s London leg of the Worldwide Photowalk

It’s these and other photowalks I’ve run which prompted me to share my experiences here, for both walkers and walk leaders, so let’s get that big five rolling!

Aim high in the competition

With in excess of $22,000 worth of prizes on offer from Scott and the team at KelbyOne it’s absolutely worth setting your eyes on the prize and aiming, if nothing more, to achieve one great shot or great video from your walk. Somebody has to win, it may as well be you!

That’s me pointing out a shot to the group at a walk I organised in London

Network

Photowalks are often organised and attended by professionals, and everyone there is (at some level) interested in the same thing as you are. Pack a pile of business cards, have your Instagram feed or your 500px portfolio down so that when they check you out, you’re on point. You’ll meet fellow photographers looking to collaborate on a project or share some skills and ideas, and you’ll likely meet business owners. In fact it’s at the 2015 Worldwide Photowalk that I met Chief of the Chicken Shed, Danny Lenihan the CEO of 3 Legged Thing. If you find a model to shoot, as I explained a couple of weeks ago in my #HybridDaveTuesdays post, you can hit them up with a business card so you can provide copies of the shot afterwards. It’s a brilliant bargaining tool as well as a way to grow both your network and your portfolio!

Eat

That’s right. Eat! Eat before you go so that you’re packed full of energy for a high tempo activity, and arriving early to eat will also prevent you from being late to the meeting point at the start. When you finish your walk you can go grab a bite or a drink with the new friend you’ve just made and share your experiences too, it’s all part of the fun! When I’ve run walks in the past I’ve made a point of organising a drink or a bite to eat as part of the programme.

This is a group I led gathered around a table in Byron Burger post-walk – it’s one of two tables I’d reserved!

Dress right

So, you know those shoes you wear walking that support your feet and keep them dry? Those. Wear those. You’ll be on your feet and on the move for a few hours so whilst you should perhaps be thinking about shooting and sitting should the opportunity not present itself you should be prepared. Check the weather report, dress appropriately, consider headgear, sunglasses, sunscreen, umbrella etc. Along this theme, keep your surroundings in mind when you get out there on the walk. Don’t lose sight of the group, note who’s around you (and who’s looking at you gear), and don’t be so focused on the viewfinder that you trip up a kerb.

Think kit

Here’s the thing;- You may have a ‘regular’ set-up of two bodies and five lenses, you may carry an arsenal of gear, light meters, tripod, modifiers, but pack light! Try going for an all-rounder lens, or two lenses tops, and minimise your weight in all other respects. Maybe consider pockets over bags, and trust me when I say the heaviest thing should be a bottle of water. You’ll be hunting in a pack of photographers – the masses will spot you all coming a mile off – you stand a better chance of stealing that $4,900 top prize if you minimise your profile, make sure you’ve got only the gear you need (plus power and cards!!) and put the legwork into your shots rather than being bogged down with what every photographer loves – kit!

So now you’re armed – go ahead and enjoy being part of the worlds biggest photography event! I’ll be in Lisbon with Scott – you can keep up with what I’m doing on Facebook, Twitter, or on my story on Instagram.

You can make a donation to the Springs Of Hope Orphanage, the charitable cause of the Worldwide Photowalk, and I hope these tips help you on Saturday!

#WWPW2017

Much Love

Dave

Capable model Damaris and the crowd of photographers behind him at my 2016 London walk

We’re just 5 days away!
I
t’s this Saturday, Oct. 7th, so head over to the official site and see if there’s a photo walk set-up near you (if you haven’t checked in a while, it’s worth checking again – we have photo walk organized in over 1,000 cities around the world. Plus, it’s free; you’ve got a chance at some amazing prizes (including awesome Canon Cameras and lenses, and Adobe software, and lots more!), you’ll take lots of photos, meet some new people, and you’ll just have just a ton of fun.

I’m off to Lisbon, Portugal to lead a local walk there on Saturday morning – my first time in Lisbon, and then we’re heading to Morocco for a few days — someplace I’ve always dreamed of visiting. I’ll be posting images throughout to my Instagram and Facebook pages – I hope you’ll follow me there.

See you here tomorrow for a Photo Walk update! :)

-Scott

Hey, everybody! It’s Friday, here’s what’s up (the short & sweet version).

> I did a post this week with my shots, stories and BTS from the Atlanta Falcon’s new stadium along with some game images. Hope you can check it out.

> Just two days left (today and tomorrow) to submit your images for the contest to have your own gallery showing at The Gallery at KelbyOne in Tampa, Florida.

> Twitter is finally lifting the 140-character limit, and doubling it (we knew it was coming at some point – can’t believe it took this long, and they still haven’t rolled it out to everybody).

> Just over one week until my 10th Annual Worldwide Photowalknot too late to join the nearly 1,000 photo walks around the world happening next Saturday.

> If you missed Benjamin Warde’s 60-second Lightroom tip on Tuesday – lots of people are talkin’ about it (because nobody knew you could do that).

> Want to see some magical photos of newborns? Check out Instagram feed from noellemirabellaphotography – just gorgeous!

> I’m in Phoenix and Houston next month with my full day Lightroom seminar – you should come out and spend the day with me – it’s 100% guaranteed to totally rock or your money back.

> So glad to see DigitalCameraWorld.com (one of my favorite UK photography mags) website is back (it had been rolled into TechRadar, but happy its got its own home again).

> Lightroom Magazine issue #33 is already out, and the new issue of Photoshop User comes out today (plus, we’ve posted a bunch more back issues — every one back to Jan of 2013).

That’s it for today – hope you have a great weekend! Stay safe out there. :)

Best,

-Scott

The Canon 6D Mark II Real World Users Guide
If a Canon 6D Mark II is in your future or already in your camera bag, then this class is for you! Join Larry Becker as he gets you up to speed on everything you need to know to get started on the right foot with the 6D Mark II. Larry focuses on getting you oriented to the layout of the camera, teaching you the quickest ways to do the tasks you’ll want to do, and how to customize the camera to suit your workflow. By the end of the class you’ll have a solid grasp of what this camera is capable of doing, and where to go to make any needed changes to this amazingly powerful camera.

In Case You Missed It
Learn why the Canon 600EX-RT is a quantum leap forward in speedlite technology! Join Michael Corsentino, a portrait and fashion photographer based in Florida, as he takes a deep dive into the Canon 600EX-RT speedlite system. He’ll get you up and running with the key features and functions that will enable you to get the most out of this flash. In this class you’ll learn about the key buttons and dials, how and why to use the different exposure modes, the importance of shooting with the flash off the camera, how to take advantage of high speed sync, and so much more. All throughout the class Michael shares his insights, tips, and tricks to help you get the most out of your flash and enable you to create the images you’ve been dying to create.

Growing As A Professional Creative

When I was around 6 years old, my friend asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said “an artist,” and every chance I got I would pick our activity or game. He would want to climb trees, I’d say, “Let’s color!” (meaning our coloring books). When he would suggest we go outside and pretend to be characters from our favorite cartoons (Transformers, GI-Joe, and HeMan and the Masters Of The Universe) I would say, “Let’s try drawing them instead.” Since the beginning this is all I’ve ever known. I wanted to create things, and to craft things.

At a very young age my grandmother gave me my first camera. A 110 Fisher Price camera with flash bulbs you could mount on top. It had a snap and pop black string for a camera strap with yellow plastic fittings. The body was bright blue, and it had rubberized sides making it rugged and tough for kids. It worked really well. It went everywhere with me and I loved it!

I grew up in a family that came from an industrial part of England. Everyone had a trade skill. They could all work with metal in some way. My father was a draftsman by trade, creating the plans and drawings for big ships, but he understood the craft of building them. So much of my childhood was spent around ships, waterways, and seeing them be created, or rotting away along the shores. Wooden ships abandoned for newer metal ships. It was fascinating to look at.

My grandfather, my uncles, and even my brothers, all worked in the shipyards. My family worked with the steel and iron that formed large vessels for very utilitarian purposes. I always loved walking around and seeing the giant cranes. Often the yard crews were making the machines that became tools they would use to make the ships.

We traveled the world seeing various shipyards where my father’s projects were happening. Ireland, Germany, Holland, and more. Growing up around the people in those environments, a few things were engrained in me.

  • You need a trade skill.
  • You need to work hard. Not just in will, but in effort (blood & sweat type of equity).
  • You need to understand the value of your effort and your trade.

Fast forward many years and it became clear to me, the ship building industry was not going to be my path. In the early 90s as I got a little older I fell in love with skateboarding. The design, photography, graphics, fashion, and music, all mixing together in one lifestyle. I had upgraded my camera gear to a 35mm film setup that I used to shoot for various theaters, local newspapers, skateboard magazines, and local bands. It was the start of something that never felt like work. It felt more like a place I belonged.

I was also beginning to learn and create computer graphics with my first capable computer, a Commodore Amiga with Deluxe Paint. This allowed me to start freelancing as a teenager. I’d make graphics for local businesses. Things like flyers, clip art, menus, and more. I was off and running, but you know what I wasn’t ever taught? I was never taught my value to others as a professional creative. At this point, it was all intriguing, and it was all fun. But to have a career, it meant more than just that.

Today, at this stage in my career, I’ve managed over a few thousand people. I was a Manager at Google. I’ve been a Senior Imaging Expert for Apple, and I’ve helped multiple agencies build out professional development programs for their creative departments. For a punk skateboarding kid from the middle of nowhere, I’ve been very fortunate for the opportunities I’ve received. Regardless of projects, titles, and positions, one thing I try to help creatives learn today, is to understand your value. Not money, not hourly rates, but actual value.

I don’t think I can exclusively call myself a Photographer, or a Designer, or anything so specific. Many creatives I meet wear lots of hats. They are often generalized and feel guilt they aren’t a specialist in something. My value is in that I provide professional level creative solutions to our clients. Sometimes that makes me the Creative Director, sometimes I’m the Photographer, or even the illustrator. But it’s our thoughts, our ideas, and our service that bring value.

Have you ever wondered why someone got a project with a client and you found the final result unimpressive? I’ve heard this before: “I could do better than that! It was boring.” But maybe, that was the result of hours upon hours of collaboration with a client who together with the creative, arrived at a place of exactly what they valued. Who knows, what is impressive or boring to us, might have had a purpose and mission. A tactical result of a well thought out strategy.

What matters most is the value we add to the project, whether that’s shooting images of the Apple Cinema Displays at an Apple Developer Conference, or if I’m executing on a custom fabricated steel entrance for a gallery in San Francisco. Maybe it’s just how I direct in my photo studio. That’s the point of being a Professional Creative. The expectation is yes, that we have good Photoshop skills, good Illustrator technical abilities, that we know lighting, can control a camera, or be the retoucher the client needs. But what it really means is that we deep dive into our client’s projects so that we can suggest, and execute, on solutions. This month alone I’ve retouched photos for a National Geographic Photographer and I’ve designed graphics and shot photos for a restaurant menu. The value add was the same despite the difference in the projects.

For example, a few years ago I created a survey which received hundreds of responses. In it, I asked people to prioritize what they expect when they get a project from someone. At the top of the list creatives wanted:

  • To be creative
  • To be appreciated/respected
  • Work on something interesting/portfolio worthy

But on the client side of things the priority was not the same. When they hire a creative for a project their order of thinking was more like this:

  • Deliver on promises
  • Don’t be complicated to work with
  • Provide reasonable solutions

Here is where we often see the divide, and the struggle, for people working in creative positions. What we often see as our wants, our goals, and measure as our successes are not those shared by our clients. When I asked many people in positions who hire professionals, they said, “I expect them to be skilled and creative.” The value is no longer that you are creative or skilled, that is the baseline of their expectation. It’s the foundation of why they hired you in the first place.

So, what would make you more valuable to them? Excellent service, crystal clear communication, being collaborative perhaps? Your creative side allows you to see things that maybe they don’t. It’s not their experience to look through the creative lens. Listen to Jay Maisel talk about the gesture of objects, or the expression of color. It’s clear why he added value for his clients. Steve Jobs often spoke of this at Apple. It was even a campaign, “Think Different.”

In the current state of the world, it’s easier than ever to get information. More people are becoming excellent at their technical abilities. But are they adding value? Probably the most common question I get asked these days. “How do I make more money?” or “How do I get more clients?” There isn’t a shortage of opportunities out there, but you have to know how you add value, and getting potential clients to know about your value.

This is where you should begin if you’re looking to grow. There are lots of articles, exercises, and more about realizing your value proposition. It’s the difference maker between you, and the other person out there calling themselves designer, photographer, editor, and more. The value is in the service leading up to the finished product and the experience your client has while the project is happening. They expect the final image, or graphic, or design, or website, or anything to be good. That’s why they hired you. But what was their experience like when you were producing it?

Our company, my wife and I, work mostly in the commercial and enterprise tech sectors with Fortune 500 clients. That means understanding what is most valuable to them and how to speak in their language so they understand we are the right provider of that solution. I offer this advice to you, do the exercise of asking what would be your value proposition? How are you differentiating your solutions and services? Here are a few tips to help:

  • Speak in the language of your client (they don’t know Photoshop, Nikon, or Profoto)
  • Learn how to say “Yes, and here’s how” rather than saying “No”
  • No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care
  • Always work to turn customers into clients and then into partners

This is more than equipment and software after all. Just like a tradesman in any shipyard doesn’t talk about the welding torch or hammer they use. The value isn’t in the tools, it’s in the person holding them.

Mark Heaps is the Executive Director at Heaps LLC where alongside his wife they manage a small team of creatives who provide design communication services to their clients. Some of those clients include Capital One, Dell, Google, Apple, Coca-Cola, TEDx, Ford, Polycom, Riverbed, and more. Mark is also the creator of Reactive Exposure (www.rawplugins.com) A native exposure correction plugin for Lightroom. He also owns and runs ATX Photo & Video Studio in Austin, Texas. A low-cost community project where photographers, videographers, actors, students and more can come use their 1400sq ft warehouse with all equipment included for the same price as a date at Starbucks.

Follow him on almost any social media, like Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook (where he streams live weekly giving insights from the trenches of working in the real world), with the user name @lifebypixels.

So, I just traveled to Italy to shoot, and while I was there, as with any sunny destination, I was thinking about what I could actually achieve in the midday sun. When a scene is bathed in even light, regardless of how bright that light is, you can usually deal with it pretty well in-camera. When there’s contrast, it’s a different story, and that story used to end up with a sweaty old guy, holstering something with a film canister in it, explaining the “Sunny 16” Rule.

The Sunny 16 Rule is a method used to cope with harsh sunlight in one frame, and it comes from a time when you could only use one frame. The Sunny 16 Rule is for film. But, the Sunny 16 Rule carried over into digital, quite strangely, and is still taught in an age when we have Adobe Photoshop to deal with these problems. Let me tell you (if you didn’t know) that the HDR functionality of Photoshop has improved considerably, and in the latest CC version, it’s actually pretty awesome. I, myself, have written about the application of the Sunny 16 Rule, but let’s throw that out right now and get to the advantages of bracketing and HDRing, instead, to deal with bright, midday sun.

First off, that “HDR look” us photographers fear is basically gone. The look and feel of a High Dynamic Range image is now much more natural than the overprocessed, surreal, and saturated look we got before. The majority of photographers and retouchers that moved away from Photoshop for the likes of Photomatix to stack images for HDR can now safely move back in. Adobe has basically got this nailed.

I often shoot hand-held—it’s good practice to use a tripod to ensure each image is the same, however, it isn’t essential. If you do use a tripod, I’d personally recommend the 3 Legged Thing range (which I’ve heard is Trump’s favourite tripod), but if you shoot continuous high speed and keep as stable as possible, it’s usually good enough.

With your camera set to shoot bracketed, shoot your series for the scene. Here’s an example of five bracketed shots:

Wine Bar in Verona, Italy, bracketed for your pleasure

Once you get into Camera Raw, and this is very similar in Lightroom, select the images, Right-click, and then choose Merge to HDR.

Wait a moment and let it do its thing, confident in the fact that some clever algorithm is running its 32-bit show, and wait to see the result. Years of development have gone into this, and as I said, the improvements are so significant that this has become a regular part of my workflow. In fact, I’ll HDR more often than not.

The HDR finished shot

Once the photo comes out the back end, you’ll notice that most of the sliders are all over the place. Most notably, the White Balance sliders—you’ll need to fix those yourself.

So long as you’ve taken enough of a range of exposures to cover the dynamic range of the scene itself, you’re covered. Here’s a fun fact: the human eye sees about 13 stops of light. That’s what we’re trying to replicate in just one, flat photo when we take a photo. While bearing that in mind, throw away the Sunny 16 Rule, go with an aperture that suits the look you want, and get the bracketing feature turned on!

Four top tips for bracketed shooting:

  1. Take enough of a range to cover the range of the scene.
  2. Ensure the difference between shots is between one to two f-stops apart.
  3. Take the photos in quick succession to minimise the differences.
  4. Use a tripod where possible.

Essentially what I’m trying to tell you is this:

Use HDR!

It works a lot better than it used to, it gives a much more balanced photo, and the clever little algorithm behind HDR in Adobe Photoshop (and Lightroom) is so, so much more powerful than it used to be. Join the party and show me what you’ve got, and as always, if you get stuck I’m @hybriddave on Instagram, and I promise I’ll help.

Much love,

Dave

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