Brian Worley is a photo tutor, from the UK. A specialist in the workings of almost all things with a Canon logo on

Photography is easy; buy the best gear and it will do it all for you…

By now, I should have stopped being surprised at photographers who buy gear and expect it to be the secret sauce that takes their pictures to the next level. The reality is that modern camera gear is, “the best you’ve ever had,” but boy is there a lot to learn.

Cameras Packed Full Of Capabilities
Here’s the problem; gear is complex, and nobody has time to read or process the instruction books. I keep PDF files of the Speedlite 600EX II-RT and EOS 5D Mark IV open on my Mac all the time. That’s 750 pages of quick reference material. The biggest challenge for all photographers is mentally converting the manual’s ‘how to change a setting,’ into the, ‘why you need it,’ and, ‘how to remember it exists.’

For me to be able to train photographers, I need to use the equipment. I find it is the only way I can convert the instruction book into transferrable knowledge for other people. Sharing knowledge and training satisfies my inner engineer. Being able to provide solutions to questions, and help people enjoy their photography.

Catching the fastest driver in Finland in full flight last summer. A great way to refine your knowledge of AF settings

Last summer, I held an in-depth EOS 5D Mark IV autofocus and Wi-Fi workshop with a Helsinki-based photo dealer. I spent the whole day with my camera menu set to Finish language. The attendees were convinced I could read Finnish, until I hit cancel, instead of OK, while setting up FTP image transfers. I may be a little extreme, competitive about this even. However, if you can’t change your camera from one-shot focus to AI servo without looking it up, then buying a new lens to improve your focus hit rate is just a bit foolish.

It’s all Greek to me, but beneath the date/time on all EOS DSLR cameras is where you can change the language back to something you can understand.
Even in bright light I’ll make use of flash to refine my photos

Flash Is All About The Light, Not Science And Magic
Light is the key to photography. If you only study one thing, make it light. Even better is that light behaves predictably. To me a Speedlite flash is the “extra paintbrush” in my bag, and with it I can bring something different to my pictures. I’m a firm believer in the David Bailey thinking on available light. Available light is any source of light that’s available to you.

Historically, Canon’s Speedlite flash system has taxed many photographers, but in the last ten years I’ve found it to be something that has rewarded me with pictures I couldn’t have made any other way.

We don’t see the sunshine that often in the UK, so it was a pleasant surprise to need high speed sync for this backlit portrait

One subtle change in my own work came along with the launch of Canon’s radio Speedlite flash system. I found that I was using flash more often in daylight than in low light. If the subject is in low light, then usually there’s little contrast range, so you can get away with raising the ISO a bunch. But in bright light I often try to control the contrast range, filling in shadows. Radio links made all this possible, reliable, and easy.

I run a number of Speedlite workshops each year, it is the topic that so many photographers struggle with, or are simply afraid of. Which I find a little strange as light is straightforward and the essential component of all photography.

A bit of ingenuity overcomes limitations. I like creating solutions!

The photo of the car was an interesting challenge. I only had three Speedlites available, and even if I had 18, the Canon system only works with up to 16 devices, one of which is the transmitter. I put three flashes on one light stand using super clamps, and took the first shot. Moved the light stand and took another shot, then four more moves and shots. I used the remote camera shutter release on the flash to trigger the camera for each shot. I put the individual frames in Photoshop and made the resulting picture you see here. Next step will be to shoot it all in-camera using multiple exposures.

Combining four Speedlite flashes in to a single group gives me enough power to light motocross. I’m cheating, this is TTL automatic flash too

I saw some photos of motocross riders online that were clearly lit with extra lights. I found the photographer and spent a day learning how he was using Speedlites to shoot motocross. Suitably inspired, I headed out to another track and set up four Speedlite 600EX-RT flashes on a single light stand. I aimed it across the track, so that it would illuminate the shadow side of the rider. Another hit of the rare English sunlight provided a backlight. Soon I realised that I could use TTL flash, making it simpler for me to move around the track for different vantage points.

Setting the main light to do most of the work took minutes. Lining up the background and accent lights took a little longer

After studying the ways of Joe McNally and Gregory Heisler, I have found that I set up my main light quickly, giving me most of my intended result. The bit of the pictures that takes the time is all the small details. The light behind the guy in this shot was snooted, gelled, and then needed a couple of position changes to hit the right spot. It is fortunate that you can fire a modeling flash from Canon Speedlite flashes, using buttons on the flash itself.

I want to thank Scott for asking me to write a guest blog for him. I also hope that my words and pictures have encouraged you to take one more look at your instruction book or seek some training before you spend money on gear trying to create photos when you already have the perfect equipment you need. Remember that your question is the start of the solution, so please ask away.

Brian Worley took a position at Canon Europe in 1995, and was converted to digital photography overnight. He was part of a team launching PowerShot and Digital EOS camerasin Europe until 2010. Since leaving Canon he’s focussed his attention on being a freelance photo tutor, writer and photographer. He has encyclopaedic knowledge of Canon’s EOS system and loves to share his knowledge with all photographers; beginner to professional. You can find more of his work and connect with him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and on his blog P4Ppictures.com.

Hey hey! It’s #TravelTuesday and, here on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider, that means I’m back again! I’m Dave Williams, a travel photographer, and educator from London, UK, and this week I’m going to share what I’ve learned about using the power of Instagram to build your photography client base.

We know that Instagram is jam-packed with images and videos, and we know that the new algorithm is geared toward paid promotion. We also know that Instagram Stories are a key part of getting yourself seen. But, knowing that, it’s still a big platform for building clients and is a powerful marketing tool in itself, even a money spinner all on its own.

So, there are some guidelines that we should follow to help maximise our reach. Big corporations are paying people as full-time social media managers, and it’s these corporations who we need to have on board and who we want to notice us. We want our Instagram accounts to attract new customers, connect with other professionals, and to expose ourselves to the world!

We all love a list, and here’s my list of top tips for working Instagram the right way: –

1. Hashtag Your Posts

On all social media now, Facebook included, hashtags are a search term. There are hashtags out there which relate to places, to products, to moods, to companies—literally everything. When we post to Instagram, we can include up to 30 hashtags each time, either in the post itself or in the comments. Tagging your posts with relevant hashtags is a great way to get noticed by having them searched effectively. Bear in mind that there are hashtags which are just totally overused, so while it can be good to use these popular hashtags, they are actually very competitive, and you’ll quickly get lost in the feed. So, to combat that you should also use non-generic tags.

2. Connect!

If you want people to interact with you, it should go without saying that you need to interact with them too, right? So, if you post using a hashtag, you should search that hashtag for yourself and see who else is using it, what they’re doing with it, and reach out and connect with them. Pay a compliment—it may come back to you! Whoever your target audience is should also be part of your connection plan. Follow and interact with the accounts that fit your target audience—you’ll find that this is a great way to build connections.

3. Be Professional and Courteous

This kind of relates to connecting. If somebody leaves a comment on your post, leave a reply. They’ve taken the time out of their day to pay you a compliment, so take the time out of yours to be thankful.

4. Have a “Look”

It’s, hopefully, obvious that if you want to be searchable on Instagram your account needs to be public, and when people find you it’s important that you stand out from the crowd and that you have a brand or a look that makes them want to connect with you. Write a simple, effective bio that tells people exactly who you are, what’s going on here, and why they should hit Follow. Then, taking a look downward, your feed should be considered a kind of portfolio. That’s your showcase. Your highlight reel. That’s what you’re giving the world if they follow you, and it’s also what a marketing exec who finds you can see and base their decisions on! Make sure you are showing off what you can do and demonstrate your photographic skills here.

5. Network

If you take a good look around, you’ll notice that a lot of the big name accounts in each industry all communicate with each other. In the photographer’s genre, they can quite often be seen mingling in each other’s stories. There’s a reason for this, and it’s the power and value it offers your business from recommendations and, of course, from recognition. Instagram is a part of social media. It’s this word—social—which is the big clue here! Instagram is a fantastic way to build relationships. Harness that!

Most of all, enjoy the experience! Your photography business can be built on Instagram, or it can be built with Instagram. In either case, use these tips to build relationships and to build opportunities! You can start by connecting with me and if there’s anything I can do to help, just reach out!

 

Much love

 

Dave

Howdy, gang. I’m back in the saddle and we’re kicking off this week with an Intermediate Level Lightroom Classic tutorial on converting to black and white using the New Profiles (and a whole lot more, because we go pretty much from start to finish, so I cover a lot of different techniques).

This is definitely for people who are already very familiar with Lightroom, because it goes at a quick pace, and I don’t explain every little thing because if you’re watching this video, you’d already know the beginner stuff. So, stick with me – we cover a lot of ground. :)

Hope you found that helpful. :)

Two more quick things: 

(1) I’ll be in the Cincinnati/Covington, KY area with my full-day Lightroom seminar on Monday, April 30th. If you’re up that way, come on out and spend the day with me learning Lightroom. Tickets here. 

(2) We’re getting close to the deadline to save $100 using the Photoshop World Conference Early Bird discount – it expires near the end of this month, so make sure you get your PSW tickets now and save the hundred bucks. Here’s the link with details and ticket info.

Here’s wishing you a better than average Monday!

Best,

-Scott

Buongiorno, everybody! I’m back from an amazing (and quite yummy) week in Venice, where I was leading a travel photography workshop, along with long exposure photography expert Mimo Meidany.  I put some of my favorite images from the workshop together, along with the story and behind-the-scenes shots, in a Spark Page.

Here’s the link if you’ve got a sec: https://spark.adobe.com/page/1iHJGY3Gku9Es/

Thanks in advance for checking it out (and I hope you’ll share it if you do).

I’ll be back on my blogging schedule next week now that I’m back, and until then, here’s wishing you an awesome weekend!

Ciao, ciao!

-Scott

The Art of Subtracting Light with Chris Knight
Join Chris Knight and learn new ways to express your vision through your lighting! In this class, you’ll learn how to control and shape light to create mood, depth, and ambiance, utilize a variety of lighting modifiers, and use one, two, and three light setups, Chris will teach you how to restrict and control your light to help you tell the story you want to tell.

In Case You Missed It
Discover a cool recipe for a dramatic lighting look with Scott Kelby! Join Scott as he shows you, step-by-step, how to configure your camera, arrange the lighting, position the subject, and create a very nice, yet dramatic lighting look. You’ll learn the full process, from the initial setup to the subject direction to the retouching of your best photos at the end, and all throughout the class Scott shares additional tips and tricks to help you nail the shot when you try it on your own. This look can be achieved with studio strobes or speedlights, and Scott discusses the gear you’ll need for both situations, so there’s no reason not to add this recipe to your bag of tricks.

Presenting and Selling Your Photographs as Fine Art ‘One-offs’
I’d like to thank Scott and Brad for the opportunity to share a few thoughts on how I’m trying to up the game in presenting my photography. Specifically, finessing the finishing elements and the inkjet print itself to project an appearance of a one-off art piece.

Selling art is one fickle endeavor. Ask any dealer or gallery owner and they’ll tell you, “it always has been and always will be.” More on that later and to start things off I have a quick question for you. We all agree photographic prints are art, don’t we? Of course they are, but history reminds us it wasn’t always that way.

From photography’s humble commercial beginnings in the mid 19th century the evolving craft was destined for a long, drawn out debate to be accepted as art. It became an ongoing war of recognition that had to be fought across not one, but two fronts. First the new medium was quickly regarded as a threat by both traditional artists and the art establishment – viewed as an ‘industrial process’ that could dilute the business of painting or worse, perhaps even replace it. When the art community wasn’t wringing their hands of photography they were insulting it. Photography was generally viewed as simple documentation and certainly not an original ‘artistic thought’ like painting or sculpture.

The second attack was a full on assault addressing the photographer’s one deliverable – the finished print. Questioning its monetary worth the evolving process of hand-produced darkroom prints was mistakenly viewed as nothing more than a simple mechanism for easy replication. A mere copy.

It was nearly another hundred years later (in the 60’s and 70’s) that photographic prints began to be accepted as fine art and more importantly, a collectible. An object-of-desire worthy of being purchased by real dollars.

When Ansel Adams was a young creative photographer his original prints sold for $10. By the 1960s they sold for $50 – $100. Eventually the price for a print of his iconic Moonrise, Hernandez in the early 1970s rose to $500. Then a seminal moment in photography occurred! At a Los Angeles auction in 1981, the sale of a large Moonrise set a record price for a photograph at the time – $71,500. And Ansel was still alive!

Although a handful of artisan fine art photographers still produce highly crafted prints in the darkroom, the rest of us are living in an inkjet world. The quality improvements over the past 10 years have been substantial and when professionally produced the results are exquisite! Rich saturated colors and substantially improved B&W tones – all supported by archival pigment inks and elegant heavyweight cotton rag papers. Today even exotic hand-made papers and various manufactured substrates are being run through large inkjet printers. But even these superior prints at times are still subjected to the all-to-familiar ‘perceived value battle’. Buyers and collectors realize compared to the effort it took to produce vintage prints in the pre-digital era, this inkjet reproduction process seems effortless. Maybe too easy?

When traveling and gallery hopping around some of the country’s epicenters of contemporary art (Los Angeles, Santa FE,  New York), I always try to query photographers and gallery owners on this issue.

They’re quick to point out that price-points for inkjet prints involve a sliding scale. Factors include a  photographer’s reputation, collectability along with the stature and reputation of the gallery, art center, or museum itself who is promoting and selling the work. For the lone photographer, overhead and production cost can seem never-ending. Beyond the artistic and intrinsic value of a photographic print there are travel costs, postproduction time and of course the materials including papers, inks, matting and framing materials. If you’re using museum quality archival materials add another 30%. If you aren’t selling your work direct, then gallery, dealer or representative commissions can slice another 40-60% right off top.

From personal experience and the photographers I’ve talked to, one hears variations on the same theme, “I’m practically giving my work away.”

Creating the ‘One-off’ Appearance
Even though I was finishing my photographs to museum-quality standards, I wasn’t going the extra mile – compared to the effort I put into my paintings. My rationale was the time spent on the painting warranted it – weeks if not months were invested into a single work, depending on the ebb and flow of my motivation or frustration.

It was driven by a financial bottom line. Even the my best inkjet print wasn’t going to match the price point for an original painting. At the end of the day this mindset and the lack of presentation wasn’t helping my medium sized photography prints.

As a side note, I spent most of my career working within the creative services field. A highly competitive commercial realm that resembled a ‘cage fight’ at times. It was a life of pitching clients and always trying to close the deal. It taught all of us in the biz – project managers, production personnel, graphic designers and art directors alike ‘you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression!’

Standardize on Size, Materials and Workflow
Production wise, consistency in inkjet print size, mat size, and frames will be your new best friend. Materials in bulk can be purchased at discounts and your workflow begins to breed a familiarity that increases output. The ‘ole time is money saying never rang truer.

For my one-offs I’m now ‘floating’ the prints (for both paintings and inkjet prints). I like the resulting dimensional look and subtle shadows that showcase the print. Being larger pieces I now exclusively use quality plexiglass. With these sizes, glass is simply too heavy and potentially too fragile.

Backing the print and frame with a fairly neutral colored linen or textured cloth (mounted to a ½” foam core board) adds to the appearance. It’s another real world material added to the mix – a subtle, classy touch that’s content to take a back seat in the overall presentation.

My material list includes:

  • Frames –I’m primarily using hardwood maple frames but at times will use less expensive, painted frames with the same dimensions.
  • 3/16” Plexiglass (UV coated).
  • Inkjet Paper – Epson Hot Press – Bright White 18 ml (deckled by hand). The paintings are produced on pre-deckled 300 lb. Arches watercolor paper.
  • Inkjet Print (float mounting) 1/4” foam core board (use acid free board since this comes into contact with the print).
  • Frame 3/8” Spacer Strip’ for separating Plexiglass from the surface of the Inkjet print.
  • Textured Linen cloth.
  • Mounting foam core board for texture linen cloth is ‘Spray Mounted’ to board. (note: the folding of  the fabric for tight corners is a critical step.
  • Overall assembly backing board (1/4” construction board is fine here)

Finishing Touches by Hand
I was lukewarm for years about the the deckled-edge look but it started to grow on me when I saw examples that were ‘tastefully’ implemented. Small torn edges vs. the larger pronounced ones I’d usually see.

I was never a fan of ‘numbering’ prints as an edition or for that matter giving an image ‘a name’. Vintage prints tradition dictated that a small, humble signature in pencil was the norm. I’ve flipped on these practices and feel these small additions add yet another hand-made touch. If your hand printing technique isn’t up to snuff find a style you like and start practicing. Trade secret: I’ve learned that not all photographers hand print on their own inkjet finals (except for the signature).

Using a One-off to Help Sell your Unframed (smaller) Inkjet Prints
There are dollars to be spent producing a one-off like this, but there is a method to the madness (and potential payoff) to investing into this level of finishing work. You may only need to create one or two for promotion and selling purposes.

The large one-off becomes the draw (or come-on if you will) to sell your individual smaller inkjets versions – all conveniently available to the buying public at an affordable price. A potential buyer may fall in love with the large, pricey original one-off but is offered the option to make a purchase and leave the gallery or store with a smaller, affordable, unmated and unframed version. I utilize this approach for paintings as well. It only takes one but realistically only a small number of patrons are prospects for purchasing a $1,350 one-off. My ‘affordable offering’ includes the smaller inkjet print, hinged to a board with large plastic corners along with an instruction sheet outlining my mat/ framing dimensions – handy for the consumer to take to a framing vendor of their choice. It’s all encased in a archival clear acetate sleeve and packed within two sheets of single weight cardboard.  It’s a pretty clean little presentation in its own right and the same process I use when shipping prints.

A Visually Powerful Alternative to the Expense and Time of Producing a One-off
Let’s change gears regarding presentation and make things easy. GO LARGE – format wise with your inkjet prints through the services of an established printing company. I’ve produced a few 60” x 30” prints and they are one dramatic presentation – pretty much anywhere you hang them. In a corporate office, a retail space, a private residence and certainly in your own living room right behind that couch or yours. A hassle-free solution delivered straight to your door in 3-5 days.

There are plenty of quality inkjet print producers out there. One I’ve had nothing but a great experience with is Bay Photo (thanks KelbyOne). My two favorite large scale offerings are their plexiglass ‘flush mounts’ and the very innovative, portable and durable  XPozer System. A very affordable combination print and wall-hanging system. The innovative shipping packaging even becomes a reusable packing/travel box for yourself or when shipping direct to your customer. Stretch it out, snap the hanging system in place behind the print and it’s on a wall in 15 minutes. Bay Photo’s current pricing for a 60” x 30” print and the hanging system is $173.00 without discounts. At that price you will find the wall space.

Find New Venues for Selling
I’ve done a 180 degree turn with my own photography selling targets. I was regularly entering open art calls, juried shows and showing in some small galleries thinking I’d slowly build some exposure, recognition and eventually sell in those revues. I did have some success with that direction but it was hit and miss. I’m now researching, visiting and evaluating higher end home and office interior furnishings and accessory retailers. Boutique, independent shops that are already in the business of  selling higher priced items. These are locations where large one-offs selling for $1,200 – $1,500 (or more) are right at home (pun intended). Hip and cult restaurants are another good source but in these cases politely grill the restaurant proprietor to make sure their ‘art intent’ is genuine vs. their need to simply fill blank wall space. I’m approaching these retail outlets and offering a 30%-35% commission so there is no commitment on their part regarding an outlay of cash. A consignment proposition and a win, win for both of us.

The game changer in moving away from traditional art outlets is these retail boutiques generate much higher traffic than a small isolated art gallery. In short your work is being seen by more eyes. Eyes that are already in a buying mode. In many cases your small promotional brochures, post cards or business cards can accompany your work in these retail venues as well.  I still enter select competitions but I’m committed to this current path.

Finally, a Short Disclaimer
Just so I can keep faith with my ‘traditional brethren’ of print framers, I’m not advocating tossing the standard of traditional museum quality finishing work under the bus. Bright-white Rising museum board and the forever classic Neilson #11 flat black frame remains a very elegant and proper approach for presenting photographs. It’s time tested, minimal, understated and promotes a familiarity that continues to appeal to photographers, galleries and museums alike. A purist’s approach!

But as I’m learning and accepting (at least for now) perhaps at times, it can be a bit too vanilla for the general art buying public.

Thanks to everyone (who read this far) and hopefully I’ve offered up a thought or tip that will help your own current efforts or future plans.

Mark Wegner is a photographer and painter based in Sonoma County, California. You can see more of his work at MarkWegner.com and connect with him on Facebook.

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