It’s #TravelTuesday and I, Dave Williams, am here as always. Today I’m in rural England putting together the final pieces of a few projects before I head over the channel to mainland Europe again in a couple of weeks. One of the project is a new book all about shooting differently, so keep an eye on my socials for news about that.
Today I want to talk a little about how we can grow by forcing ourselves to be limited, and it’s all about using our phone.
When we’re working on improving composition it can be incredibly helpful to pick up our phone and challenge ourselves with it. The key is to not use the zoom feature but to move and walk around, employing the prime lens technique of ‘zoom with your feet.’
Having this easy method to experiment which test our capabilities and offers us a large image preview give us the opportunity to really open our eyes whilst having the limits we’re putting on ourselves. Being a great photographer relies so much on a combination of elements, including light, depth and composition, and it enables us to think differently and develop skills in the areas that are important to standing out and shooting differently.
When we have these skills that we acquire from pushing ourselves to think differently, thereby shooting differently, we can quite easily transpose these skills to apply to our regular photography. Standing our from the crowd is a huge factor for our growth and, if it’s the direction we want to go, in monetizing our photography. There’s also a lot of opportunity to grow in mobile photography that’s certainly worth exploring!
Give it a go – go set yourself a target and shoot some images exclusively with your phone that push your limits of creativity. And with that….
It’s #TravelTuesday and I, Dave Williams, am here! Just like every other Tuesday I’m here to write something from the world of travel, photography, and inspiration! Today is my first 24 hours with my feet solidly back on the ground in the UK (and back to the van!) and I have to say, the USA has hit me hard with ideas! Don’t be surprised if you see me back real soon!
Today I want to talk about changing direction in our photography. Everything I’m doing with my van is not long term. You may be aware that in moving into a van I’m simply enjoying my freedom after leaving the 9-5 life that pinned me down whilst working on the next plan. The next plan is coming together but on the outside it probably appears to be a change in direction. It isn’t, but….
Changing direction isn’t a bad thing. If we do it too much it can be bad, such as constantly jumping around and leaving the impression that we aren’t committed to a single thing, but changing the direction of the big ship that is our life can be a good thing for us, and that’s exactly what I did. Here’s the scoop: –
I worked for 14 years as a cop in central London, UK. When I was growing up it was one of the items on a short list of things I wanted to do. Also on that list were NatGeo photographer and Pilot, but for whatever reason I ended up following the cop path. It was secure and steady, and it was fun. What it wasn’t is engaging. It wasn’t activating the things in my mind and body that pushed me forward.
Only a few years into that job I decided to concentrate on my photography hobby. The thing that had pushed me with that whilst growing up was looking at a bunch of awesome books and wishing I was able to take the photos. It wasn’t just the ability to take the photos, though. It was being in those places.
Now I find myself understanding all of this and having a foundation in my photography personality, I can now steer this ship a lot better and carve out the path that’s meant for me. It’s with this short piece explaining the absolute basics of my journey that I reach out to you with today to say this: –
Once in a lifetime as often as you can.
Yep, that’s the tag you’ve heard in all my YouTube videos and all over my blog. It’s the root behind everything I’m doing and ever since that saying hit me in Turkey whilst watching the balloons at sunrise over Cappadoccia I’ve let it guide me. If a once in a lifetime opportunity presents itself, take it. Better still, make it. Changing direction now and then is a good thing for us and for our creativity. And with that… I’ll catch you next week!
It’s #TravelTuesday and I, Dave Williams, am coming at you from Austin, Texas. Yep, I’m still here! Honestly, though, I’m melting. It’s a far cry from the nordic winter I just experienced. With the word ‘winter’ mentioned I’m now set to let you know that today we’re going ‘off piste’. This post has nothing to do with creativity and everything to do with creativity all at the same time. Let’s go!
The roots of creativity differ with all of us. Some people need constant stimulation, while others need tranquility. There are many things that influence our creativity and I can say with absolute confidence that I know exactly what to do to kick start mine if there’s something lacking. The thing I need is a change of scenery, and it works a treat when I’m in a creative rut. I’m working on a few projects right now, including a book. Being here in Austin is perfect because not only have I changed my scenery simply by being here, I can also change my scenery within Austin when a paragraph doesn’t quite flow right and I need to give myself a boost.
That boost is currently coming to life in the form of a coffee and BBQ tour led by expert tour guide and creative guru, Mark Heaps.
There’s something to be said about how creativity inspires itself. The creativity of the city around me is inspiring the creativity inside of me and I’m getting much more done in this environment. When I feel like there’s a lull, all I have to do is go and sit somewhere else and take inspiration. As I said, the root of creativity is different for each of us. That said, I firmly believe that each of us can be inspired by a change of scenery, even if it’s just by facing the other direction or stepping outside. You can check many of my other posts for creative inspiration, too. Whatever it is that inspires you is something you should keep close to the front of your mind. Whenever you feel your creativity running downhill, pull out that card and play it.
See. Nothing and everything to do with creativity. Now, I have to get back to book writing and lesson planning. If you happen to be in the Austin area, I’ll be speaking at Precision Camera this weekend. Keep an eye on my social feed for details.
It’s #TravelTuesday and I, Dave Williams, am writing today from the Isle of Skye, Scotland. The weather is typically Scottish, which can be considered secret code for ‘it’s raining’. I’m waiting patiently for the sky to give me some decent light for a particular hike I want to do that goes half way up a mountain for a spectacular view, but so far all I’ve done is send the drone up there. This has made me think about the 5% of time that actually gets dedicated to photography.
As a professional photographer we are only around 5% photographer. Honestly, it’s so boring at times. Developing and driving a photography business is largely about everything else. It’s about social media, marketing, blogging, accounting… it’s about everything that keeps the photography going. The accounting element in itself can break down into general accounts, invoicing, purchasing, and a little more. The marketing includes maintaining a website, dealing with e-mails, finding clients, creating ways for clients to find us, and that list also goes on.
I’ve found that all this can be quite detrimental to creativity. In fact, scratch that. It can be very detrimental. It’s extremely important for us to stay on our creative toes when we’re neck deep in ‘admin’ work.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Personal projects. Having a personal project, either aligned to our regular photography or something totally different, will keep our creativity and our sanity. This is not something that’s unique to photography. Let’s take a look at plumbing, for instance. A plumber spends a lot of time buying parts, sending invoices, marketing their business, and everything else we do as photographers, but here’s the difference: –
A knock in our creativity as a photographer will have a huge impact on our business unless we keep it in check. We need to proactively deal with it. We need to nurture our creativity whilst we’re doing the 95%.
Message of the day, therefore, is this: – Engage in personal projects to keep on top of your creative ‘A’ game.
I’ve told this story before, but it’s totally relevant!
I’m Dave Williams and I’m here every week for #TravelTuesday (because I’m a travel photographer… and I know it’s Friday, but Adobe decided to release some awesome updates on Tuesday so I was relegated, but just imagine, ok?) and last year in Florida I was shooting two new KelbyOne classes in the studios when, having called it a wrap, I had a day to myself to explore. This is what happened on that day: –
Yep, I added a little more ink to myself and got a new tattoo from the best shop in town! (It was definitely the best place in Tampa – they can’t lie on a sign, can they!)
Stick with me, I’m going somewhere with this….
So, that unpronounceable mumbo-jumbo is actually Icelandic and it is the words ‘Thetta Reddast” flanked by two Icelandic runes, one for safe travels and the other for love. The strange D/P looking character is pronounced ‘th’ as in Thor (Þórr) the Norse God. The term is Icelandic and despite having no discernible translation, it certainly has a translatable meaning. Here’s how I know…
In the winter of 2016 – specifically October 29th – I was in Iceland on an adventure and decided I was going to explore the cave waterfall at Gljufrafoss, which was an incredible experience albeit not the smartest decision I ever made. Take a look at this: –
You can see the waterfall in the cave through that short canyon behind the incredibly wet photographer named Dave, somewhat blurred from the water inside my iPhone camera! It was very cold and I was reminded why I am smart in some senses but not in others as I had a complete change of clothing in the car, and a towel. I got some awesome shots inside the cave of the water thundering down the rock cascade, crashing into a small pool at its base before flowing out towards the sub-Arctic Icelandic countryside, concealed in a frozen mist. The part of me that wasn’t being smart was the bit responsible for my Nikon D810. I realise that my job is to educate and inspire, and I promise you can trust me! Anyway, having dried myself off and believing I’d dried my camera off I began on the 351 mile (565km) drive to the Westfjords where I had an appointment to shoot the resident foxes of the Arctic Fox Centre, Ingi and Móri. I wasn’t far into the journey when I noticed the camera was behaving a bit strangely. The first thing that aroused my suspicions is when the camera took a photo by itself with no intervention from myself… I thought that was a bit strange and I cast my mind back. The camera is ‘weather sealed’ and although it was wet when I emerged from the frozen canyon I thought I’d done a pretty good job of drying it off with my microfibre cloth. Apparently not. The camera occasionally fired off a shot by itself so I decided to take further steps to dry it out, including opening the ports and keeping it warm, and by using a bag full of dry rice.
That evening, having arrived in the Westfjords, I took this photo: –
I was in the Westfjords, far away from civilisation in an area covering 8,598 square miles but containing only 7,115 people, one third of whom are in one small town named ísafjörður. This mountain range was in the middle of the Westfjords and the lack of any notable population and no moon meant there was a pitch dark night sky and the faintest of Aurorae were visible. I set my camera on a tripod and had it firing off shot after shot, walking away from it to stare up at natures finest light show. When I stepped back toward my camera I turned the switch to ‘off’ but the camera continued taking shots, not turning off. I removed it from the tripod and took out the battery, affording myself a short term solution to what would turn out to be a long term problem. I made my way to ísafjörður for the night, leaving the camera in the bag of dry rice beside the warm radiator in stark contrast to the sub-zero winter temperatures that it transpired were to cause the cameras ultimate demise.
The following morning I headed to Súðavík with what was now just a very expensive paper-weight bearing the ‘Nikon’ emblem, not working at all. I arrived at the Arctic Fox Centre and met Midge. This is Midge: –
Midge gave me the warmest greeting as he cleared the snow from the parking area to make space for me, and I excitedly and enthusiastically introduced myself, eager to meet the foxes, before explaining my conundrum. I was midway through telling Midge that I wouldn’t be able to take any photos because my camera had broken, and the first thing he did was invite me inside for a coffee and to make a plan.
Armed with caffeine and ready to take on the world, that’s exactly what I did. Being a Nikon Pro I made a call to their offices first, talking them through what had happened, and they offered to send me a camera. The excitement was short lived however, when I found out that the camera they planned to send me was in Sweden as there was no residual stock in Iceland suitable for me, and that camera in Sweden would take a couple of days to arrive on a flight from Stockholm to Keflavik, then a truck to Reykjavik, then another flight from Reykjavik to ísafjörður. I didn’t have a couple of days – in a couple of days I was leaving Iceland and heading home. I had to turn down Nikon’s offer and make another plan. That’s when Midge said to me, “don’t worry, in Iceland we say ‘Thetta Reddast.'”
I had no clue what he was talking about but the world was closing in on me so I carried on trying to make a plan, calling the local tourism office to see if they knew of a photographer nearby who would be able to help out. There was only one (remember I said there’s basically nobody living there) and she was busy. I was stumped. Midge said, whilst making me a second coffee, “I have a camera, it’s probably not as good as yours but why don’t you borrow it until you go home.” I couldn’t believe it. I graciously accepted and, for the rest of my adventure, shooting the foxes and a helicopter flight among other things, I had a camera again. Midge simply asked that when I get back to Reykjavik I send it back to him on a flight to ísafjörður, which ended up costing me around £40 to send the box containing his camera on the next flight. Without that, I wouldn’t have been able to shoot the aerial views of Iceland offered by Nordurflug.
Thetta Reddast. It means, ‘everything is going to work out fine.’ It’s a beautiful Icelandic saying and it turned out everything did work out fine. Through the generosity of a stranger come friend I was able to continue, despite my own stupidity. Thing happen to us – hurdles pop up and road blocks appear – and we get through them, past them, over them, around them, and we work out the best of bad situations. Creatively I’ve been in a place lately that hasn’t been productive, but I’m pushing past it…
It’s #TravelTuesday with me, Dave Williams, and today I’m in the KelbyOne studios recording some classes for you beautiful people! If you’re waiting to learn a little more about how to make some money and about how to prepare for travel photography, you’ll love my two new classes! But before they land, I’d love all you KelbyOne members to join me in an exclusive webcast about where to shoot in Iceland, and if you aren’t a KelbyOne member you can sign up for a free.
Today, I want to touch on something else. Right now I’m planning on changing my camera, and it made me think a little about that age-old conundrum: whether or not gear makes the photographer. Well, my answer is no, and my argument is that if you give a pro photographer a $700 camera, and give a rookie a $5,000 camera, the pro will produce the better image. One main reason for this argument is that the pro will be concentrating on the creativity whereas the rookie is more likely to be focused on the gear. Here’s why: –
When a pro photographer and a rookie photographer each shoot 100 images, the pro is more likely to say that one is good, and the rookie is more likely to say that 90 are good. If they then look at each other’s images, the pro is likely to say that one of the rookie’s is good, and the rookie is likely to say that 90 of the pro’s are good. Self-criticism lands front and centre, and the pro is far more critical of themselves than others. But it goes beyond that: –
When the pro screws up, they are far more likely to blame themselves than to blame the gear. They are probably shooting Manual, may have added some extra gear, such as filters or lighting, and have planned the shot. If something goes wrong, they are far more likely to blame the application of their knowledge than they are to blame the gear. Here’s the point: they will use the same gear and try again until they get it right, working on correcting their technique rather than switching out the gear.
There’s a lesson to be taken from this. Being honest about your skills, having the understanding to apply them, and giving objective evaluation to your creative vision will help you to become a better photographer and not to rely on the gear, rather to rely on yourself. I’ve been through this process and continue to do so, as does every other pro photographer, and it’s extremely valuable to think this way.
I hope to catch you all in the comments tomorrow on The Grid!