It's pretty important

Every professional photographer is an artist.  They spend time learning their craft, developing it, specializing it, and trying to perfect it.  

They are excited to deliver the images they have spent time perfecting to their clients because they know a lot of time has gone into the final completed image.  

Most photographers even have a consistent style that they are known for.  Some may be known for an edgy, decontrasted style, some are known for vibrant, color enhanced images or a muted, soft, light filtered style.  

Regardless of the style, nothing can irritate a photographer more than a client taking the image that they have created and then attempting to "reedit" with of the many filters now available on smart devices.

You see, a professional photographer takes their craft quite seriously.  They advertise and are hired for their certain style, yet when someone changes the image that style is no longer theirs.  In fact, often, it poorly reflects what the original image looked like.  

Imagine you spent a significant amount of time creating something and then someone changes it yet your name was still associated with it.   What if it was an advertising presentation you were giving but at the last moment someone made some adjustments right before you were to give it?  Or how about you designed a building and the builder decided they didn't like a certain element and adapts it during the building process? 

Do you see what I am getting at?

If you wouldn't appreciate someone changing something you designed, created, or made, I can guarantee that a photographer feels the same way when you slap a filter on their images because you think it looks cool. 

It's not.

And, in fact, you are violating copyright.  SO STOP.

Stop changing an image.  Just because you have paid to use an image does not mean you have the authority to change an image.  Did you hear what I said?  

USE AND CHANGE ARE TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WORDS.

So just stop.  It isn't cool.  It doesn't look better.  And you may just land yourself in some serious trouble if the photographer elects to report the copyright violation.  And some will.  Especially if they get tired of it happening.

Be respectful of their craft.  It's really just that simple.  

 

Better...

I really am quite the slacker when it comes to blog posts, but I am going to try to be better because learning is a never ending process and I hope to impart something I have learned with you.

As I sat down and started preparing my goals for 2016, I knew I would need to find ways to continue to grow personally and professionally.  

This year I am focusing on one theme, "I will find more within myself".  Within that theme I have four goals I am going to work on each month...something to change, something to read, something to give and something to succeed.

Change.  It could be something as simple as a behavior or habit that I need to realign.  They say it takes 30 days to create a habit, so I think this is absolutely doable.  It could be a change to the way I edit, or photograph, or do laundry...it really can be ANYTHING!

Read.  This is an easy one for me.  I love to read but I also don't spend a lot of time reading to grow.  So that is the goal.  I have found it's helpful to search out the NYT or Washington Post bestsellers lists and go from there. 

Give.  I am truly blessed.  And I could give more.  Whether it is time, services, help, aid.  Find a way to give.  It doesn't have to be grand to make a difference.  

Succeed.  Sometimes we view success only achieved when we are the best.  Did the best.  Have the best things.  We need to find ways to have success in our daily lives.  Success could be completing a new photography course (you NEVER know enough.  EVER.), it could be not yelling at your teenage boys for one week, it could be having the laundry caught up.  A lot of times we set goals and feel like we never can accomplish them.  If we find a way to have the little successes, bigger ones will come.  And I'll tell you, most of the time the little successes are enough.  

I truly think these four goals will help me find more within myself. So as I move forward, I will share blog posts about how I have aligned photography with these goals and how it has shaped me.  And who knows, maybe it will help shape you too.

Becoming Great

One of the biggest challenges of a photographer is deciding which work to highlight in galleries and online sharing/networking sites.

Recently someone commented on a photo that I highlighted on my Facebook site that they didn't like a photo.  And honestly, I am fine with that.  What I am not fine with, however, is backing up that statement.  What I think, I am fairly certain I am correct, is that they didn't like it because of the content, not the merit.

I am not "selective" in my highlight pictures.  And what I mean by that is simply this.

Every subject, in my eyes, is beautiful.  

When I take pictures of newborns I like them to be simple, capturing them in a form that projects their new life.  There are some amazingly talented newborn photographers in this world, and that style make work for them, but there is something to be said about the beauty of capturing a newborn being as they are.

A building may be magnificent in its entirety, but taking the time to highlight angles, arches, and even cracks can speak about the history, craftsmanship and work that went into it.

Sport event pictures give you the opportunity to capture athletes of all abilities.  I have had the opportunity to photograph some amazing and well know athletes in a certain sporting event yet I don't concentrate on just them.  The ability to show that anyone has potential to be great is what sets you apart.

We make mistakes. This makes you real.  There isn't a photographer out there who captures every shot perfectly.  And while the goal is to highlight your best, sometimes it is okay to show a few that are flawed.  There isn't anything that is absolutely perfect and just because we can make it appear that way doesn't mean we should.

My rebuttal to the negative comment was simply this:

"The beauty of photography is that each photograph is subjective to ones personal views. Some people may not prefer the editing style a photographer uses, while some may find merit in work created by those who just take pictures. What I see in this picture is dedication, drive, ethic, and desire. This photograph shows that a women can be committed and strong, that by her efforts she has attained a level of fitness that has brought satisfaction in her life. No amount of dislike will ever take away from what both she and I were able to achieve in this photo shoot. To me, the value isn't in what others may think of this athlete, but what she sees in herself. And she sees, as she should, greatness."

Find greatness in your work in all forms.  Don't limit yourself.  Express yourself in ways that help define you as a person and your direction as a photographer, but don't limit yourself.  And don't limit your subjects.  They deserve your attention.  And they all deserve their own moments of greatness.

 

 

Some tips

Recently I posted a few words of wisdom to give some guidance for people who take pictures.  What I mean by that is everyone has to start somewhere.  If you really love taking pictures, and you have the passion to not only take them, but sit for hours on end to sort and edit, maybe you are thinking you could become a photographer.  And good luck to you if that is the case.  But here are a few words of wisdom that you need to seriously think about before you take the jump of accepting money to take pictures for people.

1.  Take a lot, and I mean A LOT of pictures.  Learn the difference between ISO, F-Stop and Aperture, use them on your camera and learn how they work together.  Learn to take pictures in manual.  Get off auto and study, learn, apply.

2. Do not limit yourself to natural light.  You need to learn lighting.  Fill lights are used even on the brightest of days.  You should be able to know what to do if you have to take a picture in the brightest of sunlight.

3.  Respect.  Oh boy, I could write a dissertation on this on.  Make sure you know where you are.  Is it public, private?  ALWAYS, ALWAYS ask to take pictures at a location (here's a simple rule: if somebody owns, rents it, runs it you ask) in which you are shooting.  If a sign says to not sit on something, don't.  If a sign says please don't use the stairs, don't.  It's very simple.  Don't skirt the rules.  If you are shooting for any other purpose than for personal experience, you need to get permission.  Remember, using certain venues as a photo backdrop may sound like a good idea, but any attempt to use it commercially could land you in big trouble.

4.  Do not take your camera to an event/gathering/party and assume you are going to take pictures of people you don't know, or even people you do know.   It's tacky and bad etiquette.  And do not, DO NOT, ever get in the way of the paid/contracted photographer at ANYTHING.  Even if you happen to be smart and ask ahead because you want to build your portfolio, you still don't have the right to be in their way.  Ask the host and understand what the host has in place with the person/company they did hire.  Don't take pictures at a venue when you are trying to build your portfolio, even if you have permission, and then use them in any purpose other than a personal portfolio.  These opportunities are to help you learn what you can do to improve, they are not a business strategy.

5. Close friends and family are always, ALWAYS going to tell you that you are great and that your pictures are better than others they have seen.  And that may be the case.  However, using that praise to merit your decision to become a photographer can also be your downfall.  Find an industry professional who is willing to review your portfolio.  Someone who doesn't know you, someone who isn't a friend of a friend.  They are out there, and they are willing to help new talent when they see it.  They can give you the criticism that you won't hear from friends and family.   Also, listen to what they have to say, even if it is hurtful because they don't like your work.  And then go out and prove them wrong.

6.  Learn to edit.  And learn to edit correctly.  Actions serve their purpose but there are many photographers who use only a specific set or two and every one of their pictures look the same.  Editing is not to be used as a way to cover up a bad shot.  That is why #1 is SO important.  You can't just sit down, open Lightroom, apply the same action to every single picture and expect to earn money for your work.  Editing is probably 75% of being a professional photographer.  Don't take the next step until you can edit.  And remember to shoot in raw.  When you have your portfolio reviewed, they will look at both raw and edited files.  Raw will tell them how you can improve your photography, edited will help them tell you what you need to learn to finish a picture.

7.   Be willing to read and apply the tips you have learned today and read elsewhere from professionals in the know.  None of this matters if you already assume you already know all there is to know.  The world of digital photography is always changing, always updating and always upgrading.  Learn to adapt and apply.  And if you don't want to, then you really need to.

Recap: North Central CrossFit Regionals

This past weekend I had the opportunity to photograph North Central CrossFit Regionals for PurePharma.  It was such an amazing event and being selected to be a part of their team was a wonderful experience.

There are a few things, however, that I learned by watching and witnessing the people around me that I thought I would give you a little insight on.

First, CrossFit made a HUGE change to camera policies at the event.  Basically, anyone who was not authorized press is now limited to a specific size lens for the event.  It caused a lot of frustration by attendees.  I get their anger, I do.  But I also get the reasoning behind it.  CrossFit and sponsor/vendor companies pay big fees to be part of the event and as such only certain people are granted rights to TAKE the picture.  It comes down to limiting distribution of pictures that are, to stay the least, less than stellar quality.  Even at an event like this professional photographers are going to have to make adjustments to get the right light into their camera and that compromises quality.  Now, don't get me wrong, if CrossFit were to change back the policy I would understand that too.  I see the benefit for both sides.  And since this is the current policy, it needs to be abided by.

Second, people don't understand the work that is goes into capturing a great shot.  It takes timing, understanding, passion and knowledge to get shots that "speak" from a sporting event.  I encountered a few "you're in may way" comments as I was trying to shoot.  I tried to be as polite as possible but sometimes, especially in a fast moving event, that is impossible because my only focus is on fulfilling my obligation as a photographer.  I thought maybe it was just me because I was a sponsor photographer, but then in speaking to the CrossFit photographers they heard the same thing!  I get you're there to support your athlete and watch the event, but we have a job to do.  And we need to do it to the best of our ability.  Be mindful of that if you attend an event.  If you aren't paid to be there, you don't have the right to dictate that someone needs to move out of your way.

Third, I would love having a team from my gym there to support.  But if so, I wouldn't try to indicate that just because I am part of a box that has a team that I have a right side step the rules.  If you got caught with a long lens, I'm sorry.  The rule is in place for a reason and you need to follow it.  There isn't any one athlete who is more important than the other.  They all made it by their hard work, dedication and drive.  And just because you have a box that might have more athletes in attendance doesn't give you the right to think you are more important than you are.  The best kind of support you can give is to obey the rules and show respect.  It's that simple.  And by the way, if you want some advice on how to use that kit 55-200/5.6 lens that falls in the rule so you can still get some great shots, let me know.  I'd be happy to help you out!

Finally, I have had many people ask for photos.  And since I tend to be a rule follower, I can't give them to you unless I have permission to.  Any photographers at this event were required to submit their photos to the company who issued their press pass.  If they elect to, the company can release them, but then the CrossFit rule comes into place.  Don't skirt the rules.  You'll make it even more difficult for companies to issue passes in the future.  If I post images that I took at Regionals it is only because PurePharma has already posted them and my contract allows me to use them only after my credential issuing company has used them publicly.

Spectators, attendees, visitors and guests may not distribute, use, reproduce, stream, upload, transmit, broadcast, link, exploit or license any description, account, images, pictures, film, digital, video or audio recording for any commercial purpose without the prior express written consent of CrossFit Inc., in each instance.

I wouldn't change a thing about my work this weekend.  I loved doing it.  I loved being part of such a wonderful, well run event.  I understand the rules and the reasons behind it.  I am sure if you were bothered by it, if you took the time to think about something happening in your workplace to mirror the situation, you would come to understand it to.  

"One of the most sincere forms of respect is listening to what another has to say" Bryant McGill

 

Splendid Beauty

You may have noticed that I changed my logo a bit.  Well, not I, because I am not a graphic designer.  But I asked Sarah Infante of Graphicos Design to create one for me.

I knew I wanted a magnolia, scrollwork and a specific type of lettering.  She also added a photography element, an idea I loved.

Usually you see very simple logos.  Lettering is the mainstay, and there may be some scrollwork or shape clip arts.  And those are fine too.

But I wanted mine to reflect something important that also had meaning.

Magnolia is my favorite flower and tree for that matter.

Here are somethings you might not know.

Magnolia means splendid beauty, perseverance, dignity and nobility.  The fragrance of the magnolia flower is unparalleled.  The tree is one that exhibits beauty year round.

And that is the why I am a photographer. I truly see beauty in all forms and I love to be able to capture it.  To me, there isn't one beauty that is more superior than the others.  Beauty can be found everywhere and in everything, if we only look for it.

Capturing splendid beauty in the world around us is important to me and I hope that you will see it in the pictures I take too.

 

*If you are in need of a graphic designer, please contact Sarah at www.graphicosdesign.com.

Progression

The best thing about photographers is that they each have their own unique style.  Many prefer to working in natural light and unless they are absolutely solid in capturing the light (here' s a little clue: none are) this brings in the necessity of editing.  

The problem lies in using actions (which serve a valuable purpose to some extent) to completely overdo the picture making it turn out to be someone you might not even recognize.  Case in point my daughter.  Lovely in her own light, add in a few skin corrections and actions and I no longer recognize my little girl.

It's not that I don't edit, because I do.  In fact, I spend quite a bit of time creating my own editing style with curves, adjustments and the occasional retouch.  Some situations, not all, warrant certain actions.

I am also not saying one way of editing is better than the other.  I am just letting you know that there are a variety of ways that editing is done, and they are all done usually with the photographers ideas in mind.  What I want you to get from this, is that you as the client have the option to decide what style of pictures you want.  Do you want more natural looking photographs?  Do you want edgy?  Do you want minimal retouches?  Look around, view photographs on the web and get an idea of what you want your pictures to like.  Even though in the end the photographer has creative control, I guarantee both you and your photographer will both be pleased with the outcome of your pictures if you have a style in mind and you aren't afraid to let your photographer know that.

Hopefully you will find joy when looking back at a picture and you will remember all of the little things, those things that are truly captured in a photograph not made in a photograph, that are forgotten over time.  For me, it is remembering every little freckle, how dark her brown eyes really are and how flushed her skin gets whenever she starts moving around.  The joy is that I can look at the picture and know that it is of HER, not someone I think she should be.

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The Preset Dilemma

Before you get offended, let me just say that presets can serve their purpose.  There are some very talented artists out there with amazing presets you can buy for your editing programs.  

The problem is that too many photographers rely on presets to be the essence of their art.  It's almost as if they have forgotten that sometimes it is just enough to take a really good photo.  A photo doesn't become great by pushing the play button and allowing digital software to edit your picture so much that it takes aways from the simplistic beauty.  A photo becomes great when you KNOW how to use lighting to your advantage.  A photo becomes great when you KNOW how to adjust a tone curve or you know how to soften the skin without taking away from the individuality of the person.  Yes we all want our wrinkles smooth, or our skin to look perfect, but that's not who we are or what defines us.  

The best compliment I have received was from an industry professional who said that just by looking at my pictures he could tell I have control of my camera.  Every day I am grateful that he didn't say that I really know how to use Photoshop.

I hope that people will look at my pictures years from now and see the past as it was, not as some program wanted it to be.

My Favorite Picture

Sometimes you take a picture that completely takes you by surprise.   

During my son's recent state baseball tournament, I was playing around with different types of bokah.  I was limited due to a fence around the field in the areas where I normally could get a close up.  At one point during the game, they had fallen behind and you could see that frustration on the players faces.  This shot was taken when the pitcher seemed like the weight of getting the team back on track was on his shoulders.  Instead of focusing on the player, I wanted to take a picture where the focus was on the feeling of the moment.  And that's exactly what this is.

To me, and his Mom, we see a very clear picture. His head is slightly down expressing his reflection on what is happening around him.  The manner of his walk back to the mound show his frustration but also his dedication as he rolls the ball in his hands.  Finally, the blur parallels the challenge he faces as he steps up to the mount.

Now you may not see much when you look at it, but I guarantee that if you had been at the game and then looked at this picture, you would feel just like he did at the moment this was taken.

Memories aren't always better in the mind.  A picture of one, however, can be. 

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Snapshots

Many of you will notice my snapshots portfolios.  I love traveling.  It is always so fun and engaging to visit new places.  The sights, sounds, tastes...everything is enjoyable.  Something I try to do when taking travel photography is to find the best angle and lighting because I won't edit them.  Some may not agree with me, but I think too often we try to make something look better and brighter, but if you capture the photo the first moment you see it, then it will always be beautiful to you because it evokes the memory of when it was happening.  I guess I can say it enough, but when we look at pictures you should feel like you are standing in that place all over again.  That is why the portfolios of travel that you see are as I saw them.  Unedited, raw and perfect.  And when I feel like I am sitting on that beach again at sunset, or standing in the heat of the day look at a magnificent edifice, then the my photography has served its purpose.  

The 50mm

Many of you may wonder why we need different lenses.  If you like to take pictures, a good lens selection is imperative.  My current favorite is my 50mm fixed.  Why such a restricted lens you say?  For me, it isn't about capturing what many people deem the correct picture.  I prefer to capture the essence of a picture, something that makes the part stand out more than the whole.  Don't limit your thinking when you take a picture.  Although Parliament is an impressive building, the character really shines through with a closer view.

A great view of Parliament taken from the boardwalk by the London eye.

A great view of Parliament taken from the boardwalk by the London eye.

The sun was setting when this photograph was taken.  I love the relfections and shadows, something I couldn't capture using a normal lens.  

The sun was setting when this photograph was taken.  I love the relfections and shadows, something I couldn't capture using a normal lens.  

We are always looking for that one perfect picture, but the true perfect picture is the one that makes it seem as if that moment in time is happening all over again.