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  • Road Warrior 102 for the photographer (part two of two)

    In the first of this two-part blog posting, I wrote about all the non-gear related things that make my life easier as a photographic road warrior. In this posting I will talk about the gear related technologies that do the same thing for me. On my educational web-site, The Wells Point, I have a podcast showing all of the contents of my traveling camera bag. It is now slightly out of date, since I recently switched to the smaller Olympus Pen cameras, from the larger DSLRs. But the gear that I take with me (besides my cameras and lenses) has not changed at all. You can see exactly what that includes here. The logic behind switching to the smaller Olympus Pen cameras was the subject of a recent blog entry.

    29

    Jun 15

  • Road Warrior 101 for the photographer (part one of two)

    I have been making photographs seriously since 1972, when I fell in love with photography during an intro to photography class in high school.  I have been taking pictures for money since 1980, when I graduated from college after studying the history of photography.  I have been traveling around the globe to make photographs (and to teach classes) since 1986.  In all that time, I have used hundreds of different cameras. Along the way, I have picked up a few things that have become constants in my tool kit as a photographer.  They are part of my process, regardless of where I go, who I am working for, or what gear I am working with.

    15

    Jun 15

  • Thoughts on pricing video projects

    Regular readers know that I am making a big push into video work. I find video an interesting way to tell stories, I like the fact that multiple senses are used in that story-telling, and of course, the publication photography business is moving that direction. I have had very positive reaction to my video “Cafe,’” which shows a locally owned and operated coffee place. One such response was music to my ears and lead me to write this blog entry.

    09

    May 14

  • Video Hardware That Works For Me

    I recently blogged about the software that I use when making my narrative videos. Here, I will be talking about the hardware, the cameras, lenses, microphones, recorders, tripods, etc., that I use. My technology choices (whether hardware or software) are very specific to my process, my workflow and my budget. The gear I use solves my unique set of problems and nothing more. Every person making videos should ask themselves, does the gear I have (or the gear I am considering) solve my problems?

    25

    Apr 14

  • Why would anyone do stock photography

    In the last couple weeks, my nephew and a long time student both asked me if they would be wise to start producing stock imagery to be licensed through agencies or photo libraries. Though reusing existing imagery is a part of my business, I worked pretty hard to discourage them. In the process, walked them through the question “why would anyone do stock photography.” In doing so. I realized the form of my answer would be useful to any one considering getting involved in stock photography.

    28

    Mar 14

  • Looking at web sites

    Many photographers ask me to look at their web sites to give them feedback. When I review web sites, I think back to when my web site was reviewed by someone in a position of authority. His review reshaped my web site and still influences how I look at web sites. This podcast explores that initial review, which serves as a springboard for me to look at a series of other web-sites.

    19

    Feb 14

  • Clearly crossing a fuzzy line

    Last week I blogged about intellectual property in general and the theft of photographs in particular. The line between the borrowing of ideas and concepts, verses actual stealing of intellectual property can occasionally be fuzzy. But the thefts I was writing about were clearly over that line. In writing that blog, I was prompted to think about my own borrowing/appropriating/reusing.

    03

    Jan 14

  • I was wrong but they are even more wrong

    Throughout my career as a commercial photographer, I have had a fairly consistent attitude about copyright theft (and its impact on my imagery.) This was based on my world-view of the photography market and my ability to realistically respond/control that. A recent experience has shown me that my attitude was, to put it bluntly, wrong.

    31

    Dec 13

  • How do I use my time?

    A professional photographer is perceived as someone who has the pure pleasure of getting paid to snap pictures all day. Though I have been a professional for over thirty years, my working life has never been that simplistic or idyllic. So, earlier this spring I tracked EVERY thing I did for seven days. I do mean everything. For anyone considering “going pro,” a few minutes spent looking at my detailed list of one week’s labor will be real eye opener.

    16

    Aug 13

  • Artfully road testing the Olympus Tough TG-2 camera

    While I was experimenting with the Olympus Tough TG-2 I went a bit overboard in trying to see just how far I have moved past my previous concern in terms of “fearing for the camera’s safety.” What happened was I dreamed up the idea of videos made from weird angles via a rig I would make, putting the camera near the ground to show what it feels like to be riding my motorcycle, a Suzuki C-50, an 800cc Cruiser. In the end it all worked out fine but in between, I definitely had a few of those “do not try this at home” moments.

    29

    May 13

  • Copyright workflow of one professional photographer (me)

    Registering your photographs with the Library of Congress is THE most important thing any photographer can do to protect their intellectual property (their photographs.) While it is not a difficult process, it can be tedious. In this podcast, I walk you through my copyright registration process, in great detail.

    29

    Apr 13

  • How to Build Awareness for Your Work

    This week’s blog entry is a cross posting of a blog that was the result of an interview I did with photographer and marketing expert Cindy A. Stephens for the Boston Photography Focus blog, which is sponsored by the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University. The blog was posted on February 13th, 2013 and was titled: “How to Build Awareness for Your Work.” Below is the full text (the interview and the blog that was built around the interview.)

    22

    Feb 13

  • Image abuse via Tumblr, Instagram, etc.

    A question came my way recently via email and again during a class in SIngapore. Any question that recurs that often is almost guaranteed to be worth a blog entry. After answering the question a couple times, in person and by e-mail, I knew I had a moderately intelligent answer that became this blog entry.

    08

    Feb 13

  • Words of advice for a soon-to-be graduate (part two)

    In last week’s blog entry I parsed an e-mail from a “soon-to-be graduate” The two questions that he raised were: “…what are your favorite aspects of your work” and “…how someone could break into a field like this.” I suggested the real question to ask and answer was “…what are your least favorite aspects of your work.” I answered that question last week so now I can turn to the “…how someone could break into a field like this.”

    04

    Jan 13

  • Words of advice for a soon-to-be graduate (part one.)

    With a subject line like the title above, how could I not reply to the e-mail that recently came in from a “soon-to-be graduate” and how could I not turn my reply it into a blog? I have been sitting on this for awhile trying to figure out how to answer without turning into some cranky old man talking about the ”good old days.”

    28

    Dec 12

  • Questioning the insider vs outsider perspective

    My wife and I presented our work to a group of photographers in New Delhi recently. We built our presentation around John Szarkowski’s idea that (broadly) photographs are either Mirrors and Windows (as in mirrors of the author or windows into other people, places or things.) It was of course fun. But it also got me thinking about photography, culture and a whole mix of other questions which naturally led to a blog entry.

    12

    Oct 12

  • Lessons from the newest Olympus Visionaries

    I have been using Olympus cameras pretty much since I “went digital” in 2003. I have formally been a member of the Olympus “Visionary” program for 18 months, although I have been working with them informally a lot longer.  Olympus recently announced an expanded roster of Visionaries. I read the list of the photographers who are newly affiliated with Olympus and like any good teacher I said to myself, is there a teachable moment in there?

    28

    Sep 12

  • Dish TV vs the Networks and our photographic future

    Am I the only creative content producer relishing the fight between Dish Network and the major broadcast TV networks? While I like a good legal slug-fest between Goliaths as much as the next person, I also have a real stake in the outcome. The second-largest satellite TV provider in the United States, Dish has unleashed Auto Hop, a feature allowing subscribers to automatically ad-skip through broadcast television shows. Three of the four major networks have responded with lawsuits to stop what they fear as the ultimate disruptive technology, which would clearly devastate their business model.

    29

    Jun 12

  • If I were starting out now

    I am an old photographer, (duh!) That means I have been taking pictures seriously for a very long time (forty years to be exact in 2012.) It also suggests I have some kind of wisdom to offer young photographers, which may or may not be true. Arguably, the most common question I get from young photographers is what would I do if I were starting out in today’s photography market. My answer usually starts with “I don’t know” and ends with “I’m glad I am not.” Since neither of those are a real answers, I owe a real answer to readers (and to a friend who asked me that same question recently.)

    15

    Jun 12

  • Two dogs

    I was on the other end of the camera recently, for the first time in a long, long time and it was a fascinating experience.  Being “on camera” is not something I do very often, so I was bit wary. Although the resulting images looked good (at least to me,) the entire process from start to finish was as interesting as the final result. A photographer being photographed! If that’s not the start of a good blog entry, I am not much of a blogger.

    16

    Mar 12

  • Why I teach workshops on stock photography

    An old friend, who runs a stock photo agency, saw that I will soon be teaching a class in stock photography near him. He wrote me a friendly but slightly incredulous note, saying “….a workshop on stock photography? Yesterday Pickerell’s advice was to ‘Find another profession.’ “ My reply was to say I am not likely to follow the advice of Jim Pickerell, arguably the longest running writer/commentator on the business of stock photography. But I did want to answer my friend in more depth. So I thought more about his question, why teach a workshop on stock photography?

    23

    Dec 11

  • Surviving and Thriving as a Professional Photographer

    In last week’s blog explored how I came understand and even embrace a couple guiding ideas about making a living as a photographer. The first of those is to accept (or even ideally embrace) the fact that what I do as a professional photographer exists within an ever changing, constantly shifting framework. Change is a constant and so I simply have to accept that. The second insight is that, for me, institutional affiliations, external validations of my skills and conventional certifications are not that much use in my own photography. That works for me. It may not be the same for other. With those two ideas in mind, this week I will offer some thinking points for any professional photographer (or professional photographer in the making) who is looking at the current business of photography and asking themselves, where can I fit in?

    11

    Mar 11

  • Should I become a Certified Professional Photographer

    I have worked in and around photography almost my entire working life. I took a few short detours away from my beloved medium, but those went nowhere fast. A recent email prompted me to look back over my career for insights to share with the photographer who wrote me. Looking back, I noted two important trends, lessons I wish I knew way back when I was starting out, but I did not. I am heartened by the thought that at least I can explore and explain those ideas now, for others to learn from.

    04

    Mar 11

  • Some thoughts on stock photography

    In this podcast, I answer a friend’s query about how she might get start doing stock photography. By keeping my comments a bit open ended as well as talking about my experience in stock, I turn what might have been a one-to-one conversation into something of wider use for other photographers. During the podcast, I use video screen-capture along with my narration to explain and show what I am talking about.

    15

    Dec 10

  • Open sourcing the business side of photography (part two of two)

    In the first part of this two-part entry, I explored old and new models for information sharing information on the best practices in the business of photography. Last week, I “framed “the question and gave some useful examples of open sourcing of business information. This week, I will do my part by going into my business model, making my own small contribution to the process of open sourcing the business side of photography.

    05

    Nov 10

  • Open sourcing the business side of photography (part one of two)

    A friend recently posted a thought-provoking comment about one of my September blog posts on The Wells Point site. The blog entry was titled: “Going pro vs doing photography for love, not money.” One question he raised in his comment was so good that I wrote him back, saying I would answer him in a blog post. So here goes.

    29

    Oct 10

  • Why photograph for money?

    I have been reading many recent blog entries, across the web, talking about the changing business of commercial photography, now that digital imaging has “democratized” photography. Most of the blogs are talking about things like the wisdom of “going pro,” the hurdles to overcome in order to do that and various important thinking points in building a photography business. These are all VERY important questions and I am glad to know someone is pondering them in order to spur a much-needed dialogue on the subject. I have yet to read the blog post I have long wanted to read on that same subject. That would be titled something like: “Why photograph for money?” Since no one else has written that blog, I am going to try to do that myself.

    08

    Oct 10

  • More Summertime Snippets

    By relocating to Asia for much of the summer, we are undertaking something new to us. Some of the work I am doing here is specific to being here, whether researching an upcoming assignment in India or teaching a class in Singapore. Much of my time is spent on work that I could do anywhere, whether blogging or creating new podcasts. Since my life here is more slow-paced than back “home,” I have been enjoying the opportunity to ponder a few ideas that have been piling up in my “blogs-to-be” folder.

    19

    Jul 10

  • Pictures, purges and process (part two)

    As of late, I have been writing about the massive spring-cleaning I have undertaken over the last few weeks. I am pretty much done with this archival edit and purge. I have also been thinking how much fun it was looking through thirty plus year’s worth of work. In all, it was a good starting point to reconsider the evolution of my style as a photographer. If I had to give that journey a title, as I went from a beginning photographer to an established professional, the best phrase would be “moving the goals posts.”

    03

    May 10

  • The end of the photography world as we know it

    The philosophical riddle, “if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” has become the starting point of many jokes. It also raises important questions regarding observation and how we establish/define reality. While a physicist can empirically (and easily) prove that yes, a noise is made, the philosopher is less sure about what is thruth. A recent article in the New York Times, and especially the reaction to it, reminded me of this philosophical question.

    02

    Apr 10

  • Internet good news and bad news

    It is such a cliché to say, “What did we do before the Internet,” yet it also is a good question. For my teenage daughter, there is no such thing as life without the Internet. I do remember that time and as a rule, I prefer today’s technology over the “old days,” of going to libraries, photocopying pages, writing notes, etc. I am not here to wax nostalgic about times gone by. I am here to offer a few new, useful resources. Then I will talk about something of a drawback to the Internet.

    01

    Mar 10

  • Debating ideas or being run over by change

    I have been having an email exchange with a still photographer I know who is conflicted about doing work in video, as he is getting paid to do just that kind of work. His experience of being knee deep in a debate, while the issues at the core of that same debate swirl all around you, that is something I have experienced a number of times in the last decade. The latest debate, about whether still photographers should embrace video, looks to be another one of these equally intense debates. For me, the only thing different about this debate is that I am now old enough (and maybe wise enough) to be able to take a step back and analyze it a bit better than I have with similar previous debates. Whether I will make the wise decision is something only time will tell.

    14

    Dec 09

  • Lessons in the business of photography

    Last Monday, November 9th, I gave a presentation in New York City at the Apple store in SoHo. It was titled “It’s the journey not the destination (but who does not like a good destination shoot?)” I was one of two photographers presenting that night. When I agreed to do this talk, months ago, I thought it might have made for a somewhat interesting evening. Little did I know, just how interesting that whole evening would actually be!

    16

    Nov 09

  • An impromptu course in design of web-sites for photographers

    These days, all photographers, from commercial/documentary to portrait/fine-art, live and die by their web sites. That should mean that most websites for photographers would be built with the same goal, showing the photographer’s work to its best advantage. You also would think that an equally important goal would be making those same sites easy to navigate and very user friendly. Based on my recent experience reviewing 13 photographer’s web-sites, those assumptions would be largely wrong.

    09

    Nov 09

  • Philadelphia vs New York in baseball (and photography)

    Professional baseball’s World Series is underway and the Philadelphia Phillies are playing the New York Yankees. Having lived in both Philadelphia and New York, I know just which team I am rooting for! My experience in each place, as a resident and as a photographer, strongly shapes my team loyalty.

    02

    Nov 09

  • A grab bag sent from Greece

    I write this from Santorini, Greece, where the light simply is amazing. I am having so much fun during my first trip to Greece that this blog post is going to be limited to a brief grab bag of things I have been gathering recently. I hope you find them interesting.

    02

    Oct 09

  • What can the assistant bring to the photographer?

    When I wrote the recent post on “Group questions versus individual questions,” I was obviously writing about that topic. But, I was also using the process of writing to clarify my own thinking on that subject. As I started to answer a query from a student in the Fotovision class that I just finished in California, I ended up similarly clarifying my own thinking on another topic.

    25

    Sep 09

  • The executive portrait, a.k.a.,”the five minute drill”

    This podcast goes on location with me as I make an executive portrait.

    23

    Sep 09

  • A big, what is the meaning of life, kind of a question

    A former student/intern wrote me with a big, “what is the meaning of life” kind of a question. The process of answering her ended up becoming something of a dialogue within myself about photography and “meaning” for me. After I sorted things out in my own thinking, I wrote her an answer I could also use as a blog posting.

    24

    Aug 09

  • The “Stock Photography” of David H. Wells

    This podcast explores the stock photography of David H. Wells. The audio was recorded at the Hallmark Institute of Photography.

    12

    Aug 09

  • Pricing images for publications: Part Two

    In the last blog entry, I explored a scenario where you (or me) would need to calculate the use fee for an image to be used in a publication. I directed readers to a few useful resources for calculating that proposed licensee fee. Now, I want to offer a few thinking points that should be part of your process when pricing images for publication.

    10

    Jul 09

  • Pricing images for publications: Part One

    A friend/former student wrote me with a great question. He wrote: “I have an opportunity to license some images to a travel company for their brochures. I’ve never done this before and therefore I’d love to get your quick opinion of what the right price range should be. The email below is from the director of communications from the travel company.”

    03

    Jul 09

  • Thoughts on web sites for photographers

    A friend asked me about web sites and I got to thinking about my own web site.  I considered how it evolved from a coding disaster, to a nice try, and finally to the real thing.  My path, with all its ups and downs, may be instructive for other photographers thinking about their existing (or) future web sites.

    30

    Mar 09

  • The symbiosis between personal and commercial work

    Who are you taking pictures for? That’s a question that photojournalists hear a lot. But, I think ALL photographers should be asking themselves that question. In the process of sorting that question out, most photographers divide their efforts into “personal work,” and “commercial work.” I am not so sure about the wisdom of such clear demarcations.

    16

    Mar 09

  • Adapting to new technology verses adopting a new philosophy

    As commercial photographers, we are continually adapting to new technologies, moving from black and white, to color (then to slides) and now to digital. Similarly we are often expected to adopt new strategies and philosophies as the market we work within changes.  More and more folks I hear from are finding that second process of adopting harder to take, and I am not sure it is just a function of our advancing ages.

    13

    Mar 09

  • The future of commercial photography and percieved value

    A friend wrote to suggest I “talk about photography as a business and how it relates to our economic times.” I was hesitant at first, unsure what I could add to the discussion since my expertise is minimal when it comes to economics, business or marketing. I thought about it for a while and realized I did have something I could add to the discussion.

    02

    Mar 09

  • My “brief stint” as a fashion photographer

    I was reading an interesting article in The New York Times about the Presidential dress code.  Barack Obama’s recent choice to be photographed without his suit jacket in the Oval Office was front-page news. It rang a bell and then I remembered how another President’s fashion choices changed my life as a photographer.

    02

    Feb 09

  • Blurring the lines between art and commerce

    You hear and read a lot about how the lines between the worlds of art photography and commercial photography are continually being blurred. In most ways that is good.  I recently lived through a particularly interesting experience that shows just how much these once distinctive realms are blurring.

    09

    Jan 09

  • What every photographer should know about model releases

    Model releases seem to be the source of more confusion than almost any other aspect of photography for aspiring (and established) professionals. I am asked about them during every class or presentation that I give. The irony is that model releases are remarkably simple.

    05

    Dec 08

  • Marketing is the key to being a professional photographer

    The longer I work as a professional photographer, the more I am reminded that taking pictures is the easiest part of this job. The hardest part is marketing your work and yourself. I have tried various marketing strategies over the years, some more successful than others. All of them are built on the idea of regularly getting your work in front of the folks who will pay to use your images. So how do you find those folks?

    21

    Nov 08

  • Some thoughts on being a professional photographer

    This podcast explores important questions that aspiring professional photographers should be thinking about.

    19

    Nov 08

  • Making inexpensive, high quality, archival photographic prints

    An exhibition of what I call my “light study” work just closed in Providence. One of the many fun things about this show was that it featured my newest color “light study” work. In the past, this work was only in black and white, so this is a new and exciting direction for me. You can read more about the new work here: http://meredithcutler.com/image/david-h-wells-light-studies-for-artscope-magazine-septoct-2008.

    17

    Nov 08

  • Color calibration made easy and accurate

    One other piece of technology I discovered at the recent Photo Expo in NYC that really struck a chord with me was the Color Munki. It enables you to calibrate your entire color printing system, both printer AND your monitor screen, so they are all speaking the same language when it comes to color.

    07

    Nov 08

  • B + W fiber prints from digital files

    Though I work primarily in color, I have a long time love of black and white photography. For me the Holy Grail of black and white would be to merge digital capture with conventional, fiber-based output.

    20

    Oct 08

  • Doing it for money

    Here are a few more great resources on the business of photography for those interested in “doing it for money.”

    13

    Oct 08

  • Model Release issues

    I am regularly asked when a Model Release is needed.

    26

    Sep 08

  • Lists of awards, prizes or grants

    There is a new blog attempting to “bring together a listing of all the awards, prizes or grants which are given in the various fields of arts.”

    22

    Sep 08