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  • Ways not to ruin your photography workshop experience

    I love teaching photography workshops. I get to help others improve their photography. I get to see the world through their eyes. I get to see new and interesting ways to see and photograph the world. I get to go all sorts of interesting places. I even get paid to do all that. Along the way though, I see people make the same mistakes over and over which ruin their workshop experience.

    28

    Dec 16

  • Situational awareness is the key to better photography

    I teach workshops overseas and domestically. I photograph overseas and domestically. In both cases there is one skill that I practice over and over that makes a huge difference when I photograph. It is the one thing that every photographer should master, whether or not they are attending one of my workshop (or anyone else’s.)

    28

    Nov 16

  • My particular choices for video gear

    I am on my way to mastering video as a way of visually telling stories. A student asked about the gear I have chosen to use during that evolution. That question prompted the following answers, which became another blog entry. Keep in mind that MY answers to these questions are unique to my process. Every videographer / photographer solves their problems differently.  With that in mind….

    18

    Jul 16

  • Crowd-sourcing your editing

    Every photographer knows how hard it can be to edit a large set of images down to a select few. Every photographer also knows how that process is key to strengthening any photo-project. The way that I handle this same challenge is that I now often crowd-sourcing my editing.

    21

    Nov 15

  • 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 It is now slightly out of date, since I recently switched to the smaller Olympus Pen cameras, from the larger DSLRs.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

  • Critiquing 101

    The very best way to improve as a photographer does not involve any particular piece of gear or course of study, nor does it involve apprenticing yourself to a master photographer. Impoverishing yourself by working on nothing but photography as something of a photographic “monk” will not do it, either. While all of these things may improve your photography, the best way is much simpler, yet for many photographers it seems much harder.

    31

    May 15

  • Opportunity and Hazards Attending Portfolio Walks

    “You get only one chance to make a first impression.” This adage rang through my head as I walked through a sea of photographers with work on view at the 2014 Society for Photographic Education (SPE) portfolio walk. These increasingly popular events are often held over a two- to three-hour window during a photography festival or conference. They tend to be casual and are usually open to the general public for free, in contrast with the more structured (and fee-based) portfolio review. As an informal event, a portfolio walk is more in line with introductory networking opportunities than as a venue for print sales. Here are a few lessons I noted last year, as well as helpful tips from eight of the SPE student scholarship recipients I corresponded with to research this story.

    25

    Mar 15

  • Cultural concerns every traveling photographer should know about

    Photography requires gear. Duh. That’s a given. Yet, the most important tool any photographer has is their mind, their eye, their humanity and their adaptability. Those are priceless, both in the fact that you can’t buy them and the fact that they are what will help you make exceptional photographs whenever you travel. Before you leave for any other culture, smart photographers prepare by reading up on cultural concerns they may encounter on the road.

    27

    Jan 15

  • What I am carrying in my camera bag and WHY

    Photographers love gear. I love gear. But, in the end, my gear does ONE thing. It solves my problem(s.) Usually that problem involves getting something in front of the camera recorded for a publication, exhibition or web-site. The gear I use is constantly changing. Every couple years I create a new podcast to show what I NOW carry with me when working. This record of my gear is accurate for late summer of 2014. In a year or two it will be outdated, as will my cameras and I will have to do this all over again.

    15

    Oct 14

  • Melded Arts: The sculpture and photography of Abigail Gumbiner

    Abigail Gumbiner is a photographer and sculptor living on the Central Coast of California. Combing her passion for the two media, she produced her Melded Arts work, which has been exhibited at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art and the Art of Photography Show in San Diego as well as being featured in “The Handmade Photograph” magazine.

    17

    Sep 14

  • Travel Selfies

    I was flattered to be interviewed recently by a writer for the Washington Post for an article on “Travel Selfies.” For those of us of a certain age, who need a translation, that mean self-portraits made while traveling. These photos. at their best, both the traveler and the destination they traveled to. The conversation I had with the writer was fascinating and I took it as an opportunity to turn some time well spent into a blog entry.

    05

    Sep 14

  • Zen and the Art of Photography Maintenance

    I started riding motorcycles before I even took up photography, way back in 1972. Both riding and photographing require a lot of practice to achieve mastery. Both pursuits can be rewarding (or frustrating) as that expertise develops (or fails to.) Both involve complex technology with numerous opportunities to spend more and more money. Both are frequently enjoyed outside. Both involve disciplined vision and constant awareness of your surrounding environment. Thankfully, in only one pursuit can a mistake result in injury or even worse—death. While I was riding recently, I was reminded of what is arguably the most important similarity between the two, at least in the eyes of a photographer.

    22

    Aug 14

  • Sampling my CreativeLive workshop

    I recently gave a class on personal projects and the photo-essay that was recorded and broadcast over the web by CreativeLive. Photo essays are compelling, dynamic, vivid mission statements of a photographer’s work — every photographer should have a working knowledge of this narrative art form. You can get a sample of the class by watching this preview segment.

    16

    Jul 14

  • 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

  • Video software that works for me

    Digital imaging software programs, like the cameras I use, solve a given set of problems. Nothing more, nothing less. Lightroom, for example, is one of many options for software to turn RAW files from my camera into TFF or JPGs for my paying clients to use. In video, there are similarly a myriad of choices. The choices I use to edit my video/ sound and to make my time-lapse animations don’t make me taller, smarter or sexier. They solve my problem most efficiently and inexpensively.

    11

    Apr 14

  • Thinking about organizing the personal project

    My favorite kind of photography is the personal project (or photo-essay.) The thing I like the least about them is the time and effort required to keep such projects organized. But, I need to be organized in order to execute the projects efficiently, to promote the work to potential funding sources and exhibitors, as well as to have the same work reviewed and published. I made this podcast explaining how I organize my personal projects.

    19

    Mar 14

  • Why listen to me?

    I write a lot of blog entries, teach a lot of classes and give many presentations. Those are NOT why you should listen to me when I write something or say something. You should listen to me because you think I know what I am talking about. The question is how do you know that and by extension, why listen to me?

    14

    Mar 14

  • What I hate about online camera reviews

    I rarely look at online camera reviews, unless I am trying to answer a very, very detailed question about a specific setting, button or control an a given camera. While some of the reviews can be useful, a lot of them are garbage. I am still trying to figure out who to blame, the reviewers who write the junk or the end-users who put too much faith in the same reviewers.

    31

    Jan 14

  • Road trip road tips

    My daughter is setting off on her semester abroad in college. She chose not to go on a college-sponsored program in some sunny and warm spot, where she might be surrounded by other American college students. Instead, she chose to enroll in a university in the chilly, damp and often gloomy U.K., to follow her passion, costume design for the theatre. Needless to say, I am very proud of her adventurous spirit.

    10

    Jan 14

  • Lighting Workshop with Victor Rodriguez, Jr.

    In November of 2013, I took part in a lighting Workshop with Olympus Trailblazer, portrait and fashion photographer Victor Rodriguez, Jr., at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem, PA. During the three hour workshop, I gathered video clips, which I then made into this short, three minute video.

    24

    Nov 13

  • Three Things Every Photographer Needs to Know About Electronic Flash

    Someone recently asked for a “super basic lesson on flash” in, as they said, “one or two steps.”  When I say flash, I mean supplementary light that is being used when documenting people, places or things as they are presented to you. I am NOT talking about studio work, where you can control the light and the subject. I am talking about when the photographer has to react to the subject and the light as they are given.

    11

    Oct 13

  • Is Gene Smith turning in his grave?

    I write this entry in mid-May in a pretty agitated state of mind.  I am posting this in September because posting it in May might have burnt a bridge for me professionally.  I also wanted to see if the anger I felt back in May subsided.  It has not and so I am burning a bridge now.

    27

    Sep 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

  • Seven Questions You Should Ask Every Accomplished Photographer

    I have been taking photographs for almost four decades—mostly for money and always for myself. Over those forty years, I have slowly figured out what I wanted to ask the many photographers I encountered along the way.  I have distilled this down to a list of questions that I would ask any photographer, knowing that the answers will help any photographer.

    02

    Aug 13

  • How and why I use Tumblr

    A wise student asked me:”Tell me about your Tumblr. How it works & how it serves your purposes.” I thought it was a brilliant question, that if I answered it fully, would benefit many photographers. So, I made a podcast answering his question(s.)

    17

    Jul 13

  • How a liberal arts education saved my career again and again

    College graduation season is upon us and with it discussions about the importance of educating young people for the so called “jobs of the future.”  With a daughter half way through college, I have plenty to worry about in terms of her future. Yet I am here to make a last stand for a liberal arts education, the one thing that has saved my career again and again.

    07

    Jun 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 organize the unorganized

    Another query comes in and another blog post comes out…. I received an e-mail with a question that was so good that I immediately answered the writer AND told him I would turn it into a blog post. His question, to put it succinctly was “How could he organize the unorganized?” This is a question nearly every photographer working digitally may have to face.

    22

    Mar 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

  • Being interviewed via Google plus

    I had the pleasure of hanging out on Google plus (and being interviewed by) Frederick Van Johnson, the ball of energy behind many interesting photography projects including This Week in Photo. I enjoyed the hangout immensely wanted to share it.

    25

    Jan 13

  • Connoisseur of Light (Part 1)

    Every discussion about photography sooner or later includes the maxim about the fundamental importance of light. In my favorite workshop, the one I call Light, Shadow, Night and Twilight, students learn how I see and utilize the found light (as vs. controlled or studio light.) In the process of promoting that same workshop, I have repeatedly been called a master of light and shadow. While I appreciate the complement, having just spent a week in Finland, I am thinking I would prefer to maybe call myself a connoisseur of light.

    22

    Jun 12

  • Photography books with authorship

    Last week I blogged about a couple of my favorite photography books, neither of which have any pictures. This week I am thinking about photography books that actually have pictures in them. What got me thinking about these books is how the authors each bring something special to their projects. I am not writing about the books because the photographers are my friends (though some are.) I am writing about them because each of the photographers in question has done one or more things to make their books interesting and distinctive.

    13

    Apr 12

  • Photography book without pictures

    I just finished a great book on photography. It had no pictures. It didn’t have a whole lot of instruction or technology either. I will be the first to admit that I had my doubts about it when I picked it up, but I thought I’d give it a try. I should have known better, since the publisher also produced one of my favorite photography books. After reading it, I had a new perspective on photography and I also realized it was the kind of book I wish I had written. What book was it? Read on!

    06

    Apr 12

  • Art and commerce of selecting a workshop teacher

    (Disclaimer, I am a workshop teacher as well as a veteran professional photographer)
    I am a professional photographer. I am VERY proud of the fact that I make my living through my photography. I have been lucky in that most people who pay to use my work appreciate the skills it took me decades to master. I have, over time, expanded my repertoire to include workshop teaching. Over a period of years I have been working to master and excel in  the process of helping others get better at their photography. As I have been doing this, I have been reminded again and again, that teaching is like any other skill: It involves practice and takes decades to fully master.  Also, much like publication photography itself, the world of photography workshops is being flooded with people who have little or no skill as educators.

    10

    Feb 12

  • the old fashioned way….

    I am well aware that the media world as we know it is moving to the web and that social media is fast becoming THE media channel of choice. Something popped in my e-mail box recently from the web, via a social media channel that nearly knocked me out of my chair. It was not some incredible image or fancy animation, though I see plenty of those on the web these days. It was actually a text-based promotion and what it said left me dumbfounded. It was a reminder that words and especially the message are more important than the delivery channel.

    13

    Jan 12

  • Where do you learn to be a photographer (part three of three)

    For the last two weeks I have been blogging about the important question of where do you learn how to be a photographer? To date, I have explored my take on the future of commercial photography, called into the question the value of formal schooling and offered some on-line resources that can serve as well as school, if not better (and they are much cheaper.) I want to deconstruct a few of those same resources to suggest how to find value in reading them.

    21

    Oct 11

  • Where do you learn to be a photographer (part two of three)

    In last week’s blog entry I started to explore the question, where do you learn how to be a photographer? Much of that entry was speculating on what the business of photography will be like in the future. I also called into the question the benefit of formal study of photography, at least for those who want to be commercial photographers.

    14

    Oct 11

  • Where do you learn to be a photographer (part one of three)

    Eager young photographers write me often, telling me about what they want to do as photographers and asking for my help. Part of me says to tell them to “…run as fast as you can, away, away from this ever more crowded field.“ Another part of me says, wait, the business continues and is (in some way) growing, doubly so, with the movement of most communications media to the web, which is an ever more image-driven media. So there will be photographers in the future, though not the same kind of photographers as there used to be. I recently blogged about the best college for photographers being the one where you learn how to “think,” not just take pictures. That begs the question, where do you learn how to be a photographer?

    07

    Oct 11

  • Who really knows what they are talking about

    As a blogger, I am competing, (in theory) with millions of other bloggers for your attention. In my mind, the hardest part of the job is coming up with things to write about that others have not already explored. As of late, I have discovered that the best blog entries arise out of the intersection of my personal interests, input from others and recent events in my life. This week’s blog came out of that same place. It explores the question of how do we know who really knows what they are talking about?

    02

    Sep 11

  • What makes a good photo editor

    In late April, I had the honor of presenting my work to undergraduate and graduate students in the photojournalism program at the University of Texas at Austin. This PJ program is highly regarded and has produced some great photographers over the years. The last thing I did during my brief time there was an open portfolio review, primarily looking at the work of graduate students. Throughout my time in Austin (and during that portfolio review in particular) the question was repeatedly raised, “how do you make a living in this incredibly difficult photojournalism market?” Near the end, one student said something about where he might go in the future with his photography and I was all but dumbstruck by his brilliance (and my inability to respond.)

    13

    May 11

  • Witnesses by choice

    Last week, the news of the deaths of two photojournalists, Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros raced around the world of photojournalism (and the larger media world.) I read the various pieces and mostly I was saddened by the loss. I grieve for their families, for our profession and for our world as a whole. During a presentation I gave Thursday night, I paused and asked the audience to remember the two photographers. As I was reading the various articles on their deaths, one thing caught my attention and it may be nitpicking but I think it is important. The two are frequently described as having died “in the line of duty.” They were not under any obligation to be there. It was not part of any military term or enlistment they had made. They were there by choice. That in no way negates what they were doing, or the tragedy of their deaths, but they put themselves in harm’s way by choice.

    29

    Apr 11

  • What’s in a name

    I am in California, working on my project “Foreclosed Dreams,” where I have been photographing inside foreclosed houses. I am also teaching a series of classes. I am spending a lot of time on my new MacBook Air, running my photography business from the road. In between all this, I am working on building Photo Synesi ( http://photosynesi.com ), a new on-line critiquing system that connects serious photographers around the world. Through Photo Synesi, we help aspiring photographers get better through personalized feedback of their work. The title of one of the projects that was recently reviewed caught my eye because it perfectly described what we try to do.

    01

    Apr 11

  • Moral hazard and photography

    In another life, I think I would have been an economist. I have already blogged about why I say that and what fascinates me about economics. With that in mind, I have been thinking a lot about one of my favorite economics terms, moral hazard. I recently pondered how it applies to two of my favorite pursuits, photography and motorcycle riding.

    25

    Feb 11

  • Going pro vs doing photography for love, not money

    I make my living as a professional photographer. I initially believed that the designation “professional” meant that my photographs were so good that people would part with their hard-earned money to own, publish or see my work. Digital photography has prompted me to rethink that idea a good bit. Today, millions of new images are created weekly and the perceived value of those images is spiraling downward. A couple recent e-mails from student and the democratization of photography caused by the digital imaging have contributed to that reconsideration. The thought process that I went through as I pondered this question is the heart of this week’s blog entry.

    17

    Sep 10

  • Thinking points for grant applications

    I have been very fortunate to have been honored with a number of grants and fellowships over the years. I will be the first to admit that they have been real milestones in my career. A peer recently wrote me with a question about my experience applying for such grants. In the process of thinking out and then writing down my response, I realized a couple things. The last thing I realized was that her question (and my response) were a blog entry in the making. The other insights that I had are part of the piece below.

    10

    Sep 10

  • War stories, part two

    In the first part of this series of blog entries, I wrote about recent ethics controversies spurred by student photographers going to places like Haiti in order to develop their skills and their portfolios, as they photograph the horror of that nation’s earthquake/disaster. I appreciate the ethical issues raised by such actions, but my overarching question was, and still is, how do aspiring conflict photographers develop the skills required for covering war/disaster? In this blog entry, I will talk about how I developed my own, limited skills in that area of photojournalism and what I learned in the process of gaining those skills.

    16

    Jul 10

  • Pictures, purges and process (part one)

    I recently wound up a series of blog entries exploring my experiences with and thoughts about technology. The non-technological process of spring-cleaning prompted all of these posts. In the process of that cleaning (or more accurately my massive archival purge,) I looked at thousands and thousands of my old images. Some scared me, some impressed me and some surprised me. Though it was not my intention, it turned out to be a great way to consider the arc of my evolution, as a photographer and as a professional.

    30

    Apr 10

  • Group questions versus individual questions

    I just finished teaching a workshop in Berkeley, California. Being in the San Francisco Bay area, the light was great. The group was very supportive of each other and the work they did was interesting. The questions they asked were many and good. They got me thinking about the questions I am often asked in workshops, in general and what I am trying to do with this blog.

    21

    Sep 09

  • So you want to teach photography workshops?

    A peer asked me how she could make money “teaching photography workshops as a business.” After picking myself up off the floor from laughing so hard, I gathered my thoughts and reflected on how I started teaching photography. Tracing the path I took from to aspiring instructor to veteran workshop teacher resulted in this blog entry.

    17

    Jul 09

  • Outsourcing and Cost-Benefit Analysis

    Before you skip this entry or fall asleep trying to read it because those two economics terms, please read on. Both of these are things all of us do every day in our ordinary routines. When it comes to their businesses, serious photographers, whether established or aspiring professionals, definitely need to think clearly about outsourcing and cost-benefit analysis.

    26

    Jun 09

  • The Wells Point after six months

    The Wells Point site is now over six months old. I am still going strong, having written 65 blog entries and posted 13 pod casts. I have learned much along the way, about myself, the folks who visit The Wells Point and a bit about where this enterprise will be going in the future.

    09

    Mar 09