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 It is now slightly out of date, since I recently switched to the smaller Olympus Pen cameras, from the larger DSLRs.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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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 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

  • How fabricated images ruin my work

    Another controversy is erupting in the world of photojournalism. The image that won World Press Photo of the Year 2012 is starting to look like it was HIGHLY manipulated or an outright composite. Though I no longer work as a photojournalist, I have been following this (and other recent image manipulation) controversies closely because it directly impacts my own work.

    17

    May 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

  • 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

  • Feedback through instant editing

    Last week I blogged about what I now call “instant editing.” The idea was to share the top forty or sixty images from one day’s shoot with about ten peers right at the end of the day’s photographing in order to get some input on how to improve when photographing the next day. Last week, I talked about how I started this process (and why I hope to use it more in the future.) This week I want to share some of the comments that I received from my “reviewers.” What I found so interesting was not just what they said about the work, but how they said it. Their thinking is so compelling that I wanted to share it in order to possibly help others edit sets of images in the future.

    30

    Mar 12

  • The idea behind instant editing

    When I was younger, I envisioned the end of the business as a nightmarish world where editors would seem to be working inside my head, through some futuristic technology, telling me where to stand and when to push the button. My great fear was having the imaginary editor see what I was looking at through my camera, telling me (through a seemingly permanent earpiece) what to include or exclude and when to click. When that day arrived, I said that I was sure I would quit the business. The onslaught of live television broadcasting, as it overwhelmed the still image, only exacerbated my worst fear. At first I thought digital imaging would be the technology to drive the last nails into the coffin. A recent informal experiment proved that, at least for me, the future is not so grim and I actually have digital imaging to thank for a bit of new optimism.

    23

    Mar 12

  • Lessons learned judging a photo contest

    I spent time in early October judging the annual Pollux Awards, which are given out by the Worldwide Photography Gala Awards. The juror’s statement, which I wrote after the judging, was recently posted along with the winning work. The whole process was an education for me. I thought that turning my experience into a blog entry would enable me to take others on the same educational journey that I recently undertook.

    04

    Nov 11

  • 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

  • Seminar, workshop or class?

    I admit it! I am obsessed about photography education. Of course I am. I teach workshops around the world. My wife is a university professor teaching photography. I run two web sites focused on photography education. I write about photography education on this site (and on other web sites.) I do all of this because as a photographer, I grow as I teach. The more I teach, the more I grow. And I love to grow as a photographer. So, a recent question about education got me thinking even MORE photography education.

    09

    Sep 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

  • The best college for photographers

    My daughter is about to start her fresh-man (fresh-person?) orientation at college. This “momentous” occasion prompted me to think about college in general, as well as my own experience in college. Finally that led me to this blog entry, considering which is the “best” college for photographers.

    19

    Aug 11

  • Sharing photo essay ideas

    I just finished teaching a series of photography workshops in Asia, including my favorite photo-essay class. In that workshop, students initially practice the skills required for a long-term photo-essay AND then they start working on the project of their choosing. I show them how the hardest part of a good essay is defining the project. I was reminded in Singapore how a good workshop group, one that is willing to share ideas, can make that process of defining a project much easier. Just as this was happening, I was also having an e-mail exchange with an American photographer, who seemed concerned about keeping his project idea to himself. I am still trying to figure out if the diverging thinking on sharing ideas was an aberration, or if it tells us something about the difference between Singaporean and American mindsets.

    13

    Jan 11

  • Thinking about photography’s “constants”

    I read a number of on-line forums every day. My morning reading, which once was largely a leisurely enjoyment of the New York Times, now entails scanning the eight forums I read daily to see what items of interest are percolating through the world of photography. I rarely post on most forums, since I am not sure I have much to offer that hasn’t already been said. I recently posted on a forum and the thread that resulted taught me a lot about the state of contemporary professional photography.

    07

    Jan 11

  • Creativity and Solitude

    Recently, two seemingly unrelated events occurred at about the same time. After a couple days of trying to figure out why my subconscious was connecting them, my conscious mind finally figured it out. It started when a friend sent me a great quote about creativity and solitude. I received it, and excitedly passed it on to friends and family. This all happened during the hectic few days of the Photo Plus Expo, the big New York City photography trade show/conference. You have probably already made the connection that it took me a few days to make. Let me tell you about my journey to better understanding.

    12

    Nov 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

  • Technologies, necessary and otherwise (part three)

    This is the last of three blog entries, for the moment, exploring my thoughts on technology. The entire set came from things swirling through my head lately. Events, especially e-mails, prompted me to organize those thoughts into the first two e-mails. This entry explores the starting point for all three posts, which was the fairly non-technical process of spring-cleaning.

    26

    Apr 10

  • Technologies, necessary and otherwise (part two)

    Earlier this week, I blogged about GPS technology and how one photographer, Lowell, had found a great use for that particular technology, one that does not interest me in the least. Another photographer, Michael, recently wrote me about another technological question he had issues with. I know now how he and I deal with the technology in question, but we wondered about others.

    23

    Apr 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

  • Learning how you learn, photographically and otherwise

    I recently finished my annual class built around photographing the Tucson Rodeo. The weather was great and the pictures were even better! Most everyone we encountered was happy to be photographed. The class was a small group, so everyone got lots of attention. Because it was such a small group, I had time to analyze how each person learned. By the time the class was over, events had reminded me that in some ways, the most important thing ANY student should learn is exactly how they do learn.

    12

    Mar 10

  • Unraveling the “mystical and unapproachable” in photography

    One of my more regular correspondents, Michael Colby, wrote me with a two-pronged query: “I’d be interested in reading a blog entry about what set you on the path of being a photographer?” He also asked “I still remember, when I was in high school trying to get into serious photography, visiting a camera store. It was almost a mystical and unapproachable place. I take it that serious camera stores were not “consumer friendly’ in the way that any retailer has to be today.” The answers to both his points are intertwined within my own experiences as a young photographer.

    05

    Jun 09

  • Finding photographers, image piracy and what really matters

    It is not news that the world is awash with images (and photographers). Digital photography having made this problem grow by a factor of ten (or more) is also not a revelation. I was reminded of these points as I was nurturing another set of image-makers who aspire to go out into the world of commercial photography.

    14

    Nov 08

  • Orphan Works

    “Orphan Works” legislation has been in the news recently. That legislation is still in flux. No matter what happens, making sure that you control the use of your images is more important than ever.

    15

    Sep 08

  • Copyright information

    You may have heard or read about new federal legislation on the subject of what are called “Orphan Works.”

    08

    Sep 08