“With my iPhone we need to face the sun,” said the golfer

[Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, Godox V860IIN, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/640]
I was contracted to cover a golf tournament at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia. One of the guys actually said to me that we needed to turn everyone around and have them face the sun to get the photo.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, Godox V860IIN, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/400]
The executive director who was taking me by golf cart around the course stepped in to explain that I was the professional they hired.

You see the guy was thinking about what he has to do with his iPhone. You cannot get the photo I took above with your iPhone.

[Nikon D5, 28-300mm, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/1000]
One of the main reasons people were hats is to create shadows on their faces. This is how they create the shade for their eyes. Well good for them and bad for photos.

Now using Adobe Lightroom I was able to open up the shadows a little more on the photo, with the guy with a baseball cap, than you can typically do with your iPhone.

By having the group face opposite the sun they are all backlit. I then used my flash on camera to fill in the shadows. This is one of the rare moments I will use a flash on camera.

I didn’t have an assistant and I had to move quickly.

Using the Godox V860IIN flash on i-TTL I could shoot at any ƒ-stop because the flash works with High Speed Sync. So the picture above I was shooting at 1/640 shutter speed.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, Godox V860IIN, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/1250]
While the golfers were warming up on the practice putting green I used the same flash setup to fill in under those hats. With the golfer looking to the ground towards the ball their faces are more often in the shadow.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, Godox V860IIN, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/1250]
While this is a huge improvement over no flash at all, had I been shooting this for a company to use in their advertising I would get that flash off the camera.

The two photos below demonstrate how getting the flash off the camera gives even better looking light.

[Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/5, 1/2000]
[Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1600]
Just know that if you need professional quality photos of golfers you will have them squinting with your iPhone or you can use flash and have them face away from the sun.

Be an Anticipator and not a Procrastinator

Nikon D750, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/200

Meet recording artist Sydney Rhame. She was a contestant on The Voice a couple years ago. Here she is singing “Photograph”. By the time Sydney had gotten on the voice she had already been performing for many years. She actually started singing at age six and then started performing at age eight.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RonyOxrAS70]
Recording artist are practicing all the time. They work hard for years for their “break.”

I spent some time setting up for Sydney. I had not only setup the studio like this for her to make some headshots, I had also scouted around to get colors to match her clothing.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 320, ƒ/2.8, 1/640

I found some fall foliage that I could use in the background to compliment her hair.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1250

To get to the big games like the Chick-fil-A Kickoff these players put in many practice days and games spanning years of preparation.

Most Folks

I am finding that more people are procrastinators in their work than are anticipators. People wait until they are near a deadline to actually start working on a project.

In school teachers have projects that they tell us about long before they are due, but most of us wait until the night before. Now after we have done a few of these and found out that doesn’t leave us enough time we may actually start it a little sooner–like a day or two earlier.

Word vs Photograph

Throughout my career there has been a healthy tension between writers and photographers. One thing you will hear photographers saying to writers is I can’t call the subject and change the ƒ-stop.

A writer can more easily make changes in their part of a project at the last second whereas a photographer has to reshoot to make a change.

When I started out I would just pick up a small camera bag and run out the door for the newspaper. Today I realize that the more I plan and prepare for a photo shoot the better the results.

Today I ask a lot more questions when I get a project. Why are you needing these photos or video? What are you looking for from the project? What is it that the audience to do once they have seen the project?

The questions go on more than just these few questions. Once I am comfortable with the direction and style they are wanting I can then plan for what gear I need for the shoot. Sometimes this requires me renting gear.

For most of my projects today travel is involved. I must book flights, hotels, rental cars, assistants and more.

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/160

Advantage of Anticipating

When you anticipate as I must do for assignments there is a lot of dialogue with a client. Much of this is in written form between me and the client. The great thing about this process for me is I have a paper trail showing how I was proactive and getting their approval before executing anything.

When you talk through a treatment with a client in as much detail as possible when the assignment is given then you give yourself and the client the advantage of keeping the costs down and pushing the quality up.

Since I am working in an artistic field for a career then the one thing that keeps you receiving a paycheck is being in demand. Believe it or not but the busiest photographers I know are the ones who are Anticipators and not the Procrastinators.

Some things you can do that are disciplines of an Anticipator:

  • Going to clients with project ideas
  • Responding quickly to phone calls, emails and texts
  • Asking questions when client gives you a project–Immediately and not closer to the deadline
  • Delivering the photos quickly–Photos processed for client without quality suffering
  • Creating estimates and invoices quickly
  • Raising concerns and issues before the client realizes a concern–While there are somethings you cannot anticipate you are always trying to take ownership as if the success or failure of this project can make the client be super successful or put them out of business
They say if you want something done, ask a busy person, even though this idea is somewhat paradoxical. 
The reason is that people with hectic schedules have, by necessity, gotten really good at realistically estimating how long things take. The thing that is interesting is once you know someone like this you are prone to go to them to help you. The one thing you hope never happens is that they say no. The reason they will say no is that they know if they can deliver your request or not.
If you find yourself busy and having to occasionally turn down people it is a good sign that you are most likely an Anticipator. However, if you are desperately trying to find work you might just be a Procrastinator.
How to turn yourself from a Procrastinator to an Anticipator
One of the best things I learned in my time at Georgia Tech working on the communications staff was from our art directors. They had reversed engineered the timeline for producing print projects like view books and magazines. 
I would be part of the meetings with the clients going over new projects. The art director then took a couple of minutes and walked through the deadlines, starting backwards. 
When do you need this project? Then they would start with that date and then say well the printer needs two weeks from the time they have it to turn it around without any rush fees. Before this the graphic artist will need two weeks to layout the piece and then have you sign off on it. This includes two reviews. By the way your review time puts on hold the project. So if you take 24 hours to approve or make changes then that is how much the project is delayed. If you take a week to get it approved then that means we need to move up the date for you to get materials to us.
Now before the graphic artist can start work the writer and photographers have to create their content. The good news is often the photography and writing can be done simultaneously.  They both need two to three weeks. For them to stay on schedule the subjects they need to work with need to be available as well or that also impacts the schedule. 
Based on this we need six to eight weeks to produce your project. When working with most new clients we were often only three to four weeks from their deadlines. Most of the time we had to move their deadlines out due to make things go faster often meant rush fees from printers and or hiring more writers, photographers and or graphic designers to tag team.
The question you must know the answer to for any project is how long do you need to produce your very best portfolio quality of work?
Anticipators are really those people who are gifted at time management and know how to get the very best quality of work and understand the time they need to make it happen. They are also good at executing their plans and producing quality work which creates a demand that creates an even higher demand because they are know for being busy.

Still Photographers – Showstoppers

Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art, ISO 2200, ƒ/4, 1/80

When you go and experience the Theatre you are seeing the sequencing of a story into moments. Within each scene there is build to a crescendo and then all of these different scenes build to a showstopper most of the time.

A showstopper is a performance or segment of a theatrical production that induces a positive audience reaction strong enough to pause the production.

Nikon D4, NIKKOR 14-24mm ƒ/2.8G, ISO 12800, ƒ/2.8, 1/125

Now when you compare the two photos above the main difference is one is a theatre production and the other is real life happening in real time.

For a scene to be a real showstopper the actors must portray through their body language, expressions and tone of voice what would be in a real life situation.

Now what the theatre has in common with still photography is real life is more like video and moving constantly and with theatre and the still image the pause of the action allows time for the audience to absorb the moment.

Nikon D3, NIKKOR 85mm ƒ/1.4D, ISO 200, ƒ/1.4, 1/100

In life we have moments where we ponder and think. If a writer is describing this brief moment they may take four or five pages to describe all that weighs on the character as well as their thoughts and/or dreams. In real life you cannot hear or read those thoughts of people. However in real life the expressions of the person communicates often some of this which a writer only has text to convey.

Nikon D750, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/250

Actors must convey those four to five pages of text from a book into the play version of that book. The playwright may have notes to the side of the script to help the actor know what they are trying to communicate, but still what it boils down to is capturing in a moment the expression, body language and tone to communicate to the audience the character’s thoughts.

Photojournalists/photographers are not actors in a play. If they are a photographer and they are shooting a scene that will be used in advertising to sell something or doing public relations for a corporation they often will assume the roll of the director. They will place the actors and create the scene to communicate all that they need to capture to move the audience to action.

If they are photojournalists they cannot take on the roll of director. They take on a different roll. The best way to describe that roll has been to be the fly on the wall. The photojournalists can fly around the room looking for a better perspective to see what is going on and then they capture moments as they happen to the later communicate to their audience what happened.

Nikon D5, Nikon 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 9000, ƒ/5.3, 1/400

What does the novelist, playwright, director, actor, and photographer all have in common no matter their roll? Each is aware of what they are communicating and why. To move the audience you must know what you are trying to capture as a photographer.

Nikon D750, Nikon 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 7200, ƒ/5.6, 1/500

If you are a photographer you are capturing moments for which you hope they make others pause. As a photojournalist I have learned to do my research before I show up. Listen a great deal with my ears and eyes. I clarify through questions to understand the situation so that I am doing all I can to be true to the moment and not to my preconceived thoughts. I look for those moments that will capture and hopefully be the showstopper that makes you pause and absorb the moment.

I want my pictures to worth the price of admission that my clients pay to see them. 

Wedding photography to me is about emotional moments

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, Nikon SB-900, ISO 400, ƒ/3.5, 1/6

I do not promote myself as a wedding photographer. I have shot many weddings in my career, but today I have been just doing weddings for close friends and family. There was a time I turned down any requests.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, Alienbees B1600, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/60

The reason I am not as fond of shooting weddings is the amount of people posing. I can do an excellent job of getting great moments in posed shots, but my favorite thing to do in all of photography is capturing those moments that are not posed.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, Alienbees B1600, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/200

I love a moment like this where the mother of the groom is dancing with her son and the grooms friends and family are caught up in the moment as well.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 11400, ƒ/4, 1/200

I love the moments where the Bride and Groom are in a moment where you see the love they have for each other and you can see why they are getting married.

Nikon D4, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 12800, ƒ/4.5, 1/50

Sometimes the moments are subtle or they are bold as here.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, Nikon SB-900, ISO 400, ƒ/3.5, 1/6

I love capturing the expressions of people where you can see on their faces their emotions. The other thing I notice is at weddings the guests are just as happy for the couple.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 10000, ƒ/5.6, 1/8

The hard part about shooting weddings is you are doing so many styles of photography throughout the day. You are having to do studio lighting fashion shoots and then turn right around and just doing more of event photography as well as getting those moments.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art Lens, ISO 22800, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

Capturing the moments is what I work on the most in my photography. I believe it is the expressions that are the most powerful thing in a photograph. I spend a great deal of time trying to be sure the technical parts of photography: Lighting, Composition, Depth-of-field and more are all ready for when the moment will happen.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art Lens, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/100

Sometimes those moments are posed, but you just wait for the moment when they are into it rather than stiff and just posing.

Nikon D4, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 2800, ƒ/1.8, 1/100

Working on capturing the mood and place for a community

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/5, 1/320

I am working on a story that requires me to go to a few states and capture some of the culture in those communities.

This week I am in Hyannis, Massachusetts. I cannot think of Hyannis without thinking about the Kennedy family. It is also a beach town and this is the closest I could find to bring me to what I think about when I think of this community.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/800

I tried to capture the beach in a way that said Cape Cod. Some of the lighthouses in this area are in private communities guarded by gates. I didn’t want to just go all over the coast when the area I needed to concentrate on is Hyannis.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/640
Just turning around is the ocean, but to me this could of been anywhere on the east coast. I was missing something that made me thing of Hyannis which is in Cape Cod.
I am capturing not just moments but symbolism and I needed the building that was classic to the architecture of Cape Cod.
Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/5, 1/400
This is a typical home in Hyannis. What I mean is the color of the home and the cedar siding.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/5, 1/320

Now I went to Main Street and captured some of the shops along the street. While this isn’t the peak of the summer when the place would be packed, I do think I was capturing some of the community.

Samsung 7S Edge, ISO 50, ƒ/1.7, 1/18816

While in Lansing, Michigan I went to the local GM plant and shot this through the chain link fence on a bridge. The reason I used my cell phone is my camera lenses were too big and captured the fence. The lens on the Samsung 7S Edge was small enough to fit in the opening of the fence.

Some photos are not as dramatic, but do help establish what a community is about. Many people are employed here from the community.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 2200, ƒ/8, 1/100

The other thing about Lansing is it is the state capital of Michigan. I worked at getting a decent photo of the state capital to help talk about the community.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 1800, ƒ/8, 1/800

Sometimes detail shots like of this lamp around the capital can be very useful in a package to tell a story.

All of these stills are part of a larger story where I will be using motion and interviews to put the story together. My goal with the photos is to have some b-roll that I can use just like Ken Burns does in his films. I often find panning across a still photo is much smoother than video sometimes can be and I can get many more shots in than the time it takes to get a 20 second motion clip.

Here some travel tips that I am using for each of my trips.

  • Google the City and look under images for your search
    • Make a list of possible locations
    • Research where to maybe take some of those photos 
  • Schedule my interview early with the subject so I have time to go out and capture some of the images of the things the subject talks about in their comments.
  • Talk to people from the area
  • Talk to front desk people at the hotel for their input. Sometimes they can give you unique insights
Now many times the city skyline is quite famous. For me this is a photo you need if the community is know for it’s unique skyline. Here is a post I did about the St. Louis Skyline.
Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 2.5 sec
Sometimes like with the famous skyline of Seattle you get what I call a WOW photo. The key is to try and find a way to surprise your audience.
Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12500, ƒ/5.6, 1/125
Sometimes it is just getting close to an icon like the Auburn War Eagle. 

Monday morning devotional for photographers

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1250

There is a lot of reasons in sports they tell you to keep your eye on the ball. All of them have something in common. There are many distractions in the game.

There have been studies on golfers that showed those who kept their eye on the ball sank more putts than those who didn’t.

They discovered that when you look at the ball, then the target, then back to the ball, the brain is desperately trying to process all that information and it can yield unwanted results. By glancing at the target first, then focusing on the ball, you narrow the mental chatter and can get a more accurate shot.

The technique where before you perform an action, you focus your gaze on the salient aspects of your goal—the rim, the catcher’s mitt, the malignant tissue, and so on is called “Quiet Eye.”

The quiet-eye technique stimulates the dorsal area of the brain, which regulates focused, goal-directed attention. It may also suppress activity the ventral region, which oversees stimulus-driven attention—the kind that keeps track of a scattered, fluid set of variables.

Not So Easy

Researchers found out that the difference in focus time between a beginner and an expert is as small as a fifth of a second.

Nikon D4, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 2500, ƒ/6.3, 1/5000

The moral to the story of “Little Red Riding Hood” is that children must obey their parents and that they must never talk to strangers. Even a very friendly stranger is capable of having bad intentions.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 10000, ƒ/5.6, 1/400

Red Riding Hood was distracted by the Wolf and we know what happens to her grandmother because of her not listening to her mother and not talking to strangers.

What is my ball?

I continually am asking myself what is the ball that I should be concentrating on today. What is the target that I should be focusing my attention?

I go to scripture to help me discover the ball for today.

Timothy, you belong to God, so keep away from all these evil things. Try your best to please God and to be like him. Be faithful, loving, dependable, and gentle. Fight a good fight for the faith and claim eternal life. God offered it to you when you clearly told about your faith, while so many people listened. – 1 Timothy 6:11-12

We need to do the right thing. We need to be faithful, loving, dependable and gentle. All of those words are verbs. We are to be active.

“I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” ― Martin Luther

Martin Luther was incredibly, overwhelmingly busy. His calendar was always full. And yet, in spite of his incredible workload, he found it absolutely necessary to pray. He had to meet with God before he met with the cares of the day. He would not dive into his day without first being refreshed by the Lord. He knew that he couldn’t serve the Lord well without first asking God for help.

I do not know what your ball is for today. I do know that through prayer you will be more likely to find it. Taking the time to stop and spend time being still will let your mind calm itself. You will be able to concentrate and have that “Quiet Eye” moment where you are able to get rid of all those distractions which are keeping you from seeing the ball.

Watch background and lighting ratios in your photos

Nikon D750, Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG APO OS HSM, ISO 50, ƒ/7.1, 1/160

When I am shooting something in the studio as simple as this setup is here I test a few things to be sure all the lights are as I want them to be for the final image.

Here is the setup for the photo above:

Watch your backgrounds

One of the things all photographers need to pay attention to is their backgrounds. Now not just compositionally, but just as important is the light ratio as compared to the subject. For the most part you don’t want it too bright.

Here your eye goes to the background and not the subject that I want your eye to go to first. Pay attention to this when you are shooting in natural light.

How do you fix this? You can move the subject or move your feet and circle the subject until you find a darker background. You can also add more light to the subject. You can do that with a reflector or a flash for example.

Now another thing I think can help your photos is a backlight shining on the subject to create a rim light.

Here there is a light just slightly behind the subject pointed down. Now here it is a little too bright. But sometimes it can work.

Nikon D4, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 50, ƒ/2.8, 1/60

Here are a few more examples of backlighting:

Nikon D3S, AF NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4D, ISO 200, ƒ/2.8, 1/400
Nikon D3, AF NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4D, ISO 200, ƒ/1.4, 1/4000

Now notice in the photos how the background is slightly darker than the subject. With photography you can take control of this with your camera. In all three of the portraits here I use an auxiliary flash off the camera to brighten the subject just enough so that the sunlit areas in the background were not blown out.

Three tips to remember:

  • Watch your background
  • Use Backlight
  • Watch the ratio of light on subject versus the background

Turning Pro from Amateur Photographer isn’t for the faint of heart

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 2000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

I reposted a blog I had done a way back that had gotten a lot of positive feedback from the photographic community.

Seven Reasons Not to Become a Freelance Professional Photographer was the blog.

It was shared 32 times through Google Plus alone. It ranks 5th of the 1098 blog posts I have written for most read. There are 44 comments on this post. Everyone on the post was positive except one that was more of a question. “Is all lost when most of these points have been true?”

My response was, “No. You just cannot continue to fail over the long haul. Again you don’t have to do all of them yourself, you can outsource. My recommendation is to realize to be successful you need to 1) have good solid product consistently, 2) you need to deliver more than you promise, 2nd mile service and 3) WOW them. You need to connect with people way beyond your product. Just think of the TV show Cheers, the people came back to the bar regularly because of friendships on top of the food and good service.”

When I reposted it I had the most negative response I have had for anyone of my blogs. I started to examine why was this person so taken back by my post.

The poster slammed the blog as Listicle.

In journalism and blogging, a listicle is a short-form of writing that uses a list as its thematic structure, but is fleshed out with sufficient copy to be published as an article. A typical listicle will prominently feature a cardinal number in its title, with subsequent subheadings within the text itself reflecting this schema. The word is a portmanteau derived from list and article. It has also been suggested that the word evokes “popsicle”, emphasizing the fun but “not too nutritious” nature of the listicle.

After reading a few more comments I started to realize what I think the person was having an issue with from my article. In My Humble Opinion [IMHO] the person was new to the industry and experiencing the difference from being an amateur to now the experience as a pro.

In a workshop with Scott Kelby I loved one of his comments. “If you need a hug you post in Flickr.com.”

You see as an amateur your friends and family will comment on how great of a photographer you are. However, the minute you turn pro that all changes.

I was feeling the same thing this poster seemed to be indicating in his comments that we need to wrap each other in emotional support as pros. My wife pointed out to me that you are a pro, people expect you to have great photos. They don’t comment to you for doing what is expected.

For this article I want to be clear that the difference between the word amateur and professional is solely the difference of hobby versus making a living. My comments are not about the quality of images, because I think there are many amateurs who produce better images than pros. Most amateurs however could use a dose of reality that the biggest difference for the working pro over the amateur is business skills and not photographic skills.

As an amateur you may even join a photo club where you all help one another and encourage one another. I know many of the camera clubs around me have had me speak to them and judge their competitions. I really enjoy doing this and sharing some of my knowledge with them.

Professionals understand that when they go to workshops and meetings with pros for the most part we are getting together to all get better at our business skills. We may be learning some of the same things that a camera club gets together to learn about the latest software, but we need this knowledge to remain competitive rather than just make photos.

Professionals also understand they need to pay for those classes and workshops. The people teaching them are working pros that are giving you information that will help you make a better living.

Going Pro will be a lonely journey for several reasons. Most of all your friends and family comments of how wonderful you are now will seem emptier if they are not hiring you to shoot for them. If they really thought you were so awesome wouldn’t they hire you?

While most professionals will help you not everyone will be as enthusiastic that you showed up on the scene. First of all remember in some areas of the industry like newspapers the opportunities are disappearing. When pros were making $200,000+ for shooting stock years ago and now they can barely make $20,000 doing the same type of work you showing up and taking more of the slice of pie that is smaller is very threatening.

New pros need to be aware of one major thing when they turn pro. Just because you graduated and know how to make wonderful images does not mean there is work for you right away. Every client that hired photographers last year will most likely hire those same photographers. When you do get hired often one of those photographers just lost that job you are shooting.

Now some pros take this the wrong way and therefore will do everything they can to sabotage your career. This is especially true if you setup shop in their town.

Now there is a great group of photographers I have been apart of that do not take this attitude. Now you may find one of our members like that, but I can tell you we do not encourage that at all. This group is ASMP.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 2000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

ASMP [American Society of Media Photographers] have championed business skills for photographers better than any other organization that I have been a member of for my career. I joined in 1987 and have learned more through the organization and fellow members than from any other place. Like the photo of the Citadel cadets carrying one another as they might have to do in battle to save their comrade, my ASMP fellow members carried me.

To join ASMP as a member you must get a sponsor who is satisfied that the applicant meets the eligibility requirements for Professional Membership, namely:

  1. Good moral character and reputation, and
  2. At least three consecutive years of experience as an imaging professional.

Now if you are just starting out we have an associate’s membership where you have pretty much all the same access as a member, just not voting rights. If you haven’t proven you can run a successful business for three years straight we don’t need you making business decisions for the organization.

We see the new photographers much differently. We work to find another chair and welcome you to our table. We take you under our wings and do everything we can to be sure you are successful.

The best things I learned right away from the start with ASMP were the importance of good business practices. I learned about how to figure out my cost of doing business. I learned that when I create estimates that often the client would try and negotiate for a lower price or more services for the same price.

ASMP worked to protect my copyright by helping to inform congress what this means to photographers to have copyright protection.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 1250, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

My fellow ASMP members didn’t give me a group hug like I would experience as an amateur on Flickr. It felt like they took the legs out from under me and they did. They were carrying them just like you see in this photo. They helped me by challenging me on my low prices. How are you making a living on that price?

The one thing that really made me sad about the comments the poster made was “no matter the pay” he wasn’t going to be swayed to stop shooting. You see he is the type of new pro that needs ASMP.

His attitude of “no matter the pay” means he will accept just about any job because he loves to shoot. After all he said, “It’s in my blood and who I am.”

Through the years I along with my ASMP colleagues have helped countless photographers learn how to make a living and even a great living. One of those I took under my wing was a young lady who when I met her was a nanny and going to school full-time.

I had her assisting me and talking with her answering all her questions. She took on a client that had her traveling all over the state shooting travel magazine packages for the publication.
The magazine had traded out with hotels to keep costs down. So every town she went to there was a hotel she stayed in for free. So it appeared in many ways the magazine was thinking about her.

It was when we spent a few hours going over her expenses and what they were paying her she discovered she was making way below minimum wage.

It was when her car started to have mechanical issues that she realized she could get it fixed and continue doing the work. She wasn’t making enough to cover the true costs of owning a car.

This is when she realized that continuing with this magazine she wasn’t just making below minimum wage, she was paying them to shoot for them. YES!!! You heard me clearly.

Her mother rented her a car so she could go and do the assignment, but the assignment didn’t pay enough to cover the rental car fees and all the other costs associated with doing the work.

Today that young woman is not only doing better she is doing great. She not only is making a good living she has a staff working for her of more than three people.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 1100, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

ASMP members know that the photographers who do not understand business principles are not only going to go broke they leave the industry worst off. Now those clients think that the rates they were paying to those failed photographers was reasonable. We need you equally lifting up the industry just as these guys are doing in carrying the log. They cannot do it alone.

Turning pro from amateur status is when you start to have adult conversations. This is when you will not like everything you are hearing from a seasoned pro who is really trying to help you out, but you see it as them trying to get rid of you.

Young photographers can learn something from professional bull riders. They started out on riding young calves before graduating to bullocks and then bulls. Between the ages of four and six they hone their skills by “mutton busting” on sheep. You see bull riding is thought to be one of the most dangerous sports in the world. An estimated one in every 15 bull rides ends in some sort of injury.

I can tell you that many pro photographers feel like one in every 15 assignments ends up in some sort of injury. We like to call that scar tissue which builds wisdom.

I recommend joining ASMP and/or NPPA that has in the last few years changed to help freelancers even more with business practices than when I joined in 1985.

Nikon D3S, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 1600, ƒ/6.3, 1/320

Remember when you turn pro you are expected to have great photos so don’t go looking for a group hug like you got as an amateur.

In military training young men come together with a very diverse mix of our american landscape. Those differences melt away through their training which pushes their limits to each person realizing that those strangers they met on day one are their along side them even willing to die for them.

You will see if you look hard enough seasoned pros taking on a lot of fire and struggling to stay alive. ASMP members know that each of us has gone through our training of at least three years. We know we are all battle tested and helping one another.

Orlando Massacre’s Silver Lining

Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX, ISO 100, ƒ/14, 2 sec

James 3:16-18 The Message (MSG)

Live Well, Live Wisely
13-16 Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.

17-18 Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.

Waking up Sunday morning to the news of the Orlando massacre where one man took the lives of 50 people and injured another 53 people was gut wrenching.

Today our country is more divided to me than at any other time in my lifetime. Seems like every group is saying if you just think like us all will be well.

One of the most difficult things I have wrestled with in my faith is the concept of Free Will and at the same time having a God who is totally omniscience. If God actually knows everything that can be known, then how can you have true Free Will?

If God allows for our Free Will how much should we allow each other to exercise Free Will?

I am reminded of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples.

John 17:14-17 

14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by[d] the truth; your word is truth.

The Christian ideal is not freedom from work, but strength to do it; not freedom from temptation, but power to overcome it; not freedom from suffering, but joy in an abiding sense of the Father’s love; not absence from the world, but grace to make the world better for our presence; not holy lives driven from the world, and living apart from it, but holy lives spent in the world and leavening it.

I have been really sad for many years as I watch those who call themselves people of faith not showing grace or love, but rather condemnation and hate of those who do not hold to their beliefs.

I watched as political parties wrapped themselves with what they call faith, but what I saw as condemnation of those who didn’t believe as they did.

John 13:35 The Message (MSG) 

34-35 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

To me this is one of the most powerful scriptures in the Bible. It tells us how we are to live our lives. Jesus says this at the last supper and before his arrest and crucifixion. So many of us are just like Peter when he said to Jesus –

36 Simon Peter asked, “Master, just where are you going?”

Jesus answered, “You can’t now follow me where I’m going. You will follow later.”

37 “Master,” said Peter, “why can’t I follow now? I’ll lay down my life for you!”

38 “Really? You’ll lay down your life for me? The truth is that before the rooster crows, you’ll deny me three times.”

Our purpose here is to not talk about our faith as much as we are to live it. Living it is to show the love of God through our actions with others.

The power of true love is most profound with great loss. The actions of the lone gunman in Orlando Night Club were extremely severe. Each time our country has suffered such a loss the community responds. The stories after 9/11 were a great healing to our country.

Our response should be that no matter who you are–your life matters and you matter. Our community will always suffer when anyone dies. We suffer even more when that loss is due to violence such as in Orlando.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/250

This past memorial day we celebrated those who gave their lives through the armed forces that we can have the freedom for Free Will in our country. This is very personal for my family.

ON THE BEACH: The first wave of Marines takes cover behind the sand dunes on Saipan beach, during the World War II invasion of Marianas Islands. The soldier kneeling in the sand at far right is Carl Matthews of Texas; second from right is Wendal Nightingale of Skowhegan, Maine; standing is Lt. James Stanley Leary of North Carolina. Neither Nightingale nor Leary made it home from Saipan; both are still listed as missing in action. Time Life photo by U.S. Marine Sgt. James Burns

I think one of the hardest things our country is going through is for those who are new to the concept of being able to exercise their Free Will. This is because where many are from they were not able to enjoy such freedoms.

I am so thankful that I do not live in a Democracy but rather a Republic form of Government.

The chief characteristic and distinguishing feature of a Democracy is: Rule by Omnipotent Majority. In a Democracy, The Individual, and any group of Individuals composing any Minority, have no protection against the unlimited power of The Majority. It is a case of Majority-over-Man.

A Republic, on the other hand, has a very different purpose and an entirely different form, or system, of government. Its purpose is to control The Majority strictly, as well as all others among the people, primarily to protect The Individual’s God-given, unalienable rights and therefore for the protection of the rights of The Minority, of all minorities, and the liberties of people in general. The definition of a Republic is: a constitutionally limited government of the representative type, created by a written Constitution–adopted by the people and changeable (from its original meaning) by them only by its amendment–with its powers divided between three separate Branches: Executive, Legislative and Judicial. Here the term “the people” means, of course, the electorate.

Let us remember the words of James Madison on the regard of the republican form of government:

“As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government (that of a Republic) presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us, faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another.”

It takes more thought and purpose to create laws than it does to just react. We think of how the law we create will impact everyone. We want those laws to benefit all of us. We are careful not to create a law that singles out one person, because one day that person could be us. We must be a community that values each person’s life.

The more I understand and study storytelling the more I see the importance of protecting the rights of people to make their own choices. I also see that for the main subject in a story to solve their own problem basically is not possible. They must have help. This is why my belief in God and community is at the core of a good story.

Shoot some with other photographers so you can grow

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 500, ƒ/8, 1/500

Just the other night our instructors got on a conference call and talked through our plans for one last time before our trip for Storytellers Abroad workshop in Managua, Nicaragua.

This was the first draft and all that pink and green is our time shooting our stories. All the light blue is class time and editing time.

One of the best things you can do to improve your photography is to network and shoot some things with other photographers. Plan an outing soon where you can get that immediate feedback from others.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 12800, ƒ/8, 1/30

I will be teaching techniques to help steady one’s DSLR as they are shooting video. All these tips and tricks are to help the students capture the stories of the people in Nicaragua.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

I am looking forward to helping the students as they shoot with tweaking their settings on their cameras to get a better image.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/125

Maybe you would like to learn how to tell stories using video/audio/stills and need someone to help you navigate all those settings on the camera and all the possibilities of using software like Adobe Premier.

While the trip next week is sold out you can join Gary S. Chapman and I in Honduras. Spend a week with us getting to know the people and countryside of Honduras as well as having time to show us your work and get some feedback and tips.
Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/25
At the end of the week we all gather with the subjects and some in the community for them to have the big reveal of all our stories. We show them what we put together that week on them.
Well I am off to buy some more bug spray to be ready for the mosquitos in Nicaragua.
Check out how to go with us to Honduras here http://workshop.stanleyleary.com/