Monday Devotional – created in Christ Jesus to do good works

Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 100, ƒ/4.5, 1/320

Romans 12:6-8

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;  if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Everyone is unique and yet we are all called. We have been given talents and gifts that are to be used and when we do bless the communities in which we live.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Sometimes I think we have an idea that to be called we must have some supernatural talent and be one of the Marvel characters we see on the big screen.

Nikon D100, 70-200mm, ISO 800, ƒ/2.8, 1/125

Often our calling is one of just being a friend and listening to another person who has something they need to share.

Nikon D3, 85mm, ISO 560, ƒ/1.6, 1/100

Today you may just be preparing for what is to come tomorrow. Studying is an act of serving. You are sharpening those skills so that when you are called to act you can do so with quality of work.

Nikon D2X, 18-125mm, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/125

Sometimes our jobs are just to tend to the flock, like this shepherd. Whatever our role is today we need to embrace that role.

Nikon D3S, 28-300mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/3.8, 1/1600

Most of my days are filled with listening to clients and spending my time trying to understand their needs. Once that is understood I then look for ways to help tell their stories using visuals and words to capture moments that engage their audience.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/6

Isaiah 40:31

but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Nikon D4, 120-300mm w/ 2X, ISO 6400, ƒ/10, 1/2000

Want to get better – Get Critiqued!

Bill Bangham gives one-on-one reviews to the students in School of Photography at the University of Nations located in Kona, Hawaii. [Nikon Coolpix P7000]
How would you like for me to go over your work with you and give you some feedback?

Professional photographers seek out portfolio reviews to learn what they can do better and also to hopefully get work.

National Geographic Photographer Joanna Pinneo reviews a portfolio during the Southwestern Photojournalism Conference. [Nikon Coolpix P7000]
Getting your photos reviewed is probably one of the best ways to learn and grow.

Tiare Nuualiitia (foreground) and Maile Powell listen to some of Stanley’s instructions for lighting project for School of Photography 1 in Kona, Hawaii. Photo by Dennis Fahringer

Having your work reviewed can be a real nail biter for sure. While I was teaching in Kona, Hawaii Dennis Fahringer took this photo of the students listening to me.

Each one of the students would be talking to me later about how difficult the assignments were, but now on the other side of them are grateful for the assignment.

Stanley’s Tips for a Portfolio Review

Let your work speak for itself. Please don’t tell people all about the photos, if the photo doesn’t do a good job of that on it’s own then maybe it shouldn’t be in the portfolio. If the person looking at the photos wants to know more they will ask.

Listen for what is not said as much as what is said. Often when reviewing a new photographer’s work I am looking desperately for something good in the midst of snapshots. I want to encourage you, but I don’t want you to think everything is great either. If I don’t say anything about a photo, believe me it is because I am not impressed. If you ask me I might try to find something good to say, however, if you are fishing for compliments your work isn’t that good.

Portfolio review isn’t about praise of your work. If your work is the greatest of all time then maybe you will get a WOW and I wish I had your portfolio comment. You should be looking for pointers on what to do next time to make the photo better.

Millimeters are critical for great photos. One example of how a millimeter can make or break a photo is just the difference in the camera’s point of view and the subject’s eyes. Just tad bit high and you look down at the subject. Eye level with the subject is something quite different than just a little lower and looking up. As you get better this is what you are looking for the little things to improve your work.

There are stages of growth in photography. Early in your career you may need some really basic tips to help improve your photography. At this point someone talking to you about a millimeter of difference will not help you. You have a lot of work to do before they can talk to you about those differences.

Establish a relationship if possible. You need to pick people to review your work that you can go back to later and show them again. They will be able to then see your growth and frankly if you paid attention.

Ask always if you can follow up and how. Plan to go out and shoot as soon as you can after your review. Work on the tips they pointed out to you and then somehow get them to see your revisions in that portfolio. You might just need to show them one project you are working on and get their feedback.

You never arrive at the top. There is always room for growth. Always seek out feedback on your work for the rest of your career. If you are not growing then you are dying.

Anacleto Rapping (far left) and Joanna Pinneo (far right) review a student’s work at the workshop. [Nikon P7000]
If you want me to review your work we can do this a few ways. We can meet in person and I look over your work or we can do it by Skype or by phone. I just need you to share a link of photos with me if we are not in person.

Just contact me. Cost is $125 an hour. Maybe you want to get a friend to do it with you and split the cost. That is fine with me as well.

Travel Photography Tip First Things First

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/1000

This week while teaching in the Storytellers Abroad Workshop here in Togo, West Africa I have noticed some trends that most students make.

Every day we assess the trends of common errors and address those each day. One of the most common themes that almost every day starts with is taking care of the technical before trying to capture the content.

Allison Waller, a student in the Storytellers Abroad Workshop, has all these Togo children fascinated with her camera.  [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens,, ISO 3600, ƒ/4, 1/100]

Before you start shooting pictures or capturing video you need to take care of the settings on your camera.

Here is a short list of things that I recommend that a person check before capturing the content.

  1. Set the camera resolution. 
    1. Stills – I use RAW, but just be sure you have made a conscience choice.
    2. Video – I often shoot today in 1920×1280 24 fps. Again be aware what settings you use. With video you need to be sure all the cameras you use are on the same resolution or editing will be a problem.
  2. Set ISO – Use the lowest ISO possible to still get a sharp image and well exposed
  3. Set Aperture
  4. Set Shutter Speed
    1. Stills – Pick shutter speed that works with the focal length
    2. Video – Use shutter speed double the fps.
  5. White Balance – I recommend always using a Custom White balance
  6. Video Sound 
    1. Microphone close as possible to the person 
    2. Set Audio Recording level
    3. Always use closed headphones to listen for sound issues

Once you take care of those technical settings then when you start shooting the content you are collecting will be useable.

Pat Davison, professor from UNC School of Media/Journalism, is teaching interviewing techniques using a translator during our workshop in Togo, West Africa.  [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 1800, ƒ/8, 1/100]
[Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 100, ƒ/1.4, 1/100]