Why do we need Associations, Workshops and Seminars?


An association is a conglomerate of professionals engaged in the same profession working toward goals that promote the best practices, ethical behavior, and provide services for the general welfare and common benefit of all members.

But what happens when an industry starts losing jobs, as is the case in photojournalism?

Photographers, artists and videographers have experienced a 43 percent decrease in jobs since 2000, dropping from 6,171 to only 3,493 jobs in 2012 — the largest difference faced by newspaper staffers, according to the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE). Reporters and writers were next in line, with jobs dropping by 32 percent. Copy editors, layout editors and online producers lost 27% of all jobs.

However, while there are parts of the industry shrinking photography usage is at an all time high.

This year, according to the market research firm InfoTrends, global consumers will take more than one trillion digital photos.

The growth in the number of photos taken each year is exponential: It has nearly tripled since 2010 and is projected to grow to 1.3 trillion by 2017. The rapid proliferation of smart phones is mostly to blame. Seventy-five percent of all photos are now taken with some kind of phone, up from 40 percent in 2010. Full-fledged digital cameras now represent only 20 percent of the tally, and are expected to drop to just 13 percent by 2017, InfoTrends said.

Photographers produce and preserve images that paint a picture, tell a story, or record an event. To create commercial-quality photographs [photos people will pay you to take], photographers need technical expertise, creativity, and the appropriate professional equipment. Producing a successful picture requires choosing and presenting a subject to achieve a particular effect, and selecting the right cameras and other photographic enhancing tools.

I think each professional photographer either consciously or subconsciously look at an organization as a way that will help them grow professionally and socially. The question about these organizations is can they meet those needs/wants and relationships that are desired by professional photographers.

NPPA, ASMP & SWPJC provided: [they didn’t do all these each of them, but collectively for me they did]

  1. Education
  2. Advocacy
  3. Networking
  4. Benefits
    1. Health Insurance
    2. Camera Insurance
    3. Discounts with vendors
  5. Benchmarking


Before the internet these organizations were pretty much it when it came to those services. After the internet and specifically when it became easy for people to create their own websites and share photos/videos then there was a lot of World-Wide competition.

Here are some people that put more on their websites for free photography education than the organizations ever offered:

  1. David Hobby – The Strobist
  2. Improve Photography LLC
  3. FStoppers

Others came along and took their production of the content up to higher levels and then charged for their services. The biggest name in photography doing this was Scott Kelby who started PhotoShop World and KelbyOne. More recently Jeremy Cowart tells you to not spend money on a four year college, but spend it with his online See University. By the way that isn’t accredited school.


While I have been much appreciative of all the work ASMP and NPPA has done on copyright protections, none of this helped me with keeping any staff job or for that matter any assignment.

Professional Photographers would be lining up to join the organizations if the advocacy was helping the average photographer.

I am sure the lawyers and leaders of those organizations can point out how protecting copyright is necessary. However, for the last 20+ years more and more clients are now more copyright savy and now asking for all rights or asking you to work-for-hire. We did a great job of empowering those hiring us and little to do in protecting our incomes.

I am also sure that without all this help from the lawyers we would be even worse off. But the Advocacy is seldom realized in a tangible way for a professional photographer to join an organization. You see they need help getting jobs and knowing how to keep them.


Today with social media we are more connected than ever before. We can organize with other photographers in our communities for free.

The one thing an organization/association can offer is some requirements to be a member and due to those standards offer a quality environment for it’s members. This is one of the huge benefits of an association. There is a filter so that those in the group are what you are looking for to meet up with.


It is quite difficult to get discounts without having an organization that can negotiate this with vendors. The vendors want the access to the membership and the members need help keeping their costs down.


The question people must ask is “Why?”. Why do I need an association? Associations need to be asking why they exist?

Once an organization can tell you in a sentence as to their purpose then people can easily decide if that purpose meets their needs that they have to survive.

Associations today haven’t caught up with where their membership lives. They lack focus that services their members needs.


The one thing people are looking for more than anything else is relationships that are truly enriching their lives. First of all they want to be accepted by people as they are. They want those relationships to help them grow. Challenge them to get better and be there when things are difficult for them.

When an organization works hardest at treating people with honor, dignity and respect–They will grow in membership.

Why did so many photography associations shrink? First of all many jobs disappeared in traditional places. Second I believe the members were not all treated with honor, dignity and respect.

People want in a relationship not so much getting something, but rather being allowed to give. Not everyone was welcomed or cherished.

The big secret is that people are looking for relationships. The question is how respectful will we be to nurture this so they and the organizations will grow?

Associations are greatly needed, but they cannot be like your fathers’ association.

Portraits from Nikon D100 in 2002

Nikon D100, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 200, ƒ/8, 1/180 – 4 Alienbees B1600s

I have been looking through some older photos. I started pulling all of our photos of our daughter for a project we are working on.

Most of the photos have been on CDs and DVDs and I am putting them onto a hard drive. I will be going through them and selecting our favorites and then putting them into categories like Birthdays and Holidays.

For these photos I found I also had a picture of the setup. Here is that photo for you to see how I setup the lights in our garage in my older house.

Here are a few of the different shots from that day back in October 31, 2002.

What I think is great about these photos is they were shot on my first digital DSLR camera. It was the Nikon D100.

The Nikon D100 had a 6.1 Effective Megapixel CCD for 3,008 x 2,000-pixel images. The D100 had about 7.5 stops of dynamic range as compared to today’s cameras of about 12 to 14 stops.

 Just a comparison of Nikon D100 and 13 years later the D5

Nikon D100 Key Specs Nikon D5 Key Specs
Announcement Date: 2002-07-26
6MP – APS-C CCD Sensor
ISO 200 – 1600
Nikon F Mount
1.8″ Fixed Type Screen
Optical (pentaprism) viewfinder
3 fps continuous shooting
No Video Mode
780g. 144 x 116 x 81 mm

Announcement Date: 2016-01-05
21MP – Full frame CMOS Sensor
No Anti-aliasing (AA) filter
ISO 100 – 3280000
Nikon F Mount
3.2″ Fixed Type Screen
Optical (pentaprism) viewfinder
14.0 fps continuous shooting
3840 x 2160 video resolution
1415g. 160 x 158.5 x 92 mm
Weather Sealed Body
Replaced Nikon D4s

How to handle client negotiations

Nikon D3, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 400, ƒ/7.1, 1/200 – 4 Alienbees B1600 with 40º Parabolic reflectors

The Slam Dunk

A Slam Dunk in business is when you exceed the expectations of the client. I have made the mistake many times throughout my career of not doing a great job of managing those expectations.

We have all had the client call and also had the bills stacking up and due to our need of getting the job we rush to do whatever is necessary to just get the job. This is like going to the grocery store when you are hungry. You will make unnecessary purchases.

Nikon D3, Sigma 120-300 mm f/2.8 DG EX APO IF HSM, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/1000

Know the client’s expectations

When you have a brand new client managing expectations is so important. You need to not just listen and hear what they are saying, but I often ask for examples of what they are used to working with or if they have not worked with a photographer examples of what they would like that they have seen some where before.

Just this week I had two new clients, which I have never done work with before. In both cases I asked if they could send me some examples of what they are looking for so that we are on the same page.

I had one client send me work that would take little effort on my part to meet and exceed the quality of work they showed to me. However, the other client was talking to me about a photojournalistic coverage of where I was just shadowing someone, but then the photos they sent to me were well crafted lifestyle photos that would be used in a major advertising campaign.

The funny thing is that one client’s budget was more like champaign budget the and other was a beer budget.

In the case where the budget was cheap the taste was luxury for sure. This is where your attitude and negotiation skills come in to help educate the client or at least price the job properly so as to be sure you can deliver the product to meet those expectations.

Nikon D3S, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 800, ƒ/5.6, 1/250

It is a conversation

Be careful to not jump to the very end of the process and write a contract that is a take it or leave it situation. Pace yourself.

I talked with my contact and let them know that the price range would be three to four times more than we had first been discussing if the images they showed was exactly what they were wanting. I also asked if they were showing a situation or more the quality that they are looking for in the photo.

Basically I don’t need to spend a lot of time producing an estimate for a advertising shoot when they really just need a ground breaking photo.

I always do my best to start with how I am able and more than willing to meet their expectations and can make it happen for them. I let them know my concern is to always get them the most for their budget.

Nikon D4, Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/5.3, 1/500

Don’t be shortsighted, Have Foresight

Your creativity should not be limited to your work with the camera. You need to make the entire experience for your client so special that they love your work and tell others about you.

Your goal should be to surprise your client. One of the ways I started to surprise my clients was to use off camera flash. Just like here with this family photo.

Nikon D4, Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 1000, ƒ/5.6, 1/60

In this photo of the hunter it was raining. My flash is covered in zip lock bags. Had I not used the flash the skin color would not be as accurate and the dynamic range would have made the photo look extremely flat.

One way I continue to surprise my customers is quick turn around. I shot a client’s son’s wedding where before the Bride and Groom had left for the honeymoon the next day they had all the photos in an online gallery. As compared to most wedding photographers who take a month or two to get those photos to the bride and groom I had surprised them.

I have a good number of clients that are always changing things at the last moment. My response is always that is OK. I am here to make it happen for you. [Side Note: I do price to cover my need to be flexible]. Many times my clients make changes and I will do my best to move things to still work to get their project done. However, if I cannot make it happen for me to be there I line up a photographer/video person to give them the same quality as me or better.

Nikon D4, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 10000, ƒ/10, 1/2000

Take care of your photographer colleagues

This just reminds me to be sure you are developing great friends in the industry. You want to give them work when you can and they should be doing the same for you over time.

If a job is not suited well for you take care of the client and find them the photographer who will be a good fit for the job. They often will come back to you for other jobs when you show to them you are looking out for their best interests over just yourself.

On The Same Page

When you and the client are working from the same page of notes, your ability to meet and exceed their expectations is something you can manage. However, if at any point you make assumptions and don’t verify what their expectations are for a job you can often find yourself reshooting for the same underestimated budget and therefore losing money or just lose the customer over all.

Here is a little secret I discovered over time. When you ask these questions to the client to clarify the scope of a job it makes you look more like an expert and their trust goes up in you.

Changing the background with a simple gel for portraits

1:3 lighting ratio – Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/200

When I teach lighting I always teach the 1:3 lighting ratio. After I show how you set up the main light and the fill I show them some ways to change the background quickly using gels.

Now before I add the gel I shoot this photo where the subject in on a white background. I will shoot with just the main light, the fill light and then put both of the lights on with no background light so that the students can see individually what each light is doing.

Main Light only

Now I will turn the main light off and then turn on just the fill light.

Fill Light only

Now for the main light it was measured for ƒ/5.6. I didn’t change the exposure on the camera I just shot the fill light at ƒ/4 to show it is darker than the main and where the direction of the light is coming and how it affects the model’s face.

Then I combine the two lights.

Main and Fill light together

Then we talk about how she is in front of the white background but it looks like a light gray.

Main, Fill & Background Light

I put two lights on the background and then measure the light so that it is about 1stop brighter than the main light. So the background here is ƒ/8.

This is the histogram without the background light. The furthest right on the histogram you can see that the value is good amount away from the far right.

This is the one where I have the background light set at 1-stop brighter than the fill. Notice here you can see most of the histogram is the same, but the far right is on the far right. This is showing how the white value is recorded. If you are not butting up on the right then there will be a little gray or often a tinge of blue when you print out the photo in the background.

Now when I add the gels like this red or the blue above we take a light reading of the background. We want the value to be 2–stops darker than the main light. So here the background is measuring ƒ/2.8.

One more thing you will notice is you need to move the person away from the background when using white for a background.

Now I demonstrate this also using a black background and to get the color to look like this you need to be sure the background is then 2–stops brighter than the main light. So if this red background was really black with the gel on it the reading would be then ƒ/11 which is 2–stops brighter than the ƒ/5.6 of the main light.

Preserving Family History, One Memory at a Time

My sister is on the couch with my grandfather and grandmother during one of our many times of watching the slide show my grandfather had created from his recording of our family that year and often years in the past as well. Not sure if my dad or uncle took this photo.

Webster’s Dictionary defines a family historian is an authority on known or recorded family events. Most everyone on both sides of my family were recording our family history with photos and movies through the years.

April Saul won first place in the Feature Picture Story category at the 1992 Pictures of the Year competition for her portrayal of the American family. She believed that family struggles were an important topic of journalism. “I hope what it [winning] means is that the everyday struggles of an American family are as valid in their own way as the struggles going on in Azerbajian or Sarajevo — and that the private wars next door can be as compelling as the bloody, public ones thousands of miles away.”

Family photographs can be considered cultural artifacts because they document the events that shape families’ lives. Thus, the recording of family history becomes an important endeavor. In many cases, photographs are the only biographical material people leave behind after they die. But, the impact of family photo albums extends beyond merely recording history. Interpretation of family structures, relationships and self is possible through viewing family photographs.

Preserving Family History, One Memory at a Time

One of the biggest roles one can serve as a photographer is to help with the recording of their family history.

Now taking those pictures isn’t enough. You need to share them with the family. You can do this many different ways. A traditional print that you give people is still a great way for them to enjoy what you have captured. They can put it on the museum wall that most homes have, which is also referred to as the front of the refrigerator.

This is my sister and I with our grandparents being photographed by my dad or mom at our home across from the church at the orphanage in Kinston, NC.

At my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary we pulled these photos and had them in a slide show for those attending the event.

For our daugther’s last musical we bought a 1/2 page ad and used the photos I had made of her in high school plays.

For her yearbook we bought a 1/4 page ad and used photos from early to now that captured her personality.

We take pictures to celebrate our new babies and birthdays. Later at weddings we put together slide shows for rehearsal dinners and the receptions to show the young couple growing up.

We use photos at our anniversary parties to remember all we have celebrated as families through the years.

I had the privilege of recording a video of a cancer patient who was dying and wanted to capture in her own words thing she wanted to share with them before she passed on from this life to the next. We found photos to use as she talked about her children and grandchildren.

Tomorrow I am going to her funeral where for the first time the family will see the video. I believe it will help them celebrate their family member in a way that many never get to have at their funerals. The great thing is that all the friends that will show up that may have never met their family member will be introduced to her for the first time.

This is my uncle playing with his daughter [my cousin] that I took.

First of all taking the time to make these photos shows your love of your family. Taking the time to share it with them at poignant moments in your families celebrations is a way you serve as the family historian.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6F3-InOdMP4]
This Subaru ad captures that special relationship between a father and daughter using images of the girl when she is young and now.

This is my daughter at age four in the front seat.

Here is one that a dad did over 14 years to show his little girl growing up in front of the camera with just portraits.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH1x5aRtjSQ]
Here we did a book when our oldest graduated from high school and was going off to college.

There are family milestones that often cause us to find our photos and take the time just to look at them and remember.

For some of us as we grow older we may start to suffer from memory loss. These photos will become for us what our memories used to do for us and help us know those around us and that they are our family.

Photographs can prove to be an invaluable source of information when resolving personal problems. Photographs are not subject to memory recollection, and a person’s portrayal of events can be quite different from what appears in the photographs. The information is intimate because family photographs are collected from the inside compared with journalistic institutions, which usually operate as outsiders. Photo albums and home movies provide the richest sources of memories about the family. They offer an intimate look at personal relationships. Psychologists recently have begun using this display of intimacy to help resolve family conflicts.

Just imagine a couple getting close to divorce that pulls out the photos and then starts to remember all the good times and takes the time to work things out because of the memories that helped to build those bridges necessary to save the marriage.

Photos are powerful reminders of the family ties.

My great grandmother holding my baby sister and me. 

Photo taken by my grandfather a month or so before my sister married my brother-in-law.
A photo I took of my daughter testing a lighting setup for a musical. While I was taking it for another reason I appreciate it because it is one of our father and daughter times together. It is a powerful memory for me.
One of my wife and I’s favorite photos of our daughter Chelle. She is having her first Shirley Temple drink at the beach. Her expression of how much fun she was having and that we had this experience with her and the photo now helps us remember that moment like it just happened.

Nothing means as much to me as watching my family and capturing our times together. How about you do you value what your photos do for your immediate family as much as you do for how the rest of the world sees them?

Storytelling Photo vs Point Photo

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.5, 1/100

“When I take you out in the surrey with the fringe on top!”, sings Curly in the musical Oklahoma!

This photo above is the only time on the stage during the entire production of the musical at Roswell High School where the surrey is on stage. This is the one scene that captures the build up of the whole show to where we see what Curly was singing from the beginning of the show promising Laurey how he would treat her on a date.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 5000, ƒ/5.6, 1/250

This is Ado Annie Cames singing, but because I am isolating her alone only the corn in the background helps to place this with the musical Oklahoma!.

This is what I call a point shot verses the top photo which has much more information and is getting closer to helping to tell more of the story. You still need words with either photo to make it storytelling, but hopefully you are seeing the difference between the scene establishing shot and the closeup.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/5, 1/100

Now the reason this photo of Curly and Laurey often works as well as the shot of the surrey is that this particular pose is used often in posters to promote the show. Just Google “Oklahoma! Musical” and look at all the photos and you will see this style shot pop up.

Nikon D5, 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/8000

Here is how I shot a promo shot verses the photo above it is from the show. Now while this doesn’t tell the story say as well as having the surrey in the photo, Curly is gesturing about how the future he promises to Laurey is better than where she is now.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/180

Google “Oklahoma Barn Scene” and you can see variations of other productions that show similar scene. Again this is more of a point photo, but because I included more of the set most theatre folks will know this is the Musical Oklahoma!.

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/200

People Need The Lord Photo

“I don’t need a lot of ‘People Need The Lord’ photos,” commented Jeff Raymond to a photographer shooting photos with him in the Dominican Republic. “What do you mean?,” commented the photographer.

Jeff went on to explain the photo style like the Afghan girl on the front of National Geographic by Steve McCurry. This photo has had such an impact that many people think this is the “BEST” way to shoot.

Give me more context is what Jeff coached the photographer to do in addition to a few portraits.

You see the photo of the boy here could have been shot anywhere in the world.

This is a frame from short movie clip. Notice how the kids in the foreground are close enough to give you a portrait, but including the background gives you more context. Here is the movie and you can see what conditions I was shooting.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/209574701Kids playing in Togo, West Africa from Stanley Leary on Vimeo.
Please understand this blog post is not saying Storytelling Photo is better than a Point Photo. What I am saying is you need both.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 100, ƒ/1.4, 1/2000

The problem I see with many new photographers is falling in love with the closeup shot at ƒ/1.4 and centered. Then they have only slight variations of this photo in their portfolio.

If you are going to be hired over and over you must be the photographer who gives the client more than they expected. This is why learning how to use a variety of lenses, different apertures and shutter speeds on an assignment will have clients raving about you.

Sure you can do OK shooting the “People Need The Lord” photo, but you are a one trick pony show.

What high school theatre can teach us about Volunteers

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.5, 1/100

Roswell High School had their last show of the musical Oklahoma! yesterday. What a production it was for everyone involved.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/180

Our daughter Chelle was in the musical as Aunt Eller and this is the main reason my wife and I were involved as volunteers.

While there are many other ways I could talk about being a volunteer I thought this was a great way to talk about the roles of the volunteer.

If your organization is using volunteers it is imperative on you to define roles of volunteers so everyone knows what they are doing. Most organizations that regularly use volunteers usually have a volunteer coordinator.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/5, 1/100

Now in theater the term role came from literally an actor being given a part. No one had the entire play in the time of Shakespeare. They just had their part. This is why often their role would setup the next actor.

For the play to be successful each person needed to know their part/role.

Think of your organization like a musical to give you an idea how important it is for each person to know their part and for someone to be responsible for coordinating like the director of the show.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S,  ISO 32000, ƒ/5, 1/500

If you want to see excitement on your volunteers faces like here in the scene from Oklahoma! then you need to make everyone feel like they are part of the team.

Now everyone in this musical except for the two teachers were all volunteers. The student actors could have quit at any time.

By the way very seldom does this not cross someone’s mind as a volunteer. The main reason for the thought of quitting coming up is due to communication problems, which are often rooted in poor understanding of volunteers.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.2, 1/140

Here is a list of some suggestions for you:

  • Developing ways to recognize and reward volunteer efforts
  • Helping volunteers feel welcome and supported
  • Developing and managing policies, procedures and standards for volunteers
  • Looking after the volunteer database and records
  • Planning and goal setting
  • Rostering and organizing volunteers
  • Delegating projects and tasks
  • Managing any associated budgets and expenditure
  • Communicating with people from diverse backgrounds
  • Resolving conflict or managing the grievance process.

Some No-Nos

  • Complaining about a volunteers work
  • Ask people to volunteer and then when they show up not use them
  • Make volunteers wait on you
  • Don’t thank your volunteers
Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S,  ISO 18000, ƒ/5, 1/500
The one thing that is the most valuable given by any and every volunteer is their TIME. No matter the person no one’s time is more valuable than any other person.
The only time it seems that we are really aware of how valuable our time is seems to be when our time is running out on this earth. Don’t be one of those people who doesn’t think about how valuable your time and others is until your last days here. Each person’s hour of time they donate is the same value as another person.
Now some who read this will disagree with me, but just like this play if one person didn’t do their assigned part then it is noticed. An actor doesn’t appear on stage at the right moment the other actors have to improv and the plot can be affected in the storyline. 
Just think of the time you had a splinter and how annoying that is and affects the whole body. That is how big of a deal each person’s time is to the organization. Something so small will be felt by the body.
Feelings Get Hurt
When people get upset working as a volunteer it can almost always be traced back to miscommunication. Often it is when the role wasn’t well defined or just as often is when volunteer shows up and those who are coordinating their time dropped the ball.
Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 2000, ƒ/5, 1/100
When you take the time to plan and organize your thoughts about using volunteers you can get everyone in step together.
When a plan comes together
I can tell you healthy organizations are the ones that treat everyone’s time as precious as gold. When they do the word gets out. People see what is going on and want to join. You see way too many people are aware of volunteering and wasting their time or at least not being treated with the respect due when you are giving away your time.
When a theatre company consistently is putting on great performances it is due to someone coordinating all those volunteers and treating everyone’s time a precious.
When respecting people’s time you will benefit from more friends and deeper friendships. You see a good relationship is respecting one another’s time.

Which are you apart of? Group ƒ/64 or Group ƒ/1.4

Nikon D2X, Sigma 15-30mm, ISO 100, ƒ/13, 1/4

Group ƒ/64

In 1930 Willard Van Dyke as well as Ansel Adams & Edward Weston formed the Group ƒ/64.

Group f/64 was a group founded by seven 20th-century San Francisco photographers who shared a common photographic style characterized by sharp-focused and carefully framed images seen through a particularly Western (U.S.) viewpoint. In part, they formed in opposition to the pictorialist photographic style that had dominated much of the early 20th century, but moreover they wanted to promote a new modernist aesthetic that was based on precisely exposed images of natural forms and found objects. 

The term f/64 refers to a small aperture setting on a large format camera, which secures great depth of field, rendering a photograph evenly sharp from foreground to background. Such a small aperture sometimes implies a long exposure and therefore a selection of relatively slow moving or motionless subject matter, such as landscapes and still life, but in the typically bright California light this is less a factor in the subject matter chosen than the sheer size and clumsiness of the cameras, compared to the smaller cameras [35mm] increasingly used in action and reportage photography in the 1930s.

– Wkipedia 

One of the magazines I have done work for through the years is Country Magazine. There requirements are to shoot at the highest depth-of-field for their photos. To do this on today’s DSLR cameras you are typically shooting at ƒ/22. This would be equivalent to the ƒ/64 on a 8′”x10″ that many in Group ƒ/64 used.

Nikon D2X, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 100, ƒ/22, 1/2.5

The strength of shooting with sharpness all through the photograph is it puts the audience into the scene. This is where you are using composition and lighting to draw the audience into the photograph.

While your eye may go first to where the photographer directs you using light values and composition your eye will wonder afterwards around the scene just as if you were standing there yourself.

This style was in opposition to the pictorialist of the time.

Pictorialism is the name given to an international style and aesthetic movement that dominated photography during the later 19th and early 20th centuries. There is no standard definition of the term, but in general it refers to a style in which the photographer has somehow manipulated what would otherwise be a straightforward photograph as a means of “creating” an image rather than simply recording it. Typically, a pictorial photograph appears to lack a sharp focus (some more so than others), is printed in one or more colors other than black-and-white (ranging from warm brown to deep blue) and may have visible brush strokes or other manipulation of the surface. For the pictorialist, a photograph, like a painting, drawing or engraving, was a way of projecting an emotional intent into the viewer’s realm of imagination.

– Wikipedia
Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 140, ƒ/1.4, 1/100

Group ƒ/1.4

Group ƒ/1.4 you may not have heard of, but I bet you have heard of BOKEH Photography.

In photography, BOKEH is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. Bokeh has been defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light”. Differences in lens aberrations and aperture shape cause some lens designs to blur the image in a way that is pleasing to the eye, while others produce blurring that is unpleasant or distracting—”good” and “bad” bokeh, respectively. Bokeh occurs for parts of the scene that lie outside the depth of field. Photographers sometimes deliberately use a shallow focus technique to create images with prominent out-of-focus regions.

– Wikipedia
I would say that those who shoot primarily wide open aperture are more stylistically like the pictorialist of the last century and less like Group ƒ/64 which was about preserving everything in the scene.
Nikon D750, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 500, ƒ/1.8, 1/320
I love that my camera lets me shoot from ƒ/1.4 to ƒ/57. The ƒ/57 is when I shoot with my Nikon 60mm Micro lens. Here is a shot I did that was widely published.
“ƒ/8 and be there,” was Alfred Eisenstaedt’s response to the question on how to be a successful photographer. 
However the earliest record of the quote “ƒ/8 and be there” is attributed to Weegee who was a famous street photographer during the 1930’s, 40’s and beyond. It represents a philosophy to keep technical decisions simple and be where your vision takes you. The quote has been the mantra of photojournalists, travel photographers and even nature photographers.

This says you just need to anticipate and be technically ready to capture “the decisive moment.”

I say to be careful not to treat your interviews as just got microphone and recorder levels set and just hit record and I am done.

Don’t Make Your Camera a Box Camera

Kodak made a box camera where you pushed the button and Kodak did the rest. You had no control over the Aperture, Shutter or even ISO.

Once you subscribe to shooting all your photos like the Group ƒ/64 or those doing BOKEH photography you have in essence taken that very expensive camera and turned it into a box camera.

Exercise for you to do

Take your camera and just one lens. Find a scene and then shoot the scene at every aperture you can on your camera. Now as you get to a wide open aperture you know that your depth-of-field becomes very shallow, so remember to change your focus so that the focal point is on something in the scene that creates interest. We call this technique selective focus.

Now just spend time doing this for several different situations. It might be able to do it with scenics rather than people at first, but then move on to people. What is really fun to do is to shoot where there are many people. A good example would be in a coffee shop.

Your challenge is not to make one good photo in each situation, but rather a great photo at each ƒ-stop.

When you master this technique you will discover you will be able to say something totally different about each situation. This will be the difference of you writing a very short sentence to creating a novel with just one frame.

Will you take up the challenge?

I believe the great photographers are the ones that know when to use what aperture to capture what they want to say about the subject.

How to Video Capture more than 29 minutes with a Nikon D5

Fuji X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/5, 1/100

Last night I photographed and video captured the show Oklahoma!. Just a last minute push to encourage you if you are in Roswell, GA to come and see the play. Runs through the weekend. Go here to buy your tickets or at the door.

For video capture I attached to my Nikon D5 using the HDMI output the Atomos Ninja Blade 5″ HDMI On-Camera Monitor & Recorder.

Why did I do this is a great question. Most all DSLRs that record video have a 30 minute time limit. I understand this has to do with avoiding a double tax in some countries.

So how do you record a musical as I did that goes an hour and half for just the first Act? This is where the Atomos Ninja Blade comes to the rescue.

Atomos Ninja Blade 5″ PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS

Key Features

325DPI, 5″ IPS 1280 x 720 capacitive touchscreen monitor/recorder.

Waveform RGB & luma parade, vectorscope with zoom, and test pattern generator.

Adjustable gamma, contrast and brightness.

HDMI input and output.

Real-time monitoring, playback, playout to a PC or Mac with QuickTime, and edit logging.

Focus peaking, 0-100% zebra, and two modes of false color monitoring.

Records 10-bit, 4:2:2 in ProRes or DNxHD.

S-Log / C-Log recording.

Trigger REC/STOP from camera (Canon, Sony, ARRI, Panasonic, RED, JVC)

Timecode from camera.

2.5″ HDD/SSD media storage.

It records up to 1080 30p/60i resolution via HDMI to an available HDD or SSD using either Apple’s ProRes or Avid’s DNxHD codecs. Recording at 10-bit with 4:2:2 color sampling, this unit provides you a monitoring and recording solution in one compact battery powered unit.

Now I bought the ADATA Technology 256GB Ultimate SU800 SATA III 2.5″ Internal SSD card.

This setup worked great for last night’s opening night performance.

Fuji X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 1600, ƒ/4.7, 1/100

While the Nikon D5 will record 4K I don’t need this most of the time, so the Atomos Ninja Blade 5″ was perfect.

If however you would like to record at 4K you can get the Atomos Shogun Flame 7″ 4K HDMI/12-SDI Recording Monitor. They make other higher end models as well.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 5000, ƒ/5.6, 1/250

If you are not a video shooter and are more of a stills shooter then for capturing video you need to be a little more hands on technically.

What I mean by this is that the exposure and sound vary through a production and you may need to adjust this as you are recording.

With the Nikon D5 attached to the Atomos Ninja Blade using the HDMI port just siphons this off before it hits the H.264 encoder and you are recording in ProRes format. This isn’t really recording in RAW video but more like a TIFF file than say a JPEG.

Now I cannot share the Oklahoma! video because of copyright. [I am recording it for the Shuler Awards in Georgia]

The cool thing is right now you can buy the Atomos Ninja Blade 5″ for $395 without a hard drive which gives you the 5″ monitor. I would recommend buying a SSD hard drive of your choice in size.

Fuji X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 2000, ƒ/5, 1/100

There are three more performances for me to tweak my exposure and sound on to capture the best quality possible out of my setup. At the same time each performance traditionally gets better each time.

Fuji X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 1000, ƒ/4.5, 1/100

By the way Aunt Eller is my daughter Chelle. This is her senior year and last production. She also taught the choreography to the cast.

Fuji X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 5000, ƒ/4.7, 1/100

I hope these tips will help you thinking of ways to use your DSLR to do more than just take photos. I know I wanted to use the high quality CMOS chip to get a wonderful keepsake video of our daughter to cherish for the rest of her life.

How Clothes, Color of Outfits, Backgrounds & Lighting Impact the Portrait

When picking clothes for a photo shoot I have a few tips. For these photos of recording artist Sydney Rhame we had a few outfits. So here I will show you how there are many variables that can impact the final photo.


I recommend wearing solids over patterns. It keeps your eye going to the face rather than the outfit.


If you have two or more people you need to coordinate your outfits, but by yourself you have much more latitude. You just want to pick a color that works with your skin tone, hair color and eye color.


Be careful to coordinate your lipstick color with your outfits.


Backgrounds need to be simple and uncluttered. Backgrounds need to be complimentary to the colors the model is wearing.


Black and White are great neutral colors to use as well as Gray. I would avoid pure white due to it is difficult to keep the detail in the white when you start going to different outputs like photo prints or to a newspaper.

Black works well and I like it when the fabric has some texture as Sydney’s sweater does here.

Notice that you can keep the same background and change outfits and the mood of the photo will change.

Also keeping the same outfit but a different background changes the mood of the photo.

What I have learned through the years is if you want the very best photo then you need to bring a variety of outfits to a photo shoot and mix and match those outfits with different backgrounds as well as lighting schemes.

Sometimes in the case of a recording artist like Sydney you need a different look depending on the music you are promoting.


While your clothes, the background and lighting can have a huge impact on the photo the one thing that really makes the photo is the expression of the model. Now coordinating all these into one moment is when you have that EUREKA MOMENT!