No Shortage of Free Work for the photographer

The adage from the for-profit world, “You have to spend money to make money,” is widely accepted— but not so in the nonprofit world.

Sometimes we see nonprofits develop exciting strategic plans but need to integrate those plans into the budget.

There are about 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States. Forbes states that fifty percent will fail in the first twelve months. Other data suggests it’s less, with the National Centre For Charitable Statistics putting the figure nearer thirty percent.

Nonprofits often approach photographers, videographers, and writers to do work for free.

Volunteers at the Habitat build located in Atlanta, Georgia.

To meet your goals, realistically count the cost.

It would be best if you had a strategic plan for your business as much as any other business or nonprofit needs a business plan.

Any work you do should involve negotiation. Chris Voss points out that if you are looking for a Win-Win outcome, you are prone to be taken advantage of by others.

Chris Voss wrote Never Split The Difference: Negotiating as if your life depended on it. Voss says there are two types of negotiators: 1) Create Value and 2) Claim Value. Now those who are looking for a Win-Win outcome as long as they are dealing with another Create Value mindset will come out OK. However, Voss says that when the Create Value person comes up against a Claim Value mindset, they are often slaughtered.

While an excellent deal is usually a Win-Win, you must understand what this involves to be truly good for both parties.

2000 meals made for Feeding Children Everywhere

The Claim Value negotiator will often toss the Win-Win mindset to see if you light up. If you do, then they go in for the attack.

The Create Value person will often look at the deal and say we can make this deal, but here is the problem. You have started a relationship with someone who isn’t a true Win-Win. The agreement you worked out will stop you from growing your own business.

Voss teaches you to understand how important it is for Tactical Empathy. The client is being transparent enough to see they are looking for a mutual commitment to be strategic in reaching their long-term goals.

When you know if you can grow your business by accepting specific deals is why having a strategic plan is so important.

While it is great that you may have the ability to give your time and talent to a nonprofit, you may be setting up the organization for an early demise when you are no longer working for free.

Every organization needs line items for communications. However, you may be wasting time if the organization doesn’t understand how professional communicators are affecting their budget to meet their strategic plan.

Volunteers and homeowners are cleaning up after the Moore, Oklahoma, tornado.

Any business needs to understand Corporate Social Responsibility.

It’s important to give back and be involved. Donating to local organizations fosters goodwill. Also, you’ll create evangelists for your brand. Finally, consistently giving will get the attention of the people working and volunteering at the organizations you support.

Howard Chapnick was an American editor, photo editor, and long-term leader of the Black Star photo agency. Many nonprofits would approach Black Star, asking them to donate. First, Chapnick would explain how they do pro bono work, but when they do, everyone else involved in the project is also donating. Then Chapnick would ask if everyone else involved is also contributing for free. For example, are the caterers, the venue, and so on all doing this for free? Chapnick then would ask the person why we should give for free if others are not doing so.

I give away a lot of my time and talents each year. I encourage you to do so as well. However, do this with your strategic plan in mind. Also, be sure that the organization you are donating your talent has a strategic plan and that you are not setting them up for failure when you can no longer do work for free for them.

While you cannot get a tax deduction in the US for charging for your time and then donating that money back to the organization, this could be a great way to help the organization to understand how this needs to be a line item in their budget.

NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S & NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f/4 S

Over the past year, I have had to upgrade my cameras. While my older cameras could have worked longer for me, there is a moment with technology when you can still get a good value on your used gear, and if you wait too long, you might as well keep it.

I upgraded first from the Nikon D5 to the Nikon Z9. This was a significant change for me. While I had bought the Nikon Z6 to see if I liked how Nikon was handling mirrorless, it was the letting go of my last DSLR Nikon D5 cameras that I finally made that break.

Now mind you, I had to upgrade my computer to handle these 45.7 MP files. At the same time, I was upgrading to handle bigger files; Adobe introduced AI technology in Lightroom and PhotoShop, which also required a great deal of computer speed, RAM, and more storage.

The good news was I could still use all my older lenses with the new Nikon Z9 with the Mount-Adapter-FTZ.

This past week I bought the NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S and the NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f/4 S. I was able to use them out on some events I was shooting this week.

NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f/4 S

I replaced the Nikon 14-24mm ƒ/2.8 with the NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f/4 S. Today’s ISO was not as big a deal as in 2007. I have been using it for some 15 years. Here are some photos from the event where I used the 14-30mm.

[NIKON Z 9, NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f/4 S, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 8000, 1/250, ƒ/4, (35mm = 15)]
[NIKON Z 9, NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f/4 S, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 7200, 1/250, ƒ/4, (35mm = 19)]
[NIKON Z 9, NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f/4 S, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 25600, 1/13, ƒ/4, (35mm = 21)]
[NIKON Z 9, NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f/4 S, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/250, ƒ/4, (35mm = 14)]
[NIKON Z 9, NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f/4 S, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 7200, 1/250, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 30)]

I felt great about the lens’s sharpness, the color and contrast, and how light it was to carry. My experience with the 14-24mm ƒ/2.8 was always awkward. Always great to lighten my load when I can.

NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S

Now here are some of the range of focal lengths I enjoyed about using the NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S. It just isn’t convenient for me to shoot an event with my 35mm ƒ/1.4 and my 85mm ƒ/1.8 no matter how much I love them the NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S is a much better solution for event work.

[NIKON Z 9, NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 20000, 1/250, ƒ/4, (35mm = 87)]
[NIKON Z 9, NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 18000, 1/250, ƒ/5, (35mm = 105)]
[NIKON Z 9, NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/250, ƒ/5, (35mm = 102)]
[NIKON Z 9, NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 25600, 1/250, ƒ/5, (35mm = 94)]
[NIKON Z 9, NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 10000, 1/250, ƒ/5, (35mm = 120)]
[NIKON Z 9, NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/250, ƒ/5, (35mm = 36)]
[NIKON Z 9, NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 18000, 1/250, ƒ/5, (35mm = 34)]

While none of these photos will win photography contests, these are the bread and butter type of images event photographers are asked to capture.

The lenses are sharp edge to edge. I found no problems whatsoever with their performance.


One of the most significant upgrades with these lenses is that they are so quiet I couldn’t hear anything while taking photos. There is no shutter noise on my Nikon Z9 cameras unless I turn that sound on to attend. With all my other DSLR lenses, you can hear the motors focusing the lenses and the apertures closing down when taking photos.

Both of these lenses are making me excited to shoot some video with them so that I can experience no noise from the cameras with video.

Halloween Lighting Tips For The Photographer

Did you know? One-quarter of all the candy sold annually in the U.S. is purchased for Halloween.

Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints in the eighth century. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes, and eating treats.

Besides the candy on Halloween, people love dressing up. At our house through the years, this photographer had some fun.

Here are some different things I have done through the years to capture my kids dressing up.

Here is the setup in our garage for Halloween.

In 2002, my daughter was about to turn four years old. So I decided to use a high-key background. The lights on the background are about one stop brighter than on the subject to give a clean white background.

Chelle dressed up as a princess in 2002

The high-key is a simple lighting setup that I have used over and over the years.

Chelle, Elijah & Joshua David dressed up for Halloween in 2004.

There are ways to get a little creative with the same setup. For example, I climbed a step ladder one year to capture my daughter.

Chelle dressed up as Alice: Madness Returns 2012

Her brother and his friend decided they wanted to join in on the fun that year.

Chelle dressed up as Alice: Madness Returns.

Now you can use a regular background as I did here with a muslin-muted blue background.

Mary Anne and Chelle, 2010

Very similar lighting setup with the background lights, just keeping the light even.

Now you don’t have to do studio lighting. Instead, go outside and take photos.

Chelle in our backyard

I just used one light off to the side for this photo of my daughter dressed up in our backyard.

Now you can have some fun with a smoke machine and lights outside.

We had the cast of Into the Woods in our backyard with a smoke machine in the middle of the day to make this photo of Chelle Leary, Felicia Agostini, Lauren Baxter, Max Hipp, Thomas Beasley, and Virginia Roulette.

Nighttime Look In Daytime

Using an off-camera flash, I set the flash to be 2-stops over the available light, and the camera I underexposed by -2 stops.

While this improved the photo, the color didn’t pop on the background.

Here I added a CTO +1 and did a custom white balance for the flash on the model’s face. I could have also just dialed the white balance to tungsten and been very close.

The last photo, I put a CTB +1 on the flash and then did a custom white balance. Because the camera compensates for the blue in a flash, it adds orange to the scene. So where the flash is hitting the model is now the proper color temperature.

Just Add Smoke

Virginia Roulette

Virginia Roulette

Be Intentional Where You Can

Dan Cathy is hosting some Chick-fil-A people at his home this month that I have been covering. Each evening, there is a call time for the vendors and staff working the event. The call time is very similar to how hotel staff has a meeting before a big event where they go over the expectations for the evening.

The vendors are all the restaurants located at Trilith Studios.

Trilith Studios is one of North America’s largest purpose-built movie studios, emphasizing world-class facilities, state-of-the-art technology, and premium content. It is home to blockbuster films and independent shows like Avengers: Endgame, Zombieland: Double Tap, WandaVision, The Suicide Squad, and Moon and Me. Set across 700+ acres, Trilith Studios has more than one million square feet of production facilities, including a first-of-its-kind virtual LED stage that offers the highest quality production values in the industry, 24 premium sound stages, construction workshops, costume shops, virtual production technologies, and an extensive 400-acre backlot.

Trilith is also the name of the master development featuring custom homes and micro-villages, chef-driven restaurants, and schools targeted at those in the film and creative industries.

Dan is taking the opportunity to pass along some of the hospitality secrets that have made Chick-fil-A successful at each call.


Chick-fil-A isn’t so secret about most of its leadership secrets. So Chick-fil-A had Mark Miller, vice president of training and development, and Ken Blanchard write a book you can buy called The Secret: What Great Leaders Know–And Do.

Since Dan is hosting multiple groups with the same vendors, he decided to teach them the acronym Chick-fil-A uses for SERVE in the book.

  • See The Future
  • Engage And Develop Others
  • Reinvent Continuously
  • Value Results And Relationships
  • Embody The Values

Dan has been doing this throughout his career. He was creating structures to foster leadership and high-performance teams.

We walked along from his meeting with the vendors to a meeting with his staff. During that short walk, I told him I thought it was great that he was helping these new restaurant entrepreneurs with hospitality lessons that they might have never had an opportunity to learn about hospitality before now. Dan smiled at me and said that was precisely why he was doing this for them.

Dan is here with the restaurant vendors around him and in front of some of the Chick-fil-A Operator [Franchise] at his home.

Dan realized that not everyone has the same opportunities. Dan commented that some may not have had but one parent or none to raise them. His dad Truett had started many foster care homes that are still running today.

If you are lucky like Dan and I have been, you have had people care enough for you to teach you some hospitality lessons. Maybe you have had teachers, coaches, and friends who have poured into you and taught you many other incredible life lessons that have made you a better person.

Maybe like me, you have also had some deficits in areas of your life. I didn’t know how much I was on the Autism spectrum until my 30s.

Once I knew I lacked some knowledge, I found as many books on Autism, especially Asperger’s Syndrome, as I could.

Another hospitality tip from Dan Cathy is to Surprise & Delight your guests. Dan surprised his guests with free rides in a hot air balloon.

Maybe you are aware that you a lacking in something to make your business or even family life better than it is now.

I want to remind you what the R stands for in SERVE for Chick-fil-A. Reinvent Continuously is their mindset.

“1% Better Every Day”

Few words can better describe Chris Nikic’s mindset. He is the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon, and despite all the obstacles life has thrown his way, he is never deterred from his trajectory in pursuing his passion. His mentality and resilience are unmatched, and we know there is a lot to learn from true passion chasers like Chris. We are proud to support him in his continued mission to inspire and achieve greatness and look forward to standing by his side for every swim, cycle, and run along the way.

Clamshell Lighting For A Large Number Of Headshots

Over forty years of experience have led me to choose clamshell lighting for my headshots when doing a large number of people for an organization.

The main reason for choosing this lighting setup is that I can have people face left, right, or straight on without moving my lights.

You can choose different backgrounds with this setup. Right now, my preference is white or light grey for a set.

Here are some recent headshots I did with a muslin grey background and white background using the clamshell lighting technique.

Event Photography: How to Photograph a Speaker on Stage

Taking photographs of speakers is like dancing with your partner; you are not leading but following.

In partner dancing, dancers seek to work together to create synchronized or complementary movements. The leader is mainly responsible for initiating action, whereas the follower’s role is to maintain this movement (though they may choose not to).

Knowing your speakers is why organizations should stay with photographers rather than just getting someone to take photos. Some speakers are more difficult to get the moment where you capture the essence of the style of the speaker.

Many people are often hard to capture due to how they blink. For example, some people, when speaking, are slow to blink. Therefore, you must be careful not to catch them with their eyes closed.

Tight shot with a 600mm lens

There are three photos I am looking for when capturing a speaker.

  1. Tight photo
  2. Medium photo – often showing their PowerPoint and them in one photo
  3. Wide or including some of the audience
Medium shot with 200mm to show the PowerPoint

The ratio of photos you take to those you keep is more significant than you would have with a portrait session.

I may take more than a hundred speakers with others, usually forty or so, to get great expressions and storytelling moments.

Including the audience with a 90mm

My tip to anyone photographing a speaker is to be ready with three types of lenses.

  1. Telephoto – For those tight shots
  2. Medium – to capture the screen and them in a photo or to use with the audience
  3. Wide Angle – Depending on the size of the room, sometimes you have to go wide if you are close to the speaker to show elements.

Another tip is to listen.

This speaker started their presentation with dance music and danced onto the stage. His talk was about learning the Rhythm of life.

Be sure you are aware of the tone and message. Do your photos match what they are saying and how they are saying it to the audience? If this is serious, do you have concern showing on their face? If they are energized and entertaining, do you have something that shows this?

Getting people’s hands and expressions right takes time.


It will help if you plan to take lots of photos to get those authentic storytelling moments.

These two leaders were having a conversation, and I wanted to capture this mood of trust between them.

Ted Lasso – “Be Curious”

My wife and I love watching the Ted Lasso show on Apple TV+.

Ted Lasso is kind to everyone he meets, even if someone is aggressive or rude to him. Even if he encounters someone like this, Lasso always seems to approach the situation to teach them a lesson and make them better rather than humiliating them or doing anything unnecessary.

Ted Lasso exudes optimistic leadership wisdom. He provides a relevant cultural example of servant leadership. Most importantly, Ted Lasso offers tangible leadership practice that calls us into emotionally authentic relationships and injects hope into our organizations.

The “Dart Game” is the place where the show gives a great example of where assumptions lead to mistakes.

Assumptions can shrink a relationship.

Curiosity can expand a relationship.

– Susannah Frost

Just because you are doing the right thing doesn’t mean life will be all about winning. Ted Lasso talks about how people had been making assumptions about him throughout his life. While it may appear in this clip that this was about sticking it to someone, it was a much more profound lesson.

Ted Lasso was asking those around him to be more curious. A few statements in that clip of the “Dart Game” foreshadow themes in the show. One of those is about how he played darts with his dad from age ten to sixteen when his father died.

Most of the show is about how people are making assumptions about Ted. However, an insight into his mental breakdowns shows he is often alone.

“And so what it basically forces you to question is what really matters at the end?

And I think what really matters at the end is kindness; how will we be human to each other during this crisis is through kindness”

– Wajahat Ali

Now while Ted does feel alone many times throughout the series, he is eternally optimistic for others.

“I promise you there is something worse out there than being sad, and that’s being alone and being sad.”

– Ted Lasso

Now that is the scene that is quite inspiring, but I want to remind you that Ted lived a very lonely life throughout the show. People around him are making assumptions about Ted and putting him down. So here is a series of those show clips that remind you how many of us can relate to the character Ted Lasso.

Assumptions can shrink a business.

 Curiosity can expand a business.

– Susannah Frost

If you are in business, your assumptions and curiosity are the same things that affect relationships and are what impacts a business.

Customer service and customer experience are significant focuses of the most successful businesses. The first step is creating products and services that customers want. But focusing on customers goes beyond your products. Customers are tired of dealing with companies through phone menus and artificial intelligent answering services.

What does curiosity look like in business?

At the core of curiosity is a desire to learn more about your world. It would help if, therefore, you asked questions.

You need to use the data and information you know to help in asking why. For example, if your sales are dropping off, you must ask why and not assume.

Sometimes you need to pay to get someone to help you. A coach or mentor is one of the best things to go to when you are at a loss for what is going on with your business. Sometimes you don’t even know what questions you need to ask yourself.

New & Improved

Have you ever wondered why companies continue introducing new products that are often slightly different from their current ones?

Any time you make changes that a customer can notice you are communicating that you are improving. If they are already a fan of your business, this makes them want to engage with you more. For example, when a restaurant introduces a new menu item, most of its customers are very likely going to try it.

When I upgrade my camera, many of my customers do notice. They are excited that the photographer they are using is leading the industry.

What changes have you made lately with your business? Is there anything new that you are doing for your customers? If you are a brick-and-mortar location, have you refreshed your place with fresh paint, carpet, or furniture?


I keep up with the latest gear in photography. I want to be sure I know what is possible to do that I cannot do right now with the new equipment.

I am also studying my clients’ industries so that I know what they are dealing with and may offer suggestions on how I can help serve them to deal with the new challenges they are facing.

My pricing has built into it, reinvestment into the business. I must update cameras and computers and continue buying more hard drive storage.

I create blogs, newsletters, postcards, and I make phone calls to my clients and prospective customers.

I study the industries and look for what message I am using to engage with the audience.


As Ted Lasso says, “Be Curious.” He won that dart game because Rupert assumed Ted didn’t have the experience he had with playing darts. The message is simple, don’t make assumptions.

I am saying to go further than just being a curious person; plan and put in the time to do the research that will lead you to grow as a human being and grow your business.

Flash or No Flash

Caption: Flash is used outside to create motion yet freeze the subject.

To flash or not to flash, that is the question – at least for this article. There are two primary issues, the yin, and yang, of answering this question – the Technical and the Aesthetic.

Sometimes there isn’t enough light to make a picture, and you need to use flash. At other times the use of flash is unnecessary but can improve a photo.

There are a lot of situations that, even from a purely technical standpoint, are borderline and hard to call. Here it is necessary to consider the end use of the picture. If the photo is for a computer screen, poor light is not so important because the light passes through the image. On the other hand, if printing in black and white in a newspaper or if printing on plain paper, flash can be a lifesaver. The newsprint isn’t a bright paper, and the ink is absorbed into the paper so much that what looks a little dark on a computer screen will be solid black in a newspaper.

No Flash
With Flash

When photographing people with extremely dark skin tones, the flash will open up shadows and give modeling and definition to the face.

Picture (if you will) a shaft of light streaming through a window onto someone’s hair, creating a halo effect. Even though the face isn’t all that distinguishable, using flash here will destroy the mode. Sometimes the aesthetic rules over a technically correct rendition.

Flash was used so the numbers on the display could be highlighted.

Another aesthetic reason is not to use a flash once you fire a flash; people are aware pictures are being made, and their expressions may change from natural to posed. So you may get one realistic shot, but you’ll rarely get others.

Here again, it can be hard to decide what to do. If you take photos of people without a flash and the expression is just right, even if the light is poor, it is often better than a well-lit but posed shot. However, a flash is called for if you can’t see the expressions or if the image will be in a newspaper and their faces lose too much due to the printing process.

Flash was used inside to help highlight the technology in the teaching nursing lab at Clayton State University.

Not sure of the use? Want to be able to use the photo in many ways? Then it would help if you were sure the quality would work anywhere it might appear.

You will need a high ISO (800 or 1600) if you use available light, but the photo may be pixilated. On the other hand, if printing the image large for use in a display booth or a slick magazine, you need to shoot at a lower ISO and use a flash.

No Flash was used, but the photo is properly exposed and white-balanced.

Photography is always a trade-off, a compromise.

At times flash is not permitted. For example, museums often don’t allow flash since it can fade the colors in prints or fabrics.

Flash is used to stop the action of this volleyball player.

Surprisingly, the rule of thumb most people apply to the use of flash is the reverse of what it should be. They don’t use the flash outside when it would help open up shadows; they use it inside where it can destroy mode and restrain naturalness.

Flash is used so the inside light can be balanced with the outside light which can be seen through the large window behind the subject.

By reversing the standard rule of thumb and using flash outside, not inside, you discover a new way of seeing the light.

With digital, seeing the results is immediate, So why not shoot these tough choices both ways and compare the outcome?

Avoiding The Dreaded Red Eye

If people in your pictures appear possessed by an evil being (and you’re sure they are not), the problem is the Dreaded Red Eye.

We have all seen the horrible red eye, but how do you avoid it? What causes it?

On-camera flash is the culprit.

When the flash is so close to the camera lens, the angle formed by the flash to the eye and back to the lens is so narrow the sudden bright light bounces off the retina and back into the camera lens.

The eye’s iris is open relatively wide before the sudden flash, and what you see the red reflects the light of the blood vessels in the retina. No wonder it is called the dreaded red eye.

Since the problem is the narrow angle between the flash and lens combined with a wide open iris, we must either move the flash or “stop down” the eye or both.

Changing the Angle

Many digital cameras have a flash built into the camera right next to the lens. Convenient, but it can cause red-eye problems. Some of these same cameras also have a hot shoe allowing you to use an external flash far enough from the lens to reduce the likelihood of red eye.

If you use an extension flash cord (PC cord), you can raise the flash further above the lens, not only avoiding red eye but also casting the shadows down behind the subject and not on the wall behind your subject. Ever been to a wedding and watched the photographer; that’s why she got her flash stuck way up in the air in her head.

Another way to increase the angle bounce the flash. Use a flash with a tilting head to reflect the light off of the ceiling. Don’t try this where the ceiling is very high, like in a church or outside, unless the low-lying clouds are extremely low (just kidding).

Students learn to use off-camera flash with studio strobes in the School of Photography with YWAM. Photo by Dennis Fahringer

Other Ways To Solve The Problem

Some cameras have what they call a red-eye reduction feature. The camera fires a burst of flashes before the actual flash. This burst of bright light causes the eye to “stop down” and, theoretically, is irritating and causes blinks. Well, that would get rid of the red eye. Better than flashing at your subject to get their eyes to stop down, have them glance at a lamp in the room or, if it is daytime, glance at a window.

Do you need a flash? Sure, you will have to use it sometimes, but can you turn on more lights in the room and get the light bright enough for photography? Maybe move your subject close to a window. Perhaps you can raise the ISO, say from 200 to 400.

Truett Cathy Chick-fil-A Bowl

The “available light” photos can be beautiful and move your photography to a new level if done correctly. Why not take the person outside in what Kodak likes to call “open shade” in the shadow of the house, for instance?

Oops! Too late. The people have left, and NOW you notice the dreaded red eye. All is not lost. There is probably some software that comes with your camera that lets you fix the red eye on the computer. Since there are so many different software solutions, you will need to refer to your manual for this fix.

I like to check before taking photos to see if there is enough light to work without a flash or if I can make it that way. Firing a flash announces that someone is taking pictures of people as they are.

Sometimes you have to use flash, but now we know how to avoid some of the problems it causes.

Happy shooting!

Nikon Z9 or Lens Problem?

Yesterday while on assignment, my camera started giving me this screen above. That is the same screen you get when you don’t have a lens attached. At the bottom of the screen is the Aperture information. The F– isn’t what you should see with a lens attached. I usually see 2.8 or some other ƒ/number.

These contacts are what was causing the problem.

When the contacts get dirty, it can interfere with the focus system and create an error message. Cleaning the contacts can fix this problem, a simple process.

Dip the swab in the isopropyl alcohol or cleaning solution. You should use only a fair amount; the best way to ensure this is to wear light vinyl gloves, like those used by healthcare providers, and squeeze the swab with your fingers after dipping it in the solution. Next, gently clean the contacts on the lens with the swab. After you have done so, use the blower on the lens contacts again.

After doing this with my lens, I still had the error. So, I next tightened all the screws for the lens mount on the lens and camera. But, again, this didn’t solve the problem.

My next action was to call Berrie Smith, who repairs any camera or lens. (770) 312-0719.

Berrie Smith, the Mobile Camera Repairman

Berrie and I talked for a bit through all the things to check. One thing Berrie can do is help you over the phone. I paid Berrie for his time using ZellePay.

By the way, the repair technique he told me worked great, and I then checked all my other lenses. They all needed the same repair.

Next time you are in a pinch, call Berrie. He can help you over the phone or can even come to you to help you with your repair.

Professional Speaker Versus Coach & Mentor

Our industry is full of professional keynote speakers and entertainers. Many of these have YouTube channels and blogs.

Many professional speakers are not industry experts but rather those who know how to engage an audience on a topic.

Today there is so much content on YouTube that I find myself going whenever I want to learn something new. Often this comes with doing repairs around the house.

I have found there are two types of communicators out there on the channel.

One group is trying to monetize in every way possible. So, they typically have lengthy introductions and drag out the content.

The second group tends to be those that realize my time is valuable and get to the point quickly.

Bill Bangham and James Dockery are helping with editing of Jennifer Pallikkathayil’s story during our Storytellers Abroad workshop in Santiago, Chile. [NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 24-105mm f/4G IF-ED, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 3200, 1/100, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 28)]

James Dockery, ESPN Senior Editor, noticed this as well. He often tried to learn the latest trend in editing and, after doing this for a while, created his 2-torials. He would boil down all you needed to know on an editing technique and make these for ESPN internally these short 2-minute tutorials, hence the name he gave them 2-tutorials.

Once you have been in an industry for a while, you can tell when someone is a professional speaker versus an industry expert.

Today when I search YouTube, I look at the length of the video or how many views it has to determine which one I will watch first. I have also saved certain YouTubers because they are perfect and worth checking out for more content to increase my knowledge.

Study the professional keynote speakers and entertainers

While I am not one of those super-polished speakers, I am an industry expert who often teaches in workshops. I find that industry experts are the best for workshops.

Photo by: Dennis Fahringer

Get A Coach

There is a point in your journey in photography where your skills can only improve with an industry expert. Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan didn’t have a coach for his first five years. He was considered a wild pitcher until he finally got a coach who turned his tumultuous pitching career into one with 51 records, including record six no-hitters.

I don’t want to take anything away from the professional speakers. They do great jobs, but to coach, you need someone who can critique you from experience.

I do one-on-one coaching as well as workshops. Drop me a line, and let’s set up something for you. I won’t make you into a no-hitter pitcher, but I can improve your storytelling and photography.

When You Need On-Camera Flash

[NIKON Z 9, VR 24-105mm f/4G, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 5000, 1/125, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 32) + Godox V860IIN]

There is a time and a place for everything–even on-camera flash!

When I am working as an event photographer, I often have to use an on-camera flash.

[Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 11400, ƒ/10, 1/100—off-camera flash using the Neewer TT850 flash & Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger with flash at 1/128 Power]

In rare opportunities, I have an assistant helping with off-camera flash. When I have to use flash to improve the available light then, this is my first preference when doing event photography.

[NIKON Z 9, VR 24-105mm f/4G, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 5000, 1/60, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 32) + Godox V860IIN]

The Step-and-Repeat, also known as the Red-Carpet photos, are set up in places where you cannot set up lights. People are moving around so much that the odds of someone bumping into a light stand are too risky.

-1 EV on Camera & +1EV on Flash [NIKON Z 9, VR 24-105mm f/4G, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 250, 1/80, ƒ/4, (35mm = 42)+ Godox V860IIN]

Sometimes I compete with sunlight and use the on-camera flash to overpower the sun if possible. This is where I will underexpose the photo by 1-stop and overexpose the flash by 1-stop, giving me a well-exposed picture.

Without the flash, the backlighting would overpower the subjects [NIKON Z 9, VR 24-105mm f/4G, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 250, 1/30, ƒ/4, (35mm = 24) + Godox V860IIN]

As you can see in some of these different situations, there was no setting to photograph all the moments. Your Smartphone Camera cannot capture all of these even with the built-in light on the phone.

Professional event and meeting planners know that a Smartphone isn’t reliable for capturing their events. They hire professional photographers to cover their events. They need someone with experience to know how to get the best photos in any situation.