Mastering Sports Photography: Anticipation, Positioning, and Gear

Blog On My Nikon Z9 Sports Settings

This blog post is in response to my friend Seth, who asked me on Facebook today, “Great shots. Do you have much trouble with focusing on the wrong player?”

[NIKON Z 9, NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 400)]

Hey Seth! Thanks for checking out the shots from the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl game! You asked about focusing on the wrong player in sports photography, and it’s an art that’s both technical and intuitive. Let’s dive into what makes those great shots happen and why sometimes, despite all efforts, we miss capturing those pivotal moments.

[NIKON Z 9, NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 18000, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 180)]

Positioning is key. To consistently snap great sports photos, anticipation beats reaction. Balancing coverage is crucial when shooting for multiple teams, as I did in this game. Previously, focusing solely on one team allowed me to predict movements better, aiming to capture faces rather than backs and positioning strategically, like staying on the offensive end in basketball.

[NIKON Z 9, NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 25600, 1/4000, ƒ/7.1, (35mm = 400)]

Knowing the teams inside out is like having a crystal ball. Familiarity with their plays and tendencies helps anticipate actions, whether a pass or a run, increasing the odds of having the lens trained on the action sooner.

[NIKON Z 9, NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 25600, 1/3200, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 310)]

Technical settings matter, too. Continuous focus and the back button focus technique ensure more shots are in focus than just following without constant adjustments. However, misses happen even with the best setup, mirroring how a defense can be deceived in a game.

[NIKON Z 9, NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 12800, 1/4000, ƒ/4, (35mm = 96)]

Basketball? Enter remote cameras, providing different angles for coverage. Football, with its vast goal, makes this more challenging. Technicalities matter, and I’ve shared a link detailing my Nikon Z9 setup for sports photography for those interested in the nitty-gritty.

[NIKON Z 9, NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 16000, 1/4000, ƒ/5, (35mm = 250)]

Knowing the sport inside out is the golden ticket. While understanding the game is one thing, each team’s uniqueness demands a deeper dive into their playbook. This familiarity allows for better anticipation of plays and player movements.

[NIKON Z 9, NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 400)]

Speaking of gear, today’s cameras, like my Nikon Z9 with Z glass lenses, offer incredible focusing systems and rapid-locking motors, enhancing the number of in-focus shots. This allows quick shifts between capturing the quarterback’s throw and the receiver’s catch, minimizing missed moments.

[NIKON Z 9, NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 450, 1/250, ƒ/4, (35mm = 52)]

So, in a nutshell, nailing sports photography isn’t just about having the right equipment and technical know-how—it’s about understanding the game, predicting actions, and being ready to adjust on the fly. The perfect shot often lies at the intersection of anticipation and preparedness.

Have you got any more questions? I am always happy to chat about the thrilling world of sports photography!

Happy shooting

The Evolution of Photography: How Technology Redefined the Professional Lens

Photography, as an art and a profession, has never been static. The field has constantly evolved from its earliest days of cumbersome equipment to the era of smartphones and AI-powered image creation. Technological advancements have continually reshaped how images are captured, shared, and appreciated, significantly impacting the professional photography landscape.

One of the most notable shifts began with the advent of tools like light meters, autofocus, and various metering systems. These innovations simplified the technical aspects of photography, enabling more people to engage in capturing images. However, the monumental leap into digital capture revolutionized the industry. Suddenly, the guesswork of film was replaced by immediate results, altering the very essence of the photographic process.

The arrival of Artificial Intelligence elevated this transformation to new heights. AI now enables the creation of images that transcend reality, blurring the lines between photography and art. Yet, despite the sophistication of AI, its effectiveness hinges on human direction and input. Merely commanding it to produce a “great photo” falls short; specific prompts are necessary to translate ideas into visual realities.

Undoubtedly, the question arises: Is AI encroaching upon the domain of professional photographers? The answer is a nuanced one. While technology certainly streamlines the process, the creative prowess of individuals truly unlocks its potential. The synergy between human creativity and technological tools amplifies the impact of both.

Portrait with a Generative background generated with PhotoShop

Digital capture and mirrorless cameras democratized photography, making it more accessible. Smartphones, serving multifunctional purposes, further altered the landscape by ensuring a camera was always at hand. Consequently, the role of professional photographers evolved. They were no longer hired solely for image capture; instead, they were sought after for their ability to transcend mere documentation, offering something unique and profound.

A timeless truth lies at the heart of this evolving industry: Great photography stems from great ideas. Even when not creating the scenes they capture, photojournalists must possess a keen eye for stories and conflicts that resonate. They must understand their audience and effectively communicate the significance of their work.

A dichotomy exists within the profession – the creative visionaries and the master technicians. While AI may potentially threaten the latter, those harnessing its capabilities with creative insight will likely thrive. The future belongs to those who can merge the secret sauce of creativity with a deep understanding of technology and audience engagement.

Success in this dynamic industry is not merely about mastering the tools; it’s about comprehending why an audience craves a particular idea. The leaders of tomorrow’s photography landscape will be those who skillfully blend innovation, technical prowess, and an acute understanding of human emotion and narrative.

In this ever-evolving realm, the essence of photography persists: It’s not just about capturing an image; it’s about capturing a moment, a feeling, or an idea that resonates deeply with its audience. The fusion of human ingenuity and technological advancement is the lens through which the future of professional photography will be defined.

Maximizing Stock Sales: Where Photographers Should Showcase Their Work

In the ever-evolving sphere of photography, the approach to earning a living through your lens has shifted dramatically. One significant aspect is the landscape of stock photography. Once a lucrative avenue, the income potential from stock sales has seemingly decreased compared to previous years. Despite this apparent decline, there are compelling reasons why photographers should continue to explore and engage in stock sales.

1. Diversifying Revenue Streams

Diversification remains pivotal for financial stability. While the earnings per image might not match historical highs, the collective income from multiple photos across various platforms can still provide a consistent revenue stream.

2. Exposure and Networking Opportunities

Stock photography platforms serve as valuable hubs for exposure to a vast audience. The visibility gained through these platforms often leads to new opportunities, including potential client inquiries, collaborations, and direct sales of your work.

3. Portfolio Enhancement and Skill Development

Engaging in stock photography encourages photographers to refine their craft continually. It challenges them to create marketable content, push creative boundaries, and enhance technical skills. Moreover, it offers a platform to experiment with diverse styles and subjects, enriching their portfolio.

4. Passive Income Potential

While immediate returns might not be as significant as commissioned work, stock sales offer a form of passive income. Once uploaded, images generate revenue over time, creating a cumulative income stream as the portfolio expands.

5. Adaptation to Market Trends

Stock photography reflects evolving trends in visual content consumption. Photographers gain insights into in-demand imagery by participating in stock sales, enabling them to adapt their shooting style and subject choices to meet market demands.

6. Global Reach and Impact

Stock photography transcends borders, allowing photographers to reach a global audience. Your images can be licensed and used in various contexts, contributing to a broader impact than local or commissioned work.

7. Contribution to the Creative Community

Sharing work on stock platforms fosters a vibrant, creative community. Your images can inspire others and be utilized by fellow artists, designers, and businesses, fostering collaboration within the industry.

Places to Sell Your Images

Now, where should photographers showcase their work for sale? Here are some prominent platforms:

  1. Adobe Stock: A well-known and established platform integrated into Adobe Creative Cloud.
  2. Shutterstock: A popular platform with a vast user base and a broad range of image categories.
  3. Getty Images: Known for its high-quality standards, Getty Images offers the potential for higher earnings.
  4. iStock: Owned by Getty Images, iStock offers a range of options for contributors.
  5. Alamy: An excellent platform for those seeking higher commissions per sale and flexibility in licensing.


While the heyday of stock photography might have evolved, the benefits of engaging in stock sales remain compelling. Diversification, exposure, skill enhancement, passive income, market adaptability, global reach, and community contribution underscore the significance of participating in stock photography.

Ultimately, the income potential might not match historical highs, but the multifaceted advantages make stock sales an integral part of a photographer’s journey in today’s dynamic industry. Exploring these platforms can sustain income and foster growth, learning, and a broader impact within the photography community.

How to find a mentor

Finding a mentor can be incredibly valuable for personal and professional growth. Here are some practical steps to find a mentor:

1. Define Your Goals:

  • Know What You Want: Clarify your goals and what you hope to gain from a mentorship. Understand your strengths, weaknesses, and areas for growth.

2. Identify Potential Mentors:

  • Look Within Your Network: Consider people you admire or respect in your field or industry.
  • Attend Networking Events: Engage in events, seminars, or conferences to meet potential mentors.
  • Utilize Online Platforms: Websites like LinkedIn or professional organizations often have mentorship programs or groups.
  • Consider Diverse Perspectives: Your mentor doesn’t have to be in the same field; sometimes, diverse perspectives bring unique insights.

3. Build Relationships:

  • Start Small: Initiate contact by attending their talks, emailing, or connecting on social media.
  • Offer Value: Show genuine interest and offer something valuable in return. It could be assistance on a project or sharing your skills.
  • Be Respectful of Their Time: Understand their schedule and be considerate when asking for their guidance.

4. Make the Ask:

  • Be Direct and Specific: When you’ve established rapport, ask if they’d be willing to mentor you or provide occasional guidance.
  • Explain Your Goals: Clearly articulate why you believe their guidance would benefit your growth.

5. Establish Expectations:

  • Set Clear Objectives: Define the mentorship’s structure, frequency, and duration.
  • Be Open and Flexible: Be receptive to feedback and willing to adapt based on their suggestions.

6. Nurture the Relationship:

  • Stay Committed: Be consistent in communicating and follow through on agreed-upon commitments.
  • Show Gratitude: Acknowledge and appreciate their guidance and time regularly.

7. Expand Your Network:

  • Keep Learning: Even with a mentor, seek guidance from various sources. Multiple perspectives can enrich your growth.

Additional Tips:

  • Consider Reverse Mentorship: Don’t overlook the opportunity to learn from younger or less experienced individuals who might offer fresh perspectives.
  • Join Mentorship Programs: Many formal and informal organizations offer structured mentorship programs. Research and join those relevant to your interests or industry.

Remember, finding a mentor might take time and several attempts. Be persistent, genuine, and willing to learn throughout the process.

Would you like tips on maintaining a good mentor-mentee relationship once you find one?

Capturing Diversity: Why Showcasing Your Photography Range is Crucial for Client Engagement

Showcasing one’s capabilities as a photographer is pivotal in attracting clients. Your portfolio is your visual resume, the first impression potential clients have of your work. Here are some insights and tips on the importance of displaying your range as a photographer:

The Power of Visual Representation

1. Show Diversity: Clients often have a specific vision in mind. If they don’t see a style or type of photography they like, they’re less likely to reach out. Displaying a diverse range helps cater to different preferences.

2. Tailor Your Portfolio: Segment your portfolio to reflect different genres or styles. Create sections for weddings, family portraits, landscapes, or commercial work. This allows clients to navigate and find what resonates with them easily.

3. Highlight Your Best Work: Quality over quantity matters. Showcase your best shots, highlighting your skills, creativity, and versatility.

Tips for Photographers:

1. Curate a Strong Portfolio: Your portfolio should be a well-curated selection of your finest work. A smaller selection of top-notch images is better than a more extensive collection with mediocre shots.

2. Regularly Update: As you grow and evolve as a photographer, update your portfolio accordingly. Keep it fresh to showcase your latest and best work.

3. Show Your Range: Don’t limit yourself to one style. Experiment, explore, and display the various genres and techniques you excel in.

4. Use Social Media: Utilize platforms like Instagram, Flickr, or Behance to share your work regularly. Social media is a powerful tool for reaching a wider audience and attracting potential clients.

5. Seek Feedback: Ask peers, mentors, or clients for feedback. Constructive criticism can help you refine your portfolio and improve your presentation.

6. Customize for Clients: When pitching to potential clients, consider curating a sample selection that aligns with their specific needs or style preferences. Tailoring your showcase can make a significant impact.


Your portfolio isn’t just a collection of images; it’s your sales pitch, your calling card. It’s crucial to present a well-rounded view of your capabilities. By showcasing your range, you attract more clients and increase the chances of engaging those who might not have initially considered your services.

Remember, your portfolio is a living, evolving entity that should consistently reflect your growth and talent as a photographer. Keep refining, updating, and diversifying—it’s the key to unlocking more opportunities in the competitive world of photography.

Troubleshooting Nikon Camera Glitches: Unveiling Solutions Beyond the Exposure Triangle

Photography is an art form intertwined with technology, and for Nikon camera owners, capturing moments can occasionally come with unexpected hiccups. Sometimes, those elusive glitches creep in, and the instinct is to blame the camera. But what if the answer lies not just in understanding the exposure triangle—ISO, shutter speed, and aperture—but in dissecting the intricate settings the camera used when the photo was taken?

Enter the often underutilized hero: the Nikon NX software. Beyond the commonly acknowledged exposure elements, this software unravels a treasure trove of information. It doesn’t just stop at the basics; it dives into the nitty-gritty—like focus settings, where your camera locks its focus, and many other configurations.

Understanding Beyond the Basics

Sure, the exposure triangle is the cornerstone of photography fundamentals. However, focusing solely on these aspects might overlook critical details. Imagine the frustration of blaming a blurry image on the camera, only to find out later that the focus was off, not the camera itself.

With the Nikon NX software, photographers can access a comprehensive breakdown of the settings used during the shot. It’s akin to peering under the hood of your camera post-capture, dissecting each element to understand the intricate dance of settings that contributed to that specific photo.

NX Studio can show you exactly where you were focused.

Isolating the Culprit

Picture this: you’ve captured a breathtaking landscape, but upon review, there’s an unexpected graininess or an unwarranted softness. Instead of throwing your hands up in frustration, the Nikon NX software empowers you to play detective.

Here is all the file info for the photo above:

By scrutinizing the detailed metadata captured by the software, you can isolate the exact setting causing the issue. Was it a misguided autofocus? Or perhaps an overlooked change in ISO sensitivity? With this software, you can identify and rectify problems swiftly and accurately.

The Power of Comprehensive Analysis

Photography is more than the sum of its exposure triangle parts. It’s about the intricate interplay of settings, focus modes, and nuanced adjustments that craft the final image. The Nikon NX software offers a panoramic view of these settings, elevating your troubleshooting prowess beyond what meets the eye.

The software leaves no stone unturned, from White Balance to Picture Controls, Active D-Lighting to Metering Modes. It’s like having a backstage pass to your camera’s performance, allowing you to understand what went wrong and why.

While analyzing my photos with NX Studio, it clicked for me that I could be using Spot Metering and get more accurate exposures when using eye tracking for focusing.


Next time you encounter an unexpected glitch in your Nikon-captured masterpiece, resist the urge to pin it solely on the camera. Instead, harness the power of the Nikon NX software—a tool designed to demystify the intricate web of settings and unveil the truth behind each shot.

Remember, photography is a delicate dance between artistry and technology, and with the right tools at your disposal, troubleshooting those occasional hiccups becomes a smoother, more enlightening process. So, delve deeper, analyze meticulously, and let your Nikon camera reveal its secrets through the lens of the NX software.

Happy shooting and troubleshooting!

Navigating Creative Passages: Embracing Transformation in Artistic Journeys

In the vast canvas of life, some moments mark profound shifts—a mosaic of passages that weave through our existence, reshaping who we are and how we express ourselves. Gail Sheehy’s timeless work, “Passages,” illuminates the ebbs and flows of personal development and resonates deeply with the transformative stages of a creative journey.

Much like life, creativity isn’t a stagnant pond but a flowing river, demanding adaptation and evolution. Sheehy echoes this sentiment: “Creativity could be described as letting go of certainties.” Artists find fertile ground for innovation by releasing rigid assumptions and embracing uncertainty.

Early in our creative pilgrimage, we tread the path of learning. It’s a time of exploration and discovery, akin to the tumultuous twenties Sheehy describes. The choices made, be it committing to a medium, honing a craft, or embracing a particular style, often feel irreversible, laden with the weight of permanence. Yet, as we immerse ourselves in the process, we realize that change is inevitable and essential for growth. “If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t living,” Sheehy’s words reverberate, reminding us that artistic stagnation is antithetical to the essence of creation.

As proficiency blossoms and mastery beckons, the echoes of Sheehy’s wisdom resonate louder. It’s not merely about competence; it’s about recognition and respect. Artists yearn not just to create but to be acknowledged, to have their voices heard amidst the din of the creative realm. This quest for validation shapes the transition into the thirties and forties—a phase akin to the ‘rediscovery of community’ that Sheehy depicts. In the embrace of one’s true self lies the nexus where personal authenticity melds with creative expression.

However, life’s passage isn’t a solitary journey. As my wife and I encountered the Empty Nest Syndrome, artists often face unexpected shifts—a reconfiguration of priorities, obligations, and responsibilities. For some, like me, it’s aging parents requiring more care, altering the rhythm of existence. Similarly, for artists, these moments often lead to profound introspection and recalibration of artistic vision.

As Sheehy depicts, the midlife passage mirrors a pivotal juncture in a creative’s voyage. “You can’t take everything with you when you leave on the midlife journey,” she asserts, signaling a departure from external validations. Artists begin to shed the layers of conformity, stepping into an arena of self-discovery and introspection. It’s a time to move away from prescribed roles and external expectations, forging an identity deeply rooted in personal expression.

Ultimately, these passages in life and creativity intertwine, converging in the realization that change is not a threat but a conduit for renewal. The stages laid bare by Sheehy offer a roadmap—a beacon guiding artists through the labyrinth of creative evolution. In embracing these passages and navigating the ebbs and flows, artists transcend mere creation and birth a legacy that speaks volumes to the world.

Beyond the Technical: Elevating Your Photography Beyond Awards and Acclaim

In photography, there’s a common dilemma among amateurs and camera club enthusiasts. Many find themselves entrenched in a loop, diligently mastering exposure-nailing composition techniques yet wondering why their photos fail to garner awards or spark conversations about their brilliance.

Let me share the story of a photographer, let’s call him Alex, who found himself in precisely this situation. Alex was an active member of a local camera club, spending hours perfecting technical aspects—mastering exposure, refining composition, and grasping the intricacies of lighting. Despite his dedication, he couldn’t decipher what set apart the photos that won accolades from the ones he captured. Frustration brewed within him as he yearned to understand the elusive quality the master photographers seemed to possess.

The missing link is more than technical expertise; it’s the ability to transcend the technicalities and delve deeper into creativity, emotion, and vision.

Candice Mays & Ebenezer Abolarin wedding

Stepping Beyond the Technical Threshold

While technical skills lay a strong foundation, true photographic mastery lies beyond this threshold. Here’s how you can step out of the loop and elevate your photography:

Embrace Creative Vision

Photography is storytelling through imagery. It’s not merely capturing scenes but evoking emotions and narratives. To break free from the loop, channel your creative energy into telling compelling stories through your photographs. Dive into the world of storytelling, experiment with perspectives, and embrace the power of conveying emotions through your lens.

Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina.

Understanding the Essence of Light and Atmosphere

Move beyond knowing the lighting rules and explore the nuances of light qualities. Learn to harness the mood-setting potential of different lighting conditions. Embrace the magic of other times of day and weather conditions, as they can infuse your photos with unique atmospheres and emotions.

Atlantic Station is Celebrating the launch of People’s Food Truck, Featuring Marc Broussard + Sonia Leigh + Ben Deignan + Jameson Elder. Food trucks + food curated by chef Ford Fry of The Optimist + JCT. Kitchen VIP event hosted by chef Shaun Doty of Bantam & Biddy + Chick-A-Biddy

Establish Connections with Subjects

You are connecting with your subjects, whether people, nature, or inanimate objects, is pivotal. Engage with your subjects to capture genuine emotions and moments that resonate with viewers. Patience, observation, and empathy can elevate your photography to tell stories beyond what meets the eye.

Post-Processing as a Creative Tool

Post-processing is not merely about correcting flaws; it’s a tool to enhance your creative vision. Master the subtle art of editing to complement and amplify the emotions and messages conveyed by your photographs.

James Dockery, ESPN Senior Editor and Emmy Award Winner, is teaching during the Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru.

Continuous Learning and Inspiration

Always continue to learn. Study the work of photographers you admire, dissecting what makes their photos exceptional. Seek feedback and critique to broaden your perspective and refine your craft continuously.


The true essence of photography lies in transcending the technical realm and embracing the artistry, creativity, and emotional depth that each click of the shutter encapsulates. It’s about storytelling, connecting with viewers, and evoking emotions that resonate long after the photo is taken.

So, to all the Alexes out there—embrace the challenge of moving beyond the technicalities. Dare to infuse your photographs with stories, emotions, and your unique perspective. That’s where the real magic of photography lies.

Embracing Creative Fulfillment Amidst Challenges: Escaping the Comparison Trap and Navigating Loss

In the dynamic and competitive realm of creativity—in photography, videography, production, or writing—we often find ourselves entangled in the web of comparison. It’s a realm where the phrase “Comparison is the thief of joy” resonates deeply. Attributed to Theodore Roosevelt or echoed by Mark Twain, this statement is a poignant reminder that measuring our worth against others’ achievements can rob us of happiness.

Yet, amidst this struggle, another hurdle emerges the harsh reality of losing opportunities to others—sometimes to those seemingly less skilled, at times to those undeniably more talented in certain aspects. How does a creative navigate these challenges while staying true to their artistry?

Mindful Creation in the Face of Comparison

Comparison can cast a shadow over our creative pursuits. In a world where social comparison theory holds weight, the need to evaluate ourselves against others seems innate. However, dwelling in feelings of inferiority or superiority distracts us from the emotional health necessary for our craft.

To reclaim joy and escape the comparison trap:

  • Identify Roots: Understand the source of your comparison. Is it social media, industry standards, or personal insecurities?
  • Serve and Redirect: Engage in acts of service to shift focus away from comparative thoughts.
  • Cultivate Contentment: Cherish your unique talents and journey; learn to be content with what you possess.
  • Embrace Gratitude: Practice gratitude daily through actions, prayers, or noting down blessings.
The Scarlet Ibis is home in the Caroni Bird Sanctuary in the Caroni Swamp in Trinidad.

Navigating Loss in the Creative Journey

Losing opportunities—whether to those less skilled or more connected—poses a different challenge. Recognizing that these setbacks don’t always reflect a lack of skill or merit is essential.

When facing this reality:

  • Embrace Learning: Use setbacks as opportunities for growth without letting them dim your creative spirit.
  • Forge Connections: Network within the industry; opportunities often arise through connections and collaborations.
  • Highlight Uniqueness: Emphasize your unique style and strengths; your distinctiveness might be precisely what a client desires.
  • Self-Affirmation: Celebrate your successes and milestones as pillars of confidence.

Redefining Success in Creativity

View these challenges as detours, not dead ends. Your worth as a creative isn’t defined by the jobs you land or lose; it resides in your commitment to your craft and the authenticity of your expression.

Remember, the creative world is diverse. Stay passionate, hone your craft relentlessly, and trust that the right opportunities will align with your path.

In navigating the labyrinth of comparison and competition, hold steadfast to your passion, evolve in your artistry, and trust that your unique voice will find its resonating audience.

Jay Shafto and Sene Zoengaini have to use phone cards before making a phone call on a cell phone in Burkina Faso.

Navigating the Evolution of Creativity: Adapting in the Age of Smartphones and “Good Enough” Content

In the ever-evolving landscape of creativity, the emergence of smartphones and Artificial Intelligence programs has rewritten the rules of content creation. These technological marvels offer accessibility and simplicity, allowing anyone to capture moments, edit images, or even generate written content at their fingertips.

However, this ease of access has birthed a new challenge for creatives—many former and potential clients now perceive these tools as sufficient for their content needs. The phrase “good enough” has found resonance in a world inundated with easily accessible, AI-generated, or smartphone-captured content.

The Impact on Creative Industries

This shift poses a unique dilemma for photographers, videographers, producers, and writers. Clients, accustomed to the convenience of smartphone content and AI-generated material, often fail to recognize the nuanced value and depth that professional creatives bring to the table.

Embracing the Uniqueness of Craft

In this age of technological convenience, it’s crucial to underscore the irreplaceable essence of human creativity. Smartphones and AI programs undoubtedly offer accessibility but lack the depth, emotion, and storytelling finesse that skilled professionals infuse into their work.

Navigating the “Good Enough” Perception

To confront the challenge posed by the “good enough” perception:

  • Education and Advocacy: Educate clients about the unique value of professional-grade content. Highlight the depth, creativity, and expertise you bring to the table.
  • Demonstrate Uniqueness: Showcase your work’s emotional depth and storytelling prowess that sets it apart from easily accessible content.
  • Adapt and Collaborate: Embrace these technological advancements as tools to enhance your craft. Blend technology with your expertise to create content that transcends the ordinary.
Photographing Cows at Chick-fil-A

Redefining Value in Creativity

While smartphones and AI programs offer convenience, they lack the human touch, creative insight, and storytelling finesse that professionals in the creative industry bring. Creativity isn’t just about the end product; it’s about the journey, the emotion, and the unique perspective woven into every creation.

In a world saturated with “good enough” content, your craft embodies the essence of storytelling, emotion, and artistry that elevates content from mere visuals to captivating experiences.

The Dual Nature of Studio Flash: TTL vs. Manual Mode

In the fast-paced world of photography, the need for speed and accuracy often collides with the pursuit of consistent and controlled results. Enter the realm of studio flashes equipped with TTL (Through-The-Lens) capabilities, exemplified by the Flashpoint XPlor 600 HSS TTL. These flashes offer a swift solution when time is scarce, instantly delivering acceptable images using TTL technology. However, seasoned photographers often opt for manual mode for its reliability and consistency.

The Power of TTL: Swift Solutions with a Caveat

TTL stands as a boon for those moments when every second counts. Its ability to gauge and set flash output based on the scene’s lighting conditions can be a lifesaver. Yet, its Achilles’ heel lies in its tendency to overexpose or underexpose photos, particularly when faced with extreme lighting situations.

Imagine a subject against a starkly dark or dazzlingly bright background. TTL might misinterpret the scene in such scenarios, resulting in an erroneously exposed image. The automated system might struggle to discern the subject’s true tonal range amidst such stark contrasts, leading to suboptimal exposures.

Moreover, the TTL process isn’t a one-and-done affair. It necessitates two flashes: the first to evaluate and adjust settings and the second to capture the image. This dual flash cycle drains the flash’s battery faster and slows the recycling time, potentially causing delays when speed is crucial.

Inside the TTL Sensor: Deciphering Scene Variations in Flash Power Output

Within the TTL sensor’s lens: Despite a consistent distance to your subject, the scenes analyzed lead to dynamic changes in flash power output. Sometimes, it illuminates with more intensity; other times, the flash holds back, all while the distance remains unchanged. Explore how the TTL interpretations influence your shot’s exposure in surprising ways.

For Channel 1 settings:
Group A is manually set at 1/128 power plus 0.7.
Group B is set to TTL mode with an exposure value (EV) of -1 and -0.7.
Group C is manually set at 1/128 power.

Embracing Manual Mode: Consistency Amidst Control

Manual mode emerges as the trusted ally for photographers seeking consistent and precise results. Photographers manually set the flash power and other parameters to control the lighting, ensuring each shot adheres to its envisioned aesthetic.

The initial setup might require more time than TTL when using manual mode. However, this investment pays dividends in reliability and consistency. By bypassing TTL’s automated guesswork, photographers sidestep the risks of overexposure or underexposure, especially in challenging lighting conditions.

The Middle Ground: Leveraging RAW and TTL in Tandem

TTL undoubtedly shines in moments of haste or when circumstances limit the luxury of time. Its quick adaptability can salvage shots that might otherwise be lost. Shooting in RAW becomes imperative to make the most of this swift solution without compromising quality. RAW files contain more data, offering greater latitude in post-processing to rectify any exposure discrepancies incurred during TTL usage.

Finding Balance: The Photographer’s Arsenal

In the arsenal of a proficient photographer, both TTL and manual mode hold their distinct places. TTL saves the day when speed is of the essence, while manual mode ensures unwavering consistency and control.

Ultimately, the choice between TTL and manual mode often hinges on the balance between practicality and precision. TTL stands as a reliable ally for those fleeting moments demanding rapid responses. Yet, manual mode remains the steadfast preference for those instances where meticulous control reigns supreme.

In the quest for that perfect shot, photographers navigate the dual realms of swift solutions and steadfast control, leveraging each as the situation demands and crafting visual narratives that transcend time constraints.

Understanding the Role: Coach vs. Mentor in the Creative World

In the dynamic realm of creativity, the guidance and support one receives can significantly impact one’s journey. For photographers, videographers, and producers, the presence of a coach or mentor can be invaluable. Often used interchangeably, these roles bring distinct perspectives and functions to the table, each crucial in its own right.


A coach is typically a professional who provides structured guidance, often in exchange for payment. Here’s why having a coach is vital for creatives:

  1. Skill Enhancement: Coaches offer targeted skill development. This might involve refining composition techniques or mastering advanced editing software for a photographer.
  2. Accountability: They keep you on track with set goals, ensuring consistent progress and growth. This structure can significantly benefit those managing their creative pursuits alongside other commitments.
  3. Objective Feedback: Coaches provide constructive criticism, helping you identify blind spots and areas for improvement.
  4. Efficiency: They help streamline workflows and strategies, maximizing productivity without compromising quality.
Oct 13, 2007; Charleston, SC, USA; Mike Mason (left), member of the Summerall Guards, talks to Knob Nelson Lalli (right) during the Fourth Class promotion privates and part of the core ceremony, which takes place on family weekend before the game against Furman. Mason is also the mentor to Lalli. Each fourth-year cadet is given a mentor from the first class. The mentor is the cadet’s advisor who assists them in coping with the many challenges the cadet faces during the first year in a military environment.


On the other hand, a mentor is someone with experience in the field, often providing guidance voluntarily. Here’s why having a mentor is crucial:

  1. Wisdom and Experience: A mentor shares insights from personal experiences, offering invaluable advice beyond technical skills.
  2. Networking and Connections: Mentors can introduce you to their network, opening doors to collaborations, opportunities, and exposure within the industry.
  3. Long-term Perspective: They guide not just on immediate projects but also on long-term career paths and personal development.
  4. Emotional Support: Mentors offer emotional and moral support, understanding the challenges of the creative journey.

Overlapping and Differences:

In a Venn diagram showcasing the differences and overlaps between coaches and mentors, the overlapping center represents areas where both share similarities—guidance, support, and growth. The Coach Circle emphasizes structured guidance, payment, and goal-oriented focus. Meanwhile, the Mentor circle highlights experience, networking, and the relationship’s more personal, voluntary nature.

Why You Need Both:

As a creative navigating the complex world of photography, videography, or production, having a coach and a mentor can be transformative. A coach provides targeted, skill-focused assistance, enhancing your technical abilities and keeping you disciplined. Simultaneously, a mentor contributes wisdom, guidance, and emotional support, ensuring a holistic approach to your growth.

In conclusion, while the financial aspect distinguishes a coach from a mentor, both are invaluable assets to a creative professional. The convergence of structured guidance and experienced wisdom can propel your creative journey to new heights, ensuring a well-rounded, fulfilling career in the artistic realm.

Capturing the Moment: The Essence of Photography

Photography is more than just the technical aspects of composition, exposure, and focus. It’s about freezing moments in time, encapsulating emotions, and telling stories. As an event photographer, I recently experienced firsthand the significance of prioritizing moments over technical perfection.

Last night, I had the privilege of photographing Pearline’s 80th birthday celebration. Amidst constantly adjusting settings and framing shots, the true essence of the event lay in capturing the emotional highs, the heartfelt embraces, and the genuine smiles. It’s these moments that make photography memorable and impactful.

The Robert Capa Perspective: Normandy Beach

One of the most compelling examples of capturing the moment despite technical imperfections is in Robert Capa’s photographs from Normandy Beach during World War II. Capa’s iconic images might not have been perfectly composed or flawlessly exposed, but they vividly conveyed war’s raw emotions, chaos, and intensity. These images have stood the test of time because they captured the moment’s essence, transcending technical constraints.

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Tips for Being Prepared as an Event Photographer

Here are some invaluable tips for event photographers to ensure they’re primed to seize those crucial moments:

1. Anticipate the Action:
  • Familiarize yourself with the event schedule and anticipate critical moments.
  • Position yourself strategically to capture expressions and interactions.
2. Master Your Gear:
  • Practice with your equipment to operate it instinctively.
  • Carry backup batteries, memory cards, and lenses to avoid missing shots due to technical issues.
3. Stay Attentive:
  • Be constantly aware of your surroundings and potential photo opportunities.
  • Keep your camera ready, even during downtime.
4. Connect with Your Subjects:
  • Build rapport with the people you’re photographing to capture genuine emotions.
  • Blend into the event to make subjects comfortable around your lens.
5. Prioritize Moments over Perfection:
  • Remember that emotions and authenticity trump technical perfection.
  • Don’t hesitate to click even if everything isn’t technically flawless.


As photographers, we are storytellers. While technical expertise is crucial, it’s imperative to recognize that the heart of photography lies in encapsulating fleeting moments, preserving emotions, and immortalizing memories. Embrace imperfections if they mean capturing the essence of a moment. As seen in the timeless works of Robert Capa, a moment captured authentically will transcend the confines of technical perfection and endure through time.

So, the next time you’re behind the lens, focus not just on the technicalities but on the stories waiting to be told. After all, it’s the moments that matter the most.

Happy capturing!