Fighting the wrong fight with copyright

We have been fighting the wrong fight for copyright registration. That is my opinion.

For most of my career we have told everyone that when you click your shutter you own your copyright. If you are on the payroll of a company they own that photo unless there is some written agreement giving you the copyright.

We know that is where the work-for-hire agreement came from when dealing with usage rights and copyright.

While the ownership of the copyright hasn’t been up for debate other than the who owns it based on who is paying for the creation the issue has been about the courts.

I was informed that you needed to register your copyright with copyright office to be able to collect legal fees. Those are all the fees that you can be awarded if you win a case. The judge reviews all the legal fees and does a separate ruling on how much the other side must pay for you taking this to court.

I learned early on that the going rate for copyright infringement cases was about $100,000 and took at least a year or more in the courts.

For the past 30 years ASMP and NPPA that I am a member, have spent lots of money lobbying congress to protect that process of registration.

I believe there is a better solution today. Do away with copyright registration. Get congress to change the law that if you can show copyright infringement then you can collect legal fees.

As far as the proving your images are yours there is Blockchain technology already on the market.

The idea of a blockchain — protecting data through a large network of computers — and applies the concept to managing photo rights. It is an “encrypted digital ledger of rights ownership for photographers.” Photographers can add new images as well as archive images to the system. Because of the blockchain structure, the data is stored on a large network of computers that helps create a public ledger, adds a layer of protection, and prevents data loss.

There are centralized and decentralized solutions right now available for Blockchain.

The point I make is that the current registration of your images with copyright office is out of date. With blockchain these servers can also police the web and find anyone using your images without rights.

Because Blockchain works so well with the digital photograph it will let you sell and track any usage of your images and keeps them from being used illegally since it codes images and makes them no longer easily copied and shared.

Blockchain can help us not just prove we shot an image it serves as an agency and collector.

We need to change the copyright laws and not continue to use a system that is outdated and not serving the artist community well at all.


Tips from Robin Rayne

SARAH ALLEN is both single mother and full-time — though untrained –nurse to her son Aidan, born with cerebral palsy and complex medical issues. State Medicaid regulations severely limit the number of hours her medically fragile son can have in-home nursing care, regardless of his doctor’s orders for medical necessity. Aidan needs 24-7 care and constant tube feeding. Sarah may soon be homeless because the house where she lives will be sold, and she has limited resources to find another home suitable for a severely disabled child. Her story illustrates several serious shortfalls within the Medicaid and Social Security Disability systems. PICTURED: Sarah cleans her son from a diaper changing. (photo by Robin Rayne/Zuma Press) [NIKON D4, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 1000, f/5.6, 1/80]
Robin Rayne says, “Make your emotion work for you and not against you, remember, God gave you tears.”

Robin spends most of her time photographing today in the disabilities community. She is a photojournalist and documentary producer for the University of Georgia’s Institute on Human Development and Disability. Her compelling images illustrating human rights, disability and gender diversity issues are distributed internationally by Zuma Press.

Chelle Leary and her friends going to their senior prom March 10, 2017. (photo by Robin Rayne) [NIKON D4, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 320, f/7.1, 1/25]
When I was traveling and could not photograph my daughter’s senior prom Robin helped out for our family getting the photos of the important event in our family.

Kelemen Szab—, Dorie Griggs and Chelle Leary getting formal photos before Chelle’s Senior Prom. (photo by Robin Rayne) [NIKON D4, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 200, f/7.1, 1/40]
I can always count on Robin to capture those moments. The minute I knew I was away for that all too important Prom I called Robin.

Parents watch as the limo pulls away taking our kids away for senior prom. (photo by Robin Rayne) [NIKON D4, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 320, f/7.1, 1/60]
Robin sees moments and captures the emotions we feel. When asked how she does it with such emotional moments she says, “I am thankful for auto focus when covering some stories, because of all the tears.”

Great photojournalists embrace their emotions.

“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.” – Don McCullin

Robin Rayne keynote speaker for the FOCUS Atlanta event held at Professional Photographic Resources on March 10, 2018. [X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 12800, ƒ/5, 1/30]
After Robin spoke this past weekend at the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar she commented that after talking with people about their portfolios she was always asking why for the photos.

Why does this story need to be told? Why should the public care?

What is surprising to myself and Robin is how when you ask this question so many have a deer in the headlights look on their face.

Though it may be interesting or even entertaining, the foremost value of news is as a utility to empower the informed. The purpose of journalism is thus to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments.


Ben and Sam Schwenker, now 8 years old, were both diagnosed with autism when they were 18 months old. “Raising them is a daily challenge. We were so not prepared, but we learn more every day, ” says Jennifer, the boys’ mother.
     Autism spectrum disorders cut across all lines of race, class, and ethnicity. Autism impacts millions of children, adults, and their families around the world. Boys have a significantly higher incidence of autism than girls: four out of every five people with autism are male. Because of the genetic link, siblings of a child with autism have a greater chance of being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Autism spectrum disorders affect not only the person diagnosed with the disorder, but also make a significant impact on the entire family with a variety of social, financial, and other practical demands.
     PICTURED: Now 8 years old, Sam (in yellow) and Ben still spend much of their day after school and weekends on their trampoline. They are still non-verbal but understand some of what they hear. (photo by Robin Rayne/Zuma Press) [NIKON D700, 24.0-70.0 mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 250, ƒ/8, 1/80]
Robin is a photojournalist and not just a photographer. Robin is not interested in just entertaining the public, she is interested in informing the public. She is most concerned in telling the stories of people who cannot tell their own stories.

Robin is the voice for the voiceless who is also calling others to take up the call of photojournalism. She knows she alone cannot tell all the stories needing to be told.

When I asked Robin to speak to my Intro to Photojournalism class at Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication she challenged the class.

If we want to feel an undying passion for our work, if we want to feel we are contributing to something bigger than ourselves, we all need to know our WHY.

Robin explained how her why probably came about having a son with disabilities.

You have to find your niche. The combination of your WHY and HOWs is as exclusively yours as your fingerprint.

Reviewing Photos for Portfolio

Alex Gomez & Kevin Williams [NIKON D5, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 100, ƒ/2.8, 1/4000]
Every once in a while I am reviewing images I have taken to see if I can update my website. I have found that when you are just pulling from assignment work I have less “Portfolio” images.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8, TC-2001, ISO 22800, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]Reviewing
What do I want to put on my website?

Georgia National Cemetery is the second national cemetery in Georgia and the 123rd in the national cemetery system. [NIKON D5, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 220, ƒ/1.8, 1/8000]
Often I shoot things that are just important to me. They are really photos you would put in your personal journal.

Cowgirls competing in the barrel racing during the Celebrate Freedom Rodeo at Wills Park in Alpharetta, GA. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 Sport, ISO 64000, ƒ/2.8, 1/2500]
People are not always hiring photographers to document everything, but I see the value for if for no one else for me. I love to look back and remember the things I have done and seen.

Paradise Helicopter Tour –– Kīlauea is a currently active shield volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, and the most active of the five volcanoes that together form the island of Hawaiʻi.[NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 1400, ƒ/8, 1/2000]
For example I was able to take a helicopter ride this year over the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. This is so different than what I shoot most of the time.

Hannah Broeils [NIKON D5, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/125]
Debrinja Watts [NIKON D5, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/125]
I do a good number of head shots each year like these actors studying at Columbus State University.

Chelle Leary [NIKON D5, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/9, 1/160]
As every parent I love doing things with our children. Here making my daughter’s head shot for her to use in her career as an actress brings me great joy.

Oxnard Chick-fil-A Soccer [NIKON D5, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 50, ƒ/11, 1/200]
While this isn’t a soccer game photo, I do find myself making interesting sports photos. So who will hire you to shoot this? Should this be on my website?

[Nikon D4, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 50, ƒ/8, 1/200 – (2) Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT]
How about a group photo? Well many people do hire me to do team photos of their co-workers and yes sports teams as well.

Drive-Thru Bankhead Hwy FSR [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 2500, ƒ/14, 1/100]
Clients also hire me to photograph new things their company is doing. For example Chick-fil-A started using canopies to help protect their team members that help speed up the drive thru by being outside taking orders.

Staff in the newly renovated open work spaces at the Chick-fil-A Support Center [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 220, ƒ/8, 1/100]
Do you put things into your website that are more of a trend? For example many offices are renovating to the open office space design.

Stockton McGuire [NIKON D5, 85.0mm ƒ/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/320]
The biggest issue now facing corporate America is the lack of employees. The industry refers to this as attracting talent.

Margarett Phillips, Operator Commerce FSU & Highway Heroes Coordinator [NIKON D5, 14.0-24.0mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 400, ƒ/6.3, 1/40]
Companies are also trying to be sure they communicate their culture.

The Cows at Roswell Town Center are celebrating on Cow Appreciation Day 2018 in Roswell, GA. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/3200 – Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT]
So this year I captured some fun things as well for clients. Do they belong in a portfolio?

Roswell Fireworks. [NIKON D5, 14.0-24.0mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 100, ƒ/11, 8]
While fireworks are fun to see would anyone hire me to shoot any for them?

Paradise Helicopter Tour –– Kīlauea is a currently active shield volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, and the most active of the five volcanoes that together form the island of Hawaiʻi. [NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 250, ƒ/5.6, 1/200]
I got a lot of likes for this photo on my Instagram account, but does this go into my website to help me get jobs?

The hood ornament from a vintage Cadillac at the Old Car City in White, Georgia. [Fuji X-E3, 10-24mm, ISO 5000, ƒ/16, 1/200]
I took an afternoon to go and explore the Old Car City in White, GA this year. I got some really cool shots. Again many people liked them on Instagram, so does this mean they go into my website portfolio?

Sunnyvale FSU. [NIKON D5, 14.0-24.0mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 800, ƒ/5.6, 1/60]
I can see companies hiring me to shoot photos of their properties. They do want to remind people how to find them.

Sally Yates is given the Courage award by the Islamic Speakers Bureau during their Change Makers Award Gala held at the Cobb Galleria on November 4, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.[NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/200]
Now speakers at podiums lit by stage lighting are not that difficult to do, but should they be part of my portfolio? Can people figure out that if I can do one type of photography that those skills often transfer to something else?

The California Honeydrops play at Terminal West in Atlanta, Georgia. [NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/200]
I find that people are often more interested in the photos themselves and if I have enough compelling images I might get a call to shoot their event.

Capturing the memory that is cherished a lifetime for daughters. It was a great Chick-fil-A Daddy Daughter Date Night held at the Memphis Zoo on November 16, 2017.[NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0mm ƒ/4.0, ISO 1250, ƒ/4, 1/10]
So how many images is enough? How many images of events should I post?

The Summerall Guards perform during half time at the football game during Parent’s Weekend at The Citadel in Charleston, SC.[NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 450, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
What will draw people to my website?

Sunday Services at Mark Clark Hall The Citadel. [X-E2, XF55-200mm ƒ/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, ISO 400, ƒ/4.2, 1/250]
I can tell you this is the thoughts of not just me, but every photographer working today in this profession.

Roswell Fire Department are monitoring a tree that it’s branches are in the transformer causing some arcing from power lines.[NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm ƒ/4.0, ISO 65535, ƒ/9, 1/100]
What do you think? Do any of these photos need to be on my website as part of my portfolio? Should some never be in my portfolio?

You can comment below and please do.

Ministry of Presence core to my Photojournalism

John-Michael Riggs, from Knoxville, TN dressed like a warrior to be part of the The Annual Trans March which started at Piedmont Park in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday, October 13, 2018. Riggs says he alternates from a peace outfit to a warrior outfit each year. [X-E3, XF10-24mm ƒ/4 R OIS, ISO 200, ƒ/4, 1/1250]
While covering the Transgender Parade, which is part of Atlanta Pride events, I watched as the people in the parade were reacting to each other like a family reunion.

I found everyone that I talked to very open. I was needing to get their information for writing captions for the photos I was taking.

Robin Rayne and Emily Graven are covering The Annual Trans March at Piedmont Park on Saturday, October 13, 2018 in Atlanta, GA. [X-E3, XF10-24mm ƒ/4 R OIS, ISO 200, ƒ/4, 1/200]
Emily Graven, a UGA Photojournalism student, was shadowing me for the day. We met up with Robin Rayne who has been covering this event for many years to get some tips.

In looking for stories we spend time talking with people. When we have done a good job of building relationships with people they will come out of their shell.

Emma & Zoe are sisters whose dad (behind them), Christian Zsilavetz, is the founder of the Atlanta Pride school. They are at The Annual Trans March at Piedmont Park In Atlanta on Saturday, October 13, 2018. [X-E3, XF10-24mm ƒ/4 R OIS, ISO 200, ƒ/4, 1/1250]
What I find very important in being a good photojournalist is be present with people. This means you listen, laying down our defensiveness and agendas, and offering up empathy instead.

Jackson Wells, Sebastian Broome, Caire Mattera, Ariel Washington, Cat, Jessica Renee, Jas Rochelle meet each at The Annual Trans March at Piedmont Park in Atlanta, on Saturday, October 13, 2018. They are from all over Georgia and Virginia. [X-E3, XF10-24mmF4 R OIS, ISO 500, ƒ/5.6, 1/100]
The most courageous thing we can do is listen. The bravest thing we can do is to stand with them.

I had learned about the concept of the ministry of presence through some pastoral counseling sessions and a great deal more when my wife was a chaplain at the VA hospital.

The ministry of presence is a way of “being” rather than of “doing” or “telling”.

The Annual Trans March – alongside Piedmont Park has people dressed all up participating on Saturday, October 13, 2018. [X-E2, XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, ISO 400, ƒ/4.8, 1/1500]
My undergraduate degree was a B.S. in social work. It was this training that helped me be a better photojournalist. That coupled with my pastoral classes in seminary taught me how to prepare to be with others that are suffering  is not to think about what to say or what to do. We are not anticipating how to react to certain situations that might develop.

We prepare by being present in the moment–The NOW.

The Annual Trans March – alongside Piedmont Park has people dressed all up participating on Saturday, October 13, 2018. [X-E3, XF10-24mmF4 R OIS, ISO 200, ƒ/9, 1/240]
To maintain objectivity in journalismjournalists should present the facts whether or not they like or agree with those facts. Objective reporting is meant to portray issues and events in a neutral and unbiased manner, regardless of the writers opinion or personal beliefs.

Now when I show up anywhere I am bringing all of me to that place. One of the greatest things to change my life has been my faith. When I read my bible I do not use it to condemn others, I use it to help change me. Through the years the scriptures have challenged me in ways that has helped me be a much better journalist.

Matthew 1:23 
23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

When telling the story of Jesus the Bible talks about the birth of Christ and him being called Immanuel. In most of the Bibles I have they have in parenthesis what Immanuel means. “God with us.”

John 13:35
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

The scripture points out that we are to be like Christ to others. We are to “be” with others.

Robin Rayne, Bureau Chief of Zuma Press, Talks with Monica Helms who created the Transgender Flag more than twenty years ago at the staging area for The Annual Trans March at Piedmont Park in Atlanta, Georgia. [X-E3, XF10-24mmF4 R OIS, ISO 640, ƒ/9, 1/100]
As journalists we too need to learn to just “be” with others. This is where you are there to listen. You ask them questions to understand them. You ask for their stories.

I don’t want to hear, “If Truth be told.” This means they feel somewhat uncomfortable.

I mention that because many people feel they must be guarded. They don’t believe people will believe them and use their words against them.

My mentor Howard Chapnick wrote a book that the title alone says what the power of photojournalism is all about–Truth Needs No Ally.

Artes is from Birmingham, AL and came to be part of the The Annual Trans March at Piedmont Park in Atlanta, GA on Saturday, October 13, 2018. [X-E2, XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, ISO 400, ƒ/4, 1/1800]
TRUTH is the rock foundation of every great character. It is loyalty to the right as we see it; it is courageous living of our lives in harmony with our ideals; it is always—power.

I challenge you to learn to just “be” with others today. Learn to listen. One of the hardest parts of doing this correctly is not letting someone’s comment have you thinking about a reply. Truth comes when we really listen with the intent to understand.

Photojournalist Instagram Feeds I Follow


Eugene Richards

He is a photographer, writer, and filmmaker, was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1944. After graduating from Northeastern University with a degree in English, he studied photography with Minor White. In 1968, he joined VISTA, Volunteers in Service to America, a government program established as an arm of the so-called” War on Poverty.”  Following a year and a half in eastern Arkansas, Richards helped found a social service organization and a community newspaper, Many Voices, which reported on black political action as well as the Ku Klux Klan.  Photographs he made during these four years were published in his first monograph, Few Comforts or Surprises: The Arkansas Delta.

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"I was driving away from the cotton gin in Widener when I caught sight of an elderly woman sitting out alone on her porch. I introduced myself, then asked her her name; it was Viola Perkins. When I asked Mrs. Perkins if I could take her picture, she smiled, either happy to be having a visitor or too polite to refuse me. I took two photos. The first is of the 78-year-old woman sitting rather stiffly with her hands folded in her lap. The second photograph is a reflection of her face in a window. It shows a loosened door hinge, a bit of sky, the stumps of a dead tree, and a red stop sign that looks to be backwards, so you’re not quite sure if it’s real." -Widener, AR 2010 #eugenerichards #photoville #pho #documentary #arkansas #reflection

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Gary S. Chapman

Because impacting lives matters, Gary helps organizations tell their stories visually. He has covered humanitarian stories in more than 70 countries around the world, helping groups create awareness, express their vision and build their community. You can trust him to bring an honest, photojournalistic approach to your commercial, corporate, editorial, or non-profit assignments.

William Albert Allard

The son of a Swedish immigrant, William Albert Allard studied at the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts and the University of Minnesota with the hope of becoming a writer. Transferring to the University of Minnesota after only a year, he enrolled in the journalism program. He graduated in 1964 with a double major in journalism and photography…

Looking for work in the field of photojournalism, Allard met Robert Gilka, then National Geographic’s director of photography, while in Washington, D.C., and was offered an internship. His most notable work as an intern included his photographs of the Amish for an article entitled “Amish Folk: Plainest of Pennsylvania’s Plain People,”(published in August 1965). It is said to be regarded as landmark in the photographic evolution of National Geographic. His work led to a full-time position with the magazine.

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Crenshaw, Mississippi, 1968// In 1968 I was assigned to photograph the “Poor Peoples March” that was to start in the Deep South and end up in Washington DC. A reporter and I went to a gathering of African Americans in the area of Crenshaw, Mississippi who were supposed to leave for Washington in a day or two. The people were crowded together under a a huge canvas tent where we met the Irbys, a nice family who agreed to let us follow them back to their home later, an aged wooden tenant house sitting in the midst of vast cotton fields. But before we left the tent, I made a few portraits of some of the family but mostly of Hank, who was 17 at the time. The details in the portrait of Hank are so important probably because they are really imperfections, something one might change or correct of one we’re going to do a serious portrait session. Little details like the part of an under shirt that shows. How the top button of his shirt is buttoned tight, the second button is loose. And there are small flecks of blue paint on his shirt that echo the color of his sweater. His well worn cap is tilted just so. The wall of the tent behind him provides background color that blends so well with his dark eyes, his brown skin. His gaze at me is just slightly apprehensive but accepting. Although unstudied, it’s probably as hones and direct a portrait as I’ve ever made. @thephotosociety @natgeo @natgeocreative @leica_camera @leicacamerausa #portraitphotography #filmphotography #60s #1960s #south #kodachrome #leica #mississippi

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Randy Olson

Randy’s 30+ National Geographic projects have taken him to almost every continent. National Geographic Society published a book of his work in 2011 in their Masters of Photography series. Olson was the Magazine Photographer of the Year in the 2003 Pictures of the Year International (POYi) competition, and was also awarded POYi’s Newspaper Photographer of the Year in 1991—one of only two photographers to win in both media in the largest photojournalism contest operating continuously since World War II.

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There are six great aquifers in the world. In North America our great aquifer is the Ogallala—it stretches from South Dakota to the Texas panhandle. Twenty percent of our food and 40 percent of our beef rely on the aquifer. It’s unfortunate that we’ve pumped the equivalent of two Lake Eries out, setting the stage for a new desert in the Texas panhandle and southern Kansas in the immediate future. The aquifer recharges at different rates. Nebraska wins the water lottery; it is the only place you can see Ogallala water at the surface. The Ogallala takes a long time to recharge in Texas, where there are the most wells, the least regulation, the hottest temperatures (even before climate change), and the slowest recharge. Entire communities in this area are already running out of water. Scarcity of water, fragile infrastructure, small dust bowls, the family farm crisis, Big Ag, and global urbanization leave some behind with few options. Small towns are disintegrating around their residents. There is rampant meth and opioid addiction in some of these places. If your hot water heater breaks, there isn’t anyone in your entire county that can fix it. I am from the Midwest, and the pain rural folks have gone through showed up this election. I saw this frustration first-hand working on the Ogallala aquifer story that ran in the August 2016 issue of National Geographic, but I never thought the level of frustration of these communities would manifest itself in this way. @natgeo @natgeocreative @thephotosociety

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Lynsey Addario

An American photojournalist, Lynsey, takes us to through the raw nooks and corners of the world with her photographs, building a visually pleasureful experience for us to witness the world through her eyes.

Ed Kashi

Documenting the on-going mayhem at Syria, Kashi a photojournalist, filmmaker and lecturer through his Instagram is portraying the world of Syrian refugees, oozing of emotions and getting us up, close, and personal with their misery amongst the others.

Robin Rayne

Documentary photojournalist, filmmaker and writer. A unique perspective on society.

Joanna B. Pinneo

Ted Scripps Fellow, Environmental communications, mentor and instructor Joanna Pinneo’s photos tell stories with tenderness & insight.


Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, is Inspired by Family, Passion, Love, Purpose, Respect, and Dignity as he Photographs around the World!

Peter Turnley

Peter Turnley is renown for his photography of the realities of the human condition. His photographs have been featured on the cover of Newsweek 43 times and are published frequently in the world’s most prestigious publications. He has worked in over 90 countries and has witnessed most major stories of international geo-political and historic significance in the last thirty years. His photographs draw attention to the plight of those who suffer great hardships or injustice. He also affirms with his vision the many aspects of life that are beautiful, poetic, just, and inspirational.

David Alan Harvey

Born in San Francisco, David Alan Harvey was raised in Virginia. He discovered photography at the age of 11. Harvey purchased a used Leica with savings from his newspaper route and began photographing his family and neighborhood in 1956.

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Dancers prep at the Hanoi Opera House #vietnam

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Why are clients hiring someone other than me?

Wellness Center [NIKON D5, 35.0 mm f/1.4, ISO 560, Ä/2.2, 1/100]
If you are like most photographers we like to question why people/company who know us will hire someone else to do a photography job. When I get together with other photographers you can feel the disappointment when they have their clients hiring someone other than them these days for some jobs if not all the jobs.

Wellness Center [NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 8000, Ä/5.3, 1/500]
Everyone feels like at some point you have earned the right, but this isn’t really true.

We need to remind ourselves what a privilege it is to do any work.

privilege is a special advantage not enjoyed by everyone. If you’re very snooty, you probably don’t allow just anyone the privilege of being your friend. Privilege comes from Latin privilegium, meaning a law for just one person, and means a benefit enjoyed by an individual or group beyond what’s available to others.

Wellness Center [NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 8000, Ä/5, 1/500]
Once you have accepted the fact that you are asked to do a job the better you will be in executing it for the client.

Skip Johnson [NIKON D5, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 100, Ä/4, 1/200]
I must remind myself I am a service for my clients and they have many other choices they can make. What this does in my head is make me realize I am there to win them over every time I do something for them.

Be a friend you’d want to have. …
Make them feel good. …
Find the good in them. …
Put in the work to keep the friendship. …
Don’t badmouth others or gossip excessively. …
Don’t take it personally if not everyone wants to be friends.

The very hardest thing in that list of things we have all heard is that last one that everyone doesn’t want to be your friend.

Almost Maine performed by Roswell High School Theater [NIKON D750, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 2200, Ä/4, 1/80]
Intellectually I understand that I am just not going to be good friends with everyone.

We have all seen the overlapping of circles that show the intersections of interests between groups and people. If the other photographer has more overlapping interests with the client than you then it is easier to accept that you lost a job due to the other person having something more in common with the client.

Jane Yandel [NIKON D4, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/400]
What you need to keep the competition away is barriers. Now if for example your specialty in photography is underwater photography you have cut your competition down by just creating a barrier.

Your competition needs to be an expert diver, buy special camera gear and market to your clients to even compete with you.

Well today there are many more people than 20 years ago that are competing in that space. This is true for extreme sports photographers. Once TV started covering these sports there has been a spike in the participation. Basically twenty-five years ago there were a handful of rock climbing photographers and today there are hundreds, if not thousands competing with each other.

Recycling Cup – Peachtree at Collier FSR [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 100, ƒ/2.8, 1/40]
There’s a brutal truth in life that some people refuse to accept–you have no control over many of the things that happen in life.

Recognize that sometimes, all you can control is your effort and your attitude. When you put your energy into the things you can control, you’ll be much more effective. Work on your portfolio and marketing materials.

To have the most influence, focus on changing your behavior. Be a good role model and set healthy boundaries for yourself.

[NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 400, ƒ/6.3, 1/100]
You might be thinking, “I can’t allow my business to fail,” you don’t take the time to ask yourself, “What would I do if my business failed?” Acknowledging that you can handle the worst case scenario can help you put your energy into more productive exercises. Basically you may need a “Plan B”.

If you are actively solving a problem, such as trying to find ways to increase your chances of success, keep working on solutions. If however, you’re wasting your time deliberating, change to a new thought. Acknowledge that your thoughts aren’t productive and get up and go do something for a few minutes to get your brain focused on something more productive.

Your lifestyle can be adding undue stress. Exercising, eating healthy, and getting plenty of sleep are just a few key things you need to do to take care of yourself.

[X-E2, XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 2500, ƒ/3.2, 1/100]
The hardest part of living life with these issues is getting a healthy perspective. I recommend the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Talking with friends and asking them to be honest with you can help as well. Don’t just complain, seek to understand what you can do and what you have no control over.

There is a reason Amazing Grace is sung so much around the world. Take those words to heart.

Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear
And Grace, my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

Through many dangers, toils and snares
We have already come.
T’was grace that brought us safe thus far
And grace will lead us home,
And grace will lead us home

Amazing grace, How Sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
T’was blind but now I see
Was blind, but now I see.

One Tip for Posing

Click on to see larger.

One of the best ways to improve your portrait session is to first start with a plan for posing. My uncle Knolan Benfield had a studio in Hickory, NC where he did mainly portraits for his business.

You may have seen some of these folios that many photographer still sell as a way to display more photos from a session for the client.

He realized that he could shoot to help sell those and up his average sale. Well it worked. He started to pre-visualize the photos in the folio.

Chelle Leary [NIKON D5, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/9, 1/160]
The customers were buying more photos and he was getting better photos for the customer in the process.

At first it will feel a little mechanical and formulaic, but over time you start expanding the poses.

At first you may just be having a person face to one side and then the other. Slowly however you will start to experiment. You start to learn that each basic pose of the body is endless when you start going for different expressions.

Click on to see my instagram feed

What was surprising to me was the likes on the fun photos verses just stunning photos of theatre students I did this past weekend.


Shoot to for a folio
Add a photo each time you do a portrait
Try for different expressions in each pose

Hannah Broeils [NIKON D5, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/125]

Shooting Kilauea Volcano from Helicopter

[Nikon D5, 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 1250, ƒ/8, 1/2000]
What a thrill it was to get the chance to go up in helicopter and see the lava flowing at the Kīlauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. Dorie and Chelle gave me this present for father’s day.

While I had been in helicopters many times clients paid for the experience. This time it was out of our pockets. I had wanted to do this for years.

[Nikon D5, 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 1600, ƒ/8, 1/2000]
I have been coming the The Big Island of Hawaii at the invitation of my good friend Dennis Fahringer. I have been teaching photography to his School of Photography students with the University of Nations which is part of Youth with a Missions.

Now for 12 years I have been coming driving to the Volcano hoping for good photos. I have made some pretty good photos through the years. Here is one from February this year before they closed the Volcano National park due to the recent activity.

This is the Halema‘uma‘u Crater inside of Hawaii Volcano National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii [Fuji X-E3, 55-200mm, ISO 5000, ƒ/6.4, 1/6]
Really the best way to see the volcano is from the air.

[Nikon D5, 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 250, ƒ/8, 1/2000]
This is an untouched photo right out of the camera. Just converted from Nikon NEF to a JPEG.

By shooting RAW you can then work with the photo in Lightroom just like we did in the film days in the Darkroom.

Paradise Helicopter Tour
Kīlauea is a currently active shield volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, and the most active of the five volcanoes that together form the island of Hawaiʻi. Fissure 8 continues to erupt lava into the perched channel leading northeastward from the vent. Lava levels in the upper channel between Fissure 8 and Pohoiki Rd. are low this morning but are expected to rise after the next collapse/explosive vent at Kīlauea summit. The channelized ʻaʻā flow west of Kapoho Crater continues to be the main ocean entry at the southern edge of the flow front this morning. Despite no visible surface connection to the Fissure 8 channel, lava continues to ooze out at several points on the 6 km (3.7 mi) wide flow front into the ocean. [Nikon D5, 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 250, ƒ/8, 1/2000]
The number one tool that helps you when shooting from a helicopter is the Dehaze Slider.

There is a lot of haze created by the atmosphere and over the volcano with VOG you need to use this tool or the haze just clouds the photos literally.

Rainbow Falls from the air in Hilo, Hawaii. [Nikon D5, 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 4000, ƒ/8, 1/2000]
Just compare this photo of Rainbow falls that I processed to the unprocessed photo.

Now here are two short videos I shot while up as well. I processed these in Final Cut Pro X and also corrected the footage for better contrast and color.

Kīlauea Volcano from Stanley Leary on Vimeo.

Kīlauea Volcano Fissure 8 from Stanley Leary on Vimeo.

Hope these tips help you see why shooting RAW and using Lightroom can make a HUGE difference in your photos.

What you do isn’t as important as who you are to be successful in business

Family Vacation to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida

Dorie, my wife, knew when making plans for our children when they were young that there was a time limit. It was about 2 hours and then it was as if we hit a wall.

We like being at a fair: there are rides, games, entertaining acts, and tons of food. It’s exciting at first, then it becomes overwhelming, and finally it makes you sick (and you hate it!).

When you’re sick of something it shows in your attitude and performance most of the time. Just like our kids would be at places like Disney World.

Ecclesiastes 3:1
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

Often we hit the wall in our careers just as we did when we were young. It isn’t fun for us any more. If you are a freelancer you can feel that you are just not in step with your client as you once were.

I have discovered this happens with every client that I hit a wall at some point. It is the same feeling that happened with our kids on an outing.

Nikon D5 Video Gear

I think what happens is we have become too focused on what we do in our jobs and less on the people that we work with in doing those jobs. This can happen to you if you are extroverted or introverted.

Too much focus can be a problem: It drains your brain of energy, makes you care less about people, and prevents you from seeing what is happening around you. When you become more focused on say a product that you are producing in a job rather than realizing you are working with other people and they need to enjoy the process and not just the end result.

I came to this conclusion when over the years I find that I must rekindle a working relationship. In the past I would work on my portfolio or some new skill to talk to my client. I was thinking the client needed to see my skills are valuable.

While working on some materials this latest round of rekindling relationships I realized that no matter what I did it was going to look like I was going to do some “Explaining” to the people in the meetings I was setting up.

This approach can be very condescending to others. It actually undermines the relationship that you are trying to nurture.

Thinking about his it really hit me – I had not worked enough on the relationship with my clients.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 2800, ƒ/4, 1/100

In your work have you been measuring using your skills in our work as well as developing relationships?

Hebrews 10:24-25
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

We spend a lot of time at work; there is nothing worse than someone who cannot get along with others. It’s so important and involves being helpful, understanding the unwritten rules, being respectful, reliable and competent.

Here is a simple way to start this conversation, “We’ve been doing business together for almost a year. I’d like to take you to lunch to get to know you a little better.”

The single most important thing you can do at a business meal is to listen. You want to hear what the other person cares about, what their interests are, what makes him or her tick. They need to know you care about them as people and not just the money they give you to pay your bills.

One time we were at Disney and we ran into my daughter’s friend from home. While normally our daughter would be ready for a break from the theme park this “Relationship” gave a burst of energy to go through not just our daughter but the entire family.

Theme parks can be like your product in business. At a certain point this really isn’t going to keep your client enthused. Remember friendships do keep your help energize business relationships as well.


Shooting Video with your DSLR (Part 6)

Keziah Khoo gets some help from James Dockery with editing her story in Adobe Premiere Pro.


In film and television production, B-roll is supplemental or alternative footage intercut with the main shot. This can be still images, video and even graphics.

The overall goals and pace of your video should help determine the length of of your B-roll shots. Say you have a longer support video demonstrating a specific process to your customers. Those illustrative shots might be 20 to 30 seconds long, depending on what you’re trying to achieve.

Having a still image up for 20 – 30 seconds can be made more interesting by zooming in or out as well as panning across the image. We call this the Ken Burns effect is a type of panning and zooming effect used in video production. The name derives from extensive use of the technique by American documentarian Ken Burns.

Just like music has a beat, most interviews have a similar feel. The very best editors have a good feel for finding that beat and pacing to then know when to start and stop B-Roll clips.

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/8, 1/80]

Literal vs Abstract B-Roll

When I took a course in church music during my seminary days the professor helped me understand how a creative [organist for example] can help lead people in worship. He divided music that an organist plays when people are coming into worship, leaving or during the service can be literal or abstract.

When the organist plays “Amazing Grace” this is literal, because people so know the song that the begin to sing it in their heads and sometimes even out loud when they hear the music.

However if the organist starts to play something like Mendelssohn wrote, which is often music that isn’t associated with words then the people can let their mind wander. The organist can create a mood, but how the people hear it individually will let their mind wander. This is abstract type of music.

My suggestion is to use literal B-Roll when you can show something about which relates directly to what the person is talking about. For example if they are talking about their parents then a pan across their dresser to a photo of their parents works quite well.

Now often during interviews people are talking about things in the past or even future. This is where often abstract B-Roll works great.

When someone reflects on growing up some where this is a great time to use nature shots from that area. It is kind of like helping the audience dream with them as if they are thinking back and looking out their window or like they are driving down the road looking out the car window.

Flowers blowing in the wind or a person’s hand moving through a field of flowers can work as an abstract. Seeing rain hitting a puddle or a stream of water flowing can be quite soothing.

Closeups of tools can work great as well. Seeing the blade cut wood verses a wide shot of a person cutting wood can often look more abstract. Closeup of welding that goes from out of focus to in focus is another way to create abstract B-Roll.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 800, ƒ/4, 1/4000

Transition B-Roll

There are many times you need to transition the audience from one scene to another in the storyline. This is where B-Roll of a door opening and closing or having someone walk through a scene can help you transition to a new thought.

Video portraits are quite popular today for B-Roll. They can work with transitions as well. This is where you roll for 20 to 30 seconds on a person with video verses the still portrait. I would advise getting a lot of different takes if using this technique. Have the person look out a window. As they look out the window have them turn and look into the camera. Reverse that and do another take.

Have people look into the camera and they then walk away with the camera following and another time staying still.

Have them go from pretty expressionless face to anger or smile. Start your shot out of focus and then go in focus. Start in focus and then go out of focus.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/4, 1/100]


With video you are capturing motion. You can keep the camera still and have the environment moving or you can move the camera within the environment.

Car scenes are notorious with showing motion. You can have camera stationary on the person while they are driving. The windows are like cinema screens showing life happening around them as they are driving.

Shooting from another vehicle you can drive along side them to give a sense of context.

Type of shots

You have a variety of types of shots which I encourage you to get lots in each category for easier editing later.

Wide Shot – helps to establish the context
Medium Shot – often two people close together or where you are seeing the subjects hands type of distance
Tight Shot – This is often where you are just showing the face. You are letting the face expressions help tell the story. More than 50% of most movies are the tight shot.
Close-up – These are the detail shots. Where you see someone’s ring on their finger, pouring a cup of coffee, the cork on a bottle of champaign being opened.

James Dockery is introducing Adobe Premier Pro to the students. [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 2500, ƒ/5, 1/100]
You can never have enough B-Roll. I have never heard this said in an edit suite that what were they thinking giving me all this B-Roll. I do hear it over and over that there is not enough.