Quoting for a Non-Profit

A photographer wrote me and asked for advice on quoting to a nonprofit. Here is my advice for them. Now there was a list of specifics, but I wanted to get to the pricing strategy rather than giving them a quote I would do. You see each person has different costs. This is due to where they live, what lifestyle they want to maintain and the cost of their gear are just a few things that influence one’s price.


I believe first you need to have your pricing for “Normal Jobs” and then for those you consider a “Charity Job”. Charity is something that you deem that you want to donate your time. You may want to give everything for free to an organization. That is up to you. I do think once you embrace discounting your price for an organization, you will have to also be sure you have enough “Normal Jobs” or this will not be sustainable.

What I am communicating here is not what you communicate to the client. This is for you to understand while you price something for them.

Once you have figured out your pricing thought process you then create packages. The price and what they are getting and not how you arrived at that price.

Lukas & Nate interview Scott Brock, missionary to Trinidad [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 9000, ƒ/4, 1/250, Focal Length = 35]

Normal Job Price = 100% for time

Charity Job Price = 60 – 70% for time

Hard costs to you I would pass along at 100% to a “Charity Job”. Charity meaning that organization you consider a charity that you want to give your time to. As far as IRS you cannot write off your time to a charity.

My suggestion is to create your “Normal Estimate” and then give a discount. This way you are communicating your normal rates and also letting this organization know you are giving them a HUGE DISCOUNT.

Personally I think a rate of about $600 to $800 a day for your time for a nonprofit is where many I know are charging these days [This is what many of my circle of friends have told me and my personal experience]. Most of those photographers are charging $1600 to $4000 a day for their time for regular jobs.

Most in the industry will charge 50% of their rate for a travel day. That is a day that you do no work at all. If you show up and shoot for an hour after traveling most of the day–That is a shooting day and not a travel day.

Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Bucharest, Romania

Don’t forget to charge for the post production. Many organizations will abuse you with having multiple revisions. Making them pay for this will make them be responsible.

By the way be sure in all your correspondence that you communicate you are charging for revisions. You can have priced in the package 1 or 2 revisions, but let them know when the additional revisions are happening.

Quote your shooting fee, your post production fee and expenses in your estimate. Be sure you spell out what it includes. Just like McDonald’s does for what is included in a sandwich. If a video is expected then describe how long it is and how many revisions that includes.

For your photography I would give some range of number of finished and edited photos.


Always start with a conversation. In person or by phone is the best way to start. Ask them what their expectations are for the project and if they have a budget figure for the project. Sometimes they not only tell you clearly their expectations, but give you a price you are thrilled to work with. This almost never happens, but ALWAYS start with the idea they may know what they want and have a realistic budget for the project.

Your goal is to manage expectations. First by being sure they articulate what they want and then you in the end telling them what you can provide to them. Do your best to under promise and then over deliver.

When you finish this conversation where you agree on what you can do for them, you will put it in writing to them. However, just get some ballpark figures during that conversation to see if it is worth your time to go further. No need to spend all this time to put together a formal agreement in writing if they have no way of paying what you need to agree to going forward.

Worship in Togo, West Africa. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm, ISO 8000, ƒ/4, 1/100]

Give them 3 versions of an estimate. This is how you show them you are flexible and also help talk them into spending more on something that they will truly enjoy and use.

Don’t line item things you used to come to your price. You don’t see McDonald’s selling their Big Mac with how much time it took to make it and each piece listed. Imagine 2 – Beef patties, 10 minutes cooking, shipping costs to get the products and so on. No you don’t see that. They give information the public wants and a price. Price changes on where in the world you are buying it.

Bottom Price:
This will just give them what they barely need

Middle Price:
Add more deliverable to the package. More Photos, Another video, Blog posts, etc

Luxury Price:
Coffee table book of photos, Videos, More Photos Etc

Dodge Viper

The Sky Is the Limit:
Sometimes you can add a 4th price for the client who could spend a lot if they wanted.

They most likely will go with the middle price every time.

Friction Free

The Stanley Works was founded by Frederick T. Stanley in 1843, originally a bolt and door hardware manufacturing company located in New Britain, Connecticut.

One of the most innovative things they did with their door hinges that helped them to outgrow their competition was to include screws in their packaging.

Clerks were taking time to find screws to fit competitors hinges.

Friction Free Economy

To succeed in the friction-free economy, long-established companies must form entirely new and more fluid relationships with customers, workers, and owners. Those that don’t will either struggle to maintain market share, or fail entirely.

It is the intangible assets that businesses need to understand, measure and exploit in order to succeed. These include intellectual property, brand value, human capital and customer loyalty.

Friction Free Resource

You want to be a Friction Free Resource for your clients. You want to not just solve their problems but do so in a way that the experience is not a bumpy road, but smooth.

Just like Stanley did in the 1850’s by just packaging screws with their hinges making it easier to go to the hardware store and leave in little time, you must think of ways to help your clients make things smooth.

What do you offer your clients that is like Stanley who packaged screws for his clients?

What to do when they insult your pricing

I am often contacted by my former students from workshops and college classes about pricing and negotiating with clients.

This blog post is more about how to respond to a client or potential client when they make you feel like you were just insulted by them.

Software I use often to figure the market value for the usage of my photos when pricing jobs.

While you should figure your Cost of Doing Business and know what your bottom line is to do a job, often people will come back saying they only have a budget for less than you can accept.

My friend just called and was quoting on covering a business event for a day. She had figured this was probably a good place to network as well, so she went ahead and basically cut her price in half and quoted that figure.

Always Quote Full Price

I let her know she should always quote her normal full price and then show a discount and why they are getting the discount. The problem if you don’t do this then they think her price is half of what she needs to charge. They tell their friends this is her rate.

Expect Negotiating

Negotiation theorists generally agree that there are two primary forms of negotiation:

  • Distributive Negotiation: this is also referred to as positional or hard-bargaining negotiating. …
  • Integrative Negotiation: this is the softer side of the two forms of negotiation, often referred to as win-win.

You need to figure out quickly which type of person you are dealing with when they are negotiating.

After my friend gave them her half-price quote they came back with a low ball response. “We only have $200 budgeted for the event.”

Respond Professionally

Often in the negotiating one of the parties can feel insulted at the low or high dollar amount.

I recommend trying your best to just stay with your pricing so that you are not going below your bottom line. Also, think of other things that you can negotiate for that are of value. Maybe they can give you their contact list that you can use. Maybe you can trade for free advertising.

Try and stay with something that sounds like, “I would love to cover your event for you.” Then you can go on and outline the pricing and what value you bring to them.

Basically you say I can do the work for you at this price. They are saying no, NOT YOU, if they cannot afford you.

Know Your Numbers

I cannot stress enough that if you do not know your “Cost of doing business” you will not be in business very long. You need to know the real amount you have to have from a job to pay your bills and also have money to invest in the growth of your business.

Great Video to Make My Point

This has been around for a while and I have shared it in the past, but for those new to negotiating this helps you see how often silly people can look for what they are asking. These are examples of Distributive Negotiation where they are trying to get something for below cost or even free.

Create Checklists and Digital Workflow

The top photo is one of the laminated lists I was using in 2002.

When I mentioned in a recent post creating a Digital Workflow that you laminate, one person asked for that list.

To be honest I have been doing this so long I no longer need the list, but did come across one of my laminated lists in my van to help me be sure I had everything before I left the house for a photo shoot.

This list had 4 sides of two laminated cards held together with a clip.

“Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort.”

John Ruskin

I was shooting a lot of college basketball games at the time and had to arrive early to put up remotes and turn on my strobes.

I also was doing a good number of headshots and couple shots for a missionary agency.

Each assignment I did was often so different that I would bring some gear I wouldn’t use for another assignment.

Today I still take the time to pack before I leave for a trip or photo shoot the day before.

Here are some of the things I am doing that impacts my Digital Workflow.

Day Before Photo Shoot Preparation
  • Charge all camera batteries and other batteries
  • Format all XQD Memory Cards for Cameras in Camera
  • Inspect all camera sensors with Sensor Loupe
  • Clean if necessary sensor with Cleaning Kit
  • Make list of gear needed for photo shoot
    • Do I need a studio?
    • Do I need tripod?
    • I am doing video?
    • Do I need microphones?
    • Do I need constant light source for video?
  • Pack the necessary gear into cases
    • If flying then I will weigh all the cases
    • Often this is rearranging items to stay within weight limit
    • If over weight I will arrive extra early to the airport to get the Media Baggage Rate This applies to only working media and not hobbyist
Day of Shoot
  • Check cameras one last time for battery power
  • Pack Van and leave
  • Meet contact and brief on expectations and any last minute changes
  • Scout location – Often with client
  • Take gear out and assemble what is necessary
  • Go to each location and do a custom white balance
  • Pick all settings for shoot
  • When changing locations pick the custom white balance [on Nikon I can store 6 different WB settings and just pick the one needed or do a new custom white balance]
  • Go to spots I identified during scouting that would be ideal locations to shoot from just before the best time to be in those locations.
  • Often if there is a long shot list I will pull this out and be sure I am on track and help remind me the next shot or place to be for the photo shoot
  • Shoot the event
  • Touch base with client before leaving
Post Processing
  1. Ingest to PhotoMechanic
  2. IPTC information is filled out and part of the ingesting process
  3. Select the keepers
  4. Delete all untagged images
  5. Import into Lightroom, because I am shooting RAW
  6. Using metadata I select all the photos with the same lens
  7. Select all with the same lens
  8. Go to Develop Module “D” shortcut
  9. On far right go to lens correction
  10. Go back to Library and pick another lens and do the same until all photos have been lens corrected
  11. Click on profile and enable profile for Adobe Color or select another more appropriate profile by using browsing in the menu
  12. Tip to select multiple images shot in the same scene and do correction to all at once
  13. Go to settings and then tell it to Match Exposure on all those selected
  14. ⌘D unselect
  15. Go one by one and check those correct. Repeat this step for different scenes
  16. Correct for blown out highlights
  17. Pull in blacks if necessary
  18. I am often using the Dehaze and Texture sliders
  19. For sharpening I use this technique
  20. Export all images to sRGB JPEGs Quality 80
  21. Open PhotoMechanic
  22. Upload to my PhotoShelter account for the client

I love the updated Adobe Lightroom. I am using three of the controls that if used properly can really help out some photos that in the past without these controls would have been so-so photos.

I love the Texture, Clarity and Dehaze sliders. I cannot recommend them enough.

For sharpening I hold the Option key on the Mac while sliding the Masking control. The masking is around 70 for my older cameras that were 12 megapixels or less. 80 for my Nikon D5 and closer to 90 for the higher resolution cameras. Once I can see that just the edges are white then I slide the amount of sharpening to 150.

When your quality isn’t up to standards it is often because you skipped a step in your Digital Workflow.

“The biggest cost of poor quality is when your customer buys it from someone else because they didn’t like yours.”

W. Edwards Deming

Become the best version of yourself

Pam Goldsmith is an emeritus winner of the ‘Most Valuable Player’ award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Her viola playing has been heard on countless records, films and television shows. 
[NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 5600, 1/125, ƒ/4.5, (35mm = 28)]

“If you just focus on getting better, and not being the best, you have such a good time.”

James Acaster

The other day I was reminded I am working with many people at the top of the field and when I work with those starting out I have to be patient. This post is about how to become a better you by reflecting on how I got to where I am today.

I have been so blessed to have gotten to know some of the world’s best in a few fields. One of those is my sister-in-law Pam Goldsmith. I have written about her before.

She plays in the studio musicians group that plays for many of the movies, TV, records and other places you would be surprised about. She sits in the first chair most of the time. When the studio musicians show up to play the music for a movie that has never been played, they don’t practice it–they play it for the first time and 95% of the time that was the last time they played it for the final recorded version you see in the movie. The 5% of the time they do it again, it wasn’t due to their execution, but the composer realizing during the recording that they made a mistake and after a rewrite they record it again.

At the Suzuki Institute children are nurtured through daily master classes, during which each student receives some focused attention from an expert teacher, group lessons, ensemble experiences, performances and related musical enrichments. [NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 8000, 1/200, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 105)]

It takes a long time to get to that point of expertise from just learning to play the instrument.

Don Rutledge (photo by Ken Touchton)

In 1984 during my Spring Break I was hired by Robert Reed at the Hickory Daily Record and would start working just after I graduated that May. While driving from Delaware to Hickory, North Carolina I stopped by the International Mission Board to meet Don Rutledge.

Knolan Benfield in Hawaii with me helping teach posing to photography students with Youth With a Mission. (Photo by: Dennis Fahringer)

My uncle, Knolan Benfield, had worked with Don for more than nine years when they were on staff for the North American Mission Board in Atlanta, Georgia.

In the 1950s Don was shooting stories for all the top magazines. He would go on to work with and basically help lift the quality of photography done by the mission magazines to compete with LIFE, Look, and National Geographic Magazine.

Pam Goldsmith grew up in California near all the great musicians and due to being surrounded by the great viola players became one. In some ways I too was growing up in the environment of great photographers and storytellers.

I remember my uncle Knolan Benfield talking to me about how you get to the top. You go and talk to the people at the top. He let me know of many of the experiences where he noticed famous photographers at conferences standing by themselves because people were afraid of them. He just walked up and talked to them and got to know them.

Today I know that there are very few at the very top of the profession that can help others. These are the ones that can teach and not just do. Don Rutledge happened to be one of those few.

While Don taught me a lot about composition, body language and learning to see light, Knolan taught me how create using lights.

Researchers are testing a new jet nozzel using a laser to measure the efficiency at the Georgia Tech Jet Propulsion Lab.

In 1993 I started to work at Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech named one of the most prestigious schools in the world. My role there was storytelling on research, education, athletics and alumni for distribution through campus publications and outside media. I worked there until 2002 and during this time I perfected lighting.

Greg Thompson, Director of Corporate Communications, Chick-fil-A [NIKON D5, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 100, Ä/1.8, 1/30]

In 2008 Greg Thompson, Director of Corporate Communications for Chick-fil-A, asked me to come and help him build his team. Chick-fil-A is the third largest American fast food restaurant chain and the largest whose specialty is chicken sandwiches.

Greg was building an incredible team. He recruited Ken Willis who had run the largest PR agencies in Atlanta. He had just sold one of them and then started a new agency KWI.

Greg was scooping up talent from Coke, Porter Novelli and recruiting some of the best students to start their career with Chick-fil-A.

Again I was being surrounded by some of the best in the profession of storytelling.

Mark Johnson and Andrea Briscoe in Mark’s office enjoying some time together. [Fuji X-E3, 18-55mm, ISO 1600, ƒ/5, 1/10]

In 2018 Mark Johnson, Senior Lecturer, Journalism at Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication for the University of Georgia, asked me to come and teach for the year Intro to Photojournalism to four different classes while they looked for a full-time professor with a Phd.

What I learned quickly was I had worked my entire career with people at the top of their game. Everyone I worked with was always doing whatever it took to tell the story in the most effective way possible.

Many of these students were not desiring to being visual storytellers. Many were taking journalism as undergrad degree before going on to another profession like law.

Dennis Fahringer has been leading photography schools 30+ years as the leader of School of Photography at University of the Nations in Kailua-Kona, HI, [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 100, Ä/14, 1/250]

In 2006 I got a call from Dennis Fahringer asking me to come to Kona, Hawaii to teach his students lighting. He originally asked Joanna Pinneo, photographer for National Geographic Magazine, who told him to contact me. Joanna and I both worked with Don Rutledge.

Dennis’ students in YWAM had a passion for God. Most taking the class were exploring if photography was one of the ways they could serve the church or learn how to work their faith into running a photography business.

Using Studio Strobe for a “Walk and Talk”

Again I was asked to dial back from shooting at the highest level in my profession to talking to newbies about literally “Step One” in photography.

Michael Schwarz speaking to group of photographers

I am often hiring photographers to help me with projects at Chick-fil-A. Two that I love to hire over and over are Michael Schwarz and Robin Rayne.

Robin Rayne

I have hired so many through the years, but only a few are consistent in meeting the demands of the customer. When I hire either one of them to do work, I know that I am sending to the customer storytellers that are not just as good as me, but better than me. This is how I see them.

Be the best version of yourself!
  • Show Up! – It is amazing how many people just don’t show up
  • Start With Baby Steps – you can’t skip the line. You have to start at the beginning
  • Stop Looking For Shortcut – “Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity” While it may look like a shortcut it is often years of working hard and then you get a lucky break. If you are not prepared then you may have just lost your one chance.
  • Accept Help From Others – Most of those at the top didn’t get their alone. Don’t be prideful, take the help.
  • Celebrate Small Accomplishments – Realize that learning at the level you are at in the moment is just as important as the finish line. Break down the “Big Goals” into bite size pieces.
  • Help Others – Pay it forward. Don’t be about taking. Be known for giving.
“Become the BEST VERSION of Yourself!” | Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) | Top 10 Rules

How I Covered A Gala at The Atlanta Marriott Marquis

Harpist plays for the VIP Reception at Marriott Marquis in Atlanta during the Islamic Speakers Bureau’s “Celebrating Women of Influence ISB Gala”
[NIKON D5, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 4000, 1/200, ƒ/3.2, (35mm = 14)]

On October 12th I was covering the Islamic Speakers Bureau’s “Celebrating Women of Influence ISB Gala” that was held at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta, Georgia.

This is how you take a group selfie inside the atrium of the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta during the Islamic Speakers Bureau’s “Celebrating Women of Influence ISB Gala” [NIKON D5, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 10000, 1/200, ƒ/3.2, (35mm = 14)]

If you ever have to cover an event like this I recommend a few things.

Two or More Cameras

Anytime you shoot professionally you need a backup camera. This is in case one stops working for any reason at all. I tend to put the Nikon 28-300mm on one camera and the Nikon 14-24mm on the other camera.

I can get every thing I need with this range of glass.

Andrea Young accepting her award at Marriott Marquis in Atlanta during the Islamic Speakers Bureau’s “Celebrating Women of Influence ISB Gala” [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 16000, 1/250, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 460)]

For this event I had a third camera on a tripod with the Sigma 120-300mm & 2X converter so that I can shoot more straight into people’s faces from across the room rather than everything shooting up at them when I am closer.

Dr. Farah Khan introduces the award winner Saleemah Abdul-Ghafur at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta during the Islamic Speakers Bureau’s “Celebrating Women of Influence ISB Gala” [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 14400, 1/200, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 300)]

I had to be down front sometimes and had to shoot up at the speakers on the podium as you see here.

Ann Cramer, Faraz Iqbal, Hiba Ghalib & Dr. Houda Abadi at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta during the Islamic Speakers Bureau’s “Celebrating Women of Influence ISB Gala” [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 5600, 1/200, ƒ/4.8, (35mm = 62)]

After a speaker was introducing an award winner I snapped a photo of them together with some of the board members.

Award winner Saleemah Abdul-Ghafur acceptance speech at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta during the Islamic Speakers Bureau’s “Celebrating Women of Influence ISB Gala” [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 12800, 1/200, ƒ/5.3, (35mm = 100)]

As I mentioned in my last blog post I went on stage before the event started and did a custom white balance with my Nikon Cameras. On the Nikon Z6 & Nikon D5 you can store up to 6 different presets. This way you can do a custom white balance for the stage and then go to another room with different setting and set it on a different Preset.

Soumaya Khalifa, Executive Director of the Islamic Speakers Bureau with this years Award Winners Jill Savitt, Saleemah Abdul-Ghafur, Andrea Young, Dr. Houda Abadi & Duriya Farooqui at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta during the Islamic Speakers Bureau’s “Celebrating Women of Influence ISB Gala” [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 5600, 1/200, ƒ/4.5, (35mm = 36)]
Have a Flash

Now with the stage having two sets of lights at 45º to the stage it was really even lighting. However, walking around in the Atrium of the Marriott Marquis the light was needing help with flash.

Duriya Farooqui in the center at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta during the Islamic Speakers Bureau’s “Celebrating Women of Influence ISB Gala” [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 7200, 1/200, ƒ/4, (35mm = 32)]

Laura Espeut, the second shooter, got this photo of me with the Nikon Z6 with a 28-300mm as well as the Godox V860ii on the camera and the MagMod Magshpere on the hotshoe.

Celebrating Women of Influence ISB Gala [Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM, Mode = Manual, ISO 3200, 1/80, ƒ/4, (35mm = 40)]
Save your Back

To carry two cameras I use the HoldFast Gear Money Maker Two-Camera Harness with Silver Hardware (English Bridle, Chestnut)

HoldFast Gear Money Maker Two-Camera Harness with Silver Hardware (English Bridle, Chestnut, Medium)
Former Mayor Shirley Franklin of Atlanta introduces Jill Savitt at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta during the Islamic Speakers Bureau’s “Celebrating Women of Influence ISB Gala” [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/200, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 300)]
Quality Photography Demands A Digital Workflow

The bottom line is you need a workflow. You prepare days ahead from talking with the client to manage expectations to getting a shot list. You then must prepare before the event by charging batteries and checking the sensor of each camera for dust.

I recommend you creating a workflow list of things you need to do for every photo shoot. Be sure that the order you do things is in the correct order. Print it out and even laminate that list and keep it with you in your camera bag.

Jill Savitt at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta during the Islamic Speakers Bureau’s “Celebrating Women of Influence ISB Gala” [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 12800, 1/200, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 180)]

In my last blog post I showed you some of the white balance when done without a custom white balance and then doing one.

What I hope you are hearing from me today is that if the quality isn’t up to the standards you want to represent what you can do for clients, the answer is most likely in your workflow. It is something you skipped or modified from what is the ideal way to shoot the assignment.

Why You Should Use Custom White Balance

While I try to be consistent and do a custom white balance all the time, I confess I sometimes get sloppy and choose to try and fix it in Lightroom.

Here is a photo I shot with my Nikon Z6 shooting with Auto White Balance.

Temp: 3,350 Tent: +26 [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 10000, 1/200, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 300)]

When the camera is seeing this scene it is factoring in the projection screen behind the speaker which was a different color temperature than the speaker.

I realized all the photos on the stage were off, so I selected all of them and did a color balance based on my calibrated monitor. Here is the result.

Temp: 3,250 Tent: +4 [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 10000, 1/200, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 300)]

I had used the eye dropper on a microphone. Well it is close but not perfect.

Then the next day I got there early and asked the lighting guy to turn the lights on so I could go on the stage and get a custom white balance using the ExpoDisc. Here is another blog post on using the ExpoDisc.

Temp: 3,650 Tint: +11 [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 11400, 1/200, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 150)]

This is shot with the custom white balance. Big difference in nailing the skin tone.

Moral of the Story: Get A Custom White Balance

I recommend using the ExpoDisc. You can use it to help you 1) White Balance, 2) Set Exposure & 3) Dust Mapping. Here are the instructions for doing all this if you didn’t already know how.

Take the Time to Caption Your Photos

[Cristina Baccay Holdsworth, Eleanor Baccay Reece, & Blair D. Sullivan]

Back when I was on staff at Georgia Tech [1993 – 2001] Facebook had not been created and the iPhone didn’t exist. I was still shooting film.

While Match.com was founded in 1995 students were still doing silly things at Georgia Tech to get dates in 2001.

Clockwise: Qing Xu (dark grey shirt and back to camera), Roger Buggrabe, David Lee, Dan Ketuaryure & Gordon Jones [Mamiya RZ67 & Provia 100]

I was shooting with ISO 100 most of the time. This meant I was lighting almost everything inside.

L/R Benjamin Hobson, Jaclyn Schlieper and Blair Dowling

The cool thing is we did have PhotoShop. It was released February 19, 1990. This let me scan all the images we were making and put Metadata with each photo. So most of the photos we would put some caption information on each photo.

“Bucky” Johnson retires as director of bands at Georgia Tech the fall of 2001. Behind “Bucky” is Dr. Wayne Clough and Dean Galloway.

So often when we go back to photos the biggest problem is having some context around the photo.

2001 ground breaking for Georgia Tech’s Technology Square

This week I stumbled over a folder of images that I created when I left Georgia Tech to start freelancing in April 2002.

Chelle Leary points to computer as mother Dorie Griggs looks on.

Seeing the family photos during this time of starting my new season as a full-time freelancer has put into perspective how long I have now been freelancing full-time.

Scott Godwin is being measured by Radar for his gate. Operating the radar is Jonathan Geisheimer.

Today it is easier than ever to just take a moment when you are in Lightroom, PhotoShop or Bridge to add just a few words about the photo that will help give context.

This is the info box in PhotoMechanic, which I use primarily for captioning and key-wording all my photos today.
PhotoShop Info box
Adobe Bridge info box
David & Bonita Leary wedding August 20, 1958. The reception was held at the Kistler house. This was the house my grandparents lived in during his early years as the pastor of First Baptist Church in Morganton, NC.

Without some captions generations in the future will not know any of the significance or who people are in the photos that you have been taking.

Don’t Rely on Social Media to Store Your Photos

My Samsung Galaxy S10 takes the wide shots at 3456 x 4608 pixels. When I upload this to Facebook it will cut that size to 1500 x 2000 pixels. This is basically cutting the quality in half.

For social media that is fine, but if later you want a large wall print now you are limited greatly to the size you can print.

There are many online services that you can use with your phone to store all your images at high resolution. Google Photos, Amazon Photos and many others can do a great job of storing images for you.

Adding Text with Google Photos

The process of adding a custom description to a single photo is the same whether you’re on the Google Photos app or website:

  1. Tap or click in to view a single photo, then select the information button (a small “i” icon) to view more details on the photo.
  2. You’ll see things like the capture date, file name, camera model and location — select “Add a description” to add more to it.
  3. There doesn’t seem to be a character limit (or if there is one it’s quite large), so go ahead and add in any extra information you think is relevant to the photo. Maybe a little back story, what’s going on in the picture or perhaps some other bit of information that can’t be picked up from the plain EXIF data of the photo.

The extra details should help if you’re searching for pictures in the future on Google Photos, but at least right now you’ll have those details synced up to that photo for your own benefit when you view it manually. Go forth and add all of the extra info your pictures deserve!

Looking Back 17 Years Ago

I came across a folder of images from when I was on staff at Georgia Tech. Just take a look at some of these memories. Can you find images on your computer from years ago?

In the past 20 years the technology has really improved. Here is a scan I did 18 years ago:

Original [Gregory Abowd at the AWARE Home]

Then today using the latest Adobe PhotoShop software I was able to get this with just minor editing:

Gregory Abowd at the AWARE Home

The Camera Raw Filter has some cool features.

The best feature for scans is the Dehaze slider.

When you slide it to the right you get less haze, which comes from a backlight used to scan the film transparency.

The other feature is all the tools at the top of the Camera Raw. I use the Detail tool [two triangles] where I adjust for noise and sharpening.

By the way the Develop Module of Lightroom is the same as the Camera RAW filter of PhotoShop.

Hope this tip helps you if you have old transparency photos that you scanned and look washed out.

Here some photos I fixed just today

In 1996 I photographed Dr. Sam Shelton the guy who designed the Olympic Torch.

Then in 2002 Dr. Sam Shelton designed the Winter Olympic Torch. These are some of the photos from then that were used to promote Georgia Tech’s involvement in the Olympics.

The Salt Lake City Olympic Games Torch 2002

While the cameras are better today, with enough light the past cameras did a great job as well.

The Olympic Torch for the Salt Laek Olympic Games in 2002.
Sam Shelton with the Olympic Cauldron SUV.
Olympic Cauldron

I have been going through old photos from 17 years ago during my last staff job before going full-time freelance in 2002.


I was working at Georgia Tech as their only staff photographer, which I did since 1993. I did lots of photos of Buzz the mascot during those years.

Tech Square was just being built.

Christyn Magill

I was always in the research labs capturing the latest technology.

Mark Hay pulls a fishing net through the coast of Savannah to catch crabs for research. He is being assisted by Erica A. Kinard.

Sometimes those researchers were working the coast of Georgia.

GT #35 Joe Burns takes on Citadel #4 Rob Nichols and knocks off his helmet.

Georgia Tech beat The Citadel back then. This year they lost to them.

GT #98 Merrix Watson tackles UNC # 33 Maurice Murphy.
Student Maria J. Kommeth sets lens for the laser as professor Jeannette Yen looks on. This is research about microorganisms in the Biology Department.
Michelle E. Grant

I was often capturing lasers and the researchers working on projects.

Atlanta Beat Soccer

Be sure you store your images on hard drives. I recommend using SSD and have your images in 3 places. 

Travel Photography

A Jamaican dancer dances the limbo under a stick of fire which is held in place by coke bottles. 

Today’s digital camera makes travel photography easier than ever.

NEXTO DI NPS-10 Nexto Photo Storage – You add a SSD hard drive of your choice and size. Many photographers use the Samsung 2TB 860 EVO SATA III 2.5″ Internal SSD.

You’ll need several memory cards if you plan to take a lot of pictures or you can carry a small Memory Card Back-up Device to store and view your digital images. These are available in various hard drive capacities and are equipped with screens for viewing your images. If you have your laptop computer you can store your images on it and free up your digital cards for more photographs. 

The Island Breeze Lu’au at the Kona Beach Hotel located in Kona, Hawaii takes place just at dusk and makes for dramatic lighting. 

A single zoom lens such as an 18mm – 200 mm may be all you need to carry. Traveling light not only makes your trip easier and more enjoyable it has some hidden advantages. I love shooting with my Nikon 28-300mm.

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens with Auto Focus

One, it is easier to make natural photos when people don’t perceive you as a professional photographer. They relax and are more themselves. Whipping out a huge lens or lugging a large camera bag around can intimidate your subjects. Another advantage to traveling light – you want attract as many thieves. 

Buy a good guidebook about the places you plan to visit. National Geographic publishes great travel guides that not only help you plan your trip, but your photography as well. We used their book for our trip to Hawaii. 

Guidebooks tell you about the great places and many tell the best time of day to photograph specific locations. Guidebooks are a must have. They’ll keep you from being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong light for great photos. 

Check out the postcards. They can save you time finding the best angle. Looking at the postcards and perhaps asking the locals where they were made puts you on the trail to the most dramatic locations for great photos. Once you find that general area look around, you can probably improve on the post card picture. 

At the Holei Pali Lookout, just before the 15 mile marker, there is a great view of the mountain lava flows, where you get a feel for the volume of a’a and pahoehoe that drooled down the mountain.

When you find the perfect spot make the best photograph you can, then do the obligatory “in-front-of” shot. You know, the one that shows that you and yours were there, but be careful. There are a couple of things to watch out for. Place the family so that where you are is (1) the only place that photo could have been made. Place the people to one side, perhaps up close, so that (2) the folks are recognizable and be sure the “scenic attraction” is also recognizable in the photo. If you cover it up then you could just have stayed home and made the photo in the backyard. 

Compose the background first
And then put the people in the photo. South Point, Hawaii is the southern most tip of the United States. 

Over shooting insures great photos. Give yourself room to edit when you’re back home. If you seldom write you probably wouldn’t use the first sentence you thought of to start a paper. In writing we usually put down as many thoughts as we can and then edit. From all the thoughts and ideas jotted down we find the ones that work best. 

A young boy makes me some coffee using Nescafe Instant coffee at a roadside cafe in Tenkodogo, Burkina Faso where they serve food, petrol and drinks. [Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/50, Focal Length = 27]

Do the same in photography. Take lots and lots of photos. It gets the creative juices flowing, besides, it’s fun. Try different angles: close-up, wide angle, zooming in. Shoot at low angles, climb up high and look for new ways of seeing the subject. Back up and take the long, establishing shot. Turn around and see what’s behind you, it could be just as exciting as what is in front. 

Use your camera to journal your trip. Photograph the food you eat, where you stay and the people you meet. Some of these “notes” may end up as a large print on your wall. 

Different angle which highlights the cultural differences of these kids in a class in West Africa.  [NIKON D2X, AF Zoom 18-50mm f/2.8G, ISO 400, ƒ/6.3, 1/50, Focal Length = 75]

With digital you can shoot the equivalent of a thousand rolls of film and fit it all into a memory card. Talk about traveling light… and cheap -no film cost. 

I’ve never heard anyone say they took too many photos on their trip. I have heard the sad stories of many people who left the camera in the room and missed the golden opportunities.