Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Big Easy Afternoon"

Big Easy Afternoon

"Big Easy Afternoon"
© David A. Ziser

I love this image of our bride photographed in the hotel lobby.  The large lobby offered a great space for this very elegant bridal portrait.  The challenge was with the lighting.  I wanted to still pick up some of the color in the sky you see in the distant window and had to be careful to select the exposure settings that would not blow out the detail in the sky.

I also knew I had some software solutions up my sleeve that might help achieve my goal. Yep, Lightroom 4 could be called upon to help save the day so I made the exposure knowing I had LR4 in my back pocket to help me get to my finished result.

The initial exposure showed a way too dark background.  I decided to add an accent light coming in from camera right and slightly behind the subject. The added light and slowing down the shutter speed helped opened up the background.

The lighting on the bride coming in from camera left and the other lighting considerations above gave me a very simple, yet elegantly portrait of our beautiful bride.

Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark lll fitted with Sigma 12-24mm lens at 24mm, F10 @ 1/50 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  David

Bonus Post: Canon 600EX-RT Works Great For Reception Photography

Good Afternoon Everybody,

We are kicking off our sixth day in the Big Easy, that is New Orleans, Louisiana.  Today is an extra special day for LaDawn and I too.  Today we celebrate our wedding anniversary and what better place to spend it than right here in New Orleans!  So that being said, I am making today's post short and sweet - heck it's our anniversary ;~)

I was pretty fired up about the big convention party last night at the Southern Pro Exposure photography convention. I really wanted to see how my new Canon 600EX-RT speedlights would handle the lighting chores for a wedding reception.  The convention party served as a perfect place to give them a try.


I set up two Canon 600EX-RT speedlights at opposite corners of the large dance floor.  Would they be powerful enough to give me the coverage I needed and do the job? I was going to find out during the party for sure.

After tweaking the light output and utilizing a little set up trick I picked up from my Canon buddy, Jerry Ward who was in the trade show, I was ready to go.  Here are three images from last night's party. What do you think?  I think they look great - the lighting is gorgeous! 


I was sold.  the lighting you see in these images was exactly what I was hoping for - easy, directional, and tantalizingly dimensional from these three tiny speedlights!  Wow!!!  Such an easy set up with such lightweight gear - what a great way to go for shooting weddings.


The bottom line is that is was a great first experience and I'm super encouraged by last night's shooting experience. Yep, we were all having a great time – my buddy, Ralph Romaguera took this photo. Don’t look at me and the girls – look at the light ;~) 

I've got many more images to show you and I really want to go through all the details of the setup and share the images from the party with you but don't have time today.  Let me gather all my thoughts on last night’s shooting experience and I'll share all the details in an upcoming post - stay tuned.


p.s. Look for this week’s Technique Tuesday to land on Wednesday.  Like I said, it’s the last day of the convention with several great not-to-be-missed speakers and it’s our anniversary ;~)  -David

Monday, July 30, 2012

"Stairway To Happiness"

Stairway To Happiness

"Stairway To Happiness"
© David A. Ziser

Here is one of my favorite images from my Friday Wedding Shoot down here in New Orleans.  We were working in the Westin Hotel on Canal Street, a very busy hotel – it was booked at 100% – but still we managed to pull off this very cool wedding image.

Obviously the staircase works as a great background for this wedding portrait.  In fact on Saturday, we saw a photographer also “working the steps”.  I liked the stairs from ground level but after heading up the stairs and viewing the composition from the second floor, I liked this view even more.  Look how the stairs just sweep your eyes right down to the bride. The stairs also offer the perfect framing elements for this beautiful bridal portrait.

Lighting was a “piece of cake”. I had one of the class members holding one of my Canon 600 EX-RT speedlites about 12-15 feet coming in from camera left.  I was also using my 42” Zumbrella to soften the light on my bride.  Be sure to catch the discussion below about I I used the Canon 600 EX-RT speedlites for this shoot.

I then asked LaDawn to grab a second speedlite and place it behind the bride to highlight the veil.  I need to mention that both Canon 600 EX-RT speedlites were flying on totally “automatic” mode – no power settings to worry about at all.  That fact made it exceedingly easy for me to work quickly in the very crowded hotel.  Not having to worry about the lighting gear and its settings will make any photography job super fast and efficient.

Look at the photograph – lighting is perfect!  Like I say below, I was really impressed with Canon’s new 600 EX-RT speedlites.

Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark III fitted with Canon 24-105 IS lens at 55mm, F5.6 @ 1/80 second, ISO 1250.  Enjoy!  David

Quick Hit Monday: My First Day With Canon 600EX-RT Speedlights–WOW!

Good Morning Everybody,

I can't believe it, we been in New Orleans for three days and I think I've already put on 5 pounds and that's even trying to avoid some of the fabulous, rich food that is so delicious. So much for the diet when you're in New Orleans – that's for sure!

We landed in NOLA late Thursday morning, got settled and began walking the French Quarter to just get the lay of the land. The rain was looking to wash out our walk so we took cover under the waiting area for the Natchez Riverboat Cruise.  We saw 5 young kids take cover as well.  It turns out that were aspiring jazz musicians and before long were jamming for the crowd. A fellow who was a cook for one of the restaurants was on his way to work but stopped long enough to join the musicians and before long had the entire assembled crowd sing “When The Saints Come Marching In.”  Check out my video below.  It was a way cool experience!

New Orleans has always been one of our favorite cities to visit – the people, the culture, the colors, the smells, the food, the history, friends in the area and so many other great things about this wonderful city is why we enjoy it so much.

Friday I was up bright and early, did a quick 5 mile walk up the Riverwalk and enjoyed a beautiful sunrise over the mighty Mississippi. Then it was back to the room to get ready for my wedding shootout class.

Thanks To The Rain, My Wedding Shootout Was Pretty Exciting

Canon 600EX-RT2I was excited about the class because, because B&H had just sent me three brand-new Canon 600 EX-RT speedlites to play with. I was planning to give them a good workout during my class. Confidentially, after just a few minutes shooting with them, I have to tell you, they were wonderful! But more on that later.

Strormy NOLAWe spent the morning portion of the class going over the lighting and compositional concepts I like to review and discuss before we actually head-out on a shoot. Think of it as sort of a warm-up for our location session. My good friend Ralph Romaguera, lined up a gorgeous church for us for our afternoon session but, as luck would have it, the bad weather rolled in and it looked like it was going to be far too difficult to keep the bride and all of us dry in trying to relocate to the church location.

We quickly switched to Plan B and decided to stay inside and shoot around the hotel instead. Don't get me wrong - the hotel turned out to be a great place to shoot . It had a fabulous staircase, wonderful second floor balcony area, and large, beautiful windows overlooking the Mississippi River.

We made great use of all the locations within the hotel and captured some fabulous images for our bride. It turns out my model was actually a beautiful young lady who is going to be an actual bride in just about four weeks. She was wearing her actual wedding gown, had her wedding day hairstyle created by her beautician and even asked her florist to make a duplicate bouquet like the one she would be carrying on her wedding day in August. So, the bottom line was this. With our beautiful bride in a great location, we captured some fabulous photographs for her.

Flash Photography Just Got A Whole Lot Easier!

Easy ButtonThat's right, after my experience with the brand-new radio controlled Canon 600 EX-RT speedlite units, flash photography and off-camera flash has now become the easiest thing in the world to accomplish. Anyone reading this blog knows I am a HUGE proponent of off-camera flash – that is putting a directional light on the scene and the subject to capture detail and dimension in every photograph.

Unfortunately, I think most photographers seem to be put off by this concept. Many photographers are happy enough just to be shooting with on camera, non-directional flashes.  Maybe they think off-camera flash is either too difficult or too hard to do . The fact of the matter is that the new Canon flash units make off-camera flash technique almost automatic.  No,  not almost automatic - they make the use of off-camera flash absolutely automatic!

I was a bit hesitant not knowing what to expect in using the new flashes. And, as with anything new, getting started, learning the equipment, adjusting to a new routine, (especially in front of a class) at first may seem quite daunting. But, I have to admit, after grabbing the manual, reading and reviewing the settings for approximately thirty minutes, I was off and running and very surprised to see just how reliable and consistent those early results were.

So, here we are on my wedding shoot in New Orleans. How are the Canon 600 EX-RT speedlites going to handle?  Were they going to be difficult to adjust to obtain the correct exposure?  Would they be easier or more difficult to use than my off-camera Quantum flash I’ve been using for so many years?  My initial “out of the box” experience answered all of those questions and more.  The new Canon flashes are the easiest strobe units to use that I've ever experienced in my life. It simply is a matter of turning them on, setting the on-camera flash to Master mode and the off-camera flash to Slave mode and start shooting away.

The strobe units, when “talking” with the camera, produced images that were exposed beautifully – the entire process was effortless and uncomplicated. I was never a big fan of the optical system of the 580EX II strobe units.  They were great as regular strobes but I never found them to be as reliable or practical as I needed when photographing my weddings. The new radio controlled Canon 600 EX-RT speedlites are a completely different animal and, after my experience on Friday, offer a brand new, very compact, easy and efficient way of photographing my weddings.

OK, Time To Give Them A Try

Off-Camera 600EX-RT Flash Bare

600EX-RT MasterOn my first try I wanted to see how the off-camera strobe would perform under my normal shooting conditions.  I set my Canon on-camera flash as the MASTER strobe but did NOT want it to fire. It’s purpose was to only fire the off-camera strobe.  I wanted to see just how accurate the off-camera strobe would be on it’s own. 

I had one class member hold the strobe, while mounted on a mono-pod, off-camera creating the loop lighting pattern on my subject's face that I'm always looking for. I made my first exposure and it was perfect. I was surprised that is worked so easily! Notice the sharp edged shadows on the back wall – that’s because of the small light source used for this image.

600EX Fig1NOLA Bride 1

Off-Camera 600EX-RT Flash Through Zumbrella

The next setup was to shoot the Canon 600 EX-RT speedlites through my Zumbrella and see if I could obtain the same result.  We attached to the mono-pod my umbrella adapter and threaded the Zumbrella in place.  I also positioned the 600 EX-RT wide-angle diffuser over the front of the flash to get the maximum spread of light from the flash through my Zumbrella, and then fired away. Once again the exposure was perfect. Also notice how my Zumbrella softened the background shadows very effectively too.

600EX Fig2

NOLA Bride2

Off-Camera 600EX-RT Flash Through 84” Westcott Translucent Umbrella

After that quick opening volley of lighting success, I decided to add the Westcott 84” Translucent Umbrella in front of the 600EX-RT.  Could I still get a consistently accurate exposure? I had to have LaDawn hold the large umbrella about 5 feet from the umbrella to get the small strobe to fully illuminate the umbrella.  Creating a photograph with such a large light source really gives you a very soft light on the subject.  Not only was the light very soft – no shadows at all, the exposure was just right too.  Amazing!

600EX Fig3NOLA Bride3

An Unlikely Soft Box

We spent the rest of the afternoon working our way throughout the hotel finding the best locations and capturing some amazing images.  I’ll follow up with another post showing more those results. You will definitely want to tune in ;~)

OK, fast forward to last evening.  I was one of five photographers at the convention conducting a small workshop with the convention attendees. In my relaxed workshop we discussed all things concerning wedding photography.  During the two hour program I made a comment about how technology is constantly making our job easier.  I decided to further demonstrate my point with my Canon 600 EX-RT speedlites.

I asked LaDawn to place one of the 600EX-RT’s into a small shopping bag she had with her. The flash was set up exactly as it was the previous day for my wedding shoot.  I figured after my Friday flash success, I could place the strobe into anything even slightly translucent and turn it into a soft box – why not a white paper shopping bag?

I then had LaDawn position the bag containing the radio slaved Canon flash next to Ronnie, one of the class members.  I wanted it’s placement to give me my standard loop lighting pattern on my subject.  Once everything was in place I fired away.  So what do you think of my new paper bag soft box?  Heck, maybe I should call it a bag box ;~)  Anyway, you get the idea just how easy it NOW is to use off-camera flash thanks to Canon’s introduction of their brand new 600EX-RT radio controlled strobes.

BAg ShotRonnie with Bag Box2

Links to:

Canon 600 EX-RT speedlite info: [link] 

David Ziser’s 42” Zumbrella: [link]


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  We’re out the door early to catch a program or two and then hit the trade show.  Then it’s off to see some of the New Orleans sites and sounds and probably partake of the over abundant edible goodies here in the Crescent City.

Have a great rest of the day and I’ll see you soon, 


Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Sedona Ridge"

Sedona Ridge

"Sedona Ridge"
© David A. Ziser

I made this image during my first helicopter ride over Sedona, Arizona a few years ago. The pilot removed the door for me as my plan was to hang out of the helicopter, still strapped in of course. That plan quickly turned to "plan B" as the wind of the blades beat past me and I was way to close to the outside of the helicopter for comfort ;~)

I was still able to capture this image as we flew past this beautiful ridge of cliffs and stone. The wide angle lens added a dramatic element vastness to the landscape as we made the flyby.

Camera specs; Canon 5D fitted with Sigma 12-24mm lens, F10 @ 1/160 second at ISO 400. Enjoy! --David

Business Day Thursday: It's Time To Start Giving Your Work Away For Free!!!

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Westin NOI sure hope today's post title got your attention, but more on that later.  We arrived safe and sound in New Orleans and are settled into our beautiful hotel room at the Westin on Canal Street.  I have to say, LaDawn and I really enjoy our trips to New Orleans.  We were here in January for the Imaging USA Convention and thoroughly enjoyed our visit.  After eating our way through the city, I swear, I think I put on 10 pounds!  I sure can't let that happen on this visit.  I suspect we'll still put on a pound or two from all the good eats, and wonderful food found everywhere.

Test Driving Canon's New 600EX-RT Radio Controlled Strobes

Southern Pro ExposureDon't forget, I’ll be presenting my one day program tomorrow at the Southern Pro Exposure Convention [link] and I'm really looking forward to it.  My good friends at B&H sent me three of Canon’s Speedlite 600EX-RT radio controlled strobes to work with for the next few weeks.  I'm planning to give them a thorough testing.  You'll get all the details of my shooting experience, posted next week at DigitalProTalk.com.  I've only had them for a day and have just scratched the surface of the Bible thick manual, but my first impressions are quite favorable.  More next week after I've had a few days to run them through their paces.

It's Time To Give Your Work Away - I'm mostly Serious!!!

You know, I've been involved in this business for many years and I've seen wedding photography iterate through many, many changes over all those years. I remember when I first started my business a long time ago. Everybody was trying to make as many double exposures as possible. They were the super cool images in the seventies and eighties. 

Dbl Exp1Everyone was trying to do it and the clients loved the results - hokey as they were by today's standards.  We often times had the bride and groom floating above the wedding ceremony. We had the groom in the bride's silhouette – I once had a bride call it the "brain shot". My staff and I always tried to come back at the end of wedding with at least 5-6 of these eye grabbing, people pleasing double exposures.  I know, to you younger guys and gals it sounds kind of crazy in but it was really trendy and popular in the 70’s – 80’s.

Back in the good old days of wedding photography, and that wasn't very long ago, it was the parents of the bride that made the buying decision for the wedding photography. They were used to making bigger ticket purchases – they had bought a home, a car or two, braces on their kids teeth, etc. Today the buying public is mostly the bride and groom themselves. This is a generation of buyers that has been brought up on a Wal-Mart, Target and Amazon mentality where everything is on sale or value priced all the time and retailers continue to beat up on each other as they lower prices to compete. 

Everybody is always looking for the best price everywhere. It blares from our TV screens, Google Ads, billboards, just about everywhere.

There has been a seismic shift in the business of wedding photography in just the last few years.  I blogged on this topic at length on Scott Kelby's blog about a year and a half ago. You can read that post right here. It's a lengthy read so allow enough time to make it through all 9000 words.

Walmart Low pricesAnyway a quick recap: this  seismic shift was created, and in no particular order, with the advent of  smart phone cameras, Facebook, Craigslist, and easily accessible and inexpensive printing from Wal-Mart,  Sam's Club, Costco, Walgreens, Shutterfly, etc. I mean like $.20 or less for a 4x6 - how's a pro going to compete with that?  Couple that with the fact that many and maybe even most don't print their images - they can get a quick shot of pleasure from their smart phone quickly to Facebook. People just don't care about good photography anymore - it's just not as important to today's buying public as it was just a few years ago.  Therein lies the seismic shift of the business - professional photos are not that important to the buying public anymore and most everyone wants their photos for cheap.

Don't get me wrong.  I still know we have some, albeit a much smaller segment of the photo buying public, who will pay a premium price for premium photography.  Yes, a few customers can tell the difference and are willing to pay for it.  But for too many other people, fine photograph is unimportant.  The camera phone snap is "good enough".  Sorry folks, but those are the sad facts about the profession these days.

Is There A Future For Today's Wedding Photographer?

Yes, I still think there is but it demands a completely different way at looking at the business and how you want to position yourself on the new "playing field" of wedding photography.  Does moaning and groaning solve the situation? Of course not. We can all wallow in each others self-pity but that certainly is not a constructive way out of the current situation.

Ty and ShannonThe reality is that there are many photographers doing quite well in the photography business. Most of these photographers have adopted solid sales and marketing techniques that are really lost on so many other photographers struggling to make a living in this profession. Just two weeks ago  we had our PhotoPro Network Summer Conference. Two of our speakers were young and upcoming photographers, Ty and Shannon Fischer, who are running two successful studios in the Midwest.  They've got their act together when it comes to sales and marketing. Gang, that's really one of the BIG secrets of success!

I think the bottom line is this:  If you give your work away then that client will recommend their friends and family members. And the sad fact is that those new referrals will also be looking for the free photographic lunch. 

Remember, Cheap Customers Recommend Their Cheap Friends

Cheap brideMany years ago I was offered some of the best business advice ever by a local photographer I met at a photography meeting of the local professionals in Cincinnati, OH.  I was new to the Association and feeling quite nervous when I attended my first meeting. This photographer –  Craig Elbe -  walked up to me, put his finger on my chest, and said "So you're another wedding photographer, are you?". I felt a bit intimidated by the encounter but before I could react he gave me the best business advice ever. He said, "Let me tell you something kid.  If you do work for cheap clients they'll recommend their cheap friends. If you do work for rich clients they will recommend their rich friends." I have to say, it was a rather brash way to make the statement but the gist of his message is important for all photographers then and now. 

How do you want to define your clients?  Which market segment do you wish to work for?   These are decisions you need to consider as you build your business.  You simply can’t be everything to everybody.  Pick your market and go for it!! It’s the only way to achieving lasting success in this profession.

I also think part of the solution can be found in how we set our pricing.  No longer do I think its about "How much is it for an 8x10?"  Heck, you can pick up and 8x10 for $.99 at Sam's Club or Wal-Mart.  We need to start thinking about is pricing ourselves. We need to be selling ourselves. It's no longer about how many 5 x 7's or 8x10's you're going to get in their wedding album  It's no longer about how many images you're going to have on a DVD. It's about selling your services as the end product and selling your services for what they are worth.  Then it comes to your images - just give them away, who cares?  Position yourself as the artist that they need to hire, no commission, for the job.  Take the prints out the the equation completely. 

Just How Much Are You Worth? - Good Question!

Gold - Fotolia_40784844_Subscription_XXLThat opens up a whole another line of conversation. Just how much are we worth? We are worth what we make ourselves worth. With so many photographers offering two hundred dollar wedding coverages and three dollar photographs, I guess they know what they're worth. I personally know how much time and effort goes into producing an event for my clients. I work very hard when I photograph their event. We spend hours editing those images and tweaking them so we can create a breath-taking  presentation to our clients. We then meet with our clients and help them make their final selection for their  wedding albums.

Yes, I'm still a huge fan of delivering a finished product – a wedding album for my clients.  Anything less than that means that the wedding day memories will eventually fade away and then, no longer be memories anymore. It's an album – that large, heavy, solid album sitting in the bride and groom's lap that they can enjoy on their anniversary, share with family and friends, solidify a small capsule of time that makes all the difference in the world. It's enjoying that album for years down the road, with each other, their children, grandchildren, family and friends that will bring the flood of memories back of the wonderful feelings and emotions they shared with themselves and their family and friends on their wedding day.

But I digress - let's go back to building value into yourself. I think one of the best ways we can do that is to promote ourselves as an artist, not just a wedding photographer. And, how can we do that? I've been doing it for years. As we travel around the world my camera is always over my shoulder. Yes, I’m that geeky, just in case you haven’t guessed. I'm always looking for new things to photograph whether it be a beautiful sunsets, gorgeous landscapes, or urban abstracts. Over these many years I’ve got a wonderful collection of images that go far beyond my wedding images. And, for these past several years we've been building that collection of work into a wonderful portfolio.

Along the way we've been sharing a portfolio of images on websites like Fine Art America and Imagekind - two websites where people can find "David Ziser" images [link] that are not wedding images. I’m often asked to purchase advertising space in local programs that I promote these images and I also blog about my fine art work and  landscapes images. Those of you reading this blog often know that to be the case.

Ziser Imagekind

By defining yourself as an artist you're actually setting yourself apart from other wedding photographers. You're offering a level of expertise and creativity that photographers are not going to get from the run-of-the-mill Craigslist advertiser. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to put down the Craigslist wedding photographer. But let's face it, the Craigslist photographer is looking for a little spare money at the end of the day, I like to call it their beer money.  I’m simply trying to share that if you're going to make a commitment to building a successful business in photography you're never, ever going to do it on Craigslist.

Build Value, Build Respect, Build Credibility, Build Brand!

It's about building value into yourself. And people shopping Craigslist are not looking for the value of a photographer.  They're looking for cheap deal in a photographer.

To build value for yourself you have to continue to build credibility. That credibility comes from creating special relationships with your vendor buddies within the community itself. That demands that you get involved in charities throughout your local community to show that you are doing more than just trying to book a few weddings on the weekends.  You need to place yourself above the photo crowd as a photographer who does something more than wedding photography, but as a person who just happens to be a photographer and is involved in the community.  You have to market yourself differently.

Brand BuildingAll these things have to work together to show that you, the whole package, is much more than just the average wedding shooter with the camera over your shoulder available for hire for some quick candids at the next wedding event. You have to position yourself as an artist in the field, somebody who has raised themselves to the next level of his/her craft into an art. Someone who will make that extra effort and go that extra mile to produce a body of work for their client's wedding that goes far beyond their expectations and far beyond what so many other wedding photographers are doing.

This has to be an ongoing quest. We’re talking about constantly climbing the hill to excellence – excellence in photography, excellence in marketing, excellence in selling, excellence in creating client and vendor relationships that carry you from one generation to the next generation of wedding clients building friendships and lasting relationships.

Folks, this profession will change again in the not-too-distant future. I don't know what that change holds for the photographers shooting 10 or 15 years from now but I can guarantee that it will be different. Too many of us didn’t even realize that our cheese was moving or has moved, until it was too late to survive. Just know that it will continue to move again.  We just can't keep scrambling around in our lives doing the same thing over and over again expecting the results to change.

The fact of the matter is that we need to continue to change with the times.  We have to be proactive and constantly seeking what these ever changing, shall I say even fickle customers, are looking for and constantly be proactive in making the changes that we need to make to accommodate the new photography marketplace.

The bottoms line is building tremendous value in yourself as the commissioned artist. Be someone who is hired for their talents, professionalism, creativity, outstanding product and service.  Forget the prints - give them away.  All you have to sell these days is yourself. Make it your mission and do it proactively only moving forward, never backward, never singing the doom and gloom song. Make yourself the best you can be and price accordingly. 


Hey gang that's it for me today.  We're going to check in with our New Orleans friends, enjoy a bit of the city today and get ready to go to work tomorrow.  If you happen to be in the area of the Louisiana Convention this weekend, please come by and say HI.

Adios everybody,  David

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"Beach Walk"

Beach Walk

"Beach Walk"
© David A. Ziser

I made this image after a photo shoot with a client. We were just heading back to the car and the last evening glow was just starting to leave the scene. I made this as one of the last exposures of our visit to the beach.

I love the line the rail gives to the composition leading right to the sea. The textures of the weathered walkway against the enhanced evening colors complete the image. As you view the image, it seems to draw you into the tranquility of the scene where you just want to rest a while and enjoy the last of the evening light.

Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 10-22mm lens at 22mm, F5.6 @ 1/50 second, ISO 400. Enjoy! -David

Join Me For My One Day Shootout In The Big Easy – New Orleans This Friday!

New Orleans French QtrHey, speaking of New Orleans, why don’t you plan on joining me for my daylong model shoot out this Friday. I have to tell you, because it’s a very small group - only about 6 – 7 people so far, it's going to be a great experience for all those attending. I'm really looking forward to working with photographers one-on-one during my class. Why not see if you can work it into your schedule and come on by.

WestinWe'll be meeting at the  Westin Hotel at Canal Place. The plan is to spend a few hours in the morning reviewing the lighting and compositional concepts behind my photography. Then we’ll shoot on location most of the afternoon. We’ll wrap back at the hotel reviewing all the images of the day. I hear they have some great locations lined up for us in the French Quarter and some other nearby other architectural sites as well.

Another cool thing about this class is that I'll give everybody a copy of everything I take. If you shoot the overall views while I'm shooting the main photographs, you have a great learning experience and photo reference at your disposal.

The easiest way to reserve your space now for my Friday class is to give LaDawn a call at 800.292.2994 and have her reserve your space. Or, shoot her a quick email at LaDawn@ziser.com for the details.  The cost is only $99 – what a deal! Why not call her now and reserve your space. I look forward to seeing you in New Orleans on Friday.

Technique Tuesday: The Ziser Wedding Series: Experiencing The Complete Wedding Weekend – Part 5

Good Morning Everybody,

ShoesHey gang, I found a new way to walk and chew gum at the same time.  Well, not chew gum but blog at the same time. I just picked up a brand-new Sony IC voice recorder its model number SX712 and works really great with Dragon Naturally Speaking. Some people might not like using Dragon Naturally Speaking because it puts you in a different frame of thought than when actually typing the words.  I found that issue early on that when I tried to adapt Dragon Naturally Speaking to writing my first book and blogging but now I have things worked out pretty well and I use both more and more.

Sony RecorderThe voice recorder is great for getting my ideas down right now. And, Dragon Naturally Speaking does a decent job of transcribing those notes especially if you take the time to train the software occasionally. Now, the fact of the matter is this.  If I just type the words directly into the computer, I generally will have better “wordsmithed” paragraphs.  But, at least getting my ideas and my thoughts down with the Sony digital recorder and then transcribing them still makes it fairly easy for me to clean them up for the final blog post.

The nice thing I like about the Sony voice recorder is the fact that I'm not tethered to my computer.  When I have an idea occur to me I can just grab the recorder and make my quick notes. I have to say, after using it for about 5 days, I love my new voice recorder and sure look forward to finding about million other uses for it down the road. It’s quite the production enhancer. Okay, time to get for post for today.

The Ziser Wedding Series: Experiencing The Complete Wedding Weekend – Part 5

Welcome to another Technique Tuesday today. That's right I'm getting another Technique Tuesday up on Tuesday!  Actually today’s post is an extension/continuation of my video blog post from yesterday.  In today’s video I'll walk you through the rest of the rehearsal set up and my photography of my recent wedding I did in northern Michigan.

Our main challenge during the rehearsal shoot were a lot of lighting issues which I knew I had to fix either in camera or in Lightroom 4 after the fact. As I walk you through the images today I’ll also talk with you about what was going on in my mind at the time and what I was trying to capture during the event coverage.

Actually, I think that's probably the most important aspect of this video series. It's sort of a peek into my mind, my “photographer’s brain” when I'm out there shooting. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, this series seems to be taking on a life of its own and seems to continue to grow and expand.  Who knows where it will end up ;~)

I think that's a good thing. I hope you find it interesting and informative and will follow along. So, with that said, why not hit the PLAY button below and enjoy the show.


Hey gang, that's it for me today. It's back to the book writing for me plus tidying up a few other loose ends around here. Then, we pack our bags tomorrow and head the New Orleans first thing Thursday morning. Hope to see you soon.

Adios, David

Monday, July 23, 2012

"The Feeling of A Lifetime"

The Feeling Of A Lifetime-3500-DZ_2632-RiderW06-Edit-Edit

"The Feeling of A Lifetime"
©David A. Ziser

I usually don't post many reception images but this image is one of my favorites from my “Captured By The Light” book. Yes, it's the father of the bride dancing with his daughter on her wedding day. What a joy this dad is feeling as he is dancing with his beautiful daughter whom he has watched grow into a gorgeous women over the years.

I don't think that thought hits many dads till they are on the dance floor with their daughters on their daughter's wedding day. Look at dads expression in the shot - you can see the joy in his expression. (Just click on the image to make it larger)

I made several images with my flash at a safe, non-intrusive distance, but the special lighting on the dance floor was calling for an additional treatment of the shot. I turned off all strobes - mine, my assistant's, and the room light. I kicked the camera to one of my preset "custom modes" and fired away. I love the shot.

Camera specs; Canon 5D fitted with 24-105mm IS lens, F4.0 @ 1/15 second, ISO 1600. Enjoy! -David

Confessions Monday And The Ziser Wedding Series: Experiencing The Complete Wedding Weekend – Part 4

Good Morning Everybody,

I have to tell you gang, I've really been struggling lately trying to keep the blog up to date and get my book finished. It seems like the last couple months have been just a whirlwind around here with events and projects constantly on my plate. LaDawn and I are trying to downsize around here which means freeing up some of our time so that we can be involved another projects but, I have to say, that it only seems to have gotten even more busy these last couple months.  I hope someday soon I see the light at the end of the tunnel and just hope it's not the freight train coming right at me;~)

OverwhelmedAnyway, that said, I want do my best to try to keep the blog up and running over the next couple of very busy couple of months.  But keep in mind, I'm also trying to finish this book which I feel is like a giant weight on my chest and I won't be able to rest until I have a completed. Just like any large project, there are good days and not so good days.  It just seems that there are so many other things going on in my life these days that the book has gotten back burner for about the last two weeks so.   That only makes me feel even more underwater on trying to get it completed on time.  I mentioned months ago, the goal is to finish the book by the end of August and have it completely off my plate. That, of course,  will not not be the case. There's always the loose ends that need to be wrapped up with any book project and that usually takes several more weeks.

Add that to the fact that were going to Europe for two months in the fall.  That means that the book really does have to be completed by my August 31 deadline.  Whew!  Still lots to do!

When I look at my schedule and see that there are only a finite number of hours in the day it makes we wonder what I can set aside to get the book completed. That explains why the blog has only been hitting about three times a week. That's because I've been using the other two days focusing my attentions on other projects that need to be finished up around here and then I try to throw little the time at the book.

I'll continue to do my best to keep the blog moving along and make it interesting read for you. On the same note the priority the book continues to rise as the calendar days tick off and I get closer to that August 31 deadline.  Anyway, hang in there - I'll keep the content coming as best I can.  And don't worry, it will all be good in the end.

The Ziser Wedding Series: Experiencing The Complete Wedding Weekend – Part 4

In this segment I’ll walk you through several of my images images and share my thoughts with you about what was going through my mind as I was covering the rehearsal event.  The lighting was quite challenging and I’ll even discuss some of my solutions to some of those issues too.

These images have already been tweaked for the client’s presentation but in reviewing the images with you, I will point out a few BEFORES and AFTERS just to give you an idea of how I want my images to look for the client’s presentation.  Anyway, join me on my wedding travels as I share with you, “Experiencing The Complete Wedding Weekend – Part 4”.  I hope you enjoy the video.  -David

DAZNOTES: In spite of our crazy schedule around here, I've promised to put together this new wedding series for all of our DigitalProTalk readers and even that is become quite the project. The more I want to expand on it the longer each post becomes.  I also know that is difficult for all of our readers to take the time to follow along as my posts get more involved. My new strategy is to break the posts into much shorter segments and continue it over much longer time.  That  strategy still lets me complete the project - which, BTW, I think can be one of the most valuable projects that I've undertaken here DigitalProTalk and, still give you the opportunity to follow along without having to put in a great investment of time with each of the posts.

The other thing that I've changing to, just to make life a little less complicated around here, is to do more video blogs on my wedding series.  In fact, that's my plan for these next couple of days.  In taking this approach I feel I can really thoroughly cover ALL the information that I want to cover in the wedding series.  It will also make getting the blog post up quite a bit less time-consuming for me as well.

For those of you that don't know, I am a two or three fingered typist so 1500 words a day is demanding and time-consuming project for me. Again, that's why completing the book, blogging, and finishing current projects has me feeling a little underwater these days. Anyway, having said that, look for the wedding series to switch formats and go to a video blog series till this book is finally completed.


So, that's it from me on today's Confessions Monday. Time for me to get back to a the other projects around here and then back to the book. Everybody have a great rest of the day and I'll see you soon - maybe even tomorrow ;~)

Adios, David

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Love Is Blue"

Love Is Blue

"Love Is Blue"
© David A. Ziser

This is one of my favorite images from the wedding we photographed in upper Michigan a few weeks ago.  Things were rushed as usual, but the bride was taking it easy for a few moments before we were to begin the group portraits.

I noticed that the window light from camera left was falling on her face ever so beautifully giving me that perfect and most flattering dimensional loop lighting that I love. Also, I notice how the light coming in from the front door camera right gave me the beautiful accent light on the back of the bride’s hair and neck – a perfect separation light.  My camera had my super wide Sigma 12-24mm lens attached so I just went with it. 

First of all, look at all the turquoise colors in the scene and also notice how those vibrant colors are arranged around the scene in a perfect balance to create a “frame of color” around our beautiful subject.  It’s the bride’s special “weekend bouquet’ to the right balancing the painting on the back wall on the left that add the visual excitement to this image.

Notice too how the line of the bride;s gown leads your eye right up to the bride’s beauty face.  This is a simple, yet very elegant portrait of our lovely bride.  In spite of how wedding styles have changed over the years, I still believe this style of  imagery carries a certain lasting beauty to it.  My clients sure love it!

Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark III fitted with Sigma 12-24mm lens at 20mm, F9.0 at 1/100 second, ISO 3200.  Enjoy!  -David

Technique Tuesday on Wednesday: Creating Cool Slide Shows Part 2: Organizing and Presenting the Show

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Check out all the happenings going on today – it’s one busy day!

Register for WebcastSales & Marketing Webcast Happening At 3:30 p.m. EST

We've got a big day today with a special Sales and Marketing webcast with my good friend, Charles Lewis and his son Todd. This is going to be a 90 minute presentation that kicks off at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.  That’s 12:30 p.m. on the west coast. I sure hope you'll be able to join us. You can get all the webcast details and register right here.

Brand New Creative Design Tour Kicks Off This Sunday In Atlanta, GA

Creative Design TourDon't forget to check out the newly introduced Creative Design Tour with Judy Host. I love the new concept of this  28 city tour. The seminar is going to be hands-on which means that you can actually follow along on your laptop computer.

We don't see many seminars like this happening around the country so I think this is going to be really worthwhile event.  And when it lands in Cincinnati, Ohio, I plan to be there. I sure hope you'll try to make it one of the 28 cities too. You can read my personal invitation to attend the Creative Design Tour on my blog post today right here.

Or, you can go directly to the Creative Design Tour website right here and get all the information, dates, and registration. When registering, please remember, to use PROMO CODE DPT12CDT and register for only $89!  That saves you $40 off the regular registration price – pretty good!  There are other promo codes circulating on the Internet but the Promo Code for my DigitalProTalk readers gets you the best price you'll find anywhere! Remember… use PROMO CODE DPT12CDT to save $40!

Anyway, check it out and I hope to see you there.

Technique Tuesday on Wednesday: Creating Cool Slide Shows Part 2:  Organizing and Presenting The Show

Last week, as part my new wedding series, I ran “Creating Cool Slide Shows Part 1” on how to create compelling slideshows. In today's post I'm offering Part Two.  Today’s video walks you through all the rest of the steps on just how to get the entire show – images and music – completely organized from start to finish and show the final presentation to your clients.  I left nothing out so the video runs just a little long.  It’s worth the “watch” so be sure to find the time to view in it’s entirety.

I hope it's not too much of an inconvenience to watch both of them all the way through. And, I hope with a few of the insights I'm sharing with you on both of these videos, that you too will be able to create compelling slideshows for your clients. Anyway, without much further ado let me present this week's video tutorial. Enjoy! – David

p.s. Hey gang, when recording the intro for the show, the background noise was pretty noisy.  I didn’t have time to re-record the intro so I just did the best I could at reducing it in Camtasia.  It sounds a little funky but I sill think you’ll enjoy the video.


Hey gang, that's it for me today. I've got a few loose ends to tie up for our webcast at 3:30 p.m. EST this afternoon so, in the meantime enjoy the video tutorial above and  I'll plan to see you online later this afternoon. 

Have a great rest of the day.

– David

My Personal Invitation To Attend The Creative Design Tour Starting This Sunday!

Hi Everybody,

Judy Host PicYes, today is a special day for one of my special invitations!

Today I get to tell you about one of the most interesting and exciting seminar series happening in 2012. This year is another year shaping up to be a "Tours Galore" year.  How do you separate the "wheat from the chaff"?   Who out there provides a first class seminar experience for the attendees? Let me tell you about one of the god seminars coming your way next week.  It's the 28 city Creative Design Tour  hosted "LIVE" and in person by Judy Host.

The brand new Creative Design Tour kicks off in Atlanta, GA this coming Sunday, July 22, 2012 at the very classy W Hotel in downtown Atlanta.

Here's why I'm recommending this tour.  First off, it's a completely different type of a presentation - it's HANDS ON!  Yes, bring your computers!  The Tour Workbook is included for you to follow along.  I need to mention that Judy is giving away lots of door prizes too ;~)

This tour is being backed by my good friend and tour producer, Jeff Medford.  Over the years Jeff and I have had many discussions about how to bring the best value to the seminar experience for all seminar attendees. Earlier this year he produced Clay Blackmore's very successful seminar series. It received RAVE reviews from all that attended.  That's why I know this tour will be one of the best as well. 

Jeff was also very gracious to offer my Digital Newsletter and DigitalProTalk blog readers not the regular $129 price but the absolute BEST PRICE ANYWHERE - only $89!  This is the best price you'll find anywhere on the web for this tour!  Use PROMO CODE DPT12CDT when registering [link] to get the special $89 price.

Creative Design Tour 2012

Here's A Sample Of What You Will Learn:

1. The 7 Photoshop Tools needed for Creative Design
2. The 8 Design Elements available to you
3. How to Blend and Combine Elements

Learn how to design artistic client pieces efficiently and easily...Tap into Endless Possibilities for your own creations... Use these techniques for portrait art, photo albums, gallery wraps, marketing cards, or anything else you can dream of.

You can find all the information right here.

The "Creative Design Tour" kicks off this coming Sunday, July 22, in Atlanta so don't wait to register - register now! The tour is traveling to 28 cities around the country.  Hey, if one of the stops is not right next door, just grab a friend or two and make the drive to the nearest city.  I promise you, it will be worth the trip!  You can find all the info and register right here.

So please check out this brand new seminar experience - the CREATIVE DESIGN TOUR coming your way right here, and be sure to use the PROMO CODE DPT12CDT  to register for only $89! This is the BEST PROMO PRICE anywhere on the web for this tour! Guaranteed!

I've already got my tickets for the Cincinnati, OH stop. I hope to see you there!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Quick Hit Monday On Tuesday: 3 Webcast Re-Broadcasts Coming Your Way!

Good Afternoon Everybody,

We got in pretty Sunday night from our PhotoPro Network Summer School and got a pretty slow start on today having been going nonstop for the last three days in Louisville, Kentucky.We had a great time.  Let me give you a quick recap below.

PhotoPro Network Summer School 2012 Recap

Summer school2We had a great crowd this past weekend at our PhotoPro Network Summer School. We had photographers from six states attending, including my good friend, Frank Wilson and his friend Derrick, traveling all the way from Jackson Mississippi – nearly 600 miles away. Turns out Frank won the award for most miles traveled to get there and took home one of the door prizes for his efforts  – Way to go Frank and Derrick!

Missed Opportunity For Many

It still amazes me that more photographers don't take advantage of some of these wonderful learning opportunities taking place around the country. For 2 1/2 days of terrific photographic inspiration and instruction, at a cost of only $89, you would think that people would be “chomping at the bit” to attend.

Unfortunately, I think too many people think they can get their education free from the Internet. But in doing so, you really miss out on the personal interaction with instructors, the inspiration that every instructor brings to the program, and most importantly, the camaraderie among all the photographers that attend and participate at these kinds of photographic events. Anyway, sorry to be on my soapbox, but I've been going to seminars and workshops for many, many years  and I just don't see any better way to learn than the up-close-and-personal interaction with the guest instructors.

Print competition was a great hit!

Print JudgingThis year we had over 60 photographs submitted in our Digital Image Review.  We broadcast the image competition LIVE so look for rebroadcast here at DigitalProTalk probably within the next week. Once again, I don't think there's any better way to learn how to improve your photography than by participating in a digital image competition and hearing the judge's comments. Not only does it change your image perspective, allow you to gain many new insights from qualified judges and become inspired by the other photographers’ creativity that you see.  Watch for the re-broadcast….coming soon!

By the way, this summer's winner  was a print entitled "Dancing In The Rain" by Jason Higdon. Jason took home an onOne Perfect Photo Suite 6.0 for his efforts. Way to go Jason!

Inspiring Landscape Program By Jim Goldstein

After the print competition wrapped, we went LIVE with Jim Goldstein's outstanding landscape program. This presentation had everyone inspired and mesmerized for the entire 90 minute program. I've known Jim’s work for a number of years and am constantly amazed by how beautiful it is.

Olber's Paradox


What was most amazing about his presentation this past Friday were images from a new project he's been working on. The new project has him photographing star trails over the desert. The images he presented were absolutely amazing. I populated part of the post with a the few of the audience favorites.

Applying Meaning

I asked Jim if we could re-broadcast this webcast as well and he was very gracious to oblige. So, look for that post, as well. I can't wait for you to see his wonderful images, listen to his inspiring presentation, and just be enthralled for the entire 90 minute presentation.

Social Media Made Simple! 

At nine o'clock Saturday morning we all re-convened in the large meeting room for A.J. Wood’s fabulous Social  Media Marketing program. A.J/ was our special guest last year and was such a hit we asked him to be part of this year’s, via the internet,  program too.

A.J. phoned in his enthusiastic, super informative  presentation on social media marketing. Last year when A.J. gave his program Google+ and Pinterest weren't even on anybody's radar yet. This year's presentation was a complete revamp of last year's presentation with heavy emphasis on Facebook's new features and great information on how to get the best use out of Google+ and Pinterest.

I ask A.J. if he would mind if we could rerun his webcast at a later date and he was again so gracious to oblige. Stay tuned, A.J.’s Social Media webcast will also be posted within the next couple weeks. It's another presentation you won't want to miss.

Eric and NickolasSpeed Lighting with Nicholas and Eric

After A.J. completed his program, my good friends Nicholas Viltrakis and Eric Cameron put on a razzle-dazzle presentation  showing the very practical and creative side of speed-lighting. The audience loved their program. They are fun, knowledgeable, sharing tips and techniques for the everyday photographer as well as reviewing nearly a hundred creative images.

Fashion Photographer Extraordinaire!

Another one of the programs that was an audience favorite was the Fashion/Lifestyle presentation by Lou Freeman – Lou is short for Louise, BTW.  She has worked with the best of the best in the fashion industry – the best clients, models, and projects.  She had a long run at Playboy Magazine shooting 597 assignments for them over her long tenure with the magazine.

Lou’s program gave us a taste of that kind of world – a world many would like to aspire too.  Like wedding photography, she says that photography niche has gone through many changes too.  Regardless, her program was about her images and the back story surrounding those images – amazing work!

Lou Freeman pics 

In the second half of her program we set up a LIVE photo-shoot with her beautiful model, Tamara, and Lou shoot tethered into Lightroom 4 giving the audience the instant gratification they wanted as Lou worked her fashion magic with Tamara. 

BTW, Lou will be presenting again at our much larger PhotoPro Expo 2013 next year – details to come.

Everyone Loved The Summer Shootout!

One of the highlights of our summer conference is our Summer Shootout. We have four of our top instructors come together for the event on Saturday evening. We divide all of the attendees into four groups. Each group gets to spend about 30 minutes with each of the instructors.  Each instructor shares their talents, creativity, and knowledge with each of the four groups. After 30 minutes the groups rotate onto the next photographer and so everybody's has a chance to sample the talents and inspiration of all four of our world-class trainers.

Ty Fisher shootingNot only do the instructors demonstrate great lighting and composition but, many will even give the class an opportunity to shoot the models using the lighting set ups so everyone that participates gets a chance – to add images to their portfolio. This is Ty and Shannon Fisher’s group you see in the photo on the right.

It's amazing what our trainers find to use as backgrounds. Lou Freeman, one of the favorite instructors at this year's summer event, found a back wall of the hotel that was kind of secluded. That wall contained wall decor that looked to me like sea urchins.

Lou knew right away that she had found the perfect place for her training sessions. In her mind she had visualized already how these compositional elements would play into the background and how she could add her own creative touch with special lighting to capture some very unusual images. One of her favorites, straight out-of-the-camera is featured below.

Lou Pic

It was definitely a long day Saturday with many arriving about 8:30 a.m to get a front row seat. We wrapped at 11:00 p.m. just after a few appetizers the Summer Shootout  review from all the instructors sharing their favorite images. PhotoPro Network supplied the appetizers and refreshments and I think everybody really appreciated the treat.  Like I say, where can you find such a deal for only $89? The answer would be right here at PhotoPro Network;~)

After a fairly late night Friday and a very long day Saturday, we all reconvened back at the meeting room at 9:00 a.m. sharp Sunday morning. Jason Lykins was our special guest for the Sunday morning program. He wowed the audience by revealing the dark magic of Adobe's newly released Photoshop CS6.

I also presented a short 90 minute program on all the latest, greatest features of Lightroom 4. The audience really enjoyed the “Geek technique” portion of the Sunday presentations.

The New Young Guns Take Us Home 

After a short break for lunch, Ty and Shannon Fischer, two talented photographers  from Springfield, Ohio took the reins and had the audience locked to their seats until they completed their program at 4:30 in the afternoon. 

Ty and Shannon are cut from the cloth of that new breed photographer – early-to-mid 30s – creating contemporary images, growing their business yearly by double digit percentages, and are really making their mark in the world of photography.  They've been in business for five years and just opened their second studio location only two weeks ago. They've grown their operation into a quite successful enterprise by using all the best promotional marketing techniques available and also producing some outstanding imagery.  With so many people complaining about their dollar averages going down the drain, it's programs like Ty and Shannon's that are not to be missed.

Ty and Shannon images

After congratulating the both of them on a great job, Ty makes the comment back to me. He says, “We've just been learning from all you guys and the other great photographers whose programs we attended and are just putting into practice what they teach.” “Why invent the wheel,” he says. Once again a vote or why we should all attend these programs whenever possible.

Even though the days were long and many of us did not get to much sleep, it was a great weekend. On both Friday and Saturday evening after all the programming wrapped, you could still catch a couple of dozen people in the hotel lounge continuing to share their ideas with each other, but even more importantly, it was also about making new friends. The whole experience of a weekend like this is a wonderful  learning and growing experience that every photographer can benefit from.  I sure hope to see everybody again next year.

Secrets of Telephone and E-mail Sales Technique. – How To Become A Booking Wiz In Only 48 Hours!

Hey gang, that's going to be our topic of discussion at Wednesday’s webcast coming up tomorrow at 3:30 EST.  Charles Lewis and I have been friends for a many, many years. In fact, he's the one who gave me the “kick in the pants” I needed many years ago to get my business pointed in the right direction.

Chuck graphicI've recently presented a couple of webinars and interviews with him for his web audience and he offered to return the favor for my DigitalProTalk readers. I sure didn't want to pass up the opportunity so we scheduled our sales and marketing webcast for Wednesday, July 17th – tomorrow. It should be quite a lively event with a lot of good information. Here is the registration link to all the info.

I think most of you should have received an e-mail and an invitation to attend – it's free! But, if you haven't you can hit the link right here  and get all the information for Wednesday's program. We're planning a 90 minute webcast and will be taking questions from the LIVE listening audience. I'm really looking forward to hearing Chuck's program, I hope you'll join me.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today. How about I see everybody again tomorrow for another episode of our ongoing wedding series. I've actually got a few episodes in the works so stay tuned. It's turning into a much bigger project than I had anticipated but I think you really enjoy it.

Everybody have a great rest of the day and I'll see you soon, David