Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Garden Party"

Garden Party2-0251_KPPA Summer Sch Z10-Edit-Edit

"Garden Party"
©David A. Ziser

I love this image.  It is featured in my Technique Tuesday tutorial today.  Photographically speaking, this is a very straight forward portrait of my bride.  It's just a simple pose of her relaxing on a small garden table in the shadowed area on the patio.  The soft natural light was coming in from high camera right.  Because of the high angle of the incoming illumination, I had the bride tilt her head slightly to the left as seen in this image.  This allowed the light to illuminate her eyes.  Tilting her head the other way would have pocketed her eyes in their eye sockets - not a good thing.  The lighting ratio - ratio of the highlight to shadow density - was perfect and I just shot away.  The large aperture separated my subject from the background lending to the beauty of this portrait.  Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 70-200mm lens at 110mm, F 4.0 @ 1/200 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

Technique Tuesday, on Wednesday: Fantastic Facial Enhancement Using Lightroom 3; Already Nearly 800 Strong For Next Week’s Webcast! WOW!

Good Morning Everybody,

Crowd graphic 2 LR We did it, we got my upcoming webcast Fast and Easy Digital Design - Part 2 launched yesterday and have nearly 800 folks registered already!!!

Remember, the webcast is only 6 days away and we can accommodate up to 1,000 attendees for the webcast so if you want to be sure you have a seat, be sure to register here right away.  If the attendance continues to grow like this, we’ll start a stand by list.

Hey gang, thanks for letting me move our Technique Tuesday episode to Wednesday.  With the short notice on our webcast announcement, I just didn't want to postpone it to today.  Anyway, it's a really fun tutorial today, so let's get right to it!

You Look Marvelous: Fantastic Facial Enhancement In Lightroom 3

1024x768 - You Look Marvelous OK, everybody knows I'm a big fan of Lightroom, especially Lightroom 3. I was playing around with a few new features and literally tripped over the technique I'm going to show you today. 

I was playing with the adjustment brush trying to figure out a way to locally retouch and enhance parts of the subject's face.  I was working with the clarity and sharpness slider even combining both of them to see what kind of result I could obtain.

I was reasonably happy with the result but was having difficulty applying the effect as accurately as I wanted. That's when I had my "eureka moment." Somehow the exposure slider got moved very far to the left and the brush application, all of a sudden, got very weird.  I had these black splotches all over my image!  But, I could accurately see where I was painting.  When I returned the Exposure slider back to normal what remained was my very accurate facial enhancement to my subject - very cool.

Why not hit the PLAY button below to see exactly what I'm talking about.  The second part of the tutorial also shows you a "Plan B” to get the same great result.  You're going to like this one.  Enjoy!


Right now I've got to get moving.   I have one of my favorite clients stopping by to fine tune the album selection for her son's Wedding. It was a fantastic party and it will be a blast to design the albums. The wedding took place in Vail, Colorado - it will be nice to catch up with mom this afternoon.

Everybody have a great time with everybody that comes into your life today. I remember a piece of advice I heard many years ago, "The best way to have a great day yourself is to help someone else have a great day too."

Hey everybody,  see ya’ tomorrow!


Tuesday, June 29, 2010



©David A. Ziser

Since I'm announcing our next Design Webcast today, I thought I'd select one of my favorite collages from Katie's senior album.  The scene background matched her clothing selection perfectly - another case for a little wardrobe planning before any shooting session. Anyway, notice the the subtleties of the her name playing many times throughout the page design.  The name goes from noticeable to barely perceptible - a nice use of repeat elements in the design.  The inset image on the left facing page does a good job of featuring her wonderful expression. The stroke color of the images also works to combine them into a nicely presented double page spread. Software used:  Lumapix: Fotofusion for design, Lightroom for initial image adjustments, and Photoshop for final enhancement.  Enjoy!  -David

FREE Webcast "Fast and Easy Digital Design - Part 2" Announced Today With $1,200 In Door Prizes Given Away!

Good Morning Everybody,

I’ve got some sizzling hot news for you today!!!


FEAD Collage

Fast and Easy Digital Design - Part 2

Next Tuesday, July 6, 2010  2:00 - 4:00 p.m. EDT

(International GMT 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.)

Over $1,200 in Door Prizes

will be given away during the webcast!

Register Now LR

That's right, today I'm announcing the second part of my very popular Webcast I did last week.  Last week's Fast and Easy Digital Design - Part 1 was heard by over 2,000 photographers worldwide!

It was so popular, I thought I would do a Part 2 version.

Hey, the other reason I want to do a part two version was because I only got through about 1/2 of the first version;~). I thought you guys and girls would like to hear the rest of the program.  I've scheduled it for NEXT TUESDAY - only 7 days away, so if you want to be sure you get a seat, you'll want to sign up right away!  As always, only the first 1,000 to register [link] will be guaranteed a seat at the program.

Money Back Pocket LR This time around I'll discuss several digital design projects that will put lots of money in your back pocket -right where it belongs.

Webcast Description:

Session 1:

I'll show you how your design projects can be used to bring a brand new excitement to your studio products.  Whether you're just getting started into business or in for the long haul, you've got to create client excitement and these designs will do just that! 

Session 2:

If you want the business, you've got to get referrals from your vendor buddies.  This session will show you exactly what you need to do to make that happen.  Part of the secret is in producing inexpensive digital products that your vendor buddies will LOVE to display in their shops.  I'll show you what designs work best and how to get your images displayed with the top vendors in your city!

Session 3:

Lumapix: FotoFusion in depth.  During the last presentation I just  scratched the surface of the power of Lumapix:Fotofusion.  In this session, I'll dig deeper under the hood of this fabulous design program, point out some of it's really powerful features including a few undocumented secrets as well. LaDawn, our chief designer, will be on hand to lend her insight into our design process.

Yes, You Can Still Purchase Lumapix:FotoFusion For Only $99 Bundled – check out the link right here!Lumapix 99 bundle

Webcast Deals

That's right, we are extending the Super Special $99 pricing on Lumapix:FotoFusion. This will give you time to pick Lumapix up before the Webcast, test-drive it, and have your questions ready for my webcast.  Once again, here is the link.

Program Bonus!  I'll have my 3 Lumapix experts, LaDawn, Jennifer,  and Damien standing by to answer your questions "live" online!

Remember, Fast and Easy Digital Design - Part 2 is only 6 days away!  You'll need to register right away to be guaranteed a seat.  Be sure to spread the word, you don't want to miss this opportunity!

Once again we will be giving away over $1,200 in Door Prizes.  WOW!

Here is the list of the door prizes below:

  • LumaPix:Fotofusion Extreme Software ($299) [link]
  • NIK Color Efex Pro Software ($299) [link]
  • Divine Design Collection for LumaPix ($199) [link]
  • 2010 Digital WakeUp Call Success Collection ($89.00) [link]
  • 2 - $50 Gift Cards from B&H [link]
  • Graphic Authority "My Studio" Photoshop Templates ($99) [link]
  • Captured By the Light Wedding Book ($54.95) [link]
  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 For Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby ($49.99) [link]
  • Canon 7D - From Snapshots To Great Shots  [link] ($24.99)

We will call the winner’s names during the webcast. Remember, you must be present to win.

It should be an informative, fun, exciting afternoon.  We will be able to accommodate up to 1,000 attendees, so sign up now! I hope to see you there.

Mark Your Calendars For

Tuesday, July 6, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. EDT

(International GMT 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.)

Register Here!

Here are just a few more comments we received about Fast And Easy Digital Design - Part 1:

Dave and LaDawn - Awesome presentation as always!

Thank you so much for the Presentation; that was amazingly useful! I feel like i can tackle this now! Can't wait for next one! Philip G. - Florence SC

Thanks for a wealth of good information at a ‘steal of a deal’ price. Mark, A - Warren, MI

Mahalo nui ("thank you very much") for your fantastic webinar yesterday. I enjoyed it tremendously!  Lester S. - Hilo, Hawaii

Amazing webinar thanks from brazil. Pascal J. - Brazil

Love it, thanks from Montenegro :)  Aleksandar J. - Montenegro

Amazing! And thanks from Ukraine!  Van S. - Ukraine


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  I've got a meeting shortly and I'm spending the rest of the day fine tuning next week's webcast.  I want this presentation to "knock your socks off". 

Have a great one and I'll see you tomorrow for Technique Tuesday on Wednesday!

See ya' then!  -David

Technique Tuesday Moved To Wednesday This Week

Because of the short notice for next week’s Fast and Easy Digital Design – Part 2 [link], I’ve moved today’s episode of Technique Tuesday until tomorrow.  It’s a good one so don’t miss it. 

I’ll see you then.  -David

Monday, June 28, 2010

"Proud Mary - Fisheye Version"

Proud Mary Fisheye-0208_KPPA Summer Sch Z10

"Proud Mary - Fisheye Version"
©David A. Ziser

Here is a variation on the theme on the image I posted on Friday’s link.  Lighting, pose, and location were exactly the same.  The only thing I changed was the lens I was using.  I switched to my Sigma 8mm Fisheye, a fun lens I love shooting.  Most folks either love or hate the fisheye effect - there is not much in between.  I happen to be one who likes the effect in some situations.  This is one of those situations.  In making this image I was careful to not give a too "pregnant" look to the pillars.  By cropping the bride right below the knees, I was able to minimize that effect.  Check out Friday's image post link and today's post and see if you have a preference. 

Camera specs:  Canon 7D fitted with Sigma 8mm Fisheye, F 5.6 @ 1/250 second, ISO 200. Enjoy!  -David

Quick Hit Monday: Lightroom, Photoshop, Photography, Education and More

Good Morning Everybody,

Hope everybody had a great weekend.  Things were pretty lazy around here over the weekend and we really enjoyed the break. But today is Monday and we are off and running for another week.

Gold Nuggets - LR Over the weekend break, I got a chance to just take some time surfing the net and looking for those little gold nuggets I get to post here at DPT. 

Another nugget finder is Tweetdeck which is a great way to follow other Twitterers - at least those who tweet decent content.  There is so much junk available, why in the world would you care what someone was having for dinner or that they found a cow on Farmville? 

Maybe it's just me, but I refuse to waste my time posting or reading that kind of "time wasting" content.  Sorry, I’m on my soapbox and getting a little off track.  How about we get on with today's post where I can point you towards another treasure trove of cool news, tips, and tricks you can use.  Here we go.

Lightroom - Tips and Freebies, What Could Be Nicer?

Thanks Gavin

Seim Effects There are a few folks I follow on Twitter who really provide some solid content for their readers.  I want to point you towards a few things I picked up from fellow blogging buddy, Gavin Seim. Gavin has more stuff, I mean information, going on than a 1 arm paperhanger - blogs, podcasts, tweets and more.

Gavin has posted this wonderfully extensive list of where to find FREE Lightroom Presets.  Here is Lightroom Freebie link right here.  Talk about a gold nugget!.

More From The Lightroom Queen

LR3 eBook Another great "gold nugget tosser" is the Lightroom Queen right here.  Victoria Brampton, who just happens to be called the LR Queen is one of Lightroom gurus who always has a unique way to best out of the software.  Be sure to explore her site for a few of her LR3 gold nuggets.  I'm looking forward to her new eBook, Lightroom 3 - The Missing FAQ's.

Her blog [link] is jammed packed with tons of great Lightroom tips and tricks.  Just surf over to her blog home page right here and do a quick scroll - lots of information, too little time ;~)

A Little Monday Morning CS5 Action

Adobe TV2 Looking for a little CS5 action to enhance your selection techniques.  Selecting and masking is not my strong suit in Photoshop.  I sort of stumble my way through the process and usually end up with a decent result.  The new selection and masking tools in CS5 are world class and it's worth getting to know all the intricacies of the CS5 process. You've got to check out the link right here to Adobe TV.  It shows how to use the latest, greatest selecting and masking tool in CS5.  I've watched it a couple of times and I think it's really good step-by-step information.

And On The Photography Side Of Things

Lots of Tiny Photography Tips

Here are a few photo-centric posts I found over the last few days that I thought you might find interesting.  Gavin Seim, who I mentioned earlier has a nice "common sense" photography post entitled, "Lots of Tiny Photography Tips" right here.

Finding The Blue Hour

Blue Hr2 I discovered the "blue hour" a long time ago but never knew what it was called.  Most sunset watchers think the show is over once the sun drops below the horizon.  How wrong they are. 

The best show is AFTER the sun has set.  The sky goes through a beautiful kaleidoscope of colors and hues.  Near the end of the sunset show, the "blue hour" sets in.  That's the time about 30 minutes before the night sky makes it full appearance.

Detlef Winkelewski Fotografie has a nice article on the "Blue Hour" right here.  You can even download his "Blue Hour" tool so you know exactly what time to shoot.  Be sure to cruise Mr. Winkelewski's site - he's got some really nice images in his galleries.

Smoke Photography

Smoke Photography I'm a big fan of "smoke photography" and found a great "how to" article on the subject over at right here. Fascinating, to say the least. Thanks to Yanik's Photo School for the link tweet.

Whoa, What A Workflow

And finally, don't think you have your act together when it come to digital workflow?  Then check out this video from Chase Jarvis (discovered in a Zak Arias tweet) which outlines in the finest detail his digital workflow from "shoot to archive" right here.  You'll have to hit pause about halfway through the 10 minute video just to catch your breath;~) Tons of information.

Upcoming Educational Opportunities You Don't Want To Miss

DWF U in San Diego October 12-14, 2010:

DWF U2 I'll tell you, the Digital Wedding Forum is a great place full of ideas and creative minds for wedding photographers looking for a different edge.  It seems they always have amazing things going on - DWF-U, the DWF Blog [link], their annual convention, and coming up in October their DWF U "Live" in San Diego.  The speaker line up is dynamite including Rosilind, Bob Davis, and Cliff Mautner.  Check it out right here.

Walden U -August 22-24

Tim W2 Hey folks, this one is right around the corner.  This 3 day workshop is conducted by my good friends Tim and Bev Walden [link].  Nobody creates a more beautiful studio portrait/study than Tim and Bev.  They are experts when it comes to marketing as well.  They run a hugely successful studio in Lexington, KY.  In their workshop they will tell and show you how they do both.  LaDawn and I attended a few years ago and it was terrific.

TimW 1 Tim and Bev did one of the shootouts at our recent KPPA Summer School.  I sat in on one of the sessions.  I have to tell you, I am always impressed with Tim and Bev's easy manner, articulate presentation, and beautiful photography. The image accompanying this post is one of Tim's shots I nabbed during his presentation - his lighting is simply gorgeous, truly breath taking.  Hope you can make it to Walden U.


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  Things are shaping up to be a busy week so I've got to get back to my real job.  I hope to see everyone here tomorrow for another Technique Tuesday: Fantastic Facial Enhancement In Lightroom 3.

See ya' then.  -David

Friday, June 25, 2010

"Proud Mary"

Proud Mary-0186_KPPA Summer Sch Z10

"Proud Mary"
©David A. Ziser

I love wide angles lenses.  Granted, I have a great location for my bridal shoot, but adding the wide angle lens to the mix really gave me a exciting, dramatic photograph. This is another image from Monday's shoot.  It was about 7:30 a.m. when I captured this image.  The sun was not yet high in the sky and the white clouds against the blue shy served as a beautiful back ground for my portrait.  The challenge was to get the light on the bride without flooding the pillars behind her with light.  With the proper positioning of my bride closer to me and with the light, my Quantum T5d at full power through my Zumbrella, coming in from camera right about 10 feet away, it fell off enough as to not fully illuminate the pillars.  The higher shutter speed worked it's magic on the sky darkening down the colors to add the "sense of the dramatic" to the shot.  The wide angle lens did the rest.  The easy pose, the centered symmetry of the shot, the converging lines of the pillars, and the rich blue sky all combined for an exciting image.  Camera specs:  Canon 7D fitted with 10-22mm wide angle lens at 10mm, F 5.6 @ 1/250 second, ISO 200. Enjoy!  -David

p.s.  You can see the set-up of this shot in Tuesday's post right here.

Food For Thought Friday: Do You Really Enjoy Doing The Same Old Thing All The Time?

Good Morning Everybody,

FEAD Viewers I have to tell you, I am totally blown away by our wonderful world of technologies these days. I'm able to sit in my studio and broadcast and interact with nearly 600 people from around the world in real time. It still amazes me. 

The other thing that amazes me is the interest the "Fast and Easy Digital Design - Part 1" video has garnered in just 48 hours worldwide.  It's already been viewed by over 700 individuals from 72 countries around the world! Isn't technology wonderful!

Just a reminder, "Fast and Easy Digital Design - Part 1" will only be available for viewing until Sunday, June 27, 2010 – Midnight. Again, here is the link right here. Don’t forget about the Webcast Deals too – they won’t last forever ;~)

We are already looking for dates for the next webcast "Fast and Easy Digital Design - Part 2".  I'll announce the date and time next Wednesday - stay tuned! 

Once again, thanks for your interest in these webcasts.

Hey gang, we've got an easy day around around my studio so let's get on with today's post.

Do You Really Enjoy Doing The Same Old Thing All The Time?

This is a question a lot of us are afraid to answer I suspect.  The "knee jerk" answer is, "Of course not. I enjoy trying different things."  But the reality is usually the opposite of the stated fact. Let's talk about photography for a minute.

LD1 Do you or do you not go out and shoot the same ol' shots session after session after session.  If you, are like about 95% of the photographers working today, your truthful answer would have to be yes.  Many of us have our locations "wired." We know exactly where to go in the park, placing our subjects next to the same tree, shoot after shoot.  Even when we shoot a wedding, many of us shoot the same routine shots week after week.

OK, that's not totally a bad thing.  In fact, it's a really good thing.  We've got a job to do, clients to please, and a business to run.  We've got to be efficient at the same time as we are being creative.   Hey, I'm one of the first ones to say that having a successful shooting formula is a good thing if you want to run a successful studio.  That isn't to say though that we shouldn't divert from that formula now and then.

So when do we get to break out of our mold and try something different?  Sometimes it is on the job, unfortunately, most of the time it isn't.  On the job, a wedding shoot, portrait shoot, family group etc. we are limited by the time constraints and circumstances of the event. 

So what is the solution?  I think we should schedule times to do just that, to shoot outside our comfort zone trying to create images completely foreign to our nature.  First of all, I’m NOT talking about going out and practicing which everyone should do.  I’ve certainly sang that song at DPT often enough [link]. Like I said, I want the shoot to be completely foreign to our nature! OK, don't think I'm going crazy here.  Here is what I'm talking about.

Tim Priest2During our KPPA Summer School Tim Priest was doing things photographically that I would NEVER do.  Loop light was definitely not his thing. He was always tilting the camera for most of his photographs.  He was cutting off heads and many other body parts in most of his compositions.  But, what he was doing was really cool and I loved a lot of his images.

Just check out his website right here to see what I mean. OK, I'm not bleaching my hair for the next job, but I just might give his shooting style a try.  I just might put myself through a few photographic stretching exercises. 

LD3Here's where the problem occurs for a lot of photographers. They're afraid to stretch, photographically speaking at least, the minute they find themselves outside their comfort zone.  I have to admit, I'm a little guilty of that myself.

But Folks, this is exactly when we need to let the stretching begin.  Create some self assignments and work to shoot outside your comfort zone.  Enjoy the experience, savor the result.  By stretching photographically, you're probably making your photography better too.

During Tim's program, LaDawn grabbed the camera and started shooting away (along with several other photographers). These three model images illustrating this post are by LaDawn. Tim had divided the class into four groups each with their own model.  He set up the shooting scenario and let the class shoot away.  Her images were pretty cool. 

LD2 She just followed Tim's directions and got some really nice, non-traditional to my studio style, images.   Not having and particular photo DNA flowing through her veins, she was quite comfortable getting her shots.  Those of us with years of photo DNA in our veins might have felt a bit more constrained with the experience.

A few weeks ago, I had scheduled two models for what I call portfolio development.  That means I just wanted to go out and shoot for some cool images.  My self assignment included the stipulation that I was not allowed to shoot any of my tried and true poses.  I wanted something really different from what I normally shoot.

For me though that can be tougher than it sounds.  My photographic DNA is pretty engrained into my photographic psyche.  Since that's the case, I'll have to FORCE myself to try some of the different things I saw Tim shoot.  It should be fun - at least after I'm able to short circuit part of my tried and true photo DNA coding ;~)

How about you give it a try yourself.  For one day, break the mold of your standard photographic style and shoot outside your comfort zone.  Get a group of like minded photogs together, hire a model from Craig’s List, and have some fun.  Hey, you may not get anything worth showing by the end of the shoot, and you just may pull a “creative muscle or two”.  That’s OK, the “pulled muscle”, that stretching, may be just what you needed to give your “brain juices” a creative jolt for the next job!

-Food for thought


Hey gang, that's it for me today. Like I said, an easy day for us today – kind of like a surprise vacation day.  So, I’m out of here and enjoying a little fun in the sun. I'll plan to see everyone next week, same time, same station. 

Have a great weekend wherever you are!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Guarding The Gates Of love"

Guarding The Gates Of Love2-0270_KPPA Summer Sch Z10

"Guarding The Gates Of love"
©David A. Ziser

OK, maybe it's not my favorite title but I still love the image.  During my sunrise shoot on Monday, we were changing locations and had to walk by these gates to a storage area at Spindletop.  I loved the heavy black wrought iron design and decided to grab a shot or two of our beautiful bride in front of the gate.  I decided to go with just the existing light since it did have a bit of direction I could use. I just had the bride lean against the gate and grab onto it as well.  A soft look back into the camera was all I wanted.  Notice that I have "broad lighted" the subject in this case - the broadest part of her face is illuminated here in the shot. Normally, not my lighting choice, I think it worked just fine here. The gentle S-curve in her pose contrasts nicely with the strong vertical elements of the heavy gate. A few minor tweaks in Lightroom 3 were used to tone down a few distracting elements.  Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 70-200mm IS lens at 200mm, F 4.0 @ 1/200 second, ISO 200. Enjoy!  -David

Business Day Thursday: Have You Thought About a Portrait Farm

Good Morning Everybody,

Worldwide WebcastWhat a great program we had yesterday but unfortunately the time went flying by.  I had the program scheduled for 90 minutes but ran for 2 1/2 hours and I still left unfinished information. It was pretty much “bang for the buck” for a free webcast!  And, nearly everybody stayed till the end.

My thanks to everyone who attended our Fast and Easy Album Design worldwide webcast yesterday.  We had nearly 600 attendees from 32 countries around the world in the audience, gave away $1,000 in door prizes, and had a great time! My thanks also to my team, LaDawn, Jennifer, and Damien, all who were "riding shotgun" during the webcast to be sure everything went smoothly. I had a great time presenting this new program and I hope you enjoyed it too.

Be sure to read my Webcast Wrap-up post below.  For those of you that missed the webcast or for anyone wanting to see it again, you’ll be able to view it below.  I’ve also extended our Webcast Specials for the next few days.

Now it’s time to get on with today's post. Here we go.

Have You Thought About a Portrait Farm

JV Barn OK, I know right off the bat that this idea is not for everyone.  New York City photographers reading this probably think I'm crazy for even suggesting this idea. But for my country cousins reading this post, please hang in there with me.  I still think it is a great idea worth sharing.  So, here we go.

We recently returned from our KPPA Summer SchoolJV Pond One of the highlights of the weekend was a visit to my friend, Jessica Vogel's, country studio [link].  It's about an hour's drive from Lexington, Kentucky nestled among the beautiful rolling hills of Kentucky horse farms.  She was hosting a small get together to honor our guest speaker, Beth Forrester's birthday.

We all finally arrived and everyone settled in with a cool summer refreshment and just enjoyed visiting with everyone. Jessica eventually asked us if we would like a tour of her outdoor studio? Well, first of all, let me say that her studio in on 5 acres of pristine maintained property.

JV Barrel Even though her studio is about an hour from the closest major city, it still is one busy little beehive of photographic activity.  She does anywhere from 5 - 15 sessions a day, 3 days a week.  She reserves the other 2 days for sales and production.  Like I said, one busy little place.

Part of Jessica's success is because of her non-stop promoting and marketing of the studio in the immediate area.  Effective marketing is part of any profitable studio's successful endeavors. The other reason for Jessica's success is the topic of today's post.

Hit the “READ More…” link below for the rest of the story.

JV Seti Over the last few years, Jessica has designed and built 15 beautifully designed outdoor locations in which she can shoot.  The way the sets are laid out give her the opportunity to shoot any time of the day. She has put quite a bit of effort in developing these absolutely beautiful outdoor sets.

JV set1 Most of her sets ARE NOT commercial sets she has purchased.  Many of the sets are the result of things she has found around the area - whiskey barrels, wild flowers, wagon wheel, driftwood, etc.

OK, Jessica pushes the envelope when it comes to building her sets too.  She decided she wanted a pond in the back part of the property.  She hired a guy with a tractor to dig the hole for the pond.  The excavation wasn't going the way she envisioned it, so she asked the guy driving the tractor to step aside.  He climbed off and she climbed aboard, fired up the tractor, and finished digging out the pond exactly as she wanted. 

JV set2 After laying in the 1500 square foot rubber liner, adding 21 truck loads of limestone and slate around the perimeter, bringing in 20 tons of sand for the beach, adding the dock, she had her pond complete.  And yes, Jessica did most of the work herself.

JV Pond2 Here is yet another story of Jessica's resourcefulness and energy. As you drive through parts of Harrodsburg, Kentucky, you will see fascinating "walls of rock". These "walls of rock" usually denote property lines of the big plantations pre Civil War times.

JV Set3 The city was doing some roadwork and needed to remove a few of the stone walls. Jessica saw one of these walls being torn down and decided that a stone wall would look good in her country studio.  She managed to talk the work crew into letting her haul off the rock, which she proceeded to haul to her property.  It took her 2 days to move the rock, 1 day to build it, another day to build the steps - yep, she did all the work herself.  It looks really cool in her portrait farm and a perfect location for portraits of children, engagement couples and families.

JV the wall What I'm trying to emphasize is that putting together your own outdoor sets gives you something most of the competition simply doesn't have - unusual, original, beautiful places to take portraits. 

You may say that you just head to the local park for your outdoor portraits and that works great for you.  But, the reality is that so do all the other photographers in the area.  I remember being at one of our local parks on a Saturday afternoon to do some bridal portraits.  I was one of 6 photographers working in the park that day!

As a portrait photographer, the same thing happens.  Everyone is using the same locations and soon everyone's photography begins looking the same.  If you want to stand above the crowd, this is not a good thing.  It's always about the "Difference Making the Difference" for any successful approach to business.

JV set4 Jessica's unique approach to her business has resulted in her having a wonderfully diverse group of shooting locations that make her portraits look uniquely her own signature imagery. Sure, she has 5 acres to work with, lots more that most of us. 

So what do you do if your not out in the country and your backyard real estate is quite a bit smaller?  What's amazing is that lots of these outdoor set designs can be put together with a minimum of expense, a little effort, and some good old Yankee ingenuity, you too can come up with some great sets too.

JV indoors Does Jessica have an indoor studio too?  She sure does and it will knock your socks off as well.  We’ll have to save that tour for another time ;~)

My thanks to Jessica for letting me share her sets and her photography with you for this post.  Jessica occasionally presents programs around the country so be sure to check out her website to see where she will be speaking.

High fives to Jessica for the energy, creativity, ingenuity, and beautiful imagery she brings to our profession and her clients.


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  I've got to get back to my real job.  How about I see everyone bright and early tomorrow for another episode of Food For Thought Friday: ?? 

See ya' then,  David

Webcast: "Fast and Easy Album Design" A Hit!

Fast Easy Title Yep, a BIG hit! Here's what several attendees had to say about yesterday's webcast.  My thanks to everyone for the very kind remarks.

"Thanks! The quality & sheer volume of what you share is a blessing to many of us. Thanks Much!"     …Mark B. - Lexington, Ohio

"Thank You David & rest of team for the show and prize for me :-)"  …Pawel W. - Dublin, Ireland

"Thank you so much for sharing your expertise with us! I LOVE it!"   ...Geneva P. -  Huntsville, Alabama

"Thank you, this was great!"  ...Beverly K. - Sarasota, Florida

"Thanks David. Great information."  ...Kortney J. - Powell, Tennessee

"The webinar was wonderful thanks for your time all the great info. And I won a door prize!!" Holly W. - Austin, Texas 

"AMAZING!"  … Philip G. - Florence, South Carolina

In the program, I mentioned some great Webcast specials we have running at our Digital Resource Center right now [link].  The BIG hit of the show - how to get Lumapix: FotoFusion, a $299 program, for only $99! Here is how it works.

Webcast Deals This deal won't last forever - you can check it out right here.

"Fast And Easy Album Design" – Now On DVD!

A DVD of the webcast is available at our Digital Resource CenterFast and Easy Album DesignThe cost of the DVD will be only $29 but that INCLUDES a $29 voucher good for any future purchases at our Digital Resource Center – what a deal – that kind of makes it FREE.

"Fast And Easy Album Design – Part 2"

And lastly, because I only got through about 1/2 of the material I wanted to cover in yesterday's program, I'm scheduled and brand new webcast "Fast and Easy Album Design - Part 2" for Tuesday, July 6, 2010  2:00 – 4:00 EDT. This time around, we have over $1,200 in door prizes to give away!

Once again, my thanks to my webcast team here at DigitalProTalk, all the sponsors who supported the program with over $1,000 in door prizes, and all of you who made the program such a success.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"Angel Eyes"

Angel Eyes

"Angel Eyes"
©David A. Ziser

Since today's webcast will be discussing digital design, I thought I would give you a preview of coming attractions for the program.  You know, digital photography today is more than just being able to take great photographs.  It's also about how those photographs will be presented to the client.  The successful photographer will always strive to make his/her work look it's absolute best in that final presentation.  Understanding design concepts and practicing good design prepares us to do just that.  This image was enhanced with a colorful mat treatment.  The photograph looks great on it's own but with the image presented in this way, it just heightens the excitement of that finished presentation.  Design specs: Image retouching was done in Photoshop, creative matting done quickly in Lumapix:Fotofusion.  Our saved template had been created previously and all we had to do was simply tweak the color of the mat to coordinate with the image and then drop the image on the template and we were finished. Enjoy!  -David

Webcast Wednesday: Fast and Easy Album Design

Good Morning Everybody,

I hope yesterday's Technique Tuesday's post – Running Lightroom on a Network [link] didn't crash any computers out there;~)  More importantly, I hope you gave it a try and it gives you at least a partial solution to Lightroom's "network neutered" situation.  Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope the next Lightroom version solves the issue.

Album Design Crowd OK, today, as you know we have our free webcast on digital design. I'm foregoing a lengthy post today because we've got to get everything organized for the webcast in just a few hours. These webcasts are more involved that just hitting the PLAY button and letting things rip.

Let me just give you a few examples of some of the digital designs we use here in the studio.

Wedding Albums:  The big part of my business is our design process at my studio.  Each album is first designed and then reviewed before going to the "presses."  This is my "bread and butter" product. Each session, not just the obvious wedding celebrations but also including seniors, families, babies…. it is my intention that the client will leave with an album in-hand.  It better look fantastic!Wedding Album design

Senior albums: Most of us shoot lots of photographs at our senior sessions, but how many of those images are finally delivered to the client? Unfortunately, not many.  That's why we started offering a senior album option.  Now the client has a place to put all those other images - a great sales ad-on.Senior design

Suggestion Selling:  We've designed several "Suggestion" templates into which we drop the client's actual images.  Now they can see first hand what the finished digital product will look like. It sure helps us to get to "YES" a lot more often when making the sale.Suggestion Selling

Vendor Collages:  For me, it's always about connecting with my "vendor buddies" and continuing to offer complimentary photographs to them of their products and services.  We can do it quickly and easily with our design templates.  The 11x14 print and frame do not break the bank and we are able to create a great sales piece for a vendor that features not only their products/services but also OUR photography - very effective advertising.Vendor Frame

Those are just a few of the things we are going to be discussing today.  It's super easy to put these designs together and once designed, can be used over and over again for your next project.  I really hope you can join us later today.  We still have a a few seats left and you can still register right here.  See you at 2:00 P.M. EDT.


Time for me to get moving gang.  If I miss you today, I'll see you tomorrow for another episode of Business Day Thursday.

See ya' then,  -David

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"A Wedding Sunrise"

Kentucky Sunrise

"A Wedding Sunrise"
©David A. Ziser

Here is one of my favorite images from my Monday morning sunrise shoot.  It was one of the last images I captured and it was already getting warm and very humid.  The shoot reminded me of my experience in shooting in Miami, Florida.  Every time I pulled out a lens, the front element immediately fogged up and I had to wipe it clean before I could make the shot.

The entrance to Spindletop is lined with this very long row of trees on each side of the drive along with a long row of fencing.  The sun's low angle was casting these very unusual vertical shadows on the grass.  I thought the scene would make a great setting for my photograph.

I positioned my bride to the right of the compositional frame letting the row of fence pass right through her, figuratively speaking, of course.  Notice how the fence meanders gently from the far distance right into the foreground.  The trees offered a wonderful leading line from the left side of the image.  The vertical shadows complete the composition with all my compositional pointers leading right to the bride - poetry in motion ;~)

Now on with the lighting - this was one of those situations that worked great using my "reflector key" technique.  The sun was coming in low from the right so I had the bride turn away from the sun thus putting her face in shadow.  The key light or main light was supplied by my assistant reflecting the early morning sunlight back into the bride with my Westcott reflector from approximately 15 feet away. 

Using the reflector instead of my flash allowed me to use a wider aperture thereby softening the background for the final result.  Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 70-300mm lens at 300mm, F 5.6 @ 1/800?, ISO 200. Enjoy!  David

Technique Tuesday: Lightroom Jailbreak - Running Lightroom 3 On A Network

Good morning Everybody,

DAZ Shootout We had a great time at our KPPA Summer School this past weekend.  Yesterday's sunrise shoot was a kick at the Spindletop Mansion, one of the largest in the state of Kentucky.  At first I was a bit disappointed (they are closed on Monday) we couldn't shoot inside this beautiful location. 

But as it turned out, we found so many great locations around the exterior we ran out of time even if we had been able to shoot inside.

Beth F Senior Beth Forrester gave a great program on babies and seniors on Sunday. She had so many marketing gems in her presentation, I told her I was going to "steal" a lot of her ideas for my blog posts. She was thrilled with the idea so look for a few over the next several weeks.

Tim Priest Tim Priest took front and center yesterday showing how to shoot fashion style seniors and weddings.  Tim has a very loose and exciting style that definitely refreshes and inspires.  Be sure to check out his site right here.  His fashion style was a nice jolt of inspiration everyone enjoyed.

We returned home yesterday afternoon and it was good just to relax after two solid days of education and illumination.

It sure goes to show you that can't learn everything on the Internet.  And, you know what else?  It's a lot more fun than getting all your education in a dark little corner peering at your computer screen.  Be sure to check into events in your neck of the woods and don't miss any "in person" educational opportunities should they head your way.

OK, on with today's post...

Lightroom Jailbreak - Running Lightroom 3 On A Network

Lightroom Network YES OK gang, I've been talking this Technique Tuesday up the last few days.  I hope you enjoy it.  I'll tell you, the idea came about after my second post about the introduction of Lightroom a few weeks ago [link]. There was a comment posted by the famous Mr./Ms. Anonymous that pointed me to a [link] that showed a solution. 

What I saw was a little confusing so I gave my IT buddy, Paul Leffler, a call to see if he could bring a bit more clarification to's suggestion for me.  Paul had it figured out in no time, offered to come over, and help me give it a try.  After he arrived, we had Lightroom up and running in no time.  And, it has worked like a charm!

A few caveats here:

1. This workaround IS NOT Adobe approved.

2. It seems to only work on a PC.

3. We had a few operational hic-cups but none that did not resolve easily.  Yesterday, Jennifer told me all things were great - she loves it!

In today's tutorial I'll walk you through the step by step procedure complete with lots of screen grabs for you to help minimize any missteps along the way and make things easy to follow. I'll describe how we've set up our job file structure, I think the best job file structure for a portrait/wedding studio by the way, and how that makes the whole "Lightroom a network" solution work so well for us now. Hit the PLAY button and enjoy the show.

Like I said, we LOVE how this solution is working for us.  Our headaches have all gone away.  If anything turns up that changes my mind, I'll let you know.  For now, we are all thumbs up with Lightroom 3 running on our network! __________________________________________________________

Hey folks, that's it for me today.  Don't forget about our big webcast tomorrow on Digital Design.  It’s going to be international event with photographers from over 32 countries worldwide attending! We still have a few seats left and would love to have you join us.  I'll have LaDawn and Damien standing by to field design questions in real time and Jennifer on line to help with any registration issues.   It should be a nice program.  Hope you can make it.

See ya' then,  David