Thursday, June 16, 2011

Business Day Thursday: Quit Wishing and Hoping and Start Trying and Doing - If You Want Success

Good Morning Everybody,

It’s a busy day at the studio today. We got rained out on my engagement session yesterday.  The weather was one of those all day drizzles that never stops long enough to let the grass dry.  We’re rescheduling for this weekend.

We also have another portrait shoot early this evening of two very prominent individuals in our community.  Both are writing a book and need promo images.  The reason I mention this is because I’m going all portable on the session today – multiple shoe mount flashes only.  I’m looking forward to the shoot. I’ll share an image or two with you next week.

Perfect Layers 2The big news for today is this. Later this afternoon my entire team is sitting in on some custom training presented by our good friends at onOne Software.  I have been watching their demos at trade shows for years and have always been blown away by what onOne’s Software can do.  A quick note, they have just released their Perfect Layers software which looks amazing and looks to be a tremendous addition to our Lightroom workflow. Yes, it’s Layers in Lightroom and Aperture!  I can’t wait to give you the full lowdown after our training session today.

Spring Cleaning Deals Go Away This Weekend!

Fire-Sale -75I had planned to wrap our Spring Cleaning Fire Sale today but my team encouraged me to let it run through the weekend.  Many you have already taken advantage of the super deals at our Digital Resource Center, but those who haven’t, you still have a few more days to save up to 75% on many store items.  Check it out one last time right here. Come Monday we’re back up to regular prices.

Quit Wishing and Hoping and Start Trying and Doing - If You Want Success

One thing that struck me during my Sedona Workshop was the fact that anyone could have put together such an event. Wait, here's where I'm going with this.  Any six photographers could have gotten together, hired a few models from Craig's List, like we did, arrange a few locations and had the same great experience as we all did last week.

The girls were great, the locations were gorgeous, and our images were outstanding.  I know you're going to say that these six photographers had the added benefit of me watching over their shoulders to be sure the images looked good.  That part is true, but that still does not negate the fact that even without me being there, the group still could have enjoyed an enjoyable, creative, educational experience.

Self Assignments Are Important To Your Growth

Granted, I was the instructor, and as such, in the course of the teaching was able to take advantage of the opportunity to advance my own portfolio as well.  It made me make a promise to myself to spend one day a month to hire a model or two and just go out and practice.  What better way to stay motivated about what you enjoy doing and capture the opportunity to learn so much from the experience!

You Don’t Have To Go It Alone

GroupAnd therein lies my point. I want to encourage each and everyone of you reading this post to do what we did this week - hook up with a few like minded photographers, hire a Craig's List model, scout some locations in advance and spend a Saturday just practicing, shooting and learning from one another.

Let's expand on that idea even a bit more.  Why not pick up a "how-to" book on photography and practice just a chapter or two of it.  Let's say you pick up my book "Captured By The Light", turn to Chapter 6 on Window Lighting and just practice "window lighting” for an entire Saturday afternoon.  I'm not saying my book should be your only choice, but it would certainly be a good place to start simply because it's written in a simple to understand, easy to follow step by step fashion.  It would be kind of like having the instructor there with you as you practiced away. 

Look For Inspiration In All The Right Places

How about one more idea that follows similarly to the suggestion above.  Why not visit your favorite blog, find some images that inspire you and try to duplicate them.  The list of ideas can go on and on. You could search Flicker for some images that you would like to try to duplicate with your shooting group and models.

Flicker Inspiration wedding pics

The point I'm trying to make is this;  It's easy to plan a practice session for yourself and 2-3 other photographers.  It's easy to line up a couple of cute "models"  - like I said, we use Craig's List, but it could be your nephews and nieces, high school friends of your children or neighbors children, the cute waitress at your favorite restaurant……  It's easy to find some cool locations like a public park, beach, some museums (with previous permission) or just along some colorful, graffiti filled streets in your own downtown city.  It's easy to work with your shooting group - everyone offering suggestions and ideas to help improve and inspire the person doing the shooting.

Image Review To Enhance The Educational Experience

After your shooting session, spend another hour to review all the images. Get your group involved in a lively discussion about the best and not so best images.  What worked, what didn’t work. It's all about the practice and, by default, the learning that comes from that experience.

I Loved The New Shooting Experience But Still Need Practice

I've always said, "The best way to learn is to teach.”  The interaction with the students always opens a door or two to another idea or technique I can use down the road".  Nothing has been more exciting for me personally these last few weeks than shooting for my Kelby Training videos and my Sedona Workshop.  It was such a kick to point my camera at someone different than a bride and groom that I normally would be photographing.

I've discovered that I could use a little practice in the “posing and prop department” in my non-wedding shoots.  I mentioned to LaDawn that we should have added scarves and hats to our shooting session just to add a bit more interest to the photographs.  Don't get me wrong, I think we got some great images as you've seen posted these last few days at DPT, but in looking back over this past week's body of work, I think I could do better the next time.

What I saying is that I had a great time both teaching and practicing and I'm encouraging you to do the same. 

The BIG Difference You Can Make

But here is the BIG difference between the aspiring pro and the hobbyist.  The aspiring pro, and that includes anyone who wants to improve their photography is the kind of person who will make such an effort to expand and improve their photographs. 

Be a starGood photographers work towards being good and practice at being good.  Others don't and sometimes make too many excuses why they can't do this or that or even find time to practice.  It's up to each and everyone of us to make the effort if we want to make a difference and be a star in our photography.  It all comes down to the question, "Are you just wishing and hoping for success?"  It may be time to Start Trying, Practicing, and Doing It If You Want Success.

The lesson I learned these past few weeks is how much fun it is to practice.  Secondly I've decided to make a personal commitment to practice at least once a month to improve upon my weaknesses and expand my talents and creativity.  I hope you'll join me by making that same commitment to yourself.


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  I’ve got to get a few more loose ends tidied up and need to get back to my real job.  Have a great rest of the day and I’ll plan to see you tomorrow.

Happy shooting,  David


  1. Hi David, Robin from UK, thanks for the advice, practice is the key to improving, and getting together with like minded photogs is a brilliant idea. By the way, your book arrived the other day and all I can say is, "Why did I wait so long to buy it?" Very well put together and so easy to follow, thanks David.

  2. Just what I needed to hear. I loved your book. I love your Blog. Hope you come back to Jacksonville soon.