Thursday, July 31, 2008

Get the Goods: Educational Videos offers free educational videos and tutorials every Monday. I would like to start sharing this information on my blog as well. Many photographers fear they can't get results taking photos in studio without big-budget lighting kits, but "Episode 13, Beautiful Photo Studio Portraits with One Light" explains in great detail how to get wonderful results with just one light source.

I just subscribed to Jim Talkington's website, and I highly recommend you do the same. His videos are extremely helpful and easy to follow. While I have books that explain how to get Rembrandt, Butterful and Edge lighting, being able to see a photographer in action while achieving these effects makes for infinitely better learning and retaining for visually minded people.

Get the Goods: Photographer Reveals Photoshop Secrets

While trolling on Blogrush's "Blogosphere" updates, I happened upon this wonderful blog by Amy-Rose King Photography that I couldn't wait to share. It's rare when you can find a professional who is willing to share intimate details about how they achieve photographic glory. King's secrets revealed blog is a special gift for all newbie photographers like myself. Her transparency is refreshing, infinitely helpful and gives me hope that the photographic techniques that continue to amaze me are well within my reach.

Here is an example of the jewels inside King's blog:

"Photoshopping EYES:
My favorite secret that photographers hate to tell!
Take the above image you are working on (if it is a portrait and you like the color) and compress it using ctl+shift+E. Now ctl+J to copy the layer once.
Go up to the Filters and scroll down to Sharpen. Go to smart sharpen and click. Increase the slider to your desired level looking only at the eyes on the portrait. Once they appear bright click OK. Now you need to cover this layer with a mask by pressing alt+the mask button (next to the adjustment layer button ... at the bottom of the layers box). This should cover the layer with a black mask making the visibility of the sharpen gone. Now go to your brushes and click. Adjust the size of your brush and zoom into your picture around the eyes. Color with white on the adjustment layer and you should start seeing the sharpened eyes come through. Only do this to the iris of the eyes as it will look funny around the rest of it by possibly adding noise to your picture... just color within the lines! Or it can make the eye look red too if you stray into the white of the eye. When you have it like you like it you're done with this! The eyes should be brighter already. If you don't think they're quite sharp enough press ctl+J and see if that looks better. Adjust the opacity of this layer if too much."

Now for a romantic blur...
Compress this layer when you have it like you like it by pressing ctl+shift+E again. Now ctl+J to copy it.
Go to the top and select filters and go down to blur and then choose gaussian blur. Increase the strength until you have a nice blur, but not too terribly much. Click ok. Now decrease the opacity of that layer to about 30%. This should give it that romantic blur seen in the old movies. I like to bring out some of the sharpness now of the layer underneath. We're going to do the same method as before by except we're going to cover this layer with white and paint with black. To do this hit the mask button by itself (the circle within a rectangle at the bottom of the layers box next to the adjustment layer button). Now get your brush and paint with black over the eyes, lips, fingers, etc. However you like it. Play with it and see what you think."

She also includes valuable information about using adjustment layers and masks to do selective and global edits, something I am only recently learning and practicing myself after attending a Photoshop class with Armando Martinez of Illuminate Workshops.

Check out before and afters of King's images:



Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Get the Job Done: Photos On Display in Denver Deli

Before the end of the week, at least half a dozen of my images will be on display and available for purchase at the Heidi's Deli in downtown Denver! The wedding kept me pretty busy. But as soon as it was over, I turned my attention back to getting some images up before the Democratic National Convention converges in Denver at the end of August. Read this announcement post and the follow-up post as well to catch up on how I came about this very cool way to get exposure for my fledgling business.

Five of my photos are already hanging up, all in black frames and white matting. I've included some of the ones I will be hanging in the shop in this blog. My buddies who work at the store said people have already been gathering around the images and asking questions about them. I will have prices and my business cards up as well as information about the other services I provide, since deli owner Marty requested primarily landscapes and Denver cityscape images.

The idea is this: With so many people coming to town for the DNC, Marty thinks people will be looking for Denver/Colorado souvenirs to take home with them. So Marty specifically asked for tourist oriented shots of the city and mountain area. But I will be featuring one portrait, "Teri's Rose" since Marty loves that shot and thinks it will also let people know that I take portraits and studio shots.

Oddly enough, I couldn't get Marty to agree to take a commission from any of these sales. But I'm going to give him his favorite image of the triple waterfalls from Rifle Falls State Park as a gift and thank you for allowing me this opportunity to show my work. Shhh! Don't tell him! It's a secret!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Instructor's Tip: Photographing in Contrasty Sunlight

Enjoy this week's "Instuctor's Tip" by award winning nature photographer Russ Burden:

"Photographing in Contrasty Sunlight"

Bright mid day sun is very contrasty, thus making it difficult to
obtain a good picture. Highlights are very bright and shadows are
very dark. If you expose for the highlights, the shadows will go
black. If you want to record information in the shadows, you’ll blow
out the highlights. So what’s a photographer to do? To create a
successful image in mid day sun, you need to compress the contrast
range in the scene to one that can be captured. If you’re shooting a
grand vista, there aren’t many solutions. But if your subjects are in
close proximity to the camera and aren’t very large, there are

Diffuser: A diffuser is used to soften harsh light. Placed between
the subject and light source, it gives the effect of a bright
overcast day where the light evenly wraps around the subject. The
contrast range is significantly reduced allowing digital sensors to
replicate all levels of light in the scene.

Reflector: A reflector bounces light into a scene. This opens the
shadows thereby narrowing the contrast range. They come in many
shapes, sizes and materials. I carry a collapsible one with silver on
one side and gold on the other.

Flash: My most often used method of taming contrast entails the use
of flash. See this previous entry on bounce flash for more information.

The photo(s) in this post were taken by Russ Burden. To learn more about how Russ captured this image, join him on one of his photo tours. Visit Russ Burden Photography to get more information.

To take a class with Russ or a fellow Digital Photo Academy instructor in your area, check out the Digital Photo Academy. I took Russ' intermediate and advanced courses last year, and he continues to be a strong source of knowledge and encouragement as I progress in my photography.

Don't forget to check Take Great Pictures for Russ' most recent tips. On the home page, click on the "Photo Tips And Techniques" button in the left hand column. Additionally, check out his "Digital Tip of the Month" found by clicking on the Digital Photography button.

Vote Now For July's Monthly Photo Assignment: "HISTORY"

Vote for your favorite interpretation of the monthly assignment topic: "History." Polls will be open from now until next Monday with the next month's subject announced at the same time. The winner of this assignment picks next month's topic.

Feel free to leave your comments about why you voted for a certain picture here. These assignments are designed to stretch our imagination, challenge our interpretation of topics and start shooting on a regular basis. Constructive criticism only helps us all get better at the craft we share and love.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Growing Pains: Business Briefs


My friend and photography colleague Jason Peckovitch shared with me some recent troubles he has had in getting a client he met on Craigslist to pay him for his services. This "client beware" tale is the reason why so many photographers, including myself, now require their clients to pay a deposit and the rest of the full payment BEFORE the day of the assignment, even before the shooting actual begins. And get everything squared away in a contract.

I asked Jason to write up something for my readers explaining how he got into this situation and what he plans to do to get his payment. To see the full explanation, read the entry on his myspace page:

"Here it is, a month and a half later (event was at end of May) and I have only seen HALF of what he has promised me. For the last 3-4 weeks he kept telling me, oh it’s in the mail and then finally last week told me that he lost my address and if I got it to him that day, he would mail it out that day, so I sent it to him again. A week after that, and I have yet to see anything.

I have yet to hear back from him, so I doubt I will ever get paid. Pro-bono stuff is OK, from time to time, but if you are going to get paid, make sure you get it in a signed contract form, or at least in writing of some sort. I’m at the point in my “photographic career”, that I should be getting paid for all the time spent behind the camera or in front of the computer for someone else. But this kind of thing puts a sour taste in my mouth and tells me to quit."

The above shot is an example of the images Jason shot for this client. To see more check out his website with these links. Show Jason some love and share some comments on how he should proceed here or on his Myspace page! Hang in there, my friend. I know jujitsu if it comes to that! :)



I received my first credit card payment for a photo this past week through my online PayPal account. I blogged about setting up my PayPal "PayFlow" Account. My bank serves as my merchant account services while Paypal acts as my gateway for accepting payments.

Up until this week, I had been having second thoughts about this service. I had been paying monthly service and transactions fees even though no one was using the service, continuing to choose to pay me with checks or cash. But I'm glad I decided to keep it---for now----because the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently paid for an image through their company credit card. The Paypal service includes a Virtual Terminal to accept a client's credit card information securely via your web browser and get a transaction number and confirmation code right away.

But I am considering switching my credit card processing solution to QuickBooks Merchant Service, which doesn't include "common hidden costs" such as annual fees, payment gateway fees, or statement fees among others. I will do some more research and see if Quickbooks offers a similar or even better programs than Quickbooks. For now, download your copy of Quickbook's "Guide to Maximizing Profits with Credit Cards."

1) Watch out for hidden costs.
2) Just say "no" to forced equipment leases
3) Don't waste valuable hours on double data entry.
4) Speed up cash flow.
5) Think outside the box.
6) Step up to automated billing.
7) Expand your business online.
8) Consider offering gift cards to boost your bottom line.
9) Get paid even when you're on the road.
10) Make sure you get all the support you need.



The latest issue of Entrepreneur has a great article on how top entreprenuers from different industry sectors and regions "not only survived but thrived" through two recessions. While none of the people profiled were photographers, I still think we all can take advantage of the strategies they used to cope with slow economic times. Pick up the the August 2008 "8th Annual VC100" issue and start reading on page 19.

1) Overhaul the business model
2) Don't stop marketing
3) Cut expenses
4) Keep the cash flowing
5) Find the Upside.

Find out more tips for sailing through tough economic waters at



I received a link for this free download of's new ebook "Earn Extra Income In a Snap: Selling Your Digital Photography Online & Offline."

It's a great resource and includes practical insider tips for selling your images on stock photography sites, at art photography sales sites, art fairs, public events, online photography stores and on consignment. Also get tips for marketing your photography through business cards, post cards, a website/blog, email marketing, online forums and communities.

Thank you Pet Leopard for providing this information.



Marathon Press has announced its roster of webinars running in August. For a complete list of webinars and descriptions, click here.

A Brand New World: Building Your Brand
with Monica Sigmon
Monday, August 4 - 12 Noon CT
Pin-Point Targeted Marketing-Getting a Huge Return on Your Marketing Investment
with Bruce Hudson
Thursday, August 7 - 7PM CT

Wrapped in Richness
with Greg Stangl
Friday, August 7 - 12 Noon CT

Creating an AMAZING Client Experience
with Tim and Beverly Walden
Monday, August 11 - 12 Noon CT

Partnership Marketing
with Mary Fisk-Taylor
Wednesday, August 13 - 7PM CT

Expanding Portrait Lines With Technology
with Jane Conner-ziser
Monday, August 18 - 12 Noon CT

25 Tips, Suggestions, and Just Plain Good Ideas for Building Your Business
with David Ziser
Wednesday, August 20 - 7PM CT

Pricing Your Work for Profit...and MORE Profit
with Bruce Hudson
Thursday, August 21 - 7PM CT

Finding Great Clients in Any Market Area
with Michael Redford
Monday, August 25 - 12 Noon CT



Anne Geddes will be a featured speaker at Imaging USA January 11-13, 2009 in Phoenix, AR.

At over 500,000 square feet, Imaging USA ‘09 features the largest, most vibrant photography EXPO in North America with the most tradeshow booths ever. You’ll be amazed when you see all the latest products, essential tools and software at the cutting edge of technology.

Mingle with more than 8,600 industry professionals. Catch up with old friends. Make new friends. Celebrate at two of the largest parties in the industry. Find that perfect product at the Imaging EXPO. Discover the breathtaking photo ops under Phoenix’s desert sky. What are you waiting for? Register today!

Attend three conferences or workshops in five program tracks, including Business First, Essentials, Spotlight, Wedding & Portrait and Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday Morning Cartoons

Enjoy today's installment of Aaron Johnson's photocentric comic strip "What the Duck." The popular comic is celebrating it's 2nd year anniversary. Congratulations Aaron! And thank you for encouraging me and others to seek comfort in our sense of humor when the ebbs and flows of the photography business threatens to overwhelm us. Beginning in Sept. 8, the comic will relaunch as "W.T. Duck."

Friday, July 25, 2008

This Weekend: Photographing the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival

Photo Credit CDBF

On Sunday, I will be a volunteer photographer covering Colorado's Dragon Boat Festival. This will be the first time I attend the 8th annual event, and I can't wait to photograph all the vibrant colors and movement inherent in this cultural fest. A festival coordinator asked the Denver Darkroom for photo volunteers to commit to a four hour time slot. I have been assigned to take pictures of the marketplace/food venders and sponsors from noon until 2 p.m., but I will definitely stay longer, especially since I need to check in at 9.

This is definitely an example about one of the many things I love about the Denver Darkroom. It's not only a place to take photography classes, but it also provides wonderful opportunities for its students to practice their new skills.

Illustration by Patrick Spikes

Plus, it's a great opportunity for me to hand out business cards and try to sell some of the images I've captured. I will create a specific online viewing gallery for this event and sell 4x6s for $5 and 8X10s for $10. Granted, some would argue that getting assigned to the boat races might be more fun and entertaining. But I think working alongside the vendors has a better chance for future business partnerships because those vendors will likely want to purchase images for their portfolios, or they might need my services for future events.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Get the Job Done: First Senior Portrait Commission

I had a consultation last night with the first teenager who has commissioned me to shoot a senior portrait. The young lady, Jordan, is the lovely daughter of her equally lovely mother, Teri, whom graces the banner of my blog and has been pictured in previous blog entries and featured photos. I can't believe how much (and how fast) Jordan has matured into this hip, driven individual, and I definitely want to add as much of those characteristics into our planned session.

I first photographed Jordan during my first portrait session with Teri and her family last year. What I remember most about that set of photos is this wonderfully captured moment between Teri and Jordan when Mom realized that Dad had given Jordan permission to have a piercing (of course without Mom's consent!). You can see how Jordan got found out as you read through this post.

I think this moment let's the viewer see not only the relationship between mother and daughter, but gives us an idea of the mischievous and ultra-urban nature of Jordan. I remembered this set of pics when I spoke to her last night to get her ideas of what she wanted done. And I also implemented some new business practices I've developed since the wedding.

Jordan and I looked over her yearbook to get an idea of the kinds of images she liked or didn't much care for. We also checked out the school's rules for submitting senior high school portraits, including the need for vertical and color shots, but no distracting backgrounds or props. We both agreed we wanted to try something edgy and nontraditional (meaning no green plants surrounding the subject or waterscapes). Jordan said no to vignetting and no to pictures where she's not looking at the camera, but yes to removing her piercings (to please her mother).

The one thing we noticed that no one else had (which we all know is extremely important to teenagers) is a night portrait. Since my free workshop with Illuminate Photography, I've become addicted to night photography. The school doesn't have any rules against it, but we think that's because it's never been done before! So we will try some urban shots with city lights behind her. We also want to play with center focused, nearly panning type shots where Jordan is focused but everything else around her is blurred and moving. I already have a couple of places in mind, but I will be scouting out more locales this weekend.

And just in case the school nixes our unorthodox ideas, we will do a few traditional poses too!

Jordan accepted several upgrades to her portrait package (which includes 2 8x10s or 4 5x7s). She will buy a CD with all of the edited images only printable as 4X6s, and she will get her makeup done from one of my makeup artists. To help grow my business, Jordan has agreed to refer her friends to me. For her efforts, any referrals who book sessions with me will result in either package discounts or extra prints. Looks as if she's going to want extra prints. And her yearbook gave me the idea of buying a full page ad sometime in the future!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Get the Job Done: New Freelance Position At College is a Done Deal!

I received my purchase order yesterday from the Auraria Higher Education Center confirming that I am now on retainer as a freelance digital photographer for the Student Auxiliary Services Marketing Department!

The contract is effective now until June 2009, and my new boss said she could have my first assignment ready for this weekend. I had to turn in a W-9 and other documentation for proving my sole proprietorship and resident status at with the State of Colorado. I also had to show some letterhead for my company, which I really didn't have at the time. So I reworked the banner I have at the top of my blog in Photoshop to create my letterhead until I can hire someone to design a logo for my business.

I blogged earlier about the fact that I shot the 50th year anniversary rededication ceremony for the parents of client Cheryl Carter last year. A few months ago, Cheryl referred my services to the bride and groom whom I photographed in May. The wedding was held at the St. Cajetan's church (featured above) on the Auraria campus. I didn't realize that Cheryl was the marketing manager for the university as well as the wedding planner.

But after I turned in my photos to the bride and groom, Cheryl called and asked if I could work for Auraria shooting other events held on campus. Cheryl said that there are weddings happening on campus just about every weekend, not to mention all the other events and gatherings held at the popular Tivoli Student Union that need to be photographed. Cheryl wants to beef up Auraria's marketing campaign, and she has already asked for night time shots showcasing the Denver cityscape.

Value every connection you make in your own entreprenuerial journey. Good deeds as well as a job well done speaks volumes about what potential clients can expect to receive from you. And you never know when one contact will lead to another, so make ALL of them count.

Get the Goods: Free Subscription to Great Photo Mag!

My friend and photo colleague Tiffany Trott spread the news this morning about Rangefinder Magazine handing out free subsciptions, and I'm very glad she did.

One of my instructors, Jim Turley, recommended this wonderful magazine in his Passions and Profits workshop several weeks ago. He says it is one of the best resources out there for photographers. But I forgot about it until Tiffany mentioned it again

Rangefinder is the premier monthly magazine for the professional photographer. Each month Rangefinder typically includes:

— product and new equipment reviews
— lighting and technical pieces
— how-to’s
— promotion and marketing stories
— portraiture tips
— accessories and system round-ups
— computer technology
— black-and-white shooting
— lens reviews
— processing techniques

Use the link above to sign up for your free subscription. I can't wait to get my first issue.

And be sure to check out Rangefinder's sister publication, "After Capture" as well. It specializes in post-production tips and is free too!

Growing Pains: A Legal Foundation for Your Business

Put down the camera for a second and get into an entrepreneurial state-of-mind. Here are some great resources from photo attorney Carolyn E. Wright to help the creative right-side of our brains come in line with the logical (and hopefully money-making) left-side. Check out her blog to get more advice on securing a legal foundation for your business:

1. The IRS website - taxes are the most unpleasant issue, but at least it's easier today to learn about them. The IRS website is surprisingly user-friendly. The business section addresses subjects such as how to start and operate a business and includes a special section on small and self-employed businesses.

2. Your state's secretary of state website - each state has a website directed to topics such as establishing and registering your business and state tax requirements.

3. Your county's website - many county governments also have websites so that you can learn about the requirements to operate a business in the county. Conduct an Internet search on your county's name to find it. Click on "business" to find information on licenses and how to register your "fictitious name," also known as your "doing business as" (when you operate your photography business under a name other than your own or a state registered corporation or company).

4. Your own CPA - even with these great resources, it's still difficult to know how to organize your business and pay your taxes. Find your own CPA to help you with those issues.

5. Your own lawyer - despite the plethora of legal advice available from web forums, your legal circumstances are unique. The legal answer that worked for one photographer may not work for another. Find an attorney who can help you with your specific legal concerns.

I have taken care of points 2 and 3, having registered my company's name with the state and county. My accountant specializes in working with journalists so I think I have that covered. At some point I will need to acquire an attorney and get a better handle on my taxes when I start making more income.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Breaking News: Blog Leads to a Photo Sale!

My blog helped me sell one of my photos to a wildlife organization today!

I got an email Monday from the photo coordinator of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation requesting usage of one of the waterfall shots I took during my birthday photo road trip. The organization wants to use it as a FULL PAGE feature photo in its magazine, BUGLE!

Negotiating the price was simple and easy. The photo coordinator, Randi Mysse, was so helpful, and she restored my faith that there are people who not only will recognize your talents but be willing to pay for it too! When I asked how she found my photo, she said. "The power of the internet--we "Googled" Rifle Falls photos and eventually found you!" The Bugle issue will start printing Aug. 7.

I have had news articles (and now photos) printed in the Denver Post for the past 14 years. But knowing that one of my pictures will be appearing in a magazine makes me feel like an intern seeing her first byline in the paper again.

So what's the lesson here?
1) Realize that your blog is a strong marketing tool. Utilize it to it's fullest, recognizing that the blog is a representation of you and how potential clients view you. Make it easy for them to access you by taking the time to create userfriendly keywords and tags.

Thank you so much RMEF for this opportunity, and I hope this leads to more great partnerships in the future. Think you've got some great photos this organization could use? Check out its "photo wish lists". The organization also produces an annual calendar with breathtaking landscapes and photography of elks.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Instructor's Tip: Backgrounds, Backgrounds, Backgrounds.

I told you guys that my instructor Russ Burden was a stickler for backgrounds. Don't tell him I said so, but dang it, he's right! I wouldn't have so many issues cloning out, dodging, burning, or masking out distracting elements in my backgrounds if I paid more attention to what I was actually seeing inside the viewfinder when I took the picture to begin with. I can personally relate to this week's Instructor's Tip, so I hope Russ' words of wisdom are useful for you too (and greatly decreases the time you spend in post-processing!) :)

"Backgrounds, Backgrounds, Backgrounds"

Before I press the shutter, there are four conditions I evaluate. In no set order, I determine if the light is right, if the subject is compelling, if the composition has interest, and if the background complements the subject. If the answer is yes to all four, I know I have a winner. If I answer yes to three or less, I may take the picture if what’s before me tells a story. If only two seem strong, I may or may not make the image. But if all four factors are strong, I never leave until I have exhausted all possibilities. One of the ways I do this is to try to alter the background.

To me, the background commands just as much importance as the subject. A great subject shot against a busy background nets a weaker image than the same subject shot against a clean background. The goal is to have your subject stand out from what’s behind it. If the two compete for attention, the image will fall short. To achieve the desired effect, control the background using Depth of Field, preventing mergers, and using color strategically.


The photo(s) in this post were taken by Russ Burden. To learn more about how Russ captured this image, join him on one of his photo tours. Visit Russ Burden Photography to get more information.

To take a class with Russ or a fellow Digital Photo Academy instructor in your area, check out the Digital Photo Academy. I took Russ' intermediate and advanced courses last year, and he continues to be a strong source of knowledge and encouragement as I progress in my photography.

Don't forget to check Take Great Pictures for Russ' most recent tips. On the home page, click on the "Photo Tips And Techniques" button in the left hand column. Additionally, check out his "Digital Tip of the Month" found by clicking on the Digital Photography button.

Monthly Photo Assignment Due This Sunday

July's monthly assignment "HISTORY" is due by Sunday. Please email submissions to or post them to the new Picture Your World Photography Flickr group.

A painful knee swollen to as large as my head kept me sidelined all weekend. That's what I get for getting back out on the volleyball court too soon before my last knee injury healed. So I didn't get to go to Dinosaur Ridge or the night shoot with Illuminate Photography Workshops. So I've got one week to get my History assignment done too! Good luck with your images everybody!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Get Connected: Join the PYWP Flickr Group!

Today I started the "Picture Your World Photography Flickr Group." I got the idea when I discovered a photo blog by Denver photographer and Digital Photography School instructor Allen Birnbach.

Birnbach created his Flickr group to create community among his readers and provide a place for followers to ask questions, get answers and upload pictures for comments. I hope my Flickr group will do the same for my growing group of readers. I encourage everyone to join the group. If there's a topic you want me to discuss in the blog, just ask. And post up your monthly assignment submissions there as well.

From My Portfolio: Shutter Speed Magic

Shooting Rifle Falls last weekend was a great opportunity for me to experiment with water, motion and shutter speeds. I packed away my polarizers to soften the glare of the shiny water and neutral density filters to add depth to the blue skies. Well, at least my intentions were in the right place. I completely forgot that all of filters were bought to fit my older smaller lenses, not my new 16-35 or my 70-200. All kind of curse words! So that meant I was going to have to rely only on shooting in the shadows, a small aperture and large f-stop to stop down the camera enough to capture those tale-tell cottony streams of long-exposed water.

I was able to hand hold this shot at 1/60th of a second. The faster shutter speed freezes the waterfall.

At 1/13th of a second, the waterfall is in between worlds of being visibly slowed down, but still showing movement. At this point, you would have to have a steady grip to hand-hold this without camera shake.

A tripod is a must trying to capture this image at f/22 and 3.2 seconds. I tend to favor the slower exposure because I love the dreamy, almost otherworldly feel of the water. Which shot works for you?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Growing Pains: Say No to the Freebie Photo!

I was so busy last month trying to finish up the wedding photos that I forgot to share yet another experience that should be chalked up to more photography business growing pains.

I received an email from a representative from a nonprofit pregnancy crisis center in California requesting usage of the above photo for an ad campaign. Of course, I was overjoyed, and the fact that she found the image while surfing on Flickr was amazing and equally of note too. Apparently the center was doing a fundraiser with a local motorcycle club, and the photo of the infant on the bike was exactly what they needed. I did some thinking and consulted with all of my photography colleagues, including the virtual ones, to see what would be a fair price. I settled on a price of $150 for short term usage of the photo. I even threw in a couple of other images taken from the same set and offered a discounted rate for them to use those photos in their campaign as well.

I talked to the representative on the phone to further flesh out the deal, but I could tell in her voice when she told me that the organization was a nonprofit that she was hoping I would hand over the image for free. I stuck to my price, but several days later, I received another email explaining that my price didn't fit in with their budget, but that they would consider planning for usage of the photo next year.

Of course, my heart ached at losing this opportunity to have one of my images be used in an ad campaign. The representative said the nonprofit had several other affiliates throughout the country, and that my business information would be passed to them as well. Did I miss a chance to secure new clients? I stressed about this for days, but in the end it all came down to this: I truly felt that purchasing a photo for $150 for use in their ad campaign for their own monetary gain was extremely fair. Of course I believed this was a worthy nonprofit, or I wouldn't have wanted my image to be associated with them. But I'm at a point in my business now where I simply can not do deals for free any longer. I have thousands of dollars in photography equipment to pay back. And while it took some time for me to get to this realization internally, I see worth in my photography and my growing talent...something I deserve to be paid for.

I think this blog called "Digital Dilemmas" I discovered says it all. Check out the post here. "It seems that the worst offenders are the clients with the most money and resources, the bigger the name, the more likely that the client wants it for free," says blog author Edwin Morgan. Here, here Ed! Say No to the Freebie Photo!

Saturday Morning Cartoons

Enjoy today's installment of Aaron Johnson's photocentric comic strip "What the Duck." The popular comic is celebrating it's 2nd year anniversary. Congratulations Aaron! And thank you for encouraging me and others to seek comfort in our sense of humor when the ebbs and flows of the photography business threatens to overwhelm us. Beginning in Sept. 8, the comic will relaunch as "W.T. Duck."

Friday, July 18, 2008

This Weekend: Working on My History Photo Assignment

Photo Credit: Friends of Dinosaur Ridge

July's monthly photo assignment is due next Sunday, July 27, and I finally figured out what I want to shoot for the topic: Dinosaur Ridge. On Saturday, I will be heading up to the ridge, which is a spine of sedimentary rock about 3.5 miles between the towns of Morrison and Golden, where numerous dinosaur foot prints and fossils have been discovered, including skeletons of Stegosaurus, Apatosaurs, Diplodocus and Allosaurus. What is more historical than the remains of a creature that roamed the Earth 150 million years ago? Ok, maybe I'm stretching the concept here, but I think it works! :)

Saturday evening, Illuminate Photography Workshops will be hosting another night photo shoot. I am addicted to night photography now, and I have a much better working relationship with my tripod now, so I can't wait to see how much my shots will improve.

Growing Pains: How to Succeed in the Photography Business

I am going to be introducing a new section of my blog today called "Growing Pains," featuring advice on maintaining a successful photography business. Lord knows I need all the help I can get, and if you are new at this like me, then you probably could use some advice too! Just about every other day, I get emails from various news, business and marketing services I have subscribed too, and I thought the information would be helpful to my readers too.

Marathon Press, a marketing partner for professional photographers, released these highlights from a Professional Photographers of America's Financial Benchmark Survey into some extremely user-friendly tips:

1) Gain experience before you quit your day job. Learn about the business of photography by operating a part-time business while still drawing a salary from stable employment. Don't go out on your own until you can:

Develop a following among your target market, so that you can gain client referrals.
Develop consistent cash flow from your part-time business. Most experts agree that a photographer should be grossing between $50,000 and $100,000 annually before it is wise to consider a full-time business in a home studio and at least $150,000 before considering a move to a retail location.

Create an efficient work flow that will allow you to deliver orders on time.
Bank enough cash to live on until your business becomes profitable. This can take from two to five years.

2) Control your start-up overhead. Starting a home-based business will help you to control operating costs and provide the additional benefit of writing off some home expenses as legitimate business deductions. Not every home lends itself to business operations because of zoning and/or image considerations. So if you must start a business outside the home, search for a low-rent location such as a community-based business incubator until your business can afford costlier facilities.

3) Understand financial and operational requirements. Don't go into business until you understand the financial requirements of doing business. Vital areas of concern are:

Being fully aware of all business costs, from investment capital to monthly expenses and product production costs.
Knowing how many sessions or events you must photograph to cover these costs and earn a profit.
Learning how to price your photography according to industry standards that assure profitability.

4) Budget your capital investments very carefully. Too much debt will doom a business from the start. Remember: Your business must be able to generate enough revenue to pay you (or the bank) back for the capital investments you make. Even if you have the cash to invest in capital items and don't have to go into debt, that cash might be needed to help you survive the early business years when most studios do not generate enough revenue for the owner to draw a salary. Once you have the business start-up essentials, a good rule of thumb is to purchase only those extras that you can pay for within 12 months.

5) Once you do take the plunge into a full time business, build business volume as fast as you can, doing whatever it takes to get clients in the door.
PPA's Benchmark Survey confirms what business authorities know: The difference between financial success and failure often turns on the ability of a new business to build sales volume quickly. That's why many recommend not starting a full-time business until you already have a loyal following from running a part-time business. Even so, a full-time business will require additional strategies for building sales. Get the word out any way you can: through networking with other businesses; hosting a series of open house events for different community segments; get involved with charitable organizations by donating photography to their fund-raisers; look for "marketing partners" to help spread the word; get displays of your work on the walls of retail businesses and/or professional offices; and even offer "invitational sessions" for the purpose of "expanding your advertising portfolio" or making samples. Building your business base early will establish sales levels high enough to sustain your business over the long term.

6) Develop a clear business focus that consumers can easily understand. Don't expect prospects to be attracted to your business if you fail to create a business concept that is easily understood by consumers or one that lacks compelling products to excite their fancy. Sometimes it pays to direct your new business to only one or two niches, such as family and children's portraiture or wedding photography. Limiting your business in this way will help you to develop a strong focus that consumers can readily understand, and it will greatly simplify your marketing efforts.

7) Study effective marketing methods. Learn how to create year-round marketing strategies designed to attract new clients. Market back to existing clients, finding ways to reward them for their loyalty. An excellent resource for learning about marketing methods as well as helping you to create a marketing plan is the Marketing Resource & Activity Planner for the Professional Photographer, available from Marathon Press at or call 800/228.0629

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Get the Goods: Calumet Summer Seminars Announced

Got this news in an email today: Calumet is hosting over 100 seminars, workshops and demo days in various cities to boost your photography skills. Unfortunately, none of these are being held in Colorado - which doesn't help me much - but check out the schedule to see if anything is happening closer to your neck of the woods. Learn the best methods for working with models, dive into underwater photography or discover tricks the pros use. Live sessions with manufacturers, seminars with some of the world's top photographers and educators, and massive in-store sale events are available at a Calumet location near you. Register online to reserve a spot at any seminar and receive reminders, send feedback and invite friends.

Topics to be covered include:

Digital fundamentals
Printer demonstrations
Portrait photography
Improving workflow
Color management
Photoshop tools
Digital printmaking

Growing Pains: No Print Sales From Wedding Yet, But Why?

My first wedding and the growing pains I continue to suffer because of it has definitely pinpointed the fact that I need to hone my business skills if "Picture Your World Photography" is going to succeed.

I blogged last week about providing CDs in packaging. This week, I'm having to deal with the fact that no one is buying online prints from the wedding. The presentation went very well and the bride was very pleased with the photos. I'm not sure what the issue is, but I ran into the same problem earlier this year when few people purchased prints from a National Black Skiers association event I covered in January. Given time, I eventually made more than $200 in additional print sales from the NBS event...but it was still confusing considering how many people viewed the images (and continue to do so even months after the event).

My instructor Russ Burden, a veteran photographer, said even he has experienced this same phenomenon. I have posted numerous threads about the issue on the photography forums I frequent, including Digital Photography School and Digital Grin to get some help and explanations. If you have the time, I would suggest reading through these threads, as they are full of great tips from seasoned photographers who have found ways to deal with these issues.

Some people are convinced that online print purchases just don't happen, and if they do, it should be considered "icing" on the cake. To that end, it has been suggested that I need to create a business plan that incorporates print sales into the overall price. For example, $500 was simply too low to charge for the wedding. A more realistic price might have been $1,500 or more (with half or all paid upfront before the wedding) to ensure a profit margin.

I've been doing some research to see how much local wedding photographers charge for their various services and what their packages look like. Few people can afford to pay $3000 for wedding photos, so I really like the idea of creating several types of packages, based on coverage, starting from $750 and up.

I also took a "Managing your Business: Passion and Profits" seminar from Illuminate Photography Workshops several weeks ago to get a handle on the business aspects of photography. Being a good photographer doesn't mean you will have a successful business. Instructor Jim Turley stressed the need for me to create a six month business plan. He is right, and this is exactly the kind of circumstance where having one would have helped me. Instead of getting overwhelmed with trying to create an entire budget, I am going to start with realistic steps to get me through the next six months of my business planning including: nailing an agreement contract, creating service fees and photo packages and passing out all of my business postcards I bought.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Get Connected: Join Wescott's New Online Photo Community

Check out this online version of an email I received today to find out how you can:

1) Join the NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) and get a free Photoshop Training DVD

2) Be recognized as a PRO photographer

3) Get tips for shooting photos and video from Wescott affiliated professional photographers

Instructor's Tip: Wet the Wood

Enjoy this week's "Instuctor's Tip" by award winning nature photographer Russ Burden:

"Wet the Wood"

Saturated colors have more impact than those that are washed out.
They possess a greater richness and tonality adding to the success of
an image. This is one of the primary reasons photographers prefer to
shoot during the sweet light hours of sunrise and sunset. The warm
rich light adds dimensionality and has a luminosity that can’t be
replicated in mid day.

I love to photograph trees, I love macro work, and I love to impart
saturation to both. Over the years I’ve come up with a great way to
marry all three. I’ve made many close ups of bark patterns satisfying
my love of tree and macro photography. I’ve learned that using a
collapsible diffuser to soften the light allows me to shoot at just
about any time of the day. Bright highlights are tamed and the
overall softness of the image makes me thankful for the tool’s
discovery. Still something was missing.

One day while shooting on Mount Evans, a short lived Colorado
thunderstorm moved through and was followed by the sun. While walking
through the beautiful bristlecone pine forest, I noticed all the wood
had a saturated quality with warm and rich tones. I found the missing
piece to my puzzle. So now, whenever I make photos of tree patterns,
I carry a 16 oz spray bottle of water to wet the area I intend to
photograph. The key is to wait until the water just begins to dry
before taking the photo. This way the glare of the freshly sprayed
drops disappear and I don’t get hot spots in the image.


The photo(s) in this post were taken by Russ Burden. To learn more about how Russ captured this image, join him on one of his photo tours. Visit Russ Burden Photography to get more information.

To take a class with Russ or a fellow Digital Photo Academy instructor in your area, check out the Digital Photo Academy. I took Russ' intermediate and advanced courses last year, and he continues to be a strong source of knowledge and encouragement as I progress in my photography.

Don't forget to check Take Great Pictures for Russ' most recent tips. On the home page, click on the "Photo Tips And Techniques" button in the left hand column. Additionally, check out his "Digital Tip of the Month" found by clicking on the Digital Photography button.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Birthday Road Trip

I just got back from my birthday road trip a few hours ago, and I had a blast! I decided to head to Rifle, Colorado, a mountain town about four hours west of Denver along Interstate 70 so I could photograph the lush Rifle Falls. The breathtaking waterfall was amazing to see, hear and feel. You'd think you had wandered into a jungle as the spray hit the rocky limestone cliffs, creating a misty secret garden of moss covered rocks. I felt like a child getting pelted with the spray, and I had to resist a strong urge to leap into the base of the waterfall. I've never seen anything like it.

This Cancerian felt like she was home. When I wasn't sitting for hours just watching the falls, I was shooting from every angle I could, amassing nearly 300 shots from morning through the night. I hiked to the top of the waterfall to get this gorgeous bird's eye view. This was the first one I edited as soon as I got home, and more will follow. I'm proud of this one because I used some of the new techniques I learned in my Photoshop 2 class with Armando Martinez. Curves helped me make that rock on the lower left hand part of the frame blend in more. Did you notice it when you looked at the image? I hope not!

These solo excursions on my birthday have become an annual rite of rejuvation. Last year, I went to Mt. Evans...which was no easy feat for this city girl. I had to overcome some fears driving up there alone, but having done so filled me with a great sense of accomplishment. I was a little afraid traveling by myself at first, but I grew more comfortable with it as the days progressed. And I made new friends along the way, including a new photographer buddy I met at the falls, Vince. Plus, being alone gave me the opportunity to reconnect with myself, an act that within itself is always time well spent.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

An Aside: Backups and Heeding a Friend's Warning

A cry for help in a Digital Photography School forum spurred me to do something I should have done a long time ago: back up all of my photography files and images. Southernbelle, a new online friend and fellow fotog, lost her photos when her hard drive crashed. Thankfully though, she had been uploading all of her images to a Kodak gallery for the last four years. She was able to buy an archival CD from Kodak containing all of her 6,000 original images.

It is a lesson we should all learn from.

Several months ago, I purchased a professional membership to Flickr, which allows me to backup and store my images online. Even though I had this extra security, I had been remiss in uploading my photos. Today, I decided to take action. Before I leave the city and head to Rifle to take pictures of the lovely triple beauty of the Rifle Falls, I WILL backup everything on my Flickr site. I also want to check out the Kodak gallery as well. When it comes to backing up, I think redundancy and paranoia is a good thing. I also have two external hard drives with all the images backed up as well.

Thank you Southernbelle for sharing your experiences. I plan to take heed to my friend's warning!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Get the Goods: Free Texture Give-A-Way is giving away a handful of high quality textures at their website. Each set contains about 35 images which can be downloaded for free. Graphic artists and designers are increasingly turning to the internet to assemble components for their products, including using high resolution photography as background textures. Try layering these textures (lowering the opacity of the layer so it fades into the background without being distracting) to add depth to your images.

This Weekend: My Birthday!

My 34th birthday is on Monday, and to celebrate, I've taken this Friday and Monday off from my work at the Denver Post. Since my roadtrip earlier this year commemorating my First Year Anniversary of being a photographer was so successful, I am thinking about taking another mini-road trip to a scenic location.

A few months ago, I picked up this book, "A Guide to Colorado's Best Photography Locations" by photographer Andy Cook at the Denver Pro Photo store.

My goal is to systematically visit all of the places listed in this amazing book that holds a wealth of information for landscape photographers. Detailed directions, maps, and best seasonal shooting times make this book invaluable, plus it includes tips and techniques for bettering landscape photography skills.

I haven't decided where I'm going yet, but it will be a day trip I take on Sunday, since my friends want to take me out dancing Friday and Saturday. Where do you think I should go? Do you have a favorite Colorado scenic haunt you are willing to share with me?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Is Getty Trolling Flickr For New Talent?

Armando Martinez, my new friend and Photoshop instructor-extraordinaire, tipped me off last night during one of his classes about an exciting new partnership between Getty and Flickr.

According to this Seattle PI article and this blog posted on the Getty Images blog, Getty editors "will be exploring Flickr's collection of public photos and inviting some of these photographers to be part of the Flickr collection on Getty Images."

What does that mean for you and me? Getty Images customers will have access to our photos and give us a chance to license our images commercially with an internationally recognized digital media organization. Check out the Flickr collection on in coming months to see what the editors have selected. That also means those tags and keyword searches are going to be more important than ever in helping get your photos to the editors. Plus, Getty will pay many of us amateur and semi-pro fotogs the same way they pay professionals, with percentages pased on use and restrictions. Getty will likely be looking for "scenic and creative shots".

Armando seems to think Getty Images and Flickr might try to use the dollar stock model to sell the images cheap. Read PhotoShelter's response to this move by their top competitor and why they think Getty is killing the stock industry.

I will definitely keep an ear out for more information about this. Look for more great ideas and information from Armando later this week, since his Photoshop 2 class was so incredible that it blew my mind and opened the door to so many new possibilities for achieving better photos.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Instructor's Tip: Motion

Enjoy this week's "Instuctor's Tip" by award winning nature photographer Russ Burden:

Depicting movement in a still image has challenged photographers
since the advent of photography. After all, we’re shooting “stills,”
not “motions.” In order to portray motion, some sort of blurring and
movement of the subject needs to occur. If we think of fast moving
objects, words like, “It happened so fast it’s all a blur,” come to
mind. Ironically though, we’re taught that blurry photographs are not
good ones. So how can we successfully marry the concept of blur and

SLOW SHUTTER: Use a slow shutter speed to emphasize motion. The speed
of the motion dictates what shutter speed is needed. Digital
photography has made this so easy as you receive immediate feedback
as to whether or not the proper shutter speed was chosen.

STATIONARY/ BLUR COMBO: A very powerful way to portray movement is to
integrate both action and stillness in the same image. Look for
situations where key elements of the composition remain motionless
while others show lots of action. The classic example that comes to
mind is a train entering a station. A slow shutter will portray the
movement of the train, yet the people waiting for it to arrive remain

DASHBOARD EVENING: Get yourself to a city at dusk. The reason for
this specific time is there’s a good balance of both ambient and
artificial light. Rest the camera on your dashboard and point it out
the windshield. Drive around with the shutter open. Ideally you’ll
want a shutter speed of a few seconds. The longer the shutter is
open, the more streaks you’ll pick up from headlights, taillights,
and buildings.

- Russ

The photo(s) in this post were taken by Russ Burden. To learn more about how Russ captured this image, join him on one of his photo tours. Visit Russ Burden Photography to get more information.

To take a class with Russ or a fellow Digital Photo Academy instructor in your area, check out the Digital Photo Academy. I took Russ' intermediate and advanced courses last year, and he continues to be a strong source of knowledge and encouragement as I progress in my photography.

Don't forget to check Take Great Pictures for Russ' most recent tips. On the home page, click on the "Photo Tips And Techniques" button in the left hand column. Additionally, check out his "Digital Tip of the Month" found by clicking on the Digital Photography button.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Get the Goods: Tips and Tricks for Shooting Fireworks

Tired of the same hum-drum firework shots year after year? Use some of these great tips and tricks culled from my favorite photography sites to take your shots from run-of-the-mill to thrill this Fourth of July!

Tip and Photo by Frank Siteman, a Boston Digital Photography Academy Instructor: TAKE THE LENS CAP OFF

Yes, it may seem simple enough, all you have to remember to do is " take the lens cap off". But Wait, maybe you don't want it to be so simple. Imagine what you can achieve if you're willing to shake things up a bit.

Try this:

With your camera on a tripod and the shutter set to B for bulb, you can easily obtain multiple exposures of fireworks.

First, hit the shutter. The shutter will open...but with a lens cap on, no light will enter the camera.

Then, as you hear the dull thud of the launcher and see the streaking fuse heading to the heights, you can pretty well judge when a big burst will happen.

So, just before that explosion of shape and color, and with that shutter still open (on bulb), remove the lens cap and capture just the climax of the pyrotechnic. Then, cover the lens and wait for the next launch, repeating the process until the entire field of the photo is filled. Obviously, some experimentation will be required, but you'll have a blast with this one, cobbling together an unending variety of color, motion and dazzling sparkles.

And don't forget that you have the option to point the camera at different areas of the sky.

10 Tips from Digital Photography School

Photo by Hupaishi

This post from the DPS Forum is chock full of the most important techniques for shooting fireworks shared by fellow photographers and the book "Digital Photography: Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks (Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks)" by Rob Sheppard.

The greatest drama from the night may not be in the skies, reminds photographer Jon Sienkiewicz, who wrote about Metering Fireworks at

Keep a look out for crowd reactions, such as this photo of an amazed and wary looking child shared on the Huff family blog

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

POTW: Shadows

It's been a long while since I had the time to shoot and submit a "Photo of the Week" assignment for the Colorado 4X4 Shutterbug Forum. But a great shot presented itself during my night photography outting on Saturday.

I took this shot at the Denver Skate Park in LoDo. Capturing the boarders and bikers in mid air while their shadows played along the pavement was exciting. But this was my favorite of the bunch. I like the symmetry of the curves in the image, the good use of Rule of Thirds with the main subject in the upper left hand side of the frame and the usage of highlights and shadows. A commenter on Flickr said it looked almost organic, as if the boarder was in the I changed my initial title of "Solitary Rush" to "In the Womb."

July Monthly Assignment Posted: "HISTORY"

The votes are in and HISTORY will be the topic for July's photography assignment. Brush up on the rules by reading this past post.

You will have from now until July 27 to submit an entry. Voting polls will then open and the winner will be announced on August 1.

Need some inspiration for this topic? Efrain Cruz, director of Illuminate Photography Workshops had this to say about capturing "History" as a photographic concept:

"I think this is a great idea. You will likely get so many variations, perspectives, and interpretations that the field will be beautifully vast. It might also be such a vast field that photogs could get stymied by the vastness of it all. They could get lost in the scope that they do nothing, or nothing creative. However, I think that a lot of great work will come out of it."

Some of my readers have already commented that they think the topic is too broad, but don't get tripped up by that. Use this as a great opportunity to think outside of the viewfinder. What does history mean to you? How could it be crafted compositionally in an image? I'm looking forward to seeing some amazing interpretations. Good luck everyone!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

An Aside: CD Conundrum

I simply wasn't prepared for it when I got what my photography colleagues are now telling me was an inevitable request: "What will you charge for a CD of all the wedding photos including the reception?" It seems like an innocent request, but it's not. The potential fallout in loss of sales related to that one question is why so many digital photographers do not offer CDs in their contracts.

I sell prints and digital downloads on my business website and a professional printing company makes the prints and mails them out to clients. Many clients think that the photos should belong to them, so it shouldn't cost anything for a photographer to give them a CD. However, clients need to be made to understand that they are paying for your service to photograph the wedding and not the price of reprints or ownership rights unless that's clearly stated in the wedding contract.

The bride told me she understood what she was paying for, given the fact that I only charged her $500, and that she would have to purchase prints from my website. It helped her understand the situation better when she tried to hire a previous photographer and found out she couldn't possibly afford the $3,500 price tag for those services.

A quick search of online photography blogs and forums netted these responses to whether or not a CD should be sold:

1) NO -- because the client will take the CD to the nearest drug store and print up hundreds of low quality pics for their friends, relatives and wedding guests for mere pennies. That means no print sales for you. And the print quality will most definitely be terrible, making the photographer seem at fault for terrible workmanship.

2) YES -- but only after a certain amount of predetermined print sales have been made.

3) NO -- sell a DVD with an AVI files or a CD with a slide show of low resolutoin images instead that cannot be reprinted.

4) YES -- include CDs only in predetermined packages

5) YES -- but only at fair market value, making it clear that the client is paying fo reprint rights, not the actual CD.

Let's look at the numbers. I ended up with a little more than 600 shots taken between myself, Mike and Jason for that entire day worth of photography, not to mention the bridal portraits I took a week before the wedding. Even if I charged just $5 (waaaay too low) for each of those high resolution images, that would still run a client $3,000 for the CD.

So here's what I told my client: The high res images on CD would cost $3,000 due to shared ownership and reprint rights, BUT, it might be more economical to buy the actual prints you want from my business website where you will receive pro-quality prints.

So far, all I've heard is crickets chirping out in the audience. I may run the risk of losing more sales this way, but I think I've reached my limit in offering freebies and selling myself short.

Get Connected: Attended a Night Photography Group Shoot

Saturday night and well into Sunday morning, I attended a free night photography group shoot hosted by Illuminate Photography Workshops in Denver. BTW, that's me in the back row of the photo above! I can't tell you how much fun it was to be apart of this creative group of people. It was fun to shoot with friends and professional colleagues John Freeman and Tiffany Trott. Plus, working alongside other talented photographers is very motivational and its fun to see how different "eyes" see and capture a similar topic, such as the Denver Millenium Bridge. I felt safe traveling around the city at night with so many other people around me. And nothing compares to getting to see and experience your hometown as it lives and breathes in the darkness.

Workshop director Efrain Cruz (directing students above) plans to host these events each month, offering former students an opportunity to learn new techniques and shoot on location with workshop instructors like Armando Martinez. But I also think it's a great way to grow Efrain's business. He's creating a sense of community among current and potentially new students in a non-threatening and fun way. Plus, people who attend the event are encouraged to post up their images on Flickr, another great avenue for getting your photography out to a public audience.

Up until now, I have to admit I've loathed my tripod and rarely used it. To be perfectly honest, that contraption scared me and made me worry that my camera wasn't attached correctly and would eventually end up crashing to the floor. But you can't take long night exposures without a tripod keeping your camera steady, so I couldn't avoid the Bogen any longer. Everyone seemed to understand my initial aversion to the tripod and thankfully no one laughed at me (to my face anyway) when I needed to be schooled on how to work it. Hey, cut me some slack, at least I had the bloody damned thing! But before the morning came, I was confidently lugging my camera attached atop my tripod just like everybody else, and my respect and confidence for the Bogen has grown tremendously. Especially since it helped me take amazing shots like these:

See more images from the night's adventure on the Illuminate Workshop Flickr Group pool.

If you are in the Denver area and you want to join us this coming month during our next night shoot, subscribe to Illuminate Photography Workshops newsletter here.

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