Thousands of Photographs…But what to do???

Without question the ‘Digital Revolution‘ has opened up photography to the masses for a whole host of reasons…not least for the reduced cost of getting set up.

In fact my own professional life as a photographer has only known the world of the Digital SLR but I do remember as a kid having a little 35mm film camera and sending off to get the prints back; most of the time ending up with the 2 good shots at best out of a roll of 24.

With digital photography we get instant feedback and can see the photos we take straight away on our camera’s LCD screen and we can take thousands upon thousands of photographs without it costing us a penny; the question though is what do you do with all of those photographs? Do you, I suspect like most, end up with hard drives full of images that just disappear in the depths?

Of course it isn’t just photographs taken on your DSLR or ‘point and shoot’ nowadays as most people have mobile phones that take pretty decent, acceptable quality photographs too. Speaking for myself at last look I had just under 3000 images in my iPhone camera roll and obviously I’m not talking about client images here…I’m talking about ‘personal’ photos…photos of holidays, days out, family, pets and so on…

But what are we to do with them all?

Being in the ‘digital age’ there are many options available to us to display and look at our photographs; digital frames that hold memory cards can display continuous slideshows of images, with Apple TV [Link] we can view images on our television sets, the iPad with it’s fabulous screen, but no matter how great this is, I can’t help but keep one foot in the past and favour ‘hard copies’ of my images…not all images you understand, just my favourites.

At our home we have framed holiday, family and pet photographs, taken using my Nikon DSLR and some taken using my iPhone. The iPhone ones understandably aren’t as sharp as those taken with my D3, but that doesn’t matter…it’s the images and the memories they bring back that’s more important to me with these rather than sharpness and overall quality.

Since reading Scott Kelby’s account of his recent trip to London over on his blog [Link] I’ve been motivated to get some of Apple’s Photo books printed; especially as the process is so darned simple and inexpensive.

Getting Apple’s Photo Books made up is something I know Scott does after most trips away and something I’m going to be making a point of doing from now on too.

So what about you…what are you doing with all your photographs? Do you still like to have ‘hard copies’ and get prints framed, make photo books or are you happy to use all the digital alternatives?

There’s so many companies out there that offer these services nowadays…companies like Kaleidoscope [Link], Loxley Colour [Link], Photobox [Link], MPix [Link] to name but a few I’d be really interested to ‘hear’ what you tend do with your personal photos and how you choose to look at them.

As always please feel free to make use of the comments section below, but in the meantime,

>In case you missed it, for those of you who use Apple here’s a link to a video Scott Kelby put together showing how simple it is to design and order a photo book using your very own images [Link]

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  • June 6, 2011 - 7:19 am

    Jonathan Thompson - Hi Glyn,
    I think this is a subject more and more of us are going to discuss. I’m a bit of an old soul dragging myself into the digital age, without too much fuss, but I hanker for some of the old ways of doing things. The more we connect digitally the more I feel a little more empty unless I use it to actually connect, meet up, chat over lunch, physically make new friends. So the thought of printing my images really appeals to me. I remember when I first got my Mac and ran through Apples tutorials on their site. I was amazed at what you could do, iPhoto & Keynote blew me away, especially when my last computer had Window 98 and crashed when I asked it to rotate an image. I’d forgotten about how good it was until I read Scotts blog, it has re-ignited my passion for a real printed book with pages, smells and everything. Sure it’s not a high end £150 book of art by some renown photographer, but then nor were the photo albums I used to put together and treasure today. I think they make great gifts for friends and family, even some clients. Lets not go charging ahead, so fast into the future, without bringing a few of the good old days with us.
    So that’s my 2 pence worth, thanks for the post Glyn, it made me stop and think.



  • June 6, 2011 - 9:03 am

    Scot Baston - You pose a difficult question Glyn,

    it seems to me that the new version of a hard copy photobook is the iPhone/iPad and their equivalents. If I wish to show people my personal images it is often just on my phone as I can always have them with me.

    I agree that it lacks the magic of a real print and it is not a complete solution but I find having access to the images almost constantly means when conversations head in a particular direction I can pull up a photo from that day.

    on the other hand when I took a year out to go travelling, I had a book printed with all my favourite images. I often look back through that book and remember all the people, stories and places. Not sure they have the same effect on screen.

    Good post Glyn and I’ll have to think some more about how I find my own solution



  • June 6, 2011 - 10:12 am

    DaveT - Hi Glyn,

    I really like the first set of cat images, they have a lovely depth of field.

    I’m as guilty as the next of having images in the depth of my hard drives, but I also use a number of use a number of different approaches to bring them out into the open.

    Photo books – I use this method as a permanent reminder of a special trip or occasion. I have recently had one of the soft book cover versions from Apple as described by Scott and it worked out very well. At Focus on Imaging I saw some great examples of special photo paper books created with Bob Books so I intend to try one of them in the future.

    DVD slide show – I have been using Proshow Gold and Producer for many years to make slide show of my images, which I burn to DVD and then play through a DVD and large screen television. I sometimes also do sound recordings on location and add this to the mix to make the slide shows that much more different. However Pro show is PC based only and having recently swapped to an Imac I’m looking for something equally effective

    I-touch – I have some portfolios on my I-touch to show my work to interested parties. In time this will be replaced by an I-pad.

    Camera Club talks – I give talks to camera clubs on my travel photography.

    Computer –I use Lightroom for collections and slide shows, which I watch for my own enjoyment.

  • June 6, 2011 - 2:05 pm

    Paul HOdgson - Hey Glyn, timely post. Even for none MAC users like me we still have the option of Blurb or Kodak printing books that are both inexpensive but also reasonable quality> I think it may even be Kodak that makes the Apple books.

    Beyond work photographs, I still take a lot of personal photos which do nothing more than reside on one of many external HDD’s…I’m a legend on these drives :) but print them I rarely do that. I suspect many of us don’t print our work either…odd!

    Catch up soon and have a great day.


  • June 6, 2011 - 7:25 pm

    Glyn - @Jonathan…Thanks for a great comment mate and yeah I totally agree with you i.e. “Lets not go charging ahead, so fast into the future, without bringing a few of the good old days with us.”

  • June 6, 2011 - 7:38 pm

    Glyn - @Scot…Yeah mate I love showing and looking at my images on my iPad but since seeing Scott’s post and knowing it’s something he always does it really got me thinking; sometimes I feel you just can’t beat a real album/book and believe me for me to say that as a self confessed Geek even surprised myself…lol :)

  • June 6, 2011 - 7:43 pm

    Glyn - @DaveT…Glad to see you approve of ‘Morris’ :)
    Great to hear you’re pleased with the book you had made by Apple; I was going to go for the soft cover version too, so thanks for that.
    Looks like you are really embracing both the digital and hard copy way of displaying and looking at your images and that’s how I tend to think it should be; best of both worlds.

    Thanks again for dropping by and taking the time to comment mate; always appreciated.
    Cheers, Glyn

  • June 6, 2011 - 7:45 pm

    Glyn - @Paul…Ah yes Blurb…I’ve been meaning to get a book done by them for quite a while now after seeing examples…stunning stuff!!!

    Re printing your own images…geez, in all honesty I can’t remember the last time I did that as I always send them off to the lab. Crazy how sending off for prints actually works out cheaper than printing them yourself huh…such is the price of ink and paper I guess :)


  • June 7, 2011 - 1:32 pm

    Steve Porter - Hi Glyn, great post this, one that is close to my heart. I used to make slide shows of all the photos i have taken of my son growing up, birthdays, important times and fun times etc. Inlike my client files i only backed them them up to one portable hard drive and it got corrupted, i had backed up most of them on DVD also but not all of them and lost some precious memories. Now i print books of every year to pass on to him in the future.
    Cheers Steve

Joe McNally: The Language of Light

Ok so here’s a question for you…

If you could spend 3 hours in the company of Joe McNally shooting both in the studio and on location, with one light, multiple lights, and a variety of modifiers to overcome all manner of lighting situations you’d jump at the chance right?

Reality is that for the majority this just isn’t going to happen, but without question Joe’s new DVD “The Language of Light” is the very best next thing.

But with so many instructional DVD’s out there in the market place you may at first find yourself wondering what could possibly be so different about this one, so allow me to explain…

From the Cover:
For the past 3 decades, photographer Joe McNally has been documenting our times on assignment for publications like LIFE, Time, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated and many others. Highly regarded as a Master of Light, both natural and artificial, Joe continues to create stunning imagery all over the world. Much sought after as a photographer, lecturer and teacher, Joe educates and inspires shooters of all types – pros, hobbyists and beginners with The Language of Light.

In this DVD set, Joe shares almost 30 years worth of field knowledge, instruction and philosophy about using light as a powerful tool of visual communication. He fully explores and explains different lighting techniques and goes well beyond the “how” and all the way through the “why”, of using light. Small flash, hard light, soft light, light with colour, light in the studio and on location are all dissected and explained. You see and hear all about the F Stops, shutter speeds, lenses and light shaping tools, and you are taken further into the reasons why one lighting approach is better than another for certain scenes, faces or groups. All along the way, Joe offers tips, tricks and solutions than can only be gained from 30 years with a camera to your eye. Sit back, relax and enjoy as this legendary shooter takes you on a fast paced, humorous, and always informative journey about how to speak with light.

This 2 DVD set is packed, and I mean packed full of shoots & techniques but here’s where it’s different:

First off Joe’s instructional style is totally engaging; every single thing is explained..the how, the why, the why not’s…all of it is there leaving you in no doubt about what is being done.

It actually feels as though you’re there on set with Joe as he takes you through the concept of the shoot and sets up everything and explains why he’s doing something every single step of the way.

DVD 1:
The first DVD sets the tone for what’s to come as Joe explains in simple terms how to get beautiful light from just one light source and then moves on to using several lights…all of which throughout the DVD are regular hotshoe flashes but be prepared to see what those things are capable of as Joe turns small flashes into real big light sources…quickly and easily.

Taken from the official Language of Light Website [Link] here’s what DVD has in store:

  • Turning one small flash into one big light – The name of the game with small flash is to make it look like big flash. Lots of strategies explained here, but if you’ve only got one speed light and a white wall, you’re in business!
  • Controlling harsh natural light – One of the most important things to know as a shooter is how to use bad light well. Taking hard, nasty daylight and turning it into beautiful light is actually pretty easy. Anybody got a bed sheet and a piece of white cardboard?
  • Dramatic one light portraiture – One light can be soft and beautiful, but It can also create drama through the magic and mystery of shadows. The play of light and dark on the human face is essential to explore if you want to shoot good portraits.

Now I’ll just say this…I would have brought this DVD set for this section alone!
When Joe shows how to dramatically improve your portraits by moving the light in a certain way by just 6” you’ll see exactly what I mean…Genius!

  • Tour of small flash light shapers – There’s lots of stuff our there you can hang on your small flash to shape, bend, soften and tweak it. We’ll show you some terrific ones that are simple and wont break the bank.
  • Light placement – Where you put the light is almost as important as where you put your camera in relation to your subject. We’ll show you how distance and direction can dramatically affect the quality of your light.

DVD 2:
This DVD picks up the pace with more studio time and more shooting out ‘on location’. What’s great here is that you get to see more of how Joe works his way through a shoot, working in a number of locations and dealing with a host of lighting challenges. The magic though is that there are always solutions and Joe shows how those solutions are really quite simple when you understand the 3 principles of  light…Colour, Quantity and Direction.


  • High speed sync – High speed flash! These (often overlooked) techniques help to tame the sun, and limit depth of field for effective portraiture. Just because the sun is out in full force, doesn’t mean you can’t use flash effectively.
  • Mixing color temperatures – The “big three” of flash lighting – quality, direction, and color. Throughout the DVD, we talk about the color of light and how we mix flash with ambient and existing artificial light.
  • Flash and blur – Flash moves fast! We’ll explore how to show motion in a “still” photograph.

  • Athletic portraiture – Strategies for lighting the athletic human body. Drama, intensity, and excitement are key components of the world of sports, and your flash technique has to meet that challenge. We’ll show how to make the athletic body come alive.
  • Lighting in a tight spot – Small spaces present big challenges. The locations photographers encounter are rarely ideal. We’ll tackle different tactics for lighting dramatically in a small space to get maximum effect.
  • Group portraits – Our favorite thing! Groups! Tips and tricks for lighting the masses, large and small.
  • Engaging Your Subject – Before you can photograph someone effectively, you need to establish a relationship. Get to know them, make them feel relaxed, and help them encounter the camera with confidence. All throughout both discs, we show the importance of human relations, and how to make someone feel and look good in front of the lens.

Folks I could go on and on about how good this DVD set is; seriously I would have paid alot more than the $159 (£97) price tag. Sure I’m a photographer, I do portraits, I use flash in studio and on location but there’s one thing I don’t do and that’s ‘stop learning’ and when it comes to learning I want to learn from the best.

I’ve watched both DVD’s a number of times already and each time I do I pick up more tips and techniques. But understand this…it’s not just the technical know how you’re learning here…it’s how someone regarded as being one of the best in the world assesses locations, works through lighting challenges and maybe most importantly interacts with the subjects he’s shooting.

Where to Purchase:
The DVD set is only available through Adorama [Link] and costs $159 (£97) and what’s more there’s even FREE International Shipping.

Quite simply…One of the best investments I’ve made to date! Highly Recommended!

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  • June 2, 2011 - 7:21 pm

    Jonathan Thompson - Hi Glyn, thanks for this post. As soon as I saw this dvd was available I’ve been biding my time until we get moved this month, then I’ll be ordering it. I learn so much from so many, Joe has a teaching style that seems to work for me, the fact that i look up to him in awe and for inspiration helps. It doesn’t matter what gear you use, his techniques work, that’s it.. I’ve watched all his Kelby Training videos, you see him get intense, excited, frustrated, so it’s ok if we feel like that, after all he’s been at it for 30+ years. I think anyone who loves photography should buy this, you never know where it will take you. I’ve half a mind to ask to borrow your copy until mine arrives ;)

    Thanks again for the post and a big thanks to Joe for sharing such incredible knowledge.

    Cheers, Jonathan

  • June 3, 2011 - 11:46 am

    Paul Dakeyne - Glyn, thanks so much for this additional insight into what, for me anyway, was probably gonna be an inevitable purchase (being a fan of Joe’s books for a few years now). Anyway, the inevitable comes sooner… ordered from the States and awaiting the postman :-)
    Cheers again Glyn and keep up ‘your’ great work too man

  • June 6, 2011 - 10:09 am

    DaveT - Hi Glyn,

    I have Joe’s book ‘The Hot Shoe Diaries’ and was able to translate the information for Canon use, would you say that this is just as easy in this case?

  • June 6, 2011 - 7:23 pm

    Glyn - @Paul…Nice one mate; you’ll love it. Trouble is though it’s going to feel like forever waiting for it to arrive…lol :)

  • June 6, 2011 - 7:40 pm

    Glyn - @DaveT…Absolutely it is mate. Sure Joe’s a Nikon shooter but this DVD set doesn’t really play any service to that at all i.e it’s for any shooter using any brand. This is all about the light and how to see it, manipulate, work with it and so on…seriously good mate…seriously good!

  • June 20, 2011 - 2:31 pm

    Ziggy - Glyn.

    Love the review of this DVD. Is it ‘region free’, or do/can you order it for Region 2? Or is it DVD Rom? Must be going blind in my old age………



  • June 25, 2011 - 9:15 am

    Glyn - @Ziggy…It’s a DVD and regards the Region, it looks like it’s Region Free which is a bonus :)

  • February 1, 2012 - 8:15 pm

    Tony Sale - This looks like a great dvd doesn’t seem to be available in the UK yet though.

  • February 1, 2012 - 8:25 pm

    Glyn - Tony, if you go to Adorama’s site they ship internationally and were doing free delivery.


Shooting with Scott Kelby…Would you ‘Adam & Eve’ it!?!

Those of you who follow his blog will know that last week Scott Kelby paid a visit to Ole London Town to see Eric Clapton live at the Royal Albert Hall and for some quality ‘time out’ and a bit sight seeing thrown in for good measure.

Thankfully for this visit Mother Nature did us proud and came up with some cracking weather; blue skies, sunshine…and plenty of it…quite a contrast from when he was last over in October 2010 [Link]

Knowing that Scott was keeping this trip to London very ‘low key’ made it extra special that he chose to spend one of the days with my buddy Dave Clayton and myself for a catch up and to do a bit of ‘shooting’. So, on Wednesday of last week we all met up in London for a bit of lunch and then did the ‘London thing i.e. ‘hailed a black cab’ and made our way to a studio.

We headed over to Tower Bridge and the aptly named Tower Bridge Studios [Link]; a studio Dave had managed to source due to having worked with the owner James Vellacott in the past and geez what a find…5 large studios with every piece of kit you could wish for and to top it all off, they were all available, so giving us complete run of the place.

Scott had an idea to shoot in the daylight studio; something I’ve actually never used before, so that’s what we did and I must admit it made a real nice change. The light coming into this first floor studio’s frosted glass was nothing short of gorgeous and of course being natural light it meant we could shoot continuously.

In fact for the majority of the time we were shooting we used the natural/available light, a silver/white tri grip reflector and once or twice, a piece of foam core. Incidentally, an ingenious way of holding the foam core made use of metal bike racks…the kind you rest one wheel in to keep your pedal bike upright; simple, does the job and alot cheaper than any photography branded equipment I’m sure.

We had a couple of models come along, the first being a guy by the name of Reuben Kuan [Link]; an acrobatic performer whom Scott had approached the day before having watched him perform to a crowd of passersby in London’s Covent Garden; and what a fascinating character he turned out to be. Reuben was fantastic in front of the camera…not just because of how he looks but the way he could balance and the poses he could hold without so much as a strained expression; in fact I think the only ones moaning and groaning were Scott, Dave and myself as we positioned ourselves to take shots of him:)

Here’s a few of the ‘natural light’ shots that I took of Reuben, with the tri grip only being used on the shot of Reuben in the window. A little bit of ‘post’ was needed to bring back some extra light into Reuben’s face in the window shot but apart from adding a little glow, nothing more was done. For the shots of Reuben sat on the studio floor, these were taken with the available light and in ‘post’ a subtle ‘Bleach Bypass’ type effect was added with just a couple of steps in Photoshop…

The only time any studio lighting was used was for the last few minutes with Reuben. Scott took some fantastic shots of him against a black backdrop [Link] and I couldn’t resist finishing off taking a shot for putting a composite together.

The image below was taken using two strip lights on either side of Reuben and a Beauty Dish to the front. Normally I’d put up a grey backdrop but because we didn’t want to get all bogged down in setting up kit and wanted to keep things to a minimum, I just positioned Reuben about 10ft away from one of the white studio walls which limited the amount of light falling onto it…voilà grey wall:)

Our second model for the day was the very talented and delightful singer/song writer Chanel Fusco [Link]. I’ve worked with Chanel a number of times in the past, first meeting her to photograph her promotional material, and it’s been amazing to see how her confidence in front of the camera has grown to a point where she’s just not the same person that I first met [Link]

A HUGE thanks goes out to Chanel for making it over to the Studio seeing as it was very much last minute and I didn’t get hold of her until the very same morning. Chanel you’re a star and I know I speak for Scott and Dave here too when I say you were a total blast to work with:)

For those of you interested in the ‘technique’ side of things, all of the shots of Chanel were taken using just the light available in the studio and a Silver/White Tri Grip Reflector (only making use of the white side), Camera in Aperture Priority at F/2.8 and between 800 and 1600 iso…

I guess we must have been in the studio for a good 4 hours or so and it was a laugh a minute; great subjects to shoot, great venue and great company. Mind you I couldn’t help chuckling that the last time the three of us got together to shoot we froze our behinds off walking round a wet/grey London and this time the weather couldn’t have been better and we were shooting indoors…still by the sounds of it, we (Dave & I) may have redeemed ourselves after subjecting Scott to such weather last year:)

Having finished in the studio we then made our way to a nearby pub to sample some of the local ale (and diet coke) and talked about, well….just stuff and that’s what was really cool about the day…just hanging out, chatting, shooting and plenty of laughs.

We then hailed another black cab and headed across London to an Ethiopian Restaurant where we met up with Scott’s wonderful wife Kalebra, friends Alan and Marcia and (four time Guru Award winner, and Photography Teacher at a University just outside London) Ed Davis where the conversation and laughs continued until late…in fact until they were closing:)

I gotta say this is one day I’ll never forget because let’s face it 6 years ago I got my first ever copy of Photoshop and whilst surfing the net stumbled across an organisation called the N.A.P.P. (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) [Link] of which Scott Kelby is the President, I never would have thought that one day I’d be spending quality time in his company let alone being able to call him a friend. It doesn’t matter what age we are, we all have people we look up to and admire and for me Scott Kelby is one of them. I’ve alot to thank him for, a heck of alot because without him, his organisation and the folks he works with I wouldn’t be in the position I am now…in fact I may never have picked up a camera!

Scott, thank you for your limitless generosity and for taking time out of your ‘time out’ to catch up and spend it with Dave and myself. I know I speak for both of us when I say how proud we both are to be able to call you a friend. Thank you too, to Kalebra, Alan and Marcia…it was fantastic to meet you guys; see you at Photoshop World!

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  • May 30, 2011 - 8:21 pm

    Terry Donnelly - wow, the time and effort you take in putting all these posts together Glyn is outstanding.

    Great to get an insight into your day, looks like a blast!

  • May 30, 2011 - 8:26 pm

    Jonathan Thompson - Great post Glyn, thank you and Dave for being such good ambassadors for our foggy little island and not chasing the Americans away. Keep up the great work.

    Cheers, Jonathan

  • May 30, 2011 - 8:30 pm

    Shiv - Mate i envy you like crazy :)
    Lovely post and yeah Kelby is such a nice person too
    Lovely images too .. great going

  • May 30, 2011 - 8:42 pm

    Scot Baston - What can I say Glyn…

    Love it.. great shot of Dave as well.

    Looks like an awesome day and one you’ll remember for some time to come

  • May 30, 2011 - 9:30 pm

    daniela - Goodness. Love the shots, but this time, I love the writing even more. It is wonderful to see where you get your influences from and who your idols are, as well as seeing how much fun you guys had – thank you very much for sharing! very much appreciated!

  • May 30, 2011 - 10:27 pm

    Ian Baker - Again u have gone well beyond expectations mate wonderful stuff great shots great blog shame I didn’t get some video footage of this 1 would have been a blast lol well done mate:-)

  • May 31, 2011 - 1:47 pm

    Girish - Dropping here from Scott Kebly’s post.

    Great post this. Glad to see many behind the scenes and some tech specs.

  • May 31, 2011 - 1:52 pm

    David Kelly - Looks like a fun day had by all and I’m sure all parties got images they were very pleased with – the quality of that natural light looks ace. I think that’ll be venue you’ll be visiting again ;-)

    Like the shot of Mr Jollybottom in character ;-) and good to see Scott in Brad’s shoes for a change – hope you worked him hard :o)



  • June 1, 2011 - 9:52 am

    Chanel - Such a great blog Glyn, I love all the pictures, Rueben looks like such a character shame i didn’t get to meet him! I had a blast on the day and it’s always a pleasure working with you THANK YOU!!! :-)

  • June 1, 2011 - 5:57 pm

    Neil Holmes - Hi Glyn, just caching up with your blog looks like you had a fun day, I really like the main picture of Chanel, you really bring out here natural beauty! keep up the good work, cheers Neil

  • June 2, 2011 - 6:49 pm

    Glyn - @Terry…Thanks mate and yeah it sure was :)

  • June 2, 2011 - 6:50 pm

    Glyn - Jonathan…Mate, thanks too goes to you for the effort you put in, in the morning looking for a model…I owe you a pint (or 2) at PSW ;)

  • June 2, 2011 - 6:50 pm

    Glyn - @Shiv…Cheers Buddy

  • June 2, 2011 - 6:51 pm

    Glyn - @Scot…Sure won’t forget it mate; great fun, great company and lots of laughs :)

  • June 2, 2011 - 6:51 pm

    Glyn - @daniela…Thanks for dropping by and commenting; I really appreciate it :)

  • June 2, 2011 - 6:52 pm

    Glyn - @Ian…Cheers Buddy and re the videoing I’m sure your talents will be called upon again in the very near future :)

  • June 2, 2011 - 6:52 pm

    Glyn - @Girish…Thanks for dropping and commenting; very kind of you.

  • June 2, 2011 - 6:53 pm

    Glyn - @David…Fun day indeed mate :)

  • June 2, 2011 - 6:54 pm

    Glyn - @Chanel…HUGE thanks to you for coming down…you did a great job and looked amazing!!!

  • June 2, 2011 - 6:54 pm

    Glyn - @Neil…Very kind of you to say that mate…cheers

Friday ‘Wrap Up’ from Ole London Town

Wow, it’s the end of the week already…where are the days going???

Ok so I need to be out of the door in like…5 minutes so I thought I’d wrap up the week by leaving you with a couple of things…

Scott Kelby had been over in London this past week taking some ‘time out’ and thankfully Mother Nature came up trumps and delivered some Florida Sun during his time here. You may remember during his last visit the weather was well, typically British and as both Dave and I had since taken on Royal Appointments…’The Earl of Grey’ and ‘The Duke of Cloudyshire’ this time when we all got together we headed into a studio.

Scott has written a superb account of his time away over on his blog which you can catch here [Link] and I know Dave will be adding one up onto the NAPP Member UK website [Link] too so I’ll add a link to that as soon as it’s done; plus I’ll put something together for next week along with some BTS (Behind the Scenes) shots of what we got up to.

Photo Recipes Live Part 2
Talking of Scott Kelby, if you hadn’t caught the news already you may like to know that Scott’s “Photo Recipes LIVE Behind the Scenes: Part 2” App is now available on both iTunes (iPad / iPhone).

What’s more is that for the first 2 weeks it’s available at a 50% off introductory price of £5.99 after which it will be revert to normal price.

Those of you who have ‘Photo Recipes Part 1′ will vouch for how good it is and why it became a best seller but Part 2 ‘hits the ball out of the park’.

I’ll be adding a review in the next week but it the mean time why not head on over and grab yourself a copy from iTunes [Link]

Right I need to dash so have a great weekend and I’ll catch up with you soon,

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  • May 28, 2011 - 4:12 pm

    Keith Hammond - i bet you had a great day, any more pics to follow ? i see Chanel is very good behind the camera as well as in front

  • June 2, 2011 - 6:48 pm

    Glyn - Fab day…lots of laughs :)

Guest Photographer: Alan Hess ( @shotlivephoto )

Ever wanted to know what it takes to be a World Class Concert & Portrait Photographer, Educator and Best Selling Author??? Well I had the great pleasure recently of chatting to someone who is exactly that … Alan Hess

Based in San Diego, California Alan very kindly gave up some of his time to talk about a whole host of things from how he first of all came to be a Photographer, teaching, life as an Author and so much more…

So, here’s the content of our conversation accompanied by some of Alan’s incredible Live Concert Photography which I simply cannot stop looking through!

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Glyn: So Alan, I guess the first thing to ask is ‘How did you become a photographer?’

Alan: Well first off I never meant to be a photographer. I got a degree out of college in computer science and english and I went to work for a textile company that was in our family, so photography was kind of the last thing on my mind but I enjoyed taking photographs and it was one of those like “Well if I’m going to go do something I might as well take  a camera along with me”

A couple of years ago I started having a little more free time…work was slow so I started doing more and more photography just because it was something I enjoyed. It was kind of like making more out my hobby than a job, so it was kind of like a passion and then manufacturing in this country started falling off more and more and more and suddenly it seemed like there wasn’t a very long term opportunity in manufacturing…especially in textiles as it seemed to have moved to China and out of here. I working with my father and he decided it was time for him to retire and I decided it was time for me to try something else and in my mid 30’s I decided it was time to become a photographer and follow that passion that I already had. You know I already enjoyed taking photographs but now I had to actually start making a living out of it which is a big step to take.

Luckily enough at the time my wife had just started a new job so she was secure and suddenly I was the one floating around…

Glyn: So you didn’t initially run it alongside what you were doing with the textiles then? You literally came out of that into nothing and started your photography business?

Alan: Yeah I basically had a bit of time and we had a little money saved away and so it was the right time to do it or I was going to have to start looking for another 9 to 5 office type job.

It didn’t work out as well as I had hoped. It took a lot longer to get some clients, it took a  lot longer to get my name out, it took a lot longer to actually get paid for jobs that I used to do for free. It was very difficult to tell people that now it’s no longer a hobby and I’m no longer willing to do the same work for free that I was doing earlier.

So there was a steep learning curve in setting myself up correctly and if there’s one thing I would tell people now, even if they’re starting out with photography as a hobby they need to start thinking about it in a professional way. So you see I didn’t really approach it very professionally when it was a hobby and it kind of came back to bite me in the butt. It became real difficult to ask for the money off people I’d previously done work for for free.

Around the same period of time there was a photo expo in San Diego and on the expo floor I got into a discussion with Lexar Media before they were bought by Micron and they were releasing some new cards readers and they were talking about the new UDMA cards and all the advances they were working on so they just told me to keep in touch with them and at the same time they asked me to write a blog. So just because I was interested in it and I had the time I thought it would be a great opportunity and that blog for Lexar really kick started everything else that’s happened to me since.

The sad part is that Lexar changed ownership and they kind of changed the way they did things a little bit and I don’t really have too much of a link with them anymore but they did start something that has grown quite nicely.

Glyn: That was actually one of the questions I wanted to ask you…how on earth did you get your name out there and clearly social networking in the form of the blog played a big part…

Alan: Yeah it did. I was a professional photographer in that I actually got paid to take photographs and they were looking at this new technology called blogging which wasn’t really wide spread at the time and they wanted a bigger web presence so there were I think 4 or 5 of us that started a blog and basically I could blog whenever I wanted to and obviously they would prefer it was about photography and through that I actually got an email from my current publisher. One of their acquisitions editors had read the blog a couple of times and thought that I had the ability to write a book. I thought they were crazy but they were adamant so from that blog they contacted me and it took a little while, I mean it wasn’t like I wrote a blog on Tuesday and had a book contract on Thursday, it was more like I wrote a blog entry in February and got a book contract in November. It took a while going back and forth but the next thing I knew was that I wrote 2 books on Sony cameras; the Sony A700 and then right after that the A200. Those are the Sony A700 Digital Field Guide and the Sony A200 Digital Field Guide both for Wiley Publishers.

So that was really interesting because I wasn’t actually a Sony shooter at the time so I needed to go out and borrow all the Sony gear and I bought the cameras which ate into some of the profits but I wanted to make sure that the pictures were all taken using the Sony kit.

Glyn: So did Sony give you some kind of recognition for what you wrote for their equipment?

Alan: No that’s actually one of the things that was quite disappointing and a real eye opener. Sometimes the camera manufacturers don’t really care what people are doing to really help them to sell cameras and that part from Sony was seriously lacking and it’s one of the reasons that right now I don’t think Wiley Publishers are
going to produce anymore Sony Digital Field Guides. It seems Sony released too many cameras too quickly for any of the books to get a good grip in the market and there was very little support from Sony on the sales side  ie the books aren’t available in the Sony stores. They didn’t lend me anything, they didn’t offer any support you know…it was really tough.

At that time I was asked if I’d edit some books so I was actually Rick Sammon’s technical editor on about his last 4 books with Wiley which was really interesting because I understood how the process worked from an author’s point of view so now I was looking at it from the point of being an editor and it was really enlightening.

Then Wiley came to me and said they wanted to expand on the Digital Field Guide series and would like to write a book about Exposure…the basic concept of exposure and I jumped on that really fast. I thought that would be a great book and it’s turned out to be a really well received.

After the Exposure one did well we went on to Composition and that was the follow up to Exposure and has been well received too and still has nice sales behind it; it seems like it’s taken a little longer to catch on but I’m really happy with the way that book came out.

Now around the time I got a note from Scott Kelby asking if I wanted to come and do a live version of the my Guest Blog that I did on his website covering Concert Photography as a pre conference workshop at PhotoshopWorld and a class on concert photography in the conference and that was really exciting because when the books were coming out I was starting to teach at Photoshop World which I guess was the Summer of 2009 being the first time I taught.

Actually at the last Photoshop World it was the first time I taught a class on Exposure and Composition based on concepts from both of those books that I mentioned earlier.

Glyn: Looking back at some of the pictures all you guys were posting up, I was sat here green with envy that I wasn’t there but it looked like you had an amazing time…

Alan: That was my 4th Photoshop World and it was the best one yet, not just because I enjoyed teaching a new class and I’m a lot more comfortable generally now, but it was the people and everything was great…except for the weather….

Glyn: Yeah I heard it rained really bad…

Alan: There was Lightning and the Thunder all day long and the torrential downpour certainly wasn’t expected but when you’re at Photoshop World in the Classes or on the Expo floor it doesn’t matter at all.

Anyway at the Exposure and Composition Class I tried to do things a little different this time and I so I tried to do it as general concepts rather just sitting down talking about favorite F Stops and all that. I had 60 minutes to talk about Exposure and Composition, you know I might as well say I have 60 minutes to talk about the whole of’s too broad a subject to go into all the details but I was really hoping that people would start thinking about it in broad terms and not get overly concerned about all the math involved. It was a really interesting class for me to teach and different too because this wasn’t in my usual realm of Concert Photography. I was really happy with the way people were coming up to me afterwards and telling me how they enjoyed the class and that it was fun and different.

Glyn: So did you do your Concert Photography Class too though?

Alan: Well we did a Pre Conference Workshop on Concert Photography which is probably the most unique thing I’ve ever seen but yeah maybe I may be a little bit biased, but I only taught the exposure and composition during the conference.

Glyn: Alan one thing I’d love to know…how did you get involved in Concert Photography?

Alan: Glyn I’m a huge music fan so I really enjoy going to concerts and I enjoy taking photographs and this is going back to the 80’s when you were allowed to take photographs at concerts, you know not every show but at a lot of shows and they didn’t really care as much as they do now. I think partly because back then photography was a lot more expensive and of you wanted to take photographs it cost you…you had to buy the film, you had to develop the film, you had to print stuff so it wasn’t just taking 300 digital pictures and posting them on your Facebook or your website. So a lot of people weren’t really bothered to carry a camera around everywhere they went because there was an inherent cost to it.

I used to go to watch a band called ‘The Grateful Dead’ a lot and they had a very liberal camera policy and a very liberal recording policy and a pretty much a liberal everything policy and allowed you to take photographs if you wanted to. Now this was just from the audience and the rules applied that you couldn’t upset anyone or get in someone’s way; generally make sure you didn’t interrupt anyone else’s experience. You know they were allowed to enjoy the show and you were too by taking
photographs and that was fine. This gave me a lot of time to practice, the kind of practice that you just can’t get anymore so I took that and when I was back in San Diego and starting to have little more free time I started talking to promoters here who were putting on festivals and a little more of the Jam Band stuff, you know the hippy music and I got the pony tail so I’m good…

After a while the bands started noticing the pictures and this is all around the same time that blogging and websites and email and the Internet craze you know so all the pieces all started coming together and I actually managed to send the photographs by scanning the prints or negatives or slides and then putting them into an email and creating a website and doing all these kind of things back in the very early 90’s and kind of got a little bit of a ‘leg up’ and the bands started seeing images and the next thing I know they’re asking me to shoot some photographs and I started getting more and more calls.

Because I love music this was just fantastic you know I can go to the show take some photographs…

Glyn: Geez yeah an absolute gift…

Alan: Yeah sure but at the same time there weren’t  that many people doing it and it was still all film…digital camera weren’t quite out there yet. I mean the first digital point and shoots were coming out and I had some little thing that I can’t remember what it was now, but I used to take it along too and experiment seeing what it could do and how long it would take to get a photograph and get it onto a website and it kind of worked so while I wasn’t doing it full time I did feel likeI was on the cutting edge of technology and some of the local bands really appreciated it.

I found out the hard way that there’s not a whole lot of money in actual Concert Photography . There’s some magazines that will pay but if you’re shooting a lot of live performances, to actually sell live performance photographs and make a really good living it just isn’t going to happen.

So I started doing portraits and I shot some weddings and I’ve done product photography and I found it more satisfying to actually work for the bands and do stuff for their websites. There are a lot of my photographs that have never bee seen by the general public because they’re sitting in offices or promoters living rooms…you know things like that.

Anyway getting back to Photoshop World, what we do there is a Pre Conference workshop for a maximum of 40 people and I work with the very talented Scott Diussa View full post »

  • May 25, 2011 - 8:33 am

    Scot Baston - An excellent read and very informative blog. Thank you both to Alan and Glyn, I particularly like the organic feel to Alan’s early days in professional photography.

    Also great to see someone else that believes in sharing knowledge rather than hoarding.


  • May 25, 2011 - 10:06 am

    Todor - A great post and was definitely worth the read. Yet another great photographer showing that to achieve great images and work you don’t need loads of expensive equipment. You just have to know – and be confident in – what you are doing!

  • May 25, 2011 - 12:58 pm

    David Kelly - Alan / Glyn – great post.

    Nice to read Alan’s back story as to how he got into photography – I always find such info beneficial, as it helps to give more perspective of who the photographer is behind their images. It’s always good to be able to read how things grow from little acorns.

    Interesting to read Alan’s comments about the heavy metal bands and their presence on stage – you can certainly more easliy see this raw energy looking at the shots he captured of the big 4 above, though you’ve got to take care &look after your hearing a lot more with such bands ;-)

    Alan & Scott’s ‘Concert Photography’ course on Kelby training was really good – a real in’s & out’s / A-Z on the subject – and I look forward to possibly taking it as a Pre-con when we all head over to the Orlando #PSW 2012 (I’m sure Alan will be pleased used that hashtag correctly there ;-)).

    I readily agree with Alan’s comments re: twitter. There’s a lot of US based NAPP members or photographers that I’m following and have interacted with and it’s kinda weird feeling like you know someone before you’ve actually shook their hand face-to-face. It’ll be strange seeing many of these faces in Orland next year (fingers crossed). Social media it a great tool that is helping a lot more people get more out of their photography that was ever possible when I first got into it.

    Thanks again for a very informative post – definitely the best guest interview to date IMHO – yes, even better than Matt’s which was a great one too!


  • May 25, 2011 - 5:56 pm

    Miguel Campos - Very informative and inspiring.
    There is still hope for me :)

  • May 25, 2011 - 6:50 pm

    Michelle Hedstrom - Really really good interview, Glyn, and Alan! I took Alan and Scott’s concert precon last PSW, and learned an incredible amount, more so than from the Kelby Training class since they were there live. I highly recommend taking it the next time it’s offered.

  • May 25, 2011 - 7:02 pm

    DaveT - Wow this interview is loaded with so much great advice and information. Thanks to Alan for sharing all that knowledge, and to the effort you put in here Glyn – it’s very much appreciated.

  • May 26, 2011 - 4:58 pm

    Paul Dakeyne - Thanks for bringing this together guys, an awesome read, top to bottom :-)

  • May 27, 2011 - 6:22 pm

    Maile Hatfield - Having hired Alan over the years to shoot concerts or portraits, clearly I love his work, but in the last year i’ve also worked with photographers he tought, and have seen the quality of their work reflecting his same professional standards: respectful of the bands, courteous to the audience, great composition, and most importantly… EDITED. Nothing worse than getting 300 pictures from a show… Alan always sends the one or two most magic moments that take my breath away. Keep up the good work Alan!

  • January 28, 2012 - 8:55 am

    News Flash: This book really does ROCK!!! » Glyn Dewis Blog - [...] you’ve followed this blog for a while you’ll recall Alan’s Guest Post [Link] where he not only shared some incredible insights and information but also samples of his stunning [...]

  • April 24, 2014 - 5:37 pm

    Oliver Kremer - Thanks so much guys. This gave a wonderful insight into photography overall, not just concert photography. Soooooo encouraging. Thanks for sharing this brilliant piece of information. Best, Oliver