Video for Photographers: Dark Side of the Lens

“Fires of happiness. Waves of gratitude.
Do something worth remembering… a photograph or a scar.
I may never be a rich man… I dig the thought of that.”

What does this video spark in you?

Will the message stay with you long after you’ve seen it?

Can you feel your heart connecting with his words? Images?

No Need to Solve the Puzzle

water-puzzle The world’s a puzzle; no need to make sense out of it.

When you think you need to know the answers, stop and ask yourself why.

School is no longer in session and grades are a thing of the past.

Puzzles demand a process, not a product.

Pay attention to the process, make sense of that.

Then you may find what you were looking for all along.

Image credit: Romain Laurent

Create a Photography Workflow That Works

Featured photographer Ingrid Williams talks about her second 365 challenge, what’s changed and how to create a workflow that works!

I remember sitting in the kitchen listening to another podcast of F-stop beyond. Tasra was the guest speaker and she was talking about the 365 challenge photographer Scott Borne had issued. I was intrigued and as I listened I realized this was not just a “take a picture a day challenge.” In addition to taking a picture a day, you also had to read a few pages from your manual and view other professional photographers’ images daily.

Well viewing other photographers images would be pretty easy, but reading my manual? I remember thinking “does anyone really read their manuals?” I’ve skim through the pages of my manual, but I never actually read it cover to cover.

Tasra declared that doing these three actions daily would improve your photography by 300%. One month later I signed on. One year later I ask myself “Did my photography improve by 300%?” The answer is yes. In those 365 days I learned so much about my camera and my photography.

Each day I learn how to use my camera’s features more effectively. By viewing other photographers work, I learn more about lighting techniques( direction, angles, diffusion, exposure) composition (paying attention to, leading lines, distractions, S curves…) and vision (Visualizing the image before I snap the shutter, staying present and maintaining focus).

Fast forward a year and a half later and I’m doing 365 Project 2012. And I’m also still doing my own a 52 week challenge that I started before I found out about Tasra’s. This time around I hope to really take my photography to the next level.

My goal is to compete in a several photo contests and have my work displayed in a few exhibits. For 365 Project 2012 one activity changed. Instead of reading my manual daily, I have to shoot at least one series a month. This is a great goal for me because It will help me produce a series of work for an exhibit. However, I do have one small obstacle that may slow me down this time around – -I’m working full time. I wasn’t working when I did the first challenge so I was able to go out anytime to take photos. This time around I have to have to organize my days do that I can get out and shoot. I think I’m up to the challenge.

My advice to all first time 365er’s…

Just do it.

A year seems like a long time, but it will be worth it.

Read, Practice, Repeat (RPR)

I read my camera manual 4 times during 365, After the fourth time, I read 1 or 2 pages from the manual and started reading other photography articles from the web, books and magazine. Many of the articles were written by the photographer whose work I was viewing. Many of the articles were tips and techniques that I could put into practice.

Develop a workflow.

I use Lightroom 2 for post processing but this workflow can also be applied to Photoshop. Having a workflow helps me stay organized and reduce my processing time. I created presets for exporting, printing and basic processing. The latter comes in handy when you need to process several images that are similar. Below is my workflow in a nut shell:

My Workflow

  1. Upload images via Lightroom to the first hard drive.
  2. Lightroom makes a copy to the second drive.
  3. Go through images and reject the bad ones and flag the ones I want to process.
  4. Delete the rejects via the Lightroom menu.
  5. Create a collection of the images I flagged.
  6. From the collection, process the ones I want to print or post.
  7. Make a copy of the ones I print/post to the second drive.
  8. Backup the second hard drive weekly to an external drive. In addition to my images, I also back up my presets, catalogs and preferences weekly.

Most importantly, have fun.

Grow. Learn. Conquer. 3 Reasons to Start a 365 Photo Project

Remember, you don’t have to be the best. You just have to be better than you were last week.
– Jerry Ghionis

This quote comes from the blog header of our featured photographer… Jennifer Folz. 2012 is her first year taking on a photo project and she has some inspiring advice to share! Make sure to read her lesson on conquering those negative voices in your head! It’s never too late to join the challenge with over 500 photographers. It’ll change your life forever!

I have to say I was so honored when my friend Tasra asked me to write a post for her blog.  This is my 1st ever 365 project and I am very excited about it.  Her questions for me about the Project made me think further about what I was doing this for.

The three words that would describe my reasons would be Grow, Learn, and Conquer.

Grow ~

I want to grow as an artist, to be more aware of my own vision of things and really find my voice in this profession. I knew this challenge would make me look at the world with fresh eyes.

When you are on a mission to take and post an image everyday it is amazing how ordinary things or moments you would never have thought of before suddenly take on a new look.

I love this!

Learn ~

I want to really learn to see light and composition better. That should keep me busy for many years to come, more like project 3650! Really mastering my equipment is another area I am excited to be learning this year.

Conquer ~

This is an important one for me.

Those voices in my head, the ones that tell me all the negative stuff about my work and what people might think, need to go!

They are not helpful in any way and yet some days I actually allow them to win the battle in what I believe. They squelch creativity and I am determined that with each image, each post and each day that passes in this year I am going to fight to rise above my own fear and self doubt, and I will learn and grow. My main goal after all is simply to be a better photographer.

Good luck to all of you who have signed on to meet this challenge.  I hope you find success in whatever it is that led you to do this. And if you have not yet but are thinking about it, just start and see where it takes you. You have nothing to lose!

Go to the sign up page because accountability makes all the difference some days!

Marc Jacobs Crosses the Line in Sexualizing Young Girls

“This isn’t edgy. It’s inappropriate, and creepy, and I never want to see a nine-year-old girl in high-heeled leopard print bedroom slippers ever again.” – Chloe Angyal

Controversy will always be with us. Companies pushing the edge won’t go away. Companies running full-speed over the edge on purpose will always exist.

Why bother being an opposing voice?

Why take the time to address the issues if they won’t disappear anyway?

Because it matters…

  • to the one teen girl who sees a company, a movement, a message that says something different…
  • to the young girl who believes for a moment that her voice has power…
  • to the photographer who realizes the power in her camera and relationships…
  • to mothers, daughters, sisters, brothers everywhere… it matters.

We recently were directed to an article about a 10 year old Parisian girl’s images wearing a red dress and stilettos lying on a tiger skin rug stirring up conversation and concern.

“[The photos] clearly create an image of the girl as an adult woman, both in the clothing, the postures and emotional content of the images,” said Miller. “The message is that very young girls can be dressed and viewed as young adult women.”

Marc Jacobs Leads the Pack

This comes on the heels of ad campaigns with Dakota and Elle Fanning in the notorious Marc Jacobs ads. Marc Jacobs continually crosses the line with the over-sexualization of girls and women in his images and ads… depicting them as weak, vulnerable, and sexualized.

Sexualized images can have lasting effects on the young girls who see them. An APA taskforce found that sexualization by the media affects how girls think about femininity and sexuality, promoting… It’s also linked to low self-esteem, eating disorders and depression.

Did you read that? Read it again… please. We have an epidemic of low self esteem, eating disorders and depression in our young girls. We know there is a link between media sexualization and these outcomes. But what are WE doing to stop it, prevent it, fight against it?

What Can YOU Do?

Do something. Every conversation, blog post, article makes a difference.

Our daughter just wrote an article entitled “When Good Men Do Nothing” that reinforces the point that doing something matters for you and for everyone else.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
– Edmund Burke


  1. If you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or have a blog, write something. Share your heart.
  2. Share this article (or any article on the topic) to get people talking.
  3. Learn more by reading about the impact of sexualized media on girls.
  4. Talk with your daughter, niece, cousin, or any young girl in your life about how they view media. Help them see their worth beyond their body image.
  5. Consider not purchasing from companies that sexualize girls and women (boys too!).
  6. If you’re a photographer, use your images for good, for empowerment, for change.

What else would you add to this list?
What companies do you think are the worst offenders?

Share it in the comments and I’ll add to the list!

Want to do more?

Through Teen Identity, we are launching an empowering program for teen girls and bringing it to cities across the nation. If you’d like to learn more, get involved, or bring it to your city, you can sign up for our mailing list today.

Teen Model Photo Shoot: Lourdes

Fun. Creative. Quirky.

Lourdes, one of our Teen Identity team members, has a lot of living left to do… with dreams for creative endeavors, she’s got plenty of time to make them reality. Her answers are simple and straight to the point… much like Lourdes.

More images and stories coming over the next few weeks from our latest Teen Identity team photo shoot… where we empower and inspire girls to unleash their true beauty, find their voice, and change their world… forever.

What is your vision of your future?
im not really sure what i want to do yet. but i love to sing, act and all that kind of stuff. but i’m still keeping my options open.

What do you value most in your life currently?
God, my family and friends.

What characteristics do you look for in friends? How do you choose your friends?
usually, i look for people who have a good personality, dont care what people think of them, and always keeps me laughing!

What do you say or tell your friends when they’re feeling down or depressed?
i usually talk with them. and make sure they feel the best way they can.

What do you worry about most?
i worry about school. keeping my grades up. school causes me a lot of stress!

Describe your ideal world related to how girls are treated… at home, at school, at work, in life.
that girls will be treated amazing. there will be no judgement on how girls dress, feel, look, and act. every girl will be able to express their feelings and be them!

What’s the MOST IMPORTANT lesson you’ve learned from Teen Identity?
that every girl is beautiful. no matter what race, body structure, hair color, etc.

What are your favorite memories or moments from this past photo shoot?
i loves seeing all the girls and learning how to pose and how what you do really affects your picture.

How did you prepare for the photo shoot? Did you practice posing or looks… get your clothes ready… style your hair special… or anything else?
well, it was a very crazy day for me! but yes, i got my clothes ready in advance but for my hair i just kept it plain and simple.

The Inspiring Power of Customized Creativity

The customization revolution started with personalized names on mugs, keychains, fake license plates, and notepads. But if your name wasn’t John, Jennifer, or Jason, fat chance finding something custom.

Then it evolved and more names could be found… still no Tasra or Imahni, but definitely more variety. And then, you could order something direct… with your name… even Tasra or Beyonce.

So when everything is custom and you can buy it, how does a company take customized creativity to the next level?

Give people something custom they can’t buy… at least not directly.

Starbucks mastered it with the gold card.

My son… he mastered it with a Lego creation that stole my heart.

After many times looking through the Lego Magazine with him, I always said I liked the Volkswagen T1 Camper Van best. He didn’t understand. There were Ninjago weapons and Superhero fortresses… and I liked the VW? Despite that, he made it for me… as a special surprise “because he loves me so much.”

Melt my heart, sweet boy.

Here’s what the Lego version includes:

This authentic camper van is a replica of the classic Volkswagen Camper Van from 1962. Every iconic feature is here! On the outside, the terrific detailing includes ‘V’ shape three-way color split at the front, rounded roof and window frames, opening ‘splittie’ safari windshield, opening doors, iconic pop-up roof with textile curtain surround, roof rack, rear side air intake vents and lots more! The detailing is equally impressive on the inside, from the authentic VW air-cooled flat four cylinder boxer engine, front cabin bench seat, gear stick, angled dashboard and iconic spherical speedometer, to custom LEGO® features like folding rear bench seat, folding dinette table, closet with mirror and even a painting!

Here’s what MY version included…

This custom camper van is an original camper van from 2012. Every fascinating feature you could want is here!

  • driver/guard to take me anywhere I want to go and guard me at all times (because I’m “mommy queen”)
  • server to conjure up amazing dishes in the mini kitchen
  • fireplace
  • adjustable bed
  • magical blue light that turns on with the touch of a button
  • flat screen TV
  • custom designed sink and two drawers
  • table with chairs and 3 coffee mugs (because mommy loves her coffee)
  • 4 doors that open on hinges to let the fresh air in
  • blue-tinted windows on side and front and back windows for sight-seeing
  • sunroof that opens
  • cylinder-style closet for storing clothes
  • treasure chest with treasure from all places we visited
  • shower
Want to blow away your clients, customers, friends or loved ones? Give them something custom.

Featured Photographer: “Get Up Every Morning and Do the Work”

A photographer gets real about growing up and doing the work, dealing with fear and living an awesome life. Daniel Dunn is our featured 365 challenge photographer this week. His story will challenge and inspire you. It’s never too late to join the challenge with over 500 photographers. It’ll change your life forever!

Daniel Dunn: A Photographer on a Mission

My name is Daniel Dunn, I’m originally from Pittsburgh, PA, but have lived in beautiful Breckenridge, CO for the last 12 years. I moved to the mountains for the mountain lifestyle, and to pursue all the things that I like to do. I like to play outside as much as possible. I love to mountain bike, trail run, backcountry ski, nordic ski, go camping, hiking, walking dogs, rock climbing, surfing and listening to music at outdoor venues.

On Being a Diabetic and Living a Full Life

I am a Type 1 Diabetic, and I say that because it’s a big part of my life. I participate in the DOC, which stands for Diabetic Online Community. I do this because when I became diabetic, only 9 years ago, I was an adult and very alone, and really didn’t have anywhere to turn for information. Hell, I didn’t even have health insurance. And now I had a chronic disease. I was really pretty scared and it seriously rattled me. The doctors that I went to first started treating me as a Type 2, which the treatments are very different, or can be. I needed insulin. I didn’t even know what insulin was. The thing with diabetes is, it’s all about education.

You can live a perfectly normal life, if you just know what you’re up against. I didn’t, and I didn’t have any help, or even begin to know where to start looking for help. That’s where the DOC comes in. It has been a huge blessing, and I want to give back and help. So I try to spread the good word about diabetes, and let people know that not only can you live a happy and healthy life, but you can thrive.

I’m single, no kids, no dog, and not a whole lot of commitments. I love to travel. I love road trips, but love to go international. I’m a coffee addict and elitist. I like to read and listen to music. I love good food, beer and wine. I pay the bills by working as a server in a high end restaurant. And I’m generally a pretty happy guy.

On Making Photography a Habit and Starting a 365 Project

I wanted to make photography a habit. I wanted to practice it everyday. I want it to be something that I sort of don’t even think about when I wake up, it’s just there, and that’s what I do.

There are a few reasons behind this desire to have photography be a major part of my life. I don’t want to call it a mid-life crisis, but I turn 40 in a couple months, and when I look back at my life, I realize that I’ve had a lot of fun. And I’ve been a lot of places. And I have a wonderful network of friends and family who love and support me. I have a great life, but there was always this “something” missing. I’ve always said to myself how I wanted to do “something” with my life, and I think photography is it.

I’m not sure when, but sometime in the last year I had some major, very important realizations. One was this. That I actually had an awesome life, and people were envious of my life. I don’t have a bunch of material items like cars, boats, nice clothing, or a beautiful TV that people would want. But I do stuff. I travel. I play outside a LOT!

And people who are very important to me, would tell me how much they want MY life. And it kind of surprised me a bit. That was something.

A second thing was this. I was able to purchase my own home in the last year, living this alternative, not by the book lifestyle. I didn’t get a job right out of college, and settle into it for the next twenty years. I’ve had more jobs, in more industries, and lived in more places, and owned more cars, and had more than my fair share of heartache, than most people I know. But it seemed OK to me. I set this goal about two years ago, to purchase my house. Something deep inside told me that it was time. I haven’t settled down or anything like that, I just wanted a very little place to call my own. And that’s awesome. I have it. Something said it was OK to want that be a part of my life.

On Growing Up and Doing the Work

So these things, and a few more, go together in a way that says to me that maybe I’m growing up a bit, or maybe just growing in a different way. Maybe it was time to plan a little more long term, instead of just for the upcoming weekend. And so through all of this planning, and thinking, and reflecting, I had some revelations. I had always, through all the years, been telling myself that I was going to do something big with my life. For whatever reason, I believe in Fate, and that I was given a kindly hand in life, and fate would look upon me with grace, and I just knew that cool things were going to happen. What I didn’t know, was that I would have to work my ass off to make those wonderful things happen. Yes, good things, and big things were due to me. But they weren’t going to drop out of the sky and literally fall in my lap one day. I was going to have to work for them.

I read this quote one day on Rob Haggart’s website, A Photo Editor, and since I can’t remember it exactly, I’ll paraphrase in my own words. Go to work. Get up every morning, and do the work. Practice, think, work hard. Get the camera in your hand and go and take pictures. Then come home and process those pictures, and critique those pictures. Do it every day. And when you’re tired, do it some more. You have to do it each and every day, and just make it a habit, so you don’t even think about it anymore.

That info just collided with a lot of what was rolling around in my head at the time, and that was when I decided to go for the 365 project. It was time. I needed that extra little kick to help me to go to work everyday. And the 365 was it. It’s going great, and I’m seeing the huge benefit of surrounding myself with photography all the time, in just the first two weeks. I feel like I’m doing it with a lot of intention, and I’m proud of myself for that. I’m making conscious decisions, as to how to improve my photography. It’s going really well so far.

On Dealing with Fear and Living an Awesome Life

Do I have fears? Sure I do, but honestly, they don’t relate to photography in an outright sort of way. I know my photography is well received in the community, and I’m psyched about that. My fears relate more to bigger picture type stuff, being true to myself, paying my mortgage, that sort of thing. Well, in a way, I guess photography directly results to paying my mortgage. I want to be able to support myself fully, through my photography. I want to travel. I’d like to have a family. Right now I’m not fully supporting even myself with photography, so I laugh at myself when I think about paying the mortgage and putting food on the table for two kids and a wife. So I guess that’s fear.

I want to be remembered for something. For living an awesome life. For taking incredible photos. For traveling to exotic places. For making a difference. So I feel like I have to do all that stuff in the first place, before I can be remembered for it. And I know, those are some pretty big expectations, so sometimes I get a little nervous about that way of thinking. I guess those are fears.

On Setting Goals that Scare You

Boy, this is probably a good time to come up with some sort of concrete type of goals. It’s easy to say, “I want to be better.” It’s a lot harder to say, “I want to sell 10 prints, at X amount of dollars, in 2012” But that’s exactly what you need to do to push yourself. I set an awesome goal a few years ago of buying this house, and it worked out, and it felt awesome. So yes, there is this wonderful feeling of achieving goals. I should get on it. Well, there, I just said it, that’s one goal for me. 1. I want to sell 10 of my landscape prints, at $200 (or more) in 2012

That might not seem like a lot for people, in terms of revenue, and it’s hardly sustainable in the long run, as far as supporting myself. But I need to start somewhere, and that’s a comfortable goal for me. It will have me reaching and pushing, but it’s not unachievable with the right thought and planning.

Here’s another one. I want to do 10 paid portrait sessions in 2012. I love working with people, and I really want to work on that end of my biz. Kids, senior (high school), families, I even like working with dogs, doing pet portraits. OK, another goal.

Another big goal is to get really comfortable with, and produce some photos, with artificial lighting. I actually love using strobes. I want to just be dialed with my equipment, so I don’t really have to worry about the buttons to push, and the where to put that reflector, I want to be really on it. I did get a new strobe just last week, and I’m loving using it. I’m getting ready to purchase a reflector, and I want to work with those things to produce some killer results. I want to keep it simple at first, and I know you can create awesome work with one strobe, a reflector, a model, and some creativity. I know you can, I see it all the time. So that’s a goal. Become proficient with my added light.

Coffee Lovers Photo Series: Take One

May not know much about many things, but this one thing I do know… coffee.

Oh, the quotes you can find from dedicated coffee drinkers. I have a feeling this year I will launch a coffee photo series of some  kind. It feels like a coffee lovers imperative. If you were to launch a series of images based on the delicious idea of coffee, what would you imagine and create?

For today, enjoy this simple truth…

coffee-quote-live-insanely-great Day 7 of 365

Made it through the first week. This year seemed so much easier than the first 365 project inspired by Scott Bourne. Perhaps it was the freedom to create my own rules, perhaps it’s the experience of knowing I’ve already completed this project once, or perhaps it’s the focus on creating images around a theme. Whatever the reason, I’m thrilled and hope it will continue long into the new year.

What did you accomplish this week that you’re most proud of?

Looking Back on a Year of Change

Whether it’s an annual review or a year in pictures, the different ways you can look back on your past year are innumerable.

What are your plans? How will you review the past year and plan for the new one?

From the Christmas cards we’ve received and blogs I’ve read, I see a general sense of relief that this year is coming to a close. Do you sense it too?

When it comes to the year we’ve had at Teen Identity, I am amazed at where we are and the vision for the future.

One of my target goals set at the end of 2010 was to photograph over 100 tweens and teens… I’ll let you know if I hit that goal when I post my detailed end of year summary. For now, I just wanted to share one of my favorite images from a model team shoot this year…


Happy holidays!

I hope you are enjoying and savoring your time with friends and family.