Recording - Giving & Generosity with your photography

This month's webinar focused on the topic Giving & Generosity with your photography. I was actually inspired by Darlene Hildebrandt's blog post 5 reasons and 4 ways to give back with your photography. Darlene had some great ideas that I wanted to expand on.

In this webinar, we look at why giving is important, examples of organizations you might consider when looking for giving opportunities, and questions you can ask to help you find your niche.

Here are links to the organizations I mentioned:

Critical Exposure uses photography to help high school students develop a sense of self esteem and advocate for education reform.

Operation: Love ReUnited offers professional photography sessions to military families and members who are getting ready to deploy, who are currently deployed, or those who are coming home.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep provides remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with a free gift of professional portraiture.

Help-Portrait is a community of photographers coming together across the world to use their photography skills to give back to their local community. Photographers around the world are grabbing their cameras, finding people in need and taking their pictures. When the prints are ready, the photographs get delivered.

VolunteerMatch helps you connect with causes that are meaningful to you, anywhere. Enter "photography" and your zip code to see what opportunities are near you.

Fund Anything is a crowdsourcing platform that you can use to raise money for almost any cause. 

Give your time by leading a photo walk or mentoring someone who is less experienced than you. You can find options at Meetup or the World Wide Photo Walk.


What about you?

Do you give back or volunteer your photography talents? What are some great volunteer organizations or ways you contribute? Share your thoughts in the comments.


"The purpose of life is finding your gift. The meaning of life is in giving it away."

- Uknown


The webinar is also available as a podcast.


Free Photo Webinar podcast

Why it's not working

Hint, hint... It is likely one of these five reasons

Flickr photo by ePublicist.

“Why isn’t this working?!” my eldest son asked in a fit of exasperation.

At that moment, I was forced to confront something I already knew - the carpentry gene had skipped my generation.

My Dad was a great carpenter and could build almost anything with ease. I was different. I’ve never had a problem where I thought the answer was to build something myself...not with wood and nails, anyway.

You can imagine my surprise when my son asked me to help him build a p-rail. He’s an avid skater and thought that would be a good idea.

I must have wondered out loud, “don’t they sell those anywhere?”

“Yes, but think what a great bonding opportunity we would have if we built it together,” he said.

He always knows what buttons to push. Now...despite my initial hesitation, I was warming to the bonding idea. That could be fun.

Several hours past the reasonable time to complete his project and after at least four trips to Home Depot, he confronted me. 

“Why isn’t this working?!”

Whether we are trying to improve our photography, master a technique, or launch a business, chances are we have had to ask ourselves the same question.

As I thought about my own experiences, I came up with five reasons. If you have ever been frustrated with your lack of progress on a project or hobby, I’m guessing the culprit is in one of these issues.

 After you've listened tell me what you think in the comments. Do you recognize any of these issues? What stops you? How have you overcome a challenge to improvement? 

Download the podcast

PhotoCoach Radio 006 - Your photography ethics

"The Neighbors" and your photography ethics

Click to listen to the episode.Imagine you are in your home looking out your window toward your neighbor. Through the window, you see a couple sitting at a table having a meal. It looks like breakfast. There’s something artistic about the scene. You also happen to have your camera nearby with a telephoto lens. You can sneak a photo of the stolen moment. Would you? If you took the photo, would you be comfortable displaying it?

These are issues Arne Svenson must have considered when he faced the same situation. Arne took those photos of his neighbors, and they are now on display at the Julie Saul Gallery in New York City. 

As you might expect, when his neighbors found out their lives were on display, they were upset. They complained about the invasion of their privacy and wondered what else Arne might have photographed when they were unaware.

Check out this NBC news article and another feature shoot article.
This raises a number of ethical questions that I discuss in this podcast. What Arne did might have been legal but was it ethical? Proper? How would you approach it?

We started this conversation on my Facebook page, but I want to share four questions that I use to help me decide in a photographic gray area.


What should I charge a magazine to use my photo?

In the last couple weeks, I received about four inquiries from clients who had a similar question: What should I charge a magazine to use my photo? Editors or publications found their images online and contacted them to get permission to use the pictures. My clients weren’t out marketing these images for sale, so the request caught most off guard. Now what do you do? How much should you charge?

I’ll share questions you should ask to help you make a good decision.


Here are some resources you might also consider.

PhotoShelter ebook Pricing Your Work - Magazine Photography - One of their many useful and free guides for starting and marketing a photography business.

ASMP Pricing Guides - American Society of Media Photographers (I know... I said professionals rather than photographers) has pretty useful resource with their membership.

Pricing Photography - The Complete Guide to Assignment and Stock Prices - Newly updated.

2013 Photographer's Market - Not specifically on pricing but a useful resource


You might also be interested in these blog posts:

The ethics of street photography. When does no mean no?

PhotoCoach Radio - Copyright for the photographer

What do you think about the ethical issues? How would you decide whether to take or display a controversial photo. Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Listen to 006 - Your photography ethics

PhotoCoach Radio 005 - The danger in shooting manual mode

Click to listen to episode 005.My podcast, PhotoCoach Radio, is back with a few new topics:

The danger of shooting in manual mode

Often new photographers will jump straight from shooting in auto mode to manual, and there is a danger in that. Shooting in manual mode is all about control -- using that control for more creative pictures. If you make the jump without learning how to use that control creatively, you end up with the same photos you were shooting in automatic mode. This can be very frustrating. In the first segment, I discuss how this happens and how you can avoid the trap of shooting auto in manual mode.

The magic of six-pack abs

Popular business and marketing blogger Chris Brogan got me thinking about six-pack abs this weekend. His latest email talked about an experience he had working with a men's health and fitness magazine. It seems the magic to selling more magazine was to promise six-pack abs. Readers would buy magazines off the shelves looking for the magic of six-pack abs... except there is really no magic to it. What does this mean for photography? The way you get six-pack abs is amazingly similar to the way you get great pictures.

Critical Exposure celebrates their 8th annual student exhibit

This evening I am attending Critical Exposure's exhibit of student pictures and writing. This is exciting for me, because it is always so inspiring to see how these teens not only use cameras to create great work but to literally change the world around them. If you are in DC, you should try and come down. If you can't make it, just support them with a $35 donation. I'll be sharing more about the great stuff they are accomplishing, but they are well worth the investment.

Pass the gumbo, and save the date, we are going back to New Orleans

I am leading a photo workshop to New Orleans on Nov. 1-3, 2013. Our New Orleans excursions are a phenomenal adventure. We experience a wide variety of photo opportunities -- French Quarters people and architecture; St. Charles street cars and mansions; cemetery abstacts; and aligator swamplands. This is an incredible photography vacation opportunity. Join us there.


Listen to episode 005

10 Ways to improve your photography

plus specific actions you can take today

Next year this time, when you look back on the journey you have taken improving your photography, how much success do you anticipate? Just like other areas of your life, you have to plan deliberately to make significant progress. Here are 10 ways you can plan to improve with specific actions you can begin today.

to the podcast version.


Take more pictures.

You knew this one was coming. You have to take more pictures -- daily or weekly -- if you plan to get better. Make the commitment to get the camera out of your bag and into your hand. Go find something or someone to much as possible. 

Action -- Begin a Project 356 or Project 52. That provides both a forcing function and accountability to get you started and keep you going.

For inspiration, read Lisa Bettany's post:

16 Photography Project Ideas to Keep You Shooting Every Day!


 Deliberate practice on techniques.

Deliberate practice says you identify skills where you are weak and work on them specifically. 

Action -- Make a list of the skills where you feel least confident. Pick a day to work on those skills regularly. Check them off. Rinse and repeat.


 Publish your work.

Get your best work off your computer. What’s the point of making great images and burying them on your computer hard drive? 

Action -- Stake a claim to some real estate where you can show the world, your world, as you see it. How? Establish a blog. Create a gallery on Flickr. Use an app like Instagram or Google Plus. 


Get constructive feedback

Get out of your own head and seek advice from someone who is an expert. Forget the haters or the glib suck ups online. You need specific, constructive advice on what you do well and your opportunities to improve.

Action -- Ask someone to give you feedback. Organizations like FotoDC provide professional critiques or Photoworks provides critiques over bagels. Join a camera club that offers professional critiques. Photography professional associations also provide that service as a membership benefit.

Read my post How to give and receive photo critiques for more ideas.


Learn your tools

Get to know your camera inside and out. There is no substitute for knowing exactly what your camera will do and the best and fastest way to get there.

Action -- Read your camera manual or buy an instructional DVD on your camera model.

Read my post 8 things you should learn about your camera


 Start a photo project

Use your interests or passion to keep motivated. Photo projects are a great tool to keep you motivated.

Action -- Create a photo project. Join the Google + Photo Projects 2013 community.

Read my post 7 questions for finding your perfect personal photography project


 Commit to formal learning

There is art and science in photography. To get better, you need to learn the rules and techniques. It’s best to have some formal learning -- online tutorials, blogs & podcasts, workshops & photo tours, classes and academic degrees. What’s your learning style? Find your best option.

Action -- Find three classes to take this year that advance your learning. There’s a bonus if you have the ability to make friends or network in the process. 


Develop your own style

As you begin to focus, your style should start to evolve. Your style can be defined by your subjects; shooting style or technique; look and feel of the final image,; or format. Being a niche photographer allows you to go mile deep and inch wide, rather than vice versa.

Action -- Take an inventory of the work you like best. What kind of photography do your enjoy most? Where do the two intersect? How might you work on going deeper with that?


Find a mentor or accountability partner

A mentor can help you identify your weaknesses and plot a good course for improvement. An accountability partner kicks your butt when you don’t follow through. You know which one you need most. Maybe both.

Action -- Who do you know in your network who might be able to provide one or both of those roles. Ask him or her. Be very specific about your expectations when you ask. If someone is outside your network, arrange a way to get to know them and establish a relationship.


Join a community/Have fun

I hate lists that end with “have fun.” They always feel cheesy to me, but I can’t deny the usefulness here. You can work through this list in such intense fashion that you frustrate yourself. You aren’t where you want to be, and you focus like a laser on that fact. Why did you get into photography? Remember to keep that you can keep up your intensity. Join a Meetup group or some community of kindred spirits who can also help you enjoy the journey.

Action -- Take Meetups or photo walks. Join contests. Get involved in photo communities.

Join our Photo Projects 2013 Google + community.


Improve with the Photo Coaching Club

Join my Photo Coaching Club to improve your photography using many of these principles. This photo community based approach is designed to help you learn the basics, work on them deliberately, get constructive feedback, and continue improving.

Click to learn more 


Composition Challenge feedback - Weeks 5 - 8

In this recording, I review the concepts in our Composition Challenge for weeks 5 - 8 and provide feedback on some of your pictures.


Join the Composition Challenge

Sign up to join the 21-Week Composition Challenge. Every week, I'll deliver a photo challenge by email for you to shoot and share. Learn more about it or sign up below.


Sign me up


Recording: Composition Challenge feedback and discussion

We used our May 2012 Free Photo Webinar to hold a feedback and discussion session on our Composition Challenge.

Almost four weeks ago, many of us took a challenge to work on composition principles together. 

The 21-Week Composition Challenge is a fun approach to improving one of the fundamentals of photography, composition. Each week, I provide a free tutorial on a composition technique and a challenge for you to practice. We have had very enthusiastic participation, which is really fun to see. 

During the webinar, I review lessons from the first three weeks and provide feedback on some of your submissions.

You can join the Composition Challenge at any time. Simply enter your email below and start receiving updates. Feel free to work on past challenges or join us where we are now.

Thanks for the enthusiastic participation so far. I'm looking forward to making great progress with our composition techniques.

Learn more about the 21-Week Compositition Challenge


Sign me up


PhotoCoach Radio - How to take pictures that sell your products

Episode 003 explores how entrepreneurs can take better pictures to showcase their products and motivate sales.

Coaching Conversation

How do I take pictures that help me sell my products online? That was the question Juanita Taylor asked during our coaching conversation. As owner of NitaT Designs, Juanita sews custom products that she offers from her webiste. For many business owners, your webiste is your storefront, and the quality of your photos often determines whether your potential customer clicks to buy or cancels the page.

Juanita and I discussed a number of techniques to take pictures that present her product in a way that captures attention and motivates behavior.

Camera Bag

Last weekend, I attended Photoshop World Expo, where I found a great subject for our camera bag segment, the Expodisc. If you've ever struggled with getting accurate color on your photos, this is an accessory you will want to consider. I talk with John Baker, vice president and general counsel of Expoimaging, Inc., about their product.


Photoshop World presentations by Jay Maisel and David Ziser, as well as an age old quote from Brooks Atkinson, all converge for our parting inspiration.

Show links

NitaT Designs - Custom sewing, crafting and design

ExpoDisc - Professional digital white balance filter

Jay Maisel - Presented "Light, Color and Gesture"

David Ziser - Presented "Learning to see differently"

Join the conversation

If you would like to send me a question for a coaching conversation, you can either use this form or email Hope to hear from you soon!

Note: I link through my affiliate relationships. If you find the advice helpful, please support the show by using these links to either buy from B&H Photo Video or rent from Borrowlenses.

Listen to episode 003

PhotoCoach Radio - Copyright for the photographer

In this episode, I share an interview from my March 2012 Free Photo Webinars. I discuss copyright law for the photographer with Phil Marcus. This is a virtual seminar on copyright, trademark and patent issues. We discuss the nuances of issues such as: 

  • Work for hire
  • Creating a copyright
  • Enforcing your copyright
  • What kinds of products can you copyright
  • Copyright considerations on social networking sites
  • And a host of issues every photographer should know

About Phil Marcus

Although Phil Marcus is a serious amateur photographer, his profession is law, and specifically protecting creatives through copyright law.  He is a graduate of MIT (S.B. and S.M. in Electrical Engineering).  He also has a J.D. from the University of Maryland Law School.  Mr. Marcus was admitted to the Maryland bar in 1973 and the Supreme Court bar in 1977. 

He has specialized the past half dozen years in various aspects of intellectual property law.  These include copyrights, trademarks, patent licensing and trade secrets.  He has handled matters of both registration and infringement (from viewpoints of both owners of IP and alleged infringers).

Contact Phil Marcus

Your IP Attorney
The Copyright and Trademark
Law Center

Listen to the interview

About PhotoCoach Radio

This is the episode before the episode.

Consider it the equivalent of the About Me page of a website. In this pre-show episode, I talk about PhotoCoach Radio and what I'd like to accomplish with you.

The main focus of the show will be coaching conversations where I work with emerging, enthusiast and entrepreneurial photographers. We'll get to know each other and work through your specific photography issues.

I plan a few other segments for the show:

Camera Bag - A mixture of advice and reviews of camera gear. Here we'll look at the tools of the trade that help us get better results.

Reading Room - What are we reading to help us learn and improve? I do a lot of reading - a lot of it by audio book. I also consume magazines, blogs and other podcasts. In this segment, I'll share some of the best reads I've found. Feel free to share some of your finds with me as well.

Expert interviews - Even though the show focuses on coaching, I plan periodic expert interviews on topics that can help us all become better photographers.

We won't have all these segments in each episode, but I will plan a mixture to fill roughly 30 minutes.

Expect a new episode every two weeks as we get started. Then I'll see how we all feel about that pace.

If you have questions or suggestions, please send them to me at I'm looking forward to this new journey with you.

About PhotoCoach Radio

PhotoCoach Radio - Help with histograms

In our first episode, I have a coaching conversation with Krista, who is struggling with reading her histograms. As we talked, I discovered that she was also having challenges evaluating exposure, so we added that to the conversation.

In the Camera Bag segment, we talk about macro lenses on the Nikon line. Esmaralda sent an email asking for advice. I share three lenses that could be good solutions for her:

In my closing segment, I share some advice from Sam D'Amico's blog post Lesson from a Dog and my thoughts on finding your own creative style. It reminded me of my post on finding your personal project. Both approaches challenge us to look inward before we look out.

If you would like to send me a question for a coaching conversation, you can either use this form or email

Join the conversation. Hope to hear from you soon!

Note: I link through my affiliate relationships. If you find the advice helpful, please use the links to either buy from B&H Photo Video or rent from Borrowlenses.

Listen to PhotoCoach Radio 001

Get individual photo coaching on my new podcast

If you are interested in individual photo coaching and don’t mind sharing your experience with “the world,” then my new podcast might be the place for you.

This month, I will be launching a new podcast called PhotoCoach Radio. In show episodes, I will work with photographers in coaching sessions that we record and broadcast.

What does this mean?

During my photo tours and mentoring club sessions, I answer lots of photography related questions. We discuss everything from gear to photo technique, and I also provide feedback on photos. I’m hearing that this is one of the features attendees find most helpful, so I’d like to use that same approach to help even more people.

Before I launch the podcast, I’d like to begin recording my coaching sessions. 

Here’s how it works

  • You submit your questions and/or pictures using this form.
  • I will select the questions that have the broadest appeal.
  • We record our conversation discussing your questions or images.
  • I post the discussion on my podcast, which we distribute on iTunes and to photo enthusiast communities.

That’s it. We discuss and resolve your photography challenges and maybe help other people in the process.

If you are interested in a coaching session to help you with the photography issues that frustrate you, sign up below. Hope to talk with you soon.

Share your question here