Keys To Being a Pro: Predictability

Predictability of your results, and of your ability to deliver these results in the first place, is one of the most important key factors that determine whether you can legitimately call yourself a “Pro”. It’s not whether you get paid, or even whether you can shoot a pretty picture: it’s whether you can be relied upon to do this when needed, instead.

Take this photo, for example:


A pretty picture, taken under bad circumstances: harsh sunlight at noon. But it works:

  • The sky is blue, not white;
  • In general, colours are saturated;
  • It has red, green and blue in it;
  • The subjects are the “bright pixels”;
  • The drop shadows are hardly noticeable and are not annoying where they are;
  • The composition is good;
  • The focal distance is spot on;
  • Exposure both of the ambient and of the flash part of the photo is good;

…and so on. Yes, a lot goes into the making of a good photo, and those of you who have taken one of my Dutch Masters courses, workshops or seminars, or have attended my Sheridan College courses, know all about that.

But there’s more, namely predictability.

Quick, solve this:


OK: assuming your shutter speed is under your fastest flash sync speed, leave the ambient part alone, since it is already good; just add an off-camera flash:


Yeah, that can be done even unmodified, as it is here (a couple of hours ago). As a student of mine you will know the recipe: 100 ISO, 1/200 sec, f/8 and then vary only the aperture (here, to f/11). And after you do this a bunch of times you will even know (without metering) to set the flash at 1/4 power if it’s a couple of feet away from the subject.

Quick, solve this:


Not enough ambient. You could solve this by increasing ISO or opening the aperture, but then you’d have to also set the flash to a lower power level. There’s no time for all that. So instead, you slow the shutter, from 1/200 sec to 1/100 sec:


Bingo, a brighter background (by one stop) without varying the flash picture at all.

My courses and one-on-one coaching teach you this. But they cannot teach you the essential additional requirement: predictability. The ability to come to the above conclusions within a second or two, by yourself, while shooting.

Only practice can teach you this. I’ll hand you the tools; now it’s up to you to practice using them until you are comfortable. That will make you a pro, and this ability to handle any shooting situation that can be handled means that you will face shoots with a lot more confidence.

And don’t worry. This is all, in fact, very simple. When the metaphorical light bulb in their head turns on, a lot of my students say things like “but I thought this was supposed to be complicated?!”. Nope, once you know it, it’s simple. A bit like brain surgery, really.


Schedule a workshop with me now. A one-on-one, or come with a few friends and make it a group thing.See or if you prefer, call me, to schedule an appointment. Finally, the ability to confidently translate your vision into a photo!

CPS – Can’t Pay Service

In Canada, if you own Canon equipment, Canon CPS (Canon Professional Services) is the way you get decent service for your gear. But you have to have certain equipment (from a list of “pro” cameras and lenses that are new enough), and then in Canada you need to pay (in some countries this service is still free, as it was for Canada until a couple of years ago). If I recall correctly, it’s $125 for the middle service level, but it could be more than that. I’d have to check. The reason I have not renewed is exactly that: the cost.

So… my 7D camera broke. Unfortunately, I was unable to make it to Brampton (100km away) until just after my membership ran out.

So I had to go to the Hoi Polloi lineup instead of the “we respect you” lineup. Although I was a CPS member until a week or so before the repair, Canon no longer knew me and I had to re-supply all my details, address, and so on.

So that’s what buying $50,000 in of brand’s equipment gets you. Nothing. Good to know.

Oh, and Canon Canada “cannot” take American Express. Words fail me.


Here’s the booth

A photo booth, as said, includes:

  • The booth setup;
  • Pro photo and lighting equipment;
  • A pro photographer;
  • A customized template;
  • Lots of fun props to choose from;
  • A made-onsite 4×6 pro print per group;
  • Available finishing and extra files/prints, as per price list.

And all that looks like this:

20160710-MW5D8826-1200 20160710-MW5D8827-1200

Booth fun.

Two studio strobes. Computer, with special software. Long tether cable. Two,printers in a pool. USB hub and other tech goodies. Graphic design. Fun props.

That’s how you do a photo booth, so that’s what I did for last night’s wedding, in a reception hall, outside the ballroom. Lots of fun was had, and lots of prints were handed out:







If you’re having some kind of event, check me out. It’s not costly (around $300 for a two hour booth, say, including a pro photographer, travel, all euiopment use, custom template design, and professionally made “made on the spot” 4×6 glossy prints.  Going home with a fun picture makes the evening’s memories so much more “real” for the guests, and having a booth like this encourages people to have fun.


I don’t often desaturate, but when I do…

I do it properly. During a portrait session with a client just now, I also did a few “desat” portraits. Because why not!


Also black and white and “standard linkedin” colour. And high-key (without jacket) as well as standard. What I mean is this: when you do portraits, do them well, so you are seen as not “Uncle Bob”.