Saturday, 2pm… Lightroom/Computers

If you are interested in getting the most out of Adobe Lightroom, and you live in the GTA, then consider coming to my Lightroom workshop on Saturday. File organization, presets, best practices, and storage and backup strategies will all be shown, and I will help you do your own personal setup. I’ll also show you how to get there, if you are doing it differently today.

Computers and Lightroom for Photographers

Saturday, Mar 19, 2016, 2:00 PM

Michael Willems Studio
48, Wilkes Street Brantford, ON

2 Emerging Photographers Attending

Hey there, photographer friend.Adobe Lightroom has revolutionized photographers’ workflow. You will be much more efficient once you learn it—but you will also become a better photographer. Learning how to improve your photos after you take them inevitably leads to also making better photos in the first place.Lightroom is fantastic. But you do hav…

Check out this Meetup →


e-books on Amazon/kindle now as well

NEW: My e-books are now all available from Amazon as Kindle e-books.

They are also still available direct from my e-store. So your convenience is what drives the decision as to whether you want Amazon/Kindle or Direct/PDF.  Direct is fine for computer literate people, while Kindle e-books are a very convenient way of “one click” ordering the books, as well as seeing previews and reading the books on a kindle or on an iPad or similar tablet using the free Kindle app.




PRO FLASH MANUAL, 3rd edition:












There you have it. Your convenience drives the decision as to where you buy.


And this is why…

I just bought a new Mac: the old one was five years old and beginning to be a little slow for comfort, for my heavy and intensive Lightroom use. The new one: 27″ 5k retina screen, fast processor, lots of RAM, fast graphics; fusion drive: a dream. It starts everything “instantly”. Amazing.

(By the way, the old one, a 27″ iMac, mid 2011, would also be great for most people. Interested? Ping me).

Fine. So I install Lightroom. But I cannot run it, because I need to deactivate it on another computer:

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 11.54.58 AM

And now we hit a few snags. One is that Adobe don’t tell me how to do that. And when you search it, all you see is links to the CC product: the “pay us every month so you will pay thousands and thousands” kind. Instead, I have the app. It’s mine (or at least the license is).

After much searching, I think the solution is to de-install from the old machine. But that will not work either: obviously, to properly transfer everything, including plugins and settings, I will need both to work for a week

Well, tough. Adobe will not let me.

And that is why people hate licensing, passwords, “call home” checks… and Adobe, one of the worst offenders in these areas.  That is why they pirate software. I don’t mind paying for products at all. Value deserves it. What I mind is Adobe trying to stop me from running my business the way I see fit. Adobe: charge me whatever the software costs, then get out of my way.

Fat chance.

Even the normal “30 day trial” option seems to be unavailable. So, other than Pirate Bay, what other options do I have?

I run Little Snitch, software that tells me what apps ask for access to the Internet, and allows me to allow or deny that access. And I must say, Adobe is a very bad offender: dozens of calls to dozens of sites when you as much as start up the software.

My advice: beware, because these corporations are obtaining more and more power to run your life, or to deny you the right to run it the way you like. One day this will bite back, hard.

I am glad Apple seems to have found its post-Jobs voice in the current FBI/encryption disagreement. We need more such critical thinking. 1984, anyone?



Why a MUA is needed.

[a repeat from 2014]:

I generally recommend doing things only if they need to be done. And one of those things is a make-up artist (a “MUA”). You can be pretty sure that TV producers, for example, would not use make up artists if they were not necessary. But they are.

Witness this “before” and “after”:

Make up artists do not just fix blemishes. They also shape the face so it is suitable for the shoot. Here’s MUA Melissa Telisman doing her thing:

And here’s what that results in:

Glamour and perfection without “photoshopping”, which I am not a fan of. But make-up is not just for glamour; not at all. I recommend a MUA and a hair stylist for corporate shoots, too, especially—but not only—if women are involved. If TV shows do it, you can be sure it is necessary, and not a luxury.

Incidentally: do we need the entire person in every shot?

Decidedly no. You get a much more intimate feeling when you do an extreme close-up (an ECU, in movie terms). Try it; experiment in your next shoot and do some shots like the one above. You’ll love them.


A student asks.

Here’s me, teaching a Sheridan College class just the other day:


My student asks:

How did you know you were ready/good enough to charge for your service?

You are ready when people think it worth paying you. Period. Of course yes, you should have the standard technical skills: know about exposure, focus, colour, metering, all those basics. And the basic composition rules. But that is not indicative of a successful photographer; those are merely “hygiene factors”. Like saying an author needs to own a pen, and paper, and know the alphabet. Well, yeah, d’oh! If you are not 100% sure you have all those skills, get my camera books from

But as said: you are good enough when you manage to make people part with their money. In other words, when people want to pay for your work, your work is good enough to be paid for. A truism, but a true one. :-)

Would you say there is a specific set of equipment you need to be able to charge for, say, a wedding shoot?

Yes. redundant equipment.

Lots of lenses, several cameras, lots of flash gear: all that is good but not necessary. Depending on your style and your clients’ wishes, you COULD shoot a wedding with just one wide angle prime, for instance. Or a 35 or 50mm prime. The equipment expands your possible styles, that’s all.

But redundant (spare) equipment and at least some form of flash is necessary. It is irresponsible to shoot a wedding if you do not have backups for everything. Because anything that can fail, eventually will. Count on it. And it will be during the ceremony, in the middle of the most important part.

…Or for a portrait shoot?

No. A digital Rebel with a 50mm prime lens is enough if you will. Sure, the more the better, but by no means is that necessary. Sure. Headshots: nice to own a 70-200. Environmental portraits? a 16-35. Available light? a prime. But all those are just means to an end. If you do one type, have one style, then you need only one lens. And an affordable prime is enough. For studio, even a kit lens is fine.

Then you do need a range of flash gear and modifiers. See my flash book, and my portrait book, from