Photographer, or…?

…or illustrator?

I am a big fan of being a photographer–meaning you do the work in the camera. But sometimes even I do some post-production work. Like here in this edited flash picture:


That makes an OK picture a good picture, mainly because it dramatically simplifies it. See an earlier post for the “recipe” for this Andy Warhol-like effect – but I suggest you make your own. Much more fun. Simple (I used Lightroom) and quick.


Intermezzo, and, join me Sunday?

A bit slow this week as I have been in bed with flu-like symptoms. Meanwhile, here’s some depth – remember, to make your images “real looking”, use a close by subject against a farther background (“close-far”):


Now – flash. A long workshop, all hands-on, this Sunday. The last two sold out. But PLENTY of space for this one. Think about it: you’d find this VERY useful. Hands on, so you do your own pictures, build the sets, connect the Pocketwizards, etc – and it’s a LONG one.

Lovely Photo

I am prompted to write, today, about the Internet and how you must not always believe it.

You may have noticed the following phenomenon: someone posts something horrible on the Internet and their friends all say “lovely photo”, “great work”, and so on.

Praise, on the Internet, means nothing.

I just saw a photo:


I have made names and the subjects (one of whom is a friend, and a lovely lady) unrecognizable, but there is still enough to see that, with respect, this is not in fact a “lovely” photo:

The light comes from straight above them, so their eyes are completely dark. This is something you cannot see. The composition is terrible. The heads should be higher. There is stuff in the picture that distracts, like the lights dimmer on the very left. The stuff behind the ladies interferes with their heads. The photo is ever so slightly tilted anticlockwise. Why cut off that one hand? The list goes on.

My point is not to rain on these ladies’ parade. My point is that when someone says “GREAT WORK” on Facebook, that does NOT make you a museum-ready pro. The photo is nice as a memento of three friends getting together. But it is not great as a photo. Keep that in mind, and before you go full time pro, have your work critiqued independently, and fill the knowledge gaps everyone has.


Oh vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas.

An ancient Latin saying. Obviously ancient if it’s Latin.

And a self portrait, obviously not ancient, unless perhaps my age puts me into that category.

Michael Willems

Oh vanity of vanities, all is vanity.  Manual focus on an object that is sitting where I will be. Then use the timer shutter release. Camera on a tripod. or on a table.

So is this a “vanity” photo?

No, it is more of a storytelling photo. Photos can be more interesting if they imply that there is clearly a story behind the photo, and it is not a straightforward one like “happy clown”.

If you are on my course: much more coming. If not: get the books, come back here, and keep reading. Enjoy!


Dutch Master Classes

The Dutch Masters of the 17th century created visual art the likes of which the world had never seen. In what you might call an explosion of creativity, they changed visual art, its accessibility, and its popularity forever.

It turns out that they had certain commonalities. In particular, they combined the following:


  • An amazing amount of technical knowledge.
  • Fortuitous timing: technology, education, trade, and societal wealth were all on their side.
  • A great degree of creativity.
  • A great emphasis on light.
  • A love of realism.
  • Clear picture storytelling (“narrative directness”).
  • A love of portraiture.
  • Great informal rapport with their subjects.
  • Master Classes, held by experts for their apprentices.
  • An inquisitive and exploratory nature. A number of Dutch Masters travelled to Italy to learn Light Theory.
  • The Masters carefully painted some nudes—as much as the times allowed.
  • They engaged in speculative art: for the first time, they created art without a sale, in the hope it would sell later.

It turns out that these are exactly the things that makes photographers great. Hence the Dutch Master Class theme: you can learn from history. The Dutch Masters would be delighted that their art, their learning, their creative insights are being used and taught today, almost 500 years later. In my Dutch Master classes, that is what I do: by continuing the tradition of many centuries, I set your creativity free.

I am therefore happy that this message is catching on. This blog is widely read; my workshops are popular (The October 16 Hands-On Flash workshop has just one spot left), and my non-DRM e-books are read worldwide.

These are great days for photographers, whatever doom and gloom messages you may hear. Sure, there will be change, but photography is not about to become less popular. Today, there is an easier-than-ever path from a vision in your head to a beautiful print on museum paper (or an image on your screen). Allow me to help you achieve that dream, the dream of being able to visualise your artistic vision and create lasting art.

And this blog will help, as will the other ways in which I teach. Stay tuned and see you on one of the seminars.