Dan’s The Man!

Congratulations to my client and friend, drummer and Jazz band leader Dan Bodanis, who at this weekend’s Photo Network Expo in Toronto won in the raffle, and not just anything: he won the free admission to this year’s Niagara School of Imaging, held at Brock University in August  – that’s around $800 in value! I am teaching there again this year, so I look forward to seeing you there, Dan, and it could not have gone to a nicer person. You’ll love the experience.

Here’s me, teaching at the EXPO in Maple Leaf Gardens on Saturday:

Are you, too, coming to NSI? People come from all over the continent: worth it, totally. Great teachers, great subjects. and a week with other enthusiasts (amateurs, emerging pros, and pros) living, breathing, eating and dreaming photography.

You can perhaps start by coming to my Studio Lighting course on Wednesday night in Hamilton? There’s still space: book now if you want to learn studio lighting.

I am once again mentioning learning, because learning photography is actually rather simple. If things are well explained, you will have many epiphanies. I love opening eyes, and more and more, I see how great it is when people “get it”. Like EXPO attendee Thomas B, who just now sent me this very kind email:

“Your presentation at the Photo Network EXPO was absolutely amazing.  Not only are you an excellent orator, clear and concise, but your instruction was seamless and logical.  I’ve done a lot of photography but almost exclusively with existing light.

I’ve recently acquired two Canon speedlites and have been somewhat dumbfounded as to how I would make them work for my purposes.  With your expert direction, I was able to experiment the following day and had considerable success.  It has motivated me to learn more.  I look forward to taking one of your courses.


You have completely demystified the flash for me.  Your lecture was like an epiphany.  The camera as a “light shifter”, what the shutters actually do at the different speeds and the fact that the flash is always 1/1000 of a second, regardless of what you thought it would be.  Impressive.”

I am posting this for no other reason than to stress my assertion that you indeed need to learn in a formal learning setting, with a good teacher, not just by reading articles or watching videos on the Internet. Come to NSI, do my courses on the way to then, do some coaching: you will be amazed at how quickly you learn.

So, the learning part. Here are ten learning tips:

  1. One thing at a time! Never mix subjects while learning. If you are talking about focus, for instance, then do not mix exposure or colour or motion blur into it. Solve focus first, then move on to the next item
  2. Break everything down into logical and consecutive sub-units. Only when you understand the first point, move on to the second point. You build a solution out of building blocks, as it were. This is where a great teacher comes in, and his or her good understanding of logic.
  3. Writing things out is good – but not at the expense of listening! Use a camera to snap the screen, perhaps.
  4. Follow your instructor’s logic. There’s a reason behind it. (See step 2).
  5. Class learning is about understanding, not about committing immediately to memory. You understand the logic of a subject in class; then you practice; and during this, your understanding deepens and you actually commit to memory.
  6. Never confuse “a function and how it works” with “the buttons you press to use it”. The latter is completely unimportant. That’s what manuals are for. It’s the purpose of a function that matters.
  7. After a course, immediately put a reminder into your iPhone calendar to review your notes one month, and then six months, after that course. Everything that has slipped between the cracks will click into place at that point.
  8. Follow the instructor’s advice. There’s a reason for everything he or she says.
  9. Learn the techie things: it will become apparent later why they are important. I assure you that, at least in my courses and workshops, everything you are taught has a good reason for you to know it, or it wouldn’t be in the course.
  10. Be as hands-on as you can. We learn by “muscle memory”, not by “being told things”.

Go on: become a pro shooter. You can do it.

Now back to my cats, who have just discovered that my custom-made furniture is very good for sharpening their nails, and is fun to climb onto vertically, by using just those nails.


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