Final Q+A Day of the Year

If you follow me on my Facebook page, you know I do a regular Q+A day where I answer questions related to photography and creativity. I enjoy helping as many as I can, and sharing everything I’ve learned along this creative journey I’ve been fortunate to enjoy for so long. When I don’t know the exact answer, it reminds me we’re all students and that keeps me motivated to continue to learn and share.

Tomorrow will be the last Q+A session of the year on Facebook, but I also wanted to extend it to all of you here as well. So please leave any questions you have about photography, gear, fine art printing, Lightroom, creativity, business and social media, and whatever else you’d like me to answer in the comments below. And if you prefer Facebook, you can leave questions there as well.

I’ve got lots of exciting things planned for 2015, including a major announcement soon about a new resource for creative photographers and artists – you can get a sneak peek here. Thanks as always for your support – I’m always grateful.

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The Importance of Being Yourself


Reaching the Horizon, Maine

People often ask me for advice about their careers, their creative pursuits, their goals and strategies for becoming more creative. And especially how to become a better photographer. Given that I am still learning to do this myself, there is one consistent response I give to each and every person. Decide to be yourself. Commit to your vision of whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish.

There is so much pressure in our society today to live up to some ideal, value, or other prescribed definition of achievement or success. And there is no shortage of those ready to judge and discredit without consideration for anything other than their own limited perspective. Consider the  sale of a Peter Lik print for $6.5million this past week.

There have been articles written claiming this proves that photography never was and never will be a valid art form. And articles claiming the opposite (thank goodness).

While I may not hold Lik’s work in the same regard as other artists whose work speak to me, what does the have to do with his success as a photographer? I certainly respect his accomplishments as a photographer and entrepeneur. And it shows people are still willing to pay significant amounts of money for photography. And if Lik has found a way to tap into a market that appreciates his work, even if it’s driven by a brilliant marketing strategy, I say good for him.

The bottom line for me is that I can’t be someone else, and no one can be who I am. I’m comfortable celebrating that, and you should be as well. Because I can never be you.

Celebrate who you are, and let that lead your creative work. People will notice that faster than anything else you do with your photography. If that leads to monetary success, then great. But make sure you’ve defined what true success means to you first.

“Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.” -Parker J Palmer

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Using the Identity Plate in the Lightroom Print Module

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One of the features I use extensively when making prints in Adobe Lightroom is the Identity Plate, which allows you to easily place your name or logo on all of your prints. It creates a very professional looking presentation, and also helps promote your name as a photographer.

I almost always print my logo at the bottom of every print, even if I’m going to mat and frame it. If the print is ever removed from the frame, my logo is there to verify it was printed by me since I’m the only person with access to the original logo file. And best of all, as the video shows, it’s super easy to do and save as a template for future use. You can even save several identity plates for different uses such as logos, symbols, website, name, etc. I use different identity plates depending in whether I’m making standard prints, notecards, folios, or other products I create from my images.

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Watch the video below to see how easy it is to do the same for your prints. Comments or feedback, please let me know below!

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Video Tutorial: Mounting Prints Onto Gatorfoam Board

Have you ever wanted to display your prints in a modern and professional looking way without incurring the cost of traditional framing? How about avoid glass and all of the problems it causes with glare and reflection? And best of all do it yourself at home? I certainly have, and the solution I’ve been using for a few years is Gatorfoam board.

Gatorboard, as it’s commonly called, is similar to foam core, but is much stiffer and stronger which is important to avoid warping over time. It’s also available in black which is ideal for a modern and clean look. I buy a version that has a self-adhesive side in place and avoids using sloppy sprays and other adhesives.

Mounting prints onto gatorboard creates a very clean and modern look without glass, and lets the viewer really appreciate the photograph and paper at the same time. It’s also relatively inexpensive (at least compared to traditional matting and framing) and can de done by anyone at home with basic tools. Foamboardsource sells photographer sizes, and a sheet of 3/16“ thick –13” x 19″ is about $10.

Now to be clear this is not an archival mounting process, since the print is permanently glued to the gatorboard. I’m ok with that because the goal, at least for me, is not to sell these prints, but rather to have a way to show my work without the high cost of framing and avoid the use of glass. This works great in places like coffee shops, libraries, restaurants, and other spaces that may want to have your work displayed. It gives the photograph lots of impact and avoids all the problems that glass creates such as glare and reflection. And there’s always the option of spraying the prints for extra protection from UV if you need it.

If during an exhibition someone wants to buy a print, I’ll take an order and make a print specifically for that customer. I don’t mount my prints on gatorboard for galleries and traditional fine art exhibitions because customers generally want to buy on the spot. But for informal or relaxed environments, this has been a great way for me to share my work – and people love the presentation. When I use a beautiful paper like Canson Platine Fiber Rag, this type of presentation really conveys the quality of the print as a whole without any barriers for the viewer. As a photographer and printer maker, I really love that.

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This is also the way Canson Infinity mounts the prints in their booth for trade shows.

I’ve gotten lots of requests to show how to mount this way, so I made this video in my studio to show you exactly how to do it and what materials you’ll need. With a little practice, you can do this at home for any size print. In the video, I make a print that is 24“ x 36” and is part of an exhibition I have ongoing during the holidays at a local coffee shop. I’ll share more details about the exhibition soon. (BTW- I cover all of this and more in my Fine Art Printing Workshop.)

Here’s the materials list:

I hope you enjoyed the video and it was helpful. Any questions or comments? Please leave them below!

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New 2015 Dates for Digital Fine Art Printing Workshops

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One of the things I learned attending several photo conventions this year with Canson Infinity is that more and more photographers are discovering the value in printing their work. And they want to control the process themselves for the creative freedom it provides.

I’ve written about it at length before, but suffice to say that it’s the best and only way to truly appreciate your art in a physical, concrete medium. That adds tremendous value to all of the time and effort you’ve already invested in photography, and certainly makes your work stand out from the crowd.

The Digital Fine Art Printing workshop is consistently sold out, but I’ve made two more available for the beginning of 2015. Register before it’s too late, they fill up fast. I probably won’t offer the workshop again until the summer.

And of course, many thanks to all the students who continue to support what I do – I am most grateful.

Register Here
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