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Book Preview: Insights from the Creative Path

final-cover-3dI’m happy to announce that my new book “Insights from the Creative Path: Find Meaning, Fulfill Your Vision” will be launching on April 14th.

It’ll be available in multiple formats and hopefully as a hard copy in the near future. I’m really excited about this book and how it can help you become a better photographer and creative artist.

A book is useless unless you act on the ideas presented, so I want to offer a few extra’s for those who join my newsletter.

From now until launch on April 14th, join the pre-launch list and get:

  • an invitation to a Q+A webinar in April
  • Creative Path Companion Guides and worksheets that will help you instill more creativity in your life.
  • Free preview of the first 20 pages
Join the list and get the free preview.



I appreciate all of the support and feedback I’ve received here from you, and look forward to helping you further along your Creative Path.

What I’m Reading This Month


“A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.” ~Chinese Proverb

Part of keeping the creative juices flowing is being deliberate about cultivating creativity, which I’ve written about here at length before. While there are many ways to do this, one of my favorites is reading books and interesting blogs. Given how technology makes it so easy to read, whether from a tablet, Kindle, phone, or real book, there’s no real excuse not to engage in something that interests you wherever you are.

I’m constantly looking for old and new books to provide ideas, inspiration, and insights that help with all of the different parts of my life. Here’s what I’m reading this month!

  • Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky – a great read on productivity, and how to capture and execute your creative ideas with focus and clarity. For anyone who suffers from idea overload (like I do), this book provides guidance and case studies from artists, companies, and others who make their ideas happen. Consider this equation: Creativity + Organization = Impact. That explains why some “less-creative” artists seem to build successful careers more often, and why execution is more important than inspiration.
  • Letting Go of the Camera by Brooks Jensen – more than just another “how-to” book, this collection of essays by Brooks Jensen gets at the heart of what photography is all about. “If you want to become a better photographer, become a more practiced observer and then get out of your way.” Learn to “see” what really matters in photography, and how to grow beyond a dependence on technology.
  • Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain – Think you can’t draw? Think again – this book dispels the myth that only those with a natural talent for drawing and creativity can be artistic. We’re all inherently creative from birth, and as Picasso famously said, the challenge is remaining creative as adults. This books teaches anyone to draw, and in the process tap into their natural creative abilities in all parts of life.

Where do I find out about books to read? One great source is my favorite blog – Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings, which is amazing in its breath and scope. Reading and writing about any and all subjects that help enrich our lives, Maria delivers insights into creativity, philosophy, art, writing, science, and many other topics. She describes it as “a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why.”

No, it’s not a photography blog, but I get more value from it as a photographer and teacher than any other website I know of. Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

Some Of My Favorite Books This Year

I love to read, and so far this year I’ve read more than any other year of my life. One major reason is because I try and make sure I always have something to read wherever I am. And while I love physical books, they are no match to e-readers when it comes to convenience and access to your personal library.

My preference these days is a Kindle Fire HDX – relatively small and lightweight, and easy to carry anywhere. It has my large collection of ebooks, plus notes and highlights, which I can easily search at any time. With access to millions of free and paid books, there’s no excuse not to read more. And when it comes to personal growth, time spent reading is an investment to last a lifetime.

The following are some of my favorite reads so far in 2014.

The Creative Life in Photography (Photography and the Creative Process) by Brooks Jensen
Brooks Jensen is the publisher of Lens Work, an excellent magazine dedicated to fine art black and white photography, and highly respected in the photographic community. (By the way, if you haven’t checked out Lens Work Magazine, I highly recommend it!) This book is a compilation of his best articles from the magazine over the years, providing lots of philosophical opinions and practical advice. You won’t find any how-to’s in this book, but what you will get is inspiration to ask the big important questions about your photography. What makes art, what defines excellence, and keys to productivity are just some of the great subjects covered.

“Let go of photography and make art. By that I mean recognize the highest purpose of photography as art is to communicate and connect with your fellow human beings.”

Overall a great book for those looking to move beyond taking pictures, and exploring a deeper purpose in photography.

Mastery by Robert Greene
What did all of the great masters from today and yesterday have in common? How can we apply these common traits to our own lives. What does true mastery entail? These and many more questions are explored in this expansive and well researched book. Drawing from great masters of the past such as Mozart, Da’Vinci. Goethe, Einstein, Darwin, Coltrane, and many others, we get a behind the scenes look at how these individuals achieved greatness in their respective fields.

Robert Greene defines mastery as a sensation – the feeling that you have a greater command of reality, other people, and yourself. While you might experience this feeling for a short period, and struggle to find it again, for others—masters of their field—it becomes their way of life. And most importantly, the book describes a process that can lead to mastery for anyone of us. Three phases are defined in the book that show the progression towards excellence – Apprenticeship, Creative-Active, and Mastery. Each is thoroughly explained and lots of examples are given from those who have traveled along this path.

“Mastery is not a question of genetics or luck, but of following your natural inclinations and the deep desire that stirs you from within. Everyone has such inclinations. This desire within you is not motivated by egotism or sheer ambition for power, both of which are emotions that get in the way of mastery. It is instead a deep expression of something natural, something that marked you at birth as unique.”

I don’t think I’ve ever taken more notes from any book than this one, photography specific books included. I’ll be re-reading this one may times, and have already purchased a few copies for friends.

Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon
While the majority of how-to books focus on making art, this book is a refreshing and much needed look at getting noticed and finding an audience. Many dislike the idea of the artist who seeks out an audience, thinking instead that getting discovered purely by the greatness of your work is somehow more idealistic. But what this book addresses is not self- promotion, but rather what Austin Kleon calls becoming findable. It’s a book for people who hate the very idea of self-promotion. And counting myself as one of those people, I found it very much in line with my own preference to earn the respect of an audience. That involves sharing your work in a way that benefits others, and brings attention to your creativity and artistry without an egocentric approach.
More importantly, it lets you become a resource for others, and in doing so lets you stay creative and gain an audience.

“Don’t think of your website as a self-promotion machine, think of it as a self-invention machine.”

This and many other great ideas are shared in this book, and again I found myself taking lots of notes and re-thinking some of the ways I have shared my work in the past. Overall a great and easy to read book.

Have you read any books recently you’d like to share? Please let us know below!

Some Thoughts On My First Published Ebook Plus Some Useful Resources

It’s been over three months since I released my first ebook Insights From Beyond the Lens: The Art & Craft of Landscape Photography , and the feedback and response has been overwhelmingly positive to say the least.

To date it’s been downloaded over 3,500 times, with the ratio of iPad to PDF roughly 50/50. I was honestly surprised by this, but I guess that just shows how many people are buying and using iPads for reading. In fact the reason I made the iPad multi-touch version was because I think it’s a better reading and learning experience than pdf. With the release of the new iPad mini, I think this trend will continue to grow as the price point gets lower and lower for iPad’s in general. I’ve decided all of my future ebooks will be designed as a multi-touch version for iPad first, and then I’ll convert to pdf and Kindle.

It’s also been downloaded in over 20 countries, although mostly in the US as I expected. In fact, the first day I published it, someone from Belgium emailed to ask when it would be available there – incredible. It’s amazing to me that the ability to write and distribute a book all over the world from my desktop was unimaginable just 10 years ago. It has certainly opened my eyes to the tremendous potential that ebooks offer, and publishing is definitely a big part of my future as both a photographer and instructor.


Below are a few reviews of the Insights ebook – I also recommend you check out their respective websites for some great photography and resources.

Writing Your Own Ebook

If you have any interest in writing your own ebook, there has never been a better time to self-publish. The technology and tools are readily available, and the internet is your gateway to finding your target audience regardless of where you live. Here are some of the tools I use to write my ebooks as well as some resources.


  • Byword – my prefered plain text and markdown writing app, simply great for both the desktop and mobile. I use it for the blog as well, and I’m using it right now.
  • Scrivener – simply a brilliant app available for Mac and Windows for long form writing. I use it for ebooks and other lengthy writing projects. From Scrivener, I transfer it to iBooks Author or Apple Pages depending on the final destination. It can also export epub format for the various ebook readers on the market.


  • Evernote – my digital filing cabinet. Everything goes into Evernote where it syncs between my desktop and iOS devices. I maintain a dedicated notebook for each writing project, and just dump ideas, quotes, photos, and other snippets of information. When it comes time to write, I have a nice database of reference material.
  • Mr Reader – great iOS app for keeping track of all the blogs I read on a regular basis.
  • Zite – another great iPad app for discovering articles on a variety of topics

Layout and Publishing

  • iBooks Author 2 – the app that creates the magic on the iPad. Amazing multi-touch capabilities that provide interactivity, image galleries, and lots of other cool features I’m just starting to explore on my new ebook.
  • Apple Pages – When I want to layout pages for pdf or epub format, Pages is a great choice, especially if you don’t have Scrivener.

Finally, here’s a great resource with lots of info on ebook writing and publishing:
How to Write and Publish eBooks

I hope this is helpful for anyone who’s intersted in pursuing more writing or even publishing an ebook. I really think writing is a skill that complements photography extremely well, especially if you’re trying to market and sell your own work.

If you have any questions or feedback, please leave them in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you. Thanks for reading!

My Current Reading List on the iPad

Taking a reading break with my favorite tea - Mighty Leaf tropical green

I think it’s fair to say I have a book habit – I love collecting and reading books. While I still enjoy and buy “real” books, most of my reading has been on a tablet for the past few years. Coffee table books are great, but nothing beats the convenience of carrying a whole bookshelf worth of books in a device smaller than a magazine. You can touch any word and instantly get the definition, add notes and highlights, and change the size and color of the text or background for day or night reading. The days of having the backseat of my car layered with books are over for good.

I started on Amazon’s original Kindle, and upgraded to the Kindle 2 when it was released. However, the first iPad quickly became my reader of choice once I read my first book on it. It was in color, had a bigger screen, and had that Apple elegance and user experience that’s hard to describe until you actually experience it yourself. I even tried the Kindle Fire for a while, but I kept coming back to the iPad and its superior screen and user interface. The new generation of interactive media rich books and magazines for the iPad are great, and I’m sure we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

I enjoy reading all sorts of books that I find interesting and stimulating, and my current iPad 2 makes carrying a large library around extremely easy. I split my time between the Kindle app and Apple’s iBooks app, but prefer the iBooks app for it’s better book management and support for the epub format (the most common format for ebooks). I also like the way it handles PDF files so I use it to store and read my growing PDF library. Most books are now usually available at both Amazon or the iTunes book store, so I usually choose the better price.

While I have not upgraded to the new iPad, photographs on the new retina display look incredible, and that may tip the scales for me at some point in the future.

Anyhow, here’s a list of what I’ve been reading over the past few months, and I’ve got a pretty long que which should keep me busy for the rest of the year.

The Visual Story – Bruce Block – visual design, composition, storytelling, all great concepts explained in this book geared towards film makers, but equally applicable to photographers.

Photographically Speaking – David duChemin – a great primer for beginners and advanced photographers alike, plus many great examples and photo critiques that help understand what makes an image work.

Writing Down the Bones -Natalie Goldberg – explore the inner workings of the creative process, and so applicable to photography.

Van Gogh – Stephen Naifeh – an in-depth biography of this influential but mentally disturbed painter, lots of great insight and historical perspective on art at the end of the 19th century. I love reading biographies, and this one is one of my favorites.

Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson – amazing story of tis iconic thinker and his influence on all of our lives over the past 25 years.

No Death, No Fear – Thich Nhat Hanh –  teacher and poet examines our concepts of death, fear, and the very nature of existence.

Would love to hear your comments and feedback, or questions in general about the iPad – thanks!