How to Get Workshop-Quality Pictures
*** Pictures from Charleston… Portraits in Paris… and How I Met Professional Photographer, Rich Wagner
*** Introducing: Workshop-Quality Pictures without Attending a Workshop
*** Practical Writing Prompt of the Week: Good-Value Sells
*** Reader Feedback: Announcing the New Wall of Fame
On the last day of our photo workshop in Charleston, SC last week, several attendees came up to me to reinforce what I already knew — that professional photographer, Rich Wagner, is a real gem… an incredible find… the perfect instructor to lead our workshops. (I’ll include pictures below).
Most were impressed with the way he explains even the most technical concepts to people who have never looked through the menus on their camera before (much less used any of the settings they find there).
A lot of folks appreciated his humor and his willingness to help — even though a few admitted to asking the same question more than once because they’d forgotten the answer the first time around.
All this reminded me of how I felt when I met Rich for the first time…
I was working on an assignment in South Florida, attending a photography workshop with a well-known New York Times and People Magazine photographer.
My job was to show up with a tiny point-and-shoot camera (the same type of camera most of our readers had at the time) and figure out what I could learn from a pro that a writer on assignment could practice with a little pocket-sized digital camera.
My objective was to write about my experience and give my readers (travel writers mostly) a few tips they could master to improve their photos — regardless of their camera’s size.
Let me just say though that — at the time — I was no photographer. I had this tiny camera I didn’t really know how to use. And when I got to the workshop, I realized that not only was my camera “lacking” — everyone else had SLRs with large removable lenses — but I was sorely lacking in experience. Several members of the group were already well-established, professional photographers.
I was, in a word: intimidated.
But when it came time to critique our photos at the end of the first day, I was surprised to see that mine were just as good — in fact, better — than many of my classmates’.
And I wasn’t the only one who thought so. One of the professional photographers in the group came up to me at the end of that session and said he was really surprised at what I was able to do with my little camera.
He pointed out that while the other amateur snappers struggled to learn the ins and outs of their behemoth equipment, they lost lots of shots to miscalculated exposure settings and bad focusing. Since they hadn’t mastered their equipment, their equipment became their master. All their energy went into figuring out the mechanics.
But with my little digital, he said, the biggest problems were much less dramatic. I just needed a little coaching on what to look for when taking a picture.
And then he did a very nice thing: He spent the next two days coaching me — giving me the pointers and techniques I needed to take the same sorts of photos with my little digital that he was taking with his $3,000-plus equipment.
That guy was professional photographer, Rich Wagner. Years ago as a young student earning money for college, he sold photos to newspapers in Pittsburgh. Today, nearly 30 years later, his photographs hang in private and public collections all over the world.
He really knows his stuff. But beyond that — he knows how to teach. He has a knack for explaining things in just the right way, for making potentially complicated ideas accessible. And it was then that I knew he had to lead our workshops.
The rest is history, as they say.
Here are a few pictures from last week’s workshop, where we included a studio shoot with live models… a walking tour through the heart of downtown Charleston, and a new special session on portrait photography, which included instructions for a home light set- up attendees could recreate in a living room or outside under a tree.
Next month’s workshop in Paris won’t include the studio shoot, but if we have time, we’ll take portraits outside, in front of the Eiffel Tower (there’s a beautiful flower garden and small pond there that’ll make for a nice set-up.)
Meanwhile, the travel writers in the group will get photo lessons too. In fact, those who sign up for the travel writing track will get many of the same techniques Rich taught me in Florida — as well as a few others — from professional photographer, Shelly Perry.
*** Workshop-Quality Pictures Without the Workshop ***
I realize that not everyone can attend a live workshop. That’s why we invented something new — something to take the place of Rich offering advice over your shoulder. They’re our hot-off-the-presses PHOTO TIP CARDS — cheat sheets, really, that will tell you exactly what you need to know about taking a particular shot, the instant you need to know it.
Shooting a sunset? Pull out the sunset card. Taking photos at night? Grab the night card. Going to your kid’s soccer game? Pick up the sports card.
These cards are so easy to follow, your family and friends will think you’ve been honing your photography skills for years.
Here are just a few things you’ll always have at hand, once you make a habit of sliding these PHOTO TIP CARDS into your pocket…
*** Beach shots without glare — you’ll see details in the waves and sea foam that only the pros know how to capture… PLUS, no more hard shadows — these pictures SELL!
*** Ever taken pictures in the snow — and the whole photo comes out gray? Not anymore. A quick look at your Snow Photography PHOTO TIP CARD will cure that immediately… bring an extra battery and really cash in on this secret!
*** How to take perfect pictures in the rain… in the mist and fog… in the heat and sun of the desert… and get it right every time…
*** Pet and people photography settings — these are real crowd-pleasing shots, once you know how to snap them!
*** How to capture fireworks and other night-lighting issues — VERY profitable because few people do it right — and you’ll be one of them!
*** Must-dos for sunrise shots… candid “street” shots… and landscape photography… These are big earners, and best of all, you can take them every day…
*** Sports fans! Sports photography is a high-dollar item and a lot of fun, but most amateurs never “get it.” Here are hints for soccer, basketball, baseball, football, NASCAR — anything fast-action — and you could get the paying shot where others fail!
You can find our PHOTO TIP CARDS on our catalog here.
Stay tuned tomorrow for advice from freelance writer, Jennifer Stevens on three ways to repackage and resell and old article.
I hope to see you in Paris!
Director, Great Escape Publishing
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]
PRACTICAL WRITING PROMPT OF THE WEEK: Bargain Travel
The New York Times Travel Section is full of “bargain” travel articles this week…
*** As Hotel Prices Rise, a Villa May Be a Bargain
*** In the Eternal City, Priceless Art for No Price at All
*** Paris Chic, on the Cheap
Articles designed to appeal to the budget traveler sell well. But “budget” doesn’t have to mean “cheap.” It’s just as appealing to somebody looking for good-value luxury. After all, if you can save $200 on a $500-a-night-hotel room, that’s going to appeal to a certain kind of traveler.
People like to get a good deal — whether it’s on a high-ticket item or a bargain-basement find. Keeping that in mind, seek out some good values near you this week. You could write about:
* discount concert tickets and shows
* less-expensive alternatives to high-priced, well-known destinations
When you’re done, send it to the Travel Post Monthly, where the editors are looking for exactly this sort of article… and more. You’ll find the guidelines here:
Hi. I started the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Program 6 months ago, and yesterday International Living offered to buy my article for their IL Postcards.
I can’t tell you how delighted and proud I am! I haven’t even graduated from the program yet. This article was my first send-in assignment, though I churned out countless number of drafts. This offer has impelled me to work harder and reach for more success. And I’d like to encourage my fellow students that if I can do it, so can you! All it takes is perseverance, dedication, diligence, and positive thinking.
— Jeddah, Saudi Arabia