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Shutterbug Life podcast

Shutterbug Life is a weekly podcast that celebrates the creative photographer's lifestyle. Through a series of discussions, expert interviews, and photo challenges, the podcast examines everything you need to be, do, or have to reach your full photographic potential. Episodes are designed to be helpful no matter where you are on your learning path. Shutterbug Life podcast is hosted by Lynford Morton, a second-generation photographer who build one of Washington, DC’s fastest growing photography Meetup communities, Shutterbug Excursions. He has also trained thousands of photographers to take great pictures in Washington, DC and New Orleans from the business he founded, PhotoTour Excursions. Now he recreates the community of enthusiast photographers with Shutterbug Life.
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Oct 2, 2015

Whether you are attending a World Wide Photo Walk, a photography Meetup or some other gathering for photographers, the last thing you want to do is show up unprepared.

I often get questions from potential attendees.

"What lens should I bring?"
"What camera should I bring?"
"What should I expect?

In this episode, I answer everything from the legal to the logistics.

Listen to the podcast

Sep 22, 2015

10 years ago, Adam Levner was alarmed when he saw the difference between the education that wealthy students and those from low-income schools received. As a former 5th-grade teacher turned community organizer, he often struggled trying to convey the magnitude of the problems he witnessed.

Then he realized his camera was the tool he needed to make a difference. Even better, empowering the students to tell their own stories through pictures could be even more effective.

Listen to the podcast

Sep 15, 2015

You gotta love the Allen Iverson rant. The former NBA all star was so incensed that a reporter asked him to describe his practice habits, he went on a five-minute rant. What was most memorable was Iverson repeating the word almost 24 times — "practice?!"

"We're talking about practice?!"

Now while we might all chuckle at Allen's indignation, are our attitudes as photographers any better about practice? Let's say that we agree practice is important, how should we practice?

Listen to the podcast

Sep 8, 2015

I had a lens once that just wouldn't take sharp photos. In photos, my subject always looked a little soft, especially around the eyes.

I was so frustrated, I bought a new lens -- and the new one had the same problem.

This was weird because online everyone was saying that this was such a sharp lens.

I made some adjustments to the way I was shooting and was astounded to see how much the lens improved. Who knew?

These days I regularly hear some version of the question "Why aren't my photos tack sharp?"

In this episode, I break down all the reasons you might not be getting the tack sharp images you want.

Listen to the podcast

Sep 1, 2015

How do you create the perfect photograph? The question recently came up during a discussion with a client about his camera club and their photo contests.

"What kinds of subjects do you all shoot," I asked?

"Mostly landscapes," he replied. "but the members are obsessed with being perfect." 

Inside I scoffed. What is a perfect photo? I've seen too many so-called perfect photos that bored me. They were technically perfect but had no life.

For me the perfect image is about more than just pixels.

I have expanded the perfect paradigm to mean the balance of three ideals. I call it the perfection triangle.

Listen to the podcast and view the show notes at bit.ly/shutterbuglife035.

Aug 24, 2015

I felt the way you do when you walk into a pop quiz at school and haven't studied — unprepared. I should have known better.
On a day trip to Niagara Falls this summer, I was looking forward to checking another iconic location off my bucket list. I was so excited in fact, that I did absolutely nothing to prepare. I only threw my camera bag and tripod into the car.
When we arrived at the falls, it dawned on me. I didn't research the best places to shoot. I didn't have a shot list of things I wanted to photograph. I didn't know where the best vantage points should be. I didn't know when the light would be best. 
I just showed up — like a tourist, not a photographer. I should have known better.
Mike Randolph knows better. As a professional travel photographer, his work has appeared in all the magazines we love. He shares some of the lessons he's learned in today's episode. He tells us how to prepare; what to bring; and what to photograph.

Listen to the podcast

Aug 17, 2015

The Steines family pool must have looked like a bonafide Hollywood set -- lights, models, make up artists, and of course, cameras.

It was no movie blockbuster in the works, however. This was Mark Steines at play.

Mark is a veteran Hollywood journalist who fills his time inbetween his work in front the camera making magic behind it.

What photography lessons can we learned from a journalist and producer at heart?

Listen to the podcast of view the show notes at bit.ly/shutterbuglife033.

Aug 10, 2015

Jim didn't want to admit what his girlfriend already knew.

I met them both last week, and early in the conversation they asked what I did.

When I told them I taught photography, Nancy exclaimed. "Jim is a photographer. He takes great pictures!"

"Is that so?" I asked Jim.

"Wait a minute," he cautioned. "Let's not go too fast here..."

Nancy looked shocked. "You are a photographer. You take great pictures!"

Jim was clearly uncomfortable.

We've all been there before.

Someone asks the direct question, "are you a photographer?" and we hesitate. 

How should I answer that question? Am I an amateur photographer? Am I an aspiring photographer? What kind of photographer am I?

I'm going to make the case that you don't need the qualifiers. You already have everything you need to answer that question. 

"Yes. I am a photographer."

Why is this important? Because as Jeff Goins writes, activity follows identity.

If we believe something, we generally act in a way that is consistent with that belief. If you tell yourself that you are not a photographer, you will pass up opportunities. You will shy away from challenges. You will act like a pretender.

If you allow yourself to own the title, you will act very differently. Words and labels matter.

Are you a photographer?

 

Listen to the podcast and read the show notes at bit.ly/shutterbuglife032.

Aug 4, 2015

 

If there was any joy shooting broadcast video in the 1990s, it wasn't in the equipment.

In the Army, I was recruited to be a broadcast news journalist. My commander handed me this huge video camera that I had to hoist onto my shoulder just to shoot. When I wasn't taping, I had to drag the camera around in this huge anvil case. When we arrive at our location, unpack, mic the subject, grab some video. 

It was a cumbersome process, but we did it because it was the only way to ensure professional broadcast quality video.

That was then. Today, most of us can create HD professional quality video straight from our cameras.

But it's not as simple as pointing and shooting. Let's talk about some of the things you'll need to consider to get great video. In another episode, I'll talk about principles for shooting videos.

Listen to the podcast

Jul 27, 2015

Last week I brought the good news: Pick yourself. Now is the best time to do something significant with your photography. It's never been easier to get started.

Today is the flip side of the coin. Because it's never been easier, it's never been more challenging.

And with the advances in technology, it will only get worse.

If you want to make money with your photography, the rigor you use to create your business is even more important now.

It's simple. You'll never make money taking pictures if you make any one of these 10 mistakes.

Listen to the podcast and find the show notes at bit.ly/shutterbuglife030.

Jul 21, 2015

"Do you have any in-depth notes on macro photography?" 

- Ruth

That's a great question from Ruth. Surely I have something prepared on macro photography, right? Wrong!

Ruth's question provides a great opportunity to discuss all the things you will need to know for successful macro photography. It's also great time for me, as I've been playing around with macro lately.

Jul 19, 2015

By the time he finished his impromptu lecture I was so annoyed I could barely stand it. 

I walked into a small gallery to see if there were any opportunities to organize a show for our Meetup group. 

The gallery owner began by describing his long and tedious jurying process. He then proceeded to lecture me on the kind of art they select.  As if I didn't have enough, he closed his 'rant' by explaining his idea of 'real' photography. 

The whole experience reminded me of a Seth Godin mantra — pick yourself.

In the old days, we needed to impress a guy like that if we ever wanted to do something significant with our photography. I'm not sure if he knows, but those days are long gone.

We no longer need permission from the gatekeepers of the world to make our impact. Technology and access to publishing tools make it easy for you to make a difference whenever you choose. 

Rather than asking a blogger, gallery owner, boss, or anyone else to pick you. Pick yourself first.

 

 

This week is a double feature. I knew if I stopped the conversation right there, many of you would walk away thinking I was asking something impossible. You would hear a voice telling you that I was being impractical. I was selling a pie in the sky that just wasn't real. For that reason, I also added a replay of my webinar, Silencing your inner critic. 

In that discussion, we confront the internal and external voices that rob us of the opportunity to do our best work. We identify them and provide strategies to deal with them.

Listen to the podcast and see the show notes at bit.ly/shutterbuglife029.

Jul 13, 2015

There are so many lists. Five ways to do this. Ten ways to do that.

Today I’m going to share an essential principle of street photography, and there will be only one.

 

BEFORE WE DELVE INTO THE LIST OF ONE

We all want to take the kind of great photos that people will look at 50 years from now and marvel. How did she take that? What was he thinking? How did she happen to be there? And see that?!

That’s what we want the greats of tomorrow to wonder about our work, yet I fear that too much of what we upload will be forgotten before our viewer even logs off.

So how do we ensure our images are remembered? If we study the work of the great street photographers of the past, as well as today’s artists, there is one essential ingredient that you will find consistent in their work. If you can learn to use it effectively, you will join their ranks.

Listen to the podcast

Jul 8, 2015

Should you only shoot in manual mode? That's the question Rod sent me this week.

I can understand how this issue can be confusing. Many internet photography "gurus" proclaim that you should only shoot in manual mode, and their disciples cling to that advice. Should you?

The unsatisfying answer will be ... it depends.

 

I'll tell you what it depends on in this Ask Lyn episode.

Jul 6, 2015

I've been a bit of a DSLR snob.

You might have noticed that I published a camera buying guide that focused exclusively on DSLRs. It's not that I have anything against Mirrorless cameras. I've been watching cautiously as all the cool kids and internet celebrities sold their DSLRS and moved tomirrorless.

Good for them, but why would I do that? Why would you?

In this episode, we discuss choosing a mirrorless camera:

  • What exactly do we mean by Mirrorless?
  • What makes them different from DSLRs?
  • What kinds of photographer would best benefit from a Mirrorless camera?
  • What are the entry level and professional level options?
  • What features set the best Mirrorless camera apart from the other options?
  • What is the best option for your money?

Listen to the podcast.

Jul 3, 2015

You can take spectacular fireworks photos with the right tools and settings.

In this special podcast episode, I show you how to photograph fireworks. We'll talk about the settings, composition, and tools you will need for success.

Listen to the podcast.

Jun 29, 2015

"Red circles?!" I could barely disguise my confusion and skepticism.

"Yeah... I want to photograph red circles," she replied confidently.

We were working on our Abstracts in Adams Photo Tour, and I'd asked our attendees to come up with a theme or project they could shoot for the day. 

Most attendees usually pick things like bicycles, a color, texture or even graffiti. But I wasn't prepared for the ultra-specific answer, red circles.

"How many red circles is she going to find in Adams Morgan. I don't want her to disappointed," I thought as I searched for a way to gently redirect her to a more 'attainable' goal."

Nope. Red circles. The decision had been made.

I learned a thing or two about selecting photo projects. that day The process need not be complicated nor the subject obvious. You just need something for which you can be passionate and dedicated.

 WHY IS THIS EVEN IMPORTANT?

"A Personal Photography project is a way for a photographer to showcase their passion for something," writes Neha Singh, of ShutterMonks.com in Digital Photography School. "Or it can just be a way to bring structure to one’s photography hobby. It can be a great way to challenge the limits of one’s skills. Or it can be a great way to bring focus to one’s photography efforts.

"A Personal Photography project is just a commitment to self."

Now that we have great weather and maybe some free time, this summer might be a good time to launch your own personal photo project. Here are 51 other ideas to consider shooting.

Listen to the podcast and find the show notes at bit.ly/shutterbuglife026

Jun 21, 2015

I'll share first. 

I've lost far too much money buying the wrong cameras and lenses in my life. 

I remember the first DSLR I ever bought. I loved it from the camera store counter, but when I got it into the real world, I quickly ran into its limitation.

There was the lens that was supposed to cure all my troubles. I sold it a couple months later for a few hundred dollars less than I purchased it. Ouch!

Here's the point. We all make mistakes. And after revisiting some of my costly missteps, plus the other stories I've heard from photographers in our community, I think I can help.

I've boiled these experiences into the seven mistakes rookie photographers make. See if you see your old self in these mistakes, because going forward we will be reformed.

Listen to the podcast and read the show notes at bit.ly/shutterbuglife025

Jun 15, 2015

Remember the sweet feeling of overwhelm when you held your new camera and marveled at all those buttons and features?

Here's the good news — you don't really need to know all of your camera's options. Here's the challenge — the ones you should know, you really ought to take the time to master them.

Like the famous Pareto Principle, roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. To make it more specific, if you master these 16 features, they will help you excel in 80 percent of your shooting scenarios. Grab your camera and follow along.

 

Listen to the podcast and view the show notes at bit.ly/shutterbuglife024.

Jun 13, 2015

Today's question comes from Mayhtwel.

"I can't decide the right composition. When I focus on an object, I feel confused. How to do I find the right position? That's my big problem. What should I do?"

In this episode, I share a checklist to help you find the right composition for you.

Jun 8, 2015

In the early morning light of Great Falls, Virginia, I was distracted. The light fell perfectly on the Potomac River as it rushed over a series of steep, jagged rocks. This was the scene I came to photograph, but I couldn't focus. Literally.

Nearby, my two young sons bounced carefree across the rocks that border the waterfalls. Any slip by one of them certainly wouldn't end well, but as young boys, they were impervious to the danger hundreds of feet below.

I shifted my attention between shepherding them to safety and taking a few photos I really liked. In fact, I was so distracted, I was surprised to find an image l liked enough to matte and frame. I hung the photo for a while but lost track of it over a couple moves.

I recall this now because recently I went into my oldest son's room and saw that he'd found and hung that photo on his wall. I hadn't seen it in years, but it brought back so many memories from that morning in 2004.

The National Parks are not only great for creating photos but memories as well. That's one of the messages from Chris Nicholson, who wrote the book Photographing National Parks.

In this interview, he shares:

• How you should prepare for an efficient and productive visit to a National Park;
• The tools you should take for best results;
• His favorite National Parks for photography;
• When you would need permits to photograph the parks;
and much more

 

Listen to the interview and find the show notes at bit.ly/022

May 31, 2015

If you wandered into Baltimore's Helping Up Mission last Dec. 6, you might have thought you were in a photo studio. Rows of portrait stations lined the room, all staffed by photographers busy shooting and printing images. 

And if you really paid attention, you'd notice that no money was being exchanged. That's right, photographers were shooting high quality portraits — free — for people who normally might never have experienced that kind of attention.

Wes Linda was one of the organizers of the Help-Portrait Baltimore movement, and he joins this episode to share what he learned, and how you can change your own world with your camera.

 

Listen to the podcast or visit the show notes at bit.ly/shutterbuglife022.

May 26, 2015

I have some photography advice for you. It has nothing to do with f-stops or apertures, composition or storytelling. Sure those principles are important, but they aren't my focus today.

This advice will not only help you improve your photographs but your life as a photographer. Use them today. Use them years from now. They'll still work.

Put down your camera and pull up a chair. Here we go.

Listen to the podcast and find the show notes at bit.ly/021

May 18, 2015

"Hi, Joe McNally? You don't know me, but I'm Lyn Morton. I'm a big fan of your work, but even more so, I love the way you teach. You see, I'm also a photographer and photo coach. I was wondering if you would be my mentor.

"Why would you do that? What's in it for you?!

"Good questions...." Hmmm...

If you've ever imagined asking someone to be your photography mentor and feared the conversation would end like that, Peggy Farren has some tips for you.

Peggy is a portrait and wedding photographer in Naples, Fla. She joins us today to make the case that you need a photography mentor or even a photo buddy, and she has seven tips to help you you find one.

 

Listen to the podcast and read the show notes at bit.ly/shutterbuglife020.

May 11, 2015

Valerie Jardin is still modest enough to correct me when I refer to her as an expert on street photography, but it' not that she hasn't earned the title.

I love her quote, "photography is my passion, my obsession, my addiction. I live and breathe in pixels!"

Valerie is a natural a storyteller who focuses mostly street photography. 

Her work has hung in galleries in the United States and in Europe, but she enjoys paying it forward most.

"Teaching is my opportunity to share my passion and skills with others while leading photography workshops," she writes. "I also give talks and presentations at photo conferences and offer online portfolio reviews and business consultations."

I know Valerie as the host of the weekly street photography podcast, Street Focus, and writer for Digital Photography School magazine.

In this interview, I ask Valerie:

  • What's her definition of street photography?
  • What is seeing in street photography, and how do you do it?
  • What are you looking for when you are shooting?
  • Who inspires you?
  • Top three tips for beginners?
  • How do you approach shooting in other countries?

Listen to the podcast and find the show notes at bit.ly/shutterbuglife019.

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