This week in Advancing Your Photography, we sat down with Deanne Fitzmaurice, a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer who is based in San Francisco, California. She specializes in journalism stills and motion. Her work has appeared in National Geographic, Time Magazine, ESPN the Magazine, Sports Illustrated , Men’s Journal, Newsweek, The Economist, Stern, GEO and numerous other publications. Over the years, she has partnered with many non-profits such as NPR, UCSF, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the James Irvine Foundation. She has also created multimedia pieces for NBC, Wharton, ACLU and her corporate clients include Netflix, Target, Avon, and Adobe, to name a few.

Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 6.54.58 PMDeanne sat down with Marc Silber and talked about her approach to photography. She says, “When I pick up a camera, I try to make a human connection with my subject, and try to humanize an issue.” A while back she had the opportunity to photograph a soldier from Iraq, who, like so many others, had suffered from numerous injuries. As a result, his life was altered and he and his family were deeply affected. Deanne, being the sensitive photographer that she is, went deep into understanding who this soldier was inside and out. “We had to find a soldier who would let us into his life.” It was at Walter Reid Medical Center where she met Brent Bretz who had lost both legs and medically had much to overcome, while also trying to get his life back together. “By gaining his trust, he felt comfortable letting us in his life.”, she says. “After all, he had to put up with us being there,  we wanted to capture the moments. We wanted to connect and care about the issue. “

When asked if it is better to plan shoots before going on location, Deane says that although it’s important to have a general plan, she notes that one needs to be willing to let things change. “Things don’t go as you expected, and it should be that way. Unexpected things happen and sometimes it’s a blessing while other times it’s a curse.”, she smiles.

Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 6.56.52 PMWith respect to going Pro, she says anyone can be a pro as long as they are driven. She agrees that it is difficult but if you’ve got the passion then it will happen! “It has to be a part of you. Get up in the morning and think about what you want to photograph for the day. If you just dabble every now and then, you won’t make it. But if you wake up, go read about photography, try new things, subscribe to news on photos, seminars, and constantly educate yourself, little by little you will get there!”, she says. Aside from hard work, she also stresses the importance of networking. Showing your work to various people, attending workshops, and knowing all the important people in the business are ways to make great connections. But above all, Deanne says be passionate!


Powerful Women in Photography

This week in Advancing Your Photography, we focused on two powerful women in photography: Bambi Cantrell and Anna Kuperberg. Research performed by Kodak a few years ago revealed that 90% of the world’s photographs are purchased by women. To Bambi Cantrell, this is not only an astronomical number but it also provides insight into why women buy photos to begin with. “Women are the keepers of history. They document their lives and the lives of their families through photographs”, she says.

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About 25 years ago, Cantrell began her photography career and she remembers how there were virtually no women in this line. “It was completely a male dominated field because it was deemed “technical” and “scientific.” “These days, women are dominating the field because we are genuinely interested in people, we are very social,” she remarks.

Cantrell, who got her first camera when she was 14, always knew she wanted to be a photographer. In fact, if her parents wanted her to stay out of trouble, all they needed to do was put a photo album in front of her and she could engage herself for hours on end. When Cantrell got married, she had her friend take pictures of her wedding because she had a “nice camera.” Looking back, she now sees the inanity of that statement. “It doesn’t matter what camera you have! Cameras don’t take pictures, people do” she reveals.

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Anna Kuperberg is another fine example of a female photographer who truly understands the essence of the art form. “The job of the photographer is to create a framework that the person is allowed to be”, she says. Although she believes that the photographer’s personality is always present in a photograph, it is the aspect of their personality that resonates. She feels that the expression in their photograph must resonate with the photographer. The way to do this is by being interested, curious and totally tuned in to the moment. “I think of the process in the way a dog looks at a tennis ball. There is this complete focus with regards to where the ball is, and not where they think its going to be.”

To check out this week’s video in Advancing Your Photography, click here. Also, stay tuned for more educational videos in the coming weeks!



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Ansel Adams and Cedric Wright

Ansel Adams Could  Use Your help Getting Packed up!

We’re looking for a few good men and women who want to advance their own photography, while helping others. Pay it forward, in other words.

What makes Ansel Adams stand so tall as a master of photography is not only his talent and skill as a photographer, but his generosity  in assisting photographers of all levels advance.

We’ve been building the AYP club and videos on our own steam while also running a working studio with all its demands, but to get to the next level we need some help!

Have you noticed that when you jump in and help that you are also a big beneficiary? “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself…Serve and thou shall be served.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

We’re looking for folks who can lend a hand with one or more of the following:

1. Constructive critiquing and coaching

2. Helping to build out our photo wiki — so we can all have easy access to the knowledge in our videos and related posts and info.

3. Help Mentor others and assist new members getting started.

4. Help create content with videos and blog posts.

5. Help grow the club and spread the word.

What will you get in return?

The satisfaction that comes from helping and being one of the good guys who rolls up their sleeves and contributes to something that matters. (And I bet we can dig up some swag for those who really pitch in.)

Is this you? If so email us and let us know how you’d like to help. (It doesn’t matter where you live as we get to work via the internet.)

We created a pay it forward group please join to stay updated.

(Don’t you wish you could have given Ansel a hand packing all that gear?)

Chairs at Peninsula school by marc silber

7th Grade Geometry © Marc Silber 1964

Framing is the most basic of tools for composing a photograph, or for that matter in any visual art.  You are looking at life through your camera and select out the rectangle (or square) that you want your viewer to see.

Remember that framing can include the angle you choose in order to tell your story, this includes the angle from which you shoot and the angle you hold your camera, as in the shot above (taken of my 7th grade classroom.)

A great little book called How to Shoot a Movie Story, by Arthur L Gaskill and David A. Englander, discusses the power of angles, something I’ve never seen in a still photography book. Here’s a bit from the book:

“Camera angles can control an audience’s attention and reactions to a remarkable degree. They can emphasize what what you want your audience to see and how you want them to see it”

The four basic angles are:

1. High angles reduces height of the subject and slows down motion. Creates superiority for viewer. Example: If you want the viewer to have the feeling of towering over a large object shoot looking down.
2. Low angles exaggerate height and speed up motion, subject commands attention.  This works well in sports for example, get down low and you’ll  capture the action.
3. Side angles give depth and perspectiveto people and objects. For example, If you want to emphasize the depth of a building, shoot it from the side.
4. Flat angles are just that, taken front on and can be pretty dull.

A photographer’s best friend are his/her feet! Move around, climb up high, crouch down low. Turn your camera. See what happens!

In our AYP Club, we have weekly assignments in our Photo-Dojo group.  This week’s is to go out and shoot and try each of the angles noted above. Especially force yourself to shoot from an angle or hight that you never use.  Post your best in the Dojo and tell us what you learned.

Help Me Help You!

Hey guys, I first tossed this post out months ago and we immediately recieved requests from all over the world  to join this pilot project. We quickly found that we needed to have a  web-infrastructure to support it and so went to work to build the AYP Club, Now that we have, I’m updating and newly extending our offer –MS

What would you think of an idea that offered some or all of the following:

  1. A chance to have your photography regularly critiqued both by pros and respected peers?
  2. Regular workshops from pros, both in-person and maybe even exclusive broadcasts just for you?
  3. A way to get together with other photographers in your area?
  4. Contests?
  5. Some other surprises to Advance Your Photography?
  6. Regular PhotoWalks with some pros.
  7. And have a ton of fun while doing it?

Well believe it or not, there is an easy way to pull this off: But I need a few volunteers who can help us start chapters of Advancing Your Photography Club, yep you heard me, let’s start AYP Clubs– hey all over. Just like starting a fire we need two sticks to generate some heat and fire! And for now that can be you and me!

I’m pretty stoked about this but I need to know if you’re interested? First Join the AYP Club it’s free!  Then send me a message (go to “My account”>messages>compose> marc silber) letting me know if you’re game!  Oh there’s a lot more that I haven’t mentioned but give me shout and I’ll give you the basic tools you need to get started and we can grow fast and have fun and really AYP!

BTW, for now, let’s keep this secret–the best way possible–by having it right out in the open!

Marc Silber Advancing Your Photography logo

Click the Lens to join AYP Club

How about and easy and fun way to take your photography to the next level this summer?

One way is to shoot things that you probably wouldn’t on your own, making you reach as a photographer.  On our own, many of us have found that we’ve taken just to dang many of the same type of shots, you might know someone like that?

So let’s break out, break loose and push ourselves.

Another point is to be part of a group of photographers, no just on your own. This is another way of  pushing yourself. Annie Leibovitz talked about how we pushed ourselves in our old days at the San Francisco Art Institute:

“You know, your work would be in a general wash, outside the darkrooms and, it was really…It had to be good if it was going to wash in that general wash, next to anyone else’s, because everyone’s work was really amazing. “

Well, we might not have a wash area outside of our darkroom, but we can at least post our work, have our fellows have a look and give us feedback.  This is a bit different than our Photo Critique Group, which has become very popular. In that group you can post any photo you want, no matter when you took it and get feedback.

A Dojo is a place to workout and challenge yourself physically, well let’s extend that to photography and stretch our photo-muscles and advance to the next level in our new group Photo-Dojo Group.

I’ll post assignments, you guys go out and shoot, process and post post your best. (Keep it to one unless the assignment calls for a series.)  Tell us what you learned and leave feedback on your fellows’ work.

And hey, if you find that you live near each other, it would really be fun to meet up and go out and do your workouts together.

Are you with me? Check out the first assignment in the Photo-Dojo. See you around the darkroom wash, join here.


I love to see folks in the AYP Club diving right in to the Photo Critique group and putting up their photographs, getting and giving feedback. As you’ve heard me say before, this is really important in the process of advancing your photography. We’re working on the 4th Division of photography: Sharing and getting feedback.

I’m pretty dang busy right now but I try to make my way around and see what’s being posted and add my comments, if I feel I’ve got something to say. I’ve made a few observations that I want to pass along:

1. Story. Figure out what your story is, photography is a language (light-writing) so basically you are telling your viewer what you “saw and felt” as Ansel told us, that Alfred Stieglitz said.

2. Link Photos. In photojournalism you are definitely telling a story–this may be about your family trip to Paris or New York or a walk down Main Street, but it’s still photojournalism. Many times you’ll use photographs to link other photographs in your story.  Daniel Milnor explained this very well. I’d like to invite photographers to make a note if the photo they are posting is a “stand-alone photograph” or is part of a series, or is simply one that links to others in a series.  This will help you get your message across to your viewers.

3. Take one more step. Once you’ve identified your subject, who you’re telling your story about, remember to take another step closer  as Neal Menschel told us. You may think this passing your comfort level, good–do it. If you don’t push the edges, you’re not going to grow!

4. Watch AYP Videos. I shot these interviews because each of  these photographers is remarkable in their own way and each has valuable information to pass along. My dream with the AYP Club is to have it fully integrated with our videos and blog posts, so that you have easy access to the wealth of knowledge we’ve gained.  We want to put up a wiki so our community can index the know-how along with other valuable material out there in the photo-world.

In any case, I invite you to

a. dig in to the genre of photography you want to advance in,

b. watch the videos in that genre,

c. then shoot,

d. post for critique,

e. watch, etc!

Now before I leave you on this rainy California day, please do this simple assignment for me: Decide on a story you want to tell (keep it simple at this point), it can be a single photograph with a simple story like “here’s my dog chasing her tail” . Go and shoot it, take that one step closer. Post it for critique.

See your around the club!


Here at Silber Studios, we’re really stoked about the new AYP Club, where you can join up, meet like-minded photographers, put up your photos to get critiqued and generally join in the fun. Join Now!

Ansel Adams’ #1 Tip to Advance Your Photography

With the advent of the release of our AYP Club, We’re reposting this with some new updated resources (even if you did this before, do it again.)

Imagine you were fortunate enough to have attended Ansel Adams’ workshop in Yosemite. What do you suppose the grand master of photography would teach you? The complexities of his “Zone System” or how to operate a large format camera, or maybe he’d talk about some esoteric point of photography, while stroking his gray beard?


It’s a characteristic of many students to sail right past the basics and expect what they need to improve is some mysterious and hidden piece of knowledge.

Wrong again.

What they most need to learn is what is literally right in front of their face!

Let me ask you, what is in fact the most fundamental point of photography, or for that matter, most art?

Is it the operation of your camera, our how to control a complex system?  Or how to get that perfect exposure? Or which filter to use to get the sky to turn black (as Ansel of did)?

Or could it be as simple as learning to see your photograph?

Yep, this is about as fundamental as it gets–look and see!

That’s how we learn sports be it baseball, tennis, golf or surfing. “Keep your eye on the ball (or wave.)” The best have mastered this and arrive at square one.

Okay, here you are in a beautiful meadow in Yosemite, how did Ansel train you to look and see? First he explained visualization: the whole key lies very specifically in seeing it in your mind’s eye first. Click to hear this right from Ansel and then take the Quiz after.

Then he handed out black rectangles and told you to go out and use it to find and frame your shots.

So for the first class of our photography school here’s what you’ll do (and don’t bail on this because “you can already do it” or “that’s for beginners” or “I don’t have time for this” or whatever excuse… just do it!)

1. Click here to Watch this short video with Charlie Cramer describing how to use Ansel’s “framing card.”

2. Get a piece of cardboard or a file card and cut out a rectangle the middle of it like this (or you can use this as a template and print it on the card.)

3. Now go out and practice seeing images, like you heard Charlie telling you, moving the card.

4. Keep this up until you learn something! And leave a comment and tell me what you learned. Or better yet, leave one on our AYP Club and while you’re there, post one of your photos for critiquing.

5. Do this exercise often, as you would use a backboard in tennis or go to the driving range.

6. Now remember our school is free for now but we do ask you to spread the word to your friends–tweet, Facebook and tell them to come on board!

What did you learn?

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Our AYP Club™ brings together like-minded photographers, exclusive video tips from top-photographers & photography instruction in a fun group setting, all designed to make you a better photographer. And have fun while doing it.


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