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!



Perseverance: Advice for the Aspiring Photographer

Vine Snake (Oxybelis fulgidus)

This week, Advancing Your Photography featured the SF based photographer, Jim Goldstein. As a professional photographer he specializes in outdoor and nature photography. He is in particular, passionate about the environment and is well known for infusing elements of the natural world in his commercial and editorial work.

Interestingly, Jim’s past consists of genetic research and being a web-strategist for San Francisco based tech companies. However, his passion from childhood had remained intact and in the light of the birth of social media sites, Jim caught on and started to share his work with the world. Today he is a well established photographer who produces some of the highest quality photography for both commercial clients and fine art photography collectors.

Guggenheim Museum

Did he become a fantastic photographer over night? When asked what his biggest hurdle was as an up and coming photographer, Jim smiles and says, “To be quite honest, myself!”. He recalled the days when he took his mother’s camera and went to Yosemite to take pictures and then coming home only to find that none of the photos turned out as he had hoped. Did that stop him? Well, almost but it was only through the course of time that the photographer realized that while all the times he thought he had “failed,” he was actually developing other skills in the process.

chinatown-sfSo what about his views on mentally preparing for a shoot? Goldstein says that the number one problem that photographers face is that they don’t change gears quickly, which is totally normal. You can’t always instantly find inspiration at the venue where you are setting up. Yet the key according to Goldstein is that you must free your mind and focus on the task at hand. In fact it’s a good idea to even reacquaint yourself with your equipment, know what you have to work with, and make sure you don’t make basic mistakes during the process. A photographer must know that your image ISN’T just a click away. You must experiment, study subjects, study surroundings, and be completely familiar with the atmosphere that surrounds you.

As for advice for getting better photos, it’s a simple straightforward answer: Enjoy what you do and keep at it! To check out some of his work, Check out Jim Goldstein’s page here. Recently, Jim also published a book on photography and it’s available on InspiredExposure.

Robert Knight Rock Photography

Late one night cruising through Netflix I came across Rock Prophecies with rock photog Robert Knight, I loved the movie and reached out to Robert. Turns out we had both gone to the San Francisco Art Institute and  had been around he same crowd and the 60s music scene. So we ended up going to his gallery to record this episode and several more to follow. Great stories about capturing  iconic bands and rock legends.  Image being on the tarmac when Led Zep landed in Hawaii carrying the reels of their second album!

Check out Robert’s work, if you’re in LA stop by the Mouche Gallery to see his amazing photographs.

Joey Lawrence, only 20 years old, is one of the most sought-after commercial photographers in the business. While Joey’s commercial work consists of advertisements and work for movies, television, and musicians, his personal work focuses on fine art portraiture around the world. Today, he talks with Marc Silber about techniques for both beginning and established photographers alike.

Read more…

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?

Welcome to the premier of the Marc Silber Show where we bring you remarkable people who are a source of inspiration, innovation and creativity.*

Marc landed on the red carpet at the premier of Soul Surfer starring Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt and AnnaSophia Robb. Marc heard from the director Sean McNamara, Bethany Hamilton whose story the movie was based on and AnnaSophia Robb who played her in the film and Halfdan Hussey who heads up Cinequest. Each talks about the message of the film and their passion for filmmaking.

Here’s what – Michael Rabehl 
of Cinequest said about Soul Surfer:

Bethany Hamilton was born to surf. Growing up on the Kauai Coast, hers was a tranquil, surfer girl’s life—participating in national competitions and revealing her natural talent on the waves. On Halloween morning 2003, her dreams seemed to splinter when Bethany, on a typical ocean outing, was attacked by a shark and lost her arm. 

Bravely determined, Bethany fights to recover, supported by the love of her parents (Quaid and Hunt). And while on a trip to Thailand with her youth-group leader (Carrie Underwood) after the devastating tsunami, Bethany sees her greater purpose to help change the lives of others. With her resolve stronger than ever, she returns home to conquer, not only her own challenges, but also to help others do the same. 

Based on Hamilton’s book and featuring an all-star cast, director Sean McNamara’s Soul Surfer beautifully captures the spirit and strength of a young woman’s determination to overcome personal loss. Her strength drives her towards a courageous comeback, giving her the opportunity to take her loss and transform the lives of others.

We ran into one of our friends at WPPI who had kind things to say about Advancing Your Photography

This is the full edit version of my interview with Jeff Johnson, who has a dream job as a Patagonia staff photographer. He gives his tips for outstanding travel and photojournalistic images. Jeff  is also the lead in the film 180 Degrees South which retraces the epic 1968 journey of his heros Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins to Patagonia. Jeff talks about how the movie came about and his experiences along the way as a photographer.

A few of the questions that I asked him were
  1. How do you tell stories with your photographs?
  2. What’s the story of making the film 180 South?
  3. How was it transitioning from still to motion?
  4. How do you approach a photojournalistic assignment?
  5. Any tips for capturing great light?
  6. How did you do the voiceovers for the film?
  7. How about your tips for composition?
  8. How do you get the “mojo” in your photographs?
We  talked about a whole lot more, so give this full version a watch!

How Important Photography Is In Advertising

Photography is one of the most important parts of creating a compelling and eye catching marketing campaign. This can easily be observed with reference to fashion campaigns, but holds true for any successful campaign including a business, product, services company and more. Capturing creative photographs that tell a story and set the mood for the product is an important skill for any budding photographer to learn. Photography is a form of communication. The images chosen have the purpose of creating an effect and setting a tone for the viewer.

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