What camera system do you use?

I have spent a considerable amount of time using both Canon and Nikon. My go-to camera body is the Nikon D4 for studio work.  In the field and on the water I shoot on the Nikon D700.  It has virtually the same power and functionality of its big brother (D3) with half the weight and cost.  Full frame, excellent with low light situations, and 8fps with the battery grip, it has treated me well!

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in photography?

Have fun and do not pigeon hole yourself into thinking that great photography is driven by equipment. Your camera does not take the picture – You Do!  While good equipment is important, without composition and visual creativity it is useless.

Be open to new ideas and making mistakes behind the lens. Great photography comes through practice and dedication. People often ask me “How can I improve?”… Study the game!

Try not to let other peoples work get you discouraged. Use it as a motivation to better your own game and photographic style.  There can only be one You! Strive to always put out your best work and improve upon it.  Jealousy only breeds hate!

What camera should I purchase?

I get this question a lot. People want recommendations and while i am happy to give them, they may not be the best options for you. There is a lot that goes into deciding which type of camera is right for you and the type of photography you will be shooting.Commitment level, style of photography and budget are all important. Most often a point and shoot digital camera is plenty to get started. A few models now are capable of shooting in high resolution formats such as RAW and can fit in a shirt pocket or fly vest. A simple web search on point and shoot cameras will point you in the right direction for reviews and user experience www.dpreview.com is a great resource and can provide you details on just about every camera body.

If you’re looking for something more and want to dive into the art of photography, a DSLR will offer more options in lens choice and help provide an avenue to explore different areas of photography.  Both Nikon and Canon have solid camera systems.  Do your homework and choose one brand that works for you. It is a big decision.  Switching from one system to the other later on can be very costly!  B&H Photo is where I make most of my online purchases.  They are safe, great to work with and have an excellent track record.

Still not good enough for ya?  Just choose team Nikon, how’s that? (LOL)

What post production software do you use?

Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) and Light Room. I use them both for different applications.  All of my imagery is imported and managed through LightRoom.  The bulk of my post process and edits is done in CC by importing the images in from Light Room. I love the flexibility and with my Wacom tablet it just works.

How do you manage and store image archives on your computer?

It seems as if everyone has their own preferred way to save and store images however, I have learned through past experience that without a near bullet proof solution, images can be lost and with it all that hard work.

I use two 500gig hard drives setup on a Raid Array along with two external 2TB hard drives. I will save my work on my computer and then gradually transfer my images to the external HD’s.  I also use an online backup service to do weekly backups. The service is relatively inexpensive and helps me sleep at night.

One recommendation is that you begin storing your image folders by date.  This format works for me: Year/Month/Day. When looking for files i can easily search my folders by year and then drill down. Adobe Light Room is an awesome tool! I am a huge believer in Collections and use them to rate and quick collect my images.

Do you shoot RAW or JPEG?

Both!  Understanding when to shoot between both can save you some troubles later on down the road and also free up a lot of hard drive space.  My basic take is this, if you are shooting images for a blog, web page, or something that will not be in large print, jpg or high jpg and is not a deliverable to a client, JPEG is fine. If you plan to submit photos to an editor for print or are providing imagery to a client, shoot RAW.

For me, 95% of my images are taken using RAW settings. While it may not always be necessary, I have the storage space and if I ever need to submit an image to an editor I can provide a high resolution file.  Most of my kid’s sports and family snapshots are taken in JPG.   Again this is very basic but as you get more involved in photography you will develop your own sense of when you should be shooting in RAW vs. JPG.

What’s the best way to learn Adobe Photoshop?

If you want to get better at post production, it is going to involve a lot of time.  It takes a huge amount of practice.  What works for me are books, Google, and a couple of top notch designers who are critical when it comes to critiquing my work

Post production is a controversial subject for many photogs because it is enhancing the original photograph.  What I have discovered with great photographers is their ability to compose a solid image and use post to form their own photographic style.

Learning the very basics of layering, masking, retouching, can produce stunning results.  Just keep in mind, a poor shot that lacks compositional detail only turns into a post processed “poor shot that lacks compositional detail”!

People ask me all the time on how I do certain things in Photoshop and how I created a certain effect.  While I am open to helping people, unless the question is very specific and detailed, I am usually closed mouth regarding my techniques.  I will say I have been paying my dues.  I have spent countless hours learning and applying this knowledge in my work.  Trying to explain or share things which has taken me years to learn and cost a small fortune, right now it is not something I am willing to give away for free not to mention the time commitment involved.

I want to start submitting my images to editors, how did you go about getting published and featured?

Know your client!  The number of calls for photo submission are far and few between.  In the fly fishing industry there are only a few magazines.

Getting on the editors radar can be a challenge and you will need to have some legitimate material or you’ll get blocked pretty fast.  When you are getting ready to submit, it goes without saying that you should only submit your best work.

It is tough to break into the industry and have your work published.  Most photographers now are either established pros who work full time and do business with accounts they have had for years, or guys like me, who submit photos with their articles and provide the occasional one-off.  Before you start calling out some of the “vets” who have been doing this for years, keep in mind that their biggest asset is consistency: they can provide an entire portfolio which includes a wide range of good, publishable photos on various subjects. Editors need photos to be available quickly, and they will continue to do more business with pros that can provide the material with fast turn-around times.  It makes good sense.  Be aware that your photos being submitted are going up against the images of established photographers who may already have an “in” with the company.  Try not to take it personally.

What’s your take on the DSLR movement?  It seems very hard to make photography a career with everyone claiming to be a photographer.

DSLR’s definitely have changed the game.  I remember my Father giving me his first Minolta SLR when I was 15 or 16 years old.  It was hard for me back then to afford film and processing.  I spent time in my high school dark room and did all of my own processing.  It was not convenient like digital is today.

Today, anyone who owns a camera considers themselves a photographer to some extent.  Just about everyone is doing it or wanting to try it.  Personally, I think it is great.  The new blood (including myself) getting involved in photography brings a photographic uniqueness that is needed.

Making a career out of photography is challenging.  Can it be done – yes!  Am I doing it – no.  One thing certain with the advancements in technology, it has become more affordable to own a camera.  Photography is more accessible and the passion continues to grow.  The full time pros that have been shooting since film have adapted to the digital revolution and accepted the changes it has brought to the industry, or have moved on.  The way I look at it, the only way to make money is to set yourself a part and develop a unique style.  Doing so will result in more opportunities and income.