Archives: Photography


Is this picture perfect? Some people think that the background is a distraction. You can see some greenery and bricks. Other people may question the flower’s colors. They’ve seen nicer colors. A few people would add that it is in the center, thereby ignoring the “rule of thirds.” None would say it’s a perfect photo.

The good news is that it was never meant to be. I have no idea what a perfect photo is, since I’ve never seen one. Every photo that I’ve ever seen, including those by such famous photographers as Ansel Adams, has been criticized in some way.

I happen to like this flower. That’s all. If you do, great. If you don’t, sorry.

Perfection is truly in the eye of the cynic. It doesn’t exist, so try less hard to find it.

Speakers: Do you want good or effective photos?

They aren’t the same. A good photo doesn’t mean that it will be effective. An effective photo doesn’t have to be good.

For a photographer, a photo is good if it is sharp, colorful, composed nicely, exposed properly, and artistic. When a speaker looks at a photo all of these qualities are secondary. Speakers want a photo to be effective by helping him or her make a point.

An effective photo helps emphasize a point. To do so it can be soft, under or over exposed, black and white, and composed appropriately.

Photographers look for art, speakers look for practicality. A bride gazing at her flowers is artistic, a bride looking straight ahead with a smile…sells.

The picture taking rule you should not follow!

Many years ago, I was a wedding photographer. I would attend photo seminars and hear about how to take artistic photos of the bride. They showed me how to take photos of the bride looking at her flowers. They showed me how to take photos of the bride and groom looking at each other. It went on and on.

The owner of the studio I was working for was interested, among other things, in selling wall sized pictures. It didn’t take long to realize that the artistic looking photos were not the ones going up on the walls.

The photos that sold the best were the ones where the subjects were looking at the camera. Brides, and families, wanted to see people who looked their best.

There’s nothing wrong with taking pictures of people who are looking at the camera and smiling.

Beware of artistic photos…they usually don’t sell when it comes to portraits or weddings. You should take them if you come upon an interesting scene. However, always cover yourself with straight pictures.

A Tale of Two Webinars

In the past few days, I sat through two photo related webinars. They were very different.

The first was an hour long advertisement. None of the information gained can be used without their products. According to the online info, about 8 people (including me) were listening to the webinar. I’d guess few bought the product that was being sold.

The second was an hour long collection of immediately useful information. If I were a young photographer I would have learned a lot about photography in a very short time. It provided practical information that could be used immediately. At the end of the hour, they did suggest taking their online course that seemed to be equally useful for a young photographer. I would have signed up for it immediately. Incidentally, according to the online info, more than 600 people were listening to the webinar. I’m sure that many signed on for the course.

The moral…sell less and provide more free…useful…information.

Meeting Creativity

Creativity and meetings usually don’t go together. However, there is a way to make your next meeting a bit different…and more interesting. Here’s how…

Before the meeting ask everyone who will be attending to email a photo to you that they have taken at your office, sometime before the meeting. Ask them to send the  picture in an email or text…with no descriptive text.

You can use the photos in three ways:

  1. They will provide an intriguing reason to attend the meeting. Everyone likes a little mystery.
  2. The photos will give you an idea of what your colleagues are thinking about when they’re in the office.
  3. They will be an interesting topic of conversation at the beginning of the meeting.

For your next meeting, ask them to send a picture that they took the previous weekend.

Photos are great for creativity…even at meetings.

5 Photo Tips for Speakers

If you get up to speak at a meeting, workshop or conference, you probably will be using some form of visual. By following some basic photography tips you can make your pictures more effective. Here are 5 photography tips for public speaking:
  1.     The most unique photos you can use is one you took yourself. Your iPhone or other smartphone has a camera that can and should be used to take pictures. Use it.
  2.     Move in, zoom in, or crop your pictures to avoid distracting backgrounds.
  3.     An advantage of using digital cameras is that you can take pictures without worrying about the expense of developing film. However, the problem with digital images is how easy it is to loose track of them. Important images should be copied and re-named. For example, the (scanned version) of the photo of P.J. is named PJ_Polaroid.jpg. If it were called 229945.jpg it would be much more difficult to find in my computer.
  4.     Using a Polaroid picture, like the picture of P.J.,  makes it a bit more personal and unique. Although Polaroid stopped making film for their cameras, The Impossible Project does make film for your old Polaroid camera.
  5.     If you use a photo on a PowerPoint or Keynote slide, use little or any text with it. You want the audience to look at the picture, listen to you, or read what is on a slide…one at a time.

Used wisely, pictures are great aids to making an effective speech or presentation.

Save Your Family

Murray and Family in Poland

Family memories fade! Pictures help. Unfortunately, a picture alone will be useless in a few decades.

When you take a family photo it’s important to describe who’s who…in writing…preferably on the back of the photo.

My father came from Poland during the 1930s. Before he left Europe this family photo was taken. All except two of the people in the family were victims of Nazi execution. My father and his brother were the only ones to survive. Incidentally, my father is #9. The problem is that this is the only photo that survived. Unfortunately, the paper that described who was who has been lost…forever. Writing a caption is one of the best ways of preserving your family heritage.

Bad pictures make good memories…


It’s corny.

It’s out of focus.

Posing is terrible.

Outfit is embarrassing.

Old Dumont TV weighted a ton and was only about 10 inches across.

Everything says terrible picture…except one thing. It’s a picture of me taken about 60 years ago in Brooklyn.

Pictures like this are not examined for quality. They are thought of as old memories that remind us of bygone days. The quality of the picture is unimportant. Only the memories count.

As you take a zillion pictures on your iPhone think about what memories will last 60 years from now. Preserve the ones that are important.

Your Photos vs. Stock Photos

You can buy or download free photos of everything…almost. If you are a speaker and use photos during your talk it is easy to search for ‘just the right photo’ for your PowerPoint slide. It makes sense…or does it. Actually, I don’t think so.

I’d rather use a photo that I have taken over a stock photo every time. Here’s an example.


There are thousands of photos of Pugs online. If I were speaking about Pugs, I would only use one like this. Why? I can talk about this one on a very personal level. Camille posed for this photo. She lived with my family. You may notice that the photo isn’t perfect. Her tail is partially covered by the greenery. A “professional” photographer would have Photoshopped it out. Would a perfect photo that I couldn’t talk about personally be better than Camille. Never!

Whenever possible, use your own photo…so you can make it personal.

How to shoot a black dog…with a camera, of course.


Black dogs are difficult to photograph. Exposure is often a problem. My own solution is very simple:

Get the dog alone, with a plain background. If the black dog is with a person or other dog, it’s difficult to adjust the exposure of the image as a whole. If the dog is alone, you can make it darker or lighter without disturbing anything else. In this example, you couldn’t tell if the grass was a bit darker or lighter. That’s it. Problem solved.