Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year Everyone!!!

Happy New Year 2012

Good Morning Everyone,

Throughout the holidays it’s great to be with family, friends, and co-workers and to reminisce all the successes and blessings of the past year. The December holidays are a change for many of us to re-charge our batteries as we transition into the new year.  I sure hope everyone reading today has had a chance to do just that.

But Sunday is the BIG day – the first day of a brand new year! As I said in the past, we turn all the dials back to zero. What ever happened in 2011 is now a thing of the past. The race begins anew – new possibilities, new choices, new opportunities for success!

A bright future is ours, all of ours for the taking IF, we approach those new challenges with fortitude, determination, optimism, and with gusto!

I offer you your first 2012 success tip from this African proverb:

"Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed...every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle...when the sun comes up, you'd better be running."

This wonderful profession of ours continues to change and grow and we need to move quickly to embrace those changes if we want success to be within our grasp.

I wish each and every one of you only the best for 2012 and beyond.

DigitalProTalk will continue to be a source of knowledge and inspiration for you nearly every day.  And, as always, I look forward to your thoughts/comments, questions, suggestions and ideas to be an inspiration to me, as well. I hope you’ll continue to join me for an exciting New Year!

Happy New Year Everyone!!! –David

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Photographer #415: Thomas Locke Hobbs

Thomas Locke Hobbs, 1976, USA, is a photographer who has been based in Buenos Aires since 2008. Although his background is in economics and finance he decided to dedicate himself full-time to photography in 2008. He started following numerous workshops in order to further his technical skills as well as to define what photography is to him. Thomas works in a very exploratory manner, investigating the city he lives in from various different perspectives. His conceptual series are the work of an organized photographer who looks at the city as an outsider. His series Ochava Solstice is a collection of large format photographs showing the corners of numerous buildings. In the early 20th century the government mandated that buildings on corners in Buenos Aires have diagonal edges to improve visibility for cars. However, from the 1960's onwards, the economic imperatives of real estate development demanded maximum square footage. The ground floors are diagonal edge, the floors above have square edges. This way of building leaves a triangular shadow which tracks the sun as a sun dial would. The following images come from the series Ochava Solstice, Riverbank and Chalet PorteƱo.


Sumari & Jacques Married

"It is the season to be jolly" With Christmas and getaway ideas filling the December month, it wasn't just jingle bells ringing, but wedding bells as well. The day was filled with pure love and big smiles on everyone's faces. As I've said before, there is nothing more beautiful and pure than a bride's smile.
I also want to thank the support and new friends I've made the past year. Hope everyone is still enjoying the summer sun holiday! See you all in 2012 with all the new beggings that awaits.*

"Reach For The Sky”

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"Reach For The Sky”
©David A. Ziser

I’m a big fan of shooting “up” when touring any big city downtown location.  This day was no exception.  We had a bright, clear day sky which served as a brilliant backdrop for this cityscape.  I carefully blocked the sun’s direct rays with the tree you see in the foreground. I also like the touch of nature among the concrete buildings.

The wide angle lens really accentuates the buildings’ climb to the sky. One thing that fascinates me with the image are the contrasting colors and shapes in the scene.  I enhanced those colors with a tweak or two in Lightroom. For me, it’s just a fun visual of the urban landscape.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with Sigma 8-16mm lens at 8mm, F18 @1/500 second, ISO 200.  Enjoy!  -David

Business Day Thursday: My 5 Step Plan For Better Sales & Profits For 2012.

Good Afternoon Everybody,

All the orders have been delivered. The clients are smiling. The checking account looks happy. The dust has settled around the studio and the game plan is on for a brand new year. So what about you – what are your plans for 2012?

My 5 Step Plan For better Sales & Profits For 2012

Looking Up 2012I've said it to every aspiring photographer at many of my seminars and workshops. The year is coming to an end.  All the sales and profit dials all get reset to zero. And really, what are you going to do about it?  Too many photographers and business owners will settle into the same old habits that lead many to the same mediocre results as in 2011. Today is the day to resolve to put a new plan into action.  It's confession time and it's time to confess the highlights of this past year.  And, it’s also time to own up to your misses for 2011.

Here is my 5 step plan for better sales for 2012:

1. Review everything about your studio profits or losses - the high points and those not so high - for 2011.  What did you do really well, and where did you drop the ball?

2. List the best things that happened in your studio in 2011.  Maybe it was a new email promotion you started or a new Facebook strategy you tried that worked great.  Now resolve to make those promotions even better for 2012.  Don't leave a thing out.  Sit down yourself, with your staff, your spouse, fellow photographer buddies - anyone you can bounce ideas off of to make 2012 a better year.

3.  Reflect on the near misses for 2011.  What went wrong and why?  Could a small change here or there made a bigger difference in the profit outcome?  Maybe you just need to ditch the idea all together.

Planning_000001142588XSmall4. Introduce new products for 2012.  If you had some big hits in 2011, make them bigger hits in 2012!

5.  Write out your plan for 2012 - and then work the plan.

Hey gang, it all sounds so simple doesn't it?  But why do so many struggling photographers never get around to carrying out any of the five steps above?  Why do so many businesses continue to struggle because of their inaction?  Why don't they choose to take the road less traveled by less-than-successful businesses but heavily traveled by successful ones?

Success comes with planning and hard work.  Successful studios already know that and are well on their way to planning an even better marketing plan for 2012.  I sure hope you will too!  Plan to follow DigitalProTalk throughout 2012.  I promise to bring you hot tips and techniques, business web-casts, and lots more to help your business grow.  It will be a fun and profitable ride!


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  My daughter, Elizabeth is in town and we're hangin' for the next few days.  Have a great rest of the day and I'll see you again tomorrow for a short weekend post.

See ya' then,  David

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"Summer Serenade”

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"Summer Serenade”
©David A. Ziser

This image is from a year or two ago and has been featured a times  in my Technique Tuesdays and other lighting/composition discussions. I made it while photographing one of my favorite brides. She wanted some really nice outdoor images and the park across the street from the wedding venue filled the bill nicely.

The larger aperture isolated her nicely from the background. The lines of the canopy structure lead the viewers eyes right to her face. Lighting is from the left - Quantum T5d shooting through my Zumbrella which gives the very soft quality of lighting on the bride's face. The summer colors give a really nice feel to the image as well.

Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark II fitted with 70-300mm IS DO lens at 265mm, F5.6 @ 1/125 second, ISO 200. Enjoy! -David

The Most Important Tool In Your Gear Bag

Good Morning Everybody,

Can you believe we are almost at the end of 2011?  Time flies when you're having fun.  We've got some personal items, Christmas with LaDawn’s family, on our plate today so let's get on with today's post.

The Most Important Tool In Your Gear Bag

F-StopsHow important are F-stops and shutter speeds in your life?  In many of the comments I read on my DPT posts the question comes up all the time about why I used this shutter speed, that F-Stop, a certain ISO, etc…..  and it got me thinking.  Are those numbers all that important?  Well, the quick answer is of course they are.  But let me ask again, are they the most important aspect of photography.  I would have to answer categorically - NO!

Of Course F-Stops and Shutter Speeds Are Important

Wait, don’t leave yet - hear me out. Obviously shutter speeds and F-stops are important to your photography. The proper use of both, including the appropriate ISO all can be used to finesse the image to it's final result.  Shallow depth of field can be used to isolate the portrait subject from the background. Panning a race car at a slower shutter speed can really increase the feeling of motion in the finished image. High altitude ISOs allow us to capture images never before possible.  And all this is good.

But, what is the best thing we can learn to do for our photography? Better said, what is the most important item we need to practice, learn, and still continue to practice if we want to be a great photographer?  The answer - learning how to see.  And that includes knowing how to effectively spot and capture the moment and compose the image for maximum impact for the viewer.

Too many photographers get "mostly" wrapped up in the "nuts and bolts" of this profession, let's call it the "craft" of this profession.  And that is good - it's the "mostly" part of the previous sentence that will "kill" any chance of you becoming a great photographer.  You may indeed be a good photographer but never a great photographer if you forever languish in the nuts and bolts tool shop of this profession.

The Journey To Greatness

GHreatness -A photographer can become great if he/she constantly strive to learn how to see and constantly raise their expectations as to what the final image should represent.  Visualization is the key - knowing in your mind's eye what you want the camera to capture.  And, unfortunately this important element does not come easy or fast to many photographers.  For most of us, our journey to "greatness" is a process that we need to exercise often, if not everyday.

I’m surely not claiming any greatness on my behalf.  I still look over my images and know I could do better.  But one thing I continue to do - is practice, practice, practice!  I love the piece of advice I received from one of the outstanding photographers of our time, Jay Maisel, when I asked him why he always had his camera with him.  Jay quickly answered, "You can't take a picture without a camera, and you never know when that great photograph will come along.  I'm always ready for it."

It was an eye opening remark for me as a photographer who has been in business longer than I will admit in this post. I nearly always had a camera with me where ever I went.  The difference today is that I ALWYS have a camera with me now - yes, ALWAYS!

And did I say practice was important too - of course.  I defer to Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule he references in his book "Outliers".  The bottom line of that chapter was that great/successful people spent 10,000 hours working on being great and/or successful.  How many hours have you got invested?  Are you close yet?  And even when you invest those 10,000 hours, is that it?  Is that the time to quit?  No, it’s time to start your next 10,000 hours.

Not many photographers care about being great.  But some us want to push the envelope.  Some of us want to continue to learn and grow. To not do so would be anathema to ourselves and our profession. How great do you want to be? The choice is up to you.  Maybe it’s time to set aside the nuts and bolts for a while and simply grab your cameras and practice, practice, practice!. 2012 is just around the corner so let’s all set new goals and shoot for the stars.

-Food for thought.

p.s. You may also like this related article entitled:

How to Be a Great Photographer [link]


Hey gang, that's my soap box speech for today.  We've got a family gathering this afternoon and Chef David needs to return to his kitchen duties and continue with all the preparations.  So it’s off with my camera and on with my apron;~) Then dash away, dash away, dash away all!

I'll plan to see everyone tomorrow for another Business Day Thursday post.

Have a great one and I'll see you then,  David

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"Beauty Lines”

Beauty Lines-

"Beauty Lines”
©David A. Ziser

This image was made during one of my recent Kelby Training shooting sessions.  BTW, the video should be coming out any time – I’ll keep you posted.

The lesson was on image composition and we have no better example of composition and leading lines than we do in this image.  Look how the line of the railing easily leads your eyes directly to our beautiful model. You’ll also find the lines in the ceilings also pointing your eye to our subject.

Notice too that the vanishing point of this image is opposite our model.  This is a great way to focus attention on the subject.  The entire “space” seems to be coming out and surrounding her.

I was also careful to remove the one or two ceiling lights from around her head to minimize any distracting elements in that part of the photograph.

Lighting was simple – the main light was supplied by the large window out of the frame, camera left.  I used a small accent light camera right, out of frame, and slightly behind the subject to create the separation I wanted of the subject from the background.  It really did a good job defining her from the much darker background.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with Sigma 8-16mm lens at 13mm, F5.6 @ 1/60 second, ISO 800.  Enjoy!  -David

Technique Tuesday: Light Is Light, Right? Wrong? & Wedding Photographers Unite!

Good Afternoon Everybody,

I hope everyone had a WONDERFUL holiday weekend.  Ours was quiet and energizing.  I don't know about you guys and girls, but my Batteries were in deep discharge mode before the holidays.  Over the weekend I hardly got near a computer other than the holiday wishes I posted and what I'm mentioning below.

Over the weekend I did discover a very good way to recharge my batteries.  On Christmas morning, before tearing into each others presents, LaDawn suggested we look back over the year and revisit all the high points.  We found it a bit challenging to do it with instant recall - I guess my brain pixels are slowing a bit ;~) So, I headed over to the computer and fired up Google calendar to refresh our memories and review the year.

Happy New Year 2011 LR_thumb[3]And what a year it has been!  We were traveling for nearly 20 weeks, like close to 5 months, traveling throughout the USA, Canada, and Mexico.  No wonder it felt busy this year, and me the guy trying to slow things down a bit - whew!  We had some great times, photographed some BEAUTIFUL weddings including LaDawn’s son Joshua and new daughter-in-law Kristen. But more importantly, we met some great photographers along the way and especially the photographers we got to know even better from our Sedona and Napa three-day Experience to our week-long Master Classes.

We smiled and giggled for more than an hour just enjoying the fond memories of these past 12 months.  I think it's a good idea for everybody.  Too many times we dwell on the difficulties in our lives and often forget about or dismiss the true high points of the year.  Hey, we've got New Year's Day coming up in just a few - maybe you could take a peek back at 2011 this weekend…. just a thought.

Anyway, It's good to be back today.  The schedule around here this week is not too crazy, my daughter is coming in to visit, and we have one more holiday party to prepare for tomorrow evening.  It will be a nice few days.

That said, why don't we get on with today's post.  First, I want to give you an update on the "I Do" free wedding web event kicking off tomorrow and then we'll get on with today's technique Tuesday.  Here we go...

Wedding Photographers Unite!

I Do smallThe first of three FREE "I Do" wedding webcasts kicks off tomorrow at 10:00a.m. Each one features a different group of speakers.

The line-up for tomorrow looks great and includes some of my favorite young gun wedding photographers. 

The line-up for this Wednesday, December 28th:

11 am CST - Creating Remarkable Experiences / Becker

12 pm CST - No Cost Marketing / Zach & Jody Gray

1 pm CST - Creating a Successful Wedding Business / Laura Novak

2 pm CST - Picture the Perfect Wedding Album / Joy & Jules Bianchi (Brown)

Remember, you can pick up a DVD of ALL 16 speakers, me included, for only $79, and get $250 worth of super cool goodies to boot.  Whcc, ProSelect, Animoto, Shootsac, PWD Labs, & Successware have put together some exclusive goodies [link]. ONLY for those who buy the "I Do" recordings.

Buy before 11 am CST tomorrow, Wednesday, Dec. 28 to get $250 in goodies, and start making the changes for a blissful wedding business in 2012.

Once again, here is the link for all the info. Or just


Technique Tuesday: Light Is Light, Right?  Wrong?

Today I want to walk you through a short discussion about the characteristics of light.  It's not about one piece of lighting gear filling the bill for all you shooting needs. Hey, you don't just use one lens on a job, do you?  Of course not.  It's the same for your lighting gear too.  You'll have to make choices about what lighting gear to use and when is the most appropriate times to use that lighting gear. 

Let's first talk about the size of the lights themselves. Yes, Virginia, size matters when talking about light.  You’ll get a different feeling from the portrait depending on the size of the light source used to illuminate the image.

Why not hit the PLAY button below and see how the size of your light source affects not just how the subject is illuminated but also how the size of the light impacts your portraits.


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  I'm the Master Chef for a party of about 20 guests tomorrow and my Henkel's, Cuisinart, and Kitchen Aid are waiting ;~) Have a great rest of the day and I'll see you tomorrow for another great post, "The Most Important Tool In Your Gear Bag". 

See ya' then,  David

Saturday, December 24, 2011

"Merry Christmas 2011 From The Ziser’s"


"Merry Christmas From The Ziser’s"
©David A. Ziser

Last year we had a week long of beautiful snowfall leading up to Christmas. This week has been mostly non-stop rain.  So instead of posting a rainy day Christmas picture from this year, I’m sharing with you the image I took last year about this time.  It feels a lot more like Christmas too ;~) The challenge was to get down the drive, get the shot, and back quickly with out “freezing to death”.

May God continue to bless you and your loved ones this holiday season and throughout 2012.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 40mm, F4.5 @ 1/8 (handheld) second, ISO 2000.  Enjoy!  -David

A 2011 Christmas Message

Good Morning Everybody,

Christmass 2011 LRFotolia_26969115_Subscription_XL (1)I have to tell you, this is my favorite time of the year.  I love the bright twinkling lights, the rich colors of the season, and the wonderful fragrance of pine in the air. I love giving special thoughts to close friends and family as I make the Christmas shopping rounds either on Amazon or at the malls. I like looking over the Christmas card list and reminiscing about the good times, over the years, I've shared with all the special friends and family on that list.  I like reading every Holiday card that crosses our mailbox.  And I love what this season stands for - new beginnings, fresh starts, a celebration of life and love.

Most of us reading this today will be spending time with family and friends enjoying this wonderful season. From kids to grandparents and beyond, families and friends will be enjoying everything this holiday season has to offer - friendship, laughter, good food, and love.  I wish each and everyone of you the happiest of Christmas this year!


As we wrap ourselves up in the joyous surrounds of all our holiday festivities there will be a lot more people waking to Christmas morning with it being just another day in their lives.  I think that's kind of sad.  More sad is the fact that so many receive so little notice from the rest of us on our holiday high. 

A personal project this year brought me in intimate contact with several folks who would not be sharing Christmas at all with family and friends this year.  I got to know a few of these people, I got to look into their eyes, I got to feel their despair, and my heart went out to them.  The overwhelming thought I had was that these were still good people with lots of good in their hearts.  Circumstances had placed them is a much different situation than most of us reading this Christmas post.

That's what got me thinking about today's Christmas message.  Christmastime is mostly a time of religious celebration,  gift-giving and a wonderful time of year to share with family and friends.  Most of our thoughts and gift-giving is centered on those around us.  Said differently, we easily set aside thoughts of the less fortunate around us many of which may only live 10-15 miles away from us.  It's almost, unintentionally of course, that Christmastime insulates us from having to give any energy or thought to the poor and the poor in spirit around us.

heart of the nightMaybe this Christmas could be different.  Maybe with just so much as a small donation, a kind thought, a moments' reflection, maybe even a prayer pointed in their direction at least gives these folks some kind of inclusion into our Christmas celebration too. At least it's a way to reach out in the smallest of ways to those who have so little or may be suffering difficult times.  Sure, we could all do more, but even this small gesture is a step in the right direction to the real meaning of Christmas.

As I said earlier, I wish each and everyone one of you the most wondrous of holiday seasons.  I also keep in mind our less fortunate travelers on spaceship earth and hope and pray that they too find peace, caring, compassion, and love at Christmas.

Merry Christmas Everybody!