We are putting the final touches to the Personal Vision Mastery Workshop on DVD (also available on USB flash card). We plan to officially announce it and start shipping in a week or so. If you haven’t joined the pre-announcement list yet you can still do so by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org We will have a special offer for 20% and more.
You can see a pre-release description of this new tutorial at this link.
And you can read excerpts from my story at this link. My entire story is featured in the Vision Mastery Workshop on DVD in the context of my body of work. The reasons why your story is important are explained on the DVD.
You can also learn about the upcoming Personal Vision Mastery Workshop on DVD here. This upcoming tutorial is the continuation of the Personal Style Mastery Workshop on on DVD
This limited time offer saves you 20% or more off the regular pricing of the Mastery Workshops on DVD tutorials series.This offer applies to the following Mastery DVD photography tutorials:
1 – Adjustment Layers Mastery Workshop on DVD
2 – Introductory Marketing Mastery Workshop on DVD
3 – Printing Mastery Workshop on DVD
4 – Composition Mastery Workshop on DVD
5 – Advanced Marketing Mastery Workshop on DVD
6 – Personal Style Mastery Workshop on DVD
7 – Personal Vision Mastery Workshop on DVD
The 2014 Fine Art Photography Summit is the yearly event during which we combine field work, image processing, photograph reviews, presentations and one on one work.The Fine Art Summit features a different guest speaker and is organized in a different location each year. This year’s Summit takes place in Moab, Utah, home of Canyonlands and Arches National Parks and our Guest Speaker and Instructor is Vincent Versace. We have prepared an exciting schedule for you and we are proud to be able to say that this is our 12th consecutive Summit. You can read all the details and register at this link.
One of the many locations we will photograph during the 2014 Summit
1 – About the Fine Art Photography Summit
The Fine Art Photography Summit is organized by Alain and Natalie Briot. Each year Natalie and I invite a different guest speaker. This year the 2014 guest speaker is Vincent Versace. In previous years we have invited Michael Reichmann, Joseph Holmes, Charles Cramer, Mac Holbert, Jeff Schewe and many other guest speakers.The guest speaker is responsible for giving presentations each day during the Summit, helping photographers with their work during 1 on 1 work sessions, and reviewing participants work during the photograph review on the final day of the Summit.The Summit is organized in a different location each year. This year the Fine Art Photography Summit takes place in Moab, Utah. In previous years the Summit has been organized in Page (Antelope Canyon), Death Valley, Zion, Bryce Canyon and several other locations. The choice of Moab for this year’s location is unique because it provides you with easy access to two National Parks: Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. We will photograph both parks during the Summit. Moab also provides access to many photogenic locations around Moab and to little known areas of the Northern part of Navajoland. We will be photographing little known areas of Navajoland during the field workshop after the Summit, locations that we have never visited during a workshop.This brings me to the Vision Field Workshops. The Summit, which lasts 4 days, is followed by the three days Vision Field Workshop. Just like the Summit the Vision Field workshop takes you to new locations each year. This year we will explore the Northern part of Navajoland, an area which is rarely visited and photographed. We will explore little known locations in Navajoland. Our goal is to take you to the best locations at the best time so you can get the unique light for which the Southwest and Navajoland are known for.
The Vision Field Workshop focus on helping you develop a personal style and express your personal vision. Because the Vision Field Workshop is the natural extension of the Summit, and because most participants want to maximize their trip, they fill out quickly. Right now we only have 2 seats left for the 2014 Summit + Vision Field Workshop. You may still be able to get in, but you will need to act quickly. I expect them to be sold out shortly after people receive this newsletter.2 – About the Guest Speakers
Vincent Versace Vincent Versace is known for his careful and quality-oriented processing workflow. Vincent will be teaching his workflow, with a focus on making it easy to understand, during the Summit.
Vincent will also teach Infrared photography. To this end he will bring 4 to 6 Nikon D800 cameras modified for Infrared. These cameras will be available to all participants, on loan for the duration of the Summit.
Vincent will also bring two Epson printers. Vincent will teach his printing workflow during the Summit. We will use these printers to print your photographs during the Summit.
Alain Briot Alain’s presentations will focus on his workflow, on image processing, on composition and on the importance of developing a vision for your work. To this end Alain will show a large selection of his images and talk about how each of them represents a specific vision. Alain will explain why he made specific decisions when composing, processing and printing each image in order to express a specific vision and idea. Alain’s presentations will focus on the technical and theoretical aspects of expressing a Personal Vision for your work.
Vincent and Alain will also review the photographs you create during the Summit.
Detailed descriptions of the presentations Vincent and Alain will give at the summit are available at this link.
3 – How to register To attend this year’s event we recommend you register right now. The 2014 Summit is already partially filled and the Vision Field Workshops are almost sold out. It is not too late to grab one of the last seat but you will need to secure your spot right away because we expect this event to sell out quickly.By registering now you will also be able to take advantage of our limited time early registration special offer and save money in the process. Just don’t delay to prevent being disappointed.
4 – Questions If you have questions about the Summit or if you prefer to register over the phone, you can do so by calling us at 800-949-7983 (US) or 928-252-2466 (international). You can also email us at email@example.com
Is it really worth the cost and time in the learning curve to print my own vs just using a professional printing house to get started?
Here is my answer:
Absolutely. The reason why I go into the trouble of printing all my work myself is because of two very important reasons:
A – I can do a better job than any lab. That’s because of my experience printing my work. No one knows my work and what I want to express in my prints better than me. I also know that I do not want the generic look that most lab operators give to prints. What this means is that there is no such thing as a single version of a print. There are as many versions as there are lab operators. What I want is my version!
B – The value of my prints is in large part due to the fact I make my prints myself. Who wants an Ansel Adams printed by someone other than Adams? Not me. Same with my clients and collectors. They don’t want an Alain Briot printed by a lab operator. They want an Alain Briot printed by Alain Briot. The value is in having a print made by me, not a print made by someone called ‘staff’.
The same reasons apply to you. You can learn how to print your work to my standards with my Printing Mastery Workshop on DVD. I explain which papers I use and every other aspect of the process in these tutorials. This tutorials are similar to attending my 2 days Printing Mastery Seminar except you don’t need to travel, you don’t have to remember everything in 2 days which is almost impossible, and you can study at your own pace, anywhere you like. Here is the link:
We all make resolutions at the start of the year. However, for many these resolutions disappear into the ether around the end of January. Quite often, thirty days is what it takes for old habits to return, for resolutions to be forgotten and for goals not to be achieved. This is in part why I am publishing this essay at the end of January. This is the time when many of us need help achieving the goals we set for the year.
So how do you do it? How do you achieve your goals? How do you stick to your resolutions for the long term, the whole year, and not just for a month? Here are a few tips that have work for me and I believe will work for you as well.
2 – Focus on your vision
Vision is your guiding light. Vision is what you see that others cannot see. Only you know what your vision is and why it matters to you. When setting your new year resolutions, let your vision guide you. By doing so you will set goals that are meaningful in the context of your entire life, not just in the context of this year alone. These will be goals that matter to you and that are are worth committing to. They will be goals that make the hard work needed to reach them worth it. They may be new goals or they may be goals you have been meaning to achieve for a long time. Either way reaching these goals will help make your life meaningful and build your self worth.
3 – Set specific goals
Setting specific goals is half the battle because a goal set is a goal that is already partially reached. This is because setting a specific goal forces you to define the path you will follow to reach this goal. Once that path is set, all you have to do is follow it.
4 – Set specific deadlines
Setting goals is important but without deadlines nothing gets done. Deadlines set a line in the sand, so to speak, a time by which things must get done. Again, be specific when setting your deadlines. For example say: I will have 12 fine art prints matted and framed by June 30th. Or, I will have my folio project that includes 12 prints, an artist statement, a biography printed, packaged and ready to show by July 1st, 2014.
5 – Start with what is hard, reward yourself with what is easy
Make a list of what you have to do each day, then give a letter to each task. A for the most important and difficult tasks, B for the second most important tasks, C for the less important tasks and D for the easiest tasks. Start your day by working on the A tasks, the most important and difficult ones. When those are all done, move to the B tasks. Don’t move to the B tasks until all A tasks are done. Do this for all the tasks on your list. By the time you get to the Ds you will find them so easy that they will feel more like rewards than actual tasks.
6 – Define success in your own terms
Success is different for all of us. Therefore you need to define what success is for you. Don’t define success as others see it. Define it as you see it.
What constitutes success for you is most likely different than what constitutes success for others. Your goals, your desires and overall what you consider to be success in a specific endeavor is unique to you. Don’t worry about it. Whether what you want is more or less or different than what other people want is irrelevant because you and them are different people in different situations focused on different goals.
7 – Be realistic
Only realistic goals get done. Overly ambitious goals are discouraging because they are so lofty that we feel we will never reach them. Unrealistic deadlines have the same effect. When deadlines are set too far in the future they make us feel we have all the time in the world so we never get started. When deadlines are too short they make us feel we wont’ have time to get things done. Either way we get discouraged before we even begin working on our goals.
A realistic goal is a goal you know you can achieve with the time and resources you have available to you. Only you know what is realistic. Just like success is individually defined, what is realistic is individually defined as well. What is realistic for you is different than what is realistic for others. When you set realistic goals you give yourself the opportunity to succeed. When you set unrealistic goals you set yourself up for failure.
To be effective deadlines also have to be realistic. For example, a good rule of thumb for finishing a photography folio project is 6 months until completion. This time frame works well for me and for my students.
8 – Quantify
Even though you defined success in your own terms, it is challenging to achieve a goal that is not quantified. To achieve your goals you need to define them precisely. The first step is to quantify these goals. This means putting numbers on what you want to achieve. How many fine art photographs that you will be proud to show to everyone do you want to create this year? How many projects do you want to complete? How many locations do you want to photograph? How many workshops do you want to attend? The list goes on; these are just examples.
9 – Check your progress regularly (daily, weekly or monthly)
Mark Twain said that bad habits must be pushed out of the house one step at a time. They cannot be kicked out because if you do that they will return. Instead, they have to be persuaded to leave, making it clear that they are unwelcome so they do not come back. This is done little by little by making sure at regular intervals that we are on our way to betterment, whatever the endeavor might be.
Whatever resolutions you took, whatever goals you set, make it a habit to ask yourself regularly what you did so far to reach these goals and resolutions. Do this each day for daily goals. Do it each week for weekly goals. Then at the end of the month do a monthly check during which you list all that you did this month in regard to reaching a specific goal or following through on a specific resolution.
Doing so makes you accountable for following through. The goals you set are no longer abstract ideas. They are now live actions that you are working on daily and for which you must show weekly and monthly progress. Accountability is the keyword here. Making ourselves accountable for the goals we set means we feel responsible to achieve these goals. Goals and resolutions are no longer a ‘maybe’ proposition. Instead they become a ‘must,’ something we have to get done.
10 – Be creative, not competitive.
Competition means trying to outdo someone else. Creativity means finding unique ways of reaching our personal goals. When you operate on the basis of competition you focus on others. When you operate on the basis of creativity you focus on yourself. Eventually what matters most is you. Reaching your personal goals has nothing to do with how well, or poorly as the case might be, others are doing. Reaching your goals is not a matter of outdoing others. Reaching your goals is a matter of outdoing yourself. The way to achieve this is through creative thinking, by making the necessary breakthrough, the leap of faith that will allow you to make the changes you need in order to reach the goals you set for this year.
11 – Don’t worry
There will be obstacles along the way but those can be dealt with in due time, whenever they show up. The problem with worrying about things that have not happened yet is that it means worrying about things that are vague and undefined. Most of our fears never materialize. However, in the process of worrying about what would happen if they did, we waste our time and damage our health. Nobody dies of hard work but many die of worry. The expression ‘worried to death’ attests to this. Don’t join the list by worrying unnecessarily about things that might happen. Just move forward by working on your goals and deal with problems when, and if, they show up.
12 – Focus on the positive
Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want. The mind finds ways of obtaining what we think about. Therefore think about what you want and you will get what you want. If you think about what you don’t want, you will get what you don’t want. In other words, as Henry Ford put it, whether you think you can or think you cannot, you are correct. Therefore think that you can. Think of concrete ways of reaching your goals and you will be on your way to making things happen.
13 – Get help from people who are where you want to be
Don’t reinvent the wheel. The wheel has been invented and all you need to do is learn how to use it. To do this get advice from those who have been there themselves. Only those who have been where you want to go can help you get there in a practical, efficient and successful manner. They are realistic about it and they know exactly what it takes to get there. Their advice will get you there faster than you ever will on your own.
14 – Don’t do trial and error
The trial and error process is wasteful of both time and money. If you are like me, your time is precious. Certainly, money is important as well. However, for many of us time is more valuable than money because we can make more money but we can’t make more time. Therefore, if we can afford to, using money to reach our goals is the most efficient approach.
15 – Focus on both soft skills and hard skills
Both set of skills are important and necessary for success. Don’t focus on one or the other exclusively. Instead, set goals that foster the acquisition and the development of both. If you are not familiar with these two skills, read my essay titled Soft Skills and Hard Skills because it describes what they are in detail.
16 – Conclusion
Nobody is perfect, myself included. However, we can all improve our success by following the simple steps listed in this essay. If we do so we will be on our way to keep our 2014 resolutions. Eventually, it boils down to a simple approach: focusing on our vision, defining success in our own terms, quantifying what represents success, not letting negativity get in our way and going for it.
Be sure to also read our Start the Year in Style Special offer at this link and save money on our workshops and consulting registrations.
About Alain Briot
I create fine art photographs, teach workshops and offer DVD tutorials on composition, image conversion, optimization, printing and marketing. I am the author of Mastering Landscape Photography, Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity and Personal Style and Marketing Fine Art Photography. All 3 books are available as printed books on Amazon.com and as eBooks on my website at this link: http://beautiful-landscape.com/Ebooks-Books-1-2-3.html
You can find more information about my work, writings and tutorials as well as subscribe to my Free Monthly Newsletter on my website. To subscribe simply go to http://www.beautiful-landscape.com and click on the Subscribe link at the top of the page. You will receive 40 free essays in eBook format immediately after subscribing.
To celebrate the publication of the new Advanced Marketing Mastery Workshop on DVD, the 6th tutorial in the Mastery Workshops on DVD collection, we are offering a special offer to help you complete your collection.
I make it my challenge to photograph well known locations – icons as some people call them – in a new way. This is one of the reasons behind the ‘avant garde’ part of the title. While I also photograph little known locations, I find it inspirational to photograph locations that are well known. The challenge of seeing a location photographed by many with fresh eyes is a challenge that gives me motivation to create images that have not been done before, images that fit within a tradition while at the same time challenging this tradition. The rebellious spirit that motivates this approach is part of my work. It is assotiated with a focus on form and color, both of which are modified at will to fit my vision.
We visit this location during our Navajoland Workshop. Here is next year’s Workshop description:
No one is an artist unless he carries his picture in his head before painting it,
and is sure of his method and composition.
Composition is an important aspect of good photographs. I have written about it at length in my books and my essays, and I continue to do so. Here I want to offer some remarks about composition that I wrote recently. These are not organized the way my essays or book chapters are. Instead, they are simply numbered and they are not necessarily related to each other. Read it as a loose list of items written as they crossed my mind and that I wanted to share.
1 – About Photographers A great photographer has, above everything else, a great eye. Camera gear is important but secondary. Great photographs are the result of acute seeing abilities. If anything, the best gear is the one that frees the photographer from thinking about technique and lets him or her free to concentrate on seeing.
In landscape photography the photographer must be able to follow changes in the light, the weather, the clouds, the shadows, etc. as they happen. This means being able to shoot continuously while exposing, focusing and completing other technical tasks accurately. Only then can the photographer follow his inspiration and work his way through the multiple opportunities offered by the subject, the light and the weather.
Blue Mesa Cottonwoods Horizontal composition
Sometimes trying both vertical and horizontal compositions of the same scene can lead fruitful results, as in this photograph of a row of cottonwood trees in fall colors set against a shaded mesa. The horizontal composition allowed me to fit more trees in the foreground than I could in the vertical composition, resulting in an image that has more ‘breath’ and spaciousness than the vertical composition. The tree that is the ‘hero’ of the vertical composition is only one of the characters in the horizontal composition, further adding variety and interest to what is my favorite of these two images.
Blue Mesa Cottonwoods Vertical composition
2 – About Upgrading Gear It takes time to get used to new equipment, software and other tools. Doing so is not automatic. Even though there are many tutorials available, we need to practice in order to get used to new gear. This can take weeks, months or even years.
If you constantly change your gear you never become fully familiar with it. You may also miss some new and important features. You have to work with tools for a while before you become fully conversant with them. You have to ‘make friends’ with your tools before you can become intimately familiar with them.
This is what mastery is all about. Mastery is not only knowing what to do or how to do it. Mastery is also, and primarily, knowing why and when to do something. Mastery is focusing on the why, on the motive, instead of the what, the technique. When one seeks mastery one is no longer concerned with not knowing how to do something. Instead, one is concerned with knowing why something needs to be done. Mastery is using specific tools for specific reasons, not just using tools because they are ‘new’ or ‘better.’
Mastery is often counterintuitive. It often goes against common sense or has an iconoclastic side to it. There is often a unique or unexpected aspect to the choices made by masterful practitioners. However, a common characteristic of the masters is that they can explain clearly and convincingly why they made specific choices. In other words their choices are not accidental. Rather, they are deliberate, thought-out decisions made for specific reasons.
In art, these specific reasons are related to the desire to express a personal vision. The goal is to make this vision visible to all instead of keeping it in our mind. The goal is to use gear and tools to make our vision a reality that everyone can see. The goal is to make what is in our mind’s eye visible in our photographs. The true artist falls in love with his vision.
3 – Processes and variety Using a variety of processes is nice, but variety of vision is more important than variety of techniques.
So what if the techniques you use are always the same? As long as they serve the needs of your images well, what need is there for more? In the darkroom we used nearly always the same processes and techniques. Variations were introduced only when dealing with recalcitrant images. The process was otherwise standard.
What changed was our vision for each image, The processing variations introduced as we went from one photograph to the next consisted of altering the process slightly for each image to make the images match our vision. For example what changed was how long we exposed the paper, or how long we developed the image, or the timing of some other aspect of the process. What did not change much at all was the process we used to go from vision to final print. That process, for all intended purposes, was pretty much standard.
Today there seems to be a focus, indeed an obsession at times, with using new techniques. While refining the process and introducing changes is important, what we are talking about here is something quite different.
What we are talking about here is change for change’s sake, not change for vision’s sake. The changes we see today do not necessarily make the process better. What they do essentially is make the process different. More often than not they do not bring significant improvements. In fact, occasionally they bring a degradation of image quality.
Using different techniques because of novelty alone is therefore something to watch out for. Just like new cameras do not necessarily mean better images, new digital techniques do not necessarily mean better master files or better prints.
As is often the case in art, the artist and the artist’s vision are what needs to be improved and worked on. The artist’s tools, for the most part, are rarely the issue. Most artists have tools, or software, whose capabilities far exceeds their vision. It is depth of vision that is most deserving of our attention.
4 – About printing From a technical standpoint raw captures are characterized by being low contrast, low saturation and somewhat blurry. Starting from a low contrast, low saturation and blurry original file requires having a vision for the final image. The original raw file alone cannot act as guide. The final image has to exist first in the mind of the artist, second in the final optimized file and third in the fine art print.
The ability to translate what one sees in his mind onto a piece of paper is directly related to the artistic and technical virtuosity of the photographer. Achieving a fine art print involves much more than moving sliders and adjusting “things” in LR3 or other software!
Zabriskie Point Sunrise #1
In this second example the difference between the two photographs is essentially the amount of sky present in each of them. The photograph above has less sky than the one below. However, it is my favorite of the two. I spent a long time deciding why until I realized that including more sky took my attention away from looking at the badland formations in the foreground. By including a lot of sky, the photograph became primarily about the sky. By including less sky, the photograph is both about the sky and the land. The outcome is a more balanced photograph, one that is more pleasing to look at in my opinion.
Zabriskie Point Sunrise #2
5 – About field work – When I get to a location that I want to photograph I do not unpack my camera gear right away. Instead, I put my bag and tripod down and spend a good amount of time looking at the landscape, taking in it, studying the colors and considering different compositional possibilities. Before taking photographs I first want to view the scene without a camera.
This is because I hardly ever find the strongest composition right away. Instead, I find compositions that I like by walking the scene, by stopping to study the possibilities offered by different viewpoints and at times by stopping and letting the scene ‘soak in’ so to speak. I do this until I see a specific angle that I find particularly inspiring. Only then do I unpack my gear and set up my camera and tripod. Because of experience and familiarity with my gear, doing so takes only a minute or so. I can’t remember an instance in which I lost a shot because I waited to set up my gear.
I follow this process because I like to keep the possibility open that there may be an image here. At the same time I also want to keep the possibility open that there may not be an image here. Therefore, to find out which of these two possibilities is true, I wait patiently until the image reveals itself to me, or not, as the case might be. There isn’t always a photograph in a location, not matter how promising it may be.
6 – Creating simple images is not simple The most simple images are often the most effective images. However, creating simple images is not necessarily a simple process. To be able to simplify a composition one must have acquired a variety of ‘visual reflexes.’ These ‘visual reflexes’ consist of things that one does automatically, without thinking, because these things have been practiced so many times that they have become intuitive.
Sometimes this means proceeding quickly through the construction of the image, and sometimes it means proceeding slowly and moving through each step carefully. Sometimes it means using finesse, and sometimes it means moving forward intuitively.
It may also mean finding out what is the weak area of an image and looking for ways to strengthen it. Or it may mean having the patience necessary to wait until everything comes together, until the light and the subject are balanced and become equally interesting.
Sometimes it means letting things be, for example letting objects fall where they may without worrying if they are in the right place or not. On the other hand sometimes it means controlling the position of each element until everything looks right.
Sometimes it means taking one photo after another while fine tuning the composition, until the perfect image is found. Sometimes it means working quickly, knowing that there will only be enough time to take one photograph, two at the most, because the light is changing very quickly and there is no time to waste.
Sometimes it mean finding ways of making the subject come alive. Sometimes it means letting the subject speak for itself.
About Alain Briot
Alain Briot creates fine art photographs, teaches workshops and offers DVD tutorials on composition, image conversion, optimization, printing and marketing. Alain is the author of Mastering Landscape Photography. Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity and Personal Style and Marketing Fine Art Photography. All 3 books are available on as printed books Amazon.com and as eBooks on Alain’s website at this link: http://beautiful-landscape.com/Ebooks-Books-1-2-3.html
You can find more information about Alain’s work, writings and tutorials as well as subscribe to Alain’s Free Monthly Newsletter on his website at http://www.beautiful-landscape.com To subscribe simply go to http://www.beautiful-landscape.com and click on the Subscribe link at the top of the page. You will receive information on downloading the table of contents, plus over 40 free essays by Alain, immediately after subscribing. Alain welcomes your comments on this essay as well as on his other essays available. You can reach Alain directly by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The photograph above was taken during our Joshua Tree workshop this May. It is a single capture. Because of the dynamic range of the Phase One back that I use, and because of my processing technique, I was able to get details both in the shadows and highlights.
I initially wanted to do this image as a silhouette, the way I did in my previous visit to Joshua tree, but when I started processing the image I realized that the feeling of dawn breaking over the horizon would best be expressed by having some details in the shadows. Not a lot, but some, enough to give the feeling that night is breaking away, that we are starting to see into the shadows and that light is slowly filling the landscape, pushing away the cover of darkness and revealing details that could not be seen previously. I also want to express the feeling of warmth and color that comes with a late spring sunrise, as well as the transition between day and night.
This is why I made the top of the image a deep blue, dark enough to give the feeling of night breaking away, but not so dark that we feel it isn’t dawn yet. That’s also why I gave the lower portion of the sky, the part over the horizon, a yellow/pink/orange glow, to both echo the color of the sun rays and to contrast with the deep blue of the sky above. Color is very important in my work, and control of color is one of the aspects of digital processing that I enjoy the most and that I have learned to master over the many years I have been practicing photography.