The Photographers’ Adventure Club was having a spirited discussion on Facebook about the difference between a snapshot and a photograph.  This is a great question and not easily answered because so much of what we see  and enjoy photographically  is so subjective in nature and reallydefined by that old saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

As a professional photographer, I have to keep in mind that everyone else is a photographer, too.  The only requirement is a camera.  Thought is not a requirement to capture an image.  Face it, if the monkey in “Hangover II” can be taught to light up a cigarette, he can be taught to take a picture.   To be a professional means learning and working beyond the basics of picture taking and grasping and practicing those techniques that elevate our photographs above and beyond being a snapshot and into a higher realm of aesthetics and beauty.

When I was teaching photography, my introduction to the course was about how the class would be taking them on this journey from snapshot taker to photographer.  I don’t intend to try and cram a year’s worth of instruction in this tiny little blog, but I would like to share a couple of ideas that are a important for a photographer to keep in mind.

Composing and cropping.

One of the first rules I was taught was to compose the picture in the viewfinder.  Remember that with an SLR camera everything you see in the view finder will show up in the image.   I remember many of my students on their first shoot would be surprised that the person they whose picture they took was swallowed up by the admin building at school.

Composing in the view finder basically helps you get rid of all unnecessary and unwanted items in your image.  Getting rid of all that useless information helps emphasis the subject matter.  No distractions.  I often refer to it as “cropping in the view finder.”

This is not as easy as it sounds and takes constant practice and awareness to do this on a consistent basis.

Cropping in the view finder, however, does not mean that you have eliminated the need for cropping in post editing.   Cropping when editing is a legitimate way to get rid of unwanted information and space and to tighten up the composition of the picture.   But remember, every decision you or I make with our pictures are based on what our vision is for that particular image.  Here is a cropping that I did on my last wedding.

This is the original shot.  I know some photographers would have left this as is.  For me, there was too much wasted space in this picture that distracted from the lovely newlyweds.

This was my edit.  A much cleaner and tighter picture.  Emphasis where it should be.  The bride and groom are not competing with the bricks.

I hope this gives a bit of insight to my thought processes in regards to composing and cropping.

Just remember, that the more cropping and composing that is done in the view finder will mean less time editing.

Blog Post Songs: Gimme Shelter, Cowboy, Chest Fever  and others



I always got a bit of a thrill whenever I put a piece of photo paper into the developer and watched the image slowly appear on the blank, white paper.  If you have printed in the darkroom, you know what I am talking about.  It gets tedious and complicated, but it is real hands on and I always got a sense of accomplishment after a good day of printing.  Don’t get me wrong, digital has its own rewards and frustrations and I am still learning and improving.  Developing a print is just something special.  I always looked forward to the reactions of my students on the day I demonstrated print developing.

Semi celebrating an anniversary of sorts.  It’s been around a year since I started seriously pursuing my business as a professional photographer.  October 3rd, 2011, was my first class with Diana Steffen on how to use my brand spanking new digital camera.  Excellent class.  I highly recommend.  Since that time I have been privileged to shoot several events over the course of the year.  Now this may sound silly to you, but I am pleasantly surprised when someone posts one of my photographs of them as their Facebook profile picture.  In fact, to be honest with you, the first time it happened, I think I sat at the computer for about 10 minutes, pointing at the screen and shouting  “Look!  Look!” for all to hear.  My cats were not impressed.  They didn’t look.

Two of my fellow retirees from Apollo High School semi have this tradition of going to the horse races on Friday afternoons.  On Friday, October 6th, Turf Paradise opened its’ racing season.  So naturally, we got together and spent a day at the races with a couple of other friends.   While sitting at the table, having some beverages and piling up losing tickets, a photographer in the employ of Turf Paradise stopped at the table and asked us if he could take our little group’s picture for the Turf Paradise Facebook page.  We all said yes.  I like getting my picture taken and published.  Unless you are in the witness protection program, everybody does.  IN fact,  I used to tell the yearbook editors at Apollo that the success or failure of their yearbook depended on how many pictures of me were in the yearbook.  (They didn’t believe me.  I believe one year they left me out altogether)  So today, Sunday, I get an email from on of the guys telling me to take a look at the Turf Facebook page.  And there we were! Our little group picture.  And a handsome group it is.

Other than the awesomeness of our little group, I thought the greatest thing was some lady posted in the photo’s comment section the fololowing:

 “I’m a junky for the ponies.. and the Vikings! Go Vikings!!!”


This is my bride Mallory’s Aunt Lindsey.  She used this photo to update her Facebook profile picture.  I am flattered and humbled that she like this shot enough to do so.

Chillin’ with Ruben, Steve, Cindy and Russ and Turf Paradise.


Blogging Music for the “Races”

Various and sundry love songs including “Holly Holly”,  “All My Little Words,”  “My Immortal,” and others on that playlist.