I refer to this story, about a Vancouver wedding photographer who had her Macbook stolen from her car, with wedding photos on it. Not yet backed up.

There is so much wrong with this. Of course I don’t know this photographer, but the story as reported (i.e. if true) gives me no sympathy for her at all.

“No backup yet”? Huh? Her memory card is one, the laptop another, i.e. the laptop is the backup. Why did she wipe the memory cards? I am guessing, to save a few dollars. A very unwise choice; a very false economy. You must never have any photo in only one place. Every hard drive fails. Not if, but when.

She “normally backs up online”? Oh? An all-day wedding probably involves 1000 pictures. And if they are RAW (which they must be for something as important as a wedding) that is 1,000 x 15 MByte, i.e. 15 GBytes. Try uploading that.  So if she does back up online she is backing up small JPG files. Ouch!

In the video, she is holding the camera wrong; an amateur dead giveaway. It looks like she is using a low end camera with a kit lens. According to the news report, she is “relatively new to the profession”, and these were “among her first weddings”.

In my opinion, and again, if the facts are as reported, she has no business shooting weddings until she learns more. Weddings are very, very demanding. The most difficult photography. You need mad skills. Experience. In areas like fashion, food, product, event, portrait, and journalism. You also need high-end equipment, cameras, lenses. Spares for all that equipment. Flashes. Cameras that always save each picture to two cards at the same time (I would not touch a wedding without that!).

If you ever think “why is this photographer so expensive”… it’s because that photographer does things properly, so you do not end up the way these newlyweds did.


It’s not rocket science.

Photography is not rocket science., But it IS a skill that needs to be learned, and if you want to do it well, just like a rocket scientist, you need to dedicate time to learning.

Followers of this blog know that I have a particular style; and my style is what I would call the dramatic portrait. Darker, saturated colours. I.e. like this:

…rather than like this:

So. Which one is right? Both. Either. Neither. Whichever you like.

My personal answer is very clear: the first, for me. I don’t suppose I have to explain again: expose for the background, -2 stops as a target; THEN worry about flash. Read the flash book (buy it today at and take a course from me to learn how to do this like an expert.

But look at the girl. Isn’t that a great picture of a tween? Silly, unable to be serious… during a recent shoot,  two girls and a set of grandparents turned up; I offered to take their picture, and did. Why do people not have pictures of their children like this? Surely not to save a few dollars…?

The two friends together:

And the girls themselves? When they’re all grown up, wouldn’t they want better pictures of their onetime bff than the iphone selfies they have (and will inevitably lose!) hundreds of? Please, have a pro do some cool pictures of your children. or learn how to do it yourself. Buy the book, take a course, and never look back.

And now back to regular programming.


Size matters.

This time, I mean size of files. A student just wrote to ask:


“I have taken photos for some friends and used Lightroom for editing and exporting.  I did not shoot in RAW- still learning.  My SOOC images are substantially larger than my exported JPEG files.  For instance, one file is 6.72 MB but comes out 800KB once run through Lightroom.  I am exporting at a quality of 80, length and width of 4×6 and resolution of 300ppi.  My friend has asked me for larger files.  I am under the impression that larger files don’t necessarily mean better images, but perhaps I am wrong? Is this downsizing normal? I have never had any issues with print quality as long as I size in a 4×6 inch ratio and set 300ppi as my resolution.  Am I doing something wrong in exporting that is causing such a dramatic drop in file size?”


This is perfectly normal. A 7MB JPG (or a 14 MB RAW) will indeed be about 800 kB at those settings. Yes, your new JPG is smaller:

  • 300 ppi x 6″ = 1800 pixels wide, which is about one quarter of the actual size of the file.
  • 80% is going to result in a much smaller size than 100%: compression is the entire point of JPG files.

So if the original file is 6MB, then a quarter of that is 1.5MB, and with extra compression, 800 kB seems a perfectly normal file size: as expected.

Indeed, a larger file means better image quality. This is always the case; whether it is noticeably better is another question, of course.

I tend to think in pixels, Saying “1200 pixels long” is easier than saying “4 inches at 300 ppi”, and it means the same. You can specify either way, but I always prefer the simplest.

Finally: you tell me you are shooting a wedding soon. You should be shooting RAW. What is there to learn? Just select RAW as the filetype instead of JPG. Done. If you use Lightroom to finish your pictures, it will know the RAW format your camera produces: done. Simple.

And yes, sometimes things that appear simple are simple.


The State of Photojournalism…

…is not great.

My Israel trip is off, alas. Funding did not succeed.

Many people feel passionate about proper press coverage of the conflict in Israel/Gaza, and complain (justifiably, I feel) about the current coverage. Alas, it appears that this passion does not extend to helping fund proper coverage. I received pledges for around $550 of the $8500 needed.

And alas, self funding is the only way. Newspapers and other news outlets do not pay—a national daily would offer me maybe $600 for the entire story, as an exclusive. That doesn’t even pay for half the airfare, let alone any of the other costs. Governments, NGOs, etc: none of them will pay. All my photojournalist friends and acquaintances do the same: do it at their own expense; shoot weddings to cover the expense; hope to get some of it back eventually. I too was going to do this as a volunteer: all I want to cover is flight, food, place to stay, guide/fixer, etc.

And photography is the way to clarify the reality of a situation. Thoughtful photography that opens eyes. When we say “a picture tells 1,000 words”, it may be a cliché, but it is true. It is a crying shame that photojournalism is falling by the wayside.

Those of you who did pledge: I can’t tell you how grateful I am. You have not been/will not be charged anything now, of course.

And everyone: plan “B” is in the making. So stand by… I am determined to keep working on this. And I am glad I tried. Rather than just wondering why there’s no good coverage that helps you understand why Israel does the things it does, I want to go out and provide some of that.



Yesterday’s post about corporate portraits: I have decided to do a special for the rest of this month. See for the details… and have a pro headshot made now.