My Top 10 Mistakes ~ Insanely Useful Photography Tips,

Confessions from a professional photographer ~ things that have taken me entirely too long to learn

1. How to sync multiple cameras so at the point of download all images are in sequential order.

2. Project manager application in my darkroom software.

3. To start thinking like a digital photographer instead of film-based photographer.

4. I love the 18-70mm lens, but prime lenses are better.

5. A whales tail is better left on a whale and not on my camera

6. Not to trust Google Maps or GPS

7. Pack food and drink on days of long shoot

8. Hand-held light meters are still important in a digital world.

9. NEVER delete in camera…never, do that…never.

10. Being part of a photo-community is better than being alone.

Woods, Walks & Economics

I am 40 years old and I walk in the woods everyday…my life is good.

I am convinced that the interesting connections between my walks in the woods and my personal creativity are enormous. I have been filling my journal up with all kinds of stuff after my walks.

Previously when I wrote about my new routine I had mixed feeling about giving up my quiet reading time of the day. I asked for help, suggestions and even asked to get connected with Oprah for guidance…to no avail.

What is clear to me is when art and commerce merge you live a life of economic-lifestyle. The word economics in Greek means “management of a household”. That is what being a working artist is: “management of your household”.

There is no specific dollar amount to judge success by. The questions are: are you a creative thinker and is the organization of your life a benefit to you and your family? If you can answer yes to those two questions then you are living a life of good economics



Current Reading: The Artist's Guide: by Jackie Battenfield.
Current Music: Red Letter Year by Ani Difranco
Mood: Energetic-bunny-like
Sounds: Rain
Smells: Oranges
Temperature: 76 degrees
Thoughts: Photographers get caught in there own perception, how they think it should be

"How to Everything" Photography Workshop: now accepting reservations

With John & Elizabeth Craig owners of Craig Photography

In your gut you want to be a PHOTOGRAPHER. Or maybe you just want to learn how to use that expensive camera you just bought but you’re not sure who to ask. You have a great eye for composition but you just need some guidance, an advisor to help YOU fulfill your dreams. Make the jump from thinking, daydreaming and create great photographs…

Is this you?
-You take great pictures
-Everybody tells you that you take great pictures
-Your friends and family always ask you to bring your camera
-You bought an expensive new DSLR camera
-You have no idea how to use to it, except on AUTO
-The camera’s manual scares the bejesus out of you
-You love photography and want to get better

Who should take this class?
-If the list above is YOU
-You love taking photographs
-ISO, F/stop, shutter speed, and aperture are words that means nothing to you
-You have no idea what DSLR means
-If you want to able to tell your camera what to do
-If you want the mysteries of the photo universe reveled to you

What you will learn
-Understanding exposure
-How to use your camera in manual mode
-How to take a photo “correctly” in camera
-Natural light techniques
-Understanding your lens

Who should not attend this class?
-If you have an understanding of exposure and are able to use your camera in manual mode, this class is not for you.

Location: Historic North Side of Pittsburgh at Annie O’Neill Studios

Date: September 17, 2009
Address: 502 W. North Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Time: 6pm – 9pm
Cost: $55.00

Contact Elizabeth Craig at 724.355.9079 or by email at craigphotography@mac.com for more information and to register.

**All attendees receive a FREE PDF Manual: “Purposeful Blogging” (a.k.a how to kick off your career for FREE) **



How I got my PhD in the “How-To-Business” of Photography

***New series every Monday for the next 5 weeks*** Part 2 of 5
read part 1 (HERE)

(without getting into debt or going to school and how you can do it to)

The next ten years I would rise in the rank of working crazy nonstop hours. Opportunities to teach, hire and fire other photographers became my education for professional development. The repetition of working in that small and defined studio space would enthrall me to do more creatively…daily. The lack of options became a force to push my thinking and composition forward. That phrase “think outside the box” means nothing to me today. Now I tell people to cut the box in half and then do something creative. That impresses me.

I worked with advertising for this company, wrote marketing and promotional materials, got on and off planes. I attended meeting after meeting and spent days listening to excuse after excuse about the “why and whatnots” of every situation.

It was a PhD in the “how-to-business” of photography.

This story is a culmination of what I learned that I carry with me today, twenty years later.

Forgive me for generalizing here, but in my experience 80% of the photographers I met hated working with people. They hated thinking that photography is a service industry equivalent to working at The Gap (P.S. no disrespect to The Gap, I love your chinos). They hated the compositional aspect of taking a photograph. They hated the effort it took to bring a great photograph out of someone. They loved the darkroom, post production and talking about the darkroom and post-production techniques. The smell of darkroom chemicals on an interviewee was not a good sign of a job offer coming your way.

Most of the photographers that I was interviewing were talented and educated with advanced degrees. I am only now getting to the technical level that those photographers were achieving and I was a good photographer back then.

They would humbly hang their heads in the interview, knowing that their professional life has sunken to the lowest level of photography. A paycheck is a paycheck and it’s nice to earn money when you’re selling out. Not a great attitude to have when you’re trying to earn a living.

Insanely useful photography tip #2: Composition, service and being nice trump tools and experience every time. (FYI: learn to use your tools)

During those ten years I talked and worked with a lot of photographers. I talked with even more photography customers. This is what I learned…

Photography clientele want the photos they want, they expect you to capture the moment and save the memory. Do your job. Create something. All photography clientele want this. They want the job done they way they want it, with a smile.

To be continued…

If you like this article please be sure to pass it on…friend me on Facebook, connect with me on Twitter and info on private consultations can be found here on Photographer's Corner.

Part 3 of 5 next Monday…


Recap – Purposeful Blogging Workshop

I would like to publicly use this blog as an open letter to the participants who attended my workshop at Silver Eye Center for Photography in Pittsburgh.

First let me apologize; I didn’t get the opportunity to thank you and say goodbye properly at the completion of the workshop. The workshop went late and I was talking with multiple people during all the chaos and hustle. I did not get the break to say thank you for attending, so…Thank you!!!

The questions that were being asked from both sessions were remarkable. Thank you for you interest, input and thought-provoking conversation.

I am looking forward to sitting down with each of you for a one-on-one to help answer your detailed questions that I was not able to completely answer due to time constraints.

There will be upcoming dates for new seminars & workshops that will cover a range of topics such as:

Photography basics and understanding your camera
A new way to think about your old portfolio
Whole-web thinking
Lifestyle marketing
Growing & sustaining your business

Thanks again to all. The time I spent with you was inspiring.

Peace ~ John

Be sure to pass it on…friend me on Facebook, connect with me on Twitter and info on private consultations can be found here on Photographer's Corner.


Photo of the Week

Camera: Nikon D200
Exposure: 0.01 sec (1/100)
Aperture: f/4.5
Focal Length: 35 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Exposure Bias: 0 EV
Flash: No Flash



Current Reading: Art Form Magazine
Current Music: The Beatles - Rubber Soul
Mood: Good
Sounds: Background tv
Smells: Coffee
Temperature: 98degees - feeling fine
Thoughts: Do not ask me to think...need sleep


How I got my PhD in “How-To-Business” of Photography

***New series every Monday for the next 5 weeks*** Part 1 of 5

(without getting into debt or going to school and how you can do it to)

In fall of 1991 I became a professional photographer…sort off. This all came about because of the frustration and annoyance with my current position, which was working for a small company writing ads. I created ads & brochures for a small company that quickly placed me in the sales department after I re-wrote all three of their brochures and two newspaper ads. I was not their best employee, nor their eighth best employee. You get the point…I was bad at my job. On an afternoon that I was supposed to be making a sales call at a local mall, instead of walking into my appointment, I just kept walking.

Here I am 21 or 22, soon to lose my job and thinking how amazing it is that I haven’t been fire yet.

Earning a living doing something that I love wasn’t even an option to me. I loved (& still do) writing, playing guitar and taking pictures. These skills are not profitable in a small middle class town. This is the same small town where I was raised to believe if you’re not the child of the rich and famous then don’t bother dreaming, at all. I was the child of an electrician and a baker. Good parents, bad dreamers.

After accepting my loss of the job I so loathed (and almost getting giddy over that acceptance), I kept walking through the mall. With a soft pretzel in one hand and an Icy in the other I scribbled through an application placed outside a photography studio on a small folding table for all to apply.

I like photography. I even have taken a couple of classes in photography in college. My friends consider me the artistic one. Why not apply; life can’t get worse. They hired me. I start in two weeks. I am photographer…sort of.

This was a retail franchise photography chain. Yes, the type of photography that true-purist photographers hate, detest and bastardize all things they hold scared. No control over your lighting, no control over you camera, zooming in and out and placing the subject on the “X” were your only options. Customers came in herds and management only cared about the sales average and bottom line.
Guess what? I loved it! I was good at it!

I took photographs that people bought. What made me good at my job? I enjoyed the experience of photographing people…that’s it. People enjoyed the experience of me photographing them…that’s it. People bought photographs from me to remember their experience of being photographed. They my have come to get senior photos or that gift for their boyfriend or husband but they bought the experience.

Insanely useful photography tip #1: Photography is an experience. Make it a good one for people.

To be continued…

If you like this article please be sure to pass it on…friend me on Facebook, connect with me on Twitter and info on private consultations can be found here on Photographer's Corner.

Part 2 of 5 next Monday…


Photographer's Corner

So, you want to be a photographer. You daydream about life as a working artist, earning a living with your camera in hand. But for some reason you don know where to start? You have questions, fears, and a need for guidance and help…

So let’s talk….

Elizabeth & I have just launched a new page and a new service on our website - Photographer’s Corner. It’s for the inquiring photogs out there.

Daily we receive inquires and questions about HOW TO EVERYTHING: PHOTOGRAPHY…honestly we try our best to answer you. At times I’m sure e-mails and phone calls go unanswered, and we’re sorry about that.

To bring organization to the chaos we are now offering private consultations to those who are interested.

Thank you for your questions throughout the years. Answering them has prepared us for the opportunity to work with each of you.

Photographer’s Corner pager (HERE)
Contact us (HERE)


Wine & Shadow

Two conversations last night – one about wine and another about a shadow. Both were about self reflection.

I was sitting in a galley space that’s exhibiting self portraits.

The photographers that I was chatting with were telling me about their self portraits that are on display. What interested me is how they talked about their photography as a human subject. Not merely flesh or thoughts of a subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual.

I love the conceptual existential attitude they brought to their work. It was motivational. I did not enter a photo into the exhibition but I did think about it. My ego and insecurities hinder my thought process.

Both of these photos captured the human experience without being too abstract.

The exhibition: “Self Portraits” will be displayed through September 12th at Silver Eye Center for Photography – highly recommend it.

Why Hire TWO Pittsburgh Wedding Photographers?

How great is this?? This is why making sure you have TWO photographers is always a good idea. The first shot was taken by Elizabeth (she tends to shoot close up and more detail) and the second shot was taken by me (I tend to shoot more “big picture”). We took our shots at the same time but you can see how we both had 2 completely different ideas in mind.


Tonight – Purposeful Blogging Workshop

Thank you to all who signed up for the seminar. I am not sure if there is any available seating left, if interested you can contact Silver Eye Center for Photography (here) for openings.

Some of the topics we will be discussing tonight: Building a Portfolio, Culture of Sharing and Whole-Web-Thinking.

See you at 7.

~ John

New Routine

I am a person of habit. “Discipline” is a more defining word for how I live, but using the word discipline would just not be true. Content in my habits…content in my daily practice; that’s true, that’s me.

Up and out of bed at 6:10 am; shower, yoga, guitar or meditation, coffee and then out the door… that is my morning. Next I sit in front of a computer for a couple of hours (drinking way too much coffee) and then I go to lunch. Lunchtime is when I like to read. For at least the last ten plus years I have quietly read a book at lunch. I love my lunchtime reading habit. Two weeks ago I stopped reading and went for an afternoon walk in the woods. It was nice.

I like the woods, I like walking, but I really, really like my lunchtime reading. After two weeks of not reading and two of walking in the woods I feel great! I do not want to stop. I am content with this new habit.

I wear my 5 finger shoes and can feel muscles developing throughout my body. My posture is better, my breathing is lighter, my skin feels cleaner. I like the fresh air, I love the smell of the woods and I love the reprieve of not looking intently at a screen or a page.

I miss my books.

The quandary is that I want them equally, the woods and the books, the fresh air and the knowledge from the page. What to do?

My life is divided up into live-able hours. If I want to live I have to be able to work.

Listed are workable solutions for people that are disciplined, which I am not. I could get up at 5am and start my day, which would give me the extra hour in the morning to read. Again--need self discipline to do this. I could listen to audio books while I walk in the woods. I won’t…because, one, I hate any and all types of multitasking. Two, the sounds of nature are wonderful. Three, I am afraid of bears, and four, I can never pay attention to audio books. I get lost trying to imagine what the narrator looks like.

Can anyone get me in contact with Oprah? I bet she could solve my predicament.


Photo of the Week

Camera: Nikon D200
Exposure: 0.006 sec (1/160)
Aperture: f/4.5
Focal Length: 35 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Exposure Bias: 0 EV
Flash: No Flash


Photo of the Week

Camera: Nikon D200
Exposure: 30
Aperture: f/29.0
Focal Length: 70 mm
ISO Speed: 100


Insanely Useful Photography Tips

In the last couple of weeks we have been complimented on our ethics, professionalism, and client privacy. I like compliments. I especially like compliments when they generate new clients for us.

We have been praised – even won awards base on our professionalism while working with our clients. Note to photographers: you can laugh, make jokes, have fun and still be professional. It goes without saying, but I will say it. Show up on time, deliver on time, and listen all the time. Be creative, break the rules, push the bar but most importantly be nice.

Things not to brag about - Ethics, Professionalism, Client Privacy – they are all prerequisites.


My Blogging Future

My Blogging Future

Did you notice the new banner above?

Every time I change my banner it’s a reminder to myself of the direction I am moving.

Blogging has become a mainstay in my professional life. The idea of keeping a daily working portfolio works for me. I like the idea of my progress as an artist to be documented…daily. I like the idea that my readers and clients get to follow along on the journey.

The future of my blogging holds a slight change in style. The professional side of my work will become apparent in the blog. A focus on Pittsburgh wedding photography will become a weekly topic. The themes of marking and generating whole web thinking will also move to the forefront.

The things that I love will stay – Photo of Week, Ambient Art, Pittsburgh at Night, Moment, Rants, 5 Question Interview, Short Stories, compositions and general life topics.

Why the change?

I have been writing and rewriting “Purposeful Blogging” the seminar that I will teach next week. The time spent researching and re-examining my own work has sparked new passions. I have uncovered some good maturity in my work and some areas that I have fallen short. That has been the purpose of this daily working portfolio to never stop discovering what needs to discovered. Listed below is a short list of the “what & why” of the new topics that I will write and be photographing.

Pittsburgh Wedding Photography – This is who I am or truthfully this is who we are. Elizabeth and I are two people who love photographing wedding. We embody passion about wedding photography. As a married couple we feel blessed and thankful that we get to share this consuming passion with each other.

Professional Development Education – I like to talk. I like conversation. I like to learn. People ask “what are you interested in” my answer is always the same…I am interested. For twenty years I have been a working artist in Pittsburgh. I have lived all the glory and splendor and at time heartbreaks of being a working artist. Now I want to share what I have learned with you. Look for more seminars and consultant services to come.

Art Galleries/Exhibitions – This is the goal (I just subscribe to “Art Form” magazine). It feels like the right time for this pursuit. With the audience generated from the blog and the photos from my Flickr page popping up all over the internet there seems to be interested in the work being showed. A big thank you to Creative Commons for the opportunity to license my work as I see fit.

That’s the update….thanks for reading and sharing my work.

Peace ~ John


Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer

“Real Wedding” on The Knot for Another One of Our Brides!

Mike and Nicole were TERRIFIC to photograph. So funny. So cute. So much fun. Click HERE to view a few pics from their Real Weddings site on The Knot! Enjoy!

You can also visit Elizabeth's previous blog post about this wonderful couple as well.