#770 What do you want to shoot?

On Facebook today I asked “If you could get ONE excellent photo this spring what would it be?”

There were some fun responses revolving around kids, macro, dragonflies.

Inspiration photo


On a walk with the dog tonight I started thinking about the question and realized it’s the starting point of much of my creative work – imaginative daydreaming:

• What if?

• How big?

• What lens?

• How would I make that work?

Good photos start with imagination and imagination starts with questions. Questions come from inspiration which often happens when I am outside with my dog!

So, I ask you, blog-o-sphere:

“What do you want to shoot this spring?”

Please tell us, below. In a month we’re gonna ask to see some photos and here some stories – we’ll post some responses on the blog.

#769 Photo Newsletter – Building Better Backgrounds

Today our Exposed! photo newsletter was sent down the internet to our newsletter recipients. This month we discussed:

 Building Better Backgrounds

Reviewing a student’s work recently one thing quickly presented itself – everything was in focus. The main subject and the secondary elements were all sharp, which pulled my eyes from the delicious primary focal element. And that was problematic.

In this month’s Exposed Photo Newsletter we explore the idea that less is lovely, simplicity scores, and fine photos favour finite focal points!

Read the whole newsletter and watch the video:

And send a big thanks to sponsors of the Exposed!:


Fine Prints


Fine printshop


Fine framing

And please join us for our Open Doors evening on Wednesday, March 28th from 6-8pm and bring a photo for a free critique at Ottawa Studio Works – 160 Preston St.



#768 Pro Photography Program Social – reaching new heights.

ProProgram Social Show and Tell

On Sunday, photo students from our ProProgram met for a meal at a restaurant and descended on the studio for a “show and tell.”

We meet regularly above and beyond the regular elements of their course work to exchange and share ideas, successes and challenges. Many present current projects and work. And I answered questions that support the student’s development.

We covered:
• backdrop systems – studio and on-location
• available light vs studio lit assignment shooting
• negotiating contracts
• licensing imagery – things to consider

The afternoon went quickly and information quickly got soaked up. One of the toughest elements in a photography startup isn’t the photography but the business aspects. There is a lot to learn technically in photography but, equally as important, is understanding how to negotiate an agreement – understanding licensing, sales and other issues.

I spoke with one photo graduate who kept reaching new heights, feeling too comfortable and then setting sights on greater goals. He reminded me of the story of Jonathan Livingstone Seagull – a little common bird who progressed to great things.

The ProProgram

I based the ProProgram on what I wish I had access to when I started. In my early years I, erm, floundered more than I should have, both technically and from a business perspective. The Program is designed to help students achieve their goals from many difefrent perspectives, whether it’s just to improve photo skills dramatically or prepare for a business in photography!

ProProgrammers learning photo skills

ProProgrammers learning photo skills

#767 Mini Photo Course at the studio

Earlier this month we ran a promotion through Living Social offering a deal on a 90 minute light hearted photo course. We offered a few elements of our popular Creative Fundamentals Photo Class.

Tonight was the first session and we had a fun group of people.

We covered camera basics and the fundamentals of exposure. As we progressed to composition and the last exercise there were giggles and laughter as I ‘required’ them to take there own fun, funky self portraits like the one below.

Smiles all ’round…

self portrait

Self Portrait at the photo studio!

#766 New Urban Composition Safari

We’ve designed some new fun for you.

We’re pleased to announce via blog-o-sphere the new Urban Composition Safari. At time of writing we have not added the safari to the workshops page – you are getting an advanced look as a thanks for reading our photo blog!

It’s designed to:

  • stretch your limits
  • push you to see what was once invisible
  • learn about form, shape, and compositional possibilities
  • and make you smile…
Urban Composition Photo Safari

Urban Composition Photo Safari

It’s coming up July 14th and/or 15th.
Which means you can take one day or both. We will be shooting different locations with different exercises to stretch your creative composition brain

And there’ll be opportunities for online critique with the chance to be featured at Ottawa Studio Works.

Register with a real person or online directly from the safari page.


You may choose one day or both. We will visit different locations and try different exercises.

July 14th, 6am-noon; 2012
July 15th, 1-7pm; 2012


$175 + taxes for one day
$300 + taxes for both days
We ask for $125 deposit to reserve your spot.


We’ll be visiting central Ottawa/Gatineau locations to take advantage of light, weather and opportunities.

See details and register for Urban Compositions Safari

#765 Survey results

A big thanks to everyone that filled in our survey last week. It’s much appreciated and helps us help you!

The results are in and here are some of the findings:

  • People enjoy photography but want to get better
  • You like our classes! Phew. The vast majority gave us an ‘Exclellent!’ rating.
  • Most people feel our prices are about right. Phew again. There were a few people that said they were a lot of money. And they are. We recognize that. We also recognize we bring you almost 20 years of photo expertise and teacher training so we can deliver the best course you can get. We are looking at ways to make it more easy, moneywise, to access our learning – safaris and other ideas that will offer less expensive photo outlets.
  • Many people gave us insights into what they want to learn. Stay tuned…
Thanks again!



#764 Photo Class Survey on the Blog

Listen to your customers!

That’s a good principle of business.

So we decided to develop a short survey ask our readers what they thought of our workshops, safaris, seminars, classes, etc:

  • Have you ever taken a course with us?
  • What is your biggest frustration in photography?
  • What kind of classes interest you?
  • Are our classes too expensive, just right, or a ridiculously good deal?
  • etc…
We’d love to hear from you!
Please take our short survey. It’ll help us offer better programming!
Thanks very much – we’ll keep you posted…
Teaching a photo class in Ottawa

Teaching a photo class in Ottawa

#763 Lightning Fast Workshop – Blair Gable – On Location Lighting

This winter we announced ‘On Location Lighting with Blair Gable‘ on the photo blog.

Like lightning it filled.

So we’re offering a second section in the summer.

Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney by Blair Gable for Maclean's Magazine

Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney by Blair Gable for Maclean's Magazine

What’s the course all about?

You will learn techniques to creatively and quickly light a portrait, on location, with simple camera based flash.

Who’s Blair Gable?

Blair Gable is a freelance photographer working for Reuters, MacLeans magazine, Globe and Mail, and many others shooting pro sports and world leaders including Obama, the Queen, Princess Kate, Stephen Harper, and many more.

Check the new sectionSign up online through the workshop page. Or register through a human by contacting us.

Blair Gable photographs Stephen Harper

Blair Gable photographs Stephen Harper - (Photo by Jason Ransom)

#762 – This week on the photo blog

This week on the photo blog takes some juggling…

Follow-up, admin and proposals

Many people think a photographer’s main job is photography. Every week I spend a large amount of time emailing, phoning and writing proposals for work I hope to get…

Exposed! Photo Newsletter

We write the Exposed! photo newsletter every month, sometimes early, sometimes late. Our last one came out very early February, so it’s been six weeks since we sent some fun. This week we are pulling it together. Coming out next week. Focus and depth of field… This week we are hoping to send a survey. Stay tuned.

• Stock shoot

Two full days of work. They’ll be big days for a government client. Targeted stock for client’s promotional use. Targeted stock? I produce stock imagery using specific people, scenarios, locations to meet specific needs within the organization. I do this kind of work for private schools, small businesses, professionals, government. Fun.

• Working Creatives

Five years ago I started a networking group for full time, working, creative people. There are over 180 people on the list. Usually 10-30 people meet as often as we can to discuss all kinds of items specific to working creatives. This week the group meets to discuss copyright.

• Open Doors at the studio

It’s a busy week already so Open Doors at our photo studio will take a break until March 28th and April 4th. Come and visit. Stay tuned – we’ll be showing work, presenting ideas, offering critique… something to be determined. We keep the dates posted on the home page of Ottawa Studio Works or the workshops page.


No teaching this week. But we’re excited about new, upcoming workshops, classes and safaris.


The Watershed Exhibit continues to make headway – meetings and development continue this week.

Stay tuned…

Juggling with fire

Juggling the fun!

#761 Judging contest at Canadian Geographic Magazine

I am back again at Canadian Geographic. A couple of years ago I helped choose the winners of the Canadian Geographic / Parks Canada photo contest. Very fun and inspiring to see who is shooting what.

This time we are judging the “Cold Snap” – International Polar Year Photo Contest. We will be judging:

  • Polar Wildlife
  • Polar Communities
  • Polar Landscapes
  • Polar Science and Research
I am excited. Yes – it’s great to see what people are producing!
Stay tuned for results on our photo blog after the winners are announced at Canadian Geographic.
Canadian Geographic

Canadian Geographic