Category Friday Clicks

Friday Clicks: Daily websites for creatives on the go



I’m a bit of an information-gatherer:  equal parts useful data and interesting trivia, with a dash of inspiration.    It’s easy to get distracted on the web that I like having my handful of go-to sources of information.

This changes a lot, as one might imagine. I tend to like websites that offer unique content, or organize content in such a way that it makes it more useful or easier to get to.  Bonus for strong and defined points of view.

Right now, here are some of the sites I got to daily for my never-ending quest to understand the worlds I inhabit.

Josh Linkner’s blog – Author, entrepreneur

Altucher Confidential – The blog of entrepreneur and investor James Altucher.   I love that James questions many of the assumptions I (and we) take for granted.  Like, should you spend money on a home?  Is the expense of a college education actually worth it?   Worth a read.

Seth Godin’s blog – Short but thoughtful insights delivered daily.

The Daily Beast – The Cheat Sheet is a quick rundown on the day’s top stories.

Vox – When you want to dive deep and explore analysis of current events.

Quora –  Always entertaining and often informative. The tagline says it all:  Your Best Source for Knowledge.  I spend way too much time on this network, but I always seem to get more value than I end up putting in.  Gotta work on that.

Strictly Business blog –  This is an aggregator of sorts, full of ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers) member blogs along with original content.   It helps me greatly to hear the stories of others deep in the professional photography trenches with me.   It’s not coincidental that this is the only photo-related source of information listed here;  at that, Strictly Business has more to do with the business nitty-gritty of photography than it does about photo technique.



Friday Clicks: My favorite (light) modifiers

A brief disclaimer here:  light modifiers are about personal preference and taste and vary wildly from photographer to photographer.  Natch.  There are stylistic and situational reasons why a person would choose a circular-shaped modifier (like an octabox or a beauty dish) over a square-shaped light one (like a softbox).   What it boils down to is this: The size of your light modifier relative to your subject is the biggest determiner of the quality of your light (soft, harsh, dramatic, etc).  It has less to do with things like the reflective material used, shape or the brand name (or lack of one) that graces the modifier’s exterior.

With that caveat, here are five of the most oft-used light modifiers in my arsenal.  I shoot with speedlights and studio monolights–sometimes together–so these modifiers are a bit varied as a result.

1-Photek Softlighter II.  If it were socially acceptable and/or legal, I’d marry this lovely piece of gear.  As it is, it goes everywhere with me.  It produces glowing, wrap-around light, produces great catchlights and then folds down basically into an umbrella.  It’s inexpensive but looks the same as an octabox many times its cost.   I keep several on hand because they tend to be fragile.

2–Gary Fong Lightsphere.  This $10 peice of plastic has been kicking around in my bag forever and is much abused.  They get a bad rap from some photographers who think they’re cheesy, and candidly I never really liked walking around with this huge white thing sticking to my flash.  But I love it as an even light spreader when using speedlights to light up a room or doorway in the background, or even as a very close-in direct light mod for a portrait in, say, a sunset situation.  If you gaffer tape the outside, it can turn into a pretty effective snoot, especially if you put a grid over the front of it.

3–Honl Kit.   This kit is really a bunch of little pieces of gear I throw into a bag.  It includes a bunch of the velcro speed straps, a filter correction kit (which I use all. the. time.), a couple of grids, gobos and snoot.   This is perfect when doing portrait work and I put it into play when shooting interior spaces as well.

4--22″ beauty dish.  I love the light produced by beauty dishes and I have both a silver one (for outside daylight shots) and a white one (this one, by FTX lighting tools) for indoors.   The light is very directional with very even illumination, is extremely stable on breezy days outdoors and is tough.  If you put it in close, you get amazing softness with a little drama.  Move it out and you’ve got dramatic tasty light. .

5–Lastolite Triflector MKII reflector.  This is really a set of three reflectors in one, each with white and silver (or gold) sides.  They are triangular in shape and are great when you need to get a wrap-around reflection for a portrait.   With a stand they can be mounted anywhere and can produce reflections from multiple angles at once.   It’s kind of like having a tiny little photo assistant with you wherever you go whose only job is to hold reflectors and make your subjects look good.   I use this tool on too many assignments to count.


Friday Clicks: What I’m reading right now

Note: These are my favorites, not necessarily yours. If you disagree (or even better, agree), let me know. Your mileage may vary.

Like many business owners, I don’t stray much into fiction unless I’m reading to my daughter at bedtime (anything with cute dogs in it is pretty much what she’s into). For me, it’s books, blogs and magazines that entertain while providing value. So, without further ado, here’s what I’m reading these days (these are just links.  I don’t get any kickbacks for these recommends):

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: Telling Your Story in a Noisy, Social World (Gary Vaynerchuk)

Vaynerchuk is entertaining and always real. He gives specific (and visual) examples of using various social media channels well, from Facebook to Pinterest. Think of it like a social media guide wrapped up with a bit of humor and a dash of brash.

The Slight Edge (Jeff Olson)

This book has changed the way I do things. Learn about the power of compounded efforts over time and develop the small daily habits that lead to success. I’m recommending this one to everyone I know.

Th3rd Force: Action, Reaction, Your Choice (Scott Paglia and Bill Donnelly)

Full Disclosure: Scott is my best friend and I spent much of my free time while teaching English in South Korea with Scott drinking Soju and eating dried squid. Paglia is an expert practitioner of Chinese medicine (herbs, pulse diagnosis and acupuncture). Donnelly is a certified personal trainer in New York City. The two have teamed up on the Th3rd Force blog to talk about health and wellness (though it’s much more than that). His visceral, stream of consciousness style chronicles his misadventures in Korea, Arizona and elsewhere (Yours Truly makes an appearance or two). In between Paglia and Donnelly share wisdom about living a better life. It’s entertaining….but it’s useful, too.  (Rob Haggart)

Haggart, former photo editor for Outside Magazine and Men’s Journal has a huge following and features a mix of Haggart’s views on the photo industry and roundups of posts from other photographer blogs. Especially interesting are the real-world photo estimates he posts from the Wonderful Machine folks, often for regional and national jobs…even though the bottom-line figures are not exactly what we see here in Reality, Maine. Still, one can dream.

Strictly Business Blog  (American Society of Media Photographers)

Posts from industry experts—photographers, photography consultants, buyers, etc.—focused on practical topics like branding, marketing and copyright registration. You don’t have to be a member of ASMP to get the tremendous value here.

Esquire Magazine

In my opinion, one of the best-written magazines for men—and yes, for women—out there. The thought and creativity put into the content and the organization of that content is immense. The long-form stories—last year’s “The Shooter” comes to mind—are well-crafted and compelling pieces of journalism. And, you can get a home copy for as low as ten bucks a year. Such a deal.


Friday Favorites: Extreme Puppy edition


This Friday I’d like to share just a few outtake images from recent projects that were conceptual in nature.   I’ve always enjoyed doing this kind of concept work—it’s extremely creative and if successful, gives the viewer something extra that causes them to linger a bit.     What you end up with is more created than found.    Here are a couple of images that I really liked but that ended up as outtakes.  Enjoy….and happy Friday!


The concept was to photograph pets in an incongruous setting--in this case, a professional office environment--which could easily illustrate the perils of Take Your Pet to Work Day.
The concept was to photograph pets in an incongruous setting–in this case, a professional office environment–which could easily illustrate the perils of Take Your Pet to Work Day.



The concept was to photograph pets in an incongruous setting--in this case, a professional office environment--which could easily illustrate the perils of Take Your Pet to Work Day.
The concept was to photograph pets in an incongruous setting–in this case, a professional office environment–which could easily illustrate the perils of Take Your Pet to Work Day.



Fitzbits: Friday Favorite Clicks

It’s Friday, and it’s time to unwind a little. Here are some of the more interesting things I’ve encountered this week. Some are photo-related, others are business-oriented and a few are just plain random.  I think you’ll find them useful too, so I’m sharing them in a little feature called Fitzbits. Go ahead. Lose an hour surfing. I won’t tell the boss….

Middle Finger Project
Irreverent, full of voice, very well written. It’s geared towards small business owners who are unique and want their brands to have personality.  Highly entertaining, informative and a kick in the pants. As a ‘smart and solo’ operator, you aren’t doing something right. Trust me. And they’ll tell you about it.




This HP-run print-on-demand service is similar to services like Blurb. I’ve used both (just got a promo piece prpinted by MagCloud in fact) and the quality (especially at athe price point) is astonishing. Full-bleed, saddle stiching….if you aren’t using this service, you’re truly missing out




WP Better Security
The great thing about WordPress? It’s all in my little hands (I, like most photographers, am a control freak). The bad thing? It’s all in my hands. All too often, I don’t remember to reset a default setting, or don’t update a version or a plugin when I should, and the inevitable happens–I get hacked, like I did this week.  In fact, I’m still dealing with it…a bigger post is in order later). Suffice to say that if you use WordPress, you should have a plugin like WP Better Security.  Nothing’s failsafe, but it’ll help to prevent hacks and to harden your site so you can focus on photography.



Friday Clicks

I spend a lot of time online and see a lot of very cool things related to photography, Maine, multimedia, Portland and the like.  I thought I’d share a few of the cooler links from time to time, and Fridays are a good day to do it, being the end of the week and all.   How any work gets done on Friday afternoon, I’ll never know….


Think First    Social Media and tribe-building from Out:think

Camera Cake    New social media site for and by professional photographers

Photoshelter Blog   Even if you don’t use the Photoshelter service, you’ll find something of value on their frequently-updated blog

Portland Food Coma   You may enjoy food, but trust me—not as much as Maine Magazine food editor Joe Ricchio.  His voice is entertaining, irreverent and worth a read.

Inspire Portland   Yes, it’s a bit self-serving—but what Colleen Wainwright calls my allotted ‘5%’.  Plus, I think you’ll think it’s cool.

The Art of Non-Conformity   blog by Chris Guillebeau.  You’ve got to just check it out.  There’s a cool writeup about a cool Mainah there today.

Nate Damm  The cool Mainah mentioned above.   He walked across America.  All of it.   What did you do this summer?