Perfect Inspiration: To Thine Own Self Be True with Brian Matiash

Posted on February 27, 2015 by Patrick Smith - Leave a comment

To Thine Own Self Be True

Contributing to this episode of the Perfect Inspiration series is a bit of a homecoming for me. Well, maybe a bit more than a homecoming. You see, I first started this weekly series when I worked at on1 in early 2012 and published a new episode every week for about 58 weeks straight. I held the series very closely and was so proud of it. Even now, I’m beaming over the fact that it has been growing with a diverse group of contributing photographers sharing their own gems of inspiration. If you haven’t had a chance, be sure to carve out some time and go through the series’ entire playlist . I guarantee you that there’s tons of useful information there.

My goal with the Perfect Inspiration series has always been to promote thoughtful content to help spur and excite viewers to go out with camera-in-hand and create something that is truly meaningful to themselves. Whether or not the photo ever gets shared is not the endgame. Rather, the goal is help people become more in tune with their own style and sensibilities around their photography. It isn’t so much about going through the motions over and over. It’s about flexing your creative muscle and putting some serious brain cycles around what it is about your photography that drives you . Because, after all, you are the person that you’re creating for, right? Sure, you may share your work far and wide but you’re not actually creating it for anyone else. You’re creating it for yourself!

The impetus to this post stems from some comments that I read on a recent episode of Perfect Inspiration by the wonderful and lovely Nicole S. Young (fact: she is also my wife). The comments, as a whole, were genuinely positive but there were several that expressed some form of criticism ranging from how she exposed her image to how she processed it.

Now let’s stop right here for a quick second for me to clarify something. I love engagement. If you take the time to leave some thoughts on a photo, good or bad, it truly means something to me. However, I have done this for long enough to know what criticism is worth thinking about and what can be summarily ignored. Nicole is very much in the same boat. My concern is with those who may take this criticism to heart and actually change the way they create.

And that’s the very crux of my point. Here’s a fact about sharing your own personal work with the world: you will always have fans and detractors. You will get positive feedback and negative criticism. It is your responsibility as a creative to be true to yourself and know what feedback is worth considering and what should simply be discarded.

Let’s illustrate this case. Imagine if Nicole wasn’t nearly as thickskinned and capable of a photographer. She goes to her Perfect Inspiration post and sees the very first comment state, “ In my opinion the water of the stream looks over processed and artificial .” Now, imagine if Nicole took this to heart and actually changed the way she exposed her photos or processed her images based on this feedback. In my book, that would be one of the greatest tragedies because, good or bad, the one thing you owe to yourself is to create to your own specification.

So, if I could pass along anything to you, it’s simply to remind you that growth is perpetual and does not necessarily follow a linear path or relative path. Your track should not be built atop the comments that you get. Yes, there is plenty to be said about seeking out trusted feedback and mentorship but all of it is rather meaningless if you don’t know who the photographer is that you want to grow into. Simply, to thine own self be true. - Brian


Photographing Real Life Sessions with Bliss Studio – Part 3

Posted on February 23, 2015 by Whitney Stevens - 4 Comments

My last part of this three part series will end with a giveaway. Details at the end of this post.

Post Production:

I’ve already admitted I overshot. So to be honest….We were looking at maybe 600-800 photos . Way too many. However, they were edited down to about 80-100 per session. With these sessions I edited by selecting my favorites rather than deleting the ones I didn’t like. This made editing more efficient. Also, knowing my end result would be a finished album, I made sure to keep the details I needed. Im going to admit another guilty pleasure. I shoot in black and white. Yes that’s  right….I switch my camera between color and black and white to save myself hours of post production. No need to judge…we all have our cheats and tricks. I’m from the film days where we shot black and white film and I also love the instant gratification of seeing my images in BW while shooting. I do add some filters and warmth to my BW’s as needed in post but I’m often starting from a black and white image. I really try to keep my post as quick as I can.

Here is an example of a quick before/after shot. The first image is straight out of the camera (shot in black and white). The second image has a slight retouch on the phone jack and the animal that was in the bottom right. Pulling the image into Perfect Effects I applied the new Matte BW filter. I love the soft feel it gives the image and even though I honestly think either of these images work well. I prefer the image I edited. How about you?


Photographing Real Life Sessions with Bliss Studio – Part 2

Posted on February 20, 2015 by Whitney Stevens - 1 Comment

This personal project started with three different sessions. I did not charge my clients anything as this was something I wanted to explore and experience the way I wanted without client expectations.  I went to each of their homes and spent around 2-4 hours depending on the child and what I needed. There was no set time limit and I stayed long enough to make sure the story was told. Kids don’t always last very long and spending an entire day can wear both you and the child out. It is possible to get what you need in a little less time if you’re a good planner.

Here is the breakdown for a Real Life Session. I’ve included advice, tips, tricks and what worked great for me.

Going to a clients home can be challenging. Especially if you don’t know what to expect before the session (if you are able to visit prior to your session do it!). I encourage my clients to de-clutter and clean up as best as they can. Also, remind them to open all blinds and curtains to let as much natural light in as possible. Shooting real life means not bringing in any extra lighting. I really feel that it takes away from the natural setting. This can be tricky if you are shooting in a dark house, but digital cameras can be really awesome in low light situations. Push your camera as much as you can. If you get some pixilated images you can add a little grain in post to help clean it up. If I get really stuck, I’ll pull out a small light disc. But I try to utilize as much natural light as possible and stay unobtrusive.

Perfect Inspiration: Perfect B&W with Andrew S. Gibson

Posted on by Peter Kinnan - Leave a comment

We are excited to introduce you to Andrew Gibson. Andrew is an author, photographer, and traveller. Andrew describes himself as a free spirit who teaches people how to take better photos.

From his website:

“My interest in photography began when my parents bought me a Ricoh KR-10m camera over 20 years ago. Since then I’ve taken photos in over 60 countries, studied for a degree in photography and worked as Technical Editor for EOS magazine. Now I’m a freelance writer and I make a living writing about photography. In recent years I’ve lived in the UK, China and New Zealand, which is now my home.”

You can learn more about Andrew on his blog.


Andrew brings you his very first episode of Perfect Inspiration – Converting a Color Photo to Black and White. He shows you his methods and tips for making these conversions using Perfect B&W.

Photographing Real Life Sessions with Bliss Studio – Part 1

Posted on February 19, 2015 by Whitney Stevens - Leave a comment

Awhile back we interviewed Whitney at Bliss Studio and are excited to have her back for this three part series, Photographing Real Life Sessions.

Whitney recently created a new Lightroom preset pack for us, the on1 Kids Matte B&W Presets for Adobe Lightroom 5 – available for FREE. These are perfect for baby and kid photos, which she talks about here. We hope you enjoy this series and are inspired to try new and/or different things.

Every once in a while I like to reenergize myself by trying something new. I spend the majority of my days photographing for money which is not a bad thing but its always good to find balance. I’m guessing a lot of us probably started out as hobbyists where we found a love for photography and decided to try to make a business out of it. That’s the way it was for me. I picked up a camera in my early teens and could not get enough of it. My hobby soon turned into my full time business.

Fast forward to today.

My true passion and joy is photographing kids. Even when I have a personal project in mind it still seems to revolve around kids. A few years ago I decided to create a session where I shot 95% in black and white. Since this was a personal project I was going to break the rules and push myself to tell a story in black and white. I sought out a few amazing clients who let me borrow their kids for this adventure. I thought about the story I wanted to tell. I thought about my home, life, kids and what it is that makes them special. This all led me to consider real life. Photographing these kids in their homes going about their day as if I wasn’t there. Photograph their rooms, their toys and things that I knew over the years could drastically change. No posed photos. Instead I just wanted a story of them and to capture a day in their lives.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

- Whitney