When I started in photography, I frantically hoarded blogs on Google Reader, as if some crucial bit of photography knowledge would slip through my fingers unless I stayed on top of those feeds!!
As time passed, I found my mile-high mountain of blogs eroding down to some gems that consistently provide outstandingly useful, educational, and inspirational posts. I’d like to spotlight a few of these blogs today:
A couple years ago, one of my life mentors sent me a link to Strobist, along with a note that said I had no excuse for not getting those posts in my inbox. He was right. I read Strobist for over a year before actually buying a flash. David Hobby (who would be Sir Hobby if photography granted knightood) has produced THE resource for all things off-camera lighting, especially small flashes. He hunts down the coolest behind-the-scenes videos, interviews outstanding pros, noses out the best gear deals, and is generally a decent, upstanding member of the photography community providing free education.
His brilliant Lighting 101 and 102 series finally divorced me from the notion that using flash would interfere too much with my style of portraiture. (It’s hard enough to help people feel comfortable in front of an enormous lens, let alone an armada of light mods. But I found that the time it takes to create a little lighting setup actually gives clients a break in which you can chat and get to know each other more.) My own first live, full shoot using off-camera flash is now one of my fondest memories, not because it was all that awesome (yes, the umbrella caught a breeze and came crashing down), but because I saw firsthand the potential of what I had all but dismissed before.
Sir Mr. Hobby has long been a proponent of giving back with your camera. He says: “Over the past five years, I have grown to think of my own photography not only as a way to make money, but as a currency I can choose to spend. As a result I have seen lots of downstream benefits, both for myself and for the organizations on which I have chosen to spend my photography.”
I owe Strobist a substantial debt of gratitude, not only for the free education it provides, but for the grassroots, can-do-it spirit the blog spreads. He doesn’t pull any punches, everything you get is the real deal, and I always walk away with something. Highly recommended.
Leah Remillet is that friend who reminds you, when you’re steaming mad or frustrated, “Hey, this is supposed to be fun, remember?” Leah manages to do something that is deceptively difficult: She cares deeply about her clients and readers and enthusiastically provides service, while maintaining a firm stance that business should be profitable – no exceptions, no excuses. She cheerfully runs her businesses, genuinely attending to everyone, but has no problem kindly sticking to policies (without shoving the word “policies” in your face, TSA-style.) All creative businesspeople could learn much from this example of what I’d call “warm professionalism,” and it’s one of the primary things that keeps me reading.
Leah actually built this blog while trying to become a photographer, and now runs it while sitting atop an impressively profitable photography business. Her blog itself covers everything from beginner-friendly photography tips to more advanced sales techniques. She brings up unique topics like “Should You Sign Prints and Canvases” that you don’t seem to find anywhere else, and if you’re looking for advice, her archives are a great place to start. I watched two of her online seminars, both of which were chock full of downright useful information. If you’re one of those people (like me) who loves being creative but has a hard time asking for money, there’s a lot to be learned from Leah’s blog and her example.
3) Brand Camp
I love reading the “from the mailbag” testimonials on Kristen’s Brand Camp Blog. It’s delightful to watch people go into screaming business ecstasy after purchasing any of her products. If I didn’t know better, I’d strongly suspect that Kristen laces her blog posts with some kind of controlled substance. They’re downright addictive. Why? Because she calls you out on your bad business habits. She scolds you for buying new album templates instead of, you know, marketing. Just as you’re sweeping an important task under the rug, she grabs the broom away, and challenges you to be better. And amidst all of that, she pumps you up, gets you excited to work on your business, and makes you laugh ’til you’re purple. No, really. PURPLE.
I could go on and on about how great she is, but once you hop over to her blog it’ll take you less than ten seconds to find out for yourself. Oh, and did I mention that Brand Camp is donating 50% of their 2012 profits to charity? And that she’s about to leave for India to bring sunshine to little children in need? (Um….kinda puts your latest annoyance in perspective, doesn’t it?) Kristen is a shining example of taking your skills, putting them to profitable use, and then using those profits to make the world better. Brighter. Happier. And definitely more purple-faced.
Those are some of the most well-read blogs on my Google Reader. What blogs do YOU check out? Please share them in the comments!