Today's Guest Blogger: David Ziser

© David Ziser
If you have been to Photoshop World, you know who gets the award for the best dressed guy: David Ziser. I love David and his work. So I thought I'd put him on the spot and ask him five questions - questions that you may want answered. Away we go!

Welcome David and thanks for being here today. You've excelled as a wedding photographer for many years and you continue traveling the world and teaching and writing about wedding and portrait photography, lighting, Photoshop, Lightroom, and business building skills with your programs and your DigitalProTalk blog is targeting the part time aspiring photographers all the way up to seasoned pros.

1. What are you most recent adventures in that department?

For a solid year I've been working on the most exciting photographic learning opportunity for 2012 - PhotoPro Expo 2012. It is the most important educational event happening in the Midwest this year.  I'll fill you in on it a bit later in this post.

I've also committed to producing another book for Kelby Media.  This time the topic will be solely and completely on lighting - the title, "Make Your Lighting Exiting!”  I'm really looking forward to that.  We also have a great year lined up for my blog, with monthly web-casts from the top educators in the world, lots of articles on wedding and portrait photography, lighting, Photoshop, Lightroom, and success tips for the aspiring photographer - all really good stuff, I'm excited!

2.  Do you feel there is a need for photographic education in this brand new digital world of ours?

Oh my gosh, is there.  There has been an explosion of new shooters particularly in the wedding market. Everybody with a camera is trying to make an extra dollar or two shooting a wedding.  The reality is that many new photographers don't have much of a grasp on how to shoot a wedding and the protocols involved in covering the event. So there is definitely a need for the new photographers to grasp the craft, learn about lighting and composition, and understand the workings of their cameras so they can indeed do a good job for their clients.

© David Ziser
3.  What's the current state of wedding and portrait photography these days?

Wedding photography has gone throughout a major transition in the last few years.  Wedding photography used to be a "man's world" but now the trend is to see many more women entering the field bringing a brand new perspective and sensitivity to wedding coverages.  Styles have changed considerable over the last few years as well. We are now seeing the full range of styles from classic traditional, stylized fashion shoots, to straight hands off photojournalistic approach.

Many photographers are still struggling to "find their voice" across that stylistic spectrum. I think photographers really want to do a good job for their clients but so many just don't know how to go about doing it.  At this time we most likely have the most shooters with the least experience and technical knowledge ever out there offering wedding and portrait photography services.  I don't blame them for trying - it a great field and it's exciting to photograph weddings, especially if you can give the client more than what they are hoping for.  The challenges and rewards are certainly worth the effort.

And that's the secret; photographers need to do a great job for their clients.  They also need to be personally excited about doing that great job.  Photographers that are just in it for the money will never be great wedding photographers.  Internalizing the quest for a top quality product will lead you to delivering just that to your client.  And guess what; the client will be thrilled with the result and willing to pay for those efforts.

4.  Is it that the newest photographers entering the field don't care about photographic education these days?

Oh, I wouldn't go that far.  I think if someone wants to do a good job for their client, they certainly DO care about knowing how to get the job done right.  Most of the new shooters are relying on the remarks of friends and family telling them how great their photography looks. For most, their photography has never been gauged against their peers.

I have to tell you a quick story. This past summer we held our summer "Hot Shots" photography contest for our PhotoPro Network photographers association.  One of my assistants, who also was running a part time photography business, proclaimed that he planned to win the top prize with his entries.  After he entered and saw what other professional/peers were entering, he confided that his work was nowhere near the quality of work summated by the seasoned professionals.  Thankfully for him, he was able to swallow his pride, reset his expectations, and commit to improving his photography not just for himself, but for his clients as well.

I not surprised by remarks I hear from photographic labs across the country.  Most feel the quality of wedding photography is at a low watermark right now. But most feel that that will change in the not too distant future.  It's just that there are SOOOO many new shooters that the quality level is skewed in their direction at this time.  As they adapt, continue to learn and grow in the profession, so will their skill set and the quality of their photography.  

I think part of the reason the quality of wedding photography has dropped so low is that the aspiring pro doesn't know where to go to get the education they need to really excel in their craft.  

Photographers today really want to learn and think the only place to get that much needed education is on the web.  Web education is good up to a point, but there is something special about attending programs and learning from the top photographic masters in person like Scott Kelby, Vincent Laforet, Joe McNally, Jay Maisel, and of course, Rick Sammon. I think that more intimate connect with the speaker in a live setting greatly enhances the learning experience.  You know, when you hear these programs in person, the message just sticks with you in a way that is not easily forgotten.

© David Ziser
5. What are some other educational opportunities that not just new photographers, but all photographers can experience this year.

OMG, in just the first 8 weeks of this 2012 students of photography have a fantastic opportunity to learn from the top photographers and educators in the business.  Let me give you a quick rundown:

Imaging USA - New Orleans, LA: Jan 14-17, 2012. Top speakers include a few of my favorites; Zack and Jody Gray, a bright young couple who have figured it out and are showing  photographers how to think, work, promote, and shoot to be successful in this brand new digital market place. Also presenting are Kent and Sarah Smith, two of the most successful studio owners in the country (gross sales over 1M for the last 3 years) specializing in high school seniors and families. The list goes on and on - check out Imaging USA right here.  

PhotoPro Expo 2012 - Greater Cincinnati, OH, February 2, 3, 4, & 5, 2012.  This one is my "baby".  I'm president of the hosting organization, PhotoPro Network.  PhotoPro Network is dedicated to bring the most exciting education and complete learning experience to photographers everywhere and at a VERY reasonable price. Just look at this year's speaker lineup. Photoshop master, Scott Kelby; Pulitzer Prize winning Vincent LaForet; Wedding photographer extraordinaire, Jerry Ghionis, Marketing legend, Sarah Petty; NYC fashion photographer, Lindsay Adler; Joel grimes; and Kirk Voclain just to name a few!!! Don't miss this opportunity
right here.  

WPPI, Las Vegas, NV February 16-23, 2012.  This has always been one of my favorite conventions to attend, after PhotoPro Expo, of course;~)  This year their lineup includes my good friends and great wedding photographers, Cliff Mautner, Joe Buissink, and Dave and Quinn Chen - all great excellent presenters with exciting images and techniques to share. Check out
WPPI right here.

And that's just for starters.  Then you have Photoshop World the next month March 24-26 kicking off in Washington DC with their great speaker lineup including Julieanne Kost, Jay Maisel, Calvin Hollywood, Scott Kelby and yours truly.  You can get all the info right here.    

As you can see, UP CLOSE and PERSONAL digital education abounds throughout the country this year.  I strongly advise you to make it a point to attend at least one of these events and take your photography, lighting, your marketing plan and other digital skills to a brand new level.

If you live anywhere in the Midwest, your go-to convention is PhotoPro Expo 2012. It has the best speaker lineup in the country, and at only $159 with your Promo Code PPERICK12.   It's undeniably the best value educational experience in the country!  I'll be attending all of them, as I continue to grow and to learn, but I really hope you'll let me welcome you personally to PhotoPro Expo 2012 next month. 

In wrapping let me thank Rick for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you, his readers, today. Hopefully we can do it again soon.