The Three Most Important Things Of Photography

People often think that the most important thing about photography is composition or the type of camera they have. In my opinion, that’s not the case at all. I always begin my lessons with the basic three: lens-cap, batteries, posture.

Lens Cap

You first and fore-most need to have the lens cap on your camera so as to keep your optics clean. If you have dirty optics, nothing else matters. Your pictures will have smudges and you will be spending a lot of time in post processing. If you are doing vide, it will be even worse! Most people will never do post processing so having a clean lens is numero uno.


Nothing worse than arriving somewhere with depleted batteries. I always buy extra so I can replace the low batteries. It is a common rookie mistake and I try to get my students to think of this early and often right off the bat. If you don’t have batteries, you don’t have a camera.

An important addendum to this is memory card. Make sure to clear space on the memory card right after shooting so you can go to the next event without worries. This will also ensure that you don’t loose your pictures. Uploading pictures to a cloud service like Flickr is an affordable way to share and save your photographs. Back UP is key!



This one few talk about but how you hold the camera is important for three reasons. First, you look good. When you look good, people trust you. When people trust you, they relax and you get better pictures.

The second reason is when you have good posture and you hold camera correctly, you take better pictures, you’re relaxed and get tired less.

Last reason is that if you hold the camera right, you don’t put hands in the wrong place so that the fingers don’t get in the view of the lens. Don’t put fingers in front of the lens, you get good shots.

What’s a good posture? I call it a tripod: keep elbows in, one hand on side with finger on the shutter and the other on bottom of camera like a pedestal with fingers on bottom of the lens so as not to get in the way of it. That’s how the pros do it!

So now you know the basics of photography. You look good, you don’t take bad shots and you’re always ready! Everything else is just details.


Empty Pocket Jobs

This summer I worked with my nephews Cole, Cade and their father and next door neighbor Brian to create their own YouTube Channel. They created a show about summer jobs. We learned about writing a script, acting, lighting, shooting and editing.

It was a great project, so much fun to do and so great to see their videos!

Here are some:




3rd Space Interview

Re-published from 3rd Space Blog

1) How would you describe your vision for using photography as your creative medium?

A photograph is a story that you choose to tell people. It is crafted to connect, to express emotion and everything in it must tell that story. If it anything in the photograph doesn’t add to the story, then it either detracts or distracts from the main story. A photograph has to be technically flawless and the subject must have meaning to you and composed in such a way as to tell the world your thoughts, your experience and your expression. The photograph must tell the world why that photograph is important.

2) How does your creative vision translate into how and what photos you take?

Every photo has the approach of seeing something in the world that made me stop and when I take it, it should stop others.

3) Where do you see the future of photography going in the next 5 years?

Technology enables us to capture those experiences which we could not capture before as well as allowing us to have experiences we’ve never had before. It will continue to enable us to tell the human story in a fuller way and have more impact on how we see the world by making more of the world available to us. Whether that will be through more rugged cameras which can take pictures better in worse conditions, 3-D, VR or on drones. With the current leaps in technology the only thing one can say is how it will be in six months. Any more than that is going to be a conservative guess.

4) What is your best tip for someone trying to improve their photography?

Take a class. Photography is a skill and a craft that requires understanding of light and the technology. To understand how the camera works and why the functions are there is the best way to improve your skills in order to use the tools to the best of their potential. We take time to snap a picture and energy to cary around a camera, why not make those pictures be good enough to keep and go back to again and again, and have others want to see them?  It doesn’t have to take much to start, 1-3 hour classes can have drastic results. It is amazing to see people with fancy cameras who used them for point and shoot, learning the functions, understanding the camera and getting amazing pictures that they didn’t know they could before.

5) What advice would you give someone who is looking to find their creative voice?

Understand what you see and then learn the technique and craft to become technically proficient at expressing that creative voice. Most people can’t express themselves not for the lack of trying but for the lack of time invested practice and desire to understand how to best express themselves. That often takes humility to find a teacher and an understanding that you may not know everything.

An Automated Consignment System

Proposal for Local San Diego Author Consignment System

Many local book stores struggle. Many local authors struggle. It seems to make sense for local book stores to carry local authors because the friends and family of local book stores will patron those stores and buy all sorts of books. Surprisingly, most local stores refuse to carry local authors. The reason for it is not because they dislike authors or local authors, they like them. However buying a book that might not sell will ruin a store running on small margin. Buying on consignment from dozens of authors, with varying contracts, contract lengths in different genres means that books get lost, money doesn’t get sent and all sorts of issues come up for the book seller. So for them, they either buy old books which are cheap, or go through a distributor who takes care of all those headaches for them. BUT, this doesn’t solve their problem and doesn’t solve the local author problem.

So, we propose to create a single system for San Diego authors with partnership with San Diego Public Library to have a system that keeps track of authors, of their books and makes one system for the local stores that makes the books, prices, and authors manageable.

The way it works is each store gets a rack just for local authors. New books are rotated each month. Local authors supply the books and apply for it and each month books are chosen. The books that sell well, the store can choose to keep, the books that don’t get replaced with new books.

The system will be automated and managed in computer which will invoice the authors and pay the book store. All books will be managed through this and so will the payments.

Book stores have the option to opt into this system and those which opt in will be listed on a website along with all the books which will also label where specific books can be found.

We feel that it is important to support local authors and book stores and a problem that can be solved with technology should not get in the way of preventing local readers from exploring and supporting local authors.

Thank you,

Sam Litvin

Our Sipur Publishing

A San Diego Local Author

Publishing my first book! Pre-Order one with IndieGoGo


It is September 11th,

You can now ensure that Our Story is printed by,

Pre-Ordering your copy of Our Story book Now.

Please click on the IndieGoGo logo where you can pre-order the book. 

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 1.21.30 AM

Enjoy the video and share the video with your friends and relatives you think would like the book..


Thank you for your support, hope to see you online or at the launch event, which will be stream-cast live via Meercat!



Sam and the Our Jewish Story team.


Our Story Book IndieGoGo Video

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Help us kick off a strong launch by pre-ordering today and come celebrate at 3rd Space in San Diego.

Photographer’s Philosophy

Man with the Stache

To use Photoshop to enhance my picture or not is a continuous discussion amongst photographers. The question is less practical and more philosophical. The real question is what was your intent when taking the picture and what is your intent when displaying the picture.

I rarely modify my pictures because I generally want people to have the semblance of what was there. It is my journalistic style and there fore my intent is to show reality. I do my best to modify the photograph in photoshop only to bring out the shadows to show the image as I saw it when I took it.

Sometimes of course, the picture may show what I saw but will not show what I felt. The photograph by itself cannot bring out the heightened senses which were created by my emotion during that moment with the subject matter at hand. When this happens I do a lot of Photoshop work with filters and other tools to go beyond what was there and to add what I felt. At that point I care less that the viewer have a direct observation as that maybe quiet ordinary, what I want is them experience what I felt. Here the art of knowing how to compose and shoot the picture gives way to knowing how to express oneself with the digital tools at hand. Here colors and geometric shapes and focus on specific items in the frame that you focused on take priority over the authenticity of the shot as you focus on authenticity of the feeling.

So when shooting and embarking on post processing, ask yourself, are you showing what happened or how you felt about what happened. Let that be the guide of how you present the photograph.

Thanks and till next time, happy shooting.

Be Fast, Be Professional, Ask for Fairness

A great article how a request for free photographs ended up being a lucrative agreement that was fair to all party. This is what Steve Covey calls a Win-Win deal. The important thing is to respect each-other and each-others’ time. So be polite, be professional and be fair, yourself and others.

On Taking a Photograph

All humans are complex. Even when they see, simple on the outside, they had experiences and thoughts you never have. This is why taking a photograph is such an art. With painting you can spend a lot of time adding, subtracting, getting to know, looking until you finally get the right feeling of the person. With Photography, one should do that too. People often ask me to take a picture of them. They think that all previous photographs I took were just a product of my “talent” but in reality, they are a product of my curiosity and wonder at the person I am with, the art that their face and their surroundings create in my mind and the moment I like to capture. It is a product of my personal emotional connection, understanding and years and years of carrying my camera around and realizing that every picture is practice for that moment in time, when my life will put me in a place where it will be up to me to take a picture and immortalized a moment that is crucial for man kind to remember.

Copyrights and Creative Commons

Last night I attended an event at Riverdale Studios in San Diego with Michael Grecco. Aside form the usual talk about his technique and his history and essentially a portfolio of his shots and his work process, he touched on a very important subject: getting paid. It seems that it is normal for corporations to steal from Photographers. The reason for it, most photographers, myself included, are lazy. We do not spend the time and money to copyright our work and so they can steal it.

However, there is no excuse any more for two reasons: will use an algorithm to find images similar to yours and will actually go after copyright infringement with their lawyers. Each instance of infringement is $160,000. BUT! You have to copyright your work first, which actually takes only $50 and a bit of your time.

The positives from this time is of course clear, you can actually get money by going after companies that steal but also by creating an accountability which will lead companies to actually buy stock photography and respect photographers.

If it is one thing I know, it is that you can’t ask for respect, you have to have it for yourself first.


But you say, it’s ok for them to steal my work, I don’t care. I am not a pro and I like my work to be out there, I even use Creative Commons. I asked Michael about this and his response was: Bullshit!


Why? Because it is ok for you to undercut yourself, but it is not ok for you to undercut others. There are people working hard out there to create images and they do not get paid for it because people give out their content for free. It is just as bad in News Media as it is in Photography. The answer is, stop being a slave, do not give your work and time out to companies and free loaders for free. Have some dignity. This is why I am converting all of my images to Copyright Protected today.

So follow my lead. Protect your work, copyright it, find it in image rights and get paid for it. Because you deserve it and they don’t.

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