Cameras don’t shoot pictures, photographers do.

Happy New Year!  I start each new year studying everything from fashion trends, hot colors for the year, consumer research and more in the development of  my marketing plans and strategies for the year. I also spend time looking at the “competition” which is always interesting.

As I look at countless competitors websites and Facebook pages, it is apparent that there is a wide range of styles, and an even wider range of quality.  The ease of use of modern DSLR cameras falsely empowers far too many “professional” photographers, and much of the work they display reflects a common lack of technical and artistic training.  You don’t have to look far to find a passionate, young photographer blogging away about their super duper new camera they just bought.  I love new cameras, but for me, they produce images, not magic.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a camera geek since high school, shot pictures for the yearbook (funny I still do) and worked in a camera store (Brown Photo) for many years selling cameras.  I enjoy an annual weekend photography excursion to the spectacular north shore of Lake Superior each fall with a cabin full of photographers for the annual lighting of Split Rock Lighthouse on the anniversary of the infamous sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.  We each bring more cameras than we can use, bags full of lenses and we just geek out with photography all weekend.  The greatest part of the experience is to be surrounded by like minded, well trained and experienced photographers.  No pretenders, just decades upon decades of experience and knowledge.  I am amazed each year on how much we learn from each other.  


After posting a few images each year from the trip, I can count on several inquiries from friends, associates and podcast followers asking me what camera I used to create the posted images.  Here’s the deal, it doesn’t matter.  We created images using Nikon, Canon, Sony, Leica, Hasselblad, iPhones and more underscoring the fact that the camera is just a tool, when used in the right hands, can create stunning images.

You can own the best pots and pans in the world, but that doesn’t make you a five star chef.  You can play the same clubs that Tiger Woods uses, but we won’t be watching you in his group at the Masters.

When I look at much of the portrait/wedding work being presented by photographers all over the country, it is apparent the rules have all changed (not entirely bad).  Years ago, a portrait heavily implied an in-studio, beautifully lighted, well posed, retouched image.  So here we are, in 2014 all trying to determine what our clients really want.  I encourage you to really vet any photographer you are considering for any family portraits, senior portraits, business portraits, special events, a wedding, etc.

Here’s the good news, there are still great photographers ready willing and able to serve your needs!  I love watching seasoned pros at work with their cameras!  When the 9000 hours of Olympic coverage starts, I’m more likely to try and see what the photographers are doing, than what medals are being won.  For my own daughter’s wedding this past June, I hired a good friend and fantastic wedding photographer Dennis Zerwas ( and I served as the best dressed second shooter he’s ever had!  Here are a couple of my favorite images from the wedding.  I love shooting square (from all those years shooting Hasselblad cameras) and I love the pure joy I capture of the couple looking at an incredible sunset image Dennis created.


If you want to be sure the job gets done right, hire well.  I can’t imagine shooting portraits without the years of training I had where I developed a rich understanding of posing properly (a great pose looks anything but posed), technical strategies for a wide variety of potential lighting conditions and so on.  Pinterest is loaded with great images, and horrible images.  As far as that goes, the internet is loaded with great images, and horrible images so therein lies the problem.  There are more photographers than ever to choose from. 

It’s ultimately up to you, the consumer to choose well.  

And it’s up to you, the hired photographer, to deliver the professionalism and quality images your clients are paying for.

Please contact me anytime to discuss your needs.  I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

I also offer one on one photographer mentoring/training for photographers that want to step up their game.

Barry Howell


Twitter  fstop95