Speaking of Barriers

One of the really fun and satisfying things about photography is how varied and personal a pursuit it is. 

We’re all drawn to and moved by different things, and that’s something you want to channel into your photography. It’s often said that photographs are as much about the photographer as they are about the content of the photograph.

This image was something that made me smile on my way to catch a flight at Denver International Airport…so I spent 3 minutes exploring a few different ways to capture this scene. Now, as you look at this, are you getting a feeling about who I might be as a person? I hope so. 

I find there are two barriers to really enjoying and to improving as a photographer. The first is not being open to all the things going on and how they are affecting how you feel. Take it ALL in. Editing is something you do after you shoot. While you’re out with your camera, spend less time judging and more time making pictures. Photograph whatever moves you. 

The second barrier is fear of embarrassment…as if someone is going to judge you for what and/or how you choose to photograph something or someone. Who knows? Maybe someone will. To that, let me just offer, “…and so what if they do?” 

I’ve chosen not to photograph things because I let fear get the better of me and I always regret it. Embarrassment is temporary. A photograph you have forever. 

So, the next time you’re out photographing — being more open and stepping thru your fears — remember that worthwhile photos aren’t always about the WOW things in life. Sometimes they’re just simple things that make you think , “Huh…look at that.” Like a smiley face on a metal plate hanging from a wire over a roadside barrier.

That's What Praying Is For


Towards the end of a workshop about composition I was teaching at Union Station last weekend, we got to talking about news photography and storytelling. I’d be rambling on for a couple of minutes when my girlfriend's voice popped into my head, “Give them examples, dummy!” (Ok…in her defense, I added the “dummy” part). So I stopped and asked, “What would you photograph if you were asked for a picture to go with a story about the hot weather we’re having?” Kids playing in the fountains was the unanimous choice. With our subject decided, we were reviewing how to make compelling compositions of the scene when the question arose, “But what if the kids aren’t playing where the best composition is?” My obvious response, “That’s what praying is for.”

PHOTOSHOP or Lightroom? Keep It Simple.

A woman tapped me on the shoulder as I was working at one of my satellite offices (i.e., local coffee shop). 

"Is that Lightroom? I just bought a camera and I'm trying to figure out what kind of software to buy to make my pictures look better."

I'm such a bad person to ask this question to because I get all nerdy and fly off on ridiculous tangents when all someone who asks this probably wants is just a simple answer. 

I'm a big advocate for all things simple, so I'm going to narrow the choices to the two leading photo software tools - Photoshop & Lightroom (both products of Adobe). 

Here's my simple answer.....buy Lightroom. More specifically, now that Adobe has gone to a subscription model for all it's software , you will be looking for Lightroom CC (part of Adobe's Creative Cloud suite of products). 

Lightroom CC is $10/month, it's fantastic software and simple to learn. Adobe has tons of quality tutorials on Adobe.com. Plus, there are in the vicinity of a billion tutorial videos on YouTube to help you on any LR question imaginable, Adobe updates it regularly, and just keeps getting better. 

I'm very proficient at both Photoshop and Lightroom and Photoshop is definitely a more powerful tool. But, considering I spend at least 80% of my production time in Lightroom, if I could only have one tool - Photoshop or Lightroom, I'd choose Lightroom. I would miss the things Photoshop can do that Lightroom can't, but I'd miss the speed, simplicity and presentation options in Lightroom. 

If you get serious about your photography, you will eventually add Photoshop to your photo software toolbox...and all kinds of third-party plug-ins, as well (we photographers love our toys!). Until then, dig in - and go deep - learning all the things you can do with Lightroom CC (and there is a LOT). I promise, you won't regret it. :-)

Photo Workshops

My career started as a result of instruction and inspiration I received at a photography workshop. It's nearly 30 years later and I'm launching photo teaching workshops of my own. Find out about some of the workshops we're working on - CLICK HERE

Let us know which one - or ones - you'd like to see offered first. And, definitely share ideas about things you'd like to learn. We're putting together a whole new site devoted to photo education and the more input we receive, the more valuable we can make the site. So don't be shy!

Oslernado 2016

Every summer, my extended family gathers in Long Island for a week of summer fun. It’s a perennial tradition that was incredibly important to my mother, and is now incredibly important to us all.

Life moves quickly, in all directions, and the great joy of this year’s reunion will settle back in our memories until next March rolls around, when the bristling begins as we fight thru the hassle of coordinating and planning the coming summer’s get-together.

Then, mid-summer 2017, the time will arrive when we’re together again to laugh and share in each other’s company — and, most significantly, to punctuate how much we NEED this too-short, too-infrequent time together…and be reminded how lucky we are to have the gift of family.

 This photo really belongs more to my daughter than to me. She conceived it, organized it and executed it. All I did was push the shutter button. Thanks, honey!

This photo really belongs more to my daughter than to me. She conceived it, organized it and executed it. All I did was push the shutter button. Thanks, honey!

A Few Words From The Best Ever

nachtwey Whether or not you are a photojournalist, if you've not yet seen this video, take 3:28 to hear from perhaps the greatest war and conflict photographer ever - James Nachtwey.

Like his images, Nachtwey's Lifetime Achievement Award (from ASME) acceptance speech is concise, powerful and important.

If you've got an extra minute, once you've watched, reflect on what he has to share. If you have longer, there are other links on the page worth exploring.

A LOOK BACK ON THE CAREER OF JAMES NACHTWEY: http://ti.me/1Dq4SQE LIFE AFTER WAR - PHOTOS FROM WALTER REED HOSPITAL: http://time.com/3595931/life-after-war-james-nachtweys-photographs-from-walter-reed/ THE ROHINGYA, BURMA'S FORGOTTEN MUSLIMS: http://lightbox.time.com/2014/07/10/rohingya-burmas-forgotten-muslims/#1

A Little Excitement To Loosen The Rust

12 Jan 2015 - At least 8 police cars (not sure jurisdictions), one Denver fire truck and an ambulance responded to a lockdown situation at Smiley Middle School Monday, Jan. 12, 2015, precipitated by an incident at Venture Prep, according to a message from the Denver Public School system's automated messenger.  (copyrighted photo by Mark T. Osler. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Contact at (303) 549-6873 or mark@MarkOslerPhotography.com) My daughter's school went into lockdown today after a weapon was apparently found in the high school that shares the middle school building. I drove by to see how serious it was. Not much going on when I arrived. Not sure if it was more active before I arrived. I was just getting ready to pull out to pick up my son at his school when I got pinned in by an ambulance and fire truck...uggghh! So, figured since I was stuck there, I might as well do something useful. This is certainly not much of a news photo...largely because it wasn't much of a news event. Still, it's the first even semi-news photo I've taken in...geez, a while (to be specific) :–)

In the photo are the first two non-official people to leave the building after the lockdown was lifted, along with a Denver police officer in the foreground. Thought I'd share because...well, just because!

For what ails ya...

Ice melting. Denver, Colorado. Jan. 9, 2015. © Mark T. Osler. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Last Friday, we woke up here in Denver to a thin sheet of ice on everything. I didn't get the picture of me wiping out on the stairs as I came out of my house -- THAT would have been a picture! I did, though, get this fun little shot. Not quite as effective as aspirin for my poor aching body...but it was some consolation! Happy New Year all!

Merry Christmas...To All

Homeless man on the streets of downtown Denver, Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2014. ©Mark T. Osler. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Homeless man on the streets of downtown Denver, Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2014. ©Mark T. Osler. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Lest we forget, a poem by G.K. Chesterton, my gift to you this Christmas.

There fared a mother driven forth Out of an inn to roam; In the place where she was homeless All men are at home.

The crazy stable close at hand, With shaking timber and shifting sand, Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes, And strangers under the sun, And they lay on their heads in a foreign land Whenever the day is done.

Here we have battle and blazing eyes, And chance and honour and high surprise, But our homes are under miraculous skies Where the yule tale was begun.

A Child in a foul stable, Where the beasts feed and foam; Only where He was homeless Are you and I at home; We have hands that fashion and heads that know, But our hearts we lost - how long ago! In a place no chart nor ship can show Under the sky's dome.

This world is wild as an old wives' tale, And strange the plain things are, The earth is enough and the air is enough For our wonder and our war; But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings And our peace is put in impossible things Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening Home shall men come, To an older place than Eden And a taller town than Rome.

To the end of the way of the wandering star, To the things that cannot be and that are, To the place where God was homeless And all men are at home.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Snow Storm + Habit #2

Colorado Capitol in Denver, Colorado, Wed., Nov. 12, 2014, as seen thru a snow storm across Civic Center park. (copyrighted photo by Mark T. Osler. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.) I forgot I had this photo and wanted to share it with you. For me, this is validation for carrying my camera with me everywhere.

I had to go to the City & County Building in Denver and, as you can see, it was snowing like crazy. I wasn’t going to be there long, and didn’t want my camera to get soaked, so I nearly left my camera in the car. As I was locking up my car, I changed my mind and grabbed it.

As I came out, this is what I saw and felt, “Hey, that’s a nice scene.” So I waited for someone to walk thru it and made this picture.

Now, some of you may be thinking I could have left my camera in the car and just shot this with my iPhone. Wrong, Cellphone Breath! Well, technically, that’s right…I could have captured this same scene, but it wouldn’t have resulted in the same final image. All the fine detail in the trees and the snow speckles against the dark areas, wouldn’t have resolved as clearly. The picture would have lost the texture that’s a big part of making this photo what it is. In other words, it wouldn’t be the same picture, even though it may have been the exact same scene.

I love my iPhone, but there are limitations of cellphone photography. Know those limitations. If you believe you’re making a picture of any possible consequence or that requires certain technical qualities, weigh how you’re going to feel about those limitations if they prevent you from realizing your initial intent when you stopped and decided to make the picture in the first place.

Just another application of Habit #2 from The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People - Begin with the end in mind.

Photo Workshop Students

Students for Mark Osler's class on photo composition held Nov. 2, 2014 at Union Station in Denver, Colorado. (©Mark T. Osler. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.) Taught a fun workshop today for Digital Photo Academy over at Union Station (& vicinity). We spent 3 hours working on composition. Each time I teach that, I'm reminded what a huge topic it is. There's so much I want to share in these classes that it becomes a challenge balancing what I can share and what students can absorb in such a short period of time. This is my #1 favorite topic to teach, though, so I'll keep trying to figure out how to tread that narrow line. Thanks to all my students for working hard and for putting up with my A.D.D. teaching style. Hope you had fun and learned...something!

Colorado Colors

I had an assignment out in Delta, Colorado a week or so ago and was encouraged to take a route back to Denver that brought me over McClure Pass. It seemed a little late for high-country color, but I don't get out to the western slope much so I figured, why not?!

I don't make a lot of smart decisions in my life, but I'm going to count this one among those lonely few. Absolutely breathtaking.

I don't make enough time to just get out an take in the beauty of this state...and there's sooooooo much of it. It's trips like this that I need to remind me to stop being such a lazy knucklehead and GET OUT THERE!

DENVER WEDDING - Karen & Mark (mini-preview)

I photographed Karen & Mark’s wedding this past weekend. Terrific couple. Great fun.

Thought I'd share the few photos I'm sending to the couple before they leave on their honeymoon (have a great time, you two!). Tons more to plow thru. Lots of time. Lots of work. But, their album is going to look AWESOME!!

Even though I only take on a handful of weddings each year, I love and look forward to those opportunities. Weddings are high-stakes events for a photographer. You have to be - and stay - sharp all the time. They make me a better photographer…no question about it.

I don’t mind sharing that I get…not nervous…but, really anxious before a wedding. What if nothing good happens? What if just a few good things happen and I miss them? What if I completely forget how to do what I’ve been doing for the last 25 years?!

Ok…maybe a little psychotic, but it’s stressful. Or, at least it should be. I don’t know how a photographer could care about their craft, care about the couple they’re photographing, and NOT get a little freaked out before it all starts. There’s a lot riding on our success…or failure…as wedding photographers.

And...if you’ll indulge a little tech talk…thank god for the state of photo technology these days. Without a doubt, of all the weddings I’ve photographed, the lighting in this reception venue was the worst I’ve ever experienced. I’ll spare you the discussion about how I could have (or should have) set up lights — because (1) it’s boring, and (2) do you really care? (……I didn’t think so.) But, I do want to…let me re-phrase that…have to…thank the the super-brains out there who’ve figured out how to make a thimble-full of light feel like an ocean of light (or at least a pretty big lake!). It’s nothing short of amazing how well digital cameras these days perform in low light…truly amazing. So, thank you thank you, Big Brains!

I was going to get into a philosophical discussion about hands-on vs. hands-off wedding photography here, but am going to leave that for another post. It’s an interesting topic and one that needs to be discussed more among wedding photographers, and considered more by couples getting married. There are very real benefits to be successfully argued on both sides. Most photographers have already made there minds up about which side of that fence they stand on. Couples, though, need a more thoughtful discussion on this topic because there are very real differences --- and there's only get one chance to make the right (or wrong) choice.

For now, though, hope you enjoy this little taste of this recent wedding. Thanks, Karen & Mark, for trusting me with your big day. More soon………!