The Personal Project

written by: David H. Wells

Near the end of my recent six months in India, I started a new project. I don’t know if it will be a small, short-term piece or a long term, multi-year project. But “instant editing” helped me define the project in real time. Instant editing is my process of sending a set of selected images (20 to 40) to ten friends, to find out which pictures work for them. My peer’s comments on this new work also helped me define my approach to the project itself as much as making the photographs. India, with the second largest road network on Read more »


How to Perfect Digital Techniques by Understanding Film

written by: David H. Wells

As of this year, I have been a photographer for 40 years. In that time, a lot has changed and yet in some ways, certain things are still the same. I was reminded of this when my friend Michael Colby told me I was “…the most analog digital photographer in the business.” He went on “…you are an analog photographer in a digital world. A film photographer who uses digital technology but only adopts as much of digital as necessary. Goodbye slides and goodbye prints, hello digital workflow! But, it is essentially a digital workflow that is not too dissimilar Read more »


Reader Assignment: 10 Tips to Make Better Travel Photos

written by: David H. Wells

Here are some ideas to help you make better travel photographs: 1. Arrive early, stay late! The best parts of many events often happen before or after the main event. 2. Ask yourself, why am I taking pictures? Do your photos record a mood, hold a good memory, or simply as a marker of your presence? 3. “Work” the situations. When I am working, I may only photograph a few situations but I work those in many different ways till the image says just what I want. 4. What is the best position or angle? I often try to get Read more »


Reader Assignment: A Personal Project of Your Choosing

written by: David H. Wells

photo technique and Photo Synesi ( have teamed up to offer subscribers a discount on an individual portfolio review by David H. Wells based on the assignment “A Personal Project”. Subscribers can get $9 off * a $19 Snap photo review. To get your $9 off look for the special code that begins with PTPS on your mailing label. Digital subscribers will find their code on the email that announces your dig- ital issue. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today at phototechmag. com ! WHAT TO SUBMIT Submit ten photos from ONE personal project via the Photo Synesi site. After registration, Read more »


The Art of the Personal Photographic Project

written by: David H. Wells

While getting paid to be a photographer is certainly one measure of accomplishment, in my experience, the ultimate challenge for a photographer is the personal project. To appreciate this, remember how the first step for many serious photographers was to develop the skills to successfully photograph/capture any kind of subject. The next step for some was to go pro and get paid for doing photography. Making a set of images which tell a story from your point of view, under your own direction (rather than to just satisfy a paying client) is a process that is even more challenging and Read more »


Reader Assignment: Showing Time Using Panning & Blurring

written by: David H. Wells

Most people think of freezing a moment in time as the best way to make a great photograph. Using a high shutter speed to stop action is one way of conveying time in a photograph, but other ways, when used correctly, can be just as compelling. Panning and blurring are the other ways to convey a feeling of time in a photograph. What do they have in common? They both involve slower shutter speeds. The art of panning is all about moving the camera with the subject, so that it appears sharp and the background becomes blurred. An example of Read more »

david h wells, photo technique, reader assignment

Two Twilights Are Better Than One

written by: David H. Wells

I photograph a lot at twilight at the end of the day. It is arguably my favorite time for photographing. The other time of day that I love photographing is in the early morning light. Though most photographers talk about afternoon light as their favorite, I am not one of them. I like the afternoon light as much as the next photographer, but twilight and early morning, those are the best. The ideal twilight photograph has magical color in the sky, usually, blue or purple though sometime it can be orange too. This sky usually plays off of an equally compelling Read more »


Mastering the Camera Histogram for Better Exposure

written by: David H. Wells

Histograms and digital imaging…hearing those words puts most photographers to sleep, which is too bad. With a little attention and practice, any photographer can understand and use histograms to give us the best exposure possible for digital image files. A histogram is a graphical representation of the distribution of data, commonly used in the world of statistics. It is, according to Wikipedia, one of the basic tools of quality control. In photography, it serves the same purpose, with the horizontal axis telling us how the tones of our images from solid black to solid white are distributed. The vertical axis Read more »


Who Owns What?

Copyright & Model Releases
written by: David H. Wells

Model releases and copyright seem to be the source of more confusion than almost any other aspects of commercial photography. Though the law in both areas is quite well established (in the U.S.), all sorts of new and insidious ideas are being bandied about on the Internet, which are to the detriment of photographers (as well as morally and legally wrong). Most of what many people read (and say) about model releases and copyright on the Internet is dubious. I am not a lawyer. So do not consider this legal advice. But I am a photographer and a teacher. As Read more »


The Importance of Working Situations

written by: David H. Wells

I have been photographing seriously for almost four decades. Over those forty years I have honed in on the one thing any photographer can do to improve their photography. It does not involve a new piece of gear or imaging software. Rather it is simply to learn how to “work” the situations they encounter when photographing. What do I mean by “working” a situation? I mean taking many pictures of the same situation till you get the one you want. I am not talking about snapping blindly as you go. I am talking about using the various photographic tools available Read more »