Photography Essentials – The 2017 XEQUALS Field Guide

Last year, we asked an important question:

Take a moment to think about your passion, your creative spark, your inner light that drives you to create, and pair that with the unique perspective that already exists within you.

As creatives ourselves, this sort of inward thinking is meant to elicit a deeper meaning for your work – whether you are just getting started or are a seasoned pro. What moves you? What REALLY gets you excited to create, and to share with others?

We think the answers come with a deep understanding of your style and the tools and tech required to bring your ideas to life.

We also recognize that it helps to have a path—a road to travel that helps you achieve those goals, and it is from this foundation that we built the XEQUALS Platform.

This 2017 Field Guide includes our most popular and information rich posts across the XEQUALS Learn, Create, and Dominate learning paths in the platform – all meant to be a guide for you as you unleash your ideas upon the world.

Learn Your Craft

Here are the fundamental skills, education, and practical advice you need to master the tools, techniques, and processes necessary to develop your unique approach to your craft.

These are real world experiences from authors who know what it takes to make it happen – hands down.

1. How To Get The Most Out Of ACR Presets

XEQUALS presets for Lightroom gives you fantastic choices for applying the color and tonal look of specific kinds of film to your image. The team at XEQUALS determines the right formulas of Lightroom sliders saved as presets to achieve a specific look or film emulation.

The downside of using Lightroom itself is that the color and tonal impact of the presets is applied to the whole image. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to apply an XEQUALS preset to an image and control which areas of the image are changed based on tonality?

The good news is that with XEQUALS ACR presets, you can do just that and with precision. It yields much more subtle and realistic results.

Use ACR like a boss →

2. Our Rapid Fire Top 5 Best Lightroom Tips Ever

No bull. We’ve been at this for a while.

So we won’t mess around. These are our most asked for Lightroom tips.

Fire up that desktop.

Let’s get crankin’ →

3. Photography Rules For The Rebel

Rules are great for keeping things running smoothly. Commerce, the military, and various forms of government would not exist without a strong adherence to rules.

Art is a different story. With art, rules act as a guide but can get in the way of expression. When I teach photography to new students, one of the most important lessons I pass on is, “I’m going to teach you the rules so you understand why they exist. You are then free to use your discretion and ignore them when appropriate.”

Click to break rules →

4. Image Quality And How You’re Doing It Wrong

Oh, the fear!

It’s a common misconception among photographers that an image’s PPI value dictates its resolution, that a magazine-quality print gets hijacked from a 600 x 400 pixel, 300 PPI image downloaded from a Web gallery.

Well, that’s true, if that print is only 2 inches wide. But the greater truth is that an image’s PPI – pixels per inch – value is irrelevant in relation to its resolution.

Don’t worry about it; PPI doesn’t matter.

Whaaaaaat?!?!? →

5. Shooting With Clarity And Purpose

Ansel Adams said this …

“My basic approach to photography depends on visualization of the final print before the exposure is made. When the print is conceived in the mind, either as a realistic statement or as an intentional departure from reality, the brightness values of the subject are determined and are placed appropriately on the exposure scale. The negative is exposed and developed for the desired rendition. The print from such a negative requires a minimum of development control, dodging, or use of extreme paper grades. This procedure is not only efficient, but also gives the photographer at all times control of his craft and assurance and full understanding of the equipment and materials used – this method becomes almost automatic.”

Nailed it.

Here’s how to nail it →

Create Your Unique Vision

While we bring you the best knowledge, now you need the best tools – and we deliver them.

Here’s what others are doing with The XEQUALS Platform.

1. A Professional Printer’s Approach To Using XEQUALS Presets

I love using the XEQUALS platform as a normal part of my workflow. In fact, if I have to re-install Adobe Lightroom for any reason, the installation feels naked until I have the XEQUALS presets restored to my presets folder!

I use a variety of modules depending upon the mood of the photo, but by far my two favorites are Kodachrome (I helped with the development of the ASA 10 variants) and the Kodak T-Max 100 black and white preset.

Here’s how a pro works →

2. Making Cool S**t Is The Future Of Photography

The future of photography isn’t just about the screen.

It’s coming back full circle to being about MAKING ACTUAL THINGS with your work.

This project is super easy and keeps the costs low … but makes a HUGE statement!

Make something cool →

3. Prep, Print, Sell

When it comes to printing, you can quickly become overwhelmed by the sheer number of printers, papers, and preparation necessary to get something off the screen and onto the page.

I like simple solutions, and after having used numerous printers, I’ve again settled on Artifact Uprising for both the simplicity of their product and the unbelievable quality you get for the price.

In this installment, I’m going to walk you through my processing workflow (which is simple), and the choice of paper (which is simple), as I prep to print.

Let’s get started →

4. The Step-By-Step Guide To Photography Style

And as I was teaching small workshops, private lessons, and running photowalks, a lot of the Sunday night uploads to Flickr weren’t all that much different from the stock photography that I was producing.

I needed something that would make my work unique again.

And I stumbled upon the one thing that could do that … it’s called style.

How to get it →

5. 5 Photo Projects To Start Today

Projects aren’t meant to be shot in a day. These are designed to be fun and train your eye to see the world the way the lens sees it so you can express more of yourself in your art.

If you’re thinking you can take one of these projects and cram it into a Saturday afternoon, think again.

Think of this as storytelling over time.

Those photographs from famous photographers that you admire so much? Those were likely part of a project. Instagram is just a collection of projects arranged for visual storytelling. Projects are where the real magic happens.

Here’s how to start →

Dominate Your Market

When you’re ready to take things to the next level and to make your passion a hobby,  your hobby a business, and your business your future. We’re here to help you!

We’ve packed these posts with advice from thought leaders who have made the leap, and will expose you to the lessons and tools required to take your passion further, faster.

1. How To Grow Your Photography Business By Focusing On ONE Thing

We know what focus means in photography, but do you know what it means in your photography business?

In 1915, Albert Einstein presented his genius theory of relativity, which became one of the most famous scientific theories of the 20th century. For the three years prior, Einstein completely devoted himself to work on this theory, which is one of the secrets as to why it turned out successfully.

He focused on one thing.

Dial in →

2. 5 Dumb Things You’ll Stop Saying To Your Customers

We all make mistakes.

Some of them, we can’t avoid, and that’s to be expected.

Nobody is perfect.

Then there are the mistakes that are avoidable, which set us back 10 steps, and if we’re lucky, give us an opportunity to recover gracefully.

Odd as it may seem, some of the best mistakes are those made by others – especially if you can learn from those mistakes and prevent making them yourself.

Here are 5 dumb things you’ll stop saying to your customers, and in turn avoid making the same mistakes others have made.

Are you saying these things →

3. What Skateboarding Taught Me About Style And Business

You don’t just wake up one day and decide you are going to do this.

I had one obsession as a kid … to master my skateboard. It took me places I never dreamed imaginable, and in turn taught me that practice, style, and raw determination are fundamental to being successful.

Whether you ride a skateboard, a couch, or a desk, if you want to get your work out there, and carve a niche for yourself (as a hobby or full-time business), you’re going to need to get busted up a few times. You have to get up, every time, and keep at it.

Here’s what to bank on →

4. Ice Beards, Frozen Lake Surfing, And What It really Takes To Make It In Photography

Mike Calabro—known as “Mr. Awesome” to his clients—has photographed all over the world for major magazines. Adventure is the existence that he knows, and action stories are the ones he’s best at telling. But Mike has an addiction: surfing.

In the Midwest. In the winter.

Mike was able to sit down in between shoots to talk with Nick Foreman over at XEQUALS headquarters about a photo that has has its own little story to it.

Mr. Awesome talks photography →

5. 10 Simple Steps To Build Confidence As A Photographer

For many photographers, using a camera or arranging an intricate lighting setup is as easy as 1-2-3.

Pricing their work properly, showcasing their achievements, and feeling confident in their skills – that’s where things get tough.

Lack of confidence is a common problem among photographers, especially in the beginning of their careers.

There are many ways to gain confidence as a photographer, and we’re going to share them with you. These tips will help you when you feel despondent about your photography business or if something goes unexpectedly wrong.

You really ARE that good →

Make This Your Own

We built the XEQUALS Platform for ourselves.

Then we started sharing. Not just our ideas, but the ideas of folks like yourself.

How could we make things easier, more targeted – all the while keeping the product and its usefulness fresh?

Ask these same questions of yourself, and use this 2017 Field Guide to help you build, refine, and deliver your own unique vision to the world!