Book Review: Kevin Kubota’s Lighting Notebook

101 lighting set-ups described in detail, for you to recreate

Kevin Kubota Lighting Notebook book cover image Wiley ( recently published Kevin Kubota’s Lighting Notebook; 101 Lighting Styles and Setups for Digital Photographers, ISBN: 978-1-118-03510-8, $34.99. The photographer will also be releasing an accompanying iPhone/iPad App. for a more immersive educational experience.

The book features over a hundred lighting setups, complete with lighting diagrams and explanations. In addition, the author notes how costly each lighting set-up is in comparison to the others, how many assistants are needed, and depending upon whether Speedlights or studio strobes were used, how many lights in total are needed to reproduce the image.

Lighting diagrams are essential in a book that teaches lighting—because unless you’re learning hands-on, the easiest way to understand how the lighting set-ups actually work in the real world is to compare the diagram and photograph. Wide views of the entire scene, with the photographer in the shot are also included for the images; as are lists of exact tools used and exposure information.

The book features the obligatory section explaining the differences in various lighting equipment, from Speedlights to Monolights, packs and heads, scrims, reflectors and diffusers. And, Kubota includes a section on lighting basics, ratios and rules, which is beneficial to a digital photographer beginning to learn how to light their subjects artificially. Lastly, the author includes an extensive list of manufacturers of every kind of lighting equipment and modifier as a resource.

There’s a great variety of images included in the book, from studio to location, single subjects to families and kids, seniors and maternity imagery—with formal and candid, free flowing poses. Many of the images feature posing and lighting styles that are presently trendy, which is an added benefit to the photographer reading this book, as you’re handed specific directions how to recreate these great shots on your own. I also like the diversity—too many books feature images that are so similar, that Kubota’s large collection of lighting techniques is refreshing to see.

One of the added features of the book, is that because Kubota also has a line of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom actions, he also finished practically every image using his actions, while explaining what steps were taken, complete with screenshots.

On one hand, I like the finished look that Kubota’s actions offer images—I use them on many of my own images—but as a caveat, I’m sure the hundred plus examples will increase the interest in Kubota’s line of actions as well.

Every Photograph Needs Light

Kubota starts out by explaining why lighting is so important in photography, and why knowing how to control light in your photographs is so crucial. This is a sentiment that seems to be lost among many photographers who have only shot with digital cameras and can check exposures on the LCD, (making corrections as needed)—as opposed to photographers who shot film and had only one chance to get the lighting of an image right. [read: during the shoot!]

“Good lighting is not a trend in photography, it is the backbone,” the author says in the first chapter. Understanding how to light your subject well, in a flattering manner or to achieve a certain mood is crucial to any photographer’s repertoire or style.

If you’re looking for a great field guide, one that you can flip through for inspiration and that includes step-by-step guidance on a wide range of lighting set-ups, Kevin Kubota’s Lighting Notebook will definitely provide plenty of fodder for your photography.

Diane Berkenfeld


“The Art of Whale Photography” DVD Reviewed

By Diane Berkenfeld

the art of whale photography dvd cover artJim Tierney, the CEO of software maker, Digital Anarchy, happens to also be an adventure photographer who loves photographing whales. Tierney also lives in Hawaii, which, conveniently enough is where the Pacific Humpback whales migrate, to mate and give birth. He launched the website, to provide whale enthusiasts with information about the 12,000 Humpbacks that make the trip from Alaska to Hawaii each year. According to Tierney, about 13 million people go on whale watching tours annually. And it’s not just the Humpbacks that are fun to watch, but other types of whales too. One of the first products available from the website is the 2 DVD set, “The Art of Whale Photography.”

According to Tierney, who launched the website last month, “We’ll be adding additional training content, but also we plan on adding a lot more information and resources for folks interested in whales, whether they’re watching them or photographing them.” He added: “We also really want to promote what it’s like to see them on a small boat. I think many people think of whale watching as being on a large boat with the whales way off in the distance. In many places, like Maui, HI and Baja, CA, you can go out in small boats on calm water and see the whales up close. Close as in a few feet away close! It’s really an amazing experience.”

Tierney also noted that content related to issues involving whales will also be put on the website in the future.

“The Art of Whale Photography,” was created to provide aspiring and experienced photographers with tips and tricks on taking action photos of Humpback Whales, together with ways to get the most out of their DSLR cameras. Tierney moderates the video, interviewing Michael Sweet, considered to be Maui’s most experienced whale photographer, and marine naturalist and whale expert, Melissa Meeker. “Anyone who has ever tried photographing the fast moving Humpbacks or other whales likely has ended up with many shots of razor sharp water and blurry gray whale shapes,” says Tierney. The videos and website were created to help folks limit the number of bad shots they get, while increasing the chances of getting great photographs.

Michael Sweet photo of humpback whales

Pictured in this photo, is one of the 12,000 majestic Humpback Whales that migrate from Alaska to warmer waters every winter. This year nearly six million Americans will venture out on whale watching tours. Photo © Michael Sweet.

I checked out “The Art of Whale Photography” and have to say it has a lot of great information. I’ve been a photographer for over 20 years now, photographing on the water and land, but when it comes to Humpback Whales—which I have photographed in the past—there was definitely plenty to learn. Along with information specific to photographing the Humpbacks in their natural environment, Tierney and Sweet touch upon a number of general photographic tips that can make the difference between getting great photographs or being left with little in the way of a photographic record of your trip. Since so many people are now venturing out on these smaller whale-watching tour boats, such things as what gear to bring, the way you hold your camera, and which metering and focusing settings you choose can make a big difference.

While Sweet talks about capturing images of the Humpbacks from a photographer’s point of view, Meeker adds to the video by explaining an awful lot about the habits and actions of the whales that you might see when on the water. Knowing what you’re watching—she points out—will make it easier for you to anticipate where to point your camera. Understanding some of the graceful behaviors you might see will also make your excursion more enjoyable. And as Tierney points out, while he loves spending as much time as possible photographing the Humpbacks, every once in a while you ought to put the camera down and just enjoy the sights and sounds of being so close to these wondrous creatures. Using a toy model of a Humpback and easy to understand language, Meeker does a great job of explaining the Humpback’s anatomy, some of the activities that occur among the whales when they’re looking for a mate, as well as how the moms care for their young. This really is important to know, since the Humpbacks migrate from food-rich waters off Alaska, down to Maui, to mate and have their calves.

Overall, I felt the video was a great educational tool, both for the photographic tips as well as the great info. on the whales themselves. I think it was a little longer than it needed to be, but that’s mainly because after each section, the information was recapped—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you’re going on a whale watching excursion, one using small boats—especially if its to view Humpbacks, “The Art of Whale Photography” is a great tool to use in preparing for your trip.

Along with the DVD set, the website also offers an iPhone app. and “The Humpback Whale Guide.” Other products are expected to follow. For more information, and to see Jim Tierney’s whale photography, go to To see more of Michael Sweet’s photography, go to his website at

Behind the Scenes on the Production of the Video

With DSLRs now capable of shooting video, we bet you’re wondering what camera/camcorder/video camera was used to shoot the video. Well, they used Canon EOS 5D Mark II and 7D DSLRs. I asked Tierney how the cameras worked out. Due to limitations of the camera’s autofocus, the on-water footage didn’t come out as well as expected. He explained that the DSLRs “worked beautifully for shooting the [human] talent. When you can lock the camera down, set the focus and depth-of-field, and let the camera roll… it produces exceptional video.” He added that the limitation of 12 minutes/4 Gigs of video shooting was frustrating to have to deal with, when the interviews were going great, but overall he recommends using the DSLRs for video.

For shooting video footage of the Humpbacks though, Tierney said professional video equipment or even dedicated consumer camcorders would have worked out better, because of their autofocus capabilities, image stabilization designed for a moving image, and aliasing/rolling shutter issues that the current crop of DSLRs have with fast moving subjects. “True video cameras have filters and components to minimize or eliminate these problems,” Tierney explained. He stressed that more controlled situations wouldn’t cause such issues, and DSLRs would be ideal for capturing such video.

That’s the main reason that there was little video footage of the Humpbacks in the DVD. I personally would have loved to see more video footage, even some more still photography—and will look forward to future instructional videos.


Book Review: UNMarketing: Stop Marketing, Start Engaging

Scott Stratten's Unmarketing book cover for review by picture-soup.comIf you want to get out of the “push and pray” rut and start the more responsive “pull and stay” approach to reaching and influencing your customers—then Scott Stratten’s UNMarketing: Stop Marketing, Start Engaging, published by Wiley (; ISBN 978-0-470-61787-8) is the book you need to read. It’s a new view of [un]marketing—in the age of social networking, all access media outlets and building relationships with those consumers who are the voices of their peer groups.

In addition to being chock full of helpful tips and tricks that you can implement right away, the author has a writing style that’s just plain fun to read. The book jacket was designed to look like Kraft paper; the bar code on the back of the book jacket looks like it was taped into place. UNMarketing is well-written, the chapters are short, easy to read, and understand, and one of the best parts of the book… is the footnotes. Yes, the footnotes. They’re funny, nonsensical, and most are there only to break up the monotony of the pages—only UNMarketing is an enjoyable read, it isn’t stuffy or long-winded. And, its pages are filled with proven [un]marketing techniques—ideas sure to make a difference in your business, no matter what profession you’re in.

Things are different in today’s digital world. Consumers are using new avenues to get their information, and it’s important to engage your customers where they are. Stratten offers clear-cut tips for utilizing social media, viral marketing and plain-old good conversation to build relationships that translate into results. They just work! So stop going about marketing your business like you’ve been doing before and expecting a new outcome.

This book review is relatively short and sweet, an homage to UNMarketing. Why use a dozen words to describe something that only needs a few.UNMarketing: Stop Marketing, Start Engaging is a good book. Pick up a copy today. It’s only $24.95, and is well worth it.

For more information about the author, go to

— Diane Berkenfeld


Book Review: Lensbaby: Bending Your Perspective

Lensbaby book cover for book reviewCorey Hilz has written the definitive volume on Lensbabies, those selective focus lenses that often elicit curious wonder when seen for the first time—and have been known to reenergize their owners’ passion for photography. Lensbaby, Bending Your Perspective, published by Focal Press, an Imprint of Elsevier, ISBN: 978-0-240-81402-5, not only documents the swift growth of the line of lenses created by pro photographer Craig Strong—from the Original Lensbaby, to Lensbaby 2.0, Lensbaby 3G and Lensbaby Composer, Muse and Control Freak—but explains how each is used, with tips and techniques as well as a plethora of photography examples. In addition, the author also discusses use of the variety of accessories for the Lensbaby line. And, unlike a magazine article, which may explain how to use only one particular model, Hilz includes helpful information for each different Lensbaby. And, while the website offers plenty of helpful tutorials and image galleries to view, I still love to read a book I can hold in my hand, (which is an added plus in this digital age).

Plenty of images are sprinkled throughout the book, from Hilz, a select group of Lensbaby gurus and photographers from the global Lensbaby community who submitted photos for possible inclusion in the book. Lensbaby incorporates both an instructional area and portfolios of work shot with various Lensbabies. And, one of the great things that Hilz has done, is mention which Lensbaby model and optic was used for each photograph, a great help for readers who might want to replicate an image they see in the book. Also nice to see is that the photographers included all work in different genres, so there’s a good variety of images, from weddings, portrait, fine-art, nature and commercial to view within the pages of the book.

For a photographer who has never used a Lensbaby, I think this book is an absolute must. It will give you the tips and tricks that are normally learned through trial and error—allowing you to quickly ramp up to mastering the nuances that come with working with Lensbaby lenses.

For someone like myself, who has used almost every Lensbaby that’s been introduced, the book offers inspiration. I also picked up a few new tricks from the pages of Lensbaby, Bending Your Perpective.

From subtle to strong effects, Hilz has included a little bit of everything there is to know about Lensbabies. Lensbaby, Bending Your Perspective is a great reference, one that I know I’ll turn to again and again. It’s definitely worth the $29.95 price tag.

For more information about the book, go to

For more information about the author, go to

For more information about Lensbabies, go to

— Diane Berkenfeld


Meetup: Helping Folks Self-Organize to Change their Worlds

By Diane Berkenfeld

meetup logo for’s mission is to “revitalize local community and help people around the world self-organize.” Meetup believes that people can change their personal world, or the whole world, by organizing themselves into groups that are powerful enough to make a difference.

Currently more than 7 million people are Meetup members. There are over 250,000 monthly meetups by 79,000 local groups in 45,000 cities, covering 46,000 topics. There were over 800 photography Meetups last I checked.

The Meetup platform provides organizers with tools needed to build and sustain special interest communities, such as: backend administration for email list creation and management, event creation and promotion tools, PayPal payment, tracking how active a person in your group has been (how many times they RSVP), or who attends what event, calendaring events, showing and sharing photos produced when working together as a group, as well as SEO and analytics.

When a member joins, Meetup asks that person to list interests. When a new group starts, the Meetup system will send an email to general members in the immediate geographical area. Say you signed up and listed photography as one of your interests. You’ll receive an email that says: “Hey, you said you like photography. Well here’s a new photography group you should check out.” This can help a new group get off the ground, because you’ve now got ready-made participants with an interest in– and who have been alerted about– a new group.

Peer Support

Jason Etzel, a photographer who also works in the photo industry in a sales/marketing capacity, has attended Meetups in the past. “The concept of the Meetup is by no means new,” he explains. “The Meetup does everything that photographic groups have done for years, but the website is where technology truly enhances what was [done in the past]. Photographers used to meet to share ideas, their work, and of course network.”

“With the website these events can happen at any moment of the day and your work will be seen by more than a room full of people,” Jason says. “In many ways Meetup has given photographers the thing they crave and dread the most…instant praise or criticism. We all need another set of eyes and our peers to bounce ideas off of,” he adds.

Bay Area Renegades

Martha Blanchfield, ( photographer and PR professional uses Meetup to bring San Fransisco photography professionals together. “I set-up a Renegade Photo Shoots Bay Area ( in September 2009. At the time, the Bay Area had at least 20 photography groups. Now it tracks more than 45. It’s crowded here, but interest is strong. Renegade Photo Shoot events occur about twice a month and 90% of them have an education backbone to them—an educational workshop, a panel presentation, a software tips and tricks session, etc.,” she says.

Martha adds: “The Meetup system holds the group together on the Web, but it’s up to the organizer to deliver a quality event or meet-up. As groups mature, there is a reputation to manage; word gets out about great programs, speakers or organizers. Going in, Renegade already had a ‘flavor’ to uphold. Within this online community of Meetups, Renegade has been able to carve out a strong identity that really sets us apart from other photography Meetups. It’s great when a new person joins and comments, ‘I’ve heard about your group’ or ‘I love what you are doing and I want to be a Renegade!’”

At Renegade Meetups, pro shooters are brought in to share with the group what they do. It allows members to try new things in a familiar framework with their peers. Martha says it is imperative that Meetup attendees have take-away education points, a chance to work aside a lead instructor, to mix and learn from peers, and to walk away with a variety of photos the member would not otherwise have had the chance to create. “But the biggest kicker for our group is to be sure there is a ‘Renegade’ component in every program,” she adds.

One example is “Arm Candy on the Tarmac”—a campy high style strobe lighting workshop held in a hangar and tarmac. In this instance, not only was the group granted permission to shoot at a place where few can get access (in a hangar and working airfield), but we also had a world speed record-breaking plane in the background. After a few set-ups, the pilot actually offered to let the model hop inside. Then he volunteered to do a flyover—the Renegade gang standing just off the runway photographing and nabbing video as he fly a few feet over the model’s head.

Long Island Photographers

Roni M. Chastain, RN, FACCE, LCCE ( and joined in 2003. When she found out that Adrienne Brand had started the Long Island Photography Meetup ( group in October 2005, Roni joined. In the beginning there were only five members, but the group has since grown to over 300 members. Roni became the assistant organizer in 2007, and this past June, she became the organizer of the group.

Roni says the group was even written up in Newsday as the most active group on Long Island.

“We meet about two to four times a month,” says Roni. Warm months take the group on shoots to various locations, and in the colder months, workshops are given by members with photographic knowledge to share. “We often go to a location to shoot, then go to lunch, then we all post our photos on our site,” Roni explains.

“We have done ‘photograph the photographer’, Photoshop/Lightroom workshops, as well as photographing air shows, lighting workshops, a private sunset tour of the Fire Island Lighthouse, a vertical tour of St. John the Divine, Snug Harbor in Staten Island, the Coney Island mermaid parade, and many more locations,” says Roni.

In addition to the photographic shoots, the Long Island Photography Meetup also gets together for social gatherings, including an annual dinner party to celebrate the founding of the group on the anniversary of its launch.

“We are currently working on our third annual photography exhibit. It will be held at Molloy College, with an opening reception on September 16. Ellery Samuels, one of our members, has organized the entire exhibit,” Roni explains.

Personal Enjoyment

“I started my Meetup to develop more connections with photographers in my own backyard. Aside from the group being a super circle of friends, we can tap one another when faced with camera and photography challenges,” Martha says.

“I have had great experience with doing the Meetups,” says Roni. “I have met some wonderful friends through this group, and personally, my photography skills have soared since joining the group. “I always find it amazing that we might have 15-25 members photographing the same area…yet we see such different things as photographers. I just love this group of passionate photographers.”

Go to to learn more and to find Meetup groups in your area.


Rehabilitation Through Photography in Need of Cameras

Final Month of Organization’s Summer Camera Drive

Rehabilitation Through Photography (RTP) is in the “final month” of their 2010 Summer Camera Drive; needing 75 more cameras donated to the organization by September 1, to be able to equip current RTP programs.

Rehabilitation Through Photography has been providing photography instruction and programs to the physically and emotionally handicapped, the elderly, at-risk youth, the economically disadvantaged, the homeless, and visually impaired for almost 70 years. RTP partners with public and private organizations throughout the NY metropolitan area to create these programs, procure equipment and supplies, and train instructors. RTP’s programs have taught photography to thousands of students over the years. Both film photography and darkroom printing, as well as digital cameras and imaging software have been taught.

RTP started and helps run 25 programs using photography as a unique form of therapy with 55 classes a week, 695 participants, ages 8 to 80 with a total of 30,000 hours of instruction each year. Some of the organizations supported by RTP include: Arts & Media Preparatory Academy, Children’s Village, Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, Land Gallery, Lower East Side Girls Club, Menorah Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing, Phyllis L. Susser School for Exceptional Children, among others.

From the analog cameras and darkrooms of the past to digital cameras and imaging software used today, RTP’s programs have taught many thousands of students in need, giving them the opportunity to create inspiring works of beauty. This photography instruction engages individuals with the wider world beyond their limitations and empowers them to see and act in creative and life-affirming ways. The acts of capturing the beauty and vitality of the world with a camera and of then enhancing the resulting images, rekindle individuals’ interest in and excitement about life.

RTP History

Rehabilitation Through Photography was founded as Volunteer Service Photographers in 1941 by NY-based photographer and teacher, Josephine Herrick. She took pictures of servicemen before they shipped out to war and she mailed a print and a personal note to their families. Later, as the wounded returned home for long hospital stays, Herrick was invited into service hospitals by rehabilitation pioneer Dr. Howard Rusk to teach photography as a unique form of therapy.

Volunteer Service Photographers (VSP) programs and volunteers used portable darkrooms that were designed to enable veterans to develop and print photographs from their wheelchairs and beds. Photography sped the healing process, easing the pain of mind and body.

In 1982, Volunteer Service Photographers was renamed Rehabilitation Through Photography (RTP).

Summer Camera Drive

Rehabilitation Through Photography’s ‘Regenerate & Reinvigorate’ program is accepting donations of new and used cameras, both film and digital. RTP asks that donated cameras be in working condition. The organization can use all types of cameras, from film and digital Point & Shoot models to SLRs and DSLRs.

“The Summer Camera Drive is an integral part of our program,” stated Jane Becker, Executive Director, RTP. “The equipment we receive in the next 30 days will make a world of difference in the lives of our program participants. Some participants have used photography not only to enrich their lives, but also as a stepping stone to further education or to a career in photography. Your donation is urgently needed and, we gladly accept cash donations as well,” she added.

Cameras can be shipped directly to: RTP, 3 East 33rd Street, Suite 101, New York, NY 10016. Include any accessories that came with the camera(s) such as cables, battery chargers, straps, and instruction booklets. Donations of media cards, lenses, camera bags, tripods, batteries and film are also welcome.

Rehabilitation Through Photography is a registered 501c3 charitable organization, so all donations are tax deductible. For more information, go to the website

— Diane Berkenfeld


Book Review: Photoshop CS5 for Nature Photographers

A Workshop in a Book

photoshop cs5 for nature photographers book cover for articlePhotographers Ellen Anon and her son Josh have written Photoshop CS5 for Nature Photographers, A Workshop in a Book, ISBN: 978-0-470-60734-3, published by Sybex, an imprint of Wiley The book is written for digital nature photographers who use Photoshop CS5, however the authors also include sidebars throughout the book for users of Photoshop Elements. In certain areas, a Photoshop only icon lets readers know Photoshop, not Elements must be used for a specific task. There are also Try it! sections that encourage readers to put the book down and practice the techniques you’re learning.

In addition to the book, there is a companion website with sample images and ancillary instruction that readers can access, to practice along with what the authors discuss.

One of the first things mentioned by the authors is to use good photographic techniques, because you should capture optimum images to work on, not just “fix it in Photoshop” later. This is the most important idea that every photographer should understand about their work and the use of Photoshop in post-production.

As with a volume on Photoshop tips or techniques, you’d expect sections devoted to such topics as Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw, which are included. Images and screengrabs are included throughout the entire volume, to illustrate the text.

Although the book is written for nature photographers, many of the concepts are basic to digital photography and Photoshop. However, the authors discuss specifics to the niche of nature photography because—if you’re a nature photographer it would be much easier to understand a concept by viewing images of a beautiful landscape not a portrait of a bride and groom or a commercial product shot. It’s the same for any other niche in photography—it’s easier to understand what you’re trying to learn when viewing imagery that matches what you want to create.

Specifically, techniques for nature photographers include blending using gradient masks, creating a virtual split Neutral Density filter, layers adjustments, as well as a chapter each on exposure adjustments, color adjustments, composites and creative effects. The chapter on output discusses general printing techniques including sharpening for output and media choices, as well as options that nature or fine-art photographers might be more apt to create, including adding borders, and how-to create business and greeting card templates.

The section on composites included techniques using stitching, HDR and compositing items from multiple images into one image. Other helpful topics include using plug-ins where applicable, selective adjustments, and painting globally and selectively for fine-art images. One of the more unique techniques is using Photoshop’s Liquify feature to create a one-of-a-kind look—reminiscent to what photographers used to do by altering Polaroid SX-70 prints.

Articles by guest contributors are sprinkled throughout the book, and bring a more rounded view to the reader. Photoshop CS5 for Nature Photographers is full of gems of information—from enhancements to images that give them everything from a natural look to surreal, and everything in between.

For more about the authors, visit their websites: and

— Diane Berkenfeld


FREE Live Telesummit for Photogs Looking to Make Money Now!

Many photographers across the country are struggling to keep their businesses afloat in this economy. But, there is something you can do about it. Attend a FREE Live Telesummit that will be held on August 2, 2010, from 12-1 CST. The event is being hosted by three well-known photographers: Sarah Petty, Lori Nordstrom and Rod Evans, and is sponsored by WHCC.

You’ll learn more about these money making ideas that can be put into place quickly, to replace lost revenue: How to partner with other local businesses to gift their best clients; create a trunk show event with a children’s clothing retailer; and partner with a charity to raise funds for them while marketing to their list.

This JoyLIVE telesummit is F-R-E-E. All you have to do is register and show up at your computer. Petty, Nordstrom and Evans will also also be Tweeting during the event with answers to your questions.

For those photographers who are interested, you can purchase marketing templates (.PSD files) that you can use in marketing these three money making ideas, for only $39. (A $75 value.) Order by August 1 and three holiday card templates will be thrown in as a bonus!

To implement the money-making ideas you'll learn at this FREE telesummit, you can purchase these three sets of templates for only $39.

For more information and to register for this FREE event, go to

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Thank you to everyone who signed up for’s

newsletter to be entered in the drawing for the templates, valued at $75

from The Joy of Marketing and

The winner was Rocco Chilelli of Camelot Studios. Congrats Rocco!

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The Ultimate Playlist About Photography

By Diane Berkenfeld

Photography and music go together like peanut butter and jelly. Well, maybe not like PB&J, but there are a lot of songs out there about photography, which in a way is a blending of art forms. Google “songs about photography” and the results will include many compilation lists that have been put together through the years. I’ve been thinking about compiling a list of my favorite photography focused songs (yes that pun was intended) for years and finally got to working on it, only to find there are many, many more songs that I had been aware of. Seeing how an editor’s job is doing the grunt-work for your readers, I’ve compiled what I think is the ultimate list of songs about photography, complete with links to Wikipedia pages about the songs or musicians/albums and interesting tidbits from those Wikipedia pages.

In my research, I found that some lists included songs that have the word “picture” in the title even if the song doesn’t talk about a photographic picture. These didn’t make my cut. I’ve included only songs with lyrics that really focus on photographs, cameras or the like.

The list includes almost every genre of music, from Paul Simon’s Kodachrome (the quintessential photo-related song) to Outkast’s Hey Ya! with the line “Shake it like a Polaroid Picture”.

Interestingly, eight different songs on the list are titled “Photograph”.

The songs are in no particular order.

Song: Kodachrome

Album: There Goes Rymin’ Simon

Musician: Paul Simon


Wikipedia Tidbit: Paul Simon didn’t start out to write Kodachrome about the iconic film, but the lyrics he was working on weren’t as catchy as Kodachrome turned out to be.

Song: Girls on Film

Album: Duran Duran

Musician: Duran Duran


Wikipedia Tidbits: According to the above mentioned Wikipedia page, a Canon camera’s motor drive was used to create the effects for the beginning of the song. Also, the uncensored full-length music video of the song was made before MTV launched in the U.S.

Song: Hey Ya!

Album: Speakerboxxx

Musician: OutKast


Wikipedia Tidbit: The lyrics “Shake it like a Polaroid picture” and the song’s success helped to revitalize the Polaroid Corporation.

Song: A Photograph of You

Album: A Broken Frame

Musician: Depeche Mode


Song: Photographic

Album: Speak And Spell

Musician: Depeche Mode


Wikipedia Tidbit: The song was originally recorded on the band’s debut album.

Song: Freeze-Frame

Album: Freeze-Frame

Musician: J. Giles Band


Wikipedia Tidbit: Freeze-Frame has been released as a download for Guitar Hero.

Song: Centerfold

Album: Freeze-Frame

Musician: J. Giles Band


Wikipedia Tidbit: The song has been covered by Euro-Pop, Indie-Rock, Ska-Punk, and Fun-Metal bands.

Song: Kamera

Album: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Musician: Wilco


Wikipedia Tidbit: After being recorded, Wilco’s label cut them loose, and gave them the album gratis. They began streaming it on their website, and were picked up by another label. (Incidentally, both labels were owned by the same conglomerate.) Yankee Hotel Foxtrot turned out to be Wilco’s most successful album.

Song: Picture Book

Album: The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society

Musician: The Kinks


Wikipedia Tidbit: The Kinks are considered a British Invasion Band.

Song: People Take Pictures of Each Other

Album: The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society

Musician: The Kinks


Wikipedia Tidbit: The album The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society is #255 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time List.

Song: Photograph

Album: All The Right Reasons

Musician: Nickelback


Wikipedia Tidbit: In 2009, The Word magazine readers voted Nickelback “Worst Band In The World”.

Song: Photograph

Album: Pyromania

Musician: Def Leppard


Wikipedia Tidbit: The song was written as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe.

Song: Photograph

Album: Ringo

Musician: Ringo Starr


Wikipedia Tidbit: The song was written by Ringo Starr and George Harrison

Song: The Camera Eye

Album: Moving Pictures

Musician: Rush


Wikipedia Tidbit: Moving Pictures is one of two Rush albums listed in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Song: Camera

Album: Reckoning

Musician: R.E.M.


Wikipedia Tidbit: Reckoning took somewhere from 11 to 25 days to record in the studio.

Song: Photograph

Album: Born to Choose

Musician: REM with Natalie Merchant


Wikipedia Tidbit: Born to Choose is a compilation album, released as a benefit album with proceeds supporting NARAL.

Song: Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You)

Album: Listen

Musician: Flock of Seagulls


Wikipedia Tidbit: The song is performed almost entirely on the black keys of a keyboard.

Song: Pictures of You

Album: Disintegration

Musician: The Cure


Wikipedia Tidbit: There are multiple remixes of this song including the original album version, multiple 12” vinyl single versions, as well as 7” vinyl versions, CD singles and extended remixes of the original album.

Song: 3×5

Album: Room For Squares

Musician: John Mayer


Wikipedia Tidbit: 3×5 is not on the original album, but was added to the Columbia re-release of Room For Squares.

Song: Miniature Secret Camera

Album: Love Hysteria and Pump Up The Volume Soundtrack

Musician: Peter Murphy


Wikipedia Tidbit: Murphy is known as the Godfather of Goth.

Song: All the Negatives Are Destroyed

Album: Telephono

Musician: Spoon


Song: I Turn My Camera On

Album: Gimme Fiction

Musician: Spoon


Wikipedia Tidbit: The song is a popular YouTube dance tune for the Japanese robot Keepon, which has over 2 million hits.

Song: Photograph

Album: Catching Tales

Musician: Jamie Cullum


Wikipedia Tidbit: Cullum likes to beatbox during his concerts.

Song: Picture Of You

Album: The Tennessee Fire

Musician: My Morning Jacket


Wikipedia Tidbit: The band’s moniker comes from the monogram MMJ, once seen on a discarded coat by guitarist Jim James.

Song: F-Stop Blues

Album: Bushfire Fairytales

Musician: Jack Johnson


Wikipedia Tidbit: The son of surfer Jeff Johnson, Jack had a very brief stint as a pro surfer till an accident at Pipeline, on Oahu’s North Shore resulted in 150 stitches and a few knocked out teeth.

Song: Paparazzi

Album: The Fame

Musician: Lady GaGa


Wikipedia Tidbit: There are over two dozen remixes and edits of the song that have been done around the world.

Song: This is Not a Photograph

Album: Signals Calls & Marches

Musician: Mission of Burma


Wikipedia Tidbit: Contemporary music critics point to Mission of Burma’s work as a pivotal turning point in North American Indie music. Some of the many bands that cite the group as inspiration include Nirvana, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Sonic Youth, Pixies, and Moby.

Song: Take A Picture

Album: Title of Record

Musician: Filter


Wikipedia Tidbit: The album is the band’s most popular hit, and a departure from their normal industrial rock sound.

Song: Please Just Take These Photos From My Hand

Album: A Hundred Million Suns

Musician: Snow Patrol


Wikipedia Tidbit: The band founded Polar Music, a publishing company run through Kobalt Music, which signs bands of all genres.

Song: Picture

Album(s): Cocky (Kid Rock)

The Best of Sheryl Crow (Sheryl Crow)

Musician: Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock


Wikipedia Tidbit: Crow plays 12-string guitar, bass and sings vocals. Rock sings Vocals, and plays lead guitar, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, slide guitar, Dobro, banjo, steel guitar, synthesizer, turntables, organ, piano, and bass.

Song: Photograph

Album: Weezer

Musician: Weezer


Wikipedia Tidbit: During live shows in 2005, the band would close out their first set by having Weezer drummer Patrick Wilson take lead vocals and guitar on “Photograph” while lead singer/guitarist Rivers Cuomo played drums.

Song: Photograph

Album: Villains

Musician: The Verve Pipe


Wikipedia Tidbit: Photograph was the first single released by the band.

Song: Panorama

Album: Panorama

Musician: The Cars


Wikipedia Tidbit: The band emerged from the early new wave music scene in the late 1970s.

Song: Camera

Album: After the Storm

Musician: Crosby, Stills, Nash


Wikipedia Tidbit: With Neil Young on board, the group’s second gig was at Woodstock.

Song: Photobooth

Album: The Forbidden Love

Musician: Death Cab for Cutie


Wikipedia Tidbit: In 2001, the band released the LP The Photo Album.

Song: Pictures of Lily

Album: Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy

Musician: The Who


Wikipedia Tidbit: David Bowie has covered this song.

Song: Camera Shy

Album: Naturaliste

Musician: Lucksmiths


Wikipedia Tidbit: Lyrics often feature wordplays or puns.

Song: Pictures of Me

Album: Either/Or

Musician: Elliott Smith


Wikipedia Tidbit: All instruments were played by Smith on this song.

Song: Carry This Picture

Album: A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar

Musician: Dashboard Confessional


Wikipedia Tidbit: The album peaked at #2 on the U.S. Billboard charts.

Song: Distant Camera

Album: Silver and Gold

Musician: Neil Young


Wikipedia Tidbit: The album was accompanied by a live concert film.

Song: Into The Lens

Album: Into The Lens

Musician: Yes


Wikipedia Tidbit: Yes is regarded as one of the archetypal bands and pioneers of the progressive rock genre.

Song: Photographs and Memories

Album: Photographs and Memories

Musician: Jim Croce


Wikipedia Tidbit: Photographs and Memories is a greatest hits album released posthumously.

Song: Fades Like a Photograph (Dead Angel)

Album: The Trouble With Angels

Musician: Filter


Wikipedia Tidbit: Release date: August 17, 2010

If I’ve missed any songs, please use the comment field to add it to the list—and happy listening!

A special treat for your listening pleasure (for scrolling this far)…


Book Review: Pacific Northwest Iron

Nigel Williams pnwi book cover for review articleNigel Williams, M.A. has produced a new book, available through the website The book is a collection of 119 images captured during his journey along the Pacific Northwest Coast of the U.S. and Canada, specifically Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. The book is titled Pacific Northwest Iron, and the images within are those of mechanical artifacts, often rusted and forgotten that have become part of the landscape. Williams’ obsession for not only detail, but discovering these sometimes hidden industrial subjects and creating photographs that transform these rusted, old objects into abstract art is what makes this a unique book.

What I like about this book is that the photographer has captured some great details that I’d bet are usually overlooked by passers-by to the areas along the Pacific Northwest that he traveled through. Among the occasional landscapes are close-up images of the locks and hinges of old iron doors, teeth of a tractor’s scoop half hidden among the dirt so it looks like a zipper, and subjects like iron doors covered in chipped paint, broken window panes, and rust-worn objects that become abstract art, full of color and shadow. Some of the more interesting photos are the ones that capture a manufacturer’s name or other description—that you know was forged decades ago.

Black and White images are mixed with color photographs. The author has also included 21 maps in the book, which show exactly which areas of the Pacific Northwest that the images were captured in. Williams has also included detailed information and anecdotes within the captions.

Non-Traditional Book Publishing

Williams has utilized on-demand publishing, for his fine-art photography, for a number of reasons, including exploring the option of selling only through the web instead of going the traditional publisher/bookstore route. He chose Blurb’s on-demand printing services. Williams explains: “They already have in place the infrastructure for selling your books, with both the sales website, and the ability to control and pay (eventually) your own markup.” Blurb also offers free book design software, and Williams says he’s found them to be cheaper than most other on-demand printers.

He also created his own website for selling his books. “It gives me the freedom to change where I direct people to purchase the books, so that if I decide to use another supplier, or I get a publisher’s contract, I haven’t got to start from scratch with all my marketing efforts; and I can put my personal slant on my advertising and marketing,” he says. The last time Williams checked, there were around 6,000 fine-art photography books listed as available for purchase on Blurb, which might take sales away from his titles. “Also, Blurb’s book-preview-widget makes the use of your own website much more effective, because it means that you can offer viewers the opportunity to look at your book properly without leaving your website—they are only taken away once they have made the decision to purchase,” he adds.

The biggest downside to print-on-demand books is that they are too expensive for most ordinary folks. And, by using Blurb’s software, you’re tied into the site. If you did the layout of your book in InDesign, or Quark Xpress for example, you wouldn’t be tied into a specific printer’s software system. “Despite all this, I still think print-on-demand is a tremendous enabling technology. It gives you the opportunity (if you have the time) to create books for yourself, your colleagues, clients, friends and family—either simply as a record, or as an alternative presentation method of your work. As a way of making money without other investment though, it’s a non-starter,” Williams concludes.

For more information about Pacific Northwest Iron, visit

Photographers, to find out more about Blurb, visit

— Diane Berkenfeld