July Photo Challenge Winners

We are so excited today to announce the WINNING photos for our July Photo Challenge.  Our theme last month was “SUMMER VACATION”, and as usual, the images were simply outstanding!!   We want to thank all of our readers who submitted entries for the challenge, and a HUGE  THANK YOU to our fabulous sponsors Blahblahbebe photography; Photo Deal Cafe and Canvas by Blossom for their generous prize donations to the challenge this month.

Here are our winners for the “Summer Vacation” photo challenge.

1st Prize: #54 Lindsay Williams Photography

2nd Prize:  #38 Amanda Lassiter Photography

3rd Prize:  #4 Ginny Haupert Photography

Honorable mention #1:  #Adele Marianne Photography

Honorable mention #2:  #42 Toni Englestead Photography

If you’re one of our top five, proudly display the button “Top 5 Photo” button on your blog and Facebook pages. This button can be found HERE.

Winners, please contact Karlen at karlen@rocktheshotforum.com

Thanks to everyone who entered, and STAY TUNED for our August Photo Challenge…

Photographer Spotlight + Celebrity Mentor: Ling Wang

We are unbelievably excited to welcome the uber talented Ling Wang to the Rock the Shot blog today. Her light filled beautiful work is so inspiring!  Take a moment to learn more about Ling in our Photographer Spotlight.  The best news… Ling will be featured as our “Celebrity Mentor” in the Rock the Shot Forum for the entire month of August so come on over and ask her anything you like. Where did your inspiration for photography begin? Life has a funny way of leading us towards where we need to be. For me, photography was just a hobby. My degree is in music production and vocal production. I purchased my first DSLR (Canon Rebel XSi) sophomore year of college. I figured out that if I took pictures, musicians would invite me to their shows, so I got to listen to a lot of amazing music for free. I had no idea what I was doing, but I had a fantastic time doing it! I didn’t even contemplate for a second that I would be a professional photographer one day. While I was creating my website for my vocal coaching business, I hired a photographer to take pictures for me. I loved my headshot experience so much that a few months later, I called up my photographer, sold my French horn to fund the Canon EOS 7D, and booked a flight to New York City so he could teach me how to shoot manual on my camera. How would you describe your photography style? Sunkissed, Vibrant, and Modern Did you study photography in school or are you self taught? No one is truly self-taught. We all stand on the back of giants. While I didn’t study photography in college, I’ve probably invested at least $10,000 or more on mentorships, workshops, conferences, and business classes over the years. I did all of that without debt either. I just took it one step at a time. It’s all worth it. Education is the single most powerful thing we can invest in. You can learn from mistakes or from mentors. I chose mentors. What brand/model camera do you shoot, and what is your favorite lens? Canon 5D Mark III is my current camera of choice, and my 85mm f/1.2L is hands down my favorite lens. A list of my gear is on my website. Do you have any tips for photographers on how to find the light? Look at the shadows under your subject’s eyes. If it’s too prominent, then it’s either time to change location or angles. I always prefer to backlight when I can or stick to the shades. On occasion, when I want a dramatic photo, I’ll shoot with full sun. What is your favorite subject to photograph. I’m a senior portrait photographer first and foremost. I get asked to do a lot of other things, which I love to do on the side during my non-peak seasons. However, I rarely promote anything other than senior work on my website because I like to stick to predominantly photographing high school seniors. What is a good lesson you have learned this year in photography or in your business? This year, I’ve really learned to tune out what every other senior photographer is doing, and just march to the beat of what feels good and looks good for me. Right now is truly the golden age of Senior Photography. There are so many incredible talents out there, and it’s easy to get roped up in what everyone else’s is doing. I have to stay true to myself, and I think every photographer should strive to have his or her own individual style. If you could encourage a new photographer in one area, what would it be? Don’t be afraid to do something out of the ordinary. You may be on to something. Learn to price for your target market and start doing in-person sales. It’ll completely change your business and your life. What do you love most about being a photographer? I love being able to build relationships and celebrate my clients. I didn’t come into this business because of the art. That’s only part of it. I want to make a difference in people’s lives, and I know that through my photography, I am helping young adults see their worth and value. Especially for the clients that struggle with their body image or have low self-esteem, the work that we do, through great photography, can be healing and life changing. That is what keeps me going as a photographer. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? I would love to have kiddos. Oh the joy! I can’t wait. With my business, I’m not quite sure where I’ll land. I may continue to evolve within the senior portrait industry, or I may expand beyond that. Commercial photography and fashion photography both interest me, and it’s likely that I’ll venture into one or the other sooner or later. About the Artist: Ling Wang is a nationally published senior portrait photographer based in Houston, TX.  Despite only two years in the industry, she’s appeared on TV, worked with brands such as Henri Bendel, and was the cover photographer for Lemonade and Lenses’ October 2013 issue.  She loves to travel, cuddle with her cat Luna, and drink tea with her husband.  When she’s not taking pictures, she volunteers at her church and contributes to charities and non-profit causes. 

Visit Ling at her WEBSITE | FACEBOOK INSTAGRAM pages

And don’t forget, you can ask Ling anything you like in the Rock the Shot Celebrity Mentor Forum for the entire month of August!!

Featured Vendor + Giveaway: Smart Albums by Pixellu

We are so thrilled to welcome Pixellu Smart Albums to the Rock the Shot blog today! Take a moment to learn more about their Smart Albums software.  Also… be sure to enter the GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a copy of Smart Albums {$299 value} – how SWEET is that?!

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” - Leonardo da Vinci

Founded by photographers who have a deep appreciation for beauty and simplicity, Pixellu creates industry leading software for photographers. Our zeal for excellence translates to tools that are intuitive, reliable and easy to use.

World renowned photographers choose Pixellu’s SmartAlbums software to create their signature albums. Download SmartAlbums today for free to begin enjoying the album design process, increase your profits, and give yourself more freedom to enjoy life.


“Pixellu SmartAlbums does to album design what digital did to photography. A total revolution, there is nothing like it. I’ve tried many solutions in the last 10 years and SmartAlbums blows everything out of the water” -Sergio Photographer – Named Top 10 Wedding Photographers in the World by American Photo Magazine 2012

“Pixellu nailed it; their SmartAlbums software combines powerful functionality with a sleek, user friendly interface. An incredible achievement! Designing albums has never – ever – been this fast and efficient.” - Ross Harvey – Best Wedding Photographer in England – 2013 AND 2014 Wedding Industry Award


Visit SmartAlbums at their WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER pages today

Enter the Giveaway using the Rafflecopter app below for a chance to win a free copy of SmartAlbums, valued at $299:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hurry! Giveaway ends Tuesday, August 5th. Winner will be announced on Saturday, August 9th, 2014.

LEGAL STUFF: This promotion is in NO WAY sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You will NOT be notified publicly via Facebook if you are a winner. You MUST be 18 to participate. By entering this giveaway, you are providing information to Rock the Shot and NOT to Facebook. Prizes do not have cash value. There will be no returns/exchanges on any of the items

Congratulations to Dawn Shaw Sabraw on winning a free copy of SmartAlbums, valued at $299!  Dawnplease email me at karlen@rocktheshotforum.com in the next 48 hours to claim your prize. Thank you all for participating and have a wonderful weekend!


How to Install Actions in Photoshop CS and CC

by guest contributor Amanda Padgett

Note: I used Photoshop CC for this tutorial, but the steps are exactly the same for Photoshop CS 3 – 6 (and possibly before but I am not familiar with earlier versions).

The good news is that installing actions in Photoshop CS is very, very simple. The first step to loading the actions is to locate the Action Panel. If you cannot find it, go to Window in the top menu bar, then down to Actions and your action panel will pop out.

If your panel icons are reduced, meaning the names are not showing, the icon for the Action panel is the “play” button, a triangle on its side.

Once the Action panel is open, go to the top, right-hand corner and click on the small icon of a few lines and upside-down triangle. When the menu drops down, click on Load Actions option. Navigate to where your actions are saved and install the .atn file.

If something happens and you suddenly cannot see your Actions panel, do not worry. Just go back up to Window, then down to Actions. Some how you closed the panel and while it was not showing, it was not deleted, just closed.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please, please, please back up your actions should your computer crash, get damaged or stolen. This is very easily done using a thumb/flash drive or a cloud service likeDropbox.

Below is a three minute video showing the steps to install actions in Photoshop CC.

Hello!  I’m Amanda, a quirky, introverted Mom of four, who is passionate about helping others learn their cameras and editing software. I also currently homeschool my four kids, ages 13 to 6, all whom run away when they see me carrying my camera.

Visit me at my WEBSITE and FACEBOOK page!

Photographer Spotlight: Diana Elizabeth

We are excited to welcome the fantastic Diana Elizabeth to the Rock the Shot Blog today! Take a moment to learn more about Diana, and visit her website. Thank you so much Diana for taking the time to share your work with us today!

Where did your inspiration for photography begin?
I had a personal blog and yearned to take better photos to show I saw the world to make my posts more personalized. I bought a Canon Rebel and quickly became addicted, took workshops to learn and a passion began. Making it an actual profession soon followed a year later, and a year after that I left my marketing job and went full-time with photography and online instructing.

How would you describe your photography style?
Finding my style was a challenge as I didn’t gravitate towards over processed images. I shoot fairly clean, editorial like, but it all depends on the client as I’ve been told my images can also be romantic and sweet. My goal is to evoke feelings of happiness through my images.

Did you study photography in school or are you self taught?
I received a B.A. in journalism but took a photo journalism class. I believe my background in graphic design helped with understanding light and the rule of thirds fairly quicker than if I hadn’t had an artistic eye already. My self-taught photography schooling consisted of attending several WPPI conventions, private mentorships, flying around the country to attend a handful of styled workshops to work along side some industry professionals.

Do you shoot Canon or Nikon, and what is your favorite lens?
I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III. My favorite lens is the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX. It creates the loveliest portraits with a compressed background. I also like that I don’t have to stand so close to my clients which allows them to feel more relaxed.

Do you have any tips for photographers on how to find the light?
While backlighting is a quick go-to, I highly suggest not being afraid of having the light come from different directions, shadows on faces for artistic purposes can be so dramatic if done correctly or for a specific purpose like editorial. To achieve an airy look, backlighting still remains faithful to giving that sweet look.

What is the most challenging thing about photographing editorial/couples?
A challenge with shooting editorial is sometimes an art director has a specific vision of what he or she wants. Already knowing that can hinder my creativity, but it’s still my job to deliver what my client (the magazine) wants. It’s a fine balance of shooting for the client, but also shooting for myself and seeing what is selected for final publication.

What is a good lesson you have learned this year in photography or in your business?
This year I have learned that work is work, and a job that pays is a great job and not every shoot has to be portfolio building. This year I have done lots of corporate work which doesn’t sound exciting as some jobs, but I truly enjoy because of the clients I work with and how I structure my corporate jobs. I have come to acknowledge that a paycheck is more important than a bragging right or byline and to be a working photographer is a complete blessing in a competitive industry.

If you could encourage a new photographer in one area, what would it be?
Continue your education in photography, you will never know it all and you should continually learn your craft. If you have questions, seek a photographer you admire and pay for mentorship. As you scroll through other’s photography blogs and magazines guard your mind and heart as sometimes too much can also be discouraging and create a sense of inadequacy – perhaps even creating a burnout. Just remember – there can be a room full of artists with the same equipment – a blank canvas and a paintbrush with paint and look at the same model. At the end of class, everyone will have a different perspective. Embrace your unique perspective and forget about what everyone else is doing.

What do you love most about being a photographer?
I enjoy that every assignment is unlike the last, even if it’s shooting a model or a wedding – it involves a different crew and personalities and setting. The concept of being able to photograph a person or landscape is a unique way to share the world around us with others.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
It changes on a weekly basis to be honest. This week, I hope my photography takes me to amazing places to capture other parts of the world as I have become addicted to international traveling. I definitely hope to continue using my photography and writing experience on my blog to inspire and encourage others to pursue their dreams and stay true to who they are.

About the Artist: Diana Elizabeth is a photographer and instructor based in Phoenix, Ariz.  Formerly focused on weddings, she now primarily photographs editorial, portraits, models, and corporate headshots.  She shares her work, travels, and personal stories daily on her blog.

Visit Diana at her WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER PINTEREST pages today!

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