Arboretum Virtualis | XVI

Black and white tree forest landscape photography

Relaxing on the Beach

A blowdown fastigiate Lombardy poplar still able to bear new green leaves in springtime in spite of most of its root system having been torn out of the ground.

It was Anna Jameson (b. 17 May 1794 – d. 17 March 1860) who posed the question, “How do we know that trees do not feel their downfall? We know nothing about it.”

Although I have respected and benefited from forestry, I’ve never been able to fully put out of my mind that trees may experience some as yet undetectable form of suffering when they are dropped to the earth.

Although Jameson’s words were in fact in protest of industrial deforestation and lament for the great trees that were harvested, I have wondered the same on occasion. Even when trees are brought down through natural causes like this one.

#Illustration Explorer | Part 1

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The Soldier — graphite drawing.

WHAT IS ILLUSTRATION (and difference between it and Fine Art)?

Yes, yes, yes!  For those aware of the long-standing intellectual argument as to the perceived or actual difference between illustrators and fine artists, it’s been covered before! I don’t care. It’s a good place to start with this blog series because there are still many people who aren’t aware of the conflict, and it’s important that they find out.

It’s important because some of them will decide to become collectors of original or quality reproduced fine art, instead of picking up something relatively inexpensive or overpriced at Walmart or Ikea. Some who read this post may be novice or experienced amateur artists seriously considering pursuing art as a part-time or full-time career. Some may be concerned about what on earth is their husband, wife or kid getting into. Some may have no problem making a living as an illustrator but will have difficulty getting much of their work shown and sold in galleries. Some who get to the point of being able to exhibit in galleries and speak with invites may even need to convey to someone else that what they’ve created is an illustration; thereby making it clear that they understand the argument and are not pretentiously passing their work off as something it may not be. Some illustrators are going to come up against a high, thick and hard wall of art snobbery from certain fine artists, collectors, critics, historians, gallery owners, committee representatives and curators. I know that I have. Some may just be curious about this aspect of the art world without delving too deeply into it. These are the reasons why going over this topic again is significant.

Bear in mind that in spite of the argument that I’m about to shed light on, there are illustrators and fine artists who are well-aware of the conflict but really don’t regard illustration and fine art as all that different. That’s because they fully recognize and embrace the many aspects of creating visual art that is equally shared by both illustrators and fine artists. The stupid argument — that’s right I said stupid, is left to those who still insist on taking a side.

Firstly, here’s a quick definition of visual art:

They are art forms that create works which are primarily visual in nature, such as ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, design, crafts, and often modern visual arts (photography, video, and film making) and architecture (more definitions for you in my glossary near the top of the blog).

Getting down to it, illustration is any visual art that is created to enhance, explain, or beautify something. The explanative aspect tends to be my personal favourite when illustration is specifically used as a means to tell a story. Illustration is also frequently created for utility; hence illustration is also a commercial art. Hang on to that fact for the next section.

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Lowlands — created with digital 3D scenery generation software.

Understanding the Difference

It’s not always easy to tell illustration from fine art just by looking. Knowing the difference comes from understanding the motives and means behind creating and potentially obtaining a piece of artwork. Whether or not illustrations are what many refer to as fine art depends on who’s asking. It may even depend on who’s buying. I can tell you that the majority of the established art world — the world in which art is collected for various reasons and the appreciation of art is always highly subjective, largely holds that illustrations are not fine art. Whether you and I like it or not.

At face value I really don’t like this opinion but, in fair consideration, here’s why the majority of art — ahem! — experts, scholars and collectors don’t regard illustrations as fine works of art:

Illustration is commercial art. It’s as simple as that, and it really does make sense when you sweat the details of the matter.

Primarily, a work of fine art is supposed to be created and collected because of its emotive impact.

There’s something going on in an artist’s head; it has to be expressed. As far as visual art goes, it’s not enough to just say, write out or dance out what’s on the mind. It has to be drawn, painted, sculpted, photographed or “Photoshopped”; brought to light in some visually artistic way.

A true art collector sees the creative output of a visual artist, and is moved by the work. The art may evoke a sense of admiration or even disgust. It could be one or more senses of happiness, sadness, loneliness, whatever. Whatever that emotional impact is, it is strong enough to make the collector want to possess the artwork. This sentimental connection between an artist and a collector to a piece of work, is profound and the main reason — if not the only reason, why an artist will sell a piece, and why a collector would invest in a piece. It is because that sentimental connection is the prime — not exclusive, motive for producing and purchasing a piece — even when its price is sky high and the potential for a collector to auction it off later for even more money, is why a piece is one of fine art.

Many still conclude that fine art is art that is created with a high level of skill, and that’s what separates fine art from commercial art. This is a false notion.

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The Limb — a fictional world created with digital 3D scenery generation software.

The prime motive for creating an illustration is to sell it to someone or an enterprise that needs it to enhance, explain, or beautify something — as stated above. The prime motive for acquiring an illustration is so that it can be used to increase financial worth. This doesn’t mean that there’s no sentimentality attached. It also doesn’t mean that the produced work is of substandard quality to that which is considered fine. It also doesn’t mean that commercial art is less popular than fine art. It is about how the importance of monetary gain is placed in relation to sentimentality. If profit precedes sentimentality, then the art is commercial not fine.

It’s fascinating. The distinction actually has a sort of honour about it, doesn’t it?

The twist is that a lot of illustration happens to be created and purchased with sentimentality as the leading motive but this supposedly doesn’t happen enough to warrant illustration to be regularly regarded as fine art.

Just to be clear; I am proudly an illustrator who values fine art, has often illustrated purely in the spirit of a traditional fine artist and has sold such work as commercial and fine art. I fully respect and enjoy both, and I intend to continue doing as much of both as I can for as long as I can. Apart from understanding the arguments, I really could care less about the dissension. I think it’s ludicrous for artists and art lovers to be looking down at each other over this.

Apart from this, there are people who distinguish fine art from commercial art due to an assumption that fine art is strange; reveals unconventional thinking, and the more extreme the better. Another narrow perception, in my humble opinion, which limits creativity when the notion is clearly meant to convey and celebrate unlimited creative freedom.

For example, many people are now reasonably familiar with the work of the American abstract impressionist painter Jackson Pollock. His best known fine art comprises extremely large sheets of canvas, fireboard and other substrates with pigment dripped, splashed and poured all over them although with keen forethought — vision, as to how the overall composition was to end up. Techniques associated with what’s referred to as action painting. Your average person looks at work such as these, hears of the prices these sell for, and typically remarks something along the lines of, “@#?*&%! a four year-old could-a done it!” A completely understandable reaction but the art experts regard Pollock pieces as fine art because they show an eccentrically creative mind. Perhaps even a tortured mind. The prevailing hypothesis, without an official and public diagnosis, is that Pollack suffered from bi-polar disorder which he self-medicated with alcohol until he killed himself.

Really, I think the notion that odd or avant-garde art is fine art is used as a means to identify fine art for intellectual and even utilitarian purposes. After all, how else would you be able to distinguish illustration from fine art in a market that claims to create and collect art primarily for the sentimental appreciation of them?

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A cartoon panel for a recipe book.

So, consider the art of my all-time favourite American illustrator, Ralph McQuarrie. His best-known work are the conceptualizations and matte paintings used to create Star Wars films (other illustrators used to create matte paintings for the Star Wars films of the 70’s and 80’s include Chris Evans, Mike Pangrazio, Frank Ordaz and Harrison Ellenshaw). They are certainly created with vision and emotional pride, and are executed with tremendous skill. These specific works of art; however, never would have been created if McQuarrie was never professionally hired to create them for the production of movies — artistically creative in their own right, that have continued to generate phenomenal financial wealth for decades afterward. Instead, Ralph would have made other phenomenal illustrations. His artwork is commercial. They likely will never be regarded as fine by the majority of the fine art world.

A lot of times, aspects like subject matter plays a part in preventing an illustration from being regarded as fine art. Although they are categorized as contemporary art, sci-fi and fantasy art like those of McQuarrie, Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell (I like to include Olivia de Berardinis in these genres even though she leans far towards pinup, and whose work actually has potential to be collected as fine art) are still not considered fine art by the established art world. This is simply because such visual art is rarely likely to be displayed in highbrow galleries, not recognized and funded by governments as intellectual creations, not a major subject of study and discourse in art schools and aren’t recognized as being highly influential in shaping Western culture (although I do believe the latter is increasingly becoming true).

Timing also has an impact on the acceptance of a visual art as either a commercial art or fine art. Because William Blake existed when he did (b. 28 November 1757 – d. 12 August 1827), his work is regarded and collected as fine art. If he lived in our time, however, many of his paintings and drawings would be regarded as fantasy art and would unlikely be collected and fawned over by fine art connoisseurs. In fact, many of today’s art historians regard Blake not as a fantasy artist but certainly as the greatest inspiration behind fantasy art.

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Inferior Conjunction — digital illustration created with the use of three different software.

Now consider a profound occasion when illustration becomes collected and valued like fine art. If you haven’t already guessed, I’m talking about comic books and graphic novels. I don’t know about you but I love them. Reading them, writing them, illustrating them, the history of them. I’m going to give you just one example out of many, a feel-good story, of how a commercial art can be valued like Blue Chip fine art. Maybe you’ve heard this one before.

Gustave Wenzel was a German immigrant to the US who became a fairly successful entrepreneur.  One of his businesses back in the 1920’s was the collection and sale of comic books.

Fast forward to 2012, America’s northeast coast was hammered by Hurricane Sandy.  The late Gustave’s grandson Brick Wenzel, and his wife Britta lost Salty’s, their Jersey Shore ice cream shop, to the storm.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) priced the loss out to be approximately $800,000US.  Brick and Britta were advised that they’ll have coverage paid by Christmas of that year.  Unfortunately, things didn’t go as hoped because on account of skyrocketing premiums, the Wenzel’s had cancelled their insurance shortly before the storm hit.  The Wenzel’s fell on financially difficult times.

While sorting through stuff that survived, more than 12,000 of Gustave’s old, and apparently well-protected, comic books were discovered after being locked away and forgotten for the past 18 years.  This collection covered all genres; sports, westerns, romance, satire, science fiction, fantasy, detective.  You name it, it was represented.

The books were appraised and auctioned off through Vincent Zurzola, president of Comic Connect.  A return of $300,000 was enough to get the Wenzel’s rebuilding a new Salty’s in Lavalette, NJ.  People do collect these things just as they would of fine art.

The one true concern that comes from all of this is that of bias. There is no logical reason to view these terms of fine art and commercial art as triggers to turn noses up against one visual art or the other, even though that’s the reality that is unlikely to change anytime soon. One should not be considered highbrow while the other as crude. Both are highly respectable, creative and valuable expression. Illustration is highly respectable.

Now, all things considered, the following questions are posed to you:

  • Do you regard illustration and fine art as completely distinct entities?
  • If you do, does it really matter to you; why or why not?

So, You’re Looking for a #WeddingPhotographer ? | Part 2

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The absolute best time to start planning any aspect of a wedding is at least a full year ahead of the actual wedding date. This includes, location, costs, everything; therefore, wedding photography is no exception.

In this world, it is rare but certainly possible to meet someone, fall in love and tie the knot in the timeframe of two months or less but nine-point-five times out of ten, it is not going to help you to get the picture-perfect wedding that almost everyone wants. Wedding photographers carefully keep schedules because we try to stay extremely busy, and much rides on our contractual and fiduciary commitments to our clients. If you’re cutting it close, you’ll likely find it mighty difficult to book a photographer for your special day, so planning well in advance is highly recommended.

Similar to having portrait photography done, when you seek out a wedding photographer he, she or they will have various standard packages that you can select from. Packages can make choosing so simple. Modes of Flight currently offers the following packages (subject to change):

Bronze Wedding Photography Package:

  • Ceremony (clients must specify shooting location).
  • Post-Ceremony (clients must specify shooting location – garden, park, greenhouse, church exterior, etc.) – wedding portraiture is to be taken at this time.
  • Reception (clients must specify shooting location) – photography concludes after the cutting of the wedding cake.
  • Post-production digital studio work.
  • Proofs of all digital images (all proofs will be printed singly as borderless 4×6″ prints with matt finish).
  • Digital images provided by client choice of USB flash drive, DVD-R or CD-R (no printing, and USB flash drive will be the default choice if client prefers MOF to choose).
  • Estimated output; 100-200 images.
  • 1 Hardbound proof Book/Wedding album.
  • Expected delivery time, 3 months post-event.

Silver Wedding Photography Package:

  • 1 unframed Engagement Picture (clients must specify shooting location, and picture size of 8×12″, 11×14″ or 11×16″) – the image will be borderless.
  • Ceremony (clients must specify shooting location).
  • Post-Ceremony (clients must specify shooting location – garden, park, greenhouse, church exterior, etc.) – wedding portraiture is to be taken at this time.
  • Reception (clients must specify shooting location) – photography concludes after the cutting of the wedding cake.
  • Post-production digital studio work.
  • Proofs of all digital images (all proofs will be printed singly as borderless 4×6″ prints with matt finish).
  • 1 unframed Wedding Portrait (clients must specify picture size of 8×12″, 11×14″ or 11×16″) – the image will be borderless.
  • Digital images provided by client choice of USB flash drive, DVD-R or CD-R (USB flash drive will be the default choice if client prefers MOF to choose).
  • Estimated output; 300-500 images.
  • 1 Hardbound proof Book/Wedding album.
  • Expected delivery time, 3 months post-event.

Gold Wedding Photography Package:

  • Engagement Party (clients must specify shooting location).
  • Bridal Shower (clients must specify shooting location).
  • Stag and Doe Party (in the case of separate Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties, clients must specify which party is to be photographed, and shooting location).
  • 1 framed Engagement Picture (clients must specify shooting location, and picture size of 8×12″, 11×14″, 11×16″ or 12×18″) – the image will be borderless.
  • Wedding Ceremony Rehearsal (photography is typically not performed on this occasion but it is advised that the photographer be included in this function for planning purposes) – clients must specify if rehearsal photography is desired.
  • Rehearsal Dinner/Party (photography is typically not performed on this occasion but it is advised that the photographer be included in this function for planning purposes) – clients must specify if rehearsal photography is desired.
  • Pre-ceremony (behind scenes) – typically concerning the bride’s preparation (clients must specify if groom or other half of partnership will be photographed instead, and shooting location).
  • Ceremony (clients must specify shooting location).
  • Post-Ceremony (clients must specify shooting location – garden, park, greenhouse, church exterior, etc.) – wedding portraiture is to be taken at this time.
  • Reception (clients must specify shooting location) – photography concludes after the cutting of the wedding cake.
  • Post-production digital studio work.
  • Proofs of all digital images (all proofs will be printed singly as borderless 4×6″ prints with matt finish).
  • 1 Framed Wedding Portrait (clients must specify picture size of 8×12″, 11×14″, 11×16″, 12×18″) – the image will be borderless.
  • Digital images provided by USB flash drive.
  • Estimated output; 1000-1120 images.
  • 1 Hardbound proof Book/Wedding album.
  • Expected delivery time, 3 months post-event.

Customized Wedding Photography Package:

Clients are advised to contact MOF. A consultation is still a must when customizing a wedding shoot with me. My consultations, like my price quotations, are always free.

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Bearing Witness

Post-Production and Time

The hours a photographer spends photographing your engagement and wedding certainly add to your costs. Post-production, which is executed after the big day, is another major factor to consider. It has a profound psychological impact on your personal value system; things like vanity, is very time sensitive and; therefore, affects cost considerably.

Up until roughly the mid-1990’s, it was fairly common for newlyweds to wait 6 months to a year to receive their albums and prints. With digital photography sweeping the world at that time, competing wedding photographers have had to push themselves to curtailing package completion times to 3 and even 2 months. To do this requires photographers to invest in and heavily rely on quality image editing software. Even with the newest technology, these completion times can still be extremely tight.

Post-prod in wedding photography is broadly known as photo retouching. Photo retouching is not restricted to the images of famous actors, fashion models, beauty pageant contestants, sports figures, Fortune 500 moguls, major retail outlets, consumer product producers and politicians. You’d be hard pressed to find a professional portrait or wedding photographer today of any status who doesn’t touch up at least the majority of the photos in the packages of everyday non-celebrities to at least a small degree. Do clients fully understand this? It appears that most do but there are clearly some who don’t. Even of the ones who do, it seems there is some portion of them who only have a vague idea of what goes on to doll-up their photos. This is why some portrait and wedding photographers point that fact out on their websites, during client consultations, in their price quotations and sometimes in their consignment agreements. They’re trying their best to make sure that all of their clients are well-informed.

So, why bother “Photoshopping” the pictures at all? It’s primarily about supply and demand. When prospective clients look at the untouched sample photos of one photographer, and compare the results with the retouched shots of another shooter, most of the clients select the shooter who retouches. This happens regardless of if the client usually is critical of retouching, or even if the non-retouch shooter is able to charge less than the photographer who retouches. Clients have a perception of what is a better standard of portrait or wedding shot. It’s the standard that says this photographer will make beautiful images of me, my children, family, husband or wife. With this perception, clients will demand those results from select photographers who need and want to make money by supplying the type of images that clients want.

Additionally, retouching is done so that; dare I say it, photographers don’t get sued for not retouching enough or at all. Such suits are not yet common, fortunately, but modern society’s profound obsession with always looking good has definitely set the stage for it. Photo retouching is that expected now.

If you have reservations about having it done or are even interested in pushing the envelope, you should definitely advise your prospective photographer.

Do I retouch photos? Yes, and quite often. Converting colour street photography to black and white, and post processing them to make their blacks darker and their whites brighter is largely what happens there. Street photography is a genre that requires far more depictions of reality than glam and fashion images. I pull out almost all the stops; however, on most — not all, portrait and wedding photography while still making clients look natural (even I have my own perception of what is too much retouching). I also encourage retouching for those types of images to my clients. No one has complained once about it.

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Purple Rose

Extra-Creative Post-Prod and Time

Beautiful, is when clients want to push the post-prod envelope by heightening creative photography. For examples, their entire wedding has a feudal Japanese, medieval European, 1700’s European, 1800’s American wild west, cyberpunk or some other theme in which almost everyone is in costume. To top the aesthetics off, the couple wants 25 – 100% of their images post-produced with creative effects like bokeh, long exposures, HDR, rotoscoping, cross-process colouring, Infra-Red, Sabatier, Orton, tilt-shifting (seriously not recommended for wedding photography) and so much more. The downside to this creativity is that clients really should be prepared to shell out a lot more money for this level of creativity, and expect wait times of 6 months to a year.

Due to time and cost constraints, most photographers know to not even suggest this level of creativity to their clients. This road is only ventured down if the client asks for it, and the photographer is certain that he, she or they can deliver.

I originally learned how to shoot film in my teens but when I photograph a wedding, I shoot digitally and I will capture events by taking a combination of formal and informal portraits through an artistic and skillful melding of three wedding photography styles being, from the most relied upon to the least:

  • Illustrative

Western art is typically characterized as a random depiction of a person, place or thing with little context. It is why westerners use the phrase “Art for art’s sake”. When a person, place or thing is visualized in the context of one or more circumstances in a story or poem, however, that art; whether two-dimensional or three-dimensional, specifically becomes an illustration. Paleontologists, archaeologists and anthropologists have traced illustration back to when mankind communicated the events of our lives to one another on the walls of caves as a visual language. It is tried and true. As I am primarily an illustrator, this is my most used style for conveying the story of a wedding and the romantic circumstances surrounding it.

In illustrative style wedding photography, I think in terms of design elements by placing the wedding couple, their entourage and guests in settings of interesting and flattering compositions and backgrounds. Careful use of lighting is imperative. Separately before vows are exchanged or together after the ceremony, a bride and groom is encouraged to interact with their bridal party to produce spontaneous and natural images.

  • Photojournalism

A style that is quite commonly used in modern wedding photography, and largely following the curt or summarized story telling practices of news photographers, photojournalism is essentially a series of candid photographs covering the moments of an entire event. The cherished moments of a wedding are captured as they spontaneously occur.

  • Traditional

The traditional wedding photography style involves using creativity to pose the wedding couple and their party or stage endearing moments to be captured by the photographer. Standard wedding photography industry favourites and new visions can be achieved with this style.

Special requests and candid photography of family and friends can also be taken. The inclusion of various colour and tint-type images are best left to my judgement unless specified in the Wedding Photography Contract. Clients are encouraged to inquire about the possibilities of expressing their artistic vision through the free consultation. Post-production work to achieve their preferred look may include: colour balancing, colour blending, spot-colouring, black and white, duotoning, tritoning, quadtoning, hand-painted effects, filters, glamour retouching, Orton effect, etc.

So, if you want to get married start planning your wedding day as early as you can. Right down to your photography requirements.

Arboretum Virtualis | XV

Black and white tree forest landscape photography, Modes of Flight, #ModesofFlight, Art, Photography

@ModesofFlight featured in On Your Doorstep Mag

So, artists, art lovers and my most loyal followers may recall me explaining in prior posts what happened midway through 2016 that severely curtailed my MOF affairs. Just before that time Karen Thurman; landscape photographer and founder of GaiaGuardians, contacted me expressing her group’s interest in MOF photography. She had begun inviting artists, whose work she respects, to make submissions for her pending online magazine. It is because of my aforementioned setbacks, and efforts to reestablish myself in the visual art world why I didn’t get to see the result of my submission until early May 2017. I can now say and reveal my accomplishment of getting Arboretum Virtualis featured in On Your Doorstep, Issue 2, September 2016.

As issue 1 of 2017 is already out, I am proud to show the tear sheets of the issue MOF was featured in.

Black and white tree forest landscape photography, Modes of Flight, #ModesofFlight, Art, Photography

On Your Doorstep (OYD) is GaiaGuardians’ online periodical, beautifully edited by Lisa Dorenfest (@Dorny) and set to a Joomag digital publishing platform.

I know of no other environmentally conscious art publication that is as appealing, informative and non-threatening, and I’m looking forward to seeing the series grow.

Black and white tree forest landscape photography, Modes of Flight, #ModesofFlight, Art, Photography

Apart from these tear sheets, if you want to see the entire issue that Arboretum Virtualis was profiled in, click HERE. By clicking the hyperlink, you will be asked to subscribe to the magazine but it’s absolutely free, and hassle free. GaiaGuardians will not share your e-mail address, collect info from you, violate your privacy rights by any means, and you can easily unsubscribe at any time. That’s how things should be.

If, like me, hearing about environmental matters through the regular media stresses you out and makes you want to tune out, this magazine has the most creative though factual way of keeping people tuned in and reflecting in a positive way on their impact on nature. OYD is a beautiful, affable, contemporary and smartly delivered grassroots mag worth taking notice of.

Black and white tree forest landscape photography, Modes of Flight, #ModesofFlight, Art, Photography

Thank you Karen, and thank you Lisa.

#Illustration Explorer | Preface

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“Where My Dreams Soar”—landscape art created with 3D terrain generating software.

Let me be direct!

It’s funny how things go. I grew up drawing, painting, writing fiction and illustrating them, and I’ve spent much of my adult life promoting myself as an illustrator. At the same time, I produced digital graphics and thoroughly enjoyed photography but because I didn’t promote myself as strongly in the latter two disciplines, especially photography, many people had no idea that I was quite capable of these other visual arts.

When I started doing photography almost exclusively, that’s when people started to notice that I didn’t just draw and paint. I even experienced certain sarcastic so-and-so’s, who thought they knew me, getting their digs in; “Oh, he thinks he a photographer now!” Now? Seriously, I’ve been doing it for many years. Just because I didn’t invite you along for the ride of my life so that you could see all what I’ve been up to, doesn’t mean that I’ve suddenly taken on something new.

The only now in this is that my photography has become so dominant in my repertoire over more recent years that I am coming across people who have no idea that I am originally an illustrator. Even some that I’ve previously told that I’m an illustrator completely forget what I’ve told them because they still haven’t seen that body of work from me.

It’s unfortunately true that for a lot of people, “Seeing is believing.”

Well, I’m still not giving up my photography but truthfully, it’s high time that I breathe new life into my illustrative roots. So, here I go.

This blog series is about facts about illustration. I won’t explore every type, style and movement of illustration that there has ever been, there’s just way too many. I’ll focus on those that are largely still practiced, and that I personally enjoy creating. Of course, I am illustrating this series.

From the outset, the first group of topics to be covered will be:

  • Preface (you’re already there)
  • Part 1 What is Illustration (and the difference between it and fine art)?
  • Part 2 Opening to an Overview of Technical Illustration
  • Part 3 The Conclusion to an Overview of Technical Illustration
  • Part 4 Figurative Illustration
  • Part 5 Concept Art
  • Part 6 Surface Pattern Design/Illustration

Now, if you’re a professional or amateur career artist, the topics I address may be a little humdrum for you. I’m very excited that you might tune in but I’m not concerned if you don’t stick around long. Here’s why . . .

This series also serves to give me the chance to spit on my favourite myth. The myth of the starving artist.. I really enjoy showing people that the label “artist”, whether commercial or fine, is not synonymous with “deadbeat”.

So, if you are not an artist but have kids who are, and are worried about their futures, this series is written especially with you in mind. It’s a chance for you to learn about the worldwide commercial arts industry, and how to help your child embark on a successful art career path.

There still are a lot of parents who don’t know the potential of their children as artists, and only fully believe the constantly perpetuated typecasts. In this series, I will certainly shed very bright light on the low points of being an illustrator. I will also, nevertheless, put my foot straight up anyone’s baseless negative assumptions.

Similarly, this series is for those of you who possess a profound natural talent for visual art from the cradle but, at some point in your lives, you resisted the need to nurture your talent out of some notion that it wasn’t going to get you anywhere pragmatic. I hope that this series inspires you to get back to one of your greatest forms of personal expression and liberty. I hope that it motivates you to try to market some of your creations as a commercial artist, a fine artist or both.

Finally, if you’re interested in becoming a collector of fine art, and don’t yet understand or are even aware of the differences and similarities between fine art and commercial art, then I hope this series will heighten your awareness in terms of aesthetics.

You’ve got only one life to live. Experience and absorb as much of it as you can, and enjoy it!

So, You’re Looking for a #WeddingPhotographer ? | Part 1

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Let’s Stay Together


That’s right, the D word! Presumably a topic that someone who photographs weddings ought to avoid but I have the stones for it! I am going right there!

I tell you, it does NOT happen often but every now and then someone; either male or female, during a consultation for a wedding photography package, will suggest that spending money on such an investment may be a waste given that there’s a possibility of divorce. Sure, it’s said sort of tongue-in-cheek but some measure of seriousness (along with pre-wedding jitters, cold feet or whatever you want to call it; “fear” might be a good description) is still detectable.

Just to quickly get it out of the way here, if you’re just engaged to be married and divorce is on your mind during your wedding planning don’t even bother booking a wedding photography consultation. If a photographer is pushing you into one, then have some backbone and don’t let him or her push you into it. It probably is an arrant waste of your time and money.

I suspect that people who actually do agree on prenuptial agreements have a better chance at overlooking the distrust that’s obviously associated, and making certain that their (insert the word “happy”) marriages endure. I only suspect this because I have yet to find a study from a credible source that indicates that the divorce rate among couples who sign prenups is significantly higher than of couples who don’t sign one (if you know of such reliable studies or have conducted any yourself, I dare invite you to share the results below in the comment section. That ought to be interesting.

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It’s Got to be Real

Get Serious!

Anyway, as much as signing a wedding photography agreement is sort of a pre-marital contract it is one that you share with a photographer not your prospective better half. It is not the same as a real prenup, so if you have any concerns about divorce definitely do not seek out a photographer. Not even me. You have bigger issues to work out with each other first.

As you’re probably wondering, yes, some of the weddings that I have personally photographed have indeed ended in divorces. I report that knowing full-well that there are marriage pessimists who will read that as a sign that divorce is inevitable. It only is if you and your partner truly aren’t compatible, and one or neither of you are willing to permanently work equally at making your marriage last.

What do you contribute to your relationship? Do you bring genuine love, affection, encouragement, trust and loyalty to the table or do you think your hot bod and hot sex is all that should be required of you? Are you willing to keep privacy between you and the one you’re going to marry or will you share everything sacred with your parents, siblings, friends and people in the workplace? Are you willing to be a or the breadwinner or are you the sort to use your ability to finance a marriage as a means to surreptitiously dominate your partner and force him or her to lose all sense of independence and individuality? If your better half were to become disabled or extremely ill and incontinent would you help him or her clean up after themselves and maintain dignity through their struggle, or would you abandon ship?

Being in love is one of the imperfect but extremely important experiences of the human condition that we will be forever trying to get right.

Who are you marrying, and why?

Prior to your engagement, you spent time dating or courting each other. Did you make good use of that time? Was it serious and exclusive dating or the casual kind that you did with all of the guys or girls you already figured couldn’t be “the one?”

Personally, I’m so glad that dating is far behind me. I find it to be an awkward period at best. People try so hard – too hard, to show their best qualities in order to impress and have a good time all of the time. A lot of this is good but it still can interfere with the getting to know the reality of someone’s character. That can always cause lingering doubt if facades are seldom dropped. It’s important to use dating as a profound opportunity to communicate openly and honestly.

Can you accept the fact that your fiancé’s family will never approve of your pending marriage because you are of a different race, ethnicity, culture, subculture, nationality, political ideology that they can’t stand, a dwarf, physically disabled or aren’t wealthy? You consider yourself tolerant of all people but are you aware that the person you have agreed to wed has a particular hatred for certain cultures? Is that okay with you? Maybe that despised culture is a part of your bloodline. Can you accept the fact that your fiancé’s family will never approve of your pending marriage because you are both of the same sexual orientation or that at least one of you is transgendered? Are you sexually compatible? Your partner is good to you but do you know that he or she takes pleasure in abusing other people? Are you okay with that? Do you both want children or even more if you already have any from previous relationships? Are you of the same religion, and if not, what spiritual aspirations do you have for your kids? Do you believe in corporal punishment or would you be the hands-off and let the kids get, say and do whatever they want kind of parents? Perhaps your mindset is somewhere in between these modes.

For however long it takes for you to truly figure each other out, dating is the time that you should spend really getting to know whether or not you are compatible with someone. Two people considering the serious details together can help their relationship to mature or make them realize that they may never be ready to have their connection solemnized and recorded for posterity. The serious aspects of dating are important. It is not a time to be squandered.

Hamilton wedding photographer search selection guide tutorial tips course

Walking Together

Strong Relationships Do Endure

Most of the weddings that I have shot have been of couples who are still married. One such pair booked a consultation with me and the groom, who had been married once before, behaved in a way that made me feel as though he wasn’t that interested in getting married again. It just seemed to me that he was going through the motions so as to not disappoint his bride who had never been previously married, and was eager to tie the knot with her man.

Despite the negative vibe, I still felt that they would still get hitched, and that their union would last. Sure enough, I got to photograph their wedding and as I post this they’ve remained married for the past nine years. I’m confident that their marriage will last at least another nine, if not forever.

I’ve also done restorations of severely damaged wedding photos that were taken by someone else in the 1940’s. I’m talking about people in their 80’s and 90’s who tied the knot during and shortly after WWII – now there’s a real conflict. Death will likely do them part. That has already come true for one of the couples whose pictures I’ve restored.

In case you are also wondering, my wife and I have been married only once; never to anyone else previously. After a lengthy courtship, we got married in 1999. We are still (insert the word “happily”) married today. In fact, were not just still married but are also still in love with each other. Why, because we talk to each other.

We argue, and then work out mutual and realistic solutions to our problems so that we can move on with fighting for each other instead of against each other. We support and stick up for each other. We trust each other. We are faithful to each other. We don’t try to dominate each other, and won’t stand for the manipulation or abuse of one another. We want each other. We love and even lust after each other!

We never got a prenup, either. I don’t mention prenups to slam them, they have their place but from the very beginning Kim and I agreed to only pursue what we can equally share with each other. Quite simply, we are meant to be with each other.

Hamilton wedding photographer search selection guide tutorial tips course

Marilyn & Murray’s 50th Wedding Anniversary

Rely on Logical Reasons Instead of Excuses

Some use the excuse that because their parents got divorced when they were little they now have trust issues. Okay, perhaps. I can see that happening but even if so, I can’t empathize. Death parted my wife’s parents but mine were divorced by the time I was five, and I’ve always fully understood all of the reasons why. It hasn’t left me with such deeply seated trust issues surrounding marriage. I feel safe and highly valued with my wife. No other woman has ever made me feel this way, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

It just has to make sense. If you are certain that your relationship with the person you’re supposed to get married to is like mine, then contact me. We’ll book a consultation.

Arboretum Virtualis | XIV — #EarthDay

Black and white tree forest landscape photography


WordPress has given me with a good excuse to show off this maple root system just in time for Earth Day. A reminder to stay positive by staying grounded, and never be negative by reaching for the sky.

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