Category Archives: General Commentary

Christmas Eve – An Invitation

Dear friends,

This is not like any of my other posts on my blog.  In fact, this has nothing to do with photography. This is just an invitation.

It’s an invitation for Christmas Eve.   I realize you all have differing views on the whole topic of “religion” and “faith” (and believe me, I have gone all over the map through the years).  I am a Christian, but for almost half of my life, I was not a Christian.  I have been agnostic, atheist at times, so I do understand different viewpoints on this subject and I totally respect you for where you are now on such matters.   As a Christian, I figure if I can simply strive to love others, and not condemn someone for being different from me or waste any time “judging” others, I am doing ok. God knows (literally), I am pretty imperfect myself.

So, if I haven’t lost you in my first two paragraphs, I’ll get back to that invitation.  I was sitting in church today, thinking about what an incredible group of people we have at my church. They are the most loving and generous and kind people I have ever known. Since Christmas is coming up soon and we have a beautiful Christmas Eve Candlelight service this Saturday, I wanted to invite you to attend.

You might already have plans for Christmas Eve, and that’s fine, or this might not be of interest to you at all. But if you’re somewhere “in between” where you don’t have plans and hadn’t even thought of going to a Christmas Eve service but that sounds interesting, we have 5 different services in our brand new sanctuary.  My church is Bethany United Methodist Church in NW Austin, at 10010 Anderson Mill Road.  If you are interested, here is a link to the website with more info about the services, what they are like, and which ones have child care.

I just thought I’d put this invitation out there for those of you who might like to do something to make this Christmas Eve special as we experience the wonder of “Christmas”.

I am grateful to know so many of you who have taken my classes, gone on destination workshops with me, follow me on my website or via emails or my blog or facebook.

I wish you all Happy Holidays, and for those of you who say “Merry Christmas”, I hope yours is indeed the best Christmas ever.

Most sincerely,
Kevin Gourley



The Thankful Project

Here it’s Friday.  We have just about made it through another busy week!  Thank God It’s Friday!  TGIF!

I am a real believer that we photographers will create better photographs if we intentionally make it a practice to take in ALL the beauty and wonder of the world around us.  The first step in doing that is to STOP TAKING IT ALL FOR GRANTED.

The stuff we take for granted is most likely what we will overlook in our photography. It might be the simplest of things… the daily routine of getting the kids out of bed, making breakfast in a hurry, driving to work, our family, our kids, our parents, our home, our job, our friends, our coworkers, the car we drive, the air we breath, the water we drink, the sunrise each morning, the list goes on and on.

The next time you think you have nothing to photograph, just start making a “gratitude list”.  Think of all the things and people you are grateful for. Then make it your project to photograph those things! You may discover this project will result in your most meaningful photographs, especially later on in life.

So, instead of TGIF, practice gratitude EVERY day.

Kevin Gourley

P.S. Want more ideas on how to be re-inspired in your photography?
Join us for our ‘Rekindle Workshop‘ in 2017!



Quality Over Quantity

I was just reflecting on NUMBER of photographs we are all creating these days… thousands, tens of thousands… It’s overwhelming. In fact, it is so overwhelming, that we see articles all the time about optimizing our workflow, tips for maximizing our productivity in cranking out even MORE photographs, presets and plugins that increase our efficiency in pumping out quality images with less editing time.

Don’t get me wrong, we ARE able to create excellent images with the currently available tools, but so much of the focus seems to be on QUANTITY.  We have to get those pictures edited quickly so we can get them posted on instagram, facebook, on our blogs, and a long list of other social media and image sharing websites.  That way we can get our affirmation from the world about how great we are.  We want more “likes” because if we get more “likes”, we must be doing something right. We want to win more online photo contests, because, well more is better, I guess.  (?)

Having learned photography back in the “good old days” of film, and knowing the long hours I spent in my darkroom painstakingly working on creating one good image, I am finding myself sort of missing those days. The focus was more on “let me get this ONE image just right”, rather than the stress of “how do I quickly perfect  these 4000 photographs I took last week on vacation?”  Who the heck is going to look at all those photos anyway? 😉

Sometimes I feel like I am on this treadmill of cranking out more and more images, and someone keeps turning up the speed faster and faster. Who the heck is turning up that treadmill??  Wait, is it ME?

Maybe it is time to slow down, and focus on creating a few great images, and ignore all this talk about optimizing workflows and pumping out large quantities of images.

“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” – Ansel Adams

Dear Ansel Adams, What would you have done in this “digital age” of photography?  Instead of using your view camera, if you were using a digital camera, would you still say that twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop? Somehow I think you would have.

Note to self:  S-L-O-W D-O-W-N
Focus on quality over quantity.

Kevin Gourley


Light & Photography Workshop

We just wrapped up another Light & Photography Workshop!  This course is a comprehensive look at light in its various forms, both natural and artificial, and we look at the many ways we photographers can control and manipulate light to create great photographs!

Over several sessions, we explore the ways light works its magic to make images beautiful, and then dig into the details about how to operate electronic flashes (speedlights) and studio strobes (monolights).

studio lighting workshopThe course ends with a session done in my studio where the participants have a chance to photograph a couple of models, putting into practice what we covered in class.

Student Comment: “Kevin’s Light and Photography class is fantastic. The small class size ensures everyone get personalized instructions. His tips for using every type of lighting from flashlights and household lighting to pro photography lighting make this class a must for every level of photographer. His demos were the highlight of the class. Every photographer can learn from this class. The add-on model shoot session is also a must.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE and let us know if you’d like us to add another session soon!  Your input is important!






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Here are some photos taken by participant, Sandy O’Connor:

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Make the Choice to Improve Your Photography

DSLR, photography classMost people start out using a camera using its most automatic settings. Many stay in that mode of taking photos, not really knowing what they are doing, but sometimes getting good results, and sometimes not. If you’re not satisfied with that, I encourage you to learn more about how to best use your camera.

The starting point for you to get better images is to attain more control over your camera. That can be intimidating to dive into all those settings and options, especially on any of the modern day digital cameras.

While camera manufacturers have tried to add more and more fancy features and more ‘automatic’ options, they have added lots of complexity. In fact, I think they have maybe pushed this a little too far. But then, the real key is to learn which of those settings are really important and which are not.

Photography 101, Austin, Photography Class, WorkshopIn my Photography 101 Workshops, we focus on covering the important fundamentals of photography that every photographer should know. Learn what options really matter and which settings you SHOULD be adjusting to get the best shots. You really can create better images if you do not have your camera in its fully automatic mode. It is just a machine. It is not the artist. You are!

Photography 101, Austin, Texas, photography class, workshopWe spend time looking at technical details, but also explore various other factors such as light and composition and the importance of YOU and how you see the world around you.

Photography is a very powerful and meaningful art medium. We capture images that have great value to us. Our photographs tell our life story. We remember those special moments with loved ones. We embrace moments we will never get to experience again. I encourage you to make those images you capture the best you possibly can.  Some of the images you create will be of priceless value to you and your family later on.

So, if you have not already taken my Photography 101 Workshop, I encourage you to consider it. And if you have taken my Photography 101 Workshop, I encourage you to consider taking my Photography – Mastering the Fundamentals Class or one of my other classes to expand your photographic skills even further!

Student Comment:  “I thoroughly enjoyed the Photography 101 class. I learned so much about my camera that I’m much more comfortable pushing myself and my photos. The classroom setting is comfortable and Kevin is a really great teacher – combining technical information and answering questions readily. Kevin’s way of teaching is friendly and you feel that he listens to you and understands what your needs are. I can’t wait to take another class! I will be telling all my photo friends about Kevin and definitely encourage them to take some classes!”

I also offer Private Teaching on virtually all aspects of photography, meeting your time schedule and specific photographic needs.

Want to have some fun on a real photographic adventure? Join us on our Rocky Mountain Photography Workshop!  Get prepared for the trip first by taking my Photography 101 class!

Rocky Mountain Photography Workshop, RMNP, Colorado, Workshop, Photography


Reflecting Back on my Love of Photography

Images from a long time agoI was looking back over some of my old photographs from when I was a teenager, back when I first got interested in photography. I created this image over 40 years ago, can’t remember the girl’s name. I have that info somewhere (yes I got a model release).

She was working at a mall, and I noticed her, and asked her if I could photograph her. We went to the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens. I shot a lot of photos.Pentax KX We had a great time.

I was shooting with a Pentax KX SLR film camera (they, of course, were ALL film cameras back then).   Photography was still relatively new to me, but everything about photography just felt “natural” to me.  I loved it.  I loved all the ways I could capture a beautiful moment in time, or a beautiful scene, or a beautiful person. I loved how it was a mix of art and science because that sort of sums up my interests pretty well, art and science. Using photography as an excuse to go out to a park with a beautiful girl had nothing to do with it. (Okay, that is a total lie.)

Kevin Gourley Photography

Anyway, on this day after Thanksgiving, I was reflecting on how thankful I am that my parents encouraged me in my photographic endeavors way back then. They bought me that first Pentax KX SLR. They always encouraged me in whatever my pursuits were in life.

Well, why am I writing this, on this today?  I guess I just wanted to remind YOU, in your pursuits of photography as a hobby or career, never lose touch with what you LOVE about photography.

In this age of the Internet and social media, it is easy to get caught up in following the latest trends, striving to just do whatever is currently popular, and gets the most “likes” on Facebook, etc.  OR maybe you get discouraged because you see other photographers posting images that are “so much better” than yours.  DON’T WORRY ABOUT THAT.   Despite the countless photography contests you see out there, I really encourage you to not see art as a competition.  It is just too subjective.  If you start striving to just create images using styles that you see other photographers doing, you might just lose your individuality in the process and your images will start looking like everyone else’s.

Photograph whatever you love to photograph. The person you should “compete” against is not someone else… it is YOU. Just strive to be better than the photographer you were yesterday.  Work on your technical skills, but don’t think that is all that matters.  Your artistic skills, composition, use of light, etc. all matter just as much.

Just always try to improve in one way or another over time. Enjoy the work of other photographers, but you have permission to be YOU. Be different. Be bold. Be creative. Be silly. Be serious. Be you.

If you are not doing photography because you love it, then make some changes. Find the part of photography YOU love. You may not have even found the part of photography you would love the most, so try different things.  If you are a landscape photographer, try dabbling with something totally different like studio photography. If you photograph babies, try photographing horses (or anything else)! Shake things up a bit. Challenge yourself, but BE yourself. As you do this, you will discover the fun in photography.

40+ years later, I am still having fun.  I hope you are too.
One thing I love to do is help others find their “love” of photography.

Kevin Gourley

P.S. If you are feeling a little “burned out” in your photography, you might consider taking my ‘Rekindle Workshop‘. I currently have it offered as a daytime class, but if you’d like me to add it as an evening or weekend class, please let me know.  If we have enough people interested, I can add it!



Thanksgiving is About Giving Thanks

What does the topic of “Thanksgiving” have to do with photography?

Well for many folks there are family gatherings and that often means some family photos will be taken, capturing those special memories. And then of course there is the infamous “Black Friday” where some of you might be out hunting for some great deal on camera gear you’ve been wanting. But I wanted to send out this post to mention the importance of “gratitude” in photography.  It’s about “giving thanks”.

Sometimes we overlook the mundane, the things and people around us all the time that we simply take for granted.  When we take things for granted, we sort of become blind to the beauty around us and to the many gifts we have been given in life.

I know if I focus on what I DON’T HAVE, I start to overlook all that I DO HAVE.

Researchers have found that when people just focus on what they don’t have, they are less happy and satisfied by life. Want to be happier? Shift your focus. Intentionally make yourself aware of all that is good in your life, even the small things.  Maybe even make a “gratitude list” and actually write down all that you are grateful for. The more  you work on that list, the more you may discover the list will get quite long. You may even discover you have an abundance of gratitude items on your list.

This indeed applies to photography also. If you look at a place or a moment in time with a focus on what is “not good about it” or you just don’t see anything to photograph there, it might be that you just haven’t taken the time to pause and take in the small details that ARE beautiful.

If you look with an attitude of anticipation that there IS something great there, you will start looking for what is good rather than ignoring it all.  You might look at a forest that has been damaged by fire, and rather than saying it is ugly, you search until you find a new tree sprouting up, or a bird resting on a branch, or maybe some interesting patterns in the burn marks on the trees.

Being grateful for this magnificent world opens up a new way to see all that is around you. There is an abundance of beautiful photographs to be taken right around you, perhaps at this very moment. It is a matter of changing how you see it all.

Practice a life of gratitude.

And on this Thanksgiving, do some thanks-giving.

And maybe take a few photographs of your family.  Never take them for granted.


Finally Solved a Problem with My Apple “Magic Mouse”

This isn’t really about “photography” but a lot of photographers use Mac computers, so I thought I’d share this since it solves a MAJOR problem I was having with my Apple Magic Mouse (the original version).Apple Magic Mouse

I was getting really annoyed with the fact that my Apple Magic Mouse would intermittently stop working for a few seconds and then start working again.  It would drop its bluetooth connection, and then I’d have to wait a little bit and then all would be ok, for a while.  I have another Apple Magic Mouse at my studio and it was having the exact same problem!

I just discovered the solution.  It turns out the design of the battery compartment is the problem.  (I have the original version where you have to insert batteries, not the new version that doesn’t use batteries, but instead is rechargeable.)  Anyway, the problem turned out to be an issue with the electrical contact the mouse was making to its batteries is not well designed.  It’s a little “loose”. So, I took some paper and folded it up and squeezed it in on top of the batteries and then pressed down the cover over it to make it a tighter fit, and that TOTALLY SOLVED THE PROBLEM!  Yay! I can’t believe I tolerated this problem for years and just now found the solution.

If you’ve been having this problem, now  you know the answer!  I did this with my mouse at my studio and it fixed it there too!

Happy mouse clicking!

Kevin Gourley



Hi!   Thanks for checking out my new blog.  I am WAY overdue in adding a blog to my website, but here it is … FINALLY!   Whenever you create a blog for a website, then it is one more thing to do, one more thing to update and keep fresh.  I have been so busy, this will just make me a little busier, BUT  I want to keep in touch with so many of you who have participated in my classes, I decided this is a good way to do that.  I’ll post information about interesting facts about photography, occasional how-to articles, and updates about my upcoming workshops and classes.  I will also feature the work of some of YOU from time to time.  I want to celebrate YOUR photographic successes on here also!

So, thanks for being here.  I hope you’ll keep coming back!

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Kevin Gourley