EP146 The Art Of Contentment

Suddenly it washed over me – that odd euphoric sensation of contentment.  No idea what triggers it, but it’s well worth holding onto!

Also in this episode, a quick review of ACDSee 10 (the Mac version).  If you’d like to try it yourself, please use this link (there is no kickback or finance attached, but it does let the guys at ACDSee know that the referral has come from me and the Mastering Portrait Photography Podcast!)



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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Introduction and Studio Update

[00:00:00] So in an effort to keep up my weekly episodes , I am recording this mid afternoon on a Tuesday, which normally would be fairly busy here in the studio, but given I’ve got two people who are off sick, with both Michelle and Sarah coughing and spluttering and generally not feeling very well.

[00:00:16] So with a degree of persuasion, managed to get both of them to go home. I’m assuming they are now wrapped up in duvets drinking brandy or whiskey or possibly just Lemsip. And so I suddenly found myself with some time in the studio during normal working hours. So this is episode 146 being recorded when, well, I could be doing a million other things.

[00:00:41] I’m Paul and this is a very distracted Mastering Portrait Photography podcast.

[00:01:03] Now if you look at the list of things I should be doing, it’s long, it’s complicated, there’s a lot to do in the studio just now, but I quite like recording the podcast, and so I am somewhat using it as a distraction. Displacement, I think is what it’s called, and I’m going to record this episode.

[00:01:22] Mastering Dogs and Their Owners Portraiture Photography Workshop

[00:01:22] It’s not that long since the last episode, so it’s not like I’ve done a million different things, but yesterday we ran a Mastering Dogs and Their Owners Portraiture Photography, I can’t remember the title, ah, uh, workshop, which essentially is a Photographing dogs with their owners.

[00:01:37] Had the most incredible bunch of people as delegates and also as models. One of the great things about running these workshops, of course, is that we can bring in models who are regular clients. Steve and Ambra and their dog Luna, and then Gemma who came in the afternoon with her dogs Luke, and, archie.

[00:01:58] It was just brilliant. Spent the whole day laughing, the whole day answering questions and discussing things about photography, not just how to take these pictures, but why we take these pictures. And certainly from the point of view of running a business. The weather held, it was gorgeous and sunny, a little too sunny, with that low raking February sunshine that we don’t get enough of, and when we do get it, of course, as a photographer, I moaned that it was too harsh, uh, for some of what we were doing, particularly when we were trying to photograph in an alley where I needed both walls to have the same light, more or less, and of course the sun sort of threw that out the window, but hey, you know, what can you do when you get those days?

[00:02:39] It was a fantastic day, and loved every second of it, I’ve created some images that I really like, and more importantly, I think our delegates went away with ideas and enthusiasm and determination and confidence, possibly more than they did when they arrived, which is the right way around, and if you ever give when we’re delivering workshops, the great thing is not It’s not about technical stuff really, it’s about having the confidence to go and do it, because without that, it doesn’t matter how good you are with a camera, or how good you are with Photoshop, you’re not going to run any kind of business.

[00:03:14] You’ll never produce anything. You need the confidence to do it in the first place. So a big shout out to all the guys that came on the workshop yesterday, and a huge thank you to my clients.

[00:03:22] ACDSee Software Review

[00:03:22] Uh, before I get into the nuts and bolts of the podcast I want to give a quick shout out to the guys at ACDSee.

[00:03:30] That’s letter A, letter C, letter D, and the word ‘See’ S E E. A brilliant bit of software. It’s a bit of software that I first used, I was trying to remember when they asked me to get involved. I was trying to remember when I last used it. I think I used version 1. I think it came free on the front of a magazine.

[00:03:49] It was I think, recalling it was shareware back then. Shareware is not really such a common model, but back then, I’m guessing 15 or 16, maybe even longer years ago. Um, and it was an amazing piece of software primarily because it was super fast and It has the ability to preview files and organize files for you in an incredibly quick way.

[00:04:13] And anyway, the guys at ACDSee asked me if I’d review it and then talk about it. So, cards on the table here. I have been given a free copy of ACDSee to see what I think. I’m on version 10, it’s the MacStudio version. And so I’ve been bunged a free license, which I’ve been using for the past couple of months.

[00:04:34] So it’s not really, this isn’t a paid commercial. Genuinely, I’m using the software and I said I would talk about it if I liked it. But I’d hate anyone to think that I wasn’t being straight up and honest when I’m talking about it. And clearly I’ve been given a free license. But of course, here’s the but in all of this stuff is I will never talk about anything on this podcast that I haven’t had first hand experience of.

[00:04:58] Somebody did ask me, there is someone has asked me to review like an energy drink from the US to use it for a while and then talk about what I think. Sadly though you can’t get it in the UK so I had to go back to them and say I can’t do that until you’ve got a supply chain or an importer over here.

[00:05:15] And then of course I will try it and let you know what I think. So I won’t talk about anything that I don’t have first hand experience of there are many reasons for doing this podcast but being able to be authentic in the middle of it is the bit that under pins it. So what are my thoughts on this version of ACDSee?

[00:05:31] So this is version 10, the Mac version. Um, so okay, straight up, slightly mixed bag, but don’t I don’t take that as anything other than there’s just one little bit that I’m not happy about. So when they approached me, so when ACDSee approached me, I was beyond excited to do it. Firstly, I got to play with a bit of software that I used an awful lot back in the day.

[00:05:57] And it was wonderful to be using the same software again. There’s a degree of nostalgia, I suppose, about that. And it’s always good to see a great piece of software, as it was, not only survive, but expand and become even more useful. The second reason I was excited about it, so I went and did a quick hunt around before I committed to giving it a go, is everything I read talked about the new AI keywording tools, and they looked incredible. It would help me enormously if using a bit of AI inside the software that I have on my computer, as opposed to going online and doing round tripping and all of those things, if I had some AI software that would help me identify with some very simple keywords. I’m not after that. Detailed keywords, but very simple keywords that would let me find, for instance, like a low key studio portrait, or a high key dog image, you know those, I’m talking really quite basic stuff.

[00:06:50] Now we manage our catalogue really well, but stuff slips through, and with keywording, you know what it’s like, you get one folder, I’ve got to archive it, I’ve run out of disk space, I need to move some stuff today, do I keyword it now? No, I’ll do it later, and of course by do it later, what I actually mean is, it doesn’t get done.

[00:07:07] So, that was What I was looking forward to the the speed and the simplicity of this piece of software as it used to be, but also with some of the new AI stuff in particular, the keywording. And so I suppose the question is how did it do? Brilliantly, I think, is the word I’d use. It is still blazingly quick.

[00:07:27] It’s an unbelievable piece of software from that point of view. It’s faster than using the Finder on the Mac or Pathfinder I also use. It’s incredibly fast. Now, let me just clarify how I’ve used it or how I’m using it right now. Lightroom is at the heart of our workflow. All of our live catalogues. All of our live RAW files, all of our live PSDs are in Adobe Lightroom .

[00:07:52] And what do I mean by live? Live just means the job is not yet archived. I looked earlier and there’s about 75, 000 assets in Lightroom at any one point. That includes all of our live jobs but also our portfolio, our portfolio of heroes. Now, I’ve configured Lightroom in a very particular way so when I run an export of JPEGs that are going to go to the client, they’re going to go into album designs anything that’s flagged with five stars, the little bit of code in the background that I’ve written spits those out into a series of Dropbox folders that are organized in line with the jobs.

[00:08:27] So, let’s say there’s a Le Manoir wedding Tom and Amy get married at Le Manoir on a date. When I spit those files out, there’ll be an equivalent Dropbox folder that contains anything that was ranked with five stars. So it allows me to have these heroes in Dropbox. And we’ve been doing that for about eight years.

[00:08:45] So you can imagine just how many images and folders we have in Dropbox running that little bit of the catalogue. But when I archive the folder away, when it’s done, the job’s finished, Tom and Amy have got their wedding album, then we remove all of the files off our live drives, remove the catalog components from Lightroom, and obviously new stuff has come in.

[00:09:07] Those heroes, though, still need to be active, and they stay active in Dropbox, a series of Dropbox folders that I have. And it’s always a little bit of a pain trawling up and down them. Well, ACDSee solves that, because once I visited a folder with this software, All of the thumbnails stay in its catalogue.

[00:09:24] So it’s as if I can browse things that go across folders. There’s this thing called the Image Well, which is brilliant. I can find things by flags. I can find things by colour labels. It’s absolutely phenomenal. So at the moment, I’ve got about a quarter of a million. There’s about 250, 000 JPEGs in ACDSee.

[00:09:47] It’s really, really fast. And one of the things I really have liked about it, which is useful for me, is, and this is the bit of the AI that is working, is the facial recognition. Now, no Lightroom has facial recognition, but of course, in the end I don’t use Lightroom for longer than the job is live for any folder.

[00:10:05] Whereas this is folders that go back historically. And I’m not really that worried about identifying every face. What I am interested in is having the faces all looking at me in a series of thumbnails that I can scroll through and go, Do you know what, I remember that shoot or I remember that image.

[00:10:22] That’s what I’m looking for. Then I can find the shoot and then I can expand that to all of the other images. And on top of that, slightly weirdly, Hehe. I found myself just smiling this morning as I was trawling through this big page of thumbnails of my clients. It’s all my clients faces looking back at me and smiling.

[00:10:39] And it was really nice. It was a bit of a trip down memory lane, I think, for many of these. And I know that’s not its intended purpose, but if you ever want a pick me up It’s simply look in this folder on ACDSee of faces looking back at you, of all these clients, and of course the memories that go with it.

[00:10:57] And it is rapid, I mean it’s unbelievably quick in the way it does it. And it’s really useful to have that. Now on the indexing side, it’s a little bit, you have to get your head around it a little bit. It indexes any folder you’ve visited. Browsed. However, there is also a behind the scenes index that you can get ticking over, which will run whenever you’re not using your computer and ACDSee is open.

[00:11:20] So gradually over time, it picks up the files and it pops them pops all the thumbnails together and categorizes them for you. So it’s really really useful. On top of that, a nice little touch that I’ve only really discovered this morning is that your license includes the use of a thing called SendPix.

[00:11:38] This won’t be useful to everybody, but it’s quite a nice little bit of software. So it’s, if you can imagine I suppose a hybrid version of something like Zenfolio which is a catalogue system for images for your clients and WeTransfer which is a way of sending files to your clients. It’s sort of in between the two.

[00:11:58] What it allows you to do is select a load of images, send them to someone but instead of sending them directly it creates a short lived online gallery. It’s there for a couple of weeks, I think, looking at the dates it gave me. And that allows your client, or whoever you’re sending them to, to log in, see the images, and download what they need.

[00:12:15] So in a sense, it’s like WeTransfer, but with an interactive component. And it’s equally, it’s a little bit like Zenfolio, but with a gallery that only lasts for a couple of weeks. So you don’t have to worry about taking them up and taking them down, and all that kind of thing. It’s only there for the time you need it.

[00:12:30] And, surprisingly It’s actually really useful, which I hadn’t seen coming. It wasn’t a bit of the software. I certainly didn’t pick that up when I said yes to reviewing ACDSee, but it’s incredibly useful. Now, sadly, the software doesn’t integrate with Dropbox properly. There is no integration with Dropbox, which is a shame.

[00:12:47] It would have been really nice. It does have an integration with iCloud, but I don’t use that, so I can’t comment on that part of it. But it would have been quite nice. It’s no big deal. Doesn’t really change my usage of it. And all in all, there are just dozens of little functions that make finding and retrieving files that you have on your folders and drives really easy.

[00:13:09] It makes it fast, it makes it visually interesting. I haven’t used the editing tools because for us, everything we do is edited in Lightroom on the RAW files and the PSDs. I suppose it could be useful if I do pick up a file, I just think, you know what? I wish that was slightly brighter, I wish that was slightly darker, or something like that.

[00:13:26] I know there are some quite sophisticated tools in there, but that’s not the part of the puzzle I’ve been interested in. And I think the license for the Mac version is about 99, and it’s absolutely worth it.

[00:13:38] Sadly, the AI keywording is in the Windows version but not the Mac, but still

[00:13:42] I think it’s absolutely worth it. Anyway, now whether that fits into your workflow is entirely down to you.

[00:13:49] Only you can answer that question. Now bear with me, I’ll come back in a minute.

[00:13:53] Reflections on Happiness and Contentment

[00:13:53] I’ve got a phone call to answer.

[00:13:55] So sorry about that, I had to answer the phone. It was the editor, it was Terry, the editor of Professional Photo Magazine, who we regularly write for calling about the next edition, which is very exciting, as always. I’ve no idea, I’ve no idea in the final edit where I’ll leave that cut in, or whether I’ll just gloss over it.

[00:14:15] Either way, as I was trundling in this morning, I don’t know whether this happens to you, but it happens to me occasionally, where It’s just this, it’s almost a feeling of euphoria, and it’s happened to me a couple of times today, whether it’s just chemistry, whether it’s just, I don’t know, I’ve no idea. But today, I felt like everything was good in the world.

[00:14:37] And, it’s a real sort of skill, I suppose, in being completely comfortable with where you are. We had a text this morning. Someone was asking, how are things out in the industry? And I can only answer from our experience. And right now, we’re doing well . Everything is busy phone’s ringing, even this morning.

[00:14:56] We had an enquiry for a wedding just come through. We’ve got enquiries for headshots and commercial. Portraiture feels maybe a little bit squidgier than it has been on the economy. But all in all, our business is running really well and I’m really happy.

[00:15:07] I’m very satisfied with my lot. Now, I don’t mean to be self satisfied, that’s not what I’m saying, but I think the art of being content with your lot is a tricky one. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly ambitious and driven and impatient. I want everything to happen and I want it all to happen now, but the reality of course is things are slower.

[00:15:27] So I get frustrated with it, of course I do. But trying to find the space in my head to be content is a skill that I am still learning, I guess. It’s really easy not to be happy. Even this morning, Sarah had the radio on, and the news came on, and I could feel myself just getting wound up. The state of our economy, we have a particularly crappy government at the moment, and I’d like to say that’s specific to the UK.

[00:15:57] I’ve got friends all over the world, and I keep, as best I can, I keep abreast of world news, and I think it might just be a global phenomenon. The kinds of people who you’d really want to lead you are not the kinds of people who we have leading us, I don’t think. So it’s easy to feel down, the weather’s pretty rubbish, it’s that time of year, you know, it’s grey.

[00:16:18] Yesterday we had this phenomenal day of beautiful weather, but today, well, it’s back to normal, it’s chucking it down. But yet, even though it was cold and dark, I still found myself skipping into work this morning. Life is okay. And being happy with yourself is not that straightforward, I don’t think. Jake, our son, was asking me if I liked myself and I thought that’s an interesting question and I don’t really have a satisfactory answer.

[00:16:45] Some days I like bits of me, some days I feel dreadfully insecure, but I’m always confident that on balance I’m alright. I feel alright, I’m on the whole nice to people, I try really hard not to be nasty to anybody. There are people I like more than others, of course there are. You know, you marry the one you like the most, right?

[00:17:09] And she’s incredible. So being happy with your lot. I think is something you can do and it just washed over me this morning, maybe it’s the fact that we ran the workshop yesterday and I was around people who I liked

[00:17:23] And even writing up the notes on ACDSee, it still feels really strange saying ACDSee, when I grew up in the 70s and the 80s, when ACDC was a band for those about to rock and all of that stuff. So it sounds really weird when I say it, but writing my notes on ACDSee I had to look through thousands of images that had dropped into our Heroes folders, which reminded me of the things we do.

[00:17:46] And on top of that, of course, I put the facial recognition on, and that reminded me of all of the incredible people we do it for. And if it wasn’t enough that I came in skipping down the road as an image, right? What we do for a living, the things we create, and the people we create these things for, what an honour.

[00:18:05] not only ACDSee, but Sarah spent the past couple of days designing the most incredible book. A Tramontino book is the range from Graphistudio. And it’s full of the same pictures, these pictures that we took in the past 12 months. It’s a collection of some of our Favourite moments, I guess, out of 2023. A mix of clients and some dogs, all sorts of bits and pieces.

[00:18:31] One or two award winning images. But mostly, it’s just a celebration of the people we work with. And I can’t wait for that to come, for Sarah to get it made, uh, and Graphistudio to get it, to get it made.

[00:18:47] The Joy of Photography

[00:18:47] It’ll be beautiful, I know that. But more importantly, it will sit on our coffee table, and every time I feel flat, or I feel like, Oh, do you know what? I’m not sure how I feel about all of this. I can go down and have a look at it, just as I do with one or two other bits down there.

[00:19:00] And it reminds me, just What a lovely job this is, and I can’t wait to have that actually on our coffee table, not just as an advert for the product, and of course it is a great advert for the product, a Graphistudio product I may have mentioned we’re ambassadors for Graphistudio, so there’s my cards on the table again, but in the end, I am really lucky, and we are really lucky, to have a skill that allows me to create the pictures that we do, for the people that we do, the moments that we get to enjoy, the places that we get to visit, and the joy, that we get.

[00:19:36] It’s easy to get distracted by life, but sometimes it’s worth focusing on what it is I do. And for whatever reason that happened subconsciously this morning, but I probably should make it happen more of a deliberate thing as I go.

[00:19:52] Still ambitious, still competitive, still driven, still want it all to happen today. But maybe it just takes a little bit of time. .

[00:19:59] Conclusion and Workshop Information

[00:19:59] And on that happy note, I’m going to wrap up. If you’re curious about our workshops, please do head over to Paul Wilkinson Photography and look for the coaching and workshops section. Eventually we’re going to move all of those across into Mastering Portrait Photography, but for now they’re all still on my normal website.

[00:20:19] I’ll put a link if you’re curious about ACDSee and want to download a copy to have a play. I recommend you do actually, I’ve really I’ve grown to love it. I have two screens on my Mac, two huge 27 inch monitors, and ACDSee sits permanently on my right hand monitor whenever I’m doing any design work or doing anything for the websites.

[00:20:39] It’s there because I have easy and straightforward access to all of our hero images, all of my favourite images. It’s incredible as a tool like that. It slots in alongside Lightroom for me. At least it won’t replace it, though I’m sure the guys at ACDSee would love it too. That’s not, for me, the function that it serves, but does that make it still worthwhile?

[00:21:00] I think it does, and I, for one, will renew my license when the time comes up. So I shall put a link down in the show notes for you to head across. It does have my name in it. I don’t get a kickback from it. I think it just allows the guys at ACDSee to see that it came through me. And I’ll also put it on our Facebook group for all of the people that have been on our workshop community.

[00:21:19] But All in all, I highly recommend it.

[00:21:23] In the meantime, I hope the weather is a little nicer where you are. I hope it’s more like yesterday than today. But whatever else, keep skipping, keep smiling, remember that what we do is an incredible job. I’m Paul, and whatever else, be kind to yourself.

[00:21:38] Take care.

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