I first met Dave Black at Photoshop World several years ago. He was setting up a balance beam in a lecture hall for a live shoot he was doing with a champion gymnast for a session he was teaching. As I watched him set up, interact with the gymnast, his assistant, and the room full of attendees; one of the things I was struck with the most was how much Dave loved photography. Dave’s career as a world-renowned sports photographer spans 30 years, he’s covered every kind of sport you can think of, including 12 Olympic games, but the joy in his face when he got the shot that morning was like seeing a kid on Christmas morning opening that one present they had been hoping against hope to find. He loves what he does, and his excitement, much like his stellar work, inspires all who come in contact with him.

Stairway to Heaven (c) Dave Black Photography 2012

Stairway to Heaven © Dave Black Photography

Volleyball   Kevin Barnett(c)Dave Black      www.daveblackphotography.com

Volleyball. Kevin Barnett © Dave Black Photography

Turn Burners  (c) Dave Black Photography 2012

Turn Burners. © Dave Black Photography

During that same Photoshop World I attended a special evening session called The Art of Photography, which consisted of a panel of some of the most amazing photographers in the business. Dave was one of the photographers on the panel, and during his presentation he shared his contribution to a book project, called Where Valor Rests, for the National Geographic, in which he light painted Arlington National Cemetery. Dave poured so much of himself into those photographs, the presentation was so respectful, and the end result so moving that there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when the lights came up. It was a really tough act to follow.


Arlington National Cemetery – Lightpainting. © Dave Black Photography

Over the last few years I’ve had the pleasure of co-leading several landscape photography workshops where Dave was the guest instructor, and it was a true honor to get to work alongside him. I’ve never known another photographer who was so accomplished, so successful in his field, and yet so humble, down to earth, and downright funny. Man, he’s got some great stories! Dave teaches many different photography workshops throughout the year, on topics ranging from sports photography to painting with light. You can check his schedule over on his website. While you are checking out his calendar be sure to visit his Workshop at the Ranch blog to see what he is writing about.

Dave Black walks on water

Dave Black can even walk on water if it means getting the shot. Taken during our Digital Photo Workshop in Grand Teton. © Rob Sylvan

One of the many things I admire about Dave is that he is always pushing himself. He is always ready to try new things, try new techniques, try new gear, anything that helps him push his craft and help to make his photographs stand out. On top of all of that Dave is truly a gifted instructor. He’s clearly mastered his craft, he absolutely loves making photographs, and he has the ability to distill what he knows into a presentation that reveals his knowledge to others in ways that are easy to understand and gets everyone excited about putting it into practice.


Hook Light – Lightpainting. © Dave Black Photography


Balanced Universe – Lightpainting. © Dave Black Photography

Crossing the String. © Dave Black Photography

Crossing the String. © Dave Black Photography

In just a few weeks I’ll have the pleasure seeing Dave teach again at Photoshop World. Although his intensive lightpainting workshop that takes place the day before the conference begins has been sold out for a while you can still catch his Lightpainting: Light Up Your World session on September 3rd, which is a great way to get started with lightpainting. For the sports photographer, Dave has another session called Sports Action Photography Tips & Strategies, where you can learn some of practical ins and outs of covering a wide range of sports that Dave has acquired through 3 decades of hard work. If you’re already planning to attend, you’re in for a treat! If you’re considering making the trip be sure to use the code PSWFOCUS414 to save $50 OFF a full conference pass. I hope to see you there!

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Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. Dave gets just as excited for his students pictures as he does his own.

  2. I have to say he is an awesome guy indeed. I love his online courses, lets hope I will meet him one day, but it is too far from the heart of Europe :) I also send him few mails and he always replied with advice.
    He is the one who pushed me to do sport portraits with one flash :D and I am thankful for that !


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About Rob Sylvan

Rob Sylvan is a photographer, trainer, and author. Aside from also being the Lightroom Help Desk Specialist for KelbyOne, an instructor for the Perfect Picture School of Photography and the Digital Photo Workshops, and the host of Peachpit’s Lightroom Resource Center. He is a founding member of Stocksy United (a stock photography co-op). Rob writes the “Under the Loupe” column for Photoshop User Magazine, is a regular contributor to Lightroom User magazine, and is the author of many photography related books.


A Photographer You Should Know, Photography


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