I’ve written before about the Writing Excuses Podcast (highly recommended), and I was listening the other day when one of the hosts suggested that when waiting for something, like a dentists appointment, you exercise your creative writing brain by describing the room. That’s a terrific way to pass time, and I realized that’s exactly what I do, but with a photographer’s brain. It helps me grow, and I think you’ll get good use out of it, too.


Whenever my mind is given free time in a place, I light the room. I think about where I’d put a light to make this or that person look their best, and how to make the whole room look good as a backdrop, what lens I might use, and how to balance or eliminate the ambient light. It’s a really enjoyable exercise, and just like athletes who visualize their success it will help you be prepared for more situations by practicing in your mind. Once you’ve got a great picture in mind, mix it up by changing lenses in your mind, or moving your subject to a different vignette. You might consider writing/drawing these ideas so they are a handy reference when you have opportunity to bring a camera…or you might use it as a proposal on the spot to come back and shoot environmental portraits for the place.


My airport shoots are a good example of finding a picture in your mind’s eye and even making it happen right then. Actually, this is also why I had to quit my job and do photography full time: the production manager would be explaining a problem to me, expecting me to help solve it, but all I could focus on was how I’d make a portrait of him right there and how cool it would be to make a portrait right there. How’s a guy supposed to work when there’re portraits to be made?!

This has been shooting excuses. You’re out of excuses, now go shoot.

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About Levi Sim

Passion drives Levi to make photographs, teach, and help new friends. He tells people he's a photographer, but he really does more than just make pictures. His professional photography is primarily commercial work for businesses, both small and large, and he really helps show how great it'd be to work with those companies. He excels at photographing people, from two-year-olds to oil field workers to couples married for 60 years, everyone has a good time making pictures with Levi. Besides people and businesses, Levi enjoys all other aspects of photography, and practices landscapes and still life, as well. Other people enjoy photographing everything, and Levi wants to be able to help, so he practices as much as he can to be ready to help. He also runs a local photography club, is a Rotarian, actively helps at church, is a husband, and poppa to a peppy four-year-old girl. Levi writes regularly for and is co-author of books on Adobe Lightroom.


Inspiration, Technique & Tutorials