Turning Your Passion into a Profession

What is your passion in life?  What is it that gets you up in the morning – you eat, breathe and sleep it, it’s where your mind goes when ever you daydream?

Is it art, acting, music, poetry, photography or maybe it’s electronics, auto mechanics or culinary or maybe it’s academics; math, science, medicine or history or maybe it’s sports

I’ll just bet that if you think back to when you were just a kid you realize that you were always doing it. Like that first time you stepped on the ice, most of the kids were holding on to a chair to get around but you were like a little bug flying around on your skates. Or you sat down at the piano and you heard the melodies that you could make just by pressing the keys you got lost in the sounds.  Or you took apart everything, just to see how the heck it worked.

It’s always fun to ask someone what they “are” .. “oh, I’m an actor .. but I’m waiting tables until I get my break” .. I’m a mechanic – I built my first car at 14 … but I’m waiting tables until …

And I know that all we see these days are articles about how you should get out of the rat race and follow your passions.  While that may be great you may also have responsibilities like kids and bills and that can have a huge impact on the viability of “passion pursuing”. So we wait until the time is right to “go for it”. And I know that our spouses and kids are our passions as well.

Well, unless someone dumps a load of cash on you, the time may never be right to start your career in fine art or open your own auto repair.  So we wait some more and we hide our passions under a bushel basket.

As a little kid I had three passions: music, photography and marketing (like “sales/marketing/advertising; although at the time I had no idea what that was).  I had a drum at six years old and I played the crap out that drum. I had a cheap film camera and I took a million bad pictures and a few good ones and I was fascinated with commercials.  I knew that I was going to be a musician by the age of six. People would ask me what I wanted to do when I grew up and I’d reply “be a drummer in a rock band” .

But then there’s that responsibility thing. Kids and bills and a car and a house and insurance and  all the rest. And we juggle it all. And we put our passions on hold. I did and I don’t regret it for one moment.

I recently saw a TED talk given by a “buttoned down” executive type on following your passions and the positive impact of doing it can have on your kids.  And I never thought of it that way. I only saw it as putting a burden on your family – you see I was working a 9 to 5 and then playing music with a band four to five nights a week for many years.

The TED talk focused on that moment when your kids come to you and ask for your support as they pursue their passions in life. And they tell you that you gave them the strength to “go for it” because they saw that you did.

Everyone is talking at you ” Go for it”,  or “don’t be a fool … you’ll fail for sure”

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  Thomas A. Edison

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”    Thomas A. Edison

Entrepreneurs who are successful appear to have just been born successful, but many have a string of failures behind them. The biggest movie stars will tell you that they went on hundreds of auditions to get “discovered”.

There may never be the right time in life to restart following your passions.  Even though you may never make them your profession, they are what define you.

Don’t hide your light under a bushel basket, let your freak flag fly.


Dan Busler is a professional portrait, performance and event photographer with studios located south of Boston in Walpole MA. You can see more of his work at http://www.danbuslerphotography.com

The Walk Down the Aisle – With Your Dad

If you’re in the planning phase for your Wedding Day you’re thinking about the venue, flowers, photography, music, food, transportation and it’s totally overwhelming isn’t it ?

That day will be one of the biggest milestones of your life when you look back. And it might also be a blur of tightly scheduled “get dressed at this time”, “be here at this time” , “cut the cake now” and then someone says “We’d like to thank you all for coming … let’s have another round of applause for the new Mr & Mrs …” and you look around and wonder what you missed in all the chaos.

After photographing so many wedding days the one thing I see that seems to get lost in the chaos is Father – Daughter time [or just insert the person here who’s been your rock] .  The one time you’re truly alone with your Dad on your Wedding Day is when you’re standing together at the venue waiting for the doors to open and walking down the aisle.


As the doors open you see the church, all those friends and family, it is a magical moment which unfolds and develops and grows as you walk down the aisle. At first Dad is smiling and being strong. You’re holding on to him. And then you both realize how momentous this walk really is. You hold each other closer; tears of joy and pride and happiness well in your eyes as you walk slowly together. You remember all those days growing up and the times you’ve leaned on him, relied on him. And I’m doing my best to capture these moments which will never be repeated as I tear up.

So as a Dad who has walked his own Daughter down the aisle … and who doesn’t remember a single step of that walk, I’d like to suggest that you also add some time to that crazy busy wedding day planning schedule to hang out alone with your Dad the night before the wedding and not try to squeeze it in that morning .. when bridesmaids and florists and photographers and wedding planners all want your attention.

That way  you can both privately share with each other how happy you are that this day has come and also spend a moment remembering your lives together and not have to do it as you’re walking down the aisle. But bring a whole box of tissues …


The Groom – smiling at the sight of his Bride


The hand off – Both Dad and Groom smile as it all becomes real


Dan Busler is a professional portrait, performance and event photographer with studios located south of Boston in Walpole MA. You can see more of his work at http://www.danbuslerphotography.com

A World Ambassador and An Inspiration

The Special People Special Needs Foundation (SPSNF) works to create awareness by focusing on changing the public’s perceptions and attitudes toward people who just happen to have intellectual or physical disabilities, differences or special needs, due to genetics, injuries, traumatic events, illness or other causes.

I’ve been lucky to have been asked to photograph their events, meet some of their board members and Samantha Stevens; SPSNF’s World Ambassador.

Samantha Marsha Stevens who has Down syndrome was named World Ambassador for the foundation in 2015 and represents the foundation by helping advocate around the world for people who are considered different.

‘World Ambassador” sounds like such big title for this young girl.  She is after all quite timid in public, very unassuming and smiles only after she gets to know you. But she is inspirational all the same. A symbol for the work that SPSNF does even though I doubt that she wants to be in the limelight.

She makes a difference and gives hope to those who have met her.


Samantha with her Parents Brian David and Kathy Stevens, siblings and Trish Morris; President and CEO of SPSN Foundation


Samantha with her Parents and Trish Morris; President and CEO of SPSN Foundation


Samantha with her Parents


Samantha with her Mother, Siblings, Trish Morris, David Josef and Daniel James Forrester


Samantha with her Parents; Brian David and Kathy Stevens


Samantha with Trish Morris; President and CEO of SPSN Foundation


The Samantha Marcia Stevens Family Award – which was presented to Vincenzo Caputo and Family who owns Sofia Ristorante in Hudson MA for their support of the efforts of the SPSN Foundation. The award was presented during a Special Olympics event at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough MA November 2015


Dan Busler is a professional portrait, performance and event photographer with studios located south of Boston in Walpole MA. You can see more of his work at http://www.danbuslerphotography.com

Bokeh – It’s all a Blur to me

Focusing on the subject is typically what we do to create a nice photograph. But by doing something very simple we can have only the subject in tack sharp focus and the background a “creamy .. dreamy” out of focus. This is called bokeh – which is the Japanese word for blur.

Bokeh is the amount of what’s in focus behind the subject. It’s directly related to depth of focus (DOF) which is what’s in focus both in front of and behind the subject. . With a shallow DOF you can have the subject’s eye in focus – but not their ear, with a deep DOF you can have 200 people in a group photo (basically) in focus.

But I’m focusing on how you can achieve a portrait which is more pleasing because you’ve focused on the subject(s) and blurred the background using a simple camera setting.

In almost every case the amount of bokeh you achieve is controlled by the aperture setting on your camera.  Aperture is how far the lens opens when you push the shutter.

The larger the aperture number you choose the less light enters through the lens. This results in a deep DOF and and less bokeh.  Which means that the smaller the aperture number you choose the more light will enter through the lens, the DOF is shallower and that creamy … dreamy blurred background is achieved.

The easiest way to get a nice bokeh is to set your camera’s aperture to the smallest number it will allow ( it will typically be something like F4 or F2.8). But you’re going to have to take the leap and photograph in either manual (the letter M on the camera’s dial) or aperture priority mode ( the letter A or AV on the camera’s dial). If your camera doesn’t have a dial, just look for these settings in the camera’s menu.

OK, so let’s say that the smallest aperture your camera will allow is F4, or maybe you have a DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera with removable lenses and you have a lens with a F1.2 lowest aperture … pop quiz !  Which aperture will give you the best bokeh?

Here’s two scenarios – you’re photographing one person and you’re photographing nine people (three people in three rows) – but you want a pleasing bokeh in both pictures.  The aperture setting you choose is going to be based first on how deep the subject is (DOF) and then on achieving the best bokeh possible. (subject in focus is the first priority).

The one person portrait is easy. Set the camera to the smallest aperture setting and that will help you determine the required shutter speed and ISO you need to get a correctly exposed picture. ( See my post on “The Exposure Triangle” if you want a description of how to do this  https://danbusler.wordpress.com/2016/01/19/the-exposure-triangle/ )

The nine person group in three rows is a bit different. The group will be about 3 feet deep, so the DOF needs to be at least three feet.  F8 is a great starting point for this group photo. Just remember to always focus on the center point of what you want to be in focus – in this case it will be the center row of people. Take the shot and see if everyone in the group is focus, is the background blurry? If not try a smaller aperture number or  move back (increase the distance between you and the subject) and zoom in a bit.

Here are some examples of how using a large aperture ( like F32) increases DOF and how using a smaller aperture (like F2.8) produces a shallower DOF and better bokeh


Canon 70-200mm zoom lens set to 70mm at F32 and focusing on the number 1. All the numbers are in focus, including the fence in the background. No bokeh here.


Canon 70-200mm zoom lens zoomed in to 200mm at F32 and focusing on the number 1. Just zooming in has added a little bokeh to the other numbers.


Canon 70-200mm zoom lens set to 70mm at F32 and focusing on the number 2. ( Focusing on the middle row) Everything looks basically in focus, including the fence in the background


Canon 70-200mm zoom lens set to 200mm at F32 and focusing on the number 2. Everything is basically in focus, but the other numbers are a little blurry, so there a little bokeh


Canon 70-200mm zoom lens set to 70mm at F2.8 and focusing on the number 2. You can see that the other two signs are a bit out of focus. But were not zoomed in, so more of the  scene appears to be in focus


Canon 70-200mm zoom lens set to 200mm at F2.8 and focusing on the number 2. Only the subject is in focus and there is a good bokeh. This shows how DOF is how much of what’s in front of and what’s behind the subject is in focus.


Canon 70-200mm zoom lens set to 70mm at F2.8 and focusing on the number 1. Only the subject is in focus, the fence is a bit blurred. But this is not great bokeh.


Canon 70-200mm zoom lens set to 200mm at F2.8 and focusing on the number 1. Only the subject is in focus and there is a great bokeh. This would be a close up single person portrait setting

Note: If I had used a lens with a F1.2 aperture the bokeh would have been even better.


Dan Busler is a professional portrait, performance and event photographer with studios located south of Boston in Walpole MA. You can see more of his work at http://www.danbuslerphotography.com

A Business Portrait or a Headshot – Which is Right for You ?

You might be an actor, a plumber, an artist, a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, a salesperson, musician or physician and you need of a new picture for your professional use. Do you need a business portrait or a headshot?

To answer that I’d like to tell you one of the most important pieces of advice I’ve ever received and it’s the foundation of why virtually every successful business is successful.  No matter if you are an actor or doctor or baker you are an artist. What you do for a living is your art/skill/craft/vocation – call it what you will – this is your passion  – it’s your art. If you focus only on your art you may love doing it, but you are on a course to fail. If on the only hand you say “I own a business … and it just happens to be a deli, or a doctor’s office or creating art” you realize that you must balance the books, do marketing to get clients, dream up new ideas so that you will continue to be able to do what you love to do.

Any way, that’s where I start my thinking when someone comes in for a headshot – how is your business structured and what type of picture will best help you achieve your business goals.

The Business portrait and the headshot:

First lets look at both, how they are the same and how they differ.

Both types of images need to get the feeling that you want to get from whom ever sees the picture.  Are you welcoming, commanding, solid, sincere, in charge, affluent, competent, stunning, handsome, friendly, “the buck stops here”,?

The Business Portrait – formal dress, professional pose,  elegant props, lit with some drama and has rich colors. This is the type of image you might see in the lobby of a hotel or on the board of directors page of a company’s website.


The Headshot – To be candid, it’a a product shot and you’re the product. You’ll typically smile or (in the case of an actor) be in character, but the look is fairly generic and welcoming. But I suggest the headshot even for the executive so they will something less formal, maybe for a company seminar they are hosting or blog post.


And then there is the headshot which is purely for commercial use; such as a print ad, website or brochure. These are very fun and bright.

Both the business portrait and the headshot can be critical parts of every company’s business marketing plan. Just a nice picture of the person with out finding out what the person wants the image to convey is not enough. Today  many potential clients are surfing the net and choosing their vendors on the strength of an image.

So think about how the images will be used to help you reach your business needs and you will know what types of pictures you need.


Dan Busler is a professional portrait, performance and event photographer with studios located south of Boston in Walpole MA. You can see more of his work at http://www.danbuslerphotography.com

Always Look Behind You – Especially If You’re a Photographer

Photographers (meaning both professional and well, everyone) typically capture what’s in front of them – portraits, landscapes, wildlife, candids. Because that’s what we wanted to photograph.

But when you think about it, isn’t there also something going on behind you?  Think about it, you’re at the beach with the family and the kids are playing in the water, it’s a great fun family shot, so we grab it. But when you remember to turn around we see so much more – one of the other kids sleeping or reading a book or picking their nose .. or what ever and we never get that shot. … because we just don’t think to turn around.

As an event photographer I’ve learned that there is something interesting happening everywhere. So I am constantly scanning the room for people talking, laughing, dancing romancing, posing, taking selfies.

In this shot I had posed the Bride and three of her friends for a “buddy pose”.  As usual, I had a large group of cell phone photographers behind me!


After I got my shot I noticed that the Bride and her friends continued to pose for the cell phone bunch, so I ran around and took this shot from behind them.


This is the shot that became more popular. It’s more unusual, more artistic and more interesting. For me seeing their arms around each other is an expression of their love and friendship.

So just remember, if you only photograph what’s in front of you or what’s normal, you’ll miss everything else that is happening behind you, in the other room, around the corner and over the next hill.

And never, ever, no matter what, put your camera (cell phones included) away until you’re sure that no one is going to do something interesting or you’ll miss an epic shot. (I should know, I’ve missed a million epic shots because I wasn’t ready). In other words .. you must have your camera ready at all times !


Dan Busler is a professional portrait, performance and event photographer with studios located south of Boston in Walpole MA. You can see more of his work at http://www.danbuslerphotography.com





Dude – Get a Tripod for that Camera

You’ve got a nice camera – it takes wicked good pictures, but sometimes they’re a bit blurry. Showing you how to get tack sharp pictures is what we’re going to focus on.

I would say that most of the time the automatic setting on your camera (it’s typically a green letter or green box on the camera dial) will work just fine for you. You’re at the beach – it’s bright and you take the shot and it’s great. But when you’re in the woods or by the campfire or watching your kid in a school play – you take the shot and it’s blurry … why oh why … “I missed getting that epic image and all because I didn’t read the rest of Dan’s post and learn how to get tack sharp images.” .. well read on then.

The first thing you should do is get a tripod – or something to steady your camera. This could be a monopod, a beanbag, a rock or even a box. Because your hands shake and you don’t even know it. And when you’re in a darker environment, that automatic setting on your camera is setting the shutter speed to 1/10 of a second or even slower just to let in enough light to get the picture. You really can’t hold a camera steady enough at that slow of a shutter speed and not get blurry pictures.


OK,  you’re at the school play, it’s dark, your camera is on that tripod and rock solid, it’s set to the automatic setting, the camera sets the shutter speed to 1/10 of a second to let in enough light to get the picture, you push the shutter button and the picture is still blurry.  Well did you take into consideration that the actors are moving? WHAT!  “My hands are moving, the actors are moving … what am I to do? ”

To be candid, even after you have that tripod you need to stop letting the camera make all the decisions for you on how the aperture, shutter speed and ISO are set.  I know, you’re saying ” I don’t want to fool with all that stuff – I could turn the wrong dial, or push the wrong button and the next thing you know the camera’s broken”

Believe me, I’ve broken cameras, but it wasn’t because I set the shutter speed. It’s usually because I dropped them.

There are three settings (aperture, shutter speed and ISO) that you can change – to keep things simple, set two of them and change only the third as needed.

In the school play scenario you have low light and moving people – so we set the ISO (the speed of the film) to a higher number like 1600 (so that the camera’s sensor will be very sensitive to light), then set the shutter speed to 100 / second to stop the action on stage. That leaves the aperture and you need to change that until the image on your “live view screen” or the exposure dial when you look through the view finder is right over dead center. If you can’t set the aperture low enough to let in enough light, you need to change the ISO to a higher number and try again. This should allow for a correctly exposed image.


Here’s another scenario – you’re photographing a flower  on a table in your home. the light is fairly low, but the flower isn’t going to move. So we set the ISO to 800 and set the aperture to F4 .  Why? because aperture controls the “depth of field” – this is how much of what you are photographing is in focus, aperture also controls how much light is let in through the lens. F4 is a fairly low depth of field so only the flower (and not much else will be in focus).  Now when you set the last thing, shutter speed, you may find that you are at 1/30 of a second or 200 of a second (depending on how much light is on the flower), but the exposure should be nice.


I know that you’ve seen most professional photographers never use a tripod. That’s true, when I’m photographing a wedding ceremony I’m moving all around and I can’t use a tripod. In those situations I set the shutter speed to something like 160 / second and even with my hand shaking and running from spot to spot I still get clear … well sort of clear images. The tip here is always set your shutter speed to faster than the length of your lens. If you’re using a 100 mm lens – set your shutter speed to at least 125 / second. But that doesn’t let me off the hook for setting the correct ISO, so that I am setting is the aperture.

And why not use the flash on your camera in these situations? In the theater you can’t use flash and with the flower, the flash washes out all the beautiful colors.

Now we just have to discuss how to set the white balance so that you’re pictures aren’t a yucky yellow from the tungsten lights, off camera flash, using a reflector (aka a bounce) .. and a few other things.


Dan Busler Photography located in Walpole MA and specializes on Portrait – Performance and Events. One-on-one camera training is offered on request 781-352-4863