Scuba Season Around the Corner!

Scuba Season Around the Corner!

Scuba – If you are a diver in Northeast Ohio and you’re looking for a dive buddy, let me know. My schedule permits for a flexible dive schedule, weekdays and weekends. A good place for local diving is Whitestar Quarry.

If you’re interested in diving Lake Erie, consider volunteering for MAST. Members perform archeological surveys of sunken ships. Have fun and help document our maritime history. Check out the MAST website for more information.

You can reach me at the following:

Tom Szabo

440-354-2535 (Office)

440-725-6504 (Cell)

Apex Predator - pacific reef shark. Scuba Dive

Apex Predator – pacific reef shark.

Lion Fish Inavade Atlantic Ocean

Almost every diver who’s been the the western Pacific Ocean will come home bragging they saw Lion Fish. They are a beautiful species! However, they’ve become a big problem in the Atlantic Ocean. Why? They are considered an invasive species. Lion Fish are very prolific. They can lay upwards of 30,000 eggs every 4 to 5 days.

Lion Fish live on the small reef fish and their numbers are dwindling. That means  the juvenile fish needed to maintain fish populations could be gone. The smaller reef fish eat algae which keeps coral healthy.

To help combat the problem divers have taken to spear fishing Lion Fish. In a lot of locations the season for them is wide open. In fact many restaurants welcome the fish for their menu.

Cayman Islands has announced this weekend will be a Lion Fish hunting weekend making a big event out of it. So if your in the Cayman Islands this weekend, get your spear ready, dive in and  go hunting.

Lion Fish, Vieques 11 057

Lion Fish have hypodermic like venomous spines.

Scuba Divers Set World Record

How cool is this? 173 scuba divers in Italy set a new world record for the longest underwater chain of divers. They even have a video showing it happening. I’d love to do this!


Italian Scuba Divers Break Guinness World Record For Longest Underwater Human Chain

School Pictures And Special Deals

School Picture Business

School pictures are a real tradition for families. People often ask if I provide that service. My answer: well I’d like to. I learned a long time ago this is a very difficult market to break into. Schools have told me they are under contract with large photography studios for the service and in addition, the school gets a cut of sales. One of the biggest contract term that’s a barrier for me is the no competitor clause. These contracts often prohibits another photographer from suppling promotions to students within the school.

In fact, the picture business made the news in Washington, D.C. on the local News Channel 4 report. Please don’t think I’m angry or upset about their practices. I just wish I could participate on some level.

tom szabo, jeweler, photographer, scuba instructor.

This high school senior portrait uses 3 colors, skin tone, white and red.

Jewelry – What’s In A Name

Jewelry – Name Needed!

So many of you may be aware of my new line of jewelry. The line is based on fossilized shark teeth, whale bone and manatee bone. There’s a couple photos to show some samples of my work.

Here’s the question. I don’t have a name for the jewelry line. Some suggestions are: Jewels of the Sea, Sea Gems, Sea Jewels, Ocean Gems, By the Sea, Long Islands, Bite Me, Ocean Secrets. One of my thoughts was “Ocean Sands”, especially since the materials are found in the sand on the bottom of the ocean.

So do any of you have any suggestions? OR vote for one of the names listed above. I’m curious about your thoughts!! To learn more.

Sand Tiger Tooth & Turquoise gem silver necklace.

1.2 gm Sand Tiger tooth and 1.5 gm Turquoise gem on 18 in silver necklace. Item number: SH1.2/TU1.5-18S
Price: $99.95 + tax & shipping.

Manatee Bone on Gold Necklace

4 Manatee Bone segments, 9.1 gm total fossil weight, On 18 in. gold color necklace. Item number: MB4-09.1-18G
Price: $49.95 + tax & shipping

Jewelry, Megalodon shark tooth necklace

2-1/8″ Megalodon shark tooth, silver plated wire wrap on a silver plated chain.

Baby Portrait

Baby Portrait

Baby portraits can be fun or a disaster – trust me! If you have a 6 month old child, wake them from their nap, bundle them up, put them in a strange location, in front of a stranger and tell me what you expect? Yep, one unhappy little child.

I’ve had plenty of little ones in the studio. Best description – a crap shoot! You just never know how things are going to go. Over energetic. Screaming. Crying. You name kids will do a lot to indicate their lack of interest in being photographed.

Recently Grandma and Grandpa brought their 6 month old into the studio for a portrait sitting. This little guy was one of my top subjects yet. He was so happy and had so much fun in front of the camera. I’ve never managed so many exposures in such a short period as this. Tell me what you think of these two pics!

Baby sitting on blocks.

I’m having so much fun at!

Portrait of baby

Don’t you think I’m cool?

Necklace By Tom Szabo, Jeweler

Necklace by Tom Szabo.

This is a new necklace created by Tom Szabo. The pendant consists of a 1 inch long Tiger Shark fossil tooth below a 5/8″ X 7/8″ Turquoise stone. The two pieces are silver plated wire wrapped for connection and stability hanging from an 18 inch long silver plated chain.

The silver chain, silver wire are striking against the fossil tooth and the Turquoise stone. As you can see, the necklace looks stunning against black.

The shark tooth was found by Tom Szabo while scuba diving off Venice beach on the gulf side of Florida. Tom will be creating more jewelry from the materials found during his dives – stay tuned!

For more information or pricing, contact Tom Szabo at:

440-354-2535 (Office)

440-725-6504 (Cell)


Necklace - Tiger Shark tooth fossil with turquoise stone.

Tiger Shark fossil tooth with Turquoise stone pendant on silver chain.

Fashion Mags – Photo Lighting Tips

Fashion Magazines – Photography Tips

Fashion magazines – OK, I admit to looking at them. No, No, really, I’m not that way. The fashion industry spends A LOT of money on photographers to advertise their products. So it stands to reason that they would be hiring the best fashion photographers, they can get. So why not look at their work for hints, tips and how to’s?

Next your going to ask me what should you look for. I’ll offer two things to look at: Poses and Lighting. Poses should be pretty straight forward. No you don’t have to expect your subjects to be professional models. But when you tell your child to hold for a picture, suggest body positioning or hand placement that you’ve observed in a magazine.

As far as lighting goes, start with reading catch lights. These are the white dots that appear in the subject’s eyes. If you look close enough you may be able to count the number of dots in a single eye. This will tell you how many light sources the photographer used. Upon further review you might be able to tell if they are round or square, further suggesting square reflectors, rectangular or square soft boxes or round for umbrellas.

In addition to the catch lights, look for highlights positioned against shadows. This will help you identify the main light position relative to the subject.

To help you get started, look at the images used in the article at this link. Tell me what you think or feel free to ask me your questions.

Girl poses in doorway.

Can you determine the light source and direction for this portrait?

Light Planning

Light Equals Photography

Light plays a powerful role in photography. In addition, it is relative. A scene/subject will often have varying degrees of illumination. These are commonly know as highlights and shadows. Both highlights and shadows can be a creative tool.

Your job as a photographer is to understand the it, evaluate it creatively and control how the camera captures it. Wildlife photographer Taylor Glenn does a great job of controlling how his wildlife portraits are lit. He often photographs captive animals in studio where he can plan and control the scene. To learn more.

Photography, Portrait, Pet, Cleveland, Northeast Ohio

Not all wildlife need be wild!

Diarrhea Photography

Crappy Photography

There’s no doubt that cell phone cameras have changed they way we approach taking pictures. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ve heard me talk or rant about being smarter than the camera. With everyone walking around with a cell phone camera we’ve been allowed to take a lot of images that, well frankly are pretty crappy. The speed of which we generate all these bad images make me think of the term “diarrhea photography”

I really want people to discover the beauty of what they can “create” using their camera. So I’ve tried to bring you information to challenge your creative side and learn how to use the camera you have in your hand.

To that end check out this video showing how Jaanus Ree created his really cool winter action shot!

Give me your comments.

Photography - Male Portrait

No diarrhea photography here!

Light – Composition For Photography

Use Light and Composition

If you’ve been following me for a little while, you’ve heard me comment about understanding light in order to improve your photography. In the article attached to my post, I’d like you to examine the photographs of the artist – Vivienne Gucwa. First, notice how her images evoke a mood. Whether it’s the night scene or a snow storm. It sets the mood for the subject.

Secondly, when you look at her images do you notice your eye moving through the image. That’s her use of light combined with composition to accomplish that. Next time you pick up your camera think back to Vivienne’s images for inspiration. What are your thoughts?

Mount Rushmore Light Show

Electric lighting on Mount Rushmore at night.

Golden Hour Photography?

Golden Hour vs. Mid Day

The Golden Hour as referred to by photographers as the hour around sun up or sundown. The sun and atmosphere combine to give the photographer unique and colorful lighting. Photographers often avoid shooting mid day. Why? The more direct and overhead sun causes a lot of shadows, a lot of contrast and deep dark shadows.

So do you put the camera away during mod day? Absolutely not. This is where you have to be a photographer not a “snap-shot-er”. Huh? Yes, spend the time looking at the scene obviously for composition but also for lighting. Can you position your subject in a location where the lighting is softer and away from dark shadows? Can you shoot in an area that is in shade? Of course you can. You may have to think a little bit and take the time to find a location that gives the light you want.

Take a look at what Chris Gampat has to say on this topic. At the same time look how He controlled the light in his images.

Golden Hour vs. mid day photography

Choose an environment that offers soft light. If needed, add fill flash.

Portrait Creativity

Portrait Photography And Creativity.

Creativity, portrait photography can be the the most intimidating art form. It intimidates the photographer and the subject. Often you’ll hear subjects ask “what should I do?” and photographers themselves will wonder how to pose and work with the subject.

Often I’ll look at other photographer’s work for inspiration. Not to duplicate mind you but to  get inspired. Sometime I get a sense of WOW – and others I may just scratch my head wondering.

Well, I came upon this post illustrating the work of Denise Kwong. In my mind, it was a mixed bag of WOW and HUH?. Tell me what you think.


Portrait photography

Traditional head shot for a graduating high school senior.

Portrait photography

Relaxed portrait pose for a high school senior.


Scuba Diver Brave, Stupid Or Lucky.

Scuba Diver Touches Shark!

I caught this scuba diver article on my FB feed. The image was of a diver reaching out from a shark cage to touch the snout of a great white shark. Brave, Stupid or Lucky?

Apparently the cage was baited to attract the animal(s).  I tend to disagree with feeding as a way to attract animals – well except maybe birds. I’ve seen animals become very friendly with divers who feed them regularly. While this is cute, I’m not sure it’s geed for the animal.

Every critter in the food chain has a purpose. Maybe it’s population control, eliminating the sick or injured or keeping the environment clean. I believe associating humans with a food source is not in the animal’s interest. Anyway, read the article and check out the picture. Then give me your thoughts!

scuba diver, tom szabo,, scuba diving instructor, sharks

Shark Feeding? Your thoughts. Image by Tom Szabo.

Portraits – Duck Lips & Selfies, OUT? Let’s Hope!

Portraits are to become more creative and to speak more about the individual(s) according to report of what’s trending in photography for 2016. So, to become more creative in your photography, does that mean you may actually understand how to be creative? Gee do you think! In addition your images should speak to who is your subject?

Gee this sounds like what Professional Photographers have been doing and want to continue doing. Sorry folks, but it really is about Art. Check out the original article.

Portraits,, tom szabo, photographer

What can you learn about this young man from his portrait?

This Portrait Video Will Make You Think About Lighting

Portrait Photography And Lighting.

Portrait photography requires that you always think about lighting. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a boat-load of studio equipment or a cell phone. I found this short video demonstrating 3 different set ups. These set ups will demonstrate how you can change the result using some minor tweaks of lighting.

Obviously you’ll notice how much equipment a professional photographer uses. That’s not the point. The point here is when taking a picture of another person or persons, you have to open your eyes and plan your shot accordingly. I hope you find the video helpful! Feel free to post your questions, comments or thoughts.

tom szabo,, portrait photographer for families, high school students and executives

Notice how your eye is drawn to the subject in this image?

Scuba Divers + Underwater Gardens

Scuba Divers have begun to plant gardens underwater.

I suppose if certain aquatic plants will do well underwater, than why not vegetables. Using huge bubbles in 26 feet of water, they have started growing lettuce. The whole project has been going on for 3 years. Seeds and soil need to to be brought down in sealed containers. Scuba divers are able to work in the air filled bubbles without wearing a mask. You can read more in the full article.

scuba diver

Think About The Colors To Enhance Your Portraiture

Do you really love your family? Silly question right? Because you love them, why would you share them through lousy pictures? Today with the proliferation of smart phone camera technology, it’s too easy to shoot without thinking. I suggest taking about 3 seconds to examine your subject and their surroundings before you start snapping away. Of course think about the lighting, but don’t forget about the colors in the subject and scene. The color scheme should compliment the subject not cause conflict. Check out what Chris Gampat has to say on this topic.

Sharks – Why I love Scuba Diving!

As a scuba diver, I get to see a world that very people get to see. A lot of people ask me: Aren’t you afraid of sharks? I usually tell them I’d rather be w it sharks down below that having them chase me at the surface – Like on a surf board! Check out this video clip.

Make Shutter Speed A Photography Tool

If you have read some of my posts, you may have read this before: “You’ve got to be smarter than the camera!” That means understanding how the camera works and camera limitations. Cell phone manufacturers want you to believe that you can take professional photos with their product. Well, even a blind squirrel finds a nut! Good images are made not taken. So that means what I said earlier – “You’ve got to be smarter than the camera!”

Lets start with one of the tools used to create good images – Shutter Speed. Simply the time the sensor is exposed to light from a scene or subject. That time be be a fraction of a second to minutes. Shutter speed can be a very creative tool. Read on to learn more and see some wonderful examples.

Photography To Tell A Story

Newspaper and magazine photographers always intrigued me. They would take their camera to a  story and find just the right images to help convey the story. Think about story telling the next time you have your camera in your hands. Maybe you’re watching your kids or grand children at play or maybe you want to share some images from a trip you took. Think about the key elements of story telling. Here’s a recent post I found that talks about the very topic of story telling. Afterwards, try sharing some of your photo results.

Cell Phone Camera – Finally Some Helpful Info!

I’ve read a lot of articles written about how to use your cell phone camera to get what’s inferred to as professional results. The articles are generally written by a “technology” writer not a photographer. They all sound the same and suggest violating some of the well established photography basics. They make me fume!

You’ve heard me say this before: You have to be smarter than the camera! The camera is a tool toward a creative end. Another one of my favorites is: A bad photo with and Instagram filter is STILL a bad photo only it has an Instagram filter applied.

Finally I found a well written article offering some helpful hints to help improve your cell phone photography:

Don’t Photograph Children Sports Unless You Mean It!

Do Your Kids Play Sports?

I see a lot of my friends on FaceBook posting pictures of their kids playing sports. Frankly, the pictures are not very good. Sorry folks, but I calls em as I sees em!  As in all photography, you have to pay attention to the lighting. Start by moving so the light is at your back. Otherwise, just put your cell phone back in purse or pocket. Next look around for a telephoto lens adaptor. You need a telephoto lens to get in tight. Last, put your camera into “sports” mode or make sure you’re using a high ISO and high shutter speed (1/500 sec or faster). Don’t believe me? Read what David Berding has to say about photographing Hockey.

Photographers – We All Were Beginners!

As a photographer and a Scuba Instructor, I often tell beginners: “We all started as beginners”. It’s a thought we should all remember. We need to be reminded that we had to work to get where we are today. Here’s an interesting blog post that talks about the road we travel to improve as photographers:

A Declaration Of Love To All Our Crappy Shots


Photography – The Camera Made Simple!

This is so cool! A blog post recently came across my inbox that contains a diagram that totally explains your camera and lens operation. Check it out, I’m sure you’ll want to bookmark it for future reference.

Infographic: The Complete Guide to Photography for Beginners

Portrait Of A Proud Young Man!

Recently one of my high school seniors wanted to go on-location in addition to his studio session. No problem, where would you like to go? Being a member of the swim team, he replied: Let’s go where there is water! So off to the beach we went.

Here in northeast Ohio, we are lucky to live near the beach in Fairport Harbor Ohio. It just so happens near the mouth of the Grand River, there is a monument that includes an American flag. So up he went and we captured this image.

Outdoor location shots like these, can often put the subjects face in harsh shadow. So I powered up my flash to match the ambient exposure and fired away. I like this shot. What do you think??

young man under American flag monument.

High school senior photographed on-location at Fairport Harbor, Ohio.

What’s All The Fuss?

Have you noticed how photographers are overly protective of their images? I often get requests from people to send them digital photos. To the point they feel  they are entitled to them. Here’s an example of why photographers are so protective. A photographer image of her daughter was stolen then entered into a competition! Can you believe the nerve?  Read on……

Why Does This Photo Look So Bad?

Cell phone, point-n-shoot or DSLR camera, it doesn’t matter. A bad photo is still a bad photo. As I said before, A bad photo with an Instagram filter is still a bad photo, it just has an Instagram filter! Do you even recognize that you’ve taken a bad photo – maybe, maybe not.

Many unsuccessful photo are the result of not paying attention to lighting. I created a short video to demonstrate one of the major outdoor lighting problems and a couple hints to help correct it. I hope you find it helpful. As always, let me know your thoughts.

7 Tips To Look More Professional!

Using LinkedIn as an example, look at the profile pictures that people use? In addition, have you noticed how many people don’t have a profile photo?

Let me offer some suggestions as to how your professional head shot should or should not look:

  1. Lighting – Look at your photo to insure the lighting is even and flattering. Stay away from bright backgrounds when you are in shadow. When taking your picture in the office, use fill flash. This will keep the big black covers off your eyes. Oh yeah, take off the sunglasses. If you have dark hair, don’t stand in front of a dark or black wall. Your hair will practically disappear from your head.
  2. Exposure – Many sites may darken your photo. So if your photo is already too dark, you may disappear from view. Check that your photo has enough brightness.
  3. Location – Find a location that compliments you and makes you the appear as the subject. Stay away from photos taken at parties or your night out with the gang. In case no one told you, your car is absolutely the last place to take your professional head shot as a “selfie”. In addition, forget the “duck-lip” look.
  4. Color Balance – If you want to look professional, use the proper white balance setting on your cell phone camera. This is why your picture looks overly red or blue. Pay attention to the ambient light. If there is a lot of a single color in the lighting (a lot of red lights from the neon Budweiser sign at the bar), go to another location.
  5. Crop – There are way too many profile photos where the subject was cropped from a group photo. That hand on your shoulder from the person standing next to you is a dead give away. Crop the photo to include your head and shoulders. Don’t crop off the top of your head an ear or your chin. Stay away from cropping too little. You become almost unrecognizable when dropped from the waist to above your head.
  6. Aspect Ratio – Make sure you maintain the correct aspect ration on your photo. That will prevent the photo from being squashed making you look like a “pin-head”. Make sure the file is sized so the image does not shrink after you upload it. When this happens, you may almost disappear on some screens.
  7. Photo/No Photo? – Use a photo as opposed to the grey silhouette icon.  Most professionals will delete connection requests from unknowns with no photo.

To truly be viewed of as a professional in your industry have a professionally created head shot done. How can you be viewed as valuable if you won’t invest in yourself? If you have any questions or want to learn more about your professional head shot, please feel free to contact me.

Fairport Mardi Gras Parade 2015!

Everyone has been to a parade at some time. Lake County Ohio residents and even folks from out of town annually come to watch the Fairport Mardi Gras Parade.

With cell phone technology, people will photograph and video all kind of events, including parades. Again this year I had the privilege to carry the banner f or the Painesville Area Chamber of Commerce. The difference this year is I used my iPhone 6 to shoot video as a member of the parade. What a different perspective. It took  some editing to get it cut to it’s final length, but here it is. I hope you enjoy the parade from my perspective!

Working For FREE?

If you own a business, I’m sure at some point you’ve been asked to work for FREE. In this case the article is directed at photographers. But I’ll bet if you replace “photographer” with your profession, the scenario will sound familiar. Check out the article and give me your thoughts!

How Would You Respond as a Photographer if You Are Asked to Work for Free?

Architectural Photography Advice That Raised Some Ire.

This article on architectural photography offers an interesting approach. More interesting is the comment dialogue that followed.

Xpert Advice: Shoot Wide and Low for Better Architecture Images

How A Photographer Turned Pro!

Almost everyone today believes that technology makes you a photographer. You’ve heard me talk about understanding light, learning the craft, knowing your camera/phone and studying light. Here’s an article about Michael Afonso and his journey to turning pro.

Michael Afonso: How a Portrait Photographer Went Pro

Quick Tips For Travel Photography

Let’s face it – Photography requires some creativity. Yes you HAVE to understand some basics, but a little out-of-the-box thinking can work miracles. Check out this cool videos for some photography tricks for your next vacation.

Make Your Photography Subject Standout!

Anytime I look at an image, I expect a clear answer to the question: What’s the subject? When you ask this question, is the answer clear to you? Let’s not be concerned with camera exposure at this point. Let’s think about composition. How do you use your camera so its obvious who or what is the subject of your image. Here’s a great article to help you emphasize the subject of your photograph:

Six Ways to Draw The Eye to a Specific Subject in a Photo