Great Manuals For Creative People

I started my collection of manuals many years ago, they take up most of one of my bookcases. I love learning and I think a lot of you do too! I picked out four of them that I feel any creatively driven person should read. Also anyone who wants to get better at photography, graphic design, screenwriting and who wants some motivation.

Some of these are books I got while I was in college getting my diploma in graphic design and photography. Save The Cat is a book that was recommended and Tools Of Titans was staring at me from its shelf, daring me to take it home. Unfortunately I left a copy in another province, so I had to buy another copy.


If you want some motivation, lifestyle habits and advice from successful people across all sorts of careers and life paths. It isn’t meant to be read cover to cover, rather to be read casually, stopping and starting anywhere you want. I ignored this at first and found it difficult to read, then I decided to listen to what Tim Ferriss had written about how to easily digest all the information by skipping around and found it to be a great tool in helping me develop healthier behaviours and treat myself and others a little more kindly.


Could you pick a better title? I remember getting this book in college because it was on the reading list, and laughed audibly when reading the title. After many years of doing graphic design, I understand the title much better. It goes through how to deal with customers, especially when they push for free services or unethical services. How to find a job as a designer, branding and a lot more. It is not a step by step process as to how to do these things, but rather a brutally honest explanation of how the process itself works.


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As you can tell by the sticky notes in the book, this is one I’ve reached for enough times that I just sticky noted the pages I wanted to re-read again. This book goes through the basics off all common forms of photography, lens recommendations, lighting for different situations, best print options, and most importantly, how not to screw up shooting a wedding. I would recommend this book to any aspiring photographer, and to a lot of more experienced photographers who have become a little complacent


Save The Cat. Widely believed to be the best book on screenwriting available. This is written more as a narrative than it is an instructional manual. You can sit down on the couch, read the whole thing and not realize you have just inhaled knowledge. It takes you through the basics of screenwriting, how to plan a story, section your story and take it from thoughts to the page.


What more can I say? These are great books, all are still in print and you can find all of them in a bookstore near you. If you have any books to recommend for me, I would love to hear about them! Please comment down below with your favourite book for creatives!

10 Shots To Get In February

Common practice for photographers is to assemble a shot list for events, days and photoshoots, but for promotional work, personal blogs, Shutter Stock contribution and Instagram, it can be difficult to put together a list.

Common practice for photographers is to assemble a shot list for events, days and photoshoots, but for promotional work, personal blogs, Shutter Stock contribution and Instagram, it can be difficult to put together a list. Below is 10 interesting shots to get in February with a few suggestions for each.

  1. Your Favourite View Of Your City : A skyline shot, an interesting shot of a bridge, the downtown street, anything you like in your city.
  2. Something White : Snow, marble, a statue or a textured fabric.
  3. Water : A river, a lake, the ocean, an outstandingly clear glass.
  4. Trees : A forest, a solo tree, a small indoor tree, a shot from inside a tree (please be careful climbing).
  5. Something Very Small : A ring, the iris of an eye, s snowflake.
  6. Iron : A bridge, a fence.
  7. Interesting Angle of a Car : Down the run of the body, close up of a model, shot though the interior.
  8. An Indication of Time : A clock, cool watch, clock tower, time lapse.
  9. Something That Scares You : Clown, bat, the darkness, a cat.
  10. Gold : A ring, jewelry, home decor.

If you want to share any of your photos or share where you posted them please do down below!

How To Set Up An Indoor Photography Studio

Having changeable backdrops is also recommended. Though a green screen is fun to work with, especially with video, it doesn’t work well for portraits.

Three Light Set Up

Each aspect of photography can be a little daunting at first and the cost affiliated to professional equipment can appear to be a mountain, especially when you’re just figuring out your set up. When it comes to indoor studio photography the standard is five primary lights for full lighting coverage, though a lot of photographers use a simpler 3 light system. In this we are going to cover an inexpensive way to figure out which style works for you before investing in hundreds of dollars on lighting kits and covers. 

Five Light Set Up

A great way to start a basic lighting kit to play around with is with clamp lights, which go for around $20.00. These allow for very versatile set up and are not likely to get damaged while figuring out a set up that works for you. When using these you have the option of switching kinds of bulbs, allowing for white light or ambient lighting. They are also great to put light gels over when using LED bulbs as they don’t emit a lot of heat. Non dimmable bulbs are preferable in this set up and all lights should be the same kind and light level. Adjusting the lighting is done by distance and angle from the subject. Below are diagrams for basic three and five light set ups. This works well with portraits for people and pets, product shoots and video. 

Clamp Light

A tripod is not necessarily required to make this set up work, but for the sake of editing pictures later, it is highly recommended. Having a blank slate with your lighting set up can save a picture that has irregularities. Decent quality tripods are not overly expensive anymore and many can be purchased on Kijiji for under $50.00. I would recommend aluminium as it is inexpensive and can be used outdoors without fear of rusting.

Now for this DIY kit the total cost comes out to roughly $110.00 for a three light set up and $150.00 for a five light set up. That being said, using a DIY kit with clients in the room does not inspire confidence or a feeling of a professional work environment. For product shoots, personal projects, figuring out your system and personal video work this is a great way to go! 

Basic Lighting Kit

Once clients enter the room, a more professional set up will give you better credibility. That professional kit does not have to cost you an arm and a leg though. Kits can come as low as $200.00 that include a frame, three soft lights and generally come with a green screen.

Having changeable backdrops is also recommended. Though a green screen is fun to work with, especially with video, it doesn’t work well for portraits. Soft whites, blues and black are good backgrounds for people. Standard Muslin backdrops can be purchased online for around $25.00 and adjustable frames vary from $45.00 to $200.00. 

That’s the basic kit for indoor photography when it comes to your indoor lighting and screens. If you have an any questions or want to add anything, please do so in the comments down below. 

The Secrets To Outdoor Portrait Photography

It’s incredible the difference a blanket and fresh socks can make during an outdoor shoot. No one wants cold feet and keeping the model more comfortable will absolutely make for better results and less editing.

To any upcoming photographer outdoor shoots can seem a little daunting, as you have limited control over the lighting, other people in the area and most especially, the wind. Not to fear! The key to outdoor shoots is flexibility. Being able to work with what you have instead of rigidly trying to work an unfeasible plan.

Brianna C.

For example, with the shot above I knew the lighting was not ideal and with her hair colour against the brick there would be issues balancing out my highlighted areas. Instead of sticking to a balanced shot, where there would be no “blow out” or excessive lighted areas, we played with the over exposed style, allowing the scenario to take us in that direction. Both the client and I were happy with our decision to do so, as we got a series of more interesting shots.

Brianna C.

In this shot the winds were starting to pick up, so we simply adjusted her position to face diagonally to the wind to allow for a more dynamic looking shot. Again we continued with our over-exposed style and it turned out great. Had we stuck to the original plan of having a more subdued look, with perfectly coifed hair and no movement in the photo we would have struggled to find that shot until we lost the afternoon light we were working with.

In short, be flexible and anticipate weather getting in the way of a planned shot. To help you do this, I would recommend keeping a few things in your kit or vehicle during an outdoor shot.

  • Umbrella
  • Battery Powered Flood Light
  • Hairspray
  • Baby Wipes
  • Basic Cosmetics
  • A Blanket (To protect and keep your model comfortable)
  • Socks
  • Alternate Lenses

It’s incredible the difference a blanket and fresh socks can make during an outdoor shoot. No one wants cold feet and keeping the model more comfortable will absolutely make for better results and less editing. I would also strongly recommend becoming more comfortable playing with new styles, themes and locations to gain more experience with split second style decisions. The more experience you have with a variety of different scenarios, the quicker you’ll be able to adapt in the future.

Hope you enjoyed and maybe picked up a new trick or two. If you have any advice to share to new photographer, or us older ones as well, please share in the comments.