james brandonHey there! I’m James Brandon, a photography educator based out of Fort Worth, Texas. My areas of expertise are landscapes, outdoor & travel, as well as post processing in Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, and ON1 Software. If any of those interest you, I think we’ll get along quite well 🙂

While photography is a huge passion of mine, it doesn’t even begin to compare to how important my faith and family are in my life. My wife Kristin and my two sons (Isaac and Levi) are my entire world and I thank God for them every day!

Before we go any further I’d like to take a moment and invite you to sign up for my newsletter. This is by far the best way to keep up with what I’m doing. I typically send it out 1-2 times a month and it always includes news images, photo tips, announcements, discounts, etc. We’re over 20,000 photographers strong and counting!

How To Get In Touch With Me

The easiest way is to shoot me an email over at my contact page. If you’re a client I will get back to you within a day (two at the most). If you have a question or just need more info about something then I will do my best. As it stands right now I have 51,598 unread emails and I simply can’t get to them all! With random questions and emails that don’t demand an immediate response I usually let them pile up for a bit and then knock them out all at once. You can also find me on the social networks below. Feel free to follow me there as well!

Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | Twitter

All About Me, James

My path as a photographer has revolved around one thing: staying passionate about what I’m doing. I’ve been taking pictures as a career since 2009 and originally specialized in portraits and commercial work. I don’t do much of that these days save for a few select clients that I have worked with in the past and still have a great relationship with.

These days I spend my time pursuing my passion of teaching others all that I’ve learned. Back in 2012 I published my first eBook (Tack Sharp: A Step By Step Guide To Nailing Focus) and at this point, it’s sold over 20,000 copies. Pretty cool! Since then I’ve continued creating education content like in-depth video courses, more ebooks, presets, and more which can all be found in my online shop. In 2013, I started offering workshops at some pretty incredible locations around the world like Hawaii, Death Valley, Moab, Banff, etc. I’ve been blown away by the response to the workshops (many have sold out in less than 24 hours) and I cannot wait to see where we end up next!

In addition to creating content here on my site, I’m also an author for Digital Photography School and Sony’s Alpha Universe. And from time to time I create content for other companies within the industry like ON1, Google Photos, etc.

The Personal Stuff

Growing Up In Texas

I grew up in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and still live here today. I graduated high school back in 2004 and made it about three years into college before “dropping out.” I originally stopped going because I got married to Kristin and was working a full time job, but later went through the acceptance process at the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara. When I realized it was going to cost around 80k for 3 more years of my life, I said “to heck with it” and decided to go it on my own. It’s a decision I haven’t regretted for a single second. I’d probably still be paying off those school loans today and I’d be three years behind on getting my business up and running.

I consider myself a rather bad Texan. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy living here, but most people that live here are die hard Texans; like Texas is the absolute greatest place on Earth. I just don’t see it that way; I think because I’ve seen places outside of Texas and realize how beautiful and awe inspiring things are out there. Texas is flat and hot for the most part (certainly with exceptions) so I get somewhat annoyed when people talk about how Texas is the most beautiful place on Earth. It’s not (please don’t send me hate mail for that, fellow Texans). The things that keeps me here are my family (both sides of the family are here), the freedoms we have here that other states simply do not, the culture, and occasionally the weather (mainly storm season).


I am a blessed man, and I try to remember that as much as possible. We’re all blessed in different ways but I lucked out in a few areas and I do my best not to take that for granted. I have an absolutely incredible and beautiful wife who I got to marry back in 2007. Kristin is the love of my life and I seriously cannot believe she puts up with me on a daily basis :-). In 2012 we finally expanded our little family by one when we had our first son Isaac and in 2014 we had our second son Levi. They completed our marriage and our life and I literally could never explain or describe how much I love those two little guys. Any parent reading this knows what I’m talking about. We live a fun, simple life near Fort Worth, Texas. I work from home as a photographer and Kristin is now a stay at home Mommy. I’m so happy to be able to work from home and although it’s taken a lot of work and dedication to make this possible, we wouldn’t trade it for the world. And I mean that quite literally. We are also fortunate to have most of our other family living close as well and we spend a lot of time with them and love them all dearly.

Still Want To Know More?

Here’s one of those surveys we all used to fill out every day on MySpace. Remember MySpace?

  • Name: James Brandon
  • Birthday: April 24th
  • Where do you live: Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Hair color: Red….auburn really
  • Tattoos/piercings: Nope. I’m not opposed to them, just never been able to find a tattoo that I could live with forever. I had my ears pierced for a little while after high school but it didn’t last long.
  • Siblings: Older sister (Carolyn) and younger brother (Eric)
  • Religion: Christian (non-denominational)
  • Political Views: Pretty much right down the middle.


  • Photography: I know this seems obvious, but it really is my main passion. Photography has always helped me to see clearer, to savor life and capture the beauty that is all around us (that we so often overlook).
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu: I was obsessed with jiu jitsu back in 2007-2008 but only did a handful of actual classes before moving on to something else (oh how I regret that decision). Back in December of 2015 I decided to get back into it in an effort to continue my fitness goals and haven’t looked back. Without a doubt, BJJ is the most effective martial art on the planet and the benefits of training BJJ go far beyond the “self defense” aspect. I’m currently a blue belt under Sam Snow and try to train at least 2-4 times per week. Getting to black belt in BJJ takes (on average) around 10 years.
  • Reading/Learning: I love to read, whether with a traditional book or listening to books through Audible. I enjoy mostly nonfiction, choosing books that will teach me something I didn’t know before or something I want to learn more about. Check out my Reading List page for my faves!
  • Shooting Sports: Yep, I hinted at this hobby earlier on when I mentioned certain “freedoms” we have here in Texas that other states have been stripped of. I got into shooting sports as a natural (at least for me) progression from physical fitness and jiu jitsu. I believe firmly in the 2nd amendment and the idea that a well armed citizenry is one of the best deterrents against tyranny. That said, I also believe that a gun owner should know his/her firearms like the back of their hand and be incredibly proficient with them. 
  • Aviation: My father-in-law purchased a 1966 Cessna Skyhawk in 2011 and I got my pilot license in late 2012. Flying is amazing. There’s no way to describe how peaceful and soothing it is to go up and fly around during sunset when the air is smooth as glass. Although he sold the plane a few years ago, I still love aviation and will go up any time I get the chance.
  • Archery: I also got back into archery recently. I had a compound bow back in high school and spent hours every day shooting arrows in my backyard. A few years later, I worked in the archery department at Cabela’s for about a year and learned to work on them, tune them, etc. So it was only natural to get back into it all these years later. What I love about archery is that when I get stressed or antsy in my office, I can just step out and shoot arrows for a while. It’s very zen. You can’t shoot accurately if anything else is going on in your mind, so it forces you to clear your head; much like meditation.
  • Traveling: I will never understand people that don’t travel. I don’t think less of them or anything like that, I just don’t understand it. The world (as Discovery Channel would say) is just awesome. If I don’t travel somewhere every few months I start to get stir-crazy and need to get away. Maybe if I lived somewhere incredible like the Pacific Northwest or California it wouldn’t be so bad but I live in North Texas where it’s flat, hot and humid.
  • Spending time doing stuff besides work: I don’t want to spend the best years of my life working 40-80 hours a week so that I can relax and enjoy life when I’m on hospice. Tomorrow is never guaranteed so there’s no time like right now to get out there and experience the world. This will prove to be a very lengthy conversation piece should you ever sit down with me for coffee, dinner or a beer.


  • Canon or Nikon: Sony (to see all my gear, go here)
  • Why: There are many reasons but weight was one of the biggest. Of course image quality/dynamic range is up there too, along with the Zeiss glass that Sony offers with their lenses.
  • Favorite Subject To Photograph: Right now, it’s an enormous supercell that won’t fit in one frame with my super wide lens. But I don’t get those terribly often, so I’ll also take a dramatic seascape during a beautiful sunset or a snowy sunrise in the Canadian Rockies.
  • Favorite Lens: My Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 is my favorite at the moment. I use it for probably 80% of the shots I take.
  • Mac or PC: Mac. I grew up on PC’s and always hated them. As Steve Jobs said, they have no souls. I have an iMac, a MacBook Pro, an iPad, an iPhone, and Apple TV. They all work together and it’s great. I tried Android for around 6 months when I got a pair of Google Glass but it just wasn’t as good of an experience. I switched back to Apple as soon as the iPhone 6 came out and doubt I’ll ever look back.
  • Is Gear Really That Important: Yes and No. No you don’t have to have an incredible camera to take incredible pictures. My iPhone can take incredible pictures. The reason I invest in really nice camera bodies and lenses isn’t to take better pictures, it’s to give me more ways to create better pictures. More options. I’ve stood next to countless people in dark situations where their camera just isn’t getting the job done and they can’t figure it out. Meanwhile I’m shooting away capturing images with ease. If the scene was well lit we could both take great images. The only difference is that my gear lets me shoot in more conditions.
  • School Or Self-Taught: I never went to school for photography. I did a few years of community college and just didn’t see the point in finishing. I was already working full time, I was married and there just wasn’t time for school. When I started my photography business I had a choice: Either put my life on hold another couple of years and go to school for photography, or use that time to grow my business and learn on my own. I don’t regret my decision one bit. I learned through trial and error, online courses and videos, books and more. That said, I don’t subscribe to the term “self-taught” any more than I do the term “self-made man.” That would imply that I sat in a room by myself learning about aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc purely on my own through trial and error. It would imply that I opened up Photoshop for the first time and just started figuring it out one click at a time without any assistance at all. Nobody does that. I learned how to use my camera and how to process photos by reading books and articles, by watching videos. All those books, articles, and videos were created by other photographers/teachers. I also learned by going out with other photographers on shoots and trips and picking up tips and tricks along the way. I’m not self taught. I’ve had hundreds (if not thousands) of informal teachers along the way. Some of whom I know, while others I’ll never know.


  • Color: Blue (I know, original right?)
  • Candy: Dark chocolate covered pretzels
  • TV Shows: Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld, Broad City, Breaking Bad, True Detective, Game of Thrones, Dexter, Fargo, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  • Movies: Office Space, Citizen Kane, Black Hawk Down, Anchorman, Best In Show, Inception, Once, Pineapple Express, The Revenant, I could go on…
  • Music: All kinds. Anything from Jars of Clay to Willie Nelson to Monte Montgomery to Tom Petty. But not Conway Twitty. No sir.
  • Food: Mexican. I could eat it every day, and often do.


  • Pepsi Or Coke: Iced Tea (unsweet)
  • McDonalds or Burger King: Chipotle.
  • Chocolate or Vanilla: Chocolate. Dark.
  • TV or Movies: Both!
  • Day or Night: Sunset or Sunrise 🙂
  • Burgers or Hotdogs: Burgers.
  • Waffles or Pancakes: My Nana’s famous french toast


  • What color is your toothbrush: Blue
  • Do you believe in love at first sight: Yep!
  • Have you ever wished upon a star: Don’t think so. I’ve never been superstitious.
  • What instruments do you play: Guitar. Used to play every day and in the church band but lost interest eventually. Can’t sing 🙁
  • What was your first car: A 1985 Mustang. It barely ran. The top wouldn’t go up, the brakes were terrible, the AC didn’t work, the power everything didn’t work and it had at least two loose rods in the engine. But…it was mine!
  • Biggest Regret: Not spending more time with my Nana. She was the sweetest lady I’ve ever known, and I loved her dearly. I saw her at least once or twice a year, but that wasn’t enough. She was diagnosed with pre-leukemia in 2011 when Kristin was pregnant with Isaac and passed away from complications with surgery in early 2012 before he was born. The last time I saw her before she went into the hospital was during her birthday dinner when Kristin was about 4-5 months pregnant. She knelt down and rubbed Kristin’s belly and told Isaac how much she loved him and how she couldn’t wait to finally meet him. One of my favorite memories ever, and even though she didn’t get to meet him here on Earth, I know she will one day in Heaven.


  1. Almost speechless reading some things on your site, yet to devour the article for those starting out in photography. Too many things i identify with …colour Blue, travelling, photgraphy, April, your appreciating your wife and the best of all loving Jesus. Hoping to come to this site more.

  2. Hi James I enjoyed reading profile. I have a Canon T2i and was wondering what online courses did you take that helped you along the way. Thanks.

  3. Hi James,
    Just found your site and am enjoying reading. I also live in the DFW area and am an aspiring pro in an armature body. I have shot some weddings, school dances and senior pictures but still pretty “green” and nervous to take on bigger shoots. I have been out of photography for a bit except for vacations. Just started to get the passion back and use my grand-kids for practice. Have played with taking online courses to take the next step but not sure. I have a Cannon Rebel xt and a 3ti but not many lenses yet. Some older cameras as well. Any tips on great places to shoot around DFW? Thanks for helping me with my passion and look forward to reading and learning more..

  4. Your book looks interesting. Tried to buy it, (Tack Sharp: A Step By Step Guide To Nailing Focus (3rd Edition) but I think you never heard about Canada in your address.
    Have a nice day.

  5. Hi James,
    I read with interest your Bio and am amazed that we have similar interests! I am currently on-site in Bellevue, Washington and noticed that the Seattle region peaks your interest. I do love photography, but do not yet have as much time as I would like to hone my skills on a full-time basis.
    Would love to meet you if you get back to the Pacific Northwest. I used to live in Fort Worth and enjoyed my time the 4 years my wife and I lived there. Hoping to be able to have a chance to relocate to FW again!

  6. James,

    I’ve been unable to download my order for “Start to Finish Guide To Processing Landscapes” Order # 17482. The link no longer works. Please send a new link.


  7. Hi James, I enjoyed reading your blog, absolutely fascinating and if it wasn’t that I was now on the wrong side of 60 I would love to have been doing some of the things you have been doing because I am a landscape photographer. I am in the southern hemisphere, in Australia and where I live it is not flat, it is all up and down and there are mountain tops and gullies and there is bush and there are creeks and waterfalls and there are hidden places to find and my camera goes with me everywhere. I actually did do a photo course because I wanted to learn a few new things and I did indeed learn many new things and now I take much better pictures, in any light, even by moonlight. I have a Canon 5D, a macro lens, a 75 – 105 lens and an old zoom, 70 – 300, but I am setting my sights on a new zoom soon. A prime flash and a slave flash as well and two tripods. Also a ring light, neutral density filter and off-camera shutter release cable. I must say that since I got really interested in photography, it is now my driving passion.

  8. Love your landscapes and wondered how much photoshopping you do to get the colors and effects. Also, tried to download your free Fibonicci grid and spiral and the website said it was not there. Can I still get them?
    Thanks and thank you for the great articles on dps.

    1. Author

      John, it just depends on the image. Every image goes through some amount of “photoshopping” but that could just involve some contrast and detail work or something much more in depth. That Fibonacci grid overlay has been down for a while. I’ll get it back up one of these days but it is available in Lightroom for anyone.

  9. Hi James,
    Just purchased your start to finish guide to processing
    Landscapes. Received an email with a download link
    However when I try to access the site I get the following
    The page you requested generated a server error and could
    not be processed. You might try refreshing the page.
    If you continue to get this message, you should contact the site owner.

    Can you please check the link for me.
    Best regards

    1. Author

      Hey Roger, if you haven’t already, please shoot me an email (just reply to the email containing your receipt) and I give you a direct link to download the course. This is a known issue that we are having some trouble getting fixed but we are working hard!

  10. Love to see you publish links to your work. OK, I have traveled all over the world and still love Texas – best people ever. I agree you are a terrible Texan simply to perpetuate the myth that Texas is all flat etc. sounds like you travel all over except to see this beautiful state. Get out of Keller. I appreciate that you like to teach others – that is quite honorable. My guess is some day you will know you missed out by not getting that degree – when you tell your kids you quit! Congrats on all that you do and on pup.ishing the new book.

  11. Hi James while looking over your site I came across the vid on the Lee Filter system, for the money the design is a little poor. I admit I have not got that system, if I had I would have looked at replacing the spring loade clip on the side with a similar threaded one like on the other system you have changed to. I an many others could not afford to change like that

  12. Wow… such nicely you have put everything. Interesting to read James.. Your family is very beautiful 🙂 Got to know real man and his liking and dis-liking behind our PhotoWhoa vendor James Brandon 🙂

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