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An amazing thing happened at Breakfast!

November 26, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

I went down to have a lighting workshop with the amazing Craig Lamere in Idaho and it was a fabulous workshop! But one of the biggest highlights for me was at Breakfast on the Saturday before the workshop really got started! One of the gals who had sat down with me looked up from her laptop and blurted out, "I'm so blogging about you!" I must have looked a little shocked because Gina leaned over reassuringly and said" IT's OK you do want her to do this!" So I did not think much of it until driving home on the Monday and I stopped for a mid morning coffee and there it was.... holy mackerel! I was and am so humbled by what Bonnie wrote and saw in me considering we had known each other for less than 36 hours! To Bonnie I will always be grateful for the blog she wrote as follows:



31 Days of Photographers that Inspire: Day 21: Getting Bear Naked with Tony Dathan

Day 21: What do grizzly bears and glamorous women have in common?  They both have Tony Dathan.  

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I found today’s inspiration in a world of photography that I could have easily missed if my eyes hadn’t been wide open and I don’t want anyone else to miss what I found!


My friend Gina and I sat down at a breakfast table with a photographer who we could tell took his work very seriously.  But I had no idea that when he pulled out his iPad that my world was about to be rocked in the most unexpected way.

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Image by image Tony began to show us his close encounters with wild animals from his exotic adventures and life in Vancouver.  The images alone brought me to tears with their crisp beauty and dynamic colors, but what made my jaw drop and my head swirl was when he started explaining his secrets to getting the most gorgeous light and exposure I had ever seen. They were more like portraits than any nature images I had ever seen.  If I was the mother of these animals, I’d be proud to have these portraits hanging in my cave. The emotion he captures in their eyes makes me feel like I could reach out and hug these animals.

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His secret?  Women.  That’s right…Tony also shoots beautiful women with equally mind blowing perfection.  But what is the connection between grizzly bears and women and Tony’s camera?


Tony told us about his photographer hero, Julia Kuzmenko, a brilliant fashion photographer and retoucher.  Both he and Craig LaMere learned to refine their own styles from her incredible teachings.  Tony has studied her methods in depth as well as other genius artists and has mastered how to make women look flawless and applies his techniques to the wilderness.  How does he get that bear fur looking perfectly sharp and crisp?  Just check out his models’ eyelashes.  How about their perfectly exposed and colored fur and environments?  It’s all in the magic of the way he gets his models’ skin tones perfected.

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While he can’t pose his wild animals, he can certainly give them the same flattering light and color attention that he gives the women who are lucky enough to end up in front of his camera.

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Awesome Photoshop Tips from Tony

Tony is humble, inquisitive and generous with his knowledge and he shared a couple of his magic tricks with us that just may change my life.

If you want the women you shoot to be a tad taller, but still mathematically proportional?  Change the height in your image to 104%.  No more.  I failed every math class I have ever touched so don’t ask me about the science behind it, but I trust the man.


Do you want the crisp, brilliant colored, almost HDR look to wild moving animals that are impossible to keep still long enough to snap multiple exposures of?  Tony starts off in Lightroom and gets his exposures for the highlights looking fantastic.  Then he opens the image in Photoshop.  Then he goes back to Lightroom and sets his exposures on the same image for the mid tones.  He opens that image in Photoshop and layers it on top of the first image. Then he goes back to Lightroom and sets the image for the shadows.  He repeats this process as many times as needed to make sure he has a perfect exposure for every inch of the frame and then uses layer masks to erase the layers until they all blend together as one perfect image.  This was definitely one of those, “why didn’t I think of that?” tips that I’ll definitely be using immediately!


All I know for certain is that one of you MUST, MUST, MUST have a National Geographic Magazine connection that can get Tony’s work in their hands.  He’s too humble to realize he belongs there and I’m determined that within this beautiful world of networking someone will be able to help National Geographic find the man who can make a polar bear look glamorous.  They NEED him. (seriously, friends, pull out your connections for this artist!)


You can follow Bonnie and Gabriel at www.facebook.com/2birdsphotography or visit my fine art/conceptual photography site at www.bonniealrifai.com.



Bonnie while Nat Geo has not yet come knocking on my door it is enough for me that you want me in it! Great big Bear Hugs, thanks and best wishes! Oh and this proves how bad I am at Social Media that I only just today thought it would be a good idea to put this on my own blog! Lol!


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