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The STUPIDEST Thing You Never Knew You Needed

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Aug 29

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My favorite quote from this past weekend: “A Successful speech is a lot like a girl’s skirt: Long enough to cover the topic, short enough to keep things interesting.” – Ken


What was the thing you thought was so stupid, that you paid it no attention, but after realizing the importance of it, has become something you can’t live without. This can be about photography, business, marketing, lighting, photoshop, or life in general. :)

More Info on Gels from the awesome David Hobby at Strobist

  • Anonymous

    well done on Henri Cartier Bresson! Spot on ;)

  • Anonymous

    My stupid thing, literally, Facebook. Its the best business tool ever. I get almost 90% of my jobs off of that, find most of my models on it, and its the easiest and quickest way to share my work with pretty much everyone I know! Without my facebook page, I dont think I’d actually be where I am now. There, bam, stupid thing.

    on that note, good night! x

  • Ian Arneson

    I feel bad for calling it stupid but it has to be a WACOM tablet. It was hard to disconnect the mouse and go 100% Wacom. HOWEVER! I really really cant live without it now, it makes editing and creating in photoshop so much better, at first glance, a tablet I thought was pointless, but now I consider it my primary tool for post processing. 

  • Mariah Texidor

    Oh my goodness, thanks!  Lol

  • Greg Brave

    Just to help anyone who looks for the color wheel. There’s a great website that I found, check it out:

  • James Warwood

    I second the tablet eureka moment. I’d always written it off as a waste of plastic but now i can’t even begin to think of using a mouse to edit. Its helped my editing come on in leaps and bounds. I will never go back to a mouse! :)

  • Ben

    Thank you so much for this lesson Aaron, great stuff!
    Stupidest thing I can’t live without? Wacom tablet. Was afraid to spend the money but now it’s ridiculous that I ever thought like that in the first place.
    Second stupidest thing? a tripod.

  • Ben

    This is great Greg! Thanks!

  • Steve

    Can we click the ‘Share’ button for your pro tut?
    If you say ‘no’ I wont : )

  • Amelia Fletcher

    This is great!

  • Steve
  • Anonymous

    Love the color wheel, I never would have thought of that! I guess one simple thing I couldn’t live without is my camera bag. It’s lame, and it looks like a camera bag … but when I dropped it the other day, I was so glad my equipment was protected.

  • Jeremy Cupp

    The stupidest thing was not having a light meter. Which I really don’t fully understand how to use. I kinda know the basics, but I know there is a lot more uses I could get out of it. Maybe you could do a video on how to properly use one. I have the Sekonic L-358. Also, do you think there is an age limit to be sucessful at photography? I sometimes really regret I didn’t pick it up earlier in life and always think how must better and established I could be right now. I see this younger generation doing great work and always say that could have been me. I mean I’m still young and barely over 30, but damn! 

    Thanks for the free Phlearn Pro. I went ahead and bought two more that I passed on earlier. ;)  

  • Tavis

    I guess mine would be a sketch book. It’s great to jot down concepts and be able to refer to them later. I get inspired a lot while I drive, so I have a large pad and pen I could sloppily jot down an idea or words to remind me. In depth sketches aren’t recommended while driving ;)

  • Mark

    Stupidest thing I never knew I needed: Off-camera strobe. Used one for a shoot this weekend and it gave me the look I’ve been craving for my portraits! Can’t believe I’ve been stupid enough to go through Photo-life without lighting like that! Ugh!

  • Kiandra

    I never did this until recently, but I carry a well-detailed list (colour, texture, location, lighting) of different places to shoot. So when I go out I can look at my list and instead of trying to remember everything. I live in very small city but it’s still always helpful to have. I usually write it in a notebook so I can jot down other ideas and designs in it!

  • Stefano Tealdi

    Thanks for being Pheatured guys! :)

  • Juan Cruz

    This may not fall into this topic but one thing I learned I need in photography is money. I may be a gear head but I like to try out new stuff all the time. I also do a lot of reading and like buying photographer’s books. Just never thought I would spend so much on photography.

    Thanks for the free Plearn Pro. I really enjoy seeing how u create your images. I always learn something new.

  • -cr
    Enjoy the comments below that image! :-)

    Stupidest thing I never knew I needed: strobes (indirect or/and off camera, gelled or not, diffused or not, …). Or maybe even more stupid: color management in a web browser. Or maybe: …

  • Anonymous

    I think i can top everyone here.  The Stupidest thing i never knew i needed was a bottle of liquid paper and a little black light key chain fob.  I shoot in a lot of clubs and for kicks when I’m not shooting bands or stage shows, I like to shoot urban nightlife.  I like to shoot primes so i find that i’m constantly changing my lenses in the dark.  matching up the registration markings is impossible so i decided to get some Very White paint.. i.e. liquid paper and mark the registration point on my camera with a dot of white and then remark the registration marks on my lenses.. 2 of them didn’t have a mark at all.  When it comes time to swap out a lens i put my Black light fob (link below) and bite it to turn it on.  The ultra bright white glows making it easy to align the lens and camera body and the black light does not disturb anyone in the darkness.  I’ve had several photographers give me the “Why didn’t’ I think of that” shrug while I’m shooting.  Oh ya.. if i could have a second stupid thing it would be pepper spray… shooting urban nightlife can be scary at times.

  • RSP Photography

    here is another site, it has an interactive color wheel for complimentary, clashing, four tone, five tone, etc

  • Massimo Variolo great site (now under costruction). It helped me a lot with color associations, also because I’m colorblind! 

  • Lev Perrey

    Stupidest thing I never knew I needed: Crap-tons of rechargeable AA batteries

  • Anonymous

    HAHAHAHAAAAA…. You said, God made bananas and he’s awesome then you say HOLY CRAP? HHAHHAHAAAAAA. that was awesomely funny…

    Henri Cartier-Bresson is actually prononounced : AHREE Karrr TEEAY – Bre Sewn….. 

    The “N” is silent in Henri…

    but very good try.

    Thanks for the Color wheel talk, I actually never thought of using one… and now, I’m looking at it in a whole new way… Awesome, Aaron, Thanks.


  • Anonymous

    I must say that for me it’s the Wacom tablet too. I was intrigued to get it after you featured it in one of the episodes, and was stunned by how useful it is after trying it out! I don’t see any way of going back to using a mouse while in Photoshop!

  • Anonymous

    They are awesome right!

  • Anonymous

    haha, I will second that!

  • Anonymous

    That is so cool, I would have never thought of that!

  • Anonymous

    Sure Steve

  • Steve

    Aaron! That aint PeeWee (Paul Reubens)

    It’s Alan Cumming (Scottish actor)

    You…. you… Gonk! teheehee
    Just messin’ wit-cha, you’re not a gonk. ; )

  • Steve

    Done and done..
    The more people find Phlearn, the better, right? : )

  • Steve

    Top find!

  • Yonna

    Hm a good advice for you to follow my dear friend = ) not only 8 minutes before you cover the topic of todays episode … you also tale ALOT about things unrelevent like guessing our opinions, thing you are going to do, unrelevant story telling (why do we need to know the FULL story when you discovered the color circle? just tell us why you recommend it – we are here because we trust you.)

    I really hope this comes across as constructive criticism - Get. To. The. Point.

  • J11212

    I love the show, so I’d like to offer constructive criticism in support.

    Showing the microphone is unnecessary and distracting.  I’d use a shotgun mic and keep it off-screen.

    Cursing is also unnecessary, especially if you’re just bleeping it out anyway.  It could still be off-putting and it doesn’t drive your point any further.

    all the best,


  • Petter Haugen

    Tx Greg – that was all we needed!! Great find!

  • Petter Haugen

    Tx Greg – that was all we needed!! Great find!

  • Petter Haugen

    Great one also – and you can export to photoshop. Easy to set additional colourtoning in layers this way!!

  • Petter Haugen

    I bought the Wacom tablet together with Lightroom 3 in a package on impulse thanks to you. I used it once and thought “stupid me- easy to lead”. Then I picked it up more often, and finally ending up using almost everytime I go into CS5. Your tip about reducing the workspace on the tablet was the key-factor. I also have the mouse on the tablet.

    My tip is to spend time to set up the shortcuts on the tablet, for better workflow.

  • Anonymous

    HAHA Steve! I love that I was so wrong!

  • Anonymous

    Hey Yonna, I agree I could cut the crap a little. I just don’t want to be a tutorial site, people on this site are important to me, and I want to bring them positive attention. 

  • Mark Oehler

    Stupidest thing for me was getting wires off the floor in the studio using wireless triggers and outlets in the ceiling.

  • Steve

    They do look prrrretty similar, to be fair.

  • Meera

    Banana’s have serotonin in them which is the chemical that makes you feel happy and positive. Soo maybe that’s an explanation as to why you always seem so positive and cheerful..?

  • Jeni

    The “stupidest” thing I never knew I needed was a community of support.  Whether it’s an online community or people who support me. I thought, at first, I could just grab a camera, learn everything on my own, and go at it!  Boy was I wrong!  Support is soooooo important!

  • Mark

    Stamp Visible Layer – Boy did I need this, OMG do I feel stupid!

  • Aaron Nace


  • Samuel

    That’s what the timeline is for fool!
    I thought that showing those photos and stuff was kinda neat

  • Samuel

    I literally said ‘woah’ out loud after playing with this! Awesome!


    There’s a black spot on the upper left corner of the video that bugs me to death. I don’t know if it’s a nail in the in the wall or just a dust spot on your webcam thingie but I feel the urge to photoshop it so badly. And I know is not my screen because I’ve wiped it out about sixteen times.
    Besides, I hate bananas, they are probably the worst fruit ever. But that’s just a matter of opinion, right?!
    And… BTW, Stefano is an Italian name. thereby you should put a stress on the E, not the A. 
    Well, I’m just messin’ around with you Aaron ;)

    The stupidest thing I never knew I needed? Well, a knife sharpener. Whenever you are cooking some delicious food you want your knife to be sharp enough to cut them onions good.
    What I was trying to say here is that, I think that you Mr. Aaron Nace are AWESOME. 
    Much Respect for the effort you put in what you do. 

    I’d love to meet you in person sooner or later. If you happen to come to Switzerland again just let me know! ;)

    Your aficionado,

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