Wednesday
Jul
2014
30

It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Blake Rudis!

by Brad Moore  |  2 Comments

I cannot begin to start writing this post without saying thank you for this opportunity to both Brad and Scott. I threw my seat back when I saw the email come in from Brad asking if I could share my story, I think I ran around my basement (my office) holding my head pinching myself asking over and over if this was even real. After reading this post you will understand completely!

Tuesday, March 18th 2014, we were sitting on the edge of the bed having a discussion about time and just how limited it was.

“Babe, I have 3 things going on in my life right now that stretch me in every direction. I have a beautiful family, a blog, and a job that pays the bills. Something has to give and it sure is not going to be the family,” I said to my wife as I put one of three fingers down.

I continued, “I can keep doing this job, day in day out working 10 hours a day with a 1 hour commute on each end and I can drop the blogging. Or I can quit my job and see where this goes.”

We had this conversation many times before, not to this extreme or to this extent. I had a feeling that it would end like it usually did, with a “well, you do what you gotta do, Love.” However, she threw me for a whirl!

“Quit your job…” Those three words made my heart sink into my chest and all I could think was, ”Is this really a possibility? What about the kids? The house? Can I really do this? “ I slept on the idea. I don’t know how I slept, but I did.

The next morning I quit my full time job. As I look back on it all I can think of are three phrases that we hear all of the time, but we never really listen to.

Everything Happens for a Reason
It was sometime in early July of 2010 that I signed up for my very first Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo Walk event. I thought it was a very cool idea, but I had no idea who Scott Kelby was. I wasn’t into the photo training industry at the time, heck, I had no idea it even existed. I signed up because I was looking to meet other photographers.

The photo walk was in the Marin Headlands just across the Golden Gate Bridge. What a gorgeous place for a photo walk! I was walking up a hill to overlook the ocean when a gentleman asked me what I was doing because he heard 5 continuous shots for every photo I was taking. I told him I was doing some HDR and we got on a very long discussion about it.

I didn’t see a camera in his hand so I thought he was either someone’s friend or a straggler. At the end of the event he said, “Here is my card, shoot me an email sometime and you should really consider going to Photoshop World.”  I glanced at the card and read it in my head, “Matt Kloskowski, Kelby Media Group… interesting.”

I started to put some things together, Kelby Photo Walk, Kelby Media Group, Photoshop World… This sounds awesome! After battling with the idea for a while, I decided to go. Well, let me rephrase that… My wife made me go.

I went to Photoshop World thinking I knew 95% of everything I needed to know about Photoshop… after day 2, I realized I knew 5% of nothing about Photoshop! I was a sponge soaking up every ounce of information I could. I took tons of notes regardless of the giant book that came with the event.

I even got counseled by Vincent Versace in the middle of his lesson for taking notes during his course after he said, “No need to take notes.” The thing is, I didn’t want to forget anything so I wrote and wrote and wrote during every course. I even snuck in a few more after his warning.

I went to one session about Blogging with Matt Kloskowski, Scott Kelby, and Jeff Revell. Before that course I thought bloggers just liked to hear themselves talk. I had no idea how effective and helpful they could be. After the course I talked to Matt about a blog he said, “You should start a blog about HDR…” My initial thought was, “If Matt Kloskowski tells you to start a blog… you start a blog!”

He directed me to RC’s WordPress course on Kelby Training. I signed up as soon as I got home and on September 6th 2010, my first post went live on EverydayHDR.

Everything really does happen for a reason.

Hard Work Pays Off
I had no idea what direction to go with the blog when I first started, but I knew I wanted to share my knowledge of HDR with the world. I began with 3 days a week Monday, Wednesday, & Friday. Monday was themed for whatever I wanted to post from what I shot over the weekend.  Wednesday was either a featured artist interview or a product review. Friday was free tutorial Friday.

Anyone who blogs knows that three times a week can be a CRAZY idea, especially with a full time job and a family. I didn’t know that, I had just started! I kept that pace for about 2 years never missing a beat. I remember the frustration of posting, checking my stats, no one watching. Read that last sentence about 150 more times… that was my life for the first 2 years.

I didn’t understand it. I was posting good quality stuff. I was putting out Video Tutorials on YouTube every Friday just to get 1 view here, maybe 3 more there. I had to do something else to gain credibility.

In December 2012, I self-published my first book, Exploring HDR. It wasn’t a best seller, it didn’t hit the top 100 (unless I put it up for free, then I watched it fly off the shelves!), but I didn’t let that bring me down either. I had my first book published online, available for download and it felt good.

It felt good to know that I wrote the entire book on my breaks at work. I didn’t have time to do it at home. Instead of watching the “Price is Right” on my break, I was on the computer typing chapter after chapter. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with watching the “Price is Right,” I was just on a mission!

It felt so good, I wrote another book, The DSLR Survival Guide, and another, 11 Things Every Photographer Should Know About HDR Photography. These weren’t your typical eBooks on Amazon, they were anywhere from 100 to 280 pages. I wrote every word, designed every image, and read each book 6 times from a different perspective during their revisions.

  1. The Author
  2. The Beginning Photographer
  3. The Novice Photographer
  4. The Advanced Photographer
  5. The Editor
  6. And one more time to make sure all my i’s were crossed and t’s were dotted.

Around the same time I started conducting webinars with Topaz Labs. They were recognizing me as a “professional.” I remember saying to my wife, “Hey Babe, they are calling me a professional, do they know I am just a guy with a blog?”

The credibility from the Webinars was starting to drive a lot more traffic to the blog. I was stoked! I couldn’t believe that 14,000 people would take time out of their month to visit what I had been writing.

I was receiving a lot of feedback from viewers asking me if I did any full-length tutorials. At the time, I just gave little 5-15 minute snippets. I was beginning to realize that people actually wanted to see what I was doing and how I was getting my results. While I would love to have given that information out for free, I realized it was valuable. This led to a subscription based website, HDRInsider, which started in November 2013.

The books and the subscription site were generating some decent revenue. However, it was not enough to quit my job, or support my family, but it was enough to support the expensive photography hobby! In early February I put my first full-length training package online, Black, White & Beyond: The Digital Zone System. I thought this was going to be our ticket.

I knew this package had potential to blow up the scene. However, my reach was not very large. I didn’t have time to spread it on social media, the other photographers I reached out to in the community either did not respond to me or told me it was not something that interested them to promote, which I completely understood. All I had was an email list, a very small email list.

It didn’t sell as much as I would have liked it to, but that was all about to change. On March 18th I did a Webinar with Topaz Labs. It was about creating an efficient workflow in Photoshop using Topaz Products. I went through the whole webinar discussing Topaz products without mentioning the new training package.

At the very end, within the last 3 minutes, I was asked to show the Digital Zone System. I ran through the process and showed how powerful the system was to an audience of about 980 people. Within an hour after the Webinar had concluded those 3 minutes generated 30 sales and more were trickling in. It was at this time that my wife and I sat on the corner of the bed and looked at the PayPal account on my phone.

“Quit your job…  Think about it Blake, you spend maybe 10-20 minutes a night doing what you are truly passionate about. If you quit your job you could do it 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and get a month’s work done in 2 days. I wouldn’t tell you to do it if I didn’t think you could.”

She was right. Of course she was right, my wife is always right!

Since then, I have created yet another efficient workflow technique, the Color Zone System, which works so well with the Digital Zone System. People ask me all of the time, “It is great that you are doing what you love, but is there really any money in Online Photography Education for a small business guy like yourself?”

I tell them, “Well, I am a professional photographer who has only made $400 off of his camera this year, yet there is a roof over our head and the kids are fed. I’d say there is.” 

Money is all fine and well, but it is not what drives my passion, it is just compensation for the hard work. I meet people every day online via email, social media, and my blogs. I am helping people overcome problems with their post processing workflow that took me years to do.

Through this I have learned that my passion is not necessarily my photography. I am passionate about the process of helping people become better photographers. Receiving a “Thank you” is much more rewarding than a dollar.

Looking back on all of it, I can attest:

Hard work really does pay off.

You Never Know What the Future Holds
Four years ago I was a Master Parachute Rigger working full time in the Air Force National Guard with photography as a hobby at best. If you were to tell me that in a few years I would be a professional blogger I would have laughed at you.

So I have a couple questions for you,

Are you going to sign up for your first Photo Walk this year?
You never know, a chance meeting or a business card exchange could send your life in a new direction. As long as you keep an open mind to the people that you meet and the opportunities that present themselves there is no telling what will happen.

Are you planning on going to Photoshop World?
Whether you are a professional photographer or a hobbyist like I was, there is something for everyone at Photoshop World. I was actually about to skip the blogging course to go walk the strip in Vegas for some fresh air. Because of that course, I left Photoshop World a new person. I was filled with inspiration and motivation beyond what words can even begin to describe. Thank you Scott, Matt, Jeff, and RC.

I can’t help but think about the movie The Butterfly Effect.

What would have happened if I didn’t take my wife’s advice and go to Photoshop World?
What would have happened if I didn’t go to the blogging course?
Would I have ever started EverydayHDR?
Would I be where I am now?

The reality is you can drive yourself mad thinking about what could have been only to find out you are wasting valuable time on what IS right now.

I don’t know what the future holds, it is not my responsibility to worry about that.  I do know this though; the future, regardless of what it will be, is exciting!

I will be at Photoshop World this year on the Expo Floor sharing my training packages and websites. I look forward to meeting you there, heck, I’ll even give you my business card!

You can see more of Blake’s work and tutorials at EverydayHDR.com and HDRInsider.com, and follow him on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.

Tuesday
Jul
2014
29

It’s Here! My New Book “The Digital Photography Book, Part 5: Photo Recipes” is in stock!

by Scott Kelby  |  15 Comments

It arrived in bookstores sooner than we thought (yay!), and it’s here now, complete with bonus selective color image no one was expecting (and at no extra cost).

Here’s the link to it on Amazon.com (both Print and Kindle version are in stock) and the Nook eBook version is available now at  Barnes & Noble.com and the print edition should be available there any minute.

What’s the book all about? Check out the video below. :)

Thanks to everybody around the world who has supported this book series from the start, and who enabled me to bring you this fifth part to the series. I’m really excited about the release, and hope you find it really helpful.

Best,

-Scott

Monday
Jul
2014
28

Seven Quick Things To Start Your Monday Off Right

by Scott Kelby  |  6 Comments

1. Did you miss Thursday’s “Photoshop World-a-thon?”
If you missed Thursday you missed out on a ton of Photoshop and Photography tips. Besides what “The Photoshop Guys” did live on the air (including my live shoot with a “Big ‘ol soft box”) a bunch of our instructors shared video clips of tips to air on the show, and it was literally packed-full of cool stuff (the idea of course, being we’d give you a sample of the stuff we’re teaching in our classes at Photoshop World Las Vegas and that you give you some idea of what we do for three solid days, and then you’d want to come and be a part of it all, and meet everybody in person, and all that. Here’s the link — you can watch the free rebroadcast right now:  http://photoshopworld.com/athon/ 

2. They say this past Wednesday’s Episode of “The Grid” was one of our best ever!
The topic was: “”Why you’re not shooting video with your DSLR like you thought you would” and we did something we rarely do on “The Grid” we did a step-by-step tutorial (when you see it, you’ll see why). And, we did the entire tutorial in just 5 minutes (we ran a countdown timer), but you should start watching around the 20 minute mark (the first part was me giving my “most embarrassing photography story” and God knows you heard that already. Anyway  here’s just a few of the comments I saw online after the show aired:

> “Mind blown! You totally delivered. Looking up my unused videos now…”

> “That show was an epiphany for me mate.”

> “…thank you from the bottom of my heart for your continued sharing of things.”

> “Absolutely amazing episode. Hats off to you guys. Now i will starting editing all the videos that i shoot with my DSLR.”

> “You have blown my mind yet again…that was the best ever Grid…”

> “Absolutely amazing show.”

Hope you’ll check it out — if you’re sitting there with a bunch of video clips on your computer and no movies to show for it, this could change everything for you in just five minutes. Thanks for checking it out.

3. This year at Photoshop World Nikon is doing free camera cleanings, too!
Canon has been doing free DSLR Sensor cleanings for the past few Photoshop World’s (how awesome is  that!), and this year we’re delighted to announce that Nikon Professional Services (NPS) will be there as well doing cleanings for Nikon DSLR shooters. If you’re going to Photoshop World, all you have to do is sign up in advance at this link.

4. Our new Kelby One “Trailblazers: Powerful Women of Photography” Series
I was very fortunate to have the incredibly talented Mia McCormick (above) as my Guest Blogger here last Wednesday, and she did such a fascinating post that gives you some insight into what it’s like to be a journalist/photography storyteller sharing the stories of folks like Joe McNally, Joel Grimes, Lindsay Adler, and Gregory Heisler among many others,  and it was really wonderful. But in her post she made a very important introduction to a new series Mia is producing for KelbyOne online training called “Trailblazers: Powerful Women of Photography” and I didn’t want that announcement to slip under the radar — she’s really onto something special here. The series launches in just a few weeks, but in the meantime make sure you check out Mia’s post from last Wednesday. I promise, you’ll totally dig it. Here’s that link. 

5. If you’re a Canon EOS 1Dx shooter, I did a video on the free Firmware 2.0
If you’re a sports or wildlife photographer shooting a Canon 1Dx, I did a short video for Canon going through all the new auto focus features in the free Firmware 2.0 update (and I’ve embedded it right above). Hope you 1Dx shooters find it helpful. Here’s a behind the scenes from the shoot (below).

6. We’re giving away FIVE signed copies of my new book, “The Digital Photography Book, Part 5: Photo Recipes”
Over on the KelbyOne Twitter page, they are doing a giveaway of my new book (and I believe they are choosing the winners today). Here’s the deal (I copied this tweet from the K1 page):

“If u want to win an autographed copy of @ScottKelby‘s NEW Digital Photography Book Part 5, tell us why & use the hashtag #DigitalPhotoBook5

Needless to say I’ve already seen my share of tweets that say stuff along the lines of “Because he has a selective color effect in his book.” Funny. Ugh. ;-)

7. Let’s wrap up with some inspiration with a look at an amazing photographer: Chris Burkard
It’s another installment of SmugMug Film’s brilliant series on photographers, and this one is called “Arctic Swell: Surfing The End of the Earth.  called SmugMug Films. It’s incredibly well done from start to finish (you should subscribe to their youtube page — – all their videos are really just incredible). My hats off to SmugMug for bringing these photographer’s stories to life through tho series.

Well, that’s it folks — thanks so much for stopping by, and we’ll see ya back here tomorrow. Feel the love! :)

Best,

-Scott

Friday
Jul
2014
25

Probably My Most Embarrassing Photography Story Ever

by Scott Kelby  |  27 Comments

I thought’d I’d better tell this story myself before it takes on a life of its own, so on this past Wednesday’s episode of “The Grid” I went ahead and spilled the beans. I have already taken quite a bit of ribbing about it (including emails from friends poking fun, people calling, and even images sent my way), but I feel the only way to deal with this is to just put it out there, take my lumps, and try to move on.

So, here’s a short excerpt from The Grid (above) where I explain what is probably my most embarrassing photography story ever (and those of you that follow me here know that’s going to take some doin’). I didn’t tell RC what the story was in advance, so his reaction is real, and priceless — just the look on his face alone is worth watching the clip.

All I ask is two words: Be kind. ;-)

Hope you have a less embarrassing weekend than I probably will.

Best,

-Scott “SC” Kelby

P.S. Thanks so much to everybody who watched our Photoshop World-a-thon last night. What a blast! If you missed it, it’s streaming continuously at this link. Plus, we’ll have it up on YouTube later today. 

Thursday
Jul
2014
24

It’s Free Stuff Thursday!

by Brad Moore  |  22 Comments

Wedding Photography Systems with Justin Wojtczak
Take your wedding photography business to the next level with Justin Wojtczak’s systematic approach to building and running a successful wedding photography business. At the end of the day it is about the level of service you give your bride and groom, and Justin takes you through every step in the process of completing a successful wedding shoot, from the engagement session to the consultation, and from the wedding day itself to the delivery of treasured photographs. All along the way Justin shares pro-level tips, tricks, and techniques for elevating your photography above the competitions and creating an experience for your client that can help grow your business through referrals and word of mouth.

Leave a comment for your chance to watch this class for free! You can also check out a short behind the scenes video from Justin right here.

The Art of Digital Photography: The Inspirational Series with Jeremy Cowart
Join Mia McCormick as she sits down with Jeremy Cowart for an hour of conversation that delves deeper into how Jeremy has managed to merge his passion for the arts with his passion for helping other people. Starting at the beginning we learn how Jeremy got started as a photographer, and how that opened doors for experiencing life in all new ways, and how Jeremy’s love for collaboration with fellow artists of all types pushes his work in new directions. Over the course of their chat Mia and Jeremy touch on the importance of finding ways to exercise your creativity beyond work, why it is crucial to develop your own unique vision that helps your work stand out from the crowd, and so much more!

Leave a comment for your chance to watch this class for free!

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Want to spend a day with Scott Kelby, Joe McNally, Corey Barker, Matt Kloskowski, or Ben Willmore? Check out these seminar tours!

Shoot Like A Pro with Scott Kelby
Aug 26 – St. Louis, MO
Aug 28 – Kansas City, MO

The Power of One Flash with Joe McNally
July 24 – Milwaukee, WI
July 28 – Boston, MA
Sept 24 – Cleveland, OH

Photoshop Down & Dirty Master FX with Corey Barker
Aug 1 – Miami, FL
Aug 13 – Austin, TX

The Lightroom LIVE Tour with Matt Kloskowski
Sept 29 – Livonia, MI

The Photoshop Creativity Tour with Ben Willmore
Sept 22 – Arlington, TX
Sept 26 – Houston, TX

You can check out the full schedule for seminars through August, and we’ll be updating it with more dates soon! Leave a comment for your chance to win a ticket to one of these events!

Last Week’s Winners
KelbyOne Rental
- Michael Glover

KelbyOne Live Ticket
- Cheryl Tadin

If you’re one of the lucky winners, we’ll be in touch soon. Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday
Jul
2014
23

It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Mia McCormick!

by Brad Moore  |  6 Comments

Let me start by saying, I don’t take photos professionally. But wait, don’t stop reading! Hear me out. My name is Mia McCormick and before I took a position at KelbyOne, I spent a decade telling stories and interviewing some of the most influential people in the world in the name of TV News. Now I’ve spent the last two years interviewing the very best photographers on the planet, for KelbyOne. I’ve grilled them about technique and business plans. I’ve asked them about gear and studio decisions. But some of the most important conversations, often get the least amount of attention, like the ones about inspiration. Having interviewed nearly three dozen industry leading photographers, about what inspires them to create compelling images, I’ve learned a bit about what drives the top creative minds in the business. What better place to share those thoughts than here on Scott Kelby’s blog.

First, let me just get this out of the way. There is one word that comes out of every professional photographers mouth when I ask about inspiration: LIGHT. So NEWSFLASH! The way your subject is illuminated matters, whether it be a landscape, child or delicious scoop of ice cream. And that illumination can drive imagination at every corner of this industry. Now that’s out of the way.

Photographers tend to fall into two categories, those who thrive on external inspiration and those who need internal connection. Before I explain what that means, let me say that I’ve interviewed many photographers who pull from both, but most of the time they gravitate towards one or the other. Those who are inspired by external stimuli generally look to color, texture, music, and locations to help them channel their very best work. For instance, Lindsay Adler makes an Inspiration Board before a shoot. On it you’ll find snippets of ideas, colors, textures and themes that speak to her about a certain project. One of my favorite wedding photographers and good friend Chip Litherland loves vibrant, in your face color. A bride in a red wedding dress is his “holy grail.”


Photo by Joel Grimes

Lots of photographers will look at the work of people they respect and identify with when they’re feeling stuck or “tapped out.” Somehow looking at work they admire kick starts an idea that leads to their next great image. Joel Grimes once told me that when he’s stuck in a shooting rut, he will flip through a magazine looking for images that speak to him. When he finds one, he’ll look at how it was created and see how he can apply similar techniques to his own work. A lot of people find inspiration this way. It’s one reason why the website 500px is so popular. I’ve heard many pros call it “an endless well of inspiration.”

If you just read the last two paragraphs and thought, that’s crazy, don’t you know that inspiration comes from within?! Then you fall into the second category, those who need an internal connection to their subject, to produce inspired work. Gregory Heisler says his “worst nightmare is to have his brain polluted by millions of other images” before he begins a photo session. He needs some time alone in his head with an assignment. Only then can he come up with a vision for the image he wants to produce. It’s not that he doesn’t admire the work of others, but to him there’s a difference between reverence, technique and vision.


Photo by Jeremy Cowart

Some photographers love a story. A model, with lights in a contrived environment just feels cold. They identify internally with capturing a frame that could replace three pages in a diary or a bio. They work like there is an invisible string dangling them inside someone else’s life. Knowing they have just one frame to tell a story, elevates their work. Jeremy Cowart is well known for his images of Hollywood “A listers,” but when I asked him about his humanitarian work, his eyes lit up and there was an awakening that happened mentally and physically. Doing good, he tells me, is what photography is supposed to be about.

Joe McNally is one of the best visual storytellers alive. He makes it a personal goal to capture images that tell stories in a way that no one has seen them before. And Joe loves a challenge. What better way to illustrate changing a light bulb, than to climb to the very top of the Empire State building… in the fog… attached to ropes for safety… and shoot the man who’s job it is to swap out the bulb at the apex.


Photo by Deanne Fitzmaurice

Deanne Fitzmaurice is the perfect blend of curiosity and fearlessness, and that makes her an outstanding photojournalist. Assignments that tackle difficult issues, ones that are hard to convey visually can often frustrate even the most experienced shooters, but that’s where Deanne thrives.

Now if I can take a moment to share what inspires me. At heart I’m a journalist, with over 10 years of experience in TV News and television production. I love finding a story and sharing it, but more than that, I feel inspired when those stories have impact. When I come in contact with an image, story or idea that moves people to action, I start to get that anxious fluttery feeling in my stomach. Then I know, “this is going to be good.” Whether it’s an attitude adjustment, some kind of activism or even just to wipe a tear, I’m reverent over stories with the strength to generate action.

Researching women in this industry inspired me to start a new interview series here at KelbyOne called Trailblazers. I found ladies willing to step outside of their comfort zones, and into dangerous, extreme and sometimes downright hostile situations, to tell a photographic story. Their internal and external battles moved me, and many of them have never shared their experiences publicly before now. Their courage is inspirational, and it made me want to take a courageous leap in my own life. Look for the series to debut in the next few weeks on KelbyOne.com.

Whether it’s the strong precise movements of an athlete’s body that gets your adrenaline flowing or the story behind their rise from poverty to fame that sparks an idea for a frame, the goal is to leave the shoot a little breathless. If you’re moved, chances are others will be too.

You can watch Mia’s interviews with photographers at KelbyOne.com, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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