Monthly Archives November 2004

Photo by TomDiPace

Hello everyone, I’m Rob Foldy and I’m a freelance commercial sports photographer based just outside of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I’ve been a friend of Scott and Brad’s for quite a while now and they have asked me to share with you some images and tales from a recent shoot. As always, I’m extremely humbled to be asked to share with you.

Not too long ago, I was asked to photograph each of the Miami Heat players before the start of the 2015-16 season for one of my clients, Getty Images. The most common opportunity to photograph professional or college athletes is on what’s called “media day.” If you’ve never heard of media day, it’s basically a day dedicated for all of the players on a team to fulfill various media needs, from still photographs to radio broadcasts to television interviews. This is a very busy day for the athletes. I’ve had the pleasure of covering a fair number of these over my career for different teams and organizations, and I’ve been able to pick up a few tips and tricks from others as well as stumbling upon some of my own.

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 28: Josh Richardson #0 of the Miami Heat poses for a portrait during media day at AmericanAirlines Arena on September 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Josh Richardson
Josh Richardson #0 of the Miami Heat poses for a portrait during media day at AmericanAirlines Arena on September 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida.

Allow me to explain a bit more of how the photo section of these “media days” work. For basketball, most of the activity takes place on the practice court at the team’s home arena. The team/league, and typically a large local paper, will do photos as well, but traditionally in different locations around the arena. I don’t know exactly what else these players were required to participate in on that day, but I know there were at least 7 different sets of photographers from various newspapers and wire services set up and making portraits in the same room that I was in.

This is one of the first challenges. It’s a technical challenge with all of those strobes firing and all of the other distractions, but it’s also difficult to make a strong, unique image when these players are pumping out the same photos for various photographers as if they were on an assembly line. I don’t mean that to belittle any of those agencies or photographers, and those photos are very good and very important. However, my assignment was to make something different than the other photographers there that day, and I took it upon myself to strive in what I hoped to be a different image than anyone shooting any of the various teams and players throughout the country. Where as the other media day portraits are used for editorial work or television, the images from Getty are often used in advertising campaigns or for other commercial purposes.

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 28: Chris Andersen #11 of the Miami Heat poses for a portrait during media day at AmericanAirlines Arena on September 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Chris Andersen #11 of the Miami Heat poses for a portrait during media day at AmericanAirlines Arena on September 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida.

I’ll start with the gear stuff. I know when I first started reading this blog the gear stuff is the first thing I’d look for. So if you’re like me, here you go. I used Elinchrom BRX monolights (a BRX250 and three 500s) with the Skyport triggering system, two Westcott strip banks for side/back lights, a basic Elinchrom reflector to light the background, and an Elinchrom beauty dish with the silver deflector (with and without the diffusion sock) as my front light. I shoot with both a Canon 5Ds body mounted to an EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, and a 1DX body with an EF 85mm f/1.8 USM lens. The 50 plus megapixels of the 5Ds gave the images a ton of detail, while the low noise capabilities of the 1DX, along with the 12 frames per second motor drive, allowed me to shoot using just the modeling lights and capture the exact moment of the players subject that I was after.

I wore my Spider Holster dual camera system so that I could easily switch between camera bodies or have my hands completely free, and tethered into Lightroom on my laptop (just the 5Ds, as that was my “primary” camera). Every client wants things done a bit differently, and for Getty I always shoot JPEG. (I’ve had to familiarize myself with a lot of functions in my Canon cameras that I didn’t really know were there to help get my JPEGs as close to perfect as I can right out of the camera). I shot large JPEG plus RAW for this shoot just so I had a backup, but I’m proud to say that I was able to use my standard JPEG workflow for all of the photos that I delivered. Below is an iPhone photo of my setup.


As you can see, it’s not a typical portrait setup, so let me explain a little more about media day. Photographers get, on average, about 2 minutes with each of the players before they’re onto their next commitment. They move from one setup directly to another setup, right to another setup. How do I make good portraits, much less ones that are unique, in less than 2 minutes?! That’s where this dual background setup comes in. I can get two different looks with one lighting setup, without my subject really having to move or reposition. I cannot take any credit for this idea. A good friend and Getty staff photographer, Mike Ehrmann, told me about it and uses it himself, as do many other very talented shooters.

But, like anything I learn, I try to adapt it and make it my own. Although I used the two background idea that Mike had used, he traditionally uses it with all of the light coming from the front. It gets more difficult when you try to add lights behind the subject as well. But, if done correctly, I can get 3 different looks, each of those with a few different expressions, giving my clients a good variety despite only having the players for a short period of time.

I’ll start with my “main” setup. I shot these straight on, strobed, white background shots with the 5Ds and 70-200, ISO 100, 1/160th of a second, somewhere around f11. Before you give me too much grief about the players sitting down, like the great portrait photographer Peter Hurley did, let me explain to you why. I agree that most of the time portrait photographs look best when your subject(s) are standing, but there are a few problems with that on media day.

The first being that I’m trying to make a different photo than everyone around me, and everyone else has the athletes standing. But the main reason why I have them sit is more psychological than physical. I try to set up my little “portrait station” to be welcoming and comfortable. When the players walked up, instead of posing them and asking them to stand one way or the other, and then turn and pose some other way, I simply introduced myself and asked them to sit down, put their feet up, and make themselves comfortable. “Imagine you’re just chillin’ on your couch at home watching TV…except for some reason you’re holding a basketball.” I’ve found that an approach like this gets them out of the “routine” of media day, and into something along the lines of, “Wait a minute, I’ve never taken a photo like this before.” I try to make them feel relaxed. Sure I have an agenda/shot list in my head, but I don’t tell them that, I let the photographs come to me.

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 28: Josh Richardson #0 of the Miami Heat poses for a portrait during media day at AmericanAirlines Arena on September 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Josh Richardson #0 of the Miami Heat poses for a portrait during media day at AmericanAirlines Arena on September 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida.

For this shot I knew I wanted some more serious photos, but also something with a bit of that specific player’s personality. If I were to ask them to smile, the players would just give me what I have nicknamed their “media day smile.” So if they did, I would jokingly say to them something along the lines of, “Come on man, that ain’t your real smile. Give me the smile you would give me if I told you I was sending this photo to your mom.” Bam. You’re in.

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 28: Head coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat poses for a portrait during media day at AmericanAirlines Arena on September 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Head coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat poses for a portrait during media day at AmericanAirlines Arena on September 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida.
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 28: Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat poses for a portrait during media day at AmericanAirlines Arena on September 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat poses for a portrait during media day at AmericanAirlines Arena on September 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida.

But photos of people smiling are a dime a dozen, so how do I make something different? Something genuine, something that really shows their personality, but do it in less than a minute? I have found a trick that seems to work pretty well for me. After I snap a few frames, I drop the camera in my Spider Holster and walk up to them like I’m about to tell them a secret. In the pros, a lot of these guys are married, so my conversation with them usually goes something like this: “Hey man, are you married? (If yes, keep going, if no, skip ahead a few lines.) Okay, well, let’s go back a few years to before you were married, okay? Okay, so you’re out at the club with your buddies, the place is packed, everyone is having a good time. You see this group of girls walk by and they are smokin’ hot. You realize one of them keeps checking you out, you think she’s worth getting to know a little better, so the next time you catch her looking your way, you give her ‘the look.’”

At this point, they are usually snickering because they know exactly the look you’re talking about. “You know the look I mean? I call it the ‘ay girl’ look.” (I now demonstrate my best attempt at the “look.”) “I’m going to walk back over there, but when I count to three, do you think you can give that look to the camera?” Admittedly it works on some guys right out of the gate and others not so much, but it gets them out of their own way and continues to get them to relax. If they try the look and it doesn’t work, that’s usually followed by laughter. Like Dr. Hurley says: sometimes it’s not the face you’re after, but the smile you get right after the face.

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 28: Greg Whittington #22 of the Miami Heat poses for a portrait during media day at AmericanAirlines Arena on September 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Greg Whittington
Greg Whittington #22 of the Miami Heat poses for a portrait during media day at AmericanAirlines Arena on September 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida.

So at this point, hopefully they’re playing ball with you (yes, I just made a basketball pun). That’s when I holster the 70-200 and grab the 1DX with the 85mm. I have this camera set to Monochrome JPEG, and on the 1DX cameras you can adjust the sharpness and contrast, as well as apply filter and toning effects for black and white images right in the camera. My exposure settings were somewhere in the neighborhood of ISO 1600, f2 and 1/500th shutter. I shot these in black and white for a few reasons. One, I like black and white images. Two, I shot these only using the modeling lights from the flashes, so I knew a ton of mixed color temperature ambient light would be creeping into my photos and my white balance would be a mess.

Free from the tethering cable and not having to wait for lights to recycle, I was able to keep those looks and expressions coming while they were still trying to make a good “ay girl” face, and the subsequent laughter that follows. My good friend David Santiago from the Miami Herald took this photo of me while I was trying to shoot just that. (Oh yeah, that’s another distraction. In addition to the portrait shooters, a lot of papers or agencies will cover the event overall, so there are people shooting photos and video of you as you’re shooting photos of the athletes.)

Photo by David Santiago/The Miami Herald

I like to get in really close with the 85mm. It may make the subject a bit uncomfortable at first, but in the end, they’re all real human beings like us, and they want to look good in the photos. A lot of times they’ll ask to see the photos on the back of the camera. If they like them, you’re in even better shape moving forward.

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 28: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Amar'e Stoudemire #5 of the Miami Heat poses for a portrait during media day at AmericanAirlines Arena on September 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Amar'e Stoudemire
Amar’e Stoudemire #5 of the Miami Heat poses for a portrait during media day at AmericanAirlines Arena on September 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida.
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 28: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat poses for a portrait during media day at AmericanAirlines Arena on September 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat poses for a portrait during media day at AmericanAirlines Arena on September 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida.
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 28: Justise Winslow #20 of the Miami Heat poses for a portrait during media day at AmericanAirlines Arena on September 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Justise Winslow #20 of the Miami Heat poses for a portrait during media day at AmericanAirlines Arena on September 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida.

I still know that I’m on a time crunch, so once I know I have what I need from the front, I tell the players that they’re almost done, I just have to make a few more frames. I re-holster the 1DX, grab the 70-200 again and head over to the side so I can shoot them against the black background. (Below is another photo from David Santiago. You can see another photographer’s setup right next to mine, and there’s another one next to that, and 4 more on the adjacent wall.)

Photo by David Santiago/The Miami Herald

This shot also requires some foresight. Remember how I mentioned that someone had told me about the two background idea, but that all of their light was coming from the front? Well, if I were to fire all 4 of my lights and shoot from the side, my photo would be a mess. There would be light spilling into the lens, the strip banks would probably be in the frame, and it would just not be the image I wanted. I’ve used other brands of lights and triggers in the past, and my work-around was to plug the background light and strip banks into a power strip and then just turn off the switch before taking the shot on the black background. That worked, but is not ideal. By using the Elinchrom Skyport system, I had the background light, the strip banks, and the beauty dish all in separate groups. This not only allowed me to turn each of the groups up and down individually, but also allowed me to fire just the beauty dish.

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 28: Amar'e Stoudemire #5 of the Miami Heat poses for a portrait during media day at AmericanAirlines Arena on September 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Amar’e Stoudemire #5 of the Miami Heat poses for a portrait during media day at AmericanAirlines Arena on September 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida.

To close, I’d like share with you a story from a few years ago… I was shooting another team with a similar setup and was trying to use the same tricks. It was towards the end of the day and honestly, I was starting to get tired. I was pretty far away from this player who was a bit larger than some of the other guys, so I was zoomed all the way in towards 200mm, and instead of walking over to him and really selling the “girls in the club” story, I kinda gave a brief explanation from across the room. After I’m finished I ask him for the “ay girl” look and he gives me something. Not perfect, but not bad. I shoot a few more at that distance and then came in close with my 85. I ask “hey, give me that ‘ay girl’ look one more time.” “OH! You were saying ‘ay girl’, that makes a lot more sense. I thought you were saying ‘egg roll’.” I lost it. My assistant, the other photographers near by, the player’s handler, he and I we were all cracking up. “The rest of those guys were giving me that look thinking they were giving it to an attractive girl, you gave it to me for an egg roll!” “What can I say, man, I really like egg rolls.”

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 28: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Udonis Haslem #40 of the Miami Heat poses for a portrait during media day at AmericanAirlines Arena on September 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Udonis Haslem
Udonis Haslem #40 of the Miami Heat poses for a portrait during media day at AmericanAirlines Arena on September 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and I hope it encourages you that, despite the obstacles you may be facing on any particular shoot, if you think outside of the box you can still walk away with some unique images! Cheers!

You can see more of Rob’s work at, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Photo by Jen Coffin

You know those ’Top 5 Tips to be a Successful Photographer’ type of articles that you see come through your newsfeed and you cringe and say ‘Oh man!…not again!!’?

Well, this is one of those lists. :P

I know, I know. you’ve read this article like a thousand times before.. right?! Well, guess what’s cooler about this particular article? This one’s got SIX tips. :P But seriously, if you stick with me through this stuff, I can promise you that it’s not going to be one of those blog posts that tell you in order to be a successful photographer you need to carry your business cards at all times, market like there’s no tomorrow, and learn your camera settings (all really good tips, to be fair). However, we are going to go on a much bigger adventure than that. :)

So here’s the deal! I’m going to pepper this stuff with cute puppy photos throughout because even if it’s not directly related to cute puppies – an adorable canine here and there can never, ever hurt. right? And I’m not above cute puppy bribery, right? (right!) And for those of you who just want to scroll through the pictures, you can walk away assuming that this post was about how to take an expert look at cute puppy photos and I’d be totally okay with that.

Let me just take a very quick moment to share with you exactly why I’m feeling inspired to share these following 6 tips. I just recently spent one of the most incredible weeks of my life down in Tampa, Florida. Alongside some of the most amazing, inspiring, and impossibly talented people that I have ever had the privilege to join creative forces with, I filmed my class on dog photography for KelbyOne. (you guys!!! I am so excited for you to see it! GAHH!) Being in the presence of other like- minded artists all on their very own amazing, creative journeys reminded me of how grateful I am to be on this particular adventure of mine. I want to share with you a little bit about my journey, and let you in on the 6 tips that I would give that might just be integral to becoming a successful photographer.


As for me, I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer. I’ve always lived just a little bit on the edge of society – thinking up fairytales and big adventures and ignoring the status quo. I like to sleep late and I hate to plan. I like to watch the way the world unfolds around me when I just let go. I’ve always figured that life is for living, right? We’re given these beautiful, bright red beating hearts and these vessels of bone and flesh, and it’s all like one big, gorgeous poem. Everything works together, ticking in perfect synchronization to keep us alive — to keep our synapses firing and our eyes wide open. I think it’s unbelievable. And I’ve always thought – I might as well go discover the world while I still have these two feet underneath my body that are capable of carrying me across any kind of terrain, right?

This was the kind of outlandish thinking that brought me to where I am today. I am humbled and wildly grateful to say that I live my dream through a camera lens each and every day. Of all the things in this world that one could possibly be, I am a professional dog photographer. But it wasn’t just a simple, seamless jump that got me here. Oh no, it’s been a very, very big adventure. I’ve had to carve my own way. Because, while I didn’t know much when I first started, the one thing I did know was that nobody was going to get out of their warm bed and carve it for me.


If you’re reading this blog, it’s highly likely that you are a photographer or are interested in delving into photography. That means you are an artist. You have the heart and mind of an artist. And that is a rare blessing – a gift – that you’ve been given. You see the world in a different way from the masses. And if you use that gift – if you apply that special sight that you’ve been blessed with – in the all the right ways , you have the potential to go on a journey that takes you to places you never even thought possible. This I promise you, take it from me.

Just 5 years ago I was a terribly lost soul – I had graduated college with honors and big, big aspirations. I applied to a gazillion (<— technical number) different companies on a gazillion different kinds of resume paper. When most of those avenues fizzled out, I found myself working a ‘make-ends-meet’ type of job that squashed every fiber of creativity and soul that I had. Leaving my workplace in tears started to become commonplace, and I fell into a state of near depression knowing full well that I was wasting valuable time while not using my gifts to their full potential.

One afternoon, I was driving home from that particular job – tires splashing across wet pavement beneath me – and I made a decision. I was going to take the next step towards finding my purpose. At the time, I had absolutely no idea how much that decision would change my life.


Since that moment 5 years ago, I have photographed thousands of dog photo sessions, traveled the world teaching photography workshops, worked on life changing international animal rescue missions, shot national commercial ad campaigns for some of the biggest names in the pet industry, have seen my work on greeting cards and in calendars and am now impossibly grateful to be standing alongside some of my biggest idols and inspirations as an instructor for KelbyOne.

(It’s actually really hard for me to say those things above. And I’ve rewritten and deleted that paragraph above about 12 times because I feel like such an egotistical megajerk touting these achievements. But, ultimately, I think it’s important to say, ‘Hey, this is my true story.’ I’m living proof that with the right amount of passion, heart and hard work – these are the kinds of things that can happen. If I – just one red headed girl who started with nothing but a camera and a dream – can pull this off, then you can too.)

So, all of that being said, I want to share these following 6 tips. To me, these are the 6 things that have had the impossible ability to change my career, and ultimately, my life. I hope that sharing this wisdom might bring some magic to your journey as well.


The idea of potential failure is scary. More than scary. In fact, I’d say it’s terrifying. Gosh, I totally and completely get it. And even worse, in this world that we’re living in, everything is so visible. We’re constantly on display to the world through social media and this impossibly ever-connected society we’ve become a part of. We have this huge audience of eyes on us at all times. If we fail, people are going to know. They’ll see it, they’ll judge us, and maybe they’ll even laugh at our expense. Gosh, how embarrassing, right?

I want to take a minute to list to you some major failures from the past:

The Beatles, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Oprah Winfrey, Albert Einstein, and JK Rowling.

Wait??! What’s that you say? The names above are names of some of the most successful people who have ever walked this earth?

Oh, right.
Well, have a quick look at their early failures:

The Beatles – Before signing their first record deal with music label EMI, The Beatles were rejected by the A+R rep for Decca Recordings after their first audition. He stated ‘Guitar groups are on their way out.’

Steve Jobs – Steve Jobs was a college dropout. Despite that, he went on to start Apple in 1976 where he pioneered the personal computer revolution. At 30 years old, in 1985, he was forced out of the the very company he created and was left deeply depressed. Just about 10 years later, his journey led him back to Apple where he became CEO and drove the company to it’s greatest successes in history. 

Walt Disney – Walt Disney was fired by the editor of a newspaper because he ‘lacked imagination’ and ‘had no creative ideas’.

Oprah Winfrey – Oprah Winfrey was fired from her job as a news anchor in Baltimore, MD because she, ‘wasn’t fit for television.’

Albert Einstein – Albert Einstein didn’t learn to speak until he was 4 years old and didn’t learn to read until he was 7. It has been famously quoted that a teacher of his remarked, ‘He’ll never amount to much.’ Above this, he dropped out of school at 15 and flunked his college entrance exam the first time around.

J.K. Rowling – J.K. Rowling was famously rejected by 12 publishers before Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone was accepted.

The point is, we are only as powerful as our will to get back up again when we’re knocked down. We all experience failures somewhere in our personal and professional journeys. We’re just human. We’re not machines. We can’t compute things perfectly. There are no formulas, no math equations, no dials we can turn to predict exactly how to succeed at any given moment, in any given circumstance. And that’s what makes us so beautiful. So don’t be afraid of failure. You’re not a success unless you have failed.

Fall Seven Times. Stand Up Eight.

You ready for some of my fails?

These are from an underwater shoot I did earlier this year in the gorgeous waters off of the Florida coast. My model was fabulous. The location was perfect. I got in the water and was ready and rarin’ to go. My excitement was quickly squashed when I spent the first hour failing hard. Like, embarrassingly hard. Shot after shot after shot was horrible. Cue the, ‘Holy crap I’m a total fraud photographer’ panic attack that ensues when you’re wallowing in your own creative self doubt.

Top Left: Oh, great exposure Kaylee. Work it, girl. Top Right: Holy FLASH batman! Bottom Left: Fabulous job capturing water spots directly in front of Bear’s eyes… d’oh!! Bottom Right: Photographing the legs of your puppy wrangling assistant in the most unflattering way possible? Check!

But get this. When you persevere — when you stick with something and you stand up and you don’t let it beat you down – here’s what can happen. Maybe an hour and a half later or so:




(Please note that this is only one example of about 3,457,890 other fails that live in a little fail community lighting fail campfires and making fail s’mores all together inside of my Lightroom library.)

When you look at the work of a photographer you idolize or admire – remember, the best photographers are actually just incredibly good curators. And they are only showing you the wins. It’s brilliantly tactical and can trick us into believing they’ve achieved perfection in everything they do. Please don’t forget, this is never, ever the case. No one is perfect.

So remember, when you look failure dead in the eyes, you’ve got say, ‘I’m not afraid of you. Doesn’t matter how many times you knock me down you dirty rat! I’m getting back up.’

Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.’ – Napoleon Hill

Behind the scenes of me filming my upcoming class for KelbyOne. Photo by Jen Coffin.

I’m actually an incredibly sensitive person (as if you couldn’t tell. Haha!). You know when you walk into a coffee shop and you order your coffee with a smile and a hello and the person behind the counter doesn’t even lift their eyes to look up at at you. Maybe they don’t even attempt to address your hello, or they bark back at you when you ask a question. That kind of stuff wrecks me, it cuts me right to the core. It’s totally silly, but I suppose that’s part of my character as an artist. Either way, I just can’t understand downright meanness.

When I encounter people like that, who are mean-spirited and quite cold – at first, I get really offended and sad. And then, I start to feel sorry for them because I think something must be very, very wrong in their world. But lately, I’ve been having this third kind of reaction that’s sort of brilliant. I think these people, let’s call them ‘the meanies’, are actually doing quite a valuable service for rare, true kindness by helping it to stand out and shine against the sea of average. Against the grain of the mediocre attitude in this modern world, authentic kindness shines. 

Genuine kindness sets you apart and, I can promise you, people remember it. I think, primally, we are drawn to positivity and energy. So always be kind. Your clients will keep coming back to you if you bring them a sense of happiness and joy. And that goes for commercial clients and big ad agencies too. Ultimately, we’re all just people – and people don’t want to work with other people that are difficult or cold. So long as it’s true and authentic, personality and kindness will win you more jobs and relationships in your lifetime than you ever thought possible.


Everyone has a passion.

For some people it’s researching black rhinos, or smelling coffee beans or tasting hot sauces. For others it’s helping the homeless, planting gardens or collecting porcelain giraffes (I’m serious, this is a real thing, I had a great aunt that did this. You’d walk into her house and be almost blown backwards by the surprise of how many porcelain giraffes would be staring right back at you. It was like we were on a very fragile, very breakable Serengeti).

For me it’s dogs. I’ve professed my love for dogs on this blog before (here) – and it’s the bonafide truth. My heart beats faster when I see a dog. My feet get all wiggly in my shoes. The spirit and the smile of a dog just bring this unprecedented kind of joy into my life. Dogs set my soul on fire. (I know, I know. This is some serious crazy dog lady speak.) :P

But, here’s the point. For me, it wasn’t until I turned my lens toward my passion that I started to understand what passion even was. Passion is this amazing thing because it’s something you can’t quite put your finger on. It just…

Find your passion and photograph it. When I see the work of photographers who are actually photographing their true, real passion – I can tell. We all can tell. You can’t fake passion. It all comes back to that authenticity I mentioned above. So seek it out and embrace it.

A photo of me photographing gorgeous Jessa for my upcoming dog photography class on That right there, is me in my happy place. :) Photo by Jen Coffin

Ready for this? If you want to photograph from the top of a mountain, you’ve got to climb a mountain.

It’s simple, really.

What I’m trying to say is that, if you want to capture beautiful, incredible things – you need to go to where those beautiful, incredible things are. This isn’t always easy. (In fact, it’s usually quite difficult!)

I have clients that contact me quite often because they’ve fallen in love with my work and they want photos just like that of their own dogs. When it comes time to have their session they say, ‘So, can we just do this shoot in my backyard?’ Maybe they’ve had a long stressful day at work and they don’t want to get back in the car, load the pup in and battle the traffic to get to the location we’ve chosen. I get it. But what I have to say is ‘Do you see these photos that you absolutely love – you know, that one there with the big, gorgeous sunset on the beach – or the one on that city dock in front of the Boston skyline? The thing is – we have to actually go to those places to get images with that stuff in the background.’ (Sometimes I giggle a little inside when I say this because of its sheer obviousness.) But it’s true – when push comes to shove, I think the average person isn’t interested in putting a lot of effort in. (The word mediocre exists because it defines the ‘average’ route. The common effort. The indistinguishable norm.) And the thing is, you get out exactly what you put in.

The easy option is to stay in the backyard, and get average photos. The infinitely more difficult option is to battle the traffic in the car for an hour, fight for parking and then unload Fido to walk 4 or 5 blocks through downtown to get to an amazing shoot spot.

And you know what’s great about this part for those of us who consistently put the effort in? 9 times out of 10, everyone else is going to pick the easy option. Do you know what that means for me and you – the rare few who decide to get up and put the work in? We’re going to come out on top, every time.

Here are my real world examples about putting the effort in.

I shot this image at 1:00 in the morning on a remote ranch in Southern California just 5 miles north of Mexico. We drove these crazy intense dirt roads that wound up and down steep gorges to get here. By the time we arrived, we were tired, hungry and cold. We got out of the truck with hooded sweatshirts and blankets wrapped around our shoulders while dragging our gear behind us to get to this exact spot. After all that, our gorgeous model Roxy wasn’t all too pleased with having to stand still for us, so it took quite a long time, 4 sets of hands and about 47 stinky chicken treats to get her in place underneath those crystal stars.
This image was shot on the side of a mountain in an extremely remote community in Costa Rica. This here is a rescue facility that housed right around 20 homeless dogs. It’s my personal mission to bring awareness to the terrible plight of forgotten and abandoned dogs worldwide, so I decided to head to Costa Rica to see what I could do to help firsthand. Getting to the moment of this image wasn’t easy. It was 6.5 total hours on a plane and hours on steep, winding hills traversing dirt roads to get from Boston to this spot in Costa Rica. I suppose it looks a lot better than if I were to have just taken it in my backyard though, eh? :) Extreme effort equals extreme results.
I shot this image earlier this year, at the very end of March at Lake Tahoe (or should I say in Lake Tahoe?). If you know anything about glacial Lake Tahoe, you know that its waters are very very cold (even in the Summer). But add to that the fact that we shot these images at the tail end of winter (when the water is colder the clarity is better. plus, it was the only time I could fit a 3,000 mile trip from Boston out to Nevada into my schedule.) I had a 5mm thick wet suit on to get in the water this time of year – but I’d say the warmth it provided me lasted me a solid 5 minutes and then I was shivering to the bone. I could only stay in the water for a few minutes at a time before my body started shaking so hard that I could no longer hold my camera steady. Worth it for the final shot, however? Totally.

Nothing worth having was ever achieved without effort.” – Theodore Roosevelt

If you’re currently out and about while reading this article, glance up from your phone, computer or tablet for just a minute and do a quick exercise for me. Look around you. How many people over the age of say, 12 or so, are currently buried in their phones?

For better or worse, folks, this is the age we live in. As much as it can be frustrating to be a part of society that is so obsessed with being connected, I think it’s important to take a look at the other side of that coin and realize that we, as photographers, are incredibly lucky for this new internet culture. It is my opinion that we currently live in the single most brilliant age to be a photographer. You see, we are the creators of media – we (among copywriters, journalists, bloggers, videographers and other like minded creatives) are the people responsible for bringing the magic to these people’s screens. We provide the content, which means that we have an access corridor that leads directly into their lives. Directly into the lives 3.25 billion active internet users worldwide.

Let me say that number one more time: Three point two five billion.

Never before in the history of the world has an artist had an audience quite this large at their fingertips at any given time. We have a platform from which to shout our messages to the ears of billions. To me, this is our era’s greatest gift and single most powerful resource. How many times a day do you see this general headline in your newsfeed – ‘Photographer Takes Crazy Cool Photos of Rabbits Wearing Miniature Hats. You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!’…? You see it time and time and time again – and yet, it never gets old to all these people who are feverishly sharing and clicking and liking. They love this stuff. They eat it right up. They want content. They BEG for content – anything that can start a conversation, be shared, viewed, discussed, etc. So, hey, why not give them content??

(Seriously – just think about this for a moment – we live in a world where a cat with an angry face became internet famous overnight and has garnered an estimated $100 million in revenue in just a handful of years through licensing, publishing and guest appearances. Guys…you cant make this sh*t up.) The kind of opportunity that lies in the power of the internet isn’t reserved just for a lucky few — it’s just there, for the taking, for everybody. You just need to muster up the courage to get out there and grab your share.

There was a day when us photographers had to make phone calls, visit ad agencies, send out expensive portfolio books through :gasp!: regular mail that required one metric ton of paid postage. And don’t get me wrong, some of us still do that stuff. But today, that’s all been largely replaced by emailing, commenting, tweeting, uploading, tagging, instagramming, snapchatting, and Skyping your way to the top. Remember above, when I mentioned that 3.25 billion number? Somewhere in there – inside of that astronomical number – there are creative directors, ad agents, CEOs, brand managers, filmmakers, directors – the list goes on and on. The fact that you have the ability to just connect with any of these people, in any of these positions, at any given moment and access their knowledge just blows my mind. You can tweet directly at the President of the United States for godsake! Never before have we lived in a world with this kind of access to open communication. It’s unprecedented. Embrace it.

Still not convinced of how powerful the internet can be for a photographer? I’ve been in business for 5 years now and had always dreamed of having a magazine cover. How the heck do I get the big magazines to notice me though?

One tweet changed it all. I was able to reach out to the editor of this popular dog magazine to let her know that I’d love to work on a cover together. Well what do you know, they happened to be looking for a cover image for an upcoming Holiday issue. And the rest is history!


So the point is, the world is literally there at your fingertips. You have approximately 140 characters to change the entire course of your journey. Get on it. :P

I know, I know. You hear this kind of fluffy-magical-unicorn ‘pseudo advice’ everywhere you look these days. I get it. So let me keep this short. (short, but not without it’s ‘fluffy-magical-unicorn’ essence.) :)

For every waking minute of single day, technically your eyes are wide to the world around you. That means that your eyelids are open and you are perceiving – but does that mean that you’re really seeing?

Do yourself a favor and try to hold tight to your senses even during the monotony and the schedules of the everyday. Try to open your mind to the beauty that’s around you all the time.

  • Pause to watch the way the sunlight dances through your window in the late afternoon.
  • Pull off your hood in the midst of a city rainstorm. Watch with wide eyes as the nighttime lights glitter and glow in a pirouette of reflections all around you.
  • Admire the hard worn lines on the face of an old friend. Remember that each and every one was earned.
  • Count the seconds as the sun plummets towards the horizon to swap places with the moon. Stare in awe as the day bows out with a dance of color and light that sets the sky on fire.
  • Watch Movies. Look for the scenes that make your heart skip a beat, and then deconstruct why.
  • Take stock in the magic of artists and creatives who have come before you. Delight in their imaginations, lose yourself in creation.
  • Look inside of you and find what makes you tick. Keep your eyes to the sky and your heart beating about a gazillion miles a minute.
  • Remember the luck and good fortune of being alive and of having your particular heart and your particular brain.

As far as we know, we only get one chance at life, so make it as beautiful as it can possibly be.

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” -Roald Dahl

I’ve recently been incredibly inspired by water. At the end of last year, I set out on a mission to capture dogs at play in water to see what kind of magic I could discover both above and under the surface.

16_KayleeGreer 17_KayleeGreer

Get out there and write your legacy. Leave your mark on the world. You are the only person that can stand up and change the course of your own history.

Because life is exactly what you make it.

What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?” -John Green


I hope you find these 6 tidbits from my brain helpful in your own creative journeys.
Or, if you just skimmed the photos of lovely dogs, then I hope you concluded that this was a great article about the technique of looking at cute puppy photos. (which is fine too.) :P

If you’re interested to see more from me and learn about how to take amazing photographs of your dog, I invite you to check out my upcoming class on dog photography on!! :) (And speaking of passion – in the class we get to go to an animal shelter and make portraits of homeless dogs who are patiently waiting for their forever homes. We get to create images that have the potential to save lives. EeEEeEeee!!!) See you over there! :P

You can see more of Kaylee’s work at, check out her new course The Secrets To Capturing The Best. Dog. Photos. Ever. Taken. tomorrow at, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, 500px, and Instagram.