Just One Flash with Scott Kelby You cannot believe all the stuff you can do with just one flash! Join Scott Kelby as he starts from scratch and covers everything you need to know to get the kind of images you’ve always dreamed of when using your flash. You’ve got to love your flash, and in this class Scott shares all the things he’s learned over time to teach you the settings you’ll use, how to control your flash wirelessly, how to diffuse the light, and how to do it all without breaking the bank. This class contains three live shoots that demonstrate how to put all of these concepts and equipment to work for you, both indoors and out. Your flash is a great instrument, and with the right settings, the right accessories, and the right attitude you can fall in love. Keep an eye out for this class to be published today!
In Case You Missed It Learn why the Canon 600EX-RT is a quantum leap forward in speedlite technology! Join Michael Corsentino, a portrait and fashion photographer based in Florida, as he takes a deep dive into the Canon 600EX-RT speedlite system. He’ll get you up and running with the key features and functions that will enable you to get the most out of this flash. In this class you’ll learn about the key buttons and dials, how and why to use the different exposure modes, the importance of shooting with the flash off the camera, how to take advantage of high speed sync, and so much more. All throughout the class Michael shares his insights, tips, and tricks to help you get the most out of your flash and enable you to create the images you’ve been dying to create.
A massive hello from the UK and thank you to both Scott & Brad for allowing me to write this week’s guest blog.
When thinking about the topic to write for this blog, I instantly wanted to write about the retouching industry. Having been working as a retoucher for nearly 5 years I’ve noticed that it isn’t talked about enough. Retouching is a very specialist field within the photography industry. Unless you are lucky enough to live in major cities like London or New York, the jobs are very few and far between. That’s why it’s important to understand and be absolutely committed to your decision to be a retoucher.
So what does it take to be a retoucher?
Know Your Software
This may be pretty obvious, but you must know Photoshop. 90% of major studios use Photoshop, and the other 10% use Lightroom. These may be smaller outlets or perhaps working for a freelance photographer. It’s good to know Lightroom, but the majority of the time you will be using Photoshop. Photoshop gives you more control and allows you to do a lot more to your images.
You may think, “Well I use Lightroom so I’ll be fine with that.” For your own photography that might be fine, but working in a studio environment may be a lot different. It also depends on what retouching industry you’re going into. If you want to work for a powerhouse who creates editorial and fashion content for a major brand, Photoshop is essential. If you work for a photographer who shoots weddings or family portraiture, they may only need minor tweaks made, which could be done in Lightroom.
If you’re thinking about going into retouching, it’s good practise to do your research and find what styles of images you enjoy, to determine what software is essential for you. However, I would always say learn Photoshop as much as you can.
Which follows on to my next quick point, learn Photoshop every single day. Be a sponge and take in as many courses, tips and tutorials as you can. [I would highly recommend KelbyOne for classes, and a cheeky plug to my own tutorials for quick Photoshop tips].
It’s always important to continually develop yourself and learn new things which can help your workflow and make things easier and more efficient for you. Learn from books, videos, magazines and even learn from your favourite Photographers and Retouchers. Be smart.
Don’t let the work come to you. If you’re just starting out in your retouching journey, the best thing you can do is retouch your own images. Take photographs of everything; portraits, landscapes, architecture, food, products, sports, pets, anything. You’ll learn very quickly that some genres of photography require a lot more retouch but it will help you gain the experience and knowledge of what each images requires in terms of retouching. Portraits of models will take a lot longer than a shot of a pet for example. This not only will allow you to understand the tools but will help you figure out how long it’s taking you. I elaborate on time management further into this post.
If you don’t own a camera or you feel you don’t have the experience to take your own images, why not ask a fellow Photographer if you can borrow their images to retouch for your own personal use. You could even use forums like Model Mayhem where Photographers upload their own images for creatives to practice on for their own personal portfolio. It’s a great way of getting experience on professional images. Being proactive is an essential trait to have for a Retoucher.
Network and collaborate on creative projects. Find a Photographer to bounce ideas off and produce a project; something fun for the Photographer, something fun for you. They’ll be able to shoot the product or portrait and you can retouch the image. It’s a great way of building a portfolio with a set of images that involve your own ideas. Get yourself out there.
Patience is Essential
Using Photoshop can be super frustrating; you’ll run into issues you may not be able to figure out, or come across an image that’s going to need hours of work. So my next tip is have patience. Retouching can be a very long winded process, but, you’ll find that once you finish the image, you’ll feel very proud and happy with the end result. This is something that most retouchers love about retouching. Seeing the process from start to finish and knowing that they’ll have a wonderful piece of work at the end of it.
Patience is key when working with Photoshop. It may take several hours to complete one image, so it’s about getting through it and enjoying the journey. You may run into technical issues along the way, whether it’s something you can’t achieve or don’t know how to do. Retouching will give you problems that you have to solve.
You may ask yourself, “How am I going to achieve this?” Use your problem solving skills to figure out the easiest and most efficient way of resolving the issue. If you’re not sure, ask. There are plenty of people around the world who’ll be able to help you with your problem. Once you know how to solve it, you can use that same technique in the future. Eventually you’ll build up a toolbox of knowledge and be able to solve similar issues in the future.
Another great tip is to walk away. If you’re getting stuck with an image or you’ve spent too long on it, come away from it and return to it the following day. You’ll be surprised how much this can help. You’ll have a fresh look on the image and spot things you may have missed or figure out how to solve an issue. If you’re up against the clock, ask someone for feedback. With a fresh pair of eyes, they’ll be able to see any issues and you’ll be able to fix anything within enough time of your deadline.
Dedication is definitely needed when going into the retouching industry. Depending on the kinds of images you’ll be retouching, the industry can get quite monotonous. Especially if you’re working on the same shots day in day out. You have to be committed to the craft and really want it.
Be prepared for images that could potentially consume your time, especially if they take 2-3 hours. Being committed and persistent with the images will be very rewarding, especially when you see your finished pieces on the web or in print. Having the passion for retouching is essential if you want to succeed in the industry. If you get more and more retouching experience under your belt, the commitment will soon show.
Manage your Time
When you start in the retouching industry, you’ll soon figure out that managing your time is essential. You’ll find that some clients’ work will require a 10-minute clean up whilst others may require 2 hours retouch. It’s all about good time keeping and constantly watching the clock; especially when deadlines need to be met. Products and ecommerce, for example, can require anything from 2 to 10 mins per shot (depending on the specification and brief of the job). Portraits and high end fashion may require hours of attention, especially if they are being shot on high end cameras or they have been shot for print. Attention to detail is key here but it’s important to always remember your timings. Most studios are very fast paced, but you’ll pick up speed as you get used to their processes and practises.
By all means, this isn’t an extensive list of the skills and traits that a retoucher must have, but perhaps some of the most important to succeed in the industry. Don’t feel put off by these either; most traits can be learnt, especially the most important trait – learning Photoshop.
My last point, is to simply have fun. Whether you’re just starting out or are thinking of joining the retouching industry, always enjoy what you do. Whether it’s retouching a product shot for web or retouching a billboard for a major fashion label; do your best and enjoy every second.
Get creative, educate yourself, pick up your speed, solve problems, be patient, manage your time, collaborate, have fun.
Camera Essentials: Nikon D5 with Larry Becker Get the most out of your Nikon D5! Join Larry Becker as he walks you through the important things you’ll want to know about your new D5. This is not a class for seeing every menu option and obscure function, but instead Larry focuses on the things you need to know to get the camera to do what you want it to do, as if a good friend was showing you how. You’ll learn the basics of navigating the camera, how to access various shooting modes, where to find key settings, and along the way Larry shares a wealth of tips, recommendations, and insights to help you feel like a master user by the end of the class.
In Case You Missed It Join Mia McCormick as she sits down with Stacy Pearsall and delves into topics that range from how Stacy got started in photography after joining the Air Force at age 17 to the obstacles she had to overcome as a female airman in combat situations, and from what it takes to make tough choices in chaotic situations to the process of transitioning to civilian life after being combat disabled and retired from military service. This interview kicks off our Trailblazer interview series on powerful women in photography; women who have the courage to tell stories about complicated issues, often under extreme and dangerous situations, and who are among the first female professionals to excel in their chosen discipline of photography.
This is my story, and I’m grateful and excited to be sharing with you all. It isn’t the prettiest tale… but it’s real. So, my name is John Brown, and I’m a photographer in Nashville, Tennessee.
I was born in Würzburg, Germany, and mostly grew up in Mons, Belgium until I was 8 years old. My father served 25 years in the US Army, so my brother and I were fortunate to have such a unique experience growing up. After my dad retired we moved to Shelbyville, Tennessee. Shelbyville is pretty small, and, at least when I was in high school, there wasn’t much art or music around, which is what I’ve always gravitated towards. I didn’t do very well in high school; I believe my GPA was 2.75 or somewhere close. Looking back it makes sense. There wasn’t any creativity, but when there was I thrived and put forth effort.
After I graduated high school (barely), I went to a small community college called Motlow State, located within a short drive of the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. I believe I first majored in Mechanical Engineering because I wanted to build things, but I realized math was not one of my strengths. So I changed to Business Administration the next semester, and I realized math was not one of my strengths… again. My third semester I took a math class, and a guitar theory class, for a whopping total of 4 credit hours. I’m sure my parents were just stuck in a never ending eye roll at the point. But thankfully the next semester I finally took an art class… which completely changed my life.
The art professor was this incredibly talented, quirky, and underpaid genius. I remember him stressing the importance of composition over almost anything else. That really stuck with me. I finished out my 2 year associate degree in art, and transferred to MTSU nearby as an art/music double major, with no idea what I wanted to do afterward. I loved to draw, and play guitar, drums, and sing. But there still wasn’t really a niche standing out to me yet. At the same time, I was a 21 year old college kid that didn’t know anything about anything. Life was really good. I had just moved out on my own for the first time, and I was going to a big college with interesting classes and lots of new people (and girls) to interact with. Life was good. And then… it wasn’t.
Half way through my first semester at MTSU, in fall of 2007, my mom attempted suicide. At the time I thought it was my fault, because I was the youngest son and I had moved out. I wouldn’t learn till later that the truth was something much different. Basically my mom had a migraine for about a year straight, and was actively going to a couple of doctors about it. After some months of not figuring out the cause, they gradually put my mom on a dozen or so prescriptions. And all these drugs literally drove my mom crazy to the point that she tried to take her own life. I thank God every day for having parents that love each other like mine. My dad is the the reason my mom is still around. And just so you know, she’s doing very well now.
I flunked out of school and ended up moving back home. I got a job at a sweet woman’s gift shop down the street, who I’m certain took pity on me. I felt like a failure. I had no direction, no goals in mind, no idea what to do with my life. So of all things, my escape from this small town was truck driving. I became a full blown truck driver.
I traveled the country driving an 18-wheeler, hauling HAZMAT (hazardous material), steel, brake calipers, dry foods… basically anything you could imagine. I was only 22. It was super weird… but it was a much needed adventure, time to think, and a confidence boost. I saw a lot of things good and bad. I witnessed terrible accidents, drugs, sex trafficking, violence… it was an eye opening experience.
I drove full time for about 15 months and finally decided it wasn’t for me. I moved to Nashville two days later, and I was hired as a valet at a high end hotel downtown. Because, hey, “If I can drive a semi, I can park your damn Mercedes.” (Literally the cockiest thing I’ve ever said in my life… to the guy that hired me.) A few months after I’d started working there, luck brought me a camera from the lost and found. I had never used one before, but I just thought it was the coolest thing ever to play with. This was six years ago, and the camera was a Nikon D80.
So this is the part where I feel like most people would maybe gloss over things, or just skip parts because it’s not flattering, or that it’s career suicide to be this open… because what I’m about to share isn’t at all something I’m proud of… but I’m just going to be completely honest with you, because I think it’s important, so here we go. (I used way too many commas and I don’t care.)
I worked at this hotel for nearly 3 years, and I worked my a** off. And you know where it got me? Nowhere. I worked 60+ hours a week valeting, working third shift on Saturday nights, and also at one point shooting the photography and managing social media for this place. I was paying rent, but not making enough to save much. I also wasn’t feeling appreciated. At the same time I felt lots of pressure from family to start figuring out my future by either finding a career or going back to school. I needed to be responsible, and have a savings account, health insurance, 401k, a retirement plan, because I want to have a home and a family one day right?
I’m not quite sure when this started, but I developed an anger problem. I would lash out at people I was close to. Including my own brother, who’s the nicest guy I know. My boss. And at my worst, my own girlfriends. This went on for a few years. The height of which was when during an argument about something I don’t even remember… let’s just say it was something as dumb and trivial as the weather. Yes, during an argument about “the weather,” I shoved my girlfriend of one year, who I loved, on the floor in her own bedroom. I’d never done anything like that before. I instantly realized that this wasn’t because I was “hangry.” We had just had dinner together. This was something real. I stepped towards her to help her off the ground, and she jumped back with this expression of terror. She was literally afraid for her life, because of me. It’s something I will never forget. And as I write this all these years later, it still makes me feel emotional.
The next day I called my pastor and had coffee with him. He chewed me out in the most loving way possible, if that makes any sense at all. And he looked me in the eye and asked me if I’d consider counseling. I instantly remembered back to the time my mom was sick, and I thought it was my fault, and I wasn’t doing well. I’d lost weight, I couldn’t focus on anything, and I wasn’t taking care of myself. At the time I was covered under my parents’ with health insurance, but I didn’t want to bother my dad. I didn’t want to add to his problems. MTSU probably had a free clinic or some sort of resources available as well, but I was too embarrassed to speak about it to anyone on campus. So I got online and tried to find other resources. I remember calling this number and speaking with a very kind woman who had no options available without insurance, or an amount of money I couldn’t pay. She got emotional on the phone with me. I’ll never forget it. So when I heard the word, “counseling,” I just said “yes.” Because I realized I had needed counseling since 2007.
The next week I went to anger counseling with this awesome guy. One of the first things he said to me was that even though he was 50 something years old, he’d been thinking about taking a break from his current work and going to art school. Just because he wanted to. So needless to say we got along well. Over the next few weeks I learned a lot about myself. I realized how miserable I was, how unhealthy I was, how my anger was stemming from things that had nothing to do with anyone except myself. One big reason being that I’m this people loving, extroverted, creative person, but my life was not that at all. So gradually over the next few months, anger left my life for good.
(By the way if you’ve made it this far… I commend you and thank you for your patience. So now… I’ll just cut to the part that matters most.)
Photography grew into something more than a hobby. I quit the hotel and had a variety of jobs afterward, from selling cars to serving tables. Along the way I started pursuing photography more seriously, and ended up with a job at a documentary company. One amazing perk of working there was that I was able to shoot with their secondary camera, which was a 5D Mark II. I worked there for 10 months, and over that time I was able to make my first website, build up a portfolio, and start charging for my work. In August of 2014, I was at the office, and I found out that a very dear friend of mine had been murdered. She was 25 years old. And she had just hired me to make gesture drawings at her sister’s wedding.
A week after that a friend from high school died of cancer.
A month or so later, a family friend died of cancer.
By the end of 2015 I’d lost 10 people, friends and family, that I loved and cared about. Including my first cousin who was in her early 30’s, and my grandmother who was 85.
Around the time my cousin passed, I was no longer working at the documentary company. Which meant no more access to a 5D Mark II. Which meant no more camera because I’d given mine away. At my cousin’s funeral of all places, I was having a conversation with a family friend, whose brother was one of the 10 people I’d lost, asking him for business advice. He then offered me an opportunity I never would have imagined… a business loan.
I came to the realization that I could literally die any day. It could be tomorrow, or when I’m 85. I had just witnessed over the last year and a half how fragile life really was. So I accepted. With no client work ahead of me. No business plan. Fully accepting that I may very well have to sleep in my pickup truck with my camera, and I was completely okay with it. After two weeks of getting my gear, I went to Chicago for 22 days. I took the above photo while I was there, and it ended up going viral in the millions of shares and likes. You can find it on Alicia Keys’, Amy Schumer’s, and even Adriana Lima’s Instagram pages. Which is awesome and super random. (Alicia… let’s do lunch.)
It’s been a year and a half… and I’ve had three nights since May 27th, 2015 where I’ve nearly had to sleep in my truck. Even with such little financial stability at times, something always pops up, and I keep moving forward.
I have a personal project in the works. I’m learning and growing as an artist, and a person. And I’ve never been as happy as I am now. I work 80 hours a week so I don’t have to work 40. And honestly it’s the best decision I ever made. This has been quite the adventure, and it’s incredible to be doing something that makes my friends, family, and parents feel proud. It’s the best feeling in the world.
I’m sorry this has been long, and crazy, and not necessarily fun or flattering… but this is my life. If there’s anything I’d love to pass to you, it’s that life is fragile, short, and way too valuable to live miserably. I encourage you all to seek out things bigger than yourselves, to think of others when the opportunity arises, and not to wait for loved ones to pass before you realize what’s truly important. No matter who you are, no matter your religion, political views, identity, race, or nationality, we can grow every day, we can learn every day, and above all we can love every day. I hope you all are well, and I wish you the very best. Cheers.
Portrait Retouching in Adobe Lightroom CC with Kristina Sherk Retouching Portraits in Photoshop is so 2005! Join Kristina Sherk as she takes you through her retouching workflow using only Lightroom. With the new capabilities Adobe has incorporated into Lightroom, you can save loads of time by skipping photoshop and retouching directly in Lightroom. You’ll learn how to remove blemishes, enhance eyes, smooth skin, whiten teeth, and more. Kristina packs the class with power user tips on saving custom Adjustment brush presets, syncing local adjustments across multiple photos, and how to use Lightroom to work smarter, not harder.
In Case You Missed It Learn the core fundamentals of retouching hair! Join Kristina Sherk as she teaches you how to retouch hair smarter, not harder. From removing stray hairs to changing your subject’s hair color, and from creating custom hair brushes to adding dimension and shine, Kristi will show you how to do the best things possible in the fastest amount of time. Every photographer working with people can benefit from adding these hair retouching techniques to their set of skills, so that you can deliver outstanding work to your clients and get back behind the camera. By the end of the class you’ll know how to make your clients look red-carpet ready and how to do it faster than ever.
A Look Into The Making Of Matt Wertz’s SnowGlobe Shop Videos
Most of you here know me, Brad Moore, and that I moved to Nashville earlier this year. Since coming here, one of my new ventures has taken me into the world of video. I met Phil Barnes, seen above, when we both arrived at a mutual friend’s concert with the idea of making a video for him. Rather than make two videos, I asked Phil if he wanted to work together on one, and he said yes. Through the experience of working together on this one video, we decided to team up and keep making videos together. Thus was born Phil and Brad Make Videos!
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when we were approached by Matt Wertz, asking if we’d be interested in making some videos to help him launch his annual online holiday store, The SnowGlobe Shop. Each year, Matt launches this shop to sell some of his own merchandise, but also some other items that are made locally in Nashville. He wanted Phil and I to help tell the story behind each of the locally made products… Why he’s working with each company, the care that goes into making each product, etc.
The introduction video to The SnowGlobe Shop. This was actually the last video we made as it’s mostly made up of clips from the other six videos we created.
For each shoot, I filmed with a 70-200mm f/2.8L lens on the Canon 1DX, shooting at 60fps for slow-motion footage. Since I was shooting at 60fps, my shutter speed was at 1/125 and my f-stop and ISO varied depending on the shooting location. Phil filmed with a 24-70mm f/2.8L lens on the Canon 5D Mark III, shooting at 24fps for a cinematic feel. His shutter was at 1/50, and his f-stop and ISO also varied from on location to the next. We both shot handheld and only used available light since we had to move quickly and had limited time at each location.
Our first shoot was at ThreadCo, a startup fashion company that focuses on creating high quality closet staples at an affordable price. This was where we found our groove and dynamic for this project. I started off shooting wide, then quickly switched to shooting tight once we got into the space and realized what exactly we needed to focus on. As long as I was shooting tight and Phil was shooting wide and we stayed out of each other’s shots as much as possible, we knew we had wiggle room in the edit.
The last bit of filming was spent getting vanity shots, both video and stills, of each product. Throughout the process, Matt was also recording voiceovers for the videos, either spoken by him or one of the people involved in making each product. Once we had all of these pieces captured and created, it was time to put them together. To the edit!
Phil and I have a pretty great dynamic figured out, which allows us each to play to our strengths. I tend to be the primary shooter, then he drives the edit once we have all the footage. Once he has a pretty decent cut ready, I’ll take a look and give notes and we’ll discuss what fine-tune tweaks we need to make.
So, once we have all of our footage downloaded and backed up, we start making our way through it to find the best shots that are both visually attractive and help tell the story of how each item is created. We bring it all into Adobe Premiere Pro CC and delete the clips that are garbage, and cut and trim down the clips that aren’t.
We put the clips together in the order that made sense for the story of each item and slowed down the 60fps footage to 40% for the slow-motion effect, and also scaled it to fit the frame (the 1DX shoots 60fps at 720p, but it looks fine when scaled to 1080p). We also added in the graphics and credits at the end of each video.
Since we were working with a musician on these videos, we knew we would be using his music as the underlying track. He gave us the instrumental title track from his Snow Globe album, and we trimmed it to fit the length of each video. Once we had the voiceover for each video, we did some minor editing to take out the distracting elements (ums, breathing between sentences, etc), then added those to each project. Even once they were in Premiere, we were able to cut them and space them out to be better timed with the pace of each video.
After we got everything just right, Phil mixed and mastered the audio to make sure levels were good and, honestly… I’m not sure what all he did so I could just make up a bunch of technical stuff to sound smart, but just trust me when I say that he made everything sound great ;-)
All that was left from there was to export each one, send it to Matt, get his notes, and adjust each one accordingly! The final edits for each one are here, and I hope you enjoy them. Matt, Phil, and I all put a LOT of time and effort into making these, and I for one am pretty happy with how they turned out. I honestly can’t wait until our next project, whatever it may be.