Posts By Brad Moore

When it comes to portrait retouching, there's no shortage of tools, techniques, tutorials and most notably, results. Retouching is both a blessing and a curse as I've seen it turn good photos into a great ones but also decent ones into a complete disasters. During my time teaching retouching I've noticed a common set of mistakes that people make that ultimately keep them from reaching a polished yet natural result. My goal in this article is to give everyone from beginner to intermediate retouchers and photographers a roadmap for creating beautiful images and change your mindset towards various concepts you may already be familiar with.

Your Starting Point is Critical
I'm sure you've heard this many times before but I would like to reiterate the importance of working from a high quality source file. Retouching isn't a contest to see how well you can turn a bad photo into an acceptable one. It's about enhancing the beauty of the original image and minimizing the elements that may be deemed undesirable by the specific target audience or client. My photo below demonstrates just how little change needs to be made, and how even a few subtle enhancements can lead to a much more pleasing result. Given that I shoot the majority of the photos that I retouch, the starting point is entirely within my control. If however you're a retoucher only, you may not always be provided with a great source file. Poor quality raw files are to be expected, but it's important for you to manage expectations for both yourself and your client. There are a myriad of things to look for in a good source file but let's touch on some of the most important ones.

Skin Texture – One of the key ingredients to a great looking portrait is clearly visible and pleasing skin texture. I'm often asked "how do you create the skin texture in your images?", and the simple answer is – I don't. The skin texture that's in my final image is the skin texture that I started with. While I may repair some of the texture that's there, I never create it from scratch. Although skin texture brushes exist, the result is never natural since texture varies across the subject based on a number of factors. The area under the eyes has different texture from what is on the forehead, cheeks and nose (see close-up below). Similarly, texture on one side of the face can differ from the other side due to lighting factors. A soft light source makes texture look more subdued compared to those areas lit with a hard light source. Areas of shadow, midtone and highlight also render texture differently, as does the direction of light and depth of field. With such a wide array of factors, it's nearly impossible to reproduce convincing texture from scratch.

To achieve good texture in camera you'll need three key elements: model, makeup and light. The state of your model’s skin is of course the basis for everything. If the pores are overly large or harsh, or there is a lot of scarring or acne, no amount of makeup or flattering light will produce great out-of-camera texture. Assuming the model has reasonably good skin to begin with, the foundation and other products used by your makeup artist is the second most important factor. Be sure to use an experienced makeup artist and good quality products. As mentioned previously, texture renders differently depending on the light source used. If you're shooting natural light on a cloudy day, the multi-directional and diffused light will leave you with rather muted texture. If on the other hand you shoot with a hard light source such as a beauty dish or gridded reflector at an indirect angle, the texture will be much more aggressive. Remember that texture is simply contrast created by the interaction of light and shadow at a near pixel level.

Dynamic Range – Today's professional cameras can capture a staggering amount of information and detail but even they have their limits. If an image is over or under lit to the point where areas of skin are completely blown out or in absolute darkness, little can be done. Be sure to use reflectors to fill in shadows and use the clipping warning (blinkies) on your camera to spot blown out highlights. We'll talk a bit more about getting the most out of your raw files once we get into our discussion of workflow.

Quality of Light – Altering the interplay of light and shadow across the subject’s face is one of the most difficult tasks for any retoucher and borders more towards digital painting than retouching. Given this challenge, it's much easier to light your photo properly from the start so that the light and shadows need only be enhanced rather than replaced. The difficulty of your retouch increases with the hardness of your light source due to the rather unforgiving nature of hard light. Most retouchers prefer to start with a less contrasty image and add contrast gradually as opposed to the other way around. This isn't to say that you should avoid hard light sources, but simply that you need to factor this into your decision and balance it with your skill as a retoucher.

The Little Details – While things like stray hairs, crossing hairs, or unpressed clothing aren't deal breakers and can be fixed in post processing, they become a huge waste of time so nip them in the bud before they show up in your camera.

Recognize that Retouching is More Art than Science
The majority of people starting out in retouching look for those magic tools or techniques that will help them to create beautiful images in a snap. The belief is that professional retouchers know some closely guarded magic tricks that give them that flawless finish. The reality of the situation is that the more advanced you become in retouching, the more you rely on the basic tools and adjustment layers and less on shortcuts. Don't get me wrong, these techniques and tools aren't a bad thing, nor are they useless. The problem is rarely with the technique itself, but rather the application. This gap exists for two reasons.

The first is that beginners often search for solutions to specific problems as they work through various images and apply the techniques naively without understanding the mechanics behind them. By ignoring the details you're doing yourself a disservice as these solutions can often be extended across multiple use cases. The second and most common problem is simply a lack of vision. Without a clear vision of what makes a good photo or retouch, it's impossible to apply tools appropriately. Although the majority of retouching is localized changes, these localized changes need to ultimately produce a complete image, and it is your vision as an artist that brings it all together.

The lesson to draw from this is two fold. First off, spend some time understanding each tool and technique as opposed to applying them on a problem by problem basis. The second is to move from a local to a global mind-frame. Study the interaction of light with objects, read make-up tutorials about contouring and face shapes, and study colors. Most importantly, find images that you love and figure out what makes them great. Learn to identify the gaps between your work and theirs and gradually reduce them with each new photo. This may seem like a lot of work – and it is – but I assure you that once you're able to visualize the end result, the path to getting there is that much easier.

Find the Right Balance
Regardless of how many plug-ins or action packs you have, trying to reproduce a magazine quality retouch in 10 minutes is simply impossible. That's not to say that every photo demands three hours of retouching to make it acceptable. It's about setting realistic expectations for yourself and developing a workflow that balances time and quality to produce the best image you can for your specific style and target audience. Skin smoothing plug-ins like Imagenomic Portraiture or Portrait Professional are a good example of this. They will never produce the same level of quality as a skilled retoucher but they also cut the time required down dramatically. It's not a sin to incorporate these into your workflow but be aware of the trade-off you're making and come to a happy medium. The below image demonstrates a more beauty oriented retouch and the time various steps took. Notice how interestingly, the color grading step makes the most dramatic impact with relatively little time.

I always tell my students that retouching is a game of diminishing returns. The greatest impact can be made in a relatively short period of time under each technique. For example, with Dodging and Burning – which is the process of lightening and darkening local areas – it's conceivable to spend an hour or more to achieve a flawless result. You can however get to 80% of the result that most viewers will be able to see in the first 10 minutes. Perfection isn't always necessary so focus on targeting the most important areas and budget your time. Also keep in mind the intended use of your image. If you have a 36 megapixel file that you only plan on displaying at web resolution, leave the small issues and focus on the most noticeable ones. The best way to do this is to set a zoom threshold for yourself. Keeping your zoom fairly wide will give you a better idea of what your viewer will see and prevent you from spending unnecessary time on minute details.

In addition to balancing time and quality, you'll also have to balance polish and reality. Contrary to popular belief that retouching is about creating unrealistic standards of beauty and turning humans into porcelain dolls, a proper retouch is as much about what you leave in as what you take out. The subtle contours around the mouth, the nasolabial folds, shadowing under the eye, lines under the eyes, all these elements should remain in a portrait retouch and merely be toned down to a flattering level. Too often these small areas are identified as flaws when in reality they are important parts of the human anatomy. Learn to distinguish the bad from the necessary and exercise restraint.

Learn to Break Apart Your Image
Each image is composed of several elements. At the basic level we have light and color. Light is simply the level of brightness, while color is the combination of hue and saturation. A black and white image is composed of lightness (or luminosity) only. While this may seem like an obvious point, too many people ignore the implications of this concept. When retouching a photo, we're ultimately making changes to one or more of these elements and a good result requires a harmonious balance between them. Below you'll see an image broken down into the respective elements. Note that the hue and saturation blocks are overlayed on top of a red background to make them visible.

The reason this matters is because knowing how to identify and manipulate these three elements allows you to fix the majority of issues using only a curves and or hue/saturation adjustment. While these two tools may not always be the most efficient solution, it demonstrates just how basic the process can be. A practical example of this workflow is using dodging and burning for evening out light and dark transitions across the face and then using selective hue/saturation or curves adjustments to correct any remaining color issues. For more information on HSL corrections, visit this article from my friend Lulie Talmor.

One of the best tools to flush out color based issues is none other than the simple color picker. By opening the color picker and sampling colors across a variety of areas, we're quickly able to visualize any shifts in luminosity, hue or saturation and develop a game plan for fixing them. For example, the below image demonstrates that we have a color shift going from the top to bottom in the dress.

Sampling two areas using the color picker, we can see that the top has much more green than yellow as indicated on the hue bar on the right. Similarly, the square block shows us that the top portion of the dress is less saturated and also lighter. Having this insight, we know now that all we need to do is mask in a hue/saturation adjustment on the bottom portion of the dress and offset the shift by pushing the hue slider towards green and turning up saturation and brightness. While I generally recommend using curves or levels to fix luminosity based issues, I've corrected all three using one HSL adjustment as shown below for ease of demonstration.

Once again, this concept can be extended well beyond clothing and will apply equally to correcting patches in the skin, or mismatched skin tones across the subject. You're also not constrained to the HSL adjustment. Having a strong understanding of colors, you could make the same correction using curves or levels, albeit not as intuitively.

An alternative view is to look at your image from the standpoint of high and low frequencies, or simply tone and texture. The below image demonstrates this idea with all the detail separated onto one layer and the color information on another. Notice that areas that are naturally blurred by the shallow DOF have no information in the texture layer.

While manipulating these two individually typically falls into the realm of advanced concepts and tools like frequency separation (more on this below) and high pass filters, it's still important to understand the implications behind it. If we have an area of discoloration and attempt to fix it with something like the clone-stamp tool, we'll be replacing both the tone and texture in whatever area we paint. From what we learned above, a curves or hue saturation adjustment over that area would correct the discoloration while leaving the texture intact. By understanding whether we're dealing with a tone or texture based issue you'll better be able to select the appropriate tool to tackle it. From a practical standpoint, this is how many skin smoothing tools work. They separate the skin tone areas into high and low frequencies, operate on them separately and then assemble them back together.

These two views may seem both logical and overly theoretical, but they form the basis for all of retouching. If you learn how to visualize and manipulate them, you can tackle just about any issue thrown at you without relying on Google to guide the way.

Your Roadmap to Retouching Greatness

Let's face it, you're not going to produce an amazing looking image in your first attempt. Getting it wrong many times is all part of the process. What we want to avoid is getting it so wrong that we get completely discouraged and not try at all. A lot of people fail by getting in over their head with all the tools and techniques that exist. They jump into advanced concepts and end up with an image that looks nothing like the original. For this reason it's important to start with the basics and leave the advanced tools for later study. Here is a guide to the various techniques and steps you'll want to master in order to become a proficient retoucher.

Build a base – Remember that each step in the retouching processing builds on the last, so each one has to be done carefully and masterfully. Nothing is more important than getting the most out of your raw files since this forms the basis for all the corrections still to come. Although more commonly seen in landscape or architecture images, you can also process multiple raw files to extend the dynamic range of your portraits. You can open up shadows and recover highlights by blending multiple raw conversions together using either simple painting masks or more advanced tools like Luminosity Masks. Your highlights should still be highlights and shadows should still be shadows, but you should have visible detail to work with in the areas that are important. Be sure to balance shadow noise issues during this process and avoid muddying up highlights. Your raw file is also where you'll want to correct any white balance issues so get it to a pleasing point before diving into Photoshop.

Create balance – Use the HSL tools we talked about above to fix any larger discoloration issues. It's not uncommon for a model’s face to have a different tone from her chest, arm or hands, so learn to identify these inconsistencies and correct them. Nothing gives away an inexperienced retouch more than having mismatched skin tones in your image. In addition to the curves and hue/sat adjustments we discussed above, you can also use the Subtracted Average Color Adjustment technique I developed to help take the guesswork out of it.

Heal – The healing brush is one of the best tools for fixing minor blemishes. Use it carefully to remove any smaller scars, acne or stray hairs. Avoid using tools like clone-stamp on skin – unless the healing brush fails – as it can gradually destroy texture. When using the healing brush, sample areas close to your problem area so that the source texture is similar to the destination area. After completing these three steps, you should have a clean image that looks nearly identical to the original but with more polish. When toggling your layers on and off, you shouldn't notice any changes in face shape.

Fall in love adjustment layers and blend modes – Before going any further, you should become comfortable with critical adjustment layers such as Curves, Levels, Hue/Saturation, Selective Color and Black and White. Experiment with each of these using common blend modes such as Luminosity, Color, Overlay, Soft Light, Lighten, Darken, Screen and Multiply. Here is a video I recorded about blend modes to give you a better understanding of these. These five adjustments and eight blend-modes comprise the most common ones you'll use and put a ton of power into your hands. Once you've become comfortable with them, try to apply blend-if adjustments to your layers. The combination of adjustment layer, blend mode and blend-if will allow you make targeted adjustments to specific colors and luminosities and make color grading and correction a breeze.

Make small corrections with dodging and burning – The majority of blotchiness found in the skin is a result of luminance shifts so Dodging and Burning can be a great way to eliminate them. Knowing what we know about diminishing returns in retouching, focus on just the most glaring problems and lighten or darken them gradually until they blend with their surroundings. This may still leave minor color based issues but that's a problem you'll tackle as you develop your skills.

Build contrast with dodging and burning – Dodging and burning is without a doubt the most important skill that any retoucher can master. It's not something you'll become good at overnight, so take baby steps. What makes a portrait really pop is building depth and dimension through contouring. Contouring is essentially selectively brightening highlights and deepening shadows to create a more three dimensional feel as well as enhancing facial features. To ensure that you don't make the subject look like someone else, start by simply building on the light and shadow that exists in the image already. Don't overdo this process. Build up the effect gradually through soft and low opacity brush settings. Study make-up artist contouring theory to understand what areas of the face should be dodged or burned for specific face shapes. Toggle your adjustments on and off constantly to ensure that the subject’s features are in-tact and that you've enhanced rather than altered. Also note that for B&W portraiture, D&B contouring can be pushed much further than in color images without looking overdone and helps to enhance the sense of drama.

Add refinement – After applying dodging and burning you'll likely be left with some existing discolorations. These are often too minor to be noticed by the majority of viewers but should be fixed nonetheless. Using visualization tools called check layers (as shown in the HSL breakdown above) you'll be able to spot areas of changing hue or inconsistent saturation and correct them using the appropriate adjustment layer and masking. As you become more skilled, dive into complex topics like frequency separation which can help to expedite this process. Frequency separation will allow you to operate on the tones and texture as we discussed above, but also makes it easy to completely destroy an image due to the lack of safeguards. Use this technique sparingly and responsibly. It can be very powerful, and hence tempting to beginner retouchers, but should be avoided until your vision is properly developed. Remember that advanced techniques are advanced for a reason.

As you work through the above list, be sure to constantly flood your eyes with images. Find inspiring photographers and retouchers and learn to identify what makes their work great. Have patience, practice constantly, and seek advice and feedback to measure your progress objectively. Everyone has a different style and goal in mind so find a workflow that balances time and result for your situation. Above all else, when starting out, always apply a degree of conservatism to your work and err on the side of under-retouched to over-retouched.

You can see more of Michael’s work at VibrantShot.com, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Join Scott Kelby and RC Concepcion tonight at 7pm ET for a live webcast where they’ll be discussing Scott’s recent trip to Europe. RC will be chatting with Scott about his experiences in various cities along the Danube River, and Scott will also be sharing some of the shooting and post-processing tricks he used along the way. You can register for the webcast right here so you can chime in on the live chat to ask questions and share your own experiences, and we’ll also be giving away some great prizes!

And if you’re a gear head (you know who you are), here’s a list of the gear Scott took with him:
Canon 5D Mark III
Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3
Canon 16-35mm f/2.8
BlackRapid RS-7 RapidStrap
Tiffen 82mm 10-Stop ND Filter
Vello Shutterboss Remote
Hoodman Compact Loupe
– Lexar Secure Digital & Compact Flash Cards
Gitzo GT1542T Traveler Tripod
Really Right Stuff BH-40 Ball Head
Really Right Stuff L-Plate for 5D Mark III
Gaffer Tape
LensPen MicroKlear Microfiber Cloth

And it was all packed in a ThinkTank Airport AirStream camera bag. See you tonight!

http://youtu.be/CQwiTRXHgrk

KelbyOne Father’s Day Special
Father’s Day is coming up this weekend, and we here at KelbyOne want to give you a chance to give the gift of online training for $50 off our normal price. Give Dad the opportunity to learn photography from the best people in the industry! Just use the discount code Kelbyone50 at the checkout to get the discount.

Commercial Product Photography and Post Processing Techniques with Alex Koloskov
Join Alex Koloskov as he walks you through every step in his workflow over the course of three different product shoots, and then finishes each project in Photoshop. Creating stunning product photography requires a unique set of skills in the studio and in post-production. Each product was chosen to expose you to a variety of techniques to help you build a repertoire of skills that will aid you in shooting a range of commercial products. In this class you will learn that attention to detail during your studio time can save you hours in post-production, you will see different ways of using lighting modifiers to enhance the shape and detail in your subjects, and you will learn to how to develop an efficient workflow that takes you all the way from the studio to final output.

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

KelbyOne Live
Want to spend a day with Scott Kelby, Joe McNally, or Corey Barker? Check out these seminar tours!

Shoot Like A Pro with Scott Kelby
June 17 - Nashville, TN
Aug 26 - St. Louis, MO
Aug 28 - Kansas City, MO

One Flash, Two Flash with Joe McNally
June 19 - San Jose, CA
June 27 - Seattle, WA
July 24 - Milwaukee, WI
July 28 - Boston, MA

Photoshop Down & Dirty Master FX with Corey Barker
June 25 - New Orleans, LA
Aug 1 - Miami, FL
Aug 13 - Austin, 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
Photoshop World Workshop
– Randy KashkaMitch Kloorfain

KelbyOne Rental
– Jeffrey Choi

KelbyOne Live Ticket
– Mitch Kloorfain

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

October 5th, 2011 was a Wednesday, and the Cache Valley Photographers were gathered at my studio for their weekly lunch time meeting to discuss Scott Kelby’s Guest Blog, and I remember the day well. The Guest Blogger was Jodi Cobb, who wrote about her project documenting modern slavery. Unfortunately, the group didn’t spend as much time discussing this as it deserved because it was also the day that Steve Jobs passed away.

We did discuss this iconic image made by photographer Albert Watson. Watson’s work is varied and inspiring, and this photograph of Jobs has come to define an entire generation. It’s the cover of Steve Jobs’s Biography, it was the landing page of Apple.com for an entire month, and it hung billboard-sized at Apple’s campus. Few people have not seen this photograph. I’d like to share what I’ve learned from it, how it’s changed my life, and an idea for how it may be used to change others’ lives too.

Subject as Object
We examined this picture, making suppositions about how it was lit, the lens used, etc. But no matter how much you dissect it, it’s clear that the subject is the object of the image, and that’s a lesson I’ve tried to keep in mind in all my portraiture since. This picture isn’t about Watsonâ”an internationally renowned photographerâ”and his fancy lighting knowledge and camera-craft. It’s all about Steve. Viewing it, you’d never think, “Man that’s a cool lighting technique,” or, “Interesting background,” or, “I bet he used a full frame camera.” Watson masterfully removed everything from this image that might distract from Steve, including himself.

After lunch, my buddy Justin Wasden and I set out to recreate the image, and that was fun. Then someone else came into the studio, so we invited them to make a portrait, too. That evening I invited any and all to come in to make a portrait similar to Steve Jobs, and you know what? 100 people came.

You gotta understand, this was a small farming town in Northern Utah, so it was pretty cool to get so many people involved. Some people called it a tribute portrait, some didn’t like Steve but couldn’t deny his impact on the world, and several were teachers who talked about how wonderful it had been to have computers in their classrooms (I had Apples in school, and earning a few minutes to play Oregon Trail was a great incentive in my elementary school classrooms). It was fascinating to hear so many stories and perspectives on the man.

Since then, I’ve made similar portraits for hundreds of people, and every time is marvelous. I’ve shot in my studio, in businesses, at conferences, and in casinos in Vegas. When people use this portrait for their profile image, they get a big bump in traffic and attention, which helps them build their businesses. Maybe you could get good results from making similar portraits, too.

Character vs. Person
When you make these portraits, it’s essential to remember that you’re working with a person, and people are shy of being photographed. Being photographed is hard! I know many of you have said, “I bought the camera so I don’t have to be in front of it,” and if you have, you’re missing out on a great opportunity. Being photographed helps you to empathize, and that will make you a better person and a better portraitist.

On the other hand, the great thing about this picture is that it gives people a chance to be a character, like an actor. It’s as if they are freed from their self-consciousness and embarrassment. They usually open up and we have fun. “Channeling Steve” is liberating.

Still, you’ve got a responsibility to help people look their best in your portraits. How? Start by watching Peter Hurley’s guest post videos. Besides helping people hide their extra chins, you’ll also notice that Peter has his camera on par with the person’s face, not shooting from above. In this portrait, it’s important that your lens be positioned  level with your subject’s nose. This helps your viewer engage with the portrait from a respectful position. Shooting from above, as we may have been taught to do, is a mistake in this case. If you do, the viewer is now looking down on the person, and that’s the wrong relationship. We ought to present people as equals. Use Peter’s tip of pushing the forehead toward the lens. You’ve got to help people look their best. It’s not a picture of a guy with his thumb on his chin; it’s a portrait of a person.

This video demonstrates a few key tips for making these portraits, including how to work with a person. You can see my setup with a beauty dish (though I often use a 26″ Rapid Box when I travel), and a 105mm lens. I strongly recommend you shoot these portraits at a minimum of 85mm.

http://youtu.be/IhWL3w5r4p4

The Steve Jobs Portrait Project
Watson’s portrait of Steve Jobs is iconic, which means this simple portrait represents something larger and more important than the picture or the man alone. Maybe this single image recapitulates the last four decades. Maybe it represents the Baby Boomers. Maybe it represents prosperity and ingenuity and determination and capitalism and whatever else you think of when you consider one of the most influential men of the last 100 years.

As photographers, our place is to make photographs that mean more than the sum of their parts. Beautiful sunsets are great, and pictures of babies are cute. The value of those pictures, though, is in the power they have to stir emotions and move people to action even when they’ve never been to that place, or met that child. Scott Bourne has named us the High Priests of Memory Protection, and that’s a serious responsibility and it requires us to act. I mentioned Jodi Cobb’s post earlier, which is just one example of powerful imagery moving people to action.

I’m trying to use this Steve Jobs Portrait Project to make photographs that mean something and move people to action. I’ve identified local organizations that do good things, and it seems that what they need most is more money to do more good things. We’re making Steve Jobs Portraits of the beneficiaries, and we’re making portraits of the benefactors who help make the good things happen. We invite people to a gallery reception (perhaps at a local business) where they may interact with the people of the organization, both the benefactors and the beneficiaries, and invite them to see how a little money can make a big impact. When we bring portraits and stories and people together, good things happen.

These portraits aren’t mine. It’s clearly a tribute to Watson’s work, and Steve Jobs used the same pose in portraits many years ago. I’m having a blast, however, affecting people’s lives with it. Maybe it’d be fun for you, too. Maybe you can even use it for something good.

One More Thing
I’ve always thought that being asked to be a guest blogger on Scott Kelby’s blog would be the biggest honor, and that only the big league players were invited. Well, I know I’m still just a newbie, but it is an honor, and I’ve realized that the big leagues are full of people who give more than their share to others, and I can’t imagine better company to be in. Thank you, Scott and Brad, for establishing a giving culture and letting me be a part.

You can see more of Levi’s work at LeviSim.com and SDesignsPhotography.com, and follow him on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.

Photoshop World Las Vegas
You may be thinking that you still have plenty of time to register for Photoshop World since it isn’t until September. That’s true, but if you’re planning on signing up for one of the in-depth workshops that happen the day before the conference starts, you could be running out of time! Two of these workshops are already sold out, and I know of at least one other that only has a few openings left. If this is something you’re hoping to make part of your Photoshop World experience, sign up now before it’s too late! Or, you know, if you just want to save money by registering early, you can do that too ;-)

Once you’ve registered, make sure you book a room at the official Photoshop World hotel, Mandalay Bay, so you can stay where the instructors stay!

Leave a comment for your chance to win a free spot in one of these workshops (must be registered/registering for Photoshop World Las Vegas):
Art In The 21st Century with Fay Sirkis
Lightroom Crash Course with Matt Kloskowski
Photoshop for Beginners with Pete Collins
The HDR Workshop with RC Concepcion

On Location Photography: South Beach Edition with Jeremy Cowart
In this class we get a behind-the-scenes view as Jeremy creates unique and dynamic setups in the most unlikely locations, with Scott at his side asking him all the questions that you'd want answered. Jet away to South Beach, Miami, Florida to meet up with Scott Kelby for the next segment of our On Location Photography with Jeremy Cowart series. Jeremy Cowart has an amazing ability to clear away clutter, eliminate distractions, and make his subject the primary focus in just about any setting you can throw his way. You'll be amazed at what can be accomplished with minimal gear and a creative mindset that will surely change the way you view new locations.

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

KelbyOne Live
Want to spend a day with Scott Kelby, Joe McNally, or Corey Barker? Check out these seminar tours!

Shoot Like A Pro with Scott Kelby
June 17 - Nashville, TN
Aug 26 - St. Louis, MO
Aug 28 - Kansas City, MO

One Flash, Two Flash with Joe McNally
June 19 - San Jose, CA
June 27 - Seattle, WA
July 24 - Milwaukee, WI
July 28 - Boston, MA

Photoshop Down & Dirty Master FX with Corey Barker
June 25 - New Orleans, LA
Aug 1 - Miami, FL
Aug 13 - Austin, 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
Frank Doorhof Book
– Pedro Oliveira

Lindsay Adler KelbyOne Class
– Konfral

KelbyOne Live Ticket
– Reba Baskett

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

i am admittedly the least technical and gear-minded photographer i know, so to be featured on this blog is a pretty humbling experience, so first off, thanks.


Photo by Ashtin Paige

my name is andy barron and i live in LA. most of the stuff i shoot is music related, and more specifically tour related. my mindset of capturing images has always been to be a person first and a photographer second, so that combined with my love of music and travel has helped me get to doing what i am now. i love just being in a situation and observing, being a fly on the wall and just documenting what happens. some people might balk at this, but i love having limitations put on me when i’m shooting. whether that may be a dark backstage, a small tour bus, a tv show that doesn’t allow professional cameras; anything like that just makes me try and figure out solutions within these so-called “problems,” and that’s where i love living and shooting.

for the nerds out there, here’s what i travel with: canon 5d mark2, 24-70 f/2.8, 15mm f/2.8, 70-200 f/2.8, canon g12, fuji instax. that’s it. i’ve had the same setup for years now and i love my gear. i’ve tried new lenses, prime lenses, different cameras, but always come back to this setup which i can easily throw in a backpack and go at a moment’s notice.

currently i am on tour with the band foster the people, and i could not ask for a better group of guys to tour with. they are my brothers and i am so thankful for the role they have played in my life. i also run their instagram, so while we’re on tour, a lot of my shots go up there. here’s one from this year’s coachella.

for this post i figured i’ll just show some of my favorite shots over the last few weeks of tour. sweet.

a few years ago i took a shot backstage at the roseland theater in portland during a 20 second photo shoot sitting on this couch. that photo ended up being their promo shot for a long time and i believe is still the image that comes up for them on iTunes. we were back at the same venue years later, and the couch was still there, so we had some fun recreating the shot (well, almost).

there are so many surreal moments on tour with a band that make you question what you do for a job in the best way possible. the day we went to NASA and were led on a tour by an astronaut was definitely one of them. a couple instax shots from that day (including the original apollo 13 desk, crazy.)

being able to travel a lot is a definite upside to touring (i only have two more states to go, maine and alaska i’m coming for you) and hands down one of the most gorgeous venues in america is the gorge in eastern washington. we were there the other day for sasquatch festival, and i snapped a couple photos of the guys on this back porch with a fairly decent backdrop.

later that night the guys played to about 20,000 people and then we got to watch outkast before hopping on a bus to seattle. definitely a fun night.

speaking of fun, we definitely have a lot of that out on tour. we play a lot of mariokart on n64 and we even have a few crazy carts out on the road with us. our drummer mark did some drifting at cain’s ballroom in tulsa before soundcheck. this was shot with my g12 and sometimes i just love how a point and shoot looks.

i also end up using a point and shoot a lot whenever bands i am working with play tv shows. a lot of studios have restrictions about SLRs in their space, so i usually lay back and try and get what i can with whatever i can. a few weeks ago the guys played letterman along with a children’s choir and i took this after their performance.

natural light has always been my favorite and even when doing a proper shoot for people i tend to shy away from any strobes or external light. some of my favorite natural light i have seen in a long time was a few months ago at the ryman in nashville, tn. such a historic and beautiful room.

speaking of beautiful rooms, during every show i at least try and get a nice wide shot of the room to showcase the actual venue, and the fillmore in detroit was definitely worthy of a good showcase.

to end, here’s a few of my favorite live shots from this last run. i love shooting the same show over and over trying to perfect and improve on shots i’ve taken from previous shows.

see you on tour. cheers.

to find andy and keep up with his photos, his travels, and his thoughts on this season of the bachelorette, head over to andybarron.com, his instagram, foster the people’s instagram, and his twitter.

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