Posts By Brad Moore

The first time I picked up a camera with actual intent, I hadn't yet decided to become a photographer - but I certainly knew that I wanted to suck less at photography than I did.

So I started studying pretty much anything I could get my hands on at the time. As this was nearly ten years ago, I was able to access about 10% of what I could if I were starting out as a photographer today.

I set out to learn my camera from the ground up, and that included shooting in manual mode and putting myself through the paces until I learned enough about responding to a variety of situations that I finally felt in control of my equipment. That also meant I took on quite a variety of work for some time - if I could gain experience, get paid, and stay out of any sort of legal snafu, or at least prison time, I'd do it. In my first few years as a photographer, I shot weddings, editorial, headshots, children, family portraits, glamour, political campaigns, newborns, maternity, travel photography, landscapes, food, commercial work, editorial work, stock, architecture & interiors, and sports.

I didn't attempt underwater photography or aerial photography, but that's about all I didn't cover; I was essentially an everything-on-land photographer.

But everything-on-land is a lot of ground to cover and although I enjoyed the experience of shooting nearly all of it, it wasn't long before I recognized that I was becoming a great generalist and a pretty crappy specialist. I wanted to master something. Or at least I wanted to start the process of mastering something because, as it turns out, by the time you master anything in photography, all the rules change - and then you just end up building from there, working towards a new type of mastery.

I decided to narrow the field down to portraits and really place my focus there. The biggest surprise was finding out that those years of shooting so much variety taught me more than I would have ever guessed. I learned that shooting weddings (especially several hundred weddings) prepares you for being able to shoot anything, anywhere, and in any lighting situation - especially if you believe that your job, as the photographer, is to be able to roll with the day and be up for anything that unfolds, no matter what.

I also learned that shooting sports teaches you to anticipate the look of frozen movement, like the precise moment a runner tucks an elbow back and in while lifting his knee in symmetry, which is different than anticipating emotion, like the sweet moment a resistant father of the bride finally gives in to overwhelming sentiment.

(I also learned that you should never skimp on great lenses ⦠and you need to get past any body consciousness you might have when you're in the pool shooting an Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer with 1% body fat - but I digress.)

The reason I was most drawn to portraits is because that is where I found the most significant amount of connection between my subjects and me. It was also my best opportunity to build long-term relationships that would pay off exponentially not only in referrals and sales, but in having a front row seat to follow the lives of those I came to care about a great deal.

A great example is actually tied to the new book I just wrote, Envisioning Family. The focus of the book is about making meaningful portraits of the modern family - but the cover image is a pretty meaningful portrait in and of itself.

What's compelling to me about this cover is that I have been photographing this family since 2003, and so much has changed for them before and after this specific portrait was shot. Initially, nine years ago, it was just the couple and their baby. Then the second daughter came along. Then a third little girl came joined in - and suddenly life got more difficult, about the same time the army came calling. The family of five moved to the West coast and Dad was called up for a long-term deployment to Afghanistan. Mom became a single parent to three kids, as well as a doctor, working the night shift at a very busy Easy Bay hospital ER. And their middle child, the one on the cover of this book, was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that caused all of her hair, everywhere on her body, to fall out. Her parents were told that it was not going to grow back. And this diagnosis came through while dad was very far away – and would still be very far away for the rest of the year. It was simply a very rough time for them. And, yet, you can look at that image and still see such sweetness and care. You can see that this child would be protected.

As happens between portrait sessions, time moved forward, and we just had another shoot two weeks ago. Dad is now home and out of the military (with decidedly longer hair), they moved back to their hometown, mom's work life improved dramatically, they gave birth to a brand new baby boy - and, an unexplained medical miracle, their little girl just started growing hair again: beautiful, bouncy, auburn hair. She's the little photographer in the top photo of this post - and here she is in her very own portrait:

We know it's a privilege to do the work we do, especially for appreciative clients. We also know that the reason it is called work is because it's just that: there's a significant effort involved in producing portraits that capture something genuine, expressive, soulful, and beautiful, while still being shot technically well with respect to solid exposure and great lighting. Since so much needs to come together in the right instant, challenges abound in each shoot. Especially when you're photographing children.

Like when your subject is wearing a beautiful dress, but it also happens to be mega-bright white, and you're shooting on an extremely sunny day at the worst time of day (thank you, reflector-that-acts-as-a-flag):

Or when you find an amazing new location, but realize right after you get the great shot, that there are ticks everywhere, and you're suddenly swarmed (you pluck them off as best you can and then make a run for it):

Or those times your subject takes a while to warm up and won't put on "the good clothes" (you distance yourself considerably, talk in a soft voice, use a 200m focal length – and then just wait as long as it takes):

Or if you happen to be shooting in dappled sunlight and you can't remember which twin is which (reflector as shade, pop in some fill flash, and create brand new, interchangeable names for them for the length of the shoot):

Or that evening when there's a lot of wind on the beach and you're shooting belly-to-the-sand (keep two lenses attached to two bodies and use a lens hood and, depending on spray, a plastic bag):

Or if you're facing a very nervous little girl who is being photographed for a workshop you're leading, and the crowd of shooters behind you is scaring her to bits (stay close to her with a wide lens, speak to her gently but consistently and calm her further by maintaining eye contact and moving the lens ever so slightly away from your face):

Or when it's near freezing, rainy and cloudy (encourage color, shoot low to show less sky and more local scene, and make it a game that your subject will jump several times, until you get what you need):

Or in the not-uncommon instance when a little girl is all done with the shoot and just wants to go home now (simply take one last photo and then let her go ;)

I could go on and on when it comes to listing challenges and found solutions, but I can nearly hear Brad and Scott whispering that this is a blog post and not a manifesto, so instead I'll summarize by saying that most of the joy of portrait photography comes from the consistent practice of:

– Learning the technical specifics so well that you don't have to let thoughts of equipment interrupt the interaction with your subject
– Understanding that connecting with your subjects is just as important as any other aspect of portrait photography, if not the most important aspect
– Falling back on quotes as a wonderful way to end your blog posts

So, lastly, in the wonderful words of Erik Christopher Zeeman, remember this:

"Technical skill is mastery of complexity, while creativity is mastery of simplicity."

You can see more of Tamara’s work at, find her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter, and circle her on Google+

Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. LIVE! in London
This is it… Scott Kelby’s last ever, Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. LIVE! seminar in the world. Come be part of this once-in-a-lifetime, history-making event! Think of the stories you’ll have to tell your children… “There I was, just mere yards away from him, watching Scott Kelby explain the importance of using eggcrate grids with strip banks, and, all at once… it… just… CLICKED.” ;-)

Okay, seriously though, we would be delighted for you to come spend the day with us in Islington, London on Saturday April 28. We’ve had tons of great feedback from attendees, and it’s been a really fun tour to do. We hope you’ll join us for the finale of this highly informative, yet fun and entertaining tour!

Leave a comment for your chance to win one of two tickets!

Lightroom 4 Live
Matt Kloskowski is hitting the road soon with the all new Lightroom 4 Live tour. He’s hitting Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and Chicago this month, and more cities will be scheduled soon. Check out for all the dates and details!

Leave a comment for your chance to win one of three tickets! Just make sure you say which city :-)

David Ziser’s Live Wedding Shoot DVD
Wedding season is  upon us and if you’re a wedding photographer or if you’re aspiring to be one, this DVD is a must-watch for you. Nationally-recognized wedding photographer David Ziser takes you through a wedding shoot from start to finish â” and when he says start to finish he means it. From getting ready with the bride in the morning to taking the required outdoor shots no matter the light quality and discreetly using a flash to capture the ceremony to covering the reception so nothing is missed, David shares his entire workflow method and experiences from more than 25 years in the business. Love is in the air and so are cool wedding photography DVDs, so leave a comment to win a copy of Live Wedding Shoot: From Start to Finish and we’ll randomly draw 3 winners from the comments.
If you’ve ever been to The Art of Digital Photography panel at Photoshop World, you know that Joe Glyda is the master of the self assignment. The latest class from Kelby Training is just that… Giving Yourself A Photography Assignment! Joe gets you thinking differently, outside of your normal routine, to renew your creativity and see things in a different light.

FREE Downloads from OnOne Software
Perfect Layers 2 is now available for free, giving every photographer the ability to create the images they envision. Use tools designed specifically for photographers to easily combine images and blend exposures, create layer masks, build composites, and moreâ”giving you endless creative options.

Perfect Layers 2 also allows you to use the workflow of your choice, giving you a seamless way to create layered files with your images directly from Lightroom, Aperture, or by using it as a standalone application.
And Perfect Effects 3 Free is a great way to add a heavy dose of excitement or a subtle amount of elegance to your photos. Based on the full-featured Perfect Effects 3, this free version includes over two dozen effects that will enhance and stylize your photos.
Get live previews of each effect along with the ability to adjust the strength and where the effect is placed on your photo. Perfect Effects 3 Free can be used as a plug-in directly within Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom or Aperture. You can even use Perfect Effects 3 Free on its own as a standalone application and get more effects from the onOne Marketplace.

Photoshop Quiz Game from Dave Cross
As previously mentioned, Photoshop Quiz Game from Dave Cross is a new game show style app that tests your knowledge of Photoshop. Now that the app has been released, Dave is giving away three free downloads! Just leave a comment for your chance to win one of these three giveaways.

Last Week’s Winners
The lucky winners of last week’s giveaways are…

Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. LIVE! London
Taz Hussain and Jude

The Digital Photography Book Library
Michael Lane

The iPhone Book, Fifth Edition
Darrell Peterson

Congratulations everyone, and we’ll be in touch soon!

That’s it for today. Have a great Thursday, and remember to be careful while texting and walking

Photo by Collin Hughes

This is awesome. I have never done a guest blog before, so thanks to Scott and Brad for giving me the opportunity.

I am a music photographer and I spend most of my time photographing bands/ musicians while they tour the world. In addition to photographer I also make those fun Lens Bracelets® you may have seen floating around recently at Photoshop World DC. Anyway, it’s really hard to sum up my career path quickly, but I still want you to give you a bit of background information on myself so that you know where I am coming from. Bullet points will suffice:

  • Started photography at age 16 for high school year book assignment. I was living in Madison, WI at the time
  • Went to tons of local shows, started bringing camera and photographing them for fun/made me feel “cool” (cut me some slack, I was young)
  • Befriended the local promoters, traded show photos for free admission and band posters
  • Began working with online music sites, getting press passes for larger shows and shooting from the pit
  • Bands started crashing at my house after shows and we would do quick press shoots the next day around town
  • Became good friends with a few younger national touring acts
  • Flew out to New York for my first big shoot when I was a senior in high school, totally blew it, shots never used
  • College for a semester while still shooting press images on spec and live shows when I could, started making pretty decent money
  • Stop college, go on the road with a band I was good friends with for 30 days, full USA, 8 dudes, 15 passenger van, smelly
  • Kept touring for next 18 months or so, continued shooting live and press images, working for publications
  • Moved to San Diego on a whim, continued touring and shooting
  • I have been doing a mixture of everything for the past few years. Shooting bands in studio, on the road, off the road and working for a few various publications.

That’s the gist of it. There is heaps more, but at least it gives you an idea of what I have been up to. You can check out a full list of where I have been here, and view a map of it all here. If you want to get a little more in depth about whats its like to live on the road, I suggest checking out my five part blog about a summer I spent on The Vans Warped Tour, which was pretty wild. Here is part one to get you going.

Like any photographer I have grown a lot over the past few years. I didn’t like shooting live and/or candid images of people at all to begin with. In fact, at first I was very emotionally disconnected from photography. I thought of it as a pretty basic thought process – get five sweaty dudes, put em in order and make ’em look nice so they can sell some records. However it has turned into something more than that for me. I imagine it will continue to connect with more and more as I continue to shoot and grow, but at this current point in time I am pretty stoked on shooting lives/candids and portraits. Lifestyles is a good way putting it.

So we left off with shooting live and candid images of the band on tour. What does this exactly mean? Well, put simply, just think of me as a professional stalker. I follow the guys around from sunrise to sunset, and then well into the night documenting just about everything. I have a blast and it is definitely more of a hang out with some photography splashed in it here and there. I go on the road for no upfront cost- however I make my money by selling my images to publications, labels, managers and the bands themselves. I prefer doing it this way because when a band takes me on the road I am on my own schedule. For example if we were in London for a day and I wanted to spend it all with my uncle I could. It’s also nice because there is no pressure to shoot anything, everything I do is self assigned and shot because I want to shoot it. When I am forced to shoot images like this I tend to have a very difficult time getting into the shots. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe it’s something I need to work on- I haven’t quite figured it out yet.

For the most part my shoot locations change everyday on the road. Cities, backstage, hotel rooms, sites, and wherever else we may wander. However after a week of touring and shooting the same band for five nights in a row, every live shot I took started looking pretty similar. The stages and crowds would change but it was hard for the most part to tell the images apart. I started getting comments on my blog that “All my live images looked alike” – and after looking them over totally agreed. I mean, I shot the same show at least 15 times on one tour, I had to start learning and challenging myself in one way or another or I would get bored- and if I am bored, you most likely are too. That is never fun! And my main goal while doing anything in life is to have fun. Must. Have. Fun.

So I started switching it up by putting my own flashes on stage. I have learned some pretty solid techniques that really started changing my images. So obviously I wasn’t taking my best shots this whole time, but I was learning, out shooting, making mistakes. Between then and now I have learned how to shoot on stage with 1-2 flashes, so I decided to share that with you. My next step will be to use more flashes, and to start gelling/ color coordinating them and balancing them with the stage lights. However, it’s a lot harder than it seems and it gets expensive. (Note to self, convince to loan me 50 flashes so I can takeover a stage.)

So for now, we shall stick with two lights. Most of the images I shoot are black and white, because to be quite honest, most stage lights are really ugly. There are a few really good lighting designers, but a lot of the time not so much. And even if I do get a good LD, they might use all red lighting and then I am really screwed. I have started to gel my flashes once in awhile but again, I am still working on it. So black and white in the mean time- plus it looks badass.

I recently photographed a band I have been working with for almost four years now, The Devil Wears Prada (after the book, before the movie). They had a show at The Glass House in Pomona, California on March 16. Now, unlike most of my live shoots, I only had one day to shoot these guys. When I am on the road with bands I can assign each day to getting a few images. So for example maybe I will focus on just the drummer for the whole set and really knock out every angle with multiple lighting set ups for the whole 65 minutes. But because this particular shoot was just one show, I had to try to make the most of it with what little time I had.

Here is how I lit the stage. The red squares are my flashes, and the blue area is where I shot all my photographs from.

Here is a quick video of me running around setting up each flash and testing them out. Now sometime after the main support act finished and The Devil Wears Prada started, I had to set all these bad boys up. Here’s a quick video of me running around on stage. Basically what I do is set each light up, take a test shot or two. Then go modify the lights accordingly. I also takes shots so I can see where the light is hitting.

Light #1: 580ex behind the drummer

Goal: Light up drummer and separate him from background, also lighting up everyone else from behind if possible

Trips/ tricks:
– Try to shoot from pit and keep drummers body between you and your flash head
– Turn flash power up high, this way you can knock out stage light when needed without having to adjust flash
– You can always add more ambient light in by lowering shutter speed, won’t effect flash
– sweat drops and smoke will give you amazing effects with this backlit technique
– don’t blind your drummer if he turns around!, or the drum tech

Previous shots using this technique

A Day To Remember live in Cologne, Germany on Febuary, 18th 2011

Eric of Breathe Carolina in London, UK on September 24th, 2011

Alex Shellnut of A Day To Remember in M¼nster, Germany on October 28th, 2009

Light #2: 580ex on stage right

Goal: light up anyone on stage, no matter where you are shooting from, also be used to silhouette people

Trips/ tricks:

Today through Sunday only, get a 24″x36″ Metal Mural, plus an extra 12″ square and free shipping* for only $98.00 (that’s 51% off)!!

Always included with your Metal Mural is your wall mounting hardware (metal rod, c-hooks for connecting your tiles and hardware to mount to your wall).

Feeling a little more creative? Buy the deal twice and make a 36×48″ mural!

*Continental US only. Worldwide shipping for an additional fee. 24"x36" mural created with 12" panels. Purchase up to a maximum of 16 offers.

NOTE: Scott here (crashing in on Brad’s post). I’ve had some of my images done by Metal Murals, and they really look amazing. One of my favorite travel shots from Venice is hanging on the set where Nancy sits on “The Grid” and it takes up like a whole wall and people always comment on it when they visit the set, because it’s such a interesting way to show you work. Highly recommended (they do a great job), and you will totally dig the results. Thanks to Metal Mural’s for offering this deal for my readers!


Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. LIVE! London
That’s right, the final seminar of this tour is happening on April 28 in Islington, London, UK! We’ve had a lot of fun with this tour over the past year, and we can’t wait to see all of you English chaps in a few weeks. You can sign up over at, or leave a comment for your chance to win one of two tickets.

Digital Photography Library
Ready for another contest? We’re offering up the complete Scott Kelby Digital Photography Library - Books 1, 2, 3, and 4 plus a slipcase. This set includes 800 “tricks of the trade” so it’s like having a miniature Scott Kelby right there in your camera bag.

Leave a comment and we’ll randomly draw for a winner before the next edition of Free Stuff Thursday. As always, if you don’t win it - you can buy it at the bookstore. And for those of you who already have books 1, 2, and 3 â” you can pick up the slipcase and book 4 to complete your set.

The iPhone Book, Fifth Edition
For all of you iPhone 4S users out there, here’s a rare treat. Scott’s giving you a chapter from his latest title, The iPhone Book - Fifth Edition. Click here to download Chapter 3 - FREE! And if you like what you see, leave a comment for your chance to win one free copy, or you can order the book here!

Tom Bol Webinar
Adventure sports photographer (and Kelby Training instructor) Tom Bol is doing a free webinar for the Manfrotto School of Xcellence on Tuesday, April 10! Tom will be talking about the gear and lighting he uses, and planning that goes into a successful on-location adventure sports shoot. Head on over and sign  up for this webinar to reserve your spot!

Pre-Order Shooter by Stacy Pearsall
Our friend Stacy Pearsall’s upcoming book Shooter is now available for pre-order! Stacy is a two-time Military Photographer of the Year, and this book is her account of the years she spent documenting the life of war. Scott Bourne has a great post about Stacy over at you should check out to find out more about her. You can reserve your copy from Amazon or Barnes and Noble today, and see her work right here.

Moose Peterson’s BT Journal for iPad
Our buddy Moose Peterson’s beautiful magazine, the BT Journal, is now available on the iPad! Not only does it feature Moose’s unique imagery, but his insights into the world of wildlife photography and the business of photography. A must-read for anyone who is interested in wildlife photography (or just loves seeing Moose’s amazing work)!

Last Week’s Winners
Here are the lucky winners of last week’s giveaways:

David Ziser’s Captured By The Light DVD
– KC
– The Digital Doc
– James Haverstock

Matt Kloskowski’s Lightroom 4 Seminar
– Kristina Jacob

Scott Kelby’s London Seminar
– Ana

Congratulations, and we’ll be in touch soon!