Posts By Brad Moore

InDesignCCTop10Tips

Adobe InDesign CC: Top 10 Tips, with RC Concepcion
So, you have just been handed an InDesign file to work on. The problem is you have never worked in InDesign before! Never fear, in this brand new KelbyOne class RC Concepcion will share 10 tips that will have you up in running in InDesign quickly! Check it out later today at KelbyOne.com.

Leave a comment for your chance to win a 1-month KelbyOne membership!

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frankworkshop

On February 13th Frank Doorhof will teach a one day class in New York in his Mastering the Model Shoot on-tour workshops. Topics covered will include:

Speeding up the workflow by using a light meter, advanced light meter techniques for white and black details/backgrounds, mixing light sources, calibrated workflow, shooting tethered into Capture One (tips and tricks), coaching the model, finding the right angles and poses, maximizing the scene, story telling, styling, using props, expression, adding motion, working with clients, retouching and much much more.

For more information and registration, just go to FrankDoorhof.com/ny!

titze
My name is Chris Titze and I’m a digital artist based in Fort Worth. I’m a mix between CGI artist and photographer. My background however is in retouching. I’ve also been honored as one of Lüerzer’s Archive’s “200 Best Digital Artist worldwide 2015/2016.

An Ode to Self-Initiated Work! (Or how I got to learn to love extra work)
I want to make my case on why Self-Initiated projects are important and why you need to start one today if you haven’t before.

This is especially true if you feel stuck in your line of photography or your book/portfolio feels dated, or you are totally burned out. A Self-Initiated project may just be what the doctor ordered. Every successful photographer I have met does one thing that the unsuccessful ones don’t. When they get into a rut, they start their own creative project. This is their cheat code to staying relevant.

Just to show that I’m acting on what I preach, below is my latest work-in-progress Self-Initiated project.
Having a Self-Initiated project in between paid work was a habit even before I became a freelancer. Even back when I was working full time at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, I had a project at hand to teach me a skill.

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As of now there is a lot work that needs to be done. The swarm of drones look menacing but the people still need to look more realistic, especially the clothing. I’m anticipating I should have this image done within a few weeks depending on client work. The goal is to blanket the sky with thousands of drones, which would be something that would not be feasible in real life. I was tempted to photograph the couple using photography but decided not to. Keeping it fully 3D has its advantages. I want to try turn this image into a stereo 3D image, so that way you can see this image in real 3D using either a VR headset or one of those cheap red/blue 3d glasses.

So why should you invest as a photographer the time and effort on Self-Initiated projects?

Let me outline 3 reasons why self initial projects are essential to your brand.

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I’ve been meaning to work on a race car image but wanted to introduce a little odd spin. The 3D mesh for the VW Bus has been provided by Jay Hardy who is a fantastic Blender artist.

1.) It shows your capabilities and shapes your direction
A client will only hire you for the work they believe you are capable of. In other words, if they don’t believe you can do it, they won’t hire you. The lack in your portfolio is validation that you can’t do it. Only a really gullible art buyer would gamble their career hiring someone that has no track record. Stop fooling yourself if you believe that your client is responsible for your artistic career direction. (Hint: they are not)

Only you are responsible for the direction in which your creative career goes.

So you think it’s a catch-22. You can’t get the work you want because no one hires you for that work you want. And since no one hires you for the work you want, you can’t get the work you want. The work you get from your clients begets more work, effectively cementing your direction in photography. For example, the person that shoots a lot of senior pictures will shoot more senior pictures since they become known for it. Even though they are dying to do some car photography. Self-Initiated projects allow you to break free from the cycle. Since you direct yourself, you are your own boss. The only catch is that you may have to sacrifice your time to make it happen.

I once had a chat with a photographer who was asking for marketing connecting to car brands despite not having a single car piece in their portfolio. It was self serving, since it came from a “Me First” mentality. I told him pretty much that no art buyer would gamble on a unproven photographer with no car experience. Their job is to find the best available photographer within their budget. In fact, their entire job function entails on filtering out misfit photographers.

I encouraged him instead to start with spec work or Self-Initiated work to get a body of work going before seeking out car brand. Unfortunately as with most advice, it went one ear in and the other ear out. Keep in mind, I’m not a cynic and I do believe in dreaming big. But you do need to take the dream and work towards it. After all, step by step gets you ahead.

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I created this image within days when Google Glass was announced. I think it’s still a very charming image.

2.) It sharpens your skills and future proofs you
As the former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says, it takes “reps reps reps.” Meaning that only perfect practice will make the job easy. That way you have a good understanding of what the job entails, for example how to charge a project. Let’s say you are hired to photograph a bird’s eye view of a city. How do you know what to charge if you haven’t done a practice run? Do you know where to rent a helicopter and how much they charge? Do you know how much time the project would take in post? Self-Initiated projects helps you figure out the details.

If you get a job and you haven’t done it at least once, every minor mistake will trip you. Doing it for practice will help you. Do the hard things when they are easy, when nothing is on the line. The experience you gain through Self-Initiated projects carry over to your commercial projects.

With Self-Initiated projects, you can target the skills you want to learn for yourself. If you want to learn about drones, you can rent a drone and learn the ins and outs by using it. It will come in handy in that example above. Maybe a drone is all you need.

When Chase Jarvis went from waiting tables to becoming a sports photography giant, it was the “Create, share, sustain” mantra that took him there. Joel Grimes is a big believer in Self-Initiated work; that’s how he developed the Joel Grimes look. Austin Mann, a friend of mine, developed his initial travel photography portfolio while he was on mission trips. Which also teaches us that when you find a competitive advantage, you need to exploit it. Double down on the things that work.

Also, Self-Initiated work can future proof you. Do you really think a camera 20 years from now will look anything like they do now? Do you shoot photography the same you did five or ten years ago? The look of a DSLR is an anachronism of an old school film camera. There is a good reason why phones for example are not banana shaped anymore. Photography will become only weirder and muddier as times moves on, you will be doing stuff as a photographer that is technically not “photography.”

By doing Self-Initiated work, you can do projects today that the clients will request next year. For example, how much more successful would you be if you embraced Instagram when it just came out? How about Google+? Trey Ratcliff accelerated his photography career by embracing Google+. He dominated it when it came out. Do you embrace new social media? Are you on Periscope or Meerkat?

Don’t be the guy that claims to have 20 years of photography experience when in actuality they only have 1 year of experience repeated 20 times. You know that person that has been in business for decades but you can shoot circles around them. Instead be the guy who is touch with the ever moving world of photography.

Creating Self-Initiated projects allow you to be on the cutting edge.

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This image has been published in Luerzer’s Archive’s “200 Best Digital Artists Worldwide” and has been shared around the internet. It originated as a collaboration between Austin Mann and I. Playing with a welding gun is always really fun and really dangerous. It was awesome to see all the sparks flying. We even shot a behind-the-scenes video.

3.) Cool projects are great marketing tools

There is so many marketing opportunities when it comes to Self-Initiated work. You are essentially creating your own advertising for you own brand.

Creating your own brand as a photographer is important. You want to avoid to be seen as a technician, a button pusher. The more you are a technician, the more you are a commodity. Which is a service just like any other which can be substituted for a lower price. That’s why you want to build a brand. Being a technician is a race to the bottom since you are competing on price.

So how do you build a brand? This is a huge topic by itself but, Self-Initiated projects can help build your brand. If you want to build a brand I can recommend a few resources such Erik Almas’ “On aspects of image making,” or Joel Grimes’ “Becoming a Marketing Genius.”

Since you decide what to shoot, you have a chance to work with sexier topics whether they be better models or products. Let’s face it, working on a pharmaceutical product is not sexy, but working on Nike is. It’s not against the law to use Nike products for a Self-Initiated work as long you don’t claim you work for Nike. You just need to be honest on the scope of the work.

In other words you are only limited by your own imagination (and pocketbook).

Once you’ve created your passion projects, they are great fodder to feed the Marketing beast. Post it on Social Media, Create a post card campaign, create a signed poster for your prospects. There are so many ways use this content.

Here are some inspirations on how other photographers broke through by doing this. Some of them got millions of impressions, some of them launched carriers. Some even used it to sell themselves as product.

Here are a few of my favorite ways photographers used passion projects to enhance their brand.

  • Josh Rossi launched his career by asking influential Youtubers to join in their shenanigans in exchange of free photography. This gamble paid off in amazing work and large money offers.
  • Austin Mann used his spare time from mission work to build his travel portfolio. He is now very renowned for his travel photography work and iPhone photography.
  • Tim Tadder and Mike Campau DOMINATE Behance.net through their smart collaboration.
  • Chase Jarvis started out shooting photos of skiers as a hobby. He went from waiting tables to a sports photography powerhouse through his practice.

I could go on and on. There are sooo many examples.

So what are your thoughts? Did I inspire you to start a new passion project? Am I full of crap? You decide.

I’d love to hear from you. Also feel free to keep in touch.

You can see more of Chris’ work at ChrisTitzeImaging.com, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Master FX: Real Movie Poster Effects with Corey Barker
In this course Corey Barker will take you through building a Hollywood movie poster effect starting with a simple studio shot. Ready to learn the techniques used to build a typical Hollywood movie poster? Join Corey as he leads you step-by-step starting with a simple studio shot and building it into a full design. Check it out today at KelbyOne.com!

Leave a comment for your chance to win a free 1-month KelbyOne membership!

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What Makes Twilight So Vital to Great Architectural Photography
As photographers, we have a special relationship with the sun. Its availability and character defines our schedules, our styles, even our equipment. If you think about it, our relationship with the sun is almost poetic. We’re driven by its rise and fall, celebrating these golden hours with the applause of the shutter.

The golden hour and twilight are important to most of us, but they’re absolutely vital for architectural photographers. Beyond the dramatic skies and soft, directional light, there’s one important factor that is almost exclusively important to architecture:

At dawn and dusk, the interior light of a building is as bright as the ambient light of the sky.

It sounds simple, but it’s worth reading that statement twice. Why is this balance of light so valuable? Throughout the rest of the day, the light of the sun is dramatically brighter than the power of any interior light, and it takes a lot of labor, gear and technique to create an artificial balance.

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Ulele Twilight Exterior, a commercial image for a lighting company. Photographed with a Nikon D600 DSLR and a Sigma 35mm f1.4 lens at f7.1, ISO400, ½ second exposure.

How an Architectural Photographer Creates an Artificial Balance
Between dawn and dusk, the core of an architectural photographer’s job is to create that artificial balance of light with equipment and technique. When photographing an interior space, it’s our job to create a realistic, inviting image of a room. The challenge is that the natural dynamic range of the human eye far exceeds the capability of modern DSLR sensors. To counter this, we use software to blend bracketed exposures or we use complicated off-camera lighting techniques to create balance.

There are pros and cons to either of these common techniques. HDR photography cannot distinguish between color casts from different light sources, and interior spaces often appear dusty and overcooked when processed. Off camera lighting is difficult to learn, labor-intensive to execute and easy to get wrong. No matter what technique a photographer uses, the ability to create a realistic, balanced image is the central challenge of the job.

At twilight, the challenge is easiest to conquer. As I said earlier: at dawn and dusk, the interior light of a building is often as bright as the ambient light of the sky. A photographer can capture a usable image of a space without as much reliance on complicated technique.

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Restoration Hardware Penthouse – Shot handheld with a Nikon D610 and a 24mm PCE lens at f3.5, ISO 3200, 1/40th of a second exposure.

Twilight in Practice: How to Let The Light Work for You
Both the golden hour and twilight are valuable for both indoor and outdoor architectural photography. In most cases, architectural photographers use twilight to capture exterior images of a building. It can be just as valuable indoors, as dramatic views can be pulled into an interior space without as much emphasis on technique.

Outdoors, the relative brightness of interior lighting allows the camera to capture detail that it couldn’t see during the day. During full daylight, windows appear nearly black relative to the bright exterior light. The scene is completely different when the ambient light of the sky is on par with interior light. This adds a different dimension to the image, leading the eye from the scenery around a building to the space within.

While there is plenty of opportunity to improve an image with lighting technique at twilight, a photographer really only needs one tool to capture a great exterior image at dusk — a strong, sturdy tripod.

Indoors, twilight can be just as valuable to an architectural photographer. The light of the setting sun is more likely to be in balance with interior lighting. Rooms with large windows and doorwalls can benefit from golden hour light. A sunset creates a more vivid and enjoyable scene, but it also allows for a natural balance that is tough to find during the day.

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A commercial image for a luxury home builder. Shot with a Nikon D610 and a 24mm PCE lens at f11, ISO 320, 1/13th of a second exposure.

Advice for a Beginner: Focus on Timing, Not Technique, for Your First Architectural Shoot
I’m often asked for advice from photographers who have a space to shoot but don’t quite know how. They ask if they should try HDR or use a speedlight, and I usually direct them away from both. Why? HDR is very easy to do poorly, and off-camera lighting is like learning a new language. So I suggest that my friends avoid trying new techniques the first time, and instead focus on shooting at the right time of day.

If you find yourself tasked with photographing a building or a home, consider scheduling for the golden hour and twilight. Pick your shots well, because time flies and the exposures can be long. Shoot brackets to have a few base images to choose from, and always shoot raw. You’ll have a lot of leeway with the shadows and highlights sliders in Lightroom, so if your shot is naturally in balance thanks to evening light, you might be pleased with how great your shoot looks after a little bit of massaging.

The value of twilight is an important lesson not only for beginners, but for professionals alike. No matter how well you master the techniques of architectural photography, timing will always be of the essence.

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A commercial image for a group of licensees. Shot with a Nikon D610 and a 24mm PCE lens at f11, ISO 100 and a 1.6 second exposure.

Seamus Payne is a Tampa, Florida based architecture photographer. You can see more of his architecture, food and editorial photography projects at SeamusPayne.com, and feel free to follow him on Instagram and Facebook. Beyond his work as a photographer, Seamus produces short documentary films and writes about design on TheCoolist.com.

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