Posts By Brad Moore

Hey gang, Brad here with this week’s edition of Pimpy Thursday!

NAPP News

It’s “Christmas in July” at Kelby Training Books!
Ok, we know… that whole “Christmas in July” thing always feels a little silly. I mean, who likes singing carols when it’s 95 degrees outside? However, there’s one thing that’s never silly, and that’s PRESENTS! So from now until July 31, when you buy any regularly priced book, DVD, or special bundle from Kelby Training, we’ll throw in 3 free DVDs!

No codes and no special links necessary. Just make a purchase and poof! “Christmas in July!” Well, ok, there’s a couple catches. We get to choose the DVDs, and they will be from our sale-priced DVDs. We can pretty much guarantee that one of them will be the Best of Photoshop User – The 12th Year DVD, and no returns, trade-ins, special requests or whining is allowed :) But hey! That’s still a whole lot of extra training. Plus, if you already own one of the DVDs you get, you now have an instant re-gift!

Wallpaper of the Week
Be sure to check out the Wallpaper of the Week on the members home page. Each week an image from a NAPP member will be featured as the wallpaper of the week, so if you see something you like for your desktop, iPad, iPhone or other device – grab it!

Armed Forces Discount
As a way of saying “thanks” to our armed forces, NAPP would like to extend a $20 discount to every new or renewed NAPP member actively serving in our armed forces. Visit this page for complete details, and please feel free to share this via your referral program. If you know of an active duty serviceman or woman who is into Photoshop, a digital membership will put Photoshop User magazine right on their laptops, iPhones and iPads no matter where in the world they are.

KelbyTraining.com
Corey Barker is back with his latest class, Photoshop CS5 In-Depth: Interface and Preferences. He’ll show you how to save workspaces and customize Photoshop so you can optimize the time you spend working for maximum productivity.

Kelby Training Live
In addition to Scott Kelby’s Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. LIVE! Tour, you can also catch Fay Sirkis on the road with The Art of Photo Painting with Photoshop CS5 Tour! She’ll be in Washington, DC on July 29, and in Los Angeles, CA on August 3. You can get all the details over at KelbyTrainingLive.com.

Special Deal for Nik Software and OnOne Software from Acme Educational
Speaking of Vincent Versace, he and the team at Acme Educational have teamed up with Nik Software and OnOne Software to offer you a 10% discount on their products! Just use the coupon code ACME when you’re making your purchase.

The discount doesn’t apply to Nik Software’s third party products or specials (like the current $100 off Color Efex Pro 3.0 Complete or $60 off HDR Efex Pro), but everything else is fair game!

$100 Off Design Services for Photographers at Tweak.com
Through the end of July, the team over at Tweak.com is offering $100 off graphic designs for photographers! If you’re not familiar with them, they let you upload your photos to one of their design templates for brochures, business cards, newsletters, and display banners, then print and deliver them to you. Then you turn around and use those items to wow your clients, and increase sales!

Blog Collage from Fundy Software
Fundy Software, Inc. has just released its latest product, Blog Collage – ­the fastest way to create stunning collages for a blog or Facebook marketing needs. Features include designing for any blog/web width easy branding with logos using color or transparent backgrounds creating dynamic layouts with easy design and unlimited module combinations, and auto-saving for the web. You can see Blog Collage in action over at FundySoftware.com.

That’s it for this week. Have a great Thursday!

It’s funny how much can happen in a year. I’m still in some disbelief that I’m writing for Scott’s guest blog series. With that said, I would like to thank Scott and Brad for this opportunity. I’ve been a longtime fan of this series and it’s a real honor to now be a part of it myself.

Often times when I write about a topic related to Photography, the difficult task is not determining what my point is but rather how to most effectively communicate it. How do you even opine over something so subjective without instantly alienating at least a portion of your audience? I think the best start is to propose certain axioms that I try to live by with my photography:

  1. Unless being commissioned by a client, engaging in Photography is totally self-motivated. You frame, compose, shoot, and process for yourself and to your own taste.
  2. Growth of one’s ‘vision’ is not academically taught so much as it is shaped and evolved by experience, failure, success and repetition.
  3. The gift of a photo being ‘done’ according to the photographer is that it can, and should, be shared with the rest of the world.

Now, because I can only accurately talk about my own personal journey, let me share how I came to establishing these three statements for myself.

From One To A Million

For the sake of brevity, let’s just say that my growth as a photographer took many years (I started in 1997) and involved a lot of money spent developing images that were oh-so technically flawed. The first steps were relatively straightforward: learn and appreciate the holy trinity of Photography (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO), start practicing different methods of framing and composing a shot, and stop shooting in the ‘tourist’ position.

Growth was slow and it was very solitary. Shoot the film until empty, develop it, and study it. The Internet was around back then but Social Media and blogging were far from reaching that spark of critical mass. I had never enrolled in any photography classes, so feedback was really limited to the handful of college photographer friends with whom I felt comfortable enough sharing my work, and myself. But, I did grow from it. It was slow and frustrating but I did gain meaningful experience from it in terms of what my style was. I was the one determining what worked and didn’t work within my ‘vision’.

Flash-forward to ‘Today’ – we live in a time where the barrier to entry for an unprecedented amount of self-exposure is virtually non-existent. An Internet-connected device, a blogging platform & a few social media accounts and you are ready to broadcast yourself to millions of people. What’s more is that there are millions of other people also jockeying to broadcast themselves to millions of people. Blog posts, Twitter streams, and Facebook walls are riddled with everyone vying for everyone else’s attention.

Who Do You Do The Voodoo That You Do For?

There was a period of about three years when I gauged my personal success as a photographer by analytics, metrics, followers, comment numbers, and unique visitor counts because it seemed like these were the critical measurements to focus on. I had also enveloped myself around learning and trying to master the galvanizing technique of HDR Photography and tone-mapping. Everything I shot, discussed, and wrote about revolved around HDR. I even began a ‘365’-photo project where I posted a new HDR image every day on my blog. I was consumed and for a long while, it was very good to me. Slowly but surely, I was seeing stats go up, my media exposure was increasing, and I was being regarded as a bona-fide resource in this area of Photography. I was making a name for myself.

And then something happened around halfway through 2010. I began having this feeling of stagnation and automation. There was something missing from the equation that had previously always sparked my love of Photography. I had a routine: shoot, tone-map, stylize, blog, tweet, and post on wall.  The blog comments and retweets came in and grew in frequency but even those began feeling automated. It was in this automation and routine that I realized it was stifling the growth and evolution of my photographic vision.

I let all of the exposure I had recently experienced give me a false sense of real growth as a photographer and I convinced myself that perpetually tone-mapping HDR images was the only way I would maintain this exposure. I was shooting and processing to feed that growth and not to feed my vision. At the time, I couldn’t begin to remember what it was like to shoot without bracketing or carrying a tripod and like all addictions, I really couldn’t see beyond it and then the tunnel vision set in.

And like an addict, I needed to find a significant ‘event’ where I could turn my life around. We were nearing the end of 2010 by that point, so I figured New Years Day would be as good a time as any to turn things around.

Evolution By Way Of Regression

For the past several years, my sole goal with my images was to retain every detail from the shadows through the highlights and everything in between. I convinced myself that my images had to be representative of what the human eye would see at the moment of exposure and not be limited by the digital sensor. I also focused exclusively on urban and abandoned areas, almost wholly abandoning any sort of landscape, portrait or nature scene because, hey, it seemed to fit this distorted formula for online success that I had.

So, I figured the easiest way to start growing was to go cold turkey. I began going on personal shoots with a camera, a lens or two, and nothing else. No tripod, no shutter release cable, no bracketing. I began focusing on appreciating and embracing blown out highlights and dark shadows. I was seeing shapes in the lack of tonality, rather than in the presence of it. I began learning more about Black & White Photography and enjoying the use of neutral density filters for Long Exposure Photography. I started embracing and really falling in love with the beauty of nature and landscape scenes, along with the nuances and complexities of portraiture work.

I was returning to the world I had forgotten when I was first starting out.

With HDR Photography, I got to a point where I was no longer experimenting in-camera and rarely made mistakes in terms of processing. I didn’t stumble and, as a result, I stopped learning. I forgot what it felt like to have that ‘Aha!’ moment when you figure something out that you did not previously know.

The Not-So-Trivial Pursuit of Photography

Writing this blog post gave me good reason to take pause and think about what I’ve done as a photographer, reflecting on my failures and accomplishments. When I first started out learning how to use a camera, I didn’t have any delusions about ‘going pro’, appearing as a guest blogger anywhere, or making a dime off of my work. I did it to become a better photographer. I knew that photography was what I was built to do and so, initially, it was all about the experience and gaining that second-nature, knee jerk reaction when working the camera. Ultimately, it was about being able to consistently make photos that I was truly happy with and nothing more.

Photography is very much like the playing piece in the game Trivial Pursuit in that it is comprised of many different ‘wedges’. You get these wedges through experience and knowledge. The key is not to stop when you think you’ve gotten that first wedge and all along the way in this pursuit, keep asking yourself “What is it that I’m trying to do here?” and “Who am I trying to do it for?” It wasn’t until I took a step back and really questioned myself that I realized what it is that I really want to get out of Photography.

Ask yourself these questions often and honestly. The answers may surprise you.
And please believe me when I say, “that is a very good thing.”

You can see more of Brian’s work at BrianMatiash.com, follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook, and email him at photos@brianmatiash.com.

Hey gang, Brad here with some exciting news!

Next month Scott Kelby will be bringing his Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. Live! Tour to Cologne and Amsterdam! We’ll be in Cologne (Köln), DE on August 10, then Amsterdam, NL on August 12. I have a feeling that Calvin Hollywood and Frank Doorhof might possibly be around too… :)

Head on over to KelbyTrainingLive.com to get all the info and sign up! Don’t forget NAPP members get a 20 discount, so it’s only 79 if you’re a member!

Hey gang, Brad here, fresh off a plane from Toronto, to give you this week’s pimpy stuff :)

Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. Hands-On!
Want to enjoy Scott Kelby’s Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. seminar with hands-on experience? You’ll have the opportunity when he takes part in the Dave Cross Workshops on July 29 in Tampa, FL! Scott will walk attendees through multiple lighting setups, and they’ll have the opportunity to photograph models using those setups, then walk through retouching their photos as Scott guides them along.

This workshop is limited to 16 participants, so head on over to Dave Cross Workshops for all the info and to sign up!

The Grid
If you’re a fan of our industry talk show, The Grid, help us spread the word about the show’s new time slot – Wednesdays at 4pm Eastern. Tweet it, blog it, Facebook it, send out carrier pigeons, whatever you want to do to help us get the word out :)

A huge part of what makes the show special is that you, the viewers, are really at the heart of the show.  We love hearing your comments, questions, and feedback, because they add a new dimension and plenty of viewpoints to each discussion that we wouldn’t have otherwise.

And, of course, you can always subscribe on iTunes if you’re unable to tune in live.

KelbyTraining.com
RC Concepcion’s latest class, Protecting Your Images Online, was just added to the KelbyTraining.com’s ever-growing library of training courses! RC walks you through metadata, watermarking, copyright registration, and everything else you need to know in order to protect your images from online theft.

Photoshop World Vegas
I am truly pumped about Photoshop World Vegas! Have you seen some of the new instructors who will be there? Joel Grimes, Vincent Laforet, Jeremy Cowart, and Dave Black will all be teaching brand new classes this fall, including new pre-conference workshops on Light Painting and HDSLR Movie Making!

Before you register, check out the Gimme 4 and Lucky Number 7 promos for great deals and bonuses.

That’s it for today. Have a great Thursday!

Thanks so much to Scott and Brad for inviting me to share my thoughts here! I’m a longtime fan of all things Kelby so this is a real treat. I was told I could write about anything which is great but also a little overwhelming. So many topics! How do I choose? I decided to write about how I approach environmental portraits and the role location plays.

Location, location, location! The old real estate saying about the importance of the right location definitely applies when it comes to creating compelling environmental portraits. The way I think about it, the locations I choose for portraits are like stages for my subjects to act on…

How should I decorate that stage?

What kind of set design is the right one for the person I’m photographing today?

What defines the person I’m photographing?

What do I want the portrait to say about them?

These are the kinds of things I’m thinking about when pre-visualizing an image. Everyone is different and unique and has their own story to tell so I want each portrait to be a reflection of who they are and to hopefully reveal something about them. I try and achieve this by creating a mood that suits them through the use of the right location, lighting and posing. With any luck these elements come together and play a supporting role in telling their story and conveying the message I’m trying to get across.

I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting places to shoot whether I’m working locally or far from home. My camera phone helps me to quickly capture potential locations when I’m the go. I use it like a digital notepad to create a library of visual reference cards I can search later. Geo-tagging images with services like Flickr or using built-in GPS data are also great tools for building an online location library. I think of myself like a location scout for films or TV. When you watch films and television, especially commercials, you’ll see some of the best locations out there being used.

I try and challenge myself to find the locations used. Sometimes it’s easy. I see locations in San Francisco used all the time, for example Fort Point.The internet is also a great resource for finding and researching great locations. Google image searches are one of my first stops and are great for inspiration.

Here are two family portraits, both very different based largely on the locations where they were made. The first, in a word – “urban,” really reflects the hip and physical personalities of this modern family. The second image is a much softer, more traditional and intimate image of a family with 3 young boys. Both are families, but both have very different stories and personalities. You can see how the locations used influence our perceptions and feelings about each image.

Here I’m really using the people in this image as the location or background. I choose to do this rather than rely solely on the physical location to tell the story of this father and his children. A location or background can be many things. I try and see from as many different perspectives as I can during a shoot.

Having a plan is important when you’re putting together the concept for your portrait but you can’t be afraid to deviate and take advantage of the magic of spontaneity either. Here’s a perfect example. I made this totally unplanned engagement session image on the way to make the image I planned to make that day! It turned out to be the best image of the day by far. Leaving myself open to the creative possibilities happening all around me made this possible.

Sometimes the photo gods just smile down on you and give you great gifts to work with. However, it’s really what you do with those gifts that ends up separating the great images from the mundane ones. During this retro inspired wedding shoot in Vegas, my client, photographer Sal Cincotta and his bride Taylor, rented an awesome cherry red vintage Cadillac for the day. We drove out to Red Rock in the desert after the ceremony where I set up this shot in the middle of the road and posed everyone around this great car.

The point is that great locations, backgrounds and props are all around us. Even in spontaneous and unplanned situations like weddings. The trick is, and your job as photographers is, to make the most of them. This would have been a very different image if I hadn’t placed the car smack dab in the middle of of the road to convey attitude, if I hadn’t taken advantage of the mountains for a dramatic background, or if I ignored the classic Cadillac as a great prop to pose the group. This image was all about capturing and conveying “cool.”

You can’t photograph a vintage Vegas wedding without including the famed Neon Sign Graveyard. This location provided the perfect retro backdrop for the bridal party.

These two images come from an album cover shoot for spiritual singer Melissa Phillippe . Wait, do people even say album cover any more? Ok I’ve dated myself, lets try CD case art instead, oh no I’ve dated myself again! Ok forget CD art and call it iTunes store art. There, that’s better. The concept for these images was to create to a spiritual, etherial feeling for Melissa. I used a Lenbaby for the shot of Melissa at the piano to add the soft glowing effect. For the second image I had everyone on the shoot hike to the top of a mountain (I wasn’t very popular that day) to get the perfect spiritual shot. The backgrounds play a key role in establishing the feeling of each image.

A great location doesn’t have to be far away or on top of a mountain. In fact, sometimes they’re right in your own backyard. Well this isn’t really my backyard but you know what I mean. This image was made at a gritty old mill in Petaluma, CA where I live. It fit perfectly with the edgy fashion meets Gotham City feeling I wanted for this portrait of actor Eric Urbiztondo.

These two portraits illustrate the different feeling your location can convey. The first couple, photographers Byron and Wendy Roe, are hip, urban, fashion forward people who were in need of promotional images that expressed their personalities to potential clients. The second is from an engagement session for two people who live in wilds of King Salmon Alaska and work in nature conservancy. It’s easy to see how the right location for each of these couples really has helped tell their unique stories.

The concept for this senior portrait was to create an image that captured Rachel’s powerful and fashionable personality. When it comes to creating an edgy fashion look what’s better than a city alley. I found this one in San Francisco and use it for just such occasions.

This wedding image is one of my favorite examples of how being open to things outside your plan can end up creating cool results. I made this portrait in the middle of shooting the family pictures after the ceremony. We were in the courtyard of a Carmel, CA resort hotel. I noticed a couple watching us from a room above us, from the window in this image. I knew I had to get my couple framed in that window for a killer image. Happily the couple whose room it was agreed!

Placing this mother and daughter in the tall reeds among the dunes of Ocean Beach created the perfect soft, timeless feeling this portrait. This image would have had a very different feeling if it were made in a different setting. Contrast this image with urban family image above.

These two wedding images are examples of finding locations on the fly, or as I like to call it, thinking on your feet! That’s just the way weddings are. I always look around when I get to a venue and scout out locations to use later with my couples.

If you’re as crazy about cool locations as I am, you’ll love composites. This image was created from two shots, one HDR background image and one studio shot of Sonoma, CA pro football hopeful Joe Trombetta. I’ve recently been experimenting with compositing images together thanks to techniques taught by my friend Joel Grimes (the undisputed master of the composite). If you haven’t checked him out you should. Composites are great because all the location images you’ve collected can be used in conjunction with images created in the studio. This requires a lot less logistics and gear hauling! My back loves me for this!!

I hope this discussion about the impact of locations has inspired you to go out and find great places to  make your next images. I can’t wait to see what you do!!

Michael Corsentino is a Sonoma, CA based wedding and portrait photographer. You can keep up with him on his blog, “Like” him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

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