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(Note from Brad: Last week was Matt’s first time attending Photoshop World, and I thought it would be interesting to get his fresh-eyed take on it. Take it away, Matt!)

Only days after attending this year’s Photoshop World, I sit in 124 degree heat in Death Valley, CA to write this blog post – and my head is still spinning from the experience. My wife has had the good fortune of listening to me tell her the same (exciting) stories over and over.

A longtime friend of Brad (pre-beard) from Connecticut, I made my first trip out to Las Vegas to attend the conference and also embark on a photo excursion of a few of the National Parks. Although drawn to landscape photography, I am most often found capturing people expressing themselves culturally and/or creatively. As someone struggling to transition into full time photography as a career, the knowledge and inspiration I gained from Photoshop World is invaluable.

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My whirlwind of a week began with an in-depth pre-convention workshop on concert photography by Alan Hess and Scott Diussa. In it, they shared their experience and practical instruction from years of shooting bands around the world. As part of the workshop I then had the opportunity to put those lessons into practice by shooting a live band. I can’t imagine a more exciting way to start the week than the rush of adrenaline I experienced hustling to obtain my best possible shots during the industry standard limit of just 3 songs!

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Ready for the conference to officially begin, I went over to the First Time Attendee Orientation where Larry Becker made sure all of us first- timers felt comfortable and provided tips on utilizing all the conference had to offer. Later that evening during the Photoshop World Meet-up, attendees had the opportunity to hang out in the lounge with instructors in a casual environment. I was impressed and a little surprised at how accessible and friendly everyone was. 

The next three days were jam-packed with classes on virtually every aspect of photography, videography, and post-processing one could imagine. Deciding which classes to attend proved to be the most challenging part of the week as they all looked so appealing. I honestly got something out of every one I attended. Instructors Glyn Dewis, Jeremy Cowart, Roberto Valenzuela, and Jay Maisel were especially inspiring; while the business tips from photographers Tim Wallace, Frank Salas, and David Ziser will be extremely beneficial to implement in my own business. Not to mention the practical techniques demonstrated by Peter Hurley, Joe McNally, Lindsay Adler, Frank Doorhof, and Erik Valind. Ah, there were so many other amazing photographers/instructors that I did not have a chance to see. I guess I will just have to wait until next year!

Besides a wide array of classes, the Expo was full of new and innovative products and photo-related technology to try out. This included areas to take test shots using different lighting setups, as in these photos I took while walking past the Westcott booth.

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During the Natural Light Shoots, I jumped at the opportunity to pull out my camera and practice photographing a model using only the existing sunlight to create beautiful images.

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As part of this shoot, a chapel was also reserved with models available to practice photographing a bride and groom using only the available light. 

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I had a blast working with the models and instructors and picked up a few new tricks that I will use in photographing weddings and special events in the future.

Although one can participate in as many or as few events as they wish, I easily filled up my days and my nights and made several new friends along the way. In the weeks ahead, I plan to dive into the nearly 600 page workbook of notes provided by Scott Kelby from all the classes given during the conference. With this wealth of information at my fingertips I can read up on those classes I missed as well as review all that I’ve learned. Photoshop World has already been added to my calendar for 2016…come and find me if you decide to check it out next year. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Now, back into the sand dunes I go, armed with my camera, a flashlight, and a gallon of water (so I don’t die).

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You can see more of Matt’s work at 500px, follow him on Instagram, Twitter, or sign up for next year’s Photoshop World and come hang with him in person!

Hi, I'm a guy from Arkansas.

People pay me to take pictures sometimes, and sometimes they don't. Today is a day where no one is paying me to take pictures, so I'm writing this blog post because Brad Moore asked me to, and he seems like a nice guy (on the internet).

I've been shooting pictures for the last seven years as my only source of income, but that doesn't necessarily mean I shoot "full time" – some months are slow, and some months I can barely keep up, and most months are somewhere in the middle. Photography feeds my family, pays my mortgage, and sometimes I get to buy beer, which is quite honestly everything I could have ever hoped for in life.

I shoot for the New York Times, Reuters, Getty, AP, various magazines, blah blah blah, who cares⦠I have a camera and some gear and I'll point it at pretty much anything I'm paid to point it at.

I know quite a few photographers, and the ones who are successful year after year are the ones who shoot to earn a living and pay their bills, while the ones who want to be cute and vintage and Instagram-famous usually end up becoming real estate agents.

So if you're afraid you might be getting dangerously close to listing your first home, here's one of the more important things I've learned in my career as a photographer:

If your pictures are boring, try making them way more complicated.

Most people will tell you to keep it simple, stupid – but in my opinion, its actually really difficult to make a simple photo interesting enough to build a career on. These days, everyone has a camera and maybe even a light or two, and the internet is flooded with simple photos that really aren't that memorable.

The only way to get anyone's attention in the current photography market is to try things that are complicated, difficult, and a gigantic hassle – but when its done right, it pays off. By going the extra mile to try something crazy, you are telling your client (and more importantly, your future clients) that you'll stop at nothing to give them exactly what they want, and much more.

Get in the water. Use a dozen lights. Wake up at dawn. Contact whoever you have to contact to get a permit. Spend an entire week diagraming and outlining your setup, and your backup setup, and your backup to your backup. Pre-light it. Rent gear if you don't own it. Hire models that know what they're doing. Take your time. Make photos that no one in their right mind would go to the trouble to make. If your models aren't working, get new ones. If your location sucks, change it.

Most photographers don't get into this business to get their hands dirty, and sweat, and spend twelve hours pre-lighting a shoot, but that's what it takes these days. Getting everything to work right is obviously much harder when you complicate it, but in the end, that's what makes you better, and that's what separates you from the pack.

The biggest hindrance to your career as a photographer is not the limits placed on you by everyone else, it's the limits you place on yourself.

Don't dumb yourself down to match the attitude of everyone around you, and don't shoot crap photos just because it's a crap paycheck.

Treat every shoot like it's the cover of Vanity Fair, and your entire career is riding on getting this one shot right, and trust me – your business will grow like never before.

Now, since this is a photography blog, here's a few of my pictures…

You can see more of Jacob’s work at JacobSlaton.com, and follow him on Instagram and Twitter.

Not Every Shoot Is A Winner
Here's the scenario: You go do a shoot, download the images, go through the take, pick the keepers, do your editing, and deliver the shots. The client loves them⦠But you don't. They’re okay, but they don't quite send you to your happy place.

Sound familiar? If it does, I have some good news for you. You're not alone.


Is there anything wrong with this shot? Not technically, but it’s not winning any awards.

I would guess that most photographers go through this, even the best ones. No matter how much we try to make the best possible images we can, not every shoot is going to result in a new portfolio image. You can plan all you want, put together your shot list, research the location, research your subject, make inspiration/mood boards, clean your lenses and sensor, and carry your lucky rabbit’s foot; but when you do the shoot, the shots are decent, but not great. The client is happy, so you're happy that you're getting paid, but you wanted to come away with better shots.


Arrive at the venue only to find out there’s no photo pit, and you weren’t there early enough to stake out a spot up front? Better hope you brought a telephoto lens.

Sometimes your subject just isn't ideal. Or the location you picked days ahead of time fell through on the day of the shoot and you had to quickly find something else that worked. Or you were unexpectedly battling the harsh sun on what was supposed to be a cloudy day. Or you just flat out had an off day of shooting and don't know why.


Right place, right time? Not this time. When the singer takes off down the other end of the stage and you can’t get there in time, this is the result.

For me, it's concerts. There are so many things that come into play here that can make or break an image. How's the lighting? If there's lighting, is it always the same or constantly changing (to give variety to the shots)? Is the band doing fun and crazy stuff, or are they all just standing in one spot throughout the performance? Is there so much going on that I don't even know where to point my camera to try and capture peak moments? Can I get to the spot in the pit I want to be in, or are there twenty other photographers vying for position and I'm stuck where I'm at?


Even when you’re in the perfect position to capture something you know is going to happen, things don’t always come together to capture the best moment.

I get lucky sometimes and I'm in the ideal position as the guitarist jumps off her amp in the perfect light, and my camera focuses, fires, and I nail the shot. Other times I see it happening out of the corner of my eye and turn to try to capture the moment from the wrong spot and there's so little light on her that my camera can't lock focus, and I get a blurry shot. Or a lot of the time I get what are, for me, mediocre shots of the singer with their mouth open and eyes closed standing in front of a mic. It's a perfectly fine shot that you've seen it a million times, but you won't see it in my portfolio.


Is there ANYTHING good about this shot??


Keep firing shots and hopefully you’ll get one that works. Still won’t see this one in my portfolio though!

But here's the thing⦠You've gotta keep shooting. You have to push through those bad days to get to the good ones. I once heard Jay Maisel explain it this way to a frustrated photographer:

"It’s like, if I’m trying to be a well built body builder⦠If I go to the gym on Monday next week maybe or maybe Thursday, or just when I find a day, then it’s not going to happen. You have to go to the gym and work out. I don’t go to the gym and work out as a photographer, but I do the visual pushups everyday. If you shoot once in a while you may get some nice pictures, and if you shoot very rarely you’ll get fewer. But if you shoot all the time, the number is going to go up."


Is there something cool happening but you’re just not sure of the best way to capture it?


Keep working the scene, trying different angles, and sometimes you can work through and find the shot.

So don't let a bad shoot or two get you down. Keep doing those visual pushups so you increase your chances of finding those holy grail shots that you add to your portfolio. When you get them, we'll rejoice with you. And if you don't, just remember⦠You're not alone!

You can see Brad’s keepers at BMOOREVISUALS.COM, or browse the archives to see more of the mediocre stuff if you want. And you can follow him on Instagram and Twitter.


Photo by Mike Silberreis

Loving Light

Hello everyone. My name is Tilo Gockel. I'd like to start by saying that I am incredibly honored to have the opportunity to share my thoughts with you on Scott Kelby's blog. I've been a professional photographer for seven years now. Previous to that I was an engineer, where I was in close contact with image sensors, video transmission, pattern projectors, and optics. Nevertheless, it took me quite some time to understand the technical challenges and the creative impact of photography. After years of practice I've now come to think of photography like learning a new instrument: I had to (and still have to) practice the scales, so to speak.

Let's rewind to when I started out. It did not take long for me to become totally addicted to light and lighting. From there, the obsession grew to include flash, because flash yields the most possibilities of all the artificial light sources. Then I took another small step and got interested in the "Strobist" field and community. I thought, "Wow, look at all these shots made with some inexpensive off-brand speedlights from Asia. I want to be able to do this!"

Lighting with all variety of flash units does imply a bit of technical expertise, even in a time of tethered shooting, TTL, modeling flash, and many other great options and features. For me, as a former nerdy engineer (still nerdy, to be honest), using flash offered the perfect combination of fiddling a bit with cool technical stuff and being creative.

I love to try something new on every shoot. I really don't like to do the same old routine day after day. I remember a photo job during which I had to shoot rubber gaiters and shoe stretchers. Dozens of them, in all colorsâ”after two days, I hated it! For me, I have to be doing something new to stay interested, like shooting underwater, "bokehrama" images, powder and ashes, motion, and of course, experimenting with different light sources.

What I also like to do is teach. Each summer I give a lecture on photography basics and I also teach a flash photography workshop. So, it was only natural that I wrote a book called One Flash! Great Photography with Just One Light to help even more photographers understand the crucial elements of flash photography. What made me even prouder was when this book was translated from German to English.

What I cover in the book is what I've deemed "the one flash approach." This is a very zen-like approach to flash photography, emphasizing the use of one single flash. You might think that is a very challenging restriction, but actually it is quite liberating--less stuff to buy and maintain, less to carry. More time to set up that one light properly and to shoot. I really enjoyed every single shoot in this book. And we shot a lot. The book covers motifs like food, products, and people, and techniques such as bouncing flash, supersync, flash composites, and bokehramas. One part of the book that I found to be really interesting was about shooting with shadow patterns. Here's a sneak peek.

Imagine you are forced to shoot inside in an empty room and you only have your camera and one speedlight with you. Now, to get shots that are a bit more creative than the typical "girl in front of a white wall" shot, you have to think outside the box. I chose to project some interesting shadows on the subject. For the first example, I cut some reeds from a nearby sea and shot the flash through them. This not only makes the light a bit softer, it also gives that interesting pattern projection on the model's face.


A bunch of reeds and a speedlight-a simple scene to shoot photos with interesting shadow patterns.


The outcome: Safari girl, lying on a cowhide, looking sexy!


"Like Rita Hayworth!" Photos with lots of shadows also look fine in black & white.

For the next shot, I used a piece of cheap synthetic lace and shot the flash from a long distance through that "gobo"--the longer the distance, the sharper the projection.


An even simpler setup: A single speedlight shining through a piece of synthetic lace.


The resulting image with the floral pattern on the girl's face.

Traveling light and shooting with only one flash is easy, and it has great potential. Being freed from all the technical complexity that comes with more gear, you can focus on the things that really matter, like communicating with the model and creating images with emotional impact.

--Tilo Gockel

You can see more of Tilos's work at his blog (in German) and follow him on Flickr, Facebook, or via the author's page at Rocky Nook. If you want to find out more about the projects and workshops in the book, have a look at the image gallery on Flickr.

My Three Inspirations
If you had told me ten years ago that I would be making a living by traveling internationally 7 months a year while taking photos and making films, I would have laughed at you. If you had told me I would start a company called Resource Travel to share inspirational travel visual stories, I would have called you crazy. But that’s exactly what I do. And every day I try to figure out how it all happened.


Shaban, the Shisha Man Of the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan.


School children beg for money outside of a temple in Cambodia.


A man pauses for a reflective moment in the Taj Mahal, India.

I mean, I didn’t even leave the United States until I was 27 years old. Traveling and experiencing the world had mostly never even crossed my mind. I wasn’t against the idea at all, I just hadn’t had that “wanderlust” feeling since childhood, when I would thumb through my father’s National Geographic magazines.


A woman sweeps the streets of Oropesa Peru in the afternoon light.


A group of children sit on their boat outside of their home in a floating village on the Tonle Sap River in Cambodia. 


A boy shows he can write his ABC’s at a school in India.

But that all changed when I found the first real inspiration of my life. Photography. Even at 27 years old, and I had never really found anything that I was passionate about. I signed on to photograph around Peru with a company called The Giving Lens. This would be a scouting trip to work with an NGO in Oropesa, Peru called Picalor House. That trip would be the start of what would become the second real inspiration of my life. Travel. When I hit the ground in Peru, I noticed that looking at the world through my viewfinder made me see things that I had never seen before. I saw smiles, happiness, tears, and pain on the faces that I would encounter. And I felt compelled to capture those faces through my lens. And surprisingly, even the people with the tears and pain would let me take their portrait. I learned that even if someone was having a bad day, they would still let you into their world.


Lek Chailert often sings Thai lullabies to her elephants to help them fall asleep after a long day at the Elephant Nature Park. 


A Monk walks through the Tep Preah nom Pagoda while a girl and a dog play in the humid mid morning Cambodian air.


A boy stands outside of his home in a barrio in Granda, Nicaragua.

I would talk to people and try to get to know their stories. Every face has a story to go with it, and I was determined to hear them. Even if I never tell the stories when I post the photos, I will always remember them, and that is what inspires me to approach the people I meet on my travels, because I never know what their story is unless I ask them.


A monk enjoys a laugh inside a Pagoda in Cambodia.


A girl laughs on the steps of a mosque in Old Delhi, India.

I quickly became consumed with the idea of telling visual stories through the faces that I encountered on those dusty Peruvian streets. When I returned to my home in San Francisco, California, I couldn’t think about anything but traveling, camera in hand, ready to convey the emotions that I felt being in that foreign land. Soon after, I started leading workshops for the The Giving Lens, and have been fortunate to work with organizations around the world, helping to tell their stories and to highlight both the pain and successes that come from their tireless efforts.


An old merchant woman takes a nap at her stall in Peru.


Young children take a break from lighting off fireworks during the festival of Diwali in Delhi, India

While most of the travel photography you see today consists of beaches, hot air balloons, and people standing on the edges of cliffs, I still believe in also telling the stories of the people who aren’t fortunate enough to live by the resorts or walk down the main roads where the tourist shops reside. I fell in love with telling the stories of the people who make their home country come alive. Sometimes, the stories aren’t always pretty. Sometimes they can be rather uncomfortable to witness. But there is a big world out there, and a very small part of it lives in the tourist towns.


An old man enjoys a cigerette while he plays a local board game in the central square in Al-Salt, Jordan.


A merchant outside of a narrow ally way in Al-Salt, Jordan.

My love for sharing the powerful travel visual stories that I see every day is what led me to start Resource Travel. This has turned into the third inspiration of my life. I believe that, as a community, we can help others learn about the happiness and the pain of the world through our photographs. That is what inspires me to share the world’s   stories. As my friend Chris Burkard once said “If you aren’t sharing your work, then what are you doing?”


A merchant waits for a buyer on the streets of Oropesa, Peru.


A man walks outside of a Mosque in Old Delhi, India.

You can see more of Michael’s work at BonocoreVisualStudios.com, and follow him on FacebookInstagram, and the Resource Travel blog.

OBJECTIFY YOURSELF
Enter my world cautiously, for all is not what it seems, and behind every image, there is always more than a single truth. We're living in a world consumed by fear of the truthâ”but is there really such a thing as "the truth" anymoreâ”especially in visual terms? It is fear of the unknown that causes people to judge and criticizeâ”fear of an illusion created by our own experiences and teachings. One individual's perspective may not be the same as another's, because we process and interpret visual stimuli in a variety of ways. Thus, what is reality, if not a collection of diverse perspectives?

Now that I've got the exposition out of the way, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Gisela Calitz, and I like to create worlds that viewers can explore, fantasy realms whereâ”even if just for a fraction of a single secondâ”everything is perfect. These ethereal worlds are my personal attempts at escapism, snippets and daydreams, where anything and everything is possible and dreams can become realities (even if just in print). Sometimes, I find there are surprising amounts of people who share my love for these ethereal fantasies, which is why I do what I do. So, I guess the logical question from here would be, what exactly do I do?

I'm a high fashion advertising and editorial retoucher. Generally, we make a lot less money than our everyday advertising counterparts, but I guess if I were in it for the money I would've been a doctor, or a lawyer. Case closed. I fell in love with the industry at an early stage in my life and have not looked back since. I thrive on working with people who are stimulated by fantasy and all things whimsical in nature, and I strive to highlight these elements in everything I do. Sometimes, I get lost in an ocean of colour and light; sometimes my work feels like a lucid dream, and I don't want to wake up.

Now, I've come to a point in my career where I've embraced the parallel between what I do to make a living and how I live life. Like life, the journey of an image through various editing suites (whichever they may be), involves a series of choices, each of which has its own set of consequences. And just like life, these choices need to be approached with a certain degree of forethought and caution. In the end, tools like Photoshop and Lightroom are just that: tools. But it's the human on the other end of these tools that is instrumental in the progression and, eventually, the execution of a quality image. I'm that human on the other side.

In Photoshop, as in life, there are a myriad of approaches at your disposal. There are technical retouchers and artistic retouchers, just like there are doctors and surgeons. Sure, they may use some of the same tools, but the end results are often vastly different. In my line of work, experimentation is crucial in discovering the ideal creative process. That's why I've spent a large deal of my life experimenting. I've chosen to do things my own way, opting for a totally unique routeâ”the road less travelled, so to speak. The results⦠well, I think they speak for themselves really.

It all began a few years ago when I was studying design and working as model. I approached a photographer I admired to do a design project on his work. No holding back. We began collaborating on more projects, and so my love for retouching blossomed. From there, it developed so rapidly it consumed me entirely.

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