Category Archives Guest Blogger

calvin hollywoodsm

First of all I really want to thank Scott and his team for the great opportunity to write here about myself and my work.

I am Calvin Hollywood, Photoshop Artist located in Heidelberg, Germany. My major focus is to take photographs of people with the emphasis on the digital image editing with Photoshop.

And there we are right in the middle of the topic: I am addicted to Photoshop :-)

By the way, you are addicted too if:
–    you wake up after a wild night in the bed of someone and you think “STRG + Z”
–    you don’t get older, just harder to retouch
–    you order the meat in your favourite restaurant “RAW” to adjust it yourself
–    your apartments walls have 50% gray color

But what can you do in Photoshop if your starting point material is not really good? I try to get as much done when photographing and only if I can’t get further with photography I start with Photoshop.


I started photography and image editing in 2005, and since then I have continuously worked on my skills. When friends went to parties, I partied with Photoshop. And the great thing is: It was a lot of fun! Because I learned everything by myself I relied on the Internet, books and training DVDs. These media have been very effective for me and I consumed nearly everything on the market.

In 2006 I started to work with the Photopartner and “Lightguide” I am still working with today. Together we form a great team allowing me to focus on the picture and the image editing.

The work for hire I do contains a lot of portraits of artists and musicians. I love to take pictures of people who are (as I am) very passionate and live their passion.

scotty 76sm


But if you want to reach known artists, you have to have a great portfolio of your work. In the beginning I created my portfolio based on pictures I took of friends and family. For these pictures you don’t have pressure regarding time and success – they allow a lot of experimenting.




My pictures all have an artificial look. Many people think that my pictures are painted. But I really can’t paint, believe me. I shoot my pictures with the camera and give them “the look” in Photoshop.

Likely this is not what most people mean by „photography“, but it is in fact a big part of my imagination.

The techniques I am using for my work are no secret.
I have published more than 7 video tutorial DVDs on the German market and one on the English market. In these publications I explain my techniques and strategies in detail.
I host more than 50 Seminars each year and I am worldwide on the road for companies like Adobe, Wacom, video2brain, etc.

It would be way to many words for this blog article to explain my entire library of techniques, but I would like to explain some selected ones to you.

If you have and further questions please don’t hesitate to send me an email!

The Double RAW Conversion
Most of the time I am converting my RAW files twice.
For this I am using a very thrilling method which I have explained in this YouTube video.

Rarely I am removing color casts, but many times I am adding color casts to my images.

For this I am using in most cases an adjustment layer „Hue/Saturation“ and the layer blending mode „Soft Light“.
Additionally I activate the check box „colorize“ and then give the image a warm color cast.

color looksm

Freaky Details
In order to get all the fine details out of an image, I am using a very freaky method. I would like to show you a short tutorial for this. It has been created during the production of a video tutorial project.

There are so many easy techniques which have major impact on the picture. I think that it is the many small changes to an image, which create the final picture. In my opinion playing with the pictures it is very important and I really suggest it to everybody.
Combine some filters and blending modes.
Try to understand Photoshop.
Don’t underestimate the basics.

Sometimes I am also editing pictures for other photographers, who love the painted and illustrated look.
Below you can see an example of a retouch I have performed for the photographer Martin Krolop.


My style works especially well if there are a lot of structures and details in the RAW file. That’s why I like to use photos of men a lot :-).

But if I am working on a fashion project, my work-for-hire mainly leads me to female models. But it is also important for me to keep my personal style there.


i willsm

It is important to edit the pictures in the individual way of your own emotions.
There will always be people who don’t like what you did.
Stick to what you like and have fun doing it!

I believe that especially in the beginning it is really fine to copy techniques from role models or industry leaders.
I did that all the time in the past.
Copying style and techniques gave me a goal to reach and helped me keeping me on track for my target.
The personal style will automatically appear over time.

I also think it is laughable and absurd to try to keep personal techniques secret.
Photoshop is a tool and the perfect picture is not created by Photoshop.
The feel for the image and the experience working with the tools is separating the wheat from the chaff.

Thank you very much indeed for your interest, and remember: if you have questions you can always drop me an email.

Warm regards,

You can see more of Calvin’s work on his website. If you’d like to see more of his teaching, be sure to check it out here!


There are so many things that one could talk about in an open platform such as this, so I think the biggest question I had to ask myself in writing this is, what am I about as a photographer and what have I learned along the way? I would sum it into this: living your passion, making better images, creating a style, designing a brand that takes your business to the next level, and giving back to the community.

Then there’s living life with the 5 senses. I’ve always had a personality of doing things against the grain, and not following the rules. Rules were meant to be broken. I never went to school for photography so my technological skills have always been catching up to my artistic vision. I feel like I’ve learned a lot along the way, so I figured I’d use this post to share what I’ve learned along the way.


Let’s start with “Living your passion.” I’ve always been a big advocate for this, and in my previous career as a graphic designer I loved what I did, but never to the point where I could grab a hold and run with an end vision in mind. When I discovered photography through shooting little abstract images for my graphic design work it was a slow evolution. A trip to Africa for a non-profit I was working with at the time to build an image library was the big kick into the reality that I could actually see the idea of photography becoming a career, and I began my journey.


At this time, I instantly saw the end goal of being a professional photographer shooting ad campaigns, and amazing stories. It has been and still is a long journey, but being able to see the end goal and know deep down inside, it’s what I want that has given me the drive and motivation to work hard, and make the sacrifices to get there. The idea that I could create my own career and lifestyle was never more real than that. Being able to combine my love of travel with a craft that I love has been truly a blessing. This has lead to another amazing opportunity which I’ll cover down the page.


I have many thoughts that I’ve learned along the way transcribed in my blog, but the first and foremost idea to ever get anywhere in this world of photography is making better images. To play on the level of shooting big advertising campaigns and projects, your work has to be at that bar, and it’s a hard bar to reach. My philosophy has always been to hone your craft, and make better images. Eventually when your work gets there, someone will trust you with a quarter million dollars to produce some images for them. The other component is to show what you want to shoot, or be hired to shoot. The trick is, if you don’t actually have any of those images, you need to go out and shoot them for yourself. First and foremost it’s about the quality of your work.


Creating a style is also a key component to the evolution of the photographic journey. It’s the key reason clients will hire you. If you shoot enough, trying different things, you’ll eventually figure out what you like, and what you want. That takes time. It’s always an evolving and refining process. Then comes the task of curating your portfolio and website galleries. The curation process is what really forms your style.


Designing a “Brand” is something that has been on the forefront of my mind lately and that’s probably due to the huge undertaking of the new website we just launched, and the 7 months of pulling it together with the designers. Having a background and education in design has always given me a fascination with building brands, and jumping into photography has given me a chance to design a brand around my own product which has been an almost equal passion as taking photos. When it comes down to it, a photography business is 80% business, and 20% photography, that is if you want to make a decent living with it. Designing your brand graphically, as well as the other customer service points of contact, is also a true art that must compliment your photography work in general. Perception is reality, and design is the avenue to create that perception.


I’m super excited to have launched the new where I’ve really been able to incorporate my evolved brand and key features for my target market. Without taking up too much space here, I’ve written up an in-depth post on the reasons I incorporated specific features here. Folio Revolution has also posted an in-depth review of my site which might be helpful if you are in the market to develop your own site. I do believe in the website as a huge player in packaging your curation of work to the world. On set this week, I had a conversation with my client about how good or bad design can make or break a photographer. It’s the first impression someone will see of your work and how you present it. It says a lot about who you are as a photographer. Again, though in the end it’s all about the images that you produce. You can have the best website design in the world and if the work isn’t there, no one will hire you to make images for them.


I’m also a big believer in sharing information. I’ve had some great photographers who have shared so much with me, and I like to try and do as much of the same and give back to the photographic community. My venue has been through my Shoptalk blog. With the new design I’ve incorporated an easier search and browse navigation to make it even more of a resource for photographers. Things I’ve learned along the way.

One of the things I love about life is experiencing it with all five senses. Experiencing moments and cultures with the five senses. That’s what I love about traveling, and traveling is one of the biggest reasons I got into photography as a career. To be able to combine the two passions makes for a great lifestyle. My travel work has also been a great way to give back to the world and team up with non-profits. I feel fortunate enough for Random House to have approached me a couple years ago to write an educational book on travel photography that stems from a compilation of my last 5 years of travel and photos. The book is called Photo Trekking and it releases March 16th.


All in all, this career and trade is about the journey. You really end up carving your own path and making it what you want to make it. I feel so privileged to have a job that I actually can pour 100% of my passion in and love it. Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life. I feel like I never work, yet I work more than I ever have.

Mad props to Scott and Brad for inviting me to share on the blog.

You can see more of Nick’s work on his brand new website, keep up with him at his blog and on Twitter, or be his friend on Facebook.  No, really, go be his friend. Life on the road is lonely. ;)

Commercial and travel photographer Nick Onken! I (Brad) met Nick when I was in New York for Photo Plus Expo a few months ago. We were hanging out with some mutual friends, and we were able to talk a bit.  I checked out his website as soon as I got the chance and really liked his style.

He’ll talk a bit more about it tomorrow, but he just launched a brand new website and has a book on travel photography coming out next month called Photo Trekking!  Nick sent us an advance copy of his book, and I have to say it looks really nice.  It has some cool photography and tons of helpful tips and advice on what it takes to be a travel photographer.

In his blog for tomorrow, he talks about his journey into commercial and travel photography and shares his thoughts on the key things it takes to become successful.  And they don’t just apply to the travel/commercial photography world, but just about any sort of business you might be in.  So come back and check it out!

Photo by Christi Martin

I want to thank Brad and Scott for giving me the opportunity to express myself on a stage of this level.  I have to be honest, when Brad emailed me yesterday it caught me off guard.  What do I say?  What do people want to read?  Anything I want?  Wow.

But there is only one thing on my mind lately – my new career move.  I read, or heard once (who knows?) that the higher up you get in advertising, the younger you die.  Well, I guess I just signed my death certificate.  My name is Matt Lange, professional photographer, and now the Creative Director at The Fletcher Group Advertising.  The clock is ticking…



…the clock is ticking… Literally.  I have less than 5 hours to put my thoughts down collectively for you all to see.  The clock is ticking to make a splash in my new world/career.  No pressure.

So where do I start?

I’ve come full circle.   I’m typing this blog entry from the exact same room I sat in 4 short years ago at The Fletcher Group.  TFG was owned by a friend of mine, Lee Fletcher, who was a great man with a tremendous heart. But anyone who knew him, knew how hard it was to get along with him. This was, ironically, the exact same room in which I picked up a camera again for the first time and started my path to being a professional photographer (I had always taken pictures as far as I could remember).

At the time I was a young, know-it-all designer just a year out of Louisiana Tech University.  Needless to say, this forced my boss and I to butt heads constantly, resulting in my desire to leave.  Now I’m a know it all photographer/designer, right?  Wrong.  In the past 4 years I have come to realize that there is so much to learn.  Something new every single day.  I’m more mature at this point.

I moved to Baton Rouge, LA a year later to work full-time and pursue my passion of being a photographer.  This would be the part when most people would say, ‘and everything was awesome,’ ‘everyone I met was amazing,’ and, ‘I make a living shooting amazing pictures.’

Well that’s partly true.  But why sugar coat it?  This is hard.  Being a photographer is hard hard work.  Getting to be a photographer full-time is even harder.



If you were to ask me what my goal as a photographer was, or what my dreams would be, I would tell you, ‘I want to be a sports portrait photographer.’  That’s it.  I wanted to wake up everyday and be called on assignment to shoot either a) the standout quarterback for such and such cover, b) the national championship team for a piece by Sports Illustrated, c) the Heisman Trophy winner, d) well, you get the point.

But that’s not the case.  The average photographer knows what it is that we really shoot.  It’s weddings, babies, seniors, birthday parties so on and so forth.


I did catch a break however, when I got a call from a small media agency called Southcreek Global Media.  I felt as if fate was knocking and it was time to answer.  Through my work with Southcreek, I found myself field side for the New Orleans Saints, LSU Football, LSU Baseball and courtside to the New Orleans Hornets and LSU Tigers Basketball.


But, as any sports photographer can vouch, the money simply isn’t there.  So I saved my pennies, as did my wife.  I got to the point where my day job was doing nothing but making me miserable, day in and day out.  So I watched Consequences of Creativity by Chase Jarvis, listened to a lot of inspirational rap music, I talked to my wife and we agreed… It was time to take a chance.

Bye bye day job, hello fulltime photographer dream job.  Knock knock.  Who’s there?  Hello Mr. Recession! It’s never easy right?


They say it’s not the destination, it’s the journey. For me I guess the journey will never end.  And when I think about it, I don’t want it to.

When I quit my job, things got exponentially harder, but I liked it.  I thrive off of challenge.  I began shooting like a man possessed.  I called all of my athlete friends and posed fake photo shoots.  Anytime I had something new, I sent my work to ad firms and businesses around town to try to improve the work for their sites. Anything I could to keep the lights on.

One day I got home and a friend told me about a blog post on someone named Scott Kelby’s site.  The post, in short, was about a contest Scott held for an amateur photographer to win a pass to shoot on the sideline of a Florida State game.  Well, the amazing world of sports photographers decided, for some reason, that this was a bad, no, horrible idea, and thus the person who won, Alex, had his pass revoked.  Awesome right?

So I emailed in and offered my services to have Alex shoot on the sideline with me at Louisiana Tech.  Needless to say, Alex landed a pass to shoot the Bears, and who could blame him?  However, I got a call from Scott himself.  He wanted to come to Ruston and shoot alongside me.  Wow.  What do you say to that?  Well, when one of the biggest names in the photo industry calls you, wants to meet you, and you can barely afford Ramen noodles, my friends, you say yes.


So Scott came down, shot the game with me, then at dinner after the game, recommended (or insisted I should say) that I go to New York for PPE.  It was 4 days away.

So I flew to NYC, crashed in Scott’s room, and during the brief 24 hours I was there I had my mind transformed.  I was around the best of the best photographers in the industry, or at least a lot of them. I told Scott at one point that I couldn’t get home fast enough to simply create.

I will say that I wanted to meet Vincent LaForet, but alas, I did not.  His presentation blew my mind and I will always have that.  Perhaps one day I will meet him.  I made a good friend in Scott that day.  The entire time he was in Ruston he had nothing but great things to say about me and my work.  He says I’m entirely too modest about the work I create, but I like to think that I’m just driven for perfection.  But I stray…


My friend Lee Fletcher was diagnosed with cancer over a year ago, and in September Lee lost his fight.  Lee was the first person to tell me I was on my way to great things, outside of my family.  When he passed, I felt a void that I hadn’t felt in a very long time, even though Lee and I hadn’t talked in over a year.  I felt at this point, it was very important for me to do something great.  I felt it was no longer about me and being successful, it was time for me to do great for Lee too.  Am I great?  Put up or shut up.

A few weeks later I got a call from Amanda McMullen, the new owner of The Fletcher Group, asking me if I would be interested in returning. Except this time to have full creative control.  Just when my photography was picking up steam.

I ask the photography public, what would you do?

Well, this guy packed up the car and drove to Monroe, LA and is now typing a blog entry from the TFG studio telling you my story.  My goal is to turn an ad firm located in Monroe, LA, into a nationally known agency doing work across the world.  Through some blood sweat and tears, and with the help of Scott Kelby, we will get there.


I just wanted to tell how it’s not easy to be successful in this industry.  It’s definitely not the destination but the journey.  You can meet amazing people and do amazing things.  But a lot of stress and hard work has to go into it.  Chase Jarvis was absolutely correct when he said, ‘you can do it but you have to sustain.’


I think it’s easy to look at other people’s work and say that you want to do that.  But a lot of the time you don’t see the sacrifice that they put in behind the scenes.  I may not be able to continue my photography career at this point, due to The Fletcher Group.  But that is a sacrifice I have chosen to make.  I will pour every ounce of my creative energy into this company to see that it succeeds.  I will also use my photography skill to add to the services we offer here.  After all, my degree and training is as a graphic designer, video editor and director.  Photography was just something I was good at. I still want to shoot sports portraits for the cover of Sports Illustrated, but for now it’s back to work.  Back to the grind.

Thank you for reading my story and to Scott and Brad for allowing me to share.  Did I just talk in circles?

Also, thank you to Christi Martin for taking a picture of my ugly mug on such short notice.  You’re the best.  I owe you.

You can see more of Matt’s work at his website,

Matt Lange!  Matt and Scott met when they shot a football game together a few months ago and have been buds ever since.

I (Brad) think that a lot of you will really be able to relate to Matt’s post for tomorrow.  He talks about starting out as a designer/photographer a few years ago, and all the struggles he’s gone through to make it to where he is today.

I have to give it up to Matt for pulling his post together so quickly and doing such a great job with it.  Our originally scheduled guest blogger called (well, emailed) in sick at the last minute, so Matt really came through to save the day.

So come back by tomorrow and see what Matt has for us!

Entertainment photographer Art Streiber! I (Brad) have been a huge fan of Mr. Streiber’s work for a long time.  He’s a regular contributor to Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Wired, many other magazines, and also shoots artwork for movies and TV shows.  So if you’ve looked at a magazine rack or been to the movies in the past few years, you’ve probably seen his work on a cover or a poster.

I had the opportunity to go to Mr. Streiber’s class at Photo Plus Expo last year.  I can’t begin to tell you how much I learned in just a few hours of listening to him talk about his work.  Everything from pre-production, to shooting, to post production, and even billing and inventory.  Everyone else I talked to who was in his class (including Jeremy Cowart and Dustin Snipes) was absolutely pumped when it was over too.

I’ve asked him to try and turn his class into a blog, so hopefully he’s been able to do just that.  Come back tomorrow and check it out!