Category Archives Guest Blogger

Bio_Copping

A few years ago my now-wife made a simple request that radically changed the way I thought about what I was doing with my photography and how I could actually make a difference with it. She asked me to create some portraits of our three dogs (two of which are rescues) because they were getting older and we had very few pictures of them that weren’t made with a camera phone. She wanted something that was a little more professional feeling, something that she would be proud to share and hang in our home. I had never photographed animals before, but I was game for the experiment.

Petunia - An adoptable rescue pit bull from Buffalo, NY. Apx 4.5 years old female.
Petunia – An adoptable rescue pit bull from Buffalo, NY. Apx 4.5 years old female.

Thankfully, that first experience was a really positive one. So positive, in fact, that my wife (a long-time volunteer at our local animal shelter) suggested that I might be able create some images for a few of the long-term residents of the shelter that were having trouble getting adopted. (more…)

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Creativity doesn’t come easy, at least not for me. It’s more of a fight with plenty of ups and down. Often it involves climbing to the top of one ladder, only to discover the need to jump off. Through it all I’ve discovered that striving to become more creative is a challenge worth the reward, because it helps us to become more of the person who we were designed to be.

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In my own journey, I’ve found that when the creative spark is ignited we create our best work and lead more meaningful lives. Yet, becoming creative isn’t as easy as it seems. So I set out to write a book on the topic with the goal of helping others to become more creative and alive. And I’m super excited to announce that as of last week, the book has been released! The title of the book is, The Creative Fight. Check out the trailer below:

http://vimeo.com/139775829

Do you want to become more creative? If so, read on!  Below are a few stories, images and ideas that I hope will strike a chord and inspire you to fight the good fight and live a better life. Let me begin by introducing you to the cast of characters that I hope will inspire: Miguel, Andrew, Jack and Chuck. The first character you probably know. His full name is Miguel de Cervantes. But what you probably didn’t know, is that…

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How Your Fast Paced Everyday Life Can Hide Your Passion For Photography From You
You wake up to the alarm in the morning, jump (or slide) out of bed, down your coffee, check your calendar, throw on your clothes (or shower first if you’re lucky enough) race to the bus stop, school, work, event, wherever and go throughout your day trying to catch up, only to realize that you’re late to leave the office for your child’s big game but you hustle and get there just in time to catch little Sally cross the finish line, or start her recital, or take her to tutoring or…

Sound familiar?

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I’m willing to bet that some of you are saying, “Exactly! I don’t have the energy to be passionate about photography. The only thing I’m passionate about is getting into my jammies at the end of the day.” Wait. I digress. Where was I?

Oh, yeah. Here’s the thing. You’re wrong.

I want you to think about all the times when you take a picture of your coffee, fancy plate of food, little Sally coming across the finish line, Grandma acting silly, a sunset at the beach, a flower, or even a structure that’s beautiful to you. I want you to think about the time you went to someone’s wedding (who had hired a perfectly good wedding photographer) and you still felt compelled to get “that” shot.

Do you pause to take those photos because you don’t have enough things to squeeze into the precious minutes of your day? To me, it sounds like you’re passionate about capturing a moment and at those times you might even be thinking…

“I’d love to be able to zoom in on little Sally when she’s on the field.”

Or…

“How long do I have to wait for the guy in the Speedo to move out of my perfect sunset shot?!”

And…

“I wish that wedding photographer would get out of my way because I HAVE THE PERFECT SHOT!”

Haha! (I’m sorry, but I know a lot of wedding photographers and that last one makes me giggle.)

The point is that you are passionate about photography and you are having photographer’s thoughts. So, own it! Love it! Do it! Here’s some of the best advice I can give you about all of it. Ready?

Pay attention to your photographer’s thoughts, give them an extra few seconds and your passion will reveal itself to you. If you take those images, look at them again and enjoy them and appreciate that moment. If you have an extra minute or two, take them into an app or program and have fun with the process. You might as well because you’re passionate about it. ;)

Have a wonderful day everyone!

You can read more of Kalebra’s writings and see more of her photography at ShotWithMyTrustyiPhone.com, and follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest.

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Hello from Whidbey Island, WA, USA! I’m a fine-art photographer and long-time fan of Scott Kelby. I became a fine-art photographer because it allows me to follow my interests and passions down pretty much any rabbit hole. I’m particularly passionate about alternative and historical processes and combining those processes into modern workflows. In addition to being a photographer, I am a core faculty member at the Photographic Center Northwest in Seattle. I teach all sorts of classes on black and white film, Photoshop and Lightroom, Visual Literacy, and alternative and historical processes.

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When Brad reached out to me about guest blogging, I spent several days thinking about what to write. At first I thought about sharing some great Photoshop techniques for editing or printing, but then I thought about how this is Scott’s blog and what could I possibly share that’s new? Scott has literally written tons of books about Photoshop, Lightroom, and Photography. Then I thought about walking through one of my shoots and post-processing processes. But again, those thoughts of self doubt crept in. So now I sit staring at a blank screen unable to shut off the voice inside my head telling me that I don’t have anything unique and important to say.

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I have a love/hate/more hate relationship with that voice of self doubt. Truth be told, I find it to be a demon. And while there is some comfort in my belief that everyone has that demon-within voice, that knowledge alone doesn’t help me deal with it. Sure, at times it keeps me safe: sometimes making sure I don’t do something dumb, crazy, or too far outside the lines. In some cases, that voice is really valuable. It keeps me from jumping from a second-floor deck into the pool after a few margaritas (mostly not a true story). But for the creative soul, risk and outside the lines are what life is all about. (more…)

Steve-Hansen-Headshot

There’s something about an image that captures a moment at its peak. Whether it’s the perfect expression, an event never to be repeated, or in my case, a gallon of milk thrown through the air, a photographer’s job is to capture that perfect moment. I recently shot a billboard campaign for a milk company in which I was tasked with creating four images that captured important moments in a person’s life.

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Each image featured milk splashes, which are an incredible challenge to capture. While I primarily use Westcott gear, when capturing action I turn to my Broncolor Scoro pack with two strip boxes on each side of the subject fairly close in. The Scoro pack allows me to shoot with a T1 flash duration of 8,000/sec., which I have found is the sweet spot for capturing perfectly sharp splashes.

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Ciao people!

I’m Nicola Bernardi but please, call me Nico.
I’m a rather big, tall Italian dude that suspiciously looks like a thumb with a goatee.

I’m not the best at explaining what kind of stuff I shoot so.. I’ll just show you instead, ok?

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When I got asked to be the guest blogger for this week I panicked. Like, big time. At first, I wanted to cram as much of my work as possible and promote myself like crazy.

“But c’mon Nico! You’re better than that!”
Fair enough. What to talk about then?
I know! INSPIRATION!
Let’s be inspirational, let’s inspire people with wise words, write something so deep and meaningful that’ll make people go, “OMG you totally got to me, you’re my new favorite thing in the world, nothing will ever be the same again, marry me!”

Perfect plan!

And so I wrote for a week. The more I wrote, the more delusions of grandeur I had thinking that this was going to be the next big TED talk. Standing ovation.
Me saying, “And that’s when it all changed for me,” sipping on fancy drinks with tiny umbrellas.

WHAT. A. LOSER.

Talk about turning a scream for attention into a more refined, better worded, self indulgent request for even MORE attention!

Damn. Well played ego, I see what you did there. You almost had me for a second (actually, for a whole week).

Now, approximately half the people that started reading this blog post are already gone.
Raise your hand if you are dying to check Facebook for notifications…

The other half of you, the ones that are still reading, are probably asking themselves “So, where is this guy going with this, exactly?”

The point is: I don’t know.

If I did know what to talk about in front of the audience of this blog, I’d probably be a writer.
But I’m not. Instead, I’m a photographer.

Photography hasn’t always been in my life: I picked up my first camera a little over 5 years ago, while living in Japan.
Before that, I had always studied languages. Italian, English, German, Japanese.
Learning new languages is freaking awesome, especially if you are a naturally extroverted Italian kid that can’t shut up to save his life. More languages equals more people I can annoy with my never-ending “blablabla.”

When I started with photography, I couldn’t make sense of why it took over everything else in my life and became my drug, my sole obsession. Nothing could stand in its way.

Luckily, I didn’t ask myself too many questions and didn’t look for too many answers.
I just followed my heart. I wanted to take pictures SO BADLY, and that was enough for me.

Flash forward to 2 years ago. I was commissioned to take pictures of Savina, a dancer in London. The brief was quite simple: take good photos of this girl dancing, for her online presence and for casting purposes.

I flew to England and met her for the first time. The day before the shoot we scouted the location and got to know each other a little better. I was amazed by her true passion, the deep love she had for dancing, regardless of how many times she had been crushed in the pursuit of her dreams.

I was in awe the whole time. I felt I had a giant standing in front of me, an alien. Someone with a such a bright and strong fire in their belly couldn’t possibly be from the same planet as me. And I felt I couldn’t just take photos of her dancing, It had to be more. I HAD to tell her story, I HAD to let everyone else about her passion, drive, strength. And about her fragility, her humanity.

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These photos changed me forever.
For the first time, I didn’t just capture the subject that was in front of me.
I had told a story. HER story.
And in doing that, I had found the humanity in this giant, in this incredible amazing artist, the only point where I could finally connect with her.
I had finally found my voice. Or better, my message.
And all of a sudden, it became pretty clear why photography came into my life after studying languages and wiped absolutely everything else away from the get go: it was the new language that I had just began studying.

Because you know what? Photography IS a language!
Think about it: when you start learning a new language, the first thing you are faced with are grammar and vocabulary. It takes some time and some studying before you are even remotely able to put a sentence together. At first, all the crazy grammar rules of a new language make NO SENSE. The new words that you learn sound so weird, so hard to remember. Almost impossible to link to the ones that you know.

And it’s no different when it comes to photography: when a camera magically appears for the first time in your hands, your photos are… let’s say, sloppy. You start reading about ISO, Aperture, Shutter speeds. It makes little to no sense.
Add lighting for the first time because you saw someone mention flash on YouTube and you find yourself banging your head on the wall in desperation: Inverse square law? Light source to subject ratio? Modifiers? Oh god.

When first studying a language, you feel like even after giving your sweat and tears for it, you can’t yet put two words together to say even the simplest of things. But as time goes by, things start to make sense. You start acquiring the grammar, you master some vocabulary.
You start with simple sentences. With time, energy and experience, you start making sense of the new language. And so goes for photography: the technicalities become second nature. You begin to know WHY you choose a certain ISO, Aperture or Shutter speed. You understand WHY you want to use a certain lens and not another. Flash, that once was your nemesis, becomes your friend.

Congratulations, you have now learned a new language. You now KNOW photography.
But is that enough? Of course not. Absolutely not.

My father once told me these wise words while I was studying Japanese in University: “Nicola, knowing a language is a beautiful thing. But if you have nothing to say, no one will listen to you.”
And he was SO RIGHT.

But it wasn’t until I took Savina’s photos that I realized WHAT MY MESSAGE is. What is it that I talk about with my language, photography.

I have always been drawn to and surrounded myself with all these incredible people. Artists, musicians, performers, characters.
People that put so much love and passion in what they do, in what they truly believe in. And in doing so, they make the world a better place.

And regardless of the case, I have always felt like I wasn’t up to their level. I was always nothing more than a tiny man surrounded by giants. Photography gave me the words to tell the stories of these incredible people and to find the humanity in them, making me realize time after time that we do, in fact, come from the same planet.

Because photography is how I talk about things. Things that matter to me.
And the only thing that matters to me is PEOPLE. And how freaking amazing they are.
And you know what the most beautiful thing is? I’ll never run out of things to say!

Now, have a look at some of these beautiful giants that I’ve met.

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If you’ve made it this far reading this WAY-TOO-LONG blog post, let me say something : THANK YOU.
Thank you so much for giving me some of your time, for allowing me to tell you my story and what my message is.

Lastly, let me ask you something: What do YOU talk about, with your language?

Nico

(A huge thank you to Scott Kelby, Brad Moore and all the team behind this amazing blog, you guys are teaching all of us SO MUCH time after time!)

Nicola is an Italian portrait photographer currently living in Melbourne, Australia. You can see more of his work at NicolaBernardi.com, and follow him on Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter.

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