Category Archives Guest Blogger

Photo courtesy of RC Concepcion

Don't Get Social, Be Social

A question that I frequently hear of photographers and creatives, which always makes my skin crawl, is, “What’s your approach to social?” Of course, the person asking wants an answer related to how to gain followers or boost their engagement metrics to drive revenue. Those are the questions we’ve been trained to ask as artists scrambling to find a consumer for our wares. While having a sound social media strategy is only a good thing, my challenge to you as an artist is to do something much more rewarding: don’t get socialâ”be social.

If you’re looking to gain marketing insight from the rest of this post, read no farther, as that nugget won’t follow. I’m going to talk more about that oh-so-rare interaction that won’t help pay the mortgage, but is what I feed off of as a photographer: a unique shared experience with awesome output that everyone involved will enjoy for years. The key is finding a dance partner who’s as adventurous and open to experimentation as you are.

A freelancing sports job introduced me to the lovely Natalie Taylor. While she was TV-facing and I focused on stills, our coverage was often of the same events and naturally I showed her some of my work over a coffee break. When she introduced me to her boyfriend, Walter I could tell she had found a solid guy and had hoped it would go the distance. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to hear good news before the rest of the world. When you’re really lucky, you get to play an active role in helping to announce that news as well! For my friends Natalie and Walter, this was the news of their unannounced engagement, which we (my wife Elise and I) were thrilled to shoot.

Since both are media personalities, we knew that shyness in front of the lens wouldn’t be an issue at all and were thrilled to hear that they wanted to introduce their new family to the rest of the world with Rookie, their fur-baby, in tow.

When hiring voice-activated light stands, I recommend asking them about their dog-wrangling skills early in the interview. They might prove invaluable one day. Creative personalities who were willing to be part of a collaborative and experimental shoot were the key to a great day that was personally rewarding for all involved.

This is going to sound silly, but you’d be amazed how many photographers I know that lament never having anyone fun to shoot. When I ask them who they’ve asked, they look at me like I’m wearing a Canon hat and a Nikon vest. Absolute honesty and transparency will get you very far. “Hello, my name is Ken and I’m a photographer. You’ve got a really great look, would you ever be interested in shooting?” It’s clear, it’s concise and it’s honest. If they’re receptive, you can immediately start getting a feel for what kind of shoot they’d be up for, but by all means, have an idea ready.

Meet Erica, by far one of my favorite people to shoot. We had chance encounters when she was an employee of my favorite hockey team and she wore her adventurous personality on her sleeve. Who better to ask to climb a utility tower with me on the edge of town? I had just acquired some new strobes and felt like test-driving them in a bright outdoor environment, and I let her know just that. The expectation was set that she’d meet up with my wife and me for the shoot and stroll around an area and experiment. We came away with some of my favorite photos that I’d made in a long time:

Not only did we have a great time making some great photos during our first outing but I now have Erica as one of the first people I reach out to when I start thinking about a shoot that might take a little bit more patience than most can muster because I know how well we work together. Normally when asked if my wife and I shoot weddings we find ourselves washing our hair that weekend but when I heard of Erica and her fianc© Liam’s pending nuptials, we jumped at the opportunity to be there on their special day because we know that we’ll have an engaging bride and groom that will want to make some memorable images.

Sometimes the key to your social networking will be the social networks of your subjects. Meet Chris and Steve, an incredible couple. Chris was a co-worker of mine, and (though he had recently moved on to other endeavors) Steve had worked with my wife. Chris and Steve have long been active members in the Columbus community, serving in roles that would help further local transit, LGBT advocacy, and initiatives to attract young professionals to the city. Our concept for their engagement shoot was to articulate their lazy Sunday afternoon routine as a couple and get some great environmental portraits in an urban setting. I remember sitting Chris down to ask him what their perfect lazy Sunday looked like, and he mentioned it was often hitting up one of their favorite local establishments for brunch and a beer.

Immediately I started trying to think about ways to emulate the vibe of that restaurant and Chris told me to stand by. Moments later, I got a message from him: we were cleared to shoot in the bar prior to their opening. We were given free run of the place, including a tour of the haunted basement and free pour at the taps while we were there. Since we were shooting in a bar at 9am, it was my task to set the lighting up to feel more like a late, cozy afternoon⦠so as not make my friends look like alcoholics. Their patience was key here. The beer certainly didn’t hurt.

Once we’d had our fill (of beer), we moved on to a great urban art cooperative which Chris and Steve had reserved for their local reception after eloping. Once again, because of Chris and Steve’s great social natures, we were given carte blanche to make some truly unique engagement photos that captured the two of them so well.

They may not be your money-makers, but that’s not always the point. Take time to make photos that are rooted in genuine social interactions, and aren’t driven by the trending social media metric. It’s here you may find your most rewarding experiences that you’ll treasure for as long as the photos themselves, if not longer. This certainly won’t help pay for your newest Nikon body or Canon L Series lens, but it will make you look forward to picking up your gear that much more.

You can see more of Ken’s work at, and follow him on Twitter.

Hi! My name is Regina Pagles and I am a portrait photographer residing in the rural community of Springdale, Utah (Pop. 450), just outside of Zion National Park. I have a small studio where I have been taking portraits of friends and family since I discovered studio lighting in 2010.

I have combined the techniques learned from my biggest inspirations, Peter Hurley (expression), Sue Bryce (posing), Don Giannatti (lighting) and Scott Kelby (post processing) to develop and hone my own style. In the spirit of â˜paying it forward,' I would like to share with you what I have learned and the techniques I use, in honor of those that have inspired me and who have offered their knowledge so graciously.

I will take you through my post processing workflow, using a recent image of one of my favorite subjects, model Yolanda Damon Harris.

Straight out of the camera, you can see the image doesn’t look too good…

I begin by making initial adjustments in Lightroom and the image starts to improve.

The first Lightroom adjustments are correcting White Balance, Exposure, Highlights, Shadows and Blacks.

Next in LR:

  • Add a little Sharpening. Amount = 60, Radius = 0.6 
  • Correct the table perspective. Under Lens Corrections, I adjust the Horizontal slider to +11. This distorts the entire image a little, but I'm ok with that.

Under Camera Calibration, I make these adjustments:

  • Change Profile to Camera Neutral
  • Under Red Primary, Hue = +8, Saturation = -10
  • Under Green Primary, Hue = 0, Saturation = -5
  • Under Blue Primary, Hue = +10, Saturation = -35

The red, green and blue primary adjustments are image specific, but generally very close to these settings for the majority of my images.

All finished in Lightroom, now onto Photoshop.

First thing I do is mask the subject.

Next, I add the â˜Oliphant' layer.

I photographed just the Oliphant backdrop at a darker exposure and place it in the document as a separate layer. I then mask the subject. The original texture of the Oliphant background is retained, but just darker. I made a large 5000 px soft feathered brush and added noise to it. Then, I put the Oliphant backdrop layer in it's own group and add a white mask to the group. I paint with black, using the large brush I made, right over the subject. Now I have a vignette, no banding and the hair blends seamlessly in to the background. Plus, the background is the darker shade I prefer and the texture is the original. Yay!

Next, I mask the table and correct the saturation in the yellow and reds.

Now on to the subjectâ¦

  • Add a Selective Color Adjustment layer for the skin, Red = +12.
  • Use Healing Brush to fix skin blemishes.
  • Apply a skin retouching technique learned from Calvin Hollywood, who learned it from retoucher Natalia Taffarel. I have it set up as an action, and I don't remember exactly what the steps are… sorry! Calvin explains the technique in his ‘Calvinize’ DVD. Not a deal breaker if you don't use this technique, especially if the face is so small in the image, like they are in mine.
  • Double check for any skin inconsistencies and add add'l healing, if necessary.
  • Even out the eyebrows and eyelashes, (only on females) using a 1 or 2px hard brush.
  • Use Viveza plugin by Nik to subtly darken the highlights of the face, if necessary.

  • Add very subtle contrast, only to the subject, with Nik's Color Efex Pro v.4 â˜Tonal Contrast' filter.*

  • Brighten eyes using Dodge & Burn.

I then make some image specific adjustments, such as removing the string on the cross in this image.

A few more minor tweaks to skin healing and I'm done.

Now, I just save and duplicate the image, then resize the copy to 2048px wide, which I read is best for Facebook.

Last of the adjustments, I will use Nik's Sharpener Pro v.3 and apply only to the subject, avoiding the edges.

I convert the profile to sRGB and use Save for Web, 75 quality.

*I am SO disappointed with the Version 4 of Nik's Tonal Contrast filter. I used to LOVE v.2, but v.4 is just awful. I use it still, out of habit and denial that such a wonderful filter could turn so bad.

Older behind the scenes shot (pre Oliphant backdrop and reversed main light position).

Black foamcore on left is not in use, it's just resting against the only available wall space.

Here are the Photoshop layers:

Lighting diagram:

I hope that this information will provide some insight into how I post process and light my images. Granted, posing plays a huge role, but I will have to save that topic for another post! Thank you for reading and I'll see you next time :)

Image samples:

You can see more of Regina’s work at, and follow her on Flickr, Facebook, and Instagram.


All photographers have familiar subject matter. Maybe you are wedding photographer, a sports shooter or a headshot specialist. You cover similar events and subjects year after year. The natural progression is you start asking yourself, â˜is there a different way to photograph this familiar subject?' Sometimes unique perspectives or new locations prompt spikes in creativity and original ideas. Sometimes new lighting or post processing creates fresh looks. And other times new gear comes along that lets you realize new possibilities.

I've been photographing adventure sports for almost 30 years, and I have watched how trends, techniques and styles have all evolved over time. Just when you think you have seen it all, photographers figure out new techniques and perspectives and things become fresh again. Right now the adventure sports genre is experiencing the â˜drone revolution.' Video and still photographers have a new tool that permits exciting new ways to photograph climbing and kayaking. And combine that with athletes climbing cliffs and paddling off waterfalls that were thought to be impossible, and adventure sports photography is looking good right now.

My own evolution came with a phone call from my friends at Elinchrom. I have shot with Elinchrom lights for as long as I can remember, and nothing makes me happier than hauling my Rangers and Quadras into the woods to light up a rock climber on a cliff. But this time Elinchrom had a new light for me to try outâ¦the Elinchrom ELC Pro HD 1000s. These lights are 1000 watt AC unitsâ¦and so much more. What knocked me off my seat was the spec that said "these lights can shoot 20 flashes per second." After crawling back into my chair, I fell off again when I realized, "these lights can recycle as fast as your Nikon D4 can shoot." If the specs were true I could finally realize a shot I had imagined for years; creating a sequence shot with every frame lit by flash.

To test out the lights I headed to Salida, Colorado to photograph pro skateboarder Shea Donavan. Shea has a huge half pipe skate ramp in his backyard, and he spends hours each day perfecting amazing aerials on his board. Shea and his dad Bill are always up for skating shoots; we set up the lights for cross lighting Shea when he caught air off the ramp, and waited for twilight for optimal conditions. But we didn't anticipate one thing; the blinding power and speed of the ELC 1000s.

On the first pass Shea catch huge air. I started shooting at 10 FPS, and the ELCs were popping off every frameâ¦and completely blinding Shea. Halfway through the jump he grabbed his board and prepared for a hard landing. Time seemed suspended for a moment, but somehow Shea landed on the ramp in control (but not on his board!). Lesson learned, we repositioned the lights, and on the next jumps, Shea knew what to expect and hit some amazing tricks well out of the half pipe. I was amazed to see every frame was perfectly lit. Instead of only having one frame illuminated per pass, I now had 10 shots to choose just the right shot from the jump. Bill Donavan and Dangerous Circus Pictures created a video of the shoot.

After seeing these amazing lights crank off hundreds of lightning fast shots, I knew I had the tool for my sequence shot. I had one challenge. Since I often shoot away from AC power, I needed a generator that could power two ELC 1000s strobes and keep up with the fast recycling time. I found that my 2000 watt Honda generator worked great, and better yet, it only weighs about 45 pounds. For my flash sequence photo, I hired a pro BMX biker, Chance, for the shoot. I told Chance well in advance to start with easy jumps since the lights might be a little distracting. But on this shoot we shot in brighter conditions with the lights at about 500 watts. And sometimes you just get lucky; dramatic clouds starting rolling in creating the perfect background for the shoot. I underexposed the background about 1.5 stops from what the flash exposure was on my biker. To help project the lights into the scene, I added sports reflectors to the heads.

Chance started with simple jumps, and then progressed into backflips and more advanced tricks. Each pass I was shooting my D4 at 10 FPS, and every frame was lit perfectly. What really amazed me was the consistency of flash throughout each sequence. We also shot a short video behind the scenes of this shoot:

I later seamed up the individual sequence shots into one frame in Photoshop using layers and brushing in the rider into the shot.

I continued to experiment with new sequence techniques using these lights. The ELC 1000s also have a terrific stroboscopic mode. Instead of combining multiple frames from a sequence, you keep your shutter open for long periods of time while a moving subject is flashed moving across the frame. The end result is one frame with your subject in multiple positions. I experimented with karate competitors and dancers for some interesting effects.

I don't think many photographers are ever satisfied with their work. I know I'm not. I create some images I feel are successful, and I may be complacent for a few days. But then I get restless, and feel the urge to create something bigger, better and more creative. I want to explore new frontiers. This year new technology, the Elinchrom ELC 1000s, have allowed me to explore new frontiers in my photography. But I'm starting to feel restless again. Perhaps this video best explains why I became a photographer, and why I just have to keep on shooting.

You can see more of Tom’s work at, follow him on Facebook and Twitter, and check out his classes on KelbyOne.

First off, I want to thank my friends Brad and Scott for inviting me back as guest blogger. I love these dudes - because they love photography and because they love helping photographers, around the planet, make better photographs. They are also really good people.

This post is about Creative Visualization, which is the title of my latest book, Creative Visualization for Photographers. In this post I will share some highlights from the book.

What is creative visualization? Basically, Creative Visualization is envisioning the end result - and doing this is often the key to making a good photograph. It's kind of like going on a road trip: If you know where you are going, you'll know how to get there, making the right travel decisions along the way.

When it comes to making a photograph, if you envision the end result, you will know what camera settings to use, what lens is best to convey your creative vision, and what accessories might be needed. What's more, you'll envision how your image can be enhanced/processed in Lightroom, Photoshop and with plug-ins.

So seeing the end-result, developing your creative vision, is important.

This is one of my favorite photographs from my Route 66 road trip -- which my wife Susan planned out (envisioned) so we knew where we were going.

Here is the original shot from which I made the image. No, it's not HDR (High Dynamic Range). The train was actually speeding past us. This image is what I call an EDR (Extended Dynamic Range) image. EDR is about extending the dynamic range of a single file.

Knowing the EDR power of Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) and Photoshop, I snapped a quick shot.

Here is what I did to push the limits of ACR.


Exposure - makes an image brighter.

Shadows - opens us shadow areas.

Clarity - makes the image look sharper by increasing detail.

Vibrance - increases the saturation of non-saturated colors.

Saturation - increases the saturation of all the colors in a photograph.


Contrast -reduced the difference between the shadows and highlights.

Whites - preserved the highlights.

Highlights - brings back (and rescues in some cases) detail in bright area.

Blacks - makes blacks look bolder and add contrast to a file.

In case you were wondering, I corrected the perspective (pole on the left leading into the frame) in Photoshop: Select All > Edit > Transform > Perspective.

I envisioned a black-and-white image. To convey that vision, I used Nik Silver Efex Pro, using a red filter to darken the sky.

Photographing What We Recognize is an important concept. It's another chapter in the book.

What do you see - or recognize - in this photograph? Take a good look. Take your time.

When I show this photograph to my workshops students, most see a silhouette of Christ's crucifixion. That is precisely what I saw when I took the picture . . . and why I took the picture.

Other comments on this photograph have included:
– A man raising his arms to a crescent moon.
– A blue sky with a low sun.
– A lady dancing.
– Neptune and his trident.
– Sadness.
– Christ, monsters, faith, welcome, danger, decay, a duck.
– Evocative image. Very “Rorschach." There are many things to see in this image.
– A man with a crown, birds at the end of his arms, leaning against a pole with a crescent moon.
– A poor exposure and bad cropping.

The point is that photographers, myself included, usually photograph what we recognize, consciously or unconsciously. What's more, some photographers specifically travel to popular locations to get the "iconic" shot, the same shot that a million other photographers on the planet have taken. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It can be fun and rewarding, and you can learn some things by doing this.

The same is true for musicians, including myself (and my friend Scott Kelby may feel the same way). Sure, I like to improvise, but I also like (try) to play the "iconic" leads of my favorite guitar players: Santana, Jimi Hendrix, The Allman Brothers. As I said, that's not necessarily a bad thing. It can be fun and rewarding.

In the chapter, Looking vs. Seeing, I talk about, among other things, seeing a picture within a picture, and the difference between just looking around and actually seeing a photograph.

This portrait of a novice monk is one of my favorite images from my trip to Myanmar.

This is a snapshot of the same scene. Had I not been looking for pictures, I might not have focused on the single monk on the right of the frame. And speaking of envisioning the end result, I wanted to create a "sense of place" image, so I chose a medium aperture to slightly blur the writing on the wall in the background, while still being able to see that there is writing on the wall.

Photography and the Death of Reality, another chapter in the book, is not a new topic, but as we move more and more into digital darkroom enhancements, the topic becomes more and more important.

The chapter leads off with this image of the Blue Swallow Motel on Route 66, which we planned to be at for sunrise - because, again, we envisioned the end result.

Before I go on, I'd like to share a story with you about Ansel Adams, relayed to me by one of his assistants, the talented John Sexton. Here goes: A man writes Ansel Adams a letter (condensed here): Dear Mr. Adams, I have your wonderful books. Your beautiful pictures of Yosemite inspired me to visit this National Park. However, when I got there I was disappointed. The park does not look like the pictures in your book.

So much for reality.

Since the early days of photography, people with cameras have made images that don't represent reality, even when they tried. That's due, in part, to the way cameras record light, and how lenses bend light and compress or widen a scene or subject - not to mention that we see in 3D and camera see in 2D, and that our eyes have a dynamic range of about 13 f/stops compared to the five or six f-stops our digital cameras see (in a single exposure without digital enhancements).

The chapter has three main messages:

One, it's designed to encourage you to make your most creative images ever, and not to be afraid to follow your heart when it comes to making digital enhancements.

Two, it's important to consider the reality of your photographs and the photographs of others.

Three, photographers are somewhat like magicians, or illusionists if you will. The creative process of image making is like the art of doing a magic trick. If you don't know the trick, the trick is amazing. If you do know the trick, you know that it's a relatively simple procedure.

The scene needed some digital darkroom magic, for sure. This is a straight shot (no image processing) of the scene.

The magic started with a bracketed set of images, from which I created my HDR image.

Here's another example of creative visualization, combined with some HDR magic and basic image enhancements. It's an image from Fairy Glen in the Conwy Valley in North Wales.

The scene looked like this upon arrival at Fairy Glen.

In the book I talk about the space-time continuum - which may sound a bit far out. I'll end this guest blog post with this concept for a good reason: I think it will make you feel good about being a photographer.

The space-time continuum is a mathematical model that combines space and time into a single idea. That concept came to mind when I took this photograph of a lenticular cloud near Mt. Rainier in Washington State.

If you had been there, you might have chosen a different space (composition) for your photograph. You might have taken a wider or tighter shot, or you may have composed your image differently.

What about time? You may not have pressed the shutter release button at exactly the same time as I had, so the clouds might have been in slightly different position. You also may not have used the same shutter speeds that I used, which could have affected the movement of the clouds in your photograph.

Back home, you probably would have processed the image differently, perhaps making it a more saturated image or a black-and-white image.

When you think about, a photograph you take is a single idea - of your individual creative vision. Acting on your ideas, and accomplishing your goals, will give you a good feeling about your work - and yourself.

Creative Visualization is not limited to photography. It applies to your life, too. In his book, Real Magic - Creating Miracles in Everyday Life, Dr. Wayne Dyer talks about (basically) how you can create your own reality. Visualization is the key.

You can see more of Rick's work at and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Rick will also be talking about creative visualization at Photoshop World in Vegas later this year, and you can check out his classes on KelbyOne.

Available in paperback and Kindle versions

Hey Gang! Holy cow am I seriously writing as a guest blogger for Scott Kelby?! I am honestly a little freaked out right now. When I started working for Scott and Kelby Media Group almost 5 years ago, I never would have imagined I would be asked to speak to such an amazing group of readers. Some of the brightest and most talented photographers on the planet have graced these pages and I am truly honored to share my time with you.

Some of you may know that I direct our on-location KelbyOne classes with our amazing line up of instructors. But I also teach classes on KelbyOne showing you how to edit video in Adobe Premiere Pro. As I sit here trying to figure what exactly a videographer can talk about with photographers, one big topic comes to mind; how can you, as photographers, start to become filmmakers? So I came up with these 5 tips:


1) Watch Behind The Scenes On Your Blu-Ray Movies
This is, for me, one of the most underrated and most valuable first ways to learn filmmaking. Most movies will come with some kind of behind the scenes footage on the disc or in download form. By watching these, you will get to see how the film's set works, hear from the director and cinematographer, see all the fancy gear that's being used, and you may even learn out how they pulled off an amazing shot in the movie.

I have two tips for you in regards to these BTS videos. First, if you buy the "Special Edition" version of the movie (like the Anniversary Edition, and even the 3D Blu-Ray combo packs), they tend to have much more BTS features than just the normal version of the film. Second, do not skip over watching the film with the commentary turned on, often times that will be the most detailed conversation on the film you will ever hear.

2) Make Short Films⦠Lots Of Them
Another great way to learn filmmaking is by telling simple short stories. They can be about your dog roaming the neighborhood, or your kids playing at the park, really any short story will work. Now, your first set of films are going to suck. And that's okay. They are not supposed to look good. But rather it is supposed to help you start thinking like a filmmaker and help you gain valuable experience by making mistakes.

3) Be A PA (Production Assistant) On Someone Else's Film Set
Not only will you see how things are done during filming and how people work on set, you will gain lots of experience and titles for yourself without spending any money. In fact, you might even get paid to learn by working on their set. Another benefit besides seeing how things work on set is that you will most likely see how things can go wrong on set as well. So you can learn valuable lessons from someone else's mistakes and that can save you a ton of headaches in the future.

4) Use Your Smartphone Video Option
One of the cheapest, simplest, and most effective ways to practice filmmaking is by using your smartphone. You can practice camera angles, and test how your scenes will look before you actually film with more expensive gear. There is a phrase in photography that goes like this: "The best camera is the one you have on you," and this applies to video as well.

5) Mute Your Films
This tip can truly be a game changer for people just getting into filmmaking. You need to watch films. Lots of films. From the summer blockbusters, to the less popular independents, to the "lovey dovey" romance films (yes, guys I said it) to comedies. All types of films. But, the one major thing you need to do when watching films for study is turn off the volume.

Yes you read that right. By muting the film, it actually takes you out of the illusion that is the film story, allowing you to really study the scenes in the movie. Pay attention to how shots are used and how scenes are edited together. Look at how often they cut back and forth, and how long they hold on shots. It's much harder to do this with the volume up because the sound draws you in and you get lost following the story instead of studying the filmmaking process.

So there you go! Those are my 5 tips to help you get started in the world of filmmaking without going to film school. As you can see, you don't need a fancy degree (although it helps) to learn to tell visual stories. After all, we ALL already do that with still images right? The major difference is instead of concentrating on just the one frame, as a filmmaker we are now concentrating on 24 frames every second.

I want to give a big shout out to Scott Kelby and Brad Moore for asking me to share some of my experience with you all here. I am truly honored and thankful for the opportunity!

You can check out Brandon’s classes on KelbyOne, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Firstly I want to thank Scott and Brad for allowing me a space here. I wondered what to write about, but I suppose, in the end, I thought it just made sense to tell the story of why I shoot and how I shoot.

<<<< REWIND >>>>

It's a Monday in June 2009. My wife has just given birth to our first daughter. I get up at 5am. I get on the train at 5:20am. I sit on the train for two hours (same seat, every day. Same newspaper, every day, same people around me, every day). I get to my desk in central London at 8:30am.

Tip, tap, tip, tapâ¦.. I tinker away at the computer keyboard writing code. I have lunch at 1pm, with the same people. Every day (cool people btw). At 5:30pm I leave my desk. At 6pm I get on the train and stand for the next two hours next to same people I stand by every day. I get home at 8:30pm.

Gemma has already put my new daughter to bed. I go and see her. Smile, a little, and then thinkâ¦â¦ it's time.

I go downstairs.

Gemma, looks at me like only a wife who knows you are about to drop something very substantial (but not necessarily in a good way) on her plate.

I've not said a word yet. She looks. I look. She sits down. I sit down. Then I stand up again. Then I get a beer. Change my mind, and grab a Scotch instead.

Gemma looks on.

"I've quit. I'm going to be a wedding photographer," I say.

Boom. There it is. She looks at me as if a second head has popped out of my ear.

"A wedding photographer?" she says - like only a wife who's just had something substantial (but not necessarily in a good way) dropped on her plate.

"But you've never even owned a camera!" And I hadn't. But I knew I'd need one soon.

Gemma went to bed. I finished my Scotch.


It's Monday 23rd March 2015 and I'm writing this. I'm sat in my studio, in my home town. I've just dropped my kids off at school and here I am, writing something for Scott Kelby's amazing blog. In a few hours I'll pick the kids up, we'll go home.

And here⦠I'm going to be talking about my pictures.

My pictures. Talking about MY PICTURES.

That's me, talking about my pictures, to you, and to Scott, and to well, anyone else who cares to readâ¦â¦ You get the idea.

5D2: I like to look for the extraordinary in the ordinary

5D2: This little fellow has the same opinion of formal shots as me!

This is quite something. I wonder how on earth this has happened. My pictures are far from technically perfect, far from it, and I know many people won't like them. But hey - here we are and I wanted to recite that little story as I know there are many people out there who want to make that leap of faith. It can work. Honest.

X100S: I love to capture the "feeling" of the wedding itself


 X-Pro1: I like humour to play a big part in my images

I shot my first wedding on the 9th August 2009. One day before my 35th birthday. It was hell. The pictures were OK, and the client's lovely, but the experience was hell.

I did everything I thought I should do. I played by the rules and followed all the instructions I'd read about in wedding photography magazines, online forums and social media (as it was then). I shot 41 group shots, I got a lovely close up image of the wedding rings in their boxes, I made lovely portraits of the bride and groom, I got them to walk up and down in a field for thirty minutes while I changed the settings on my new Canon 5D Mark 1. I took photos of them doing a "mock" cutting of the cake in front of an empty room. We went for a walk at dusk and took more portraits while their guests drank champagne and wondered where they were.

Lovely. Lovely pictures. I was happy with them. But then it hit me. I'd given up my career to do this, every Saturday, for the next however long. I didn't enjoy it one bit.

By now Gemma had started talking to me again and I discussed it with her. She said, "Why don't you just shoot it the way you want to?"

Bingo. Epiphany number one.


5D3: Eye contact and simple interaction are core elements of my images

Since the "epiphany" back in 2009, I've shot near 300 weddings and I've made some of the most amazing friends on that journey. I've been around the world, and I've even written a book.

But mostly, I've completely and utterly changed my life, and that of my family and for the better too.

Although I'd never been a photographer of any kind, I always found myself drawn to story-telling pictures. Pictures of a photojournalistic nature. I was drawn to people such Mel Digiacomo and so, from wedding number two onwards that was the way I was going to shoot.

I pretty much decided, there and then, to shoot "reportage," "documentary," "photojournalism…" Whatever you want to call it⦠Really, I decided to shoot in a candid way going forward.

And, with the odd bump here and there, it hasn't changed at all since.

Now, to go completely against the clich©, I actually don't like weddings. I know, right? I'm a wedding photographer who doesn't like weddings. Crazy.

But that's not the end of it. I can turn that clich© around and follow it up with, "But I love people." And I do. I love photographing people, being people.

I love the humanity element of weddings. I don't like the contrived, formulaic elements of it. And I shoot my weddings as a Street Photographer would shoot on the streets of London; searching for moments and looking for the unexpected in a world of expectedness.

X-E2: Emotion is such a powerful thing, yet I think we leave it behind a lot of the time


I look for light, I look for moments. And I love that.

For me, a wedding is about the interaction, it's about touch, it's about eye contact, it's about humour, it's about emotion, and it's about loveâ¦â¦


I wanted to give my clients the view of their wedding from their guests’ point of view. I wanted to deliver my clients bang, right back at that moment in time.  I wanted to see my clients smile, cry with joy, laugh⦠I wanted to see my clients "remember" their wedding, recite moments that happened and give them the opportunity to witness moments they didn't see on the day.

X100T: People, being people

So, I have to say this, because it's very true; although I shoot in a candid way, this doesn't mean I don't have an appreciation for photographers who shoot more formally. There are many clients who would shriek at my pictures, and for them there are many wonderful wedding photographers out there who will deliver images way above my skill level and ability.

However, what rocks my boat, is the story. And it's the uncontrived story I like to tell, through my pictures.


I originally started shooting using the Canon 5D (Mark 1,2 and 3 in the end). Initially I was shooting using the big 70-200 and a 24-70.

But I knew there was something missing. I couldn't put my finger on it but for the first year I wasn't really satisfied with any of my wedding photographs.

Then I decided to ditch the zooms and use a two lens system only. From then on, I shot 100% with an 85mm f/1.2 and a 35mm f/1.4 lens. They were heavenly. I adored those Canon systems and I adored those lenses.

I genuinely believe that shooting with a couple of prime lenses adds a uniformity to your images. Across the board editing, workflow, and look and feel of my images were brought into line. The 85mm f/1.2 especially was a lens that brought me some very memorable images.

I was shooting 95% available light too, with the odd flash brought out for the first dance when the ambient light wasn't good enough.

X100T: I prefer to shoot with available light as far as possible

X-T1: Light remains paramount, even in our dark winter UK churches

The Canons were great, and I loved them, and would never knock them but…

I then had another epiphany at Photokina in 2010. I saw a picture of this little retro-looking camera in a little glass box. It kind of looked at me, as I looked at it. I was intrigued and at the time I was going through another crisis of confidence. Once again I couldn't put my finger on it but my pictures weren't quite delivering for me what I wanted. Clients were loving them, but for me, there was something I wasn't quite connecting with.

X100S: Even seemly ordinary moments can hold interest, and certainly memories

I didn't know it at the time, but when I gazed at what was the Fuji X100 in its little glass box I wondered if what I was lacking in my images was a rawer connection with my subjects. Something I could perhaps only get by getting closer. Getting more intimate, but at the same time remaining as discreet as possible and ensuring the integrity of the moment.

I pointed my stubby little finger at that camera and said, "…that's it.  That's what I need."

About five months later I received one of the first Fuji X100's that came into the UK. I took it to a wedding, I shot all my normal stuff with the Canons, and then I shot an hour or so with the X100.

I took the X100 home. I looked it squarely in the eye again. It looked back at me. And I said to itâ¦"Now mister - I like you; you are small, you are discreet, you are deadly silent and you are good to my back. But, if we are to get on, you are going to have to work faster, more reliably and make me swear a lot less often."

X-Pro1: I'm always looking for context around the wedding setting

X-E2: There are stories within stories at the periphery of all wedding moments


At the time, the Fuji X100 was really my only option at getting on board with the [affordable for me] mirrorless technologies. Of course, there is also now Sony, Olympus etc who each have amazingly good systems. For me, though, at that point I'd pinned my flag to the embryonic Fuji X-Series tree and whilst in the beginning I saw "potential," I now, four years later, see how moving to the X-Series has dramatically changed the way I shoot weddings.


I now shoot 100% with my X-Series of cameras. The current set up is an X100T and an X-T1 with the 56mm f/1.2 lens attached. It's no coincidence that that setup, in full frame equivalent, is approximately 35mm and 85mm - just like my preferred shooting lengths with my Canon system.

XT-1: Using lighter, smaller equipment has definitely added a dimension to the way I like to shoot

Here's the thing about these cameras for me; they allow me to get closer still. They bring an intimacy to the imagery that I simply wasn't able to get with the Canon system (the images were fine of course, it was a mindset of shooting more than anything).


I'm now just a guest at the wedding. In fact, many guests have larger and more expensive equipment than me. Has any client ever said to me "we expected you to be using large SLRs?" No. Never. Has any client ever said "Wow, really, we just hardly noticed you all day." Yes. Many.

So, going back to what I wanted to shoot and with regard to shooting "people being people" - the Fuji cameras have really exploited that ambition for me and allow to fulfill that for myself and for my clients.

X-T1:  I like to capture the moments in between

It's imperative to me that my pictures reflect the honesty of the wedding. There are many "wedding photojournalists" who work in the same way. There are equally as many who call themselves wedding photojournalists yet stage and contrive the images. For me that's not the same. Shooting candidly is not necessarily the same as making documentary pictures and so I prefer to use the adjective â˜candid' (which the dictionary defines as "truthful and straightforward") when describing my style of photography.


For me it's all about the integrity of the moment. I often say to my clients that I'm simply the curator of memories. You, and your guests, make those memories - I simply record them. I don't want to have any influence on anything at the wedding itself. It is my responsibility to understand the given lighting conditions, take note and understand the characters at the wedding, be responsible and sensitive to every situation and use all my senses help me to record, in pictures, the story of their day.

X-T1: Ultimately, it's about emotion.  It's about humanity. It's about allowing people to be people




X-T1: And it's absolutely always about the love

This incredible, short journey, has given me some great privileges, but I think the most humbling experience in my career came last year when another photographer who had been at one of my workshops approached her to document the Caesarean birth of her daughter.

X-T1:  First Moment

At first I was very reticent to take this on, but I wanted to do something at that stage of my career that was out of my comfort zone and this was the perfect canvas.

In a nutshell, that's the story of my story so to speak. How I went from corporate misery to shooting social documentary photography. I made it sound so easy right?

Well, it was kind of easy, because I unshackled myself from the "rules" of the industry. I believed in the way I wanted to shoot, picked up the ball and ran with it.

But let me tell you, running with that ball hasn't been all plain sailing. I could write just as much about how often I've wanted to give it all up.

How my wife has saved me from doing so on several occasions.

I could tell you about the anonymous hate email I received stating "your photographs are snapshots. Why don't you leave it to the professionals?"

I could tell you about how I've sat and watched my images ripped apart by judges at international competitions and dismissed as "snapshotography" (and by the way, they had a point).

I could tell you about the time that a simple sentence from Zack Arias whilst having a beer in a Japanese bar saved my career.

I could tell you all of that stuff too.

â¦but instead, I'd like you to press play on the video below. Turn the sound up and at the endâ¦.smile. Life is good!

For me, the key here is the human story. I use the clock to anchor the segments together but the little looks, the eye contact, the touch, the first sights of Majaâ¦.

So bringing it all back together - I enjoy story telling pictures. I enjoy stories that have a start, a middle and an end. I enjoy creating picture essays that curate these memories for my clients.

It's different to the "norm." There is no formula. It's 100% candid and I guess I simply enjoy taking pictures of people, being people.

I hope you've enjoyed my ramble, and even if you don't enjoy the pictures, I hope it helps people teetering on the edge to make a decision. One way or another. Life changing decisions usually work out for the best!

I'm happy to answer any questions you may have, just leave them in the comments.

Thanks so much for reading!

You can see more of Kevin’s work at and, and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.