Category Archives Guest Blogger

Photo by Jen Coffin

You know those ’Top 5 Tips to be a Successful Photographer’ type of articles that you see come through your newsfeed and you cringe and say ‘Oh man!…not again!!’?

Well, this is one of those lists. :P

I know, I know. you’ve read this article like a thousand times before.. right?! Well, guess what’s cooler about this particular article? This one’s got SIX tips. :P But seriously, if you stick with me through this stuff, I can promise you that it’s not going to be one of those blog posts that tell you in order to be a successful photographer you need to carry your business cards at all times, market like there’s no tomorrow, and learn your camera settings (all really good tips, to be fair). However, we are going to go on a much bigger adventure than that. :)

So here’s the deal! I’m going to pepper this stuff with cute puppy photos throughout because even if it’s not directly related to cute puppies – an adorable canine here and there can never, ever hurt. right? And I’m not above cute puppy bribery, right? (right!) And for those of you who just want to scroll through the pictures, you can walk away assuming that this post was about how to take an expert look at cute puppy photos and I’d be totally okay with that.

Let me just take a very quick moment to share with you exactly why I’m feeling inspired to share these following 6 tips. I just recently spent one of the most incredible weeks of my life down in Tampa, Florida. Alongside some of the most amazing, inspiring, and impossibly talented people that I have ever had the privilege to join creative forces with, I filmed my class on dog photography for KelbyOne. (you guys!!! I am so excited for you to see it! GAHH!) Being in the presence of other like- minded artists all on their very own amazing, creative journeys reminded me of how grateful I am to be on this particular adventure of mine. I want to share with you a little bit about my journey, and let you in on the 6 tips that I would give that might just be integral to becoming a successful photographer.


As for me, I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer. I’ve always lived just a little bit on the edge of society – thinking up fairytales and big adventures and ignoring the status quo. I like to sleep late and I hate to plan. I like to watch the way the world unfolds around me when I just let go. I’ve always figured that life is for living, right? We’re given these beautiful, bright red beating hearts and these vessels of bone and flesh, and it’s all like one big, gorgeous poem. Everything works together, ticking in perfect synchronization to keep us alive — to keep our synapses firing and our eyes wide open. I think it’s unbelievable. And I’ve always thought – I might as well go discover the world while I still have these two feet underneath my body that are capable of carrying me across any kind of terrain, right?

This was the kind of outlandish thinking that brought me to where I am today. I am humbled and wildly grateful to say that I live my dream through a camera lens each and every day. Of all the things in this world that one could possibly be, I am a professional dog photographer. But it wasn’t just a simple, seamless jump that got me here. Oh no, it’s been a very, very big adventure. I’ve had to carve my own way. Because, while I didn’t know much when I first started, the one thing I did know was that nobody was going to get out of their warm bed and carve it for me.


If you’re reading this blog, it’s highly likely that you are a photographer or are interested in delving into photography. That means you are an artist. You have the heart and mind of an artist. And that is a rare blessing – a gift – that you’ve been given. You see the world in a different way from the masses. And if you use that gift – if you apply that special sight that you’ve been blessed with – in the all the right ways , you have the potential to go on a journey that takes you to places you never even thought possible. This I promise you, take it from me.

Just 5 years ago I was a terribly lost soul – I had graduated college with honors and big, big aspirations. I applied to a gazillion (<— technical number) different companies on a gazillion different kinds of resume paper. When most of those avenues fizzled out, I found myself working a ‘make-ends-meet’ type of job that squashed every fiber of creativity and soul that I had. Leaving my workplace in tears started to become commonplace, and I fell into a state of near depression knowing full well that I was wasting valuable time while not using my gifts to their full potential.

One afternoon, I was driving home from that particular job – tires splashing across wet pavement beneath me – and I made a decision. I was going to take the next step towards finding my purpose. At the time, I had absolutely no idea how much that decision would change my life.


Since that moment 5 years ago, I have photographed thousands of dog photo sessions, traveled the world teaching photography workshops, worked on life changing international animal rescue missions, shot national commercial ad campaigns for some of the biggest names in the pet industry, have seen my work on greeting cards and in calendars and am now impossibly grateful to be standing alongside some of my biggest idols and inspirations as an instructor for KelbyOne.

(It’s actually really hard for me to say those things above. And I’ve rewritten and deleted that paragraph above about 12 times because I feel like such an egotistical megajerk touting these achievements. But, ultimately, I think it’s important to say, ‘Hey, this is my true story.’ I’m living proof that with the right amount of passion, heart and hard work – these are the kinds of things that can happen. If I – just one red headed girl who started with nothing but a camera and a dream – can pull this off, then you can too.)

So, all of that being said, I want to share these following 6 tips. To me, these are the 6 things that have had the impossible ability to change my career, and ultimately, my life. I hope that sharing this wisdom might bring some magic to your journey as well.


Hey everyone. Good to see you here again!

A big hug goes to Scott and Brad for inviting me back to be a guest blogger. It’s not only quite an honor to post here, but it’s also great fun to share photo how-to info – and photo inspiration – on Scott’s popular blog.

I call this post, Transforming Your Home into a Professional Photo Studio, which coincidentally is the title of my newest class on KelbyOne, releasing tomorrow!

In this new class (which was shot in a home near the KelbyOne studios in Oldsmar, Florida) I share tips, tricks and techniques for shooting in your home with speedlites, constant lights, Ice Lights and even a small flashlight. The main idea of the class is that you don’t necessarily need to spend thousands of dollars a month on a studio rental, as well as thousands of dollars on lighting gear, to get good portraits.

Let’s start by taking a look at some of the end-result photographs, as well as some of the behind-the-scenes photos, from the class. For each photo I’ll share a quick tip.

After sharing some photos from the class, I’ll share some of my “home studio” images that were taken closer to home, actually in my home in Croton-on-Hudson, New York.

Let’s go! (more…)

liketherazor_Mike Schacht Chicago Headshot Photographer
Chicago has several great headshot photographers, and the king of Chicago, Michael Schacht, made this portrait of me, which is why it is the best photograph in this article.

How Peter Hurley Made a Headshot Photographer Out of Me
I was totally dejected and felt like I had failed my friend. I stared at the headshot I took of him trying to figure it out. He had a cool little mustache and looked handsome in his Army uniform, but Peter Hurley had just told me that he looked constipated.

1_Victoria-Jordan_Chris Gillett Houston Headshot Photographer
Faint smiles like this from Victoria take us into Mona Lisa territory. That such little movement can be so evocative leads some to conclude that the soul can communicate through the face beyond its mere physical appearance.

My friend had joined the United States Army right after 9/11. It has not been the easiest life for him, and I am very proud of him. I so wanted to do a good job on his headshot, and it was tough to hear that, in the opinion of arguably the best headshot photographer in the world, I had failed. Hard as it was to hear, it was lessons like this from Peter that took me from a bad amateur with no ability to make people look good in headshots to a working headshot photographer. You may not like my work or you may find it too derivative, which is certainly okay. My purpose here is to praise Peter for his teaching ability and to strongly recommend the information contained in his new book The Headshot: The Secrets to Creating Amazing Headshot Portraits. (more…)

tears of a clown: a satirical look at depression showing that even though many appear happy on the outside, they might be struggling with larger issues below the surface. It is not a glorification of suicide by any means, rather a way to hopefully start a dialog about mental issues
Tears Of A Clown: A satirical look at depression showing that even though many appear happy on the outside, they might be struggling with larger issues below the surface. It is not a glorification of suicide by any means, rather a way to hopefully start a dialog about mental issues.

Go Shoot Yourself
Hello, My name is Mark Rodriguez–though some folks on the interwebz refer to me as Godriguez–and I am a self-portrait/conceptual artist from Tampa, Florida. When many people think of self-portraiture the first thing that will usually come to mind is that they are just selfies, and it is a form of narcissism that should be eradicated from the earth. They hear “selfie” and think of dirty bathroom shots with duck lips and shot from a high angle. But a well-crafted self-portrait can in fact be a form of therapy, as has been in my case, and can help tell stories that might only be important to the artist themselves.

coming to the surface: we all have our breaking points and only we know how far we can be pushed before that anger is released. Truth be told, I was having extreme back pains when I took this shot so the emotion in my face is real
Coming To The Surface: We all have our breaking points, and only we know how far we can be pushed before that anger is released. Truth be told, I was having extreme back pains when I took this shot so the emotion in my face is real.

Let me step back and give you a bit of history as to how I began shooting self-portraits in the first place.



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…)


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.


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:

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…