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Photo by Jana Mobley

Very honored to be able to have this platform today. Great thanks to Scott and Brad for giving me the opportunity.

It was about 6 years ago that one of my good friend's dad loaned me his Nikon 35mm film camera. I had decided that I was going to major in Studio Art at The University of Alabama. One of the required classes for that specific major was a black and white darkroom photography. I can remember like it was yesterday; learning to expose film properly, develop it with chemicals, and then print in the darkroom. This had not been my original plan. Not at all.

When I was 15 my step father gave me a video camera for Christmas. That camera really changed the way I saw things. I was always making videos of friends and family. It might have been that I was trying to recreate a scene in a movie or I was just filming my friends doing highschool type of stuff. Nonetheless, I really became attached to the motion camera. Because of my interest in motion and cameras I started watching as many movies as I could and studying the camera moves, the composition, the blocking, the lighting, colors, etc. At a friend's recommendation, I watched the film, "American Beauty" directed by Sam Mendes and DP'd by Conrad Hall.

That movie had one of the greatest impacts on me as far as drama and lighting go. It really opened me up to what the possibilities of filmmaking could really be. From that point on, I decided that I wanted to be a feature film cinematographer. So I of course started to apply to all the great schools of cinematography. I was pretty naive at the time. I was an 18 year old kid from Alabama who barely passed high school. Who was I kidding thinking that I was going to get into USC. But I gave it a shot anyway.

Well, a few months later I opened the mail and to my disappointment I could not get into any of the schools that I thought would be the best for my "career."

So I ended up going to the school in my hometown’s backyard, The University of Alabama. Unfortunately, there was no cinematography or film program being offered at the time at UofA. That's where we come back to my story about borrowing the 35mm Nikon. Because I could not study cinematography, I decided the next best thing would be photography. So once again I gave it a shot.

I soon fell in love with photography so much that I decided I should make it my career path. One of my teachers shared with me a book by photographer, Richard Avedon, called In the American West. It was a book of portraits that Avedon took over a period of several years every summer out west. He traveled with his assistants by car through the west and photographed complete strangers that piqued his interest. After seeing Avedon's book it really changed everything for me as far as photography goes.

His portraits had this drama, authenticity, and power to them that really tugged at my heart. They moved me in a way that nothing else did at the time. That's when I realized how powerful a single photograph could be.  Before that I had no objective with my camera. I was a young 20 year old kid shooting everything from flowers, to buildings, to railroad tracks. I was just a guy with a camera that did not have a voice or vision. But after seeing Avedon's book I became literally obsessed with portraiture.

At this point I had no idea how to exactly make a career out of photography, but it didn't bother me.  All I wanted to do was photograph the people that I would encounter. I started driving hours outside of my hometown to rural southern towns. I would walk up to complete strangers and ask to take their portrait. At first it was scary asking someone you didn’t know if you could make their portrait. Most people did not understand, but usually always said yes. I ended up shooting lots of people and making a true foundation for my portfolio. I was never being paid to create any of this work. I really had a true sense of commitment and passion to be constantly making portraits.

After a few years, I started to think about how I was going to turn this into a career. I started showing the work that I had created to magazines and advertising agencies around Alabama. I did a lot of studying and reading on the internet about what kind of people actually hire photographers. Before I knew it, people started hiring me for jobs. It was nothing too glamorous, but I was having the time of my life actually getting paid every once in a while to take pictures of people. It was almost like I was so naive at the beginning of my career, not knowing exactly what to do and showing work after I had only been shooting for a couple of years that it worked in my favor.

Fast forward 4 years later, and a lot has happened. I got married, tooks lots of pictures, showed lots of pictures, hustled all over the south trying to meet people, got an agent, hustled more, took more pictures, got a few breaks in Alabama shooting some big ad campaigns, left it all and moved to New York, started over again, hustled even more, took even more more pictures, and now I've been living in New York for two and a half years still shooting.

Through all these years I've learned a few things that I thought I would share today that have helped me in the photography industry.Hopefully not to disappoint, but there are no lighting tips involved, nothing about lenses and cameras, or the latest gear.

1.) Persistence/Hustle
This is probably one of my greatest strengths. It has helped me build the career that I've had so far and has led to a lot of amazing opportunities. Without persistence I don't think I would be a photographer right now. When it comes to getting hired in photography a lot of this business is about relationships + talent. You have to have talent, but you also have to be good at getting to know the right people. I've always been very persistent in going after new clients. I have lists pinned to my wall near my computer that have my "dream" clients listed. I'm always looking at that list reminding myself of who to stay in touch with and who to be showing new work to. There are some people on that list that have never responded to one of my efforts, but I don't stop trying. However, it is important to find a personal balance of being persistent without being too pushy or annoying. I've made a lot of work that was never seen or never appreciated, but I've continued to constantly produce new work and refine my skills.

2.) Focus/Vision
Knowing what I want to make photographs of is really important to me. I've always felt an attraction to making pictures of people. That's what I've focused on ever since I fell in love with portraiture. I really try to hone my craft by always making portraits and pushing myself technically and creatively. There are sometimes where I feel that I get into a rut from a creative standpoint. I sometimes go into my default way of photographing, which basically means that I resort to what feels comfortable. That can be a trap. It's always good to get out of your comfort zone and try something new – usually that's when your best work is created. I decided a couple of years ago that I wanted to be known for something in photography. In a sense, I wanted to become a master at something. I'm not implying that I'm in any way shape or form a "true master" at photography, I just simply strive to be one. My focus is making portraits and always trying to improve the way I work. I would much rather be great at one thing in photography, than be mediocre at a few.

3.) Show your work
Life's too short to not give a go at something you love. Once photography became my passion, I have never stopped trying to make it my sole career. I would go to meet potential clients while I was still in college. I hardly knew anything about photography, but I knew that I wanted to make a living from it because of how much I loved it. Most people I hear from are always waiting to show their work when they think it's perfect. That was not the case for me. I started early – I got out there and showed it to anyone that would give me the time – I still do. Anytime I'm traveling on assignment, I might stay in a city for another day or so and make meetings with agencies and magazines. Once I had built a successful career in Alabama, I left it all to start all over in New York. I knew what kind of photography I wanted to do and I knew that I needed to be in a place like New York to make it happen. From the moment I moved to the city I hit the subways and went all over the city lugging my portfolio. I still make an effort every few months to make more rounds of meetings. The point is that you can't wait, you just have to get out there and show your work.

These three points have really been a foundation for the success of my career thus far. Without them I really don't think I would be anywhere. As you know, there is obviously more to my work than these three principles. I think to be successful in the photography industry you have to find a way to stand out. Which is much easier said than done. I still don't feel like I'm there yet, but I'm really enjoying the process of finding that path. Hope you enjoyed the post and maybe you can take something away from it.

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

Audi R8 Detail Shoot with some interesting new lights
When I found out one of my friend’s had a brand new red Audi R8, I was begging them to let me shoot it, and this week I got about an hour to shoot some detail shots (here’s a few above), and the car was, just insane! I’m hoping to get another chance soon to shoot the full car in an airplane hanger, so I’m pretty psyched. But for this shoot I tried out some groundbreaking new lights, and I don’t want to spill the beans because I did a behind-the-scenes video (hopefully I can share it here next week), but they were pretty darn slick, and I can’t wait to share it with you as soon as the video is ready.

Location shoot for Empower Boxing
Yesterday I snuck out of the office with Brad to do a quick portrait with James, the owner of the literally just-opened Empower Boxing gym in Tampa, Florida. Very cool guy and a very cool set-up, with heavy bags hanging…well…everywhere. Some behind-the-scenes shots coming next week as well.

Wednesday’s Episode of “The Grid”
If you missed this week’s “Scott Responds to the Creative Cloud Feedback” episode of “The Grid,” the rebroadcast is above. The first half of the show is about Adobe’s subscription-only announcement, and the 2nd half is about an idea I had for Adobe for photographers, and it got lots of love from the community. If you’re going to comment here, make sure you watch the Grid first, before you comment, ’cause if I can tell you didn’t watch it, I’m pulling it. Just so ya know.

That’s it for now. Hope you all have a great Friday, and a kick-butt weekend.



P.S. I’m in Seattle with my new tour on May 23rd, and then LA on the 24th. Hope you can join me

Photoshop World
There are less than two weeks left to take advantage of the Early Bird pricing for Photoshop World Orlando! Register before March 15 to save $100 and join the greatest Photoshop and photography instructors in the world.

Once you’re registered, make sure you book your room at the Rosen Centre Hotel so you can stay where the instructors stay! Rooms at the most conveniently located hotel (just across the street from the convention center) are limited, and once they’re gone, they’re gone.

Leave a comment for your chance to win a full conference pass!

Kelby Training Live
Want to spend a day with Matt KloskowskiRC Concepcion, or Ben Willmore? Check out these seminar tours!

Photoshop CS6 for Photographers with RC Concepcion
Mar 15 - Tampa, FL
Mar 25 - Houston, TX

Photographic Artistry with Adobe Photoshop with Ben Willmore
Mar 19 - New York, NY
Mar 20 - Washington, DC

Lightroom 4 Live with Matt Kloskowski
Mar 22 - Phoenix, AZ

Leave a comment for your chance to win a free ticket to one of these events!

Growing Your Business with Scott Kelby
Ever wondered how Scott Kelby started Kelby Media Group then grew it into what it is today? Check out his latest class, Growing Your Business, on to get his advice on partnering with the right people, taking risks, using social media for promotion, and more!

Leave a comment for your chance to win a free rental of this class!

Southwestern Photojournalism Conference with Dave Black
This weekend, Dave Black will be presenting at the Southwestern Photojournalism Conference in Fort Worth! This conference holds a special place in my (Brad’s) heart because it’s the first place I ever met Dave and Joe McNally. Past presenters have also included Scott Kelby, Jeremy Cowart, Bill Fortney, and myself.

If you’re in the area (or up for a flight or drive), sign up to come hang with Dave and some other great photographers like Eugene Richards who are presenting. I’ll be there as well, so come join us!

Leave a comment for your chance to win a free rental of one of Dave Black’s classes.

FREE Photoshop Elements 11 Book for Digital Photographers
Our friends over at the Photoshop Elements Techniques Newsletter (PET), have a great special right now. Subscribe for the PET newsletter and member website, and you’ll get Scott and Matt’s Photoshop Elements 11 Book for Digital Photographers free. It almost makes your membership absolutely free, but it’s only for a limited time so head on over to

Kelby Training Live Seminar
– Alex Alegre

That’s it for today. Enjoy the last day of February!

Hi gang — other short video above explains how the Photoshop World Conference and Expo has evolved over the past few years.  It’s exciting to see how it’s grown and morphed into basically seven conferences in one. Check out the video and you’ll see what I mean.

Also, If you missed Wednesday night’s “Photoshop World-a-thon” here’s the free Rebroadcast

We all showed techniques from some of the classes we’re teaching at the Photoshop World conference (I did a retouching technique, a showed how to create book covers in Lightroom’s Book Module, and I did a live demo of how to set up a remote camera from scratch from my Shooting Sports class).

Everybody had really cool demos (Matt had an awesome one for post processing long exposures), plus we have some special deals (that are good until March 2nd), and the whole thing gives you a great idea of what its like actually being at a Photoshop (the next one’s in Orlando, April 17-19th). You can check out last night’s rebroadcast above.

Hope you all have an awesome weekend!

– Scott


I am excited beyond excited!!! When I got the call from Rob Jones last night that the profits from our t-shirt sales from my Worldwide Photo Walk broke our all-time record and that we had raised $12,000 for the Springs of Hope Orphanage, I about fell out of my chair!

But there’s a little more to the story than just that. While it’s true that we broke our record, (the t-shirt sales by themselves raised $9607.48), Rob wanted to make sure we hit $12,000 so his company “Towner Jones Photography” kicked in an $2392.52 on their own. I am truly touched (but not surprised — this isn’t the first time Rob’s done something like this).

Rob has run the entire t-shirt sale part of the Photo Walk from the very beginning simply out of wanting to help others less fortunate and we are blessed that he saw a need and pitched-in in a big way. Please join me in thanking Rob for the tens of thousands of dollars his efforts have raised for the Springs of Hope Orphanage by leaving him a note here on the blog.

Also, if you didn’t get a chance to get one of the shirts, but want to help the Orphanage, you can make a donation right here. 

My heartfelt thanks to Rob Jones for just being awesome; to my good friend and our Creative Director Felix Nelson for the cool logo he designed for the shirts, and to everyone who bought a shirt to help out the Orphanage. After the past few weeks, I think we all need to celebrate a win of any size, so please join me in thanking Rob, and here’s to small victories that mean a lot. :)