It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Alex Garcia!

by Brad Moore  |  3 Comments

Photo by Robert Deutsch

Do your pictures speak to you?

If you’re feeling a dry spell in your creativity or you’re undecided about what personal project might wow your next client, it’s a curious but valuable question.

What happens often as photographers is we get caught up in tools of the trade. Not everyone obviously, but with so many eye-popping advances in technology we drift towards how we can manipulate, control and shape our images. We tell our pictures what to say.

It makes perfect sense. If you’re trying to stay ahead, so much has to measure up. Who wants to take chances with pictures when a client’s expectations are at stake? More control, less risk. So we previsualize, research, come up with shot lists, use photo actions and tools. With a flourish of creativity, we finish. The results can be beautiful.

But this is all very much directed by you the photographer, in a process that can become so perfected and controlled that it becomes stale. Perhaps that’s why, at a portfolio review, you might be asked after you have bared the fruits of all your labor, “Do you have any personal projects to show?”

Editors and art buyers want to be surprised by someone’s individual passions and creativity. They want to lasso a star.

If you feel like you’re producing well-crafted widgets with your photography, or if you’re casting about for a personal project to get your passions going on, let me make a suggestion that I try to follow myself.

Let your pictures speak.

What the heck do I mean?  I’ve been a photojournalist for over twenty years, and I’ve done a lot of conscious picture-taking. Before I compose a picture, I’m thinking of my subject, my audience, my editors, and the reporter’s story. I’m trying to find and make pictures that will sing in the space provided but within the constraints of expectations and needs of the job.

So, tired by all the control I was exerting, I decided to do the thing that I kept putting off. I decided to explore my family roots in Cuba…without pictures.

What happened next set in motion a chain of events that forever changed my perceptions of photography and the direction of my career.

Unlike everyone else who goes to Cuba, especially through numerous destination workshops, I didn’t want to take pictures and turn the island into a photo project. I didn’t go to take photos of cigars, cars and decrepit buildings like everyone else.

I wanted to meet family that no one in my U.S. family had seen in about forty years. I took a camera, but more to take visual notes and to photograph family.

Yet, every time I felt an emotional chord strike, I would take a picture and move on.

It wasn’t an emotional family homecoming. That’s the stereotypical narrative for a returning family member. But too much time had passed. Politics intervened. My experience was a bit disjointed and sometimes awkward.

I was troubled by my experience. I came back and put away my pictures for 6 months.

But my unconscious had a few things to say. Still needing to process the experience, I went through and selected every picture that rang an emotional chord, even if I didn’t understand why.

I laid them out together and was shocked to see that the pictures had a voice that I wasn’t eager to hear. They told me this:

I was a stranger. It was also a strange land to me. I was a stranger in a strange land.

Yeesh. So much for feeling closer to my family.

Fast forward years later, I found myself at the presidential palace, face-to-face with Cuban President Fidel Castro.

How did that happen?

After what my pictures said on my first trip, I responded. I kept returning to the island, ultimately risking a staff job at the Los Angeles Times to ask for a leave of absence to study in Cuba for six months.

After the L.A. Times, I came to the Chicago Tribune, with extensive Cuba experience. Shortly after, the Tribune was the first U.S. newspaper in forty years to receive permission to open a bureau on the island. I jumped into my editor’s office. He could sense my passion.

So there I was at the presidential palace, getting ready to photograph our CEO and the Cuban president, shaking hands at the inauguration of the bureau.

On that trip, that lasted a couple months, I produced a sports picture essay that won a World Press Photo award. That award led to book projects and other opportunities.

I’ve left newspapering since then, but it was still a personal and professional highpoint in my career that is still bearing fruit.

But it all started with exploring a personal interest that, honestly, was unsettling.

While at the Tribune, I wrote a weekly column about photography that was gathered into my recent book Depth of Field: Tips on Photojournalism and Creativity.  I write about personal projects and the psychology of picture-taking because our unconscious behavior is either helping or hindering us.

So yes, I know, it sounds woogie to say,”Let your pictures speak to you.”

But when you do, and respond, it could add a missing personal dimension to your photography that others are hungry to see.

Alex Garcia is a Chicago-based editorial and commercial photographer with over twenty years experience as a photojournalist at the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. He is a frequent lecturer, author and public speaker. His recent book is “Depth of Field: Tips on Photojournalism and Creativity.” You can see more of his work at, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.


Real World Field Report on the Canon 7D Mark II

by Scott Kelby  |  155 Comments

Hi gang: This weekend I got a chance to take two Canon 7D Mark IIs out for a real world field-test shooting two football games: On Saturday the Tennessee Vols vs. the Florida Gators, and on Sunday the New York Giants vs. the Atlanta Falcons at Met Life stadium in New Jersey. (Note: the two camera bodies I used were overnight loaners from Canon of pre-production demo units — they are not the final shipping cameras — so they’re not quite finished yet, but they’re far enough along that I could at least test them and give you, and Canon, feedback).

I’m posting some high resolution samples here (below), but make sure you watch the video above because we tackled all the important stuff you’d want to know about (of course, we talked a lot about high-ISO performance), plus we took loads of questions during the broadcast (I’m joined by RC Concepcion and Brad Moore in the studio). It’s really kind of “three guys sitting around talking about a camera” type of show and I show lots of my photos (not just sports stuff) taken with the 7D Mark II.

Above: Specs: Shot as JPEG image. 640 ISO. 1/1000 of a second at f/5.6. 560mm (400mm with a 1.4 tele-extender). If you click on this low-res preview, it will take you to the full high-resolution image you can download. I cropped-in a tiny bit to fix composition and I brightened the image 1/2 stop, but it’s still a bit under-exposed [I was shooting JPEG and used Exposure Compensation to overcome some highlight clipping I wouldn't have even worried about if I had been shooting in Raw]. No sharpening, noise reduction, vibrance or any of that type of stuff in post. By the way, it’s killing me to post a non-sharpened image. Just sayin’.

We Covered a Ton!
We covered what worked, what I wish were different, and literally just minutes before we started taping a tech-rep at Canon called in and helped out by showing how to fix my #1 complaint about the camera for shooting sports (which we show how to address during the show above). I still had to whine about a few things (I hope Canon is listening), but I covered the stuff it did right as well. We really tried to cover all the questions we’d been hearing on social and here on the blog as best we could.

Above: Shot in JPEG mode (we explain why on the video). This one’s at 1,000 ISO at 1/1250 of a second. Same lens as above. Cropped in a bit. We also show a large print of this on the show. 

RC Totally Scores!
My favorite part of the broadcast comes around the 2/3 to 3/4 mark when RC absolutely nails why this camera is so important, and he really articulated what I’ve been trying to say about the 7D Mark II since the official announce. You’ll know when it happens because I literally high-fived him for stating it in a way I wish I had, because he really put it all on context.

Above: I used Auto ISO to shoot in the locker room before game time. That image you see above? That’s 16,000 ISO. Click on it to get the high-res version (no noise reduction in post — and that was shot in JPEG mode). It’s shot at f/2.8 at 1/1000 of a second using a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. You definitely do see noise on the full res image (heck, you see noise on a 1Dx at 16,000 ISO), but I was still pretty amazed that a crop-sensor camera could get this kind of performance at 16,000 ISO. 

I’ll be around today to try and answer any questions we didn’t cover during the broadcast (if you’re going to ask about noise, please watch the video ’cause we covered it to death), so just leave me a comment here and I’ll do my best (Note: I just did a field test — not an in-depth lab report, so if you ask me pixel-peeper style in-depth techie stuff I’m probably not the right guy to answer those, but I might be able to find someone at Canon who can answer those types of questions).

Above: I thought I should at least post one image actually taken at 100 ISO, so here ya go. This is uncropped, un-anything; shot in JPEG mode. Again, click on it to see the high-res version. 

Anyway, hope this helps, and here’s wishing you your best Tuesday yet!



P.S. We’re only four days away from my 7th Annual Worldwide Photo Walk. If you haven’t registered to join the local walk in your city this Saturday, it’s not too late. Here’s the link. 


Peter Read Miller on the new Canon 7D Mark II

by Scott Kelby  |  9 Comments

Hi Gang: Mia McCormick sits down with one of my all-time heroes of sports photography, the legend himself, Peter Read Miller for his impressions of the recently announced Canon 7D Mark II. If you got a sec, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Also, I shot two games this weekend using the 7D Mark II for my main and secondary bodies (weekend loaners from Canon — just early demo units — not the final shipping version), and I cannot wait to share some shots with you here tomorrow from the Vols/Gators and Falcons/Giants games, so make sure you stop back tomorrow for my field report.

Hope you guys have an fantastic Monday (I know, that’s an oxymoron) even if your team lost this weekend (all my teams lost. Ugh. But there’s still a faint hope for my Fantasy Team — I’m in third place in our league).




Awesome “This Weekend Only” Deal For My Readers From MPIX

by Scott Kelby  |  4 Comments

Cool deal alert: (the seriously awesome photo lab I’ve been using for years now), is giving my readers a “This Weekend Only” deal of 20% on everything on their site (just on Oct 4th and 5th ONLY).

When: Saturday and Sunday (tomorrow and the next day, Oct 4-5)
Discount Code: kelbympix2014

This is a screaming hot deal from some of the best folks in this entire industry, with legendary customer service. Cannot recommend them enough!
Disclaimer stuff: When checking out with multiple orders the promo code will only apply to one order. Cannot be combined with other offers. Not valid through ROES and does not apply to orders placed prior to the sale. Offer ends October 5th, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. (Central). 
OK, go jump on this deal. Well, wait until tomorrow when it starts…then jump on this deal! Thanks to our friends at MPIX for making this available! :)
One last thing: don’t forget to scroll down for the latest Worldwide Photo Update!

My Worldwide Photo Walk is Only One-Week Away!

by Scott Kelby  |  3 Comments

I’m getting super psyched!!! Here’s a quick update one week out:

(1) We now have more than 1,000 photo walks organized in cities around the world
All the walks are now in place, as the deadline for creating new walks has passed, so now it’s just about finding a walk near you (and can you help us spread the word to your photography friends?).

(2) We have awesome prizes for the optional photo contest portion!
Check out this link to see what all the prizes, but the grand prize winner picks up a Canon EOS 70D with EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens, a Canon Pixma Pro 1 Printer, a 1-year Adobe Creative Cloud Membership, a Wacom Intuos Pro Tablet, and much more!

(3) It’s not too late to join a photo walk in your city (it’s free)
Here’s the link to the official photo walk page — see if there’s one near you and join us on Saturday, October 11th for an experience you’ll never forget.

(4) Check out our Worldwide Photo Walk Webcast
We did a free webcast a couple of walks ago with lots of helpful hints, suggestions, and we answered a bunch of questions people had about joining and walking, and you can watch it right here. 

(5) Order your official t-shirt right now (and help the Springs of Hope Orphanage)
We have awesome official Worldwide Photo Walk t-shirts, and not only do they look really cool (lots of folks wear them on their photo walk), but more importantly, 100% of the profits from the sale of these t-shirts  go to feeding, clothing and caring for the wonderful kids at the Spring of Hope Orphanage, Kenya. Our friend Rob Jones from Towner Jones Photography, came up with t-shirt idea and we’ve raised a ton of money for the orphanage over these years (yay!) and this year we’re trying to break our record by asking every walker to donate just $1 (one single dollar) for the orphanage, too! Remember, even if you don’t want a shirt, you can still buy one to support the kids. Here’s the link  NOTE: We have special LEADER shirts as well (Leaders — you’ll find the link on your leader’s dashboard).

OK, so that’s a quick update. I’m leading a local walk this year in London, England, and my walk so rocks because we end by winding up at Byron Burger (Mmmmmmm. Byron Burger).

Cheers everybody to a great weekend everybody! :)


P.S. Today I’m off to shoot the Vols/Gators game Saturday and the Giants/Falcons game in New York on Sunday! Gonna be an awesome weekend (almost as awesome as next weekend!) :)


It’s Free Stuff Thursday!

by Brad Moore  |  25 Comments

The Business Side of Mike Kubeisy
Join KelbyOne’s own Larry Becker as he sits down with entertainment photographer Mike Kubeisy to discuss the business side of Mike’s commercial photography career in Hollywood. Larry and Mike discuss topics ranging from how to get started in the business to how to keep yourself on the cutting edge of new trends and technology. Drawing from over 30 years of experience, Mike shares some of his best advice for achieving success and living your dream.

Leave a comment for your chance to watch this class for free!

The Art of Digital Photography: The Inspirational Series with Mike Kubeisy
Join Mia McCormick as she sits down for an inspirational chat with Mike Kubeisy, a motion picture and stills photographer based in Hollywood. Over the course of an hour Mike and Mia touch on topics ranging from getting started in the industry to finding sources of inspiration from the energy and creativity on set, and on the importance of living a meaningful life to the role of personal projects that help you explore your ideas and build your portfolio. After 30 years in Hollywood Mike has an amazing number of stories and experiences that have shaped who he is as a person as well as his photography.

Leave a comment for your chance to watch this class for free!

Photoshop Camera Raw Tutorials on
Scott Kelby recently shared some tutorials on Using the Histogram to Learn What the Sliders Do in Photoshop Camera Raw and Four Ways to Create Contrast in Adobe Photoshop Camera Raw over at If you’re looking to get the most out of your post processing time, these are some helpful tips that can lead to even greater looking images than you’ve been able to create before!

KelbyOne Live
Want to spend a day with Scott Kelby, Joe McNally, Matt Kloskowski, or Ben Willmore? Check out these seminar tours!

Shoot Like A Pro with Scott Kelby
Oct 10 – Westminster, London, UK
Oct 17 – Charlotte, NC
Dec 1 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL

The Power of One Flash with Joe McNally
Nov 6 – Washington, DC
Dec 9 – San Diego, CA

The Lightroom LIVE Tour with Matt Kloskowski
Oct 22 – Colorado Springs, CO
Nov 4 – Philadelphia, PA
Dec 5 – San Antonio, TX

Photoshop for Photographers with RC Concepcion
Oct 20 – Chicago, IL
Nov 7 – Los Angeles, CA

The Photoshop Creativity Tour with Ben Willmore
Oct 7 – Raleigh, NC
Nov 10 – Toronto, ON
Dec 12 – Phoenix, AZ

You can check out the full schedule for seminars through the end of the year. Leave a comment for your chance to win a ticket to one of these events!

Jason Joseph – Six Beats of Separation
This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Music is a way for people to bond – its vibrations help the bridge the gap between us. In uncomfortable times, it can be the common vibrations of a mutual bond. In this discussion, Jason unveils his new charity project, “Six Beats of Separation,” a photo series which captures the moods of celebrities, attached to specific moments in music. Portrait photographer Jason Joseph has captured images of personalities from A-list celebrities to the homeless of Penn Station. It is his mission to create “WOW!” moments, for children from age 8 to 108.

Last Week’s Winners
Corey Barker’s New Orleans Seminar
- Van

KelbyOne Class Rentals
- Seth Strohecker
- Mike VanKirk

KelbyOne Live Ticket
- Matt C.

If you’re one of the lucky winners, we’ll be in touch soon. Have a great Thursday!

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