It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Serge Ramelli!

by Brad Moore  |  32 Comments

Work for my passion, for money or both?

We have all heard some passionate friend say, “if only I could be a full time photographer, painter, movie director (put in any creative job there), and make enough money I would be happier. Problem is that I have a family to take care and can’t afford to drop everything for my passion.” Well at least I have been in that state of mind for many years.

This post is a short story about how I shifted from salesman to photographer and made a living doing something I loved. While it happened in my 40s I wouldn’t say it was a mid-life crisis (or at least I hope it wasn’t).

Ever since I was a kid I wanted to work as a movie director, or photographer. I missed the opportunity in my youth. I was not daring enough and went on to take a regular job in computers, it wasn’t a boring job, but I never quite felt complete. Then at the age of 25 I went into sales for various companies as I got tired of sitting in front of a computer all day and wanted to talk to human beings.

At the age of 30, my brother created a web agency and hired me as a salesman, at first I had a lot of fun, and the company took on expansion. My dream of being an artist was parked, but things were ok. In the meantime, I was married, had four kids, one from a first marriage and my second wife had three young boys whom we raised. I bought a big house, a car and two motorbikes and had loans up to my neck!

At the age of 35, I went on holiday with friends on the Seychelles Islands. One of them was a pro Photoshop retoucher, and he started showing me Photoshop and retouched a portrait I had just taken. I was amazed. Seeing that brought back all these dreams about having a creative job. For some reason, that I day I made a decision that I was going to find a way to get into the movie industry, but I didn’t have the slightest idea how.

The Decision

I had more debt than ever and it was going to be a lot harder than in my youth. Making a movie as a director is a team activity. I had no team. I figured becoming a photographer would be a start. The advantage is that I just needed a camera, and I could start creating, no team needed and it was a step toward that dream.

I went into the first bookstore, I could find and bought several books about Photography and Photoshop. Most of them seemed to be pretty hard to understand, except one author by the name of Scott Kelby. If I remember well it was Adobe Photoshop CS Down Dirty Tricks. I then “investigated” all the books and tutorials I could read from that author. Later I discovered NAPP and the Photoshop Guys.

I started doing a photo series in Paris called “Paris Cinema.” The idea was to shoot Paris in the most dramatic light possible, just like we see in the big movies, such as Gone with the Wind, Spielberg movies etc. I though this would be a good exercise to train toward being a movie director.


A little note on how I learned. I had a precise method to learn photography that worked for me, in three steps:

1. Find a photographer that inspires me.

2. Read all his books, watch all his tutorials and try to “copy” his work.

3. Find your own style around that technique.

Here are some examples of what I mean.

HDR: RC Conception/Trey Ratcliff, I bought RC’s books and studied HDR, as well as studying Trey’s tutorials.

Below is is my understanding of their HDR photos.

Below more my personal style.

Another photographer I learned from was, Jean Michel Berts. A French photographer who’s style I love, he works with film and produces fine arts prints.

Here is one of his New York photos:

Below me trying to reproduce his type of work.

Here is my own style.

Joel Grimes, I’m crazy about his composite work. When I see his photos, I get so much emotion. What I love about it is the mixture of portraits and landscape, two forms of art in one photo.

This is my attempt to reproduce Joel Grimes’ style of work:

This is how I changed it to my own style:

Back to the story

A couple of years and thousand pictures later, I met a screen writer who had worked for TV shows for quite some time and had written three feature film scripts.

I read the scripts and loved them. There was one particular script, a comedy, that I would love to direct. The screen writer told me he was tired working for other production companies and wanted to produce these three films. He needed a partner who had some experience in sales to be the producer and help negotiate the contracts with the studios/TV Channels. That was great as I was passionate about movies and I had worked as a salesman for quite some time.

We agreed to work together and I would get the chance to direct one of the movies. The only problem was that creating a movie company meant no revenue for a couple of years, time spent preparing the cast, getting the funding and preparing the team to shoot. We also had to make some short movies to show what we could do.

But as I mentioned earlier I had bills to pay and could definitely not afford to drop all my work for a few years while the family didn’t eat.

I had worked out a pretty intricate plan with my brother and his business partner how it could work out. However after a year of work the plan didn’t work out. Needless to say I was devastated… Yet again the dream was disappearing. But on the plus side, I spent every possible minute shooting and retouching pictures in order to improve my skills.

I went back to see the screen writer and told him that for now I couldn’t create the film production company, and that I had no solution at all. He looked at me and gave me a pep talk. He told me that I had a created such a large collection of great photography which there must be a way to monetize.

So we found a way to start selling prints to hotel owners as a decoration item for their hotel. To my amazement one of the hotels I contacted was very interested and wanted to buy a series of prints for his hotel as I had proposed. But wait… He wanted prints for two hotels! I was incredulous listening to his voice mail.

In all I sold close to $180,000 worth of fine prints, basically being sponsored by many friends and refurbished over 150 hotel rooms with photos in each room.

Below are some examples:

I was so happy, because not only I had enough money to make that transition into the movies, but I made it through art.

I would never have thought that this hobby of mine would become something I could make money from.

With the screenwriter we were now ready to create our movie production company that we named Alandra Films.


One of my last shots:

In two years, we shot eight short movies, and all three major feature films are being funded. We have major partner agreements, and we should be shooting the first movie this summer. The first is called House of Time, a thriller sci-fi movie about a man who made a fortune in Role Playing games inviting friends over for a week end to play time travel…

It took a bit more time than I expected to finance the first movie; I had to learn a lot about movie production, (I knew nothing about it), as I was making no money in the film company. I became a part-time photographer, to earn a living, while learning and working on the film projects.

Today my income as a photographer comes from architectural photos, brands buying some of my photos of Paris, and tutorials. About a year ago I made a deal with a French editor to sell some tutorials about my photo techniques. It turned out to be a success. In fact, over the last months the tutorials became the number-one Photoshop tutorials on that site. I’ve now added English tutorials on various platforms.

Today I make almost twice the revenue I used to make as a salesman, but now I make it doing what I love, photography and movie production.

By now you may think this post is about me and some bragging about myself. Actually quite the contrary, it is rather a story about how long I waited to do something that I should have done long ago.

If I had to summarize all this into one word and try to help people at the same time it would be: Commit. As long as it was just an idea or a desire it was in my mind the day I decided to commit to that dream and go through what I had to to make it, things started working out.

I believe that a decision, a strong decision, one completely without “maybe,” will create action, then it’s all a matter of finding the right mentors.

Well, Scott Kelby is my mentor as well as Matt Kloskowski, RC Concepcion, and all the Photoshop Guys. Many years ago I chose to do most of the classes on and learned everything from there.

They are in my heart as I have never been happier than before doing what I love, and they contributed to that in a very big way.

Recently I had the chance to spend a week with Scott in Paris. I had never met him in person, and it was way above my expectations, in terms of fun, in the way he makes you comfortable. A few minutes after meeting him, I had the feeling that we had been friends for years.

Steve Jobs said, “Keep looking, don’t settle, find something that you love and you will do great.” And Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” For me nothing is truer.

I still have a lot to learn and share, and I know the movie business is going to be a long and adventurous road, but I love it.

You can see more of Serge’s work at, check out his tutorials, and find him on Google+.


Le Train Bleu, an incredible restaurant in Paris (wait for it…wait for it…) in a Train Station!

by Scott Kelby  |  15 Comments

It’s in the train station Gare de Lyon, and we were able to do a video interview with Jay Maisel for our online class (and Jay and I got to have a pretty yummy breakfast during the taping), and the following night I took my wife and our friends Barb and Mike for dinner there as well.

It feels a lot more like dining at “The Louvre” or Versailles and a lot less like eating in a train station, eh? :-)

NOTE: I was hoping to have a “Report from the G+ Photographer’s Conference” for today but I’m still gather photos, so hopefully I’ll be running it alongside “Free Stuff Thursday” this week. Have a great Tuesday everybody!


A Day To Honor Our Nation’s Fallen Soldiers

by Scott Kelby  |  0 Comments

Today is Memorial Day in the United States, and our offices are closed as we honor and remember those who gave their lives in service to our country.

This post is also dedicated each year to the memory of David Leimbach, (shown above; the brother of our friend and colleague Jeff Leimbach), who died four years ago in combat in Afghanistan.

Just a humble word of thanks to the dedicated men and women of our armed services and to all those who came before them who laid down their lives to protect the freedoms we enjoy each day.


Scenes from the Google+ Photographer’s Conference

by Scott Kelby  |  7 Comments

Hi Gang: Sorry for the late post today —- I got in off a red-eye and I’m still blurry-eyed this morning, but I wanted to share some images from the conference out in San Francisco this week.

What an incredible event! The sold-out conference had an energy and vibe perhaps even beyond that of Photoshop World, and the photographers there were engaged at a level that had a smile on everybody’s face the whole time.

My thanks to everyone at Google who made the event happen (big shout out to Francois, Jenny, Mike, Brian and Vincent), to all the incredible instructors who gave their time, expertise and heart; to my crew here at Kelby Media Group (high-fives to Dave, Kathy, Julie, Tom, the Photoshop Guys, and a special thanks to my wife Kalebra who came up with a lot of the ideas for the conference, but sadly didn’t get to be there to see the “birth” of this new conference (even though she wasn’t there, her presence was felt throughout). Here’s why she couldn’t be there.

Also, thanks to Google co-founder Sergey Brin who make a surprise appearance at the conference to publicly show the much talked about “Google Glass” project (see the photos below) which totally blew everybody away. Amazing technology!

Here’s a few photos (courtesy of our own RC Concepcion — thanks man!) from the event to give you a glimpse of the going’s on. Lot smote info to come, but for now, here’s a quick peek:


Above: Here’s a shot of the main theater during the opening keynote

Above: Here’s a shot taken during my live “Crush The Composition” class.

Above: Google VP Bradley Horowitz during his opening keynote presentation

Above: Here I’m fielding live questions for Bradley from the audience via an iPad

Above: We had three training rooms, and here’s a panel from the “Forum” classroom. From L to R: Catherine Hall, Nicole Young, Brian Matiash, Colby Brown (holding cute baby), and Matt Kloskowski.

Above: Jeremy Cowart in one of our “one-on-one” portfolio reviews. By the way; we did an after-hours session called “An evening with Jeremy Cowart” that just blew everybody away. It was the talk of the conference!

Above: Here’s a shot of the Registration desk during calmer times. From L to R: Dianne Brisson, Paul Wilder, Victor Garcia, Kathy Siler and hidden is 1/2 of our Conference Director’s head, Julie Stephenson.

Above: Matt Kloskowski on stage during one of his sessions in the Forum.

Above: Guy Kawasaki, an avid photographer himself, during his session on branding in the main theater. Guy rocked it!!!!

Above: A view of the crew backstage.

Above: That’s Frederick Van and the gang from Pixel Corps who were handling the live streaming duties backstage.

Above: Peter Hurley and Catherine Hall hanging out in the audience.

Above: That’s Peter Hurley during his “Art of the Headshot” presentation.

Above: Guy on-stage with a live panel joining him via a Google+ Hangout.

Above: Guy  after his sessions talking with Dave Gales and yours truly.

Above: Alex Kolosov during his live product shoot.

Above: From my live “Crush the Composition” class.

Above: The panel from our live “Blind Critiques” session. From L to R: Trey Ratcliff, Jeremy Cowart, Me, and Matt Kloskowski.

Above: Erik Valind absolutely killed in his live shoot sessions!

Above: Google co-founder Sergey Brin makes a surprise guest appearance at the Conference to demonstrate the Google Glass project. The crowd was just blown away! (Photo by Brad Moore). 

Above: Brad snapped a photo of Sergey and me after his presentation (note Sergey’s Google Glass). Photo by Brad Moore.

Above: Sergey invited a group of conference attendees and instructors to join him for an impromptu Photo Walk and everybody got to try out the Google Glass for themselves. Serious, how cool is that!

I have so much more to share, and I will in the coming days, but I want to once again thank Google for sponsoring the event as a whole, and to thank our participating sponsors whose support make a huge difference, including Peachpit Press, B&H Photo, Smugmug, MPIX, Adobe, Wacom, FJ Westcott, Adorama,, OnOne Software, Bay Photo, and Nik Software. We couldn’t have done it without you!

More to come! :)







In Their Words: The Google+ Photographer’s Conference

by Scott Kelby  |  0 Comments

Last night I was seeing tons of great comments posted on Google+ and on Twitter from people who attended the conference, and I thought I’d share a few with you here, as it really gives you a feel for the amazing vibe of the conference and how it affected the attendees.

“The G+ Photographer’s Conference was a HUGE success!! Truly like a festival of great ideas, inspiration, warmth and good will.”

“I can’t really describe how much fun I had at the +Google+ Photographer’s Conference this week. I met so many amazing people and learned SO much about G+ and how I can use it better. It was kind of sad when I deleted the conference app off my phone earlier tonight… But I’ll be back next year for sure.”

“…Before the show had even started I was having the time of my life. Then it continued as I met and connected with even more people and got to hear people like +Trey Ratcliff, +Colby Brown, +Scott Kelby and +Brian Matiash speak about yourselves and how you move this this photographic world we live in. This will definitely be a highlight in my life for sure.”

“I really am at a loss for words for the experiences I have had over the last 2 days.”

“Whether you are a Google+ fan boy/girl or a Google+ hater, there is no denying that +Scott Kelby, his team, and the amazing panelists at the +Google+ Photographer’s Conference worked so tirelessly to make this conference absolute success.”

“I learned so much on these last two days than I ever anticipated I would. I stepped out of comfort zone ant tried things I wouldn’t have been offered the opportunity to do without…”

“Thank you +Scott Kelby for these last few days at the +Google+ Photographer’s Conference. I’m thrilled to have been a part, and I’m even more thrilled for the inspiration to get back to what I love doing.”

“I took a few hours this morning and worked on my Google+ Photographer’s Conference story. I want to share this so you can see the power of this community and of social media in general. When used to their fullest potential. these platforms can be used to facilitate life-changing events. I know Google+ and this event changed mine.”

“The +Google+ Photographer’s Conference was a blast! Day one started with a Photo walk around the Castro with +Matt Kloskowski. The next two days were filled with fun and interesting information not only about photography, but about using Google Plus more effectively. On the final Day, we did a live photo Shoot with Matt, and +Scott Kelby. Overall, the conference was a deluge of information, but very much worth the time.”

“Too many favorites! The +Google+ Photographer’s Conference was a hit. Great thanks!”

 ”Favorite part: having so many inspiring photographers around and willing to help.”

 ”Day one was amazing, i cannot wait for day 2.”

 ”This conference has been more than I’ve paid for!!!”

 ”Thanks for all the time and effort spent planning and organizing. It was appreciated :)”

 ”As I stand in line at the Oakland airport waiting to be frisked I want to thank +Scott Kelby +RC Concepcion +Trey Ratcliff +Lindsay Adler and the many others for the wonderful experience at the google plus photographers conference. Thank You!!!”

“Great event, Scott! I learned tons.”

“I’m not an attendee, but thanks for producing this event. I got to participate by watching some of the public replays of panel discussions.”

“Awesome conference! Look forward to day 2 tomorrow!”

“I must say I will be following people like +RC Concepcion +Trey Ratcliff and +Scott Kelby a lot more after those two days! I met some great people that really have a passion for creating great photos and got some really honest feedback that I appreciated.”

“After spending as much time as I could watching live webcasts and participating in comment streams, I wanted to take a minute to congratulate +Scott Kelby, +Darth [Dave] Moser and everyone involved with the +Google+ Photographer’s Conference for successfully putting on such an incredible event.”

 ”After seeing some of the Google+ Photographers Conference broadcasts I’m inspired…”

“I had such a productive and inspirational two days here thanks to +Scott Kelby and everyone involved in the +Google+ Photographer’s Conference.”

“Leaving San Francisco early this morning after a great +Google+ Photographer’s Conference I was treated to this wonderful sight at SFO Airport awaiting my flight. Thanks again to +Scott Kelby +RC Concepcion +Peter Hurley +Colby Brown +Guy Kawasaki and the entire +Google+ crew for a wonderful conference! “

“Congrats on a spectacular conference. Everyone did a brilliant job. Kudos!”

“Headed bk east from an amazing #GplusPC Thanks @Google and the entire @ScottKelby team. Great job!”

“Thanks to all the presenters and organizers (+Peter Adams +Peter Hurley +Daniel Milnor +Matt Kloskowski +Guy Kawasaki +Brian Matiash +Trey Ratcliff +Jeremy Cowart +Scott Kelby … and others) for spending your time on shot talk, portfolio reviews, and great great content!!!”

Thanks to every one who took a moment to share your experiences. Putting on a conference like this takes a lot of hard work and dedication from a lot of great people, and hearing comments like these makes it all worthwhile.


It’s “Not-Free-Stuff-Thursday” Thursday

by Brad Moore  |  10 Comments

Hey gang, Brad Moore here with a quick update after the Google+ Photographer’s Conference.

After two exciting, fun, crazy days of a whole new experience, I am beat. But, the picture of an attendee evaluation form above says it all!

In the meantime, I will point you to a few places to make sure you’re able to catch up on everything that went on…

Check out the official Google+ Photographer’s Conference G+ page to see pretty much everything that went on during the conference.

RC Concepcion has a great post from Day 1 of the conference up at (and another one coming soon, I believe).

And, if you really want to see everything G+ Photographer’s Conference related… Check out the stream of posts tagged with #gpluspc!

That’s it for today. (I’ll pick giveaway winners next Thursday).

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