Friday
Aug
2014
08

It’s “Prune Your Portfolio” Friday

by Scott Kelby  |  24 Comments

So what exactly is pruning?
Many of us have been posting our images online for years now. We started with a SmugMug account, a Squarespace portfolio, or a flickr account or 500px, or maybe even a custom portfolio site of our own, and we put up whatever our best images were at the time. Of course, over the years we’ve gotten better at photography and we’ve uploaded lots of newer, better images, right? In fact,  if you were to look back now at those images you posted five years ago, you’d probably cringe, right? (I know I would — sadly I wouldn’t have to go back that far).

The problem is (and I was reminded of this vividly while doing some online research for a trip), that although our images are much better today than they were five years ago, there’s a good chance those cringe-worthy images are still alive and well on your portfolio page (or on Smugmug, or flickr or whatever). I ran across this so many times — I’d find a photographer’s site or 500px page and his stuff was amazing, but on page two it was…well…less amazing. By page three it was stuff he had done a few years ago and those images were  just OK. Page four was even worse — you could tell he posted these when he first started, and they’re not bad, but they’re not real good.

The first question: Why is there a page 4?
It’s probably because you really haven’t thought about it in a while, and now you only look at page one where all your “best stuff” is, but other people often dig deeper, and the deeper they dig, they less impressed they become. For example, when I would see the front page of a photographer’s gallery and think “Man, this guy is good!” by the time I got to their 2nd page, I’d start thinking…“Wow, I guess he isn’t as good as I thought” and by page three I’ve lost all interest in this guy’s work because his stuff is getting worse and worse (and really, it’s just his earlier work, which just simply isn’t as good as his current work).

If your best work is on your first page (or first set of images), then what’s on your 2nd page? The shots that weren’t good enough to make the first page — where you put your best work. So, page two is your second rate work, right? My question to you is: “Why would you show anybody your 2nd rate work?” If that’s the case, what’s on page 3? See where this is going? Prune it big time, and leave them wanting more.

Don’t use this the “age old” excuse…
When I’ve talked one-on-one to photographers about this, the one persistent excuse I’ve heard is “I think potential clients would be interested to see how my work has progressed over time, and how much better I am today.” That only works for your mom. She’ll be proud of how far you’ve come. But a potential client is about to see some really cringe-worthy work from you — why would you chance that? What do you have to gain by keeping cringne-worthy pictures still up online for everybody to see? We know the downside. Where’s the upside?

That’s why I’m proclaiming today as “Prune Your Port Friday”
Take a few minutes right now — dig through your SmugMug account, your flickr account, squarespace, 500px — you name it and delete any shots that make you cringe even just a little. If you’ve got galleries that are more than a page deep, it’s time to prune. If you have shots in there you know aren’t that good, but for some reason you can’t explain it but you “just like ‘em” it’s time to prune (keep those on your computer. That way if you miss them, you can still look at them. Do this when you’re alone).

Those old shots aren’t helping — they’re hurting — and you’ll feel so much better after cleaning house a bit and leaving just your new stuff, your strong stuff, your best stuff out there for the world to see. This is who you are today as a photographer. This is what you’re capable of. This is what they can expect from you. This is the real you, now. Let them see the real you and what you can do. I’ll bet they’ll be impressed.

If you’ve got a lot of images, this might make a great weekend project, and man is that a perfect segue segueway for me to wish you an awesome weekend of pruning, and we’ll see you back here on Monday for a very important announcement (one that many of you have been waiting for, for…oh…about a year).

Best,

-Scott 

Thursday
Aug
2014
07

It’s Free Stuff Thursday!

by Brad Moore  |  13 Comments

Photoshop World Early Bird Pricing Extension
For real this time, tomorrow, Friday August 8, is the last chance you’ll have to save $100 on registration for Photoshop World Vegas! Not only that, if you go here and click “Yes, I’m Going to Vegas!” you can save another $50.

Leave a comment for your chance to win a free spot in one of these workshops (must be registered/registering for Photoshop World Las Vegas):
Art In The 21st Century with Fay Sirkis
Photoshop for Beginners with Pete Collins
-The HDR Workshop with RC Concepcion

Olympic Sports Photography Talk with Dave Black and Scott Kelby
No matter what type of sports you shoot this is a class for you! Scott Kelby is joined by legendary Olympic sports photographer Dave Black for an experience designed to help you improve your sports action photography. Over the course of Dave’s 30 year career as a sports photographer he has photographed 12 Olympic events for Newsweek. Dave knows what it takes to create dynamic sports action photos that stand out and make you saw wow! Through a combination of sharing photographs and stories from Dave’s career plus in-depth critiques of viewer submitted photographs, Dave shares a host of insight, pro-level tips, and strategies intended to help you take your sports photography to the next level.

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

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

Shoot Like A Pro with Scott Kelby
Aug 26 – St. Louis, MO
Aug 28 – Kansas City, MO
Sept 26 – Houston, TX

The Power of One Flash with Joe McNally
Sept 24 – Cleveland, OH

Photoshop Down & Dirty Master FX with Corey Barker
Aug 13 – Austin, TX
Oct 3 – New Orleans, LA

The Lightroom LIVE Tour with Matt Kloskowski
Sept 29 – Livonia, MI

The Photoshop Creativity Tour with Ben Willmore
Sept 22 – Arlington, TX

You can check out the full schedule for seminars through August, and we’ll be updating it with more dates soon! Leave a comment for your chance to win a ticket to one of these events!

Digital Photo Workshops at Tetons National Park
The 2014 Tetons National Park Photo Workshop led by Randy Van Duinen and Rob Sylvan with guest instructor Brian Matiash is happening Thursday, September 25th – Sunday, September 28th (Brian’s birthday!). The workshop begins Thursday at 6:00pm and wraps up Sunday at 2:00pm. The normal workshop price is $1199, but if you’re a KelbyOne Member you can save $100! And if you’ve attended a Digital Photo Workshop before, you get the alumni special price of $999. Space is very limited, so book your spot right here.

Sign up for The Digital Photo Workshops newsletter by midnight ET on Sunday for your chance to win a free pass to this workshop!

Last Week’s Winners
The Digital Photography Book Part 5: Photo Recipes
- Joe Galon
- Allen Weitzman
- Kathleen D
- Steve Duffey
- Sarah

KelbyOne Rental
- Marijke

KelbyOne Live Ticket
- Michael Schuermann

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

Wednesday
Aug
2014
06

It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Jon Reid!

by Brad Moore  |  54 Comments


Me in Rio during the Carnival

The Second Best Job in the World
“Wow, that’s a great job, second only to being a Top Gear presenter!” – stranger on a plane after hearing what I do.

I’m a travel photographer. It’s a great job title, because it means so much and so little at the same time. It’s my best attempt at being mysterious.


Machu Piccu in Peru

More specifically, I make a living by creating imagery of different tourist attractions around the world. The vast majority of my work is commissioned photography which my clients use for advertising and travel guides. I occasionally do features for magazines or commissions for the hospitality market.

At least once a day, someone asks me how I got into travel photography as a profession. This is often followed up with, “Where did you go to college?” Let me deal with the 2nd part first. I have no photography related education. Instead,  I did a 10 year ‘on the job’ training session which taught me 3 key traits of a travel photographer:

1. Love Photography and Love Travel
Travel photography is not the same as holiday photography. I go away for months at a time, working 12 hour days without a day off. Under these conditions, I get a bit blasé about travel. On days like this, I stay motivated by challenging myself to create a good picture even when the subject matter doesn’t interest me. The craft motivates me.

The converse is also true. There are days when my back is aching from carrying gear and I don’t even want to look at a camera, but I’m so awed by the scene in front of me that I’m compelled to photograph it.


Bridge over Jökulsárlón, Iceland

2. Solve Problems Quickly
My schedule during a shoot is packed tight. There are no opportunities for reshoots. A myriad of different problems can derail a shoot and when you consider the expense that goes into producing a shoot; it can be career ending.

Almost daily, I face the access problem, even though I have official permission. How am I supposed to get interior images when no photography is allowed or smooth video shots when they don’t allow tripods? Another problem is weather and light related. I don’t have the luxury of waiting for perfect conditions; I’m expected to make good images in all conditions. Additionally, almost every trip is plagued by flight cancelations and visa issues.

The most serious problems are health related. If you or your family member gets injured or sick, where are the local hospitals and will they help you (in Corfu they did, in Geneva, three different places turned us away).  This can get serious very quickly when you’re in a foreign country with an unfamiliar language and culture.


Doge’s Palace and the Bridge of Sighs, Venice, Italy

3. Emotional Stability
Imagine two months away from friends and family, with a constant lack of sleep, a physically draining workload and no conversation. Couple this with the highs of tasting the perfect meal, seeing the most breathtaking landscape or witnessing light that seems unbelievable. Travel photography explores some of the highest and lowest of human emotion.

I consider myself to have an even temperament, mostly in control of my emotions, but there are days when I am severely tested.  Long after I’ve recovered physically from a trip, I still feel the remnants of the emotional roller coaster that is travel photography.


The Gran Torre Santiago, the tallest building in South America in Santiago, Chile

Defining Travel Photography
My interest in photography began with landscapes. I was part of a community of landscape photographers, exploring South Africa beyond Table Mountain. This was about 10 years ago, before every photographer had their own website. A designer friend put a website together for me and I marketed myself as a travel photographer. This surprised the community and one of them asked me about it.

“Of course I’m marketing myself as a travel photographer, how else am I going to get someone to pay me to shoot landscapes?” The community approached landscape photography with a view of creating fine art. My approach was to show a beautiful landscape to motivate others to travel to see it.


Cycling in the Alps, Switzerland

Many photographers in the community continued to evolve as landscape artists, far surpassing what I can do. Some are now exceptional photographers working as full time landscape photographers. I followed a different path. I realized that I was more interested in sharing a travel experience than creating beautiful landscape imagery.

I worked out that travel photography is created with the intention of causing interest in a specific destination. By that definition many photographic genres can also be travel photography if the photography highlights the interesting aspects of a destination.


Oludeniz – a beach and lagoon in Turkey

Finding the Intermediate Career
After my website went live, nothing happened. No one discovered me and I was in the exact same situation as before, only with the added expense of web hosting.

It wasn’t a pointless endeavour however; having a portfolio online showed me some glaring weaknesses in my work. The most obvious was that as a travel photographer I hadn’t done much travelling.


The Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

At the time, I was working as a business analyst for a bank, with 15 days of annual leave. I used this time and every long weekend available to explore and photograph South Africa, but it was never enough.

To get more travel time, I took an opportunity to become a teacher. Having this intermediate career, one that provided both a steady income and time to travel was crucial in my transition to full time photographer.  My salary was cut in half, but I now had  almost 3 months of travel time every year.


Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, Brazil

Developing Style
One thing that I didn’t have was immediate access to an international airport.  In trying to decide between Cape Town or Durban, somehow London won so my wife and I moved to a new continent.

I was 26 and had never seen anything outside of Africa. Just being in London left me in awe. When I started travelling through Europe, I was like a child in Disney Land – wide eyed and full of wonder.

During these trips into Europe, I began to appreciate connecting emotionally to locations. I was a better photographer when I worked out of a sense of wonder. My style evolved to where my objective was creating imagery that captured my sense of wonder and awe. My photography started to show my emotional attachment to the location.


Seljalandsfoss in Iceland

Finding an Audience
For my photography, moving to London was the best move I could have made but it had an adverse effect on my confidence. I was the only travel photographer in my home town. London has enough travel photographers to populate my home town. Not only is London a huge city, it is also an art and design capital with a magnetic pull on creatives.

My lack of confidence meant that I didn’t follow the traditional path of contacting art directors to show my work. I fully believed that if I kept working on my travel photography and posted the work online, someone would notice.

In a world where millions have access to your photography, if you photograph something that genuinely interests you, someone else is bound to be interested in your work.

My online outlet was Flickr through which Getty offered to sell my images. It took awhile, but eventually I was making enough money through travel stock to fund my travels. After seven years of paying to be a travel photographer, I was making enough from photography to cover my costs.


Prague Old Town, the Czech Republic

Making the Most of Opportunity
I had a series of small, one-off shoots through my online presence, but nothing significant. When I received an email through flickr at 3am from someone offering to send me around the world to take photos, I wrote it off as spam. The next day, I wondered about the email and fortunately I followed it up.

The message had come from an agency that produces media for major travel companies. They asked if I could do a trial shoot around London. This happened to be in my school holiday period, so despite them paying for two days of work, I did about 6. I’m not the most talented photographer, so I make up for this with hard work and I wanted to grab this opportunity.


The Alhambra in Granada, Spain

The agency was happy with my trial shoot and enquired about my availability for future shoots. I gave them all my holiday time.

After a few months of not hearing anything, I received an email asking if I had time to go to Amsterdam and Prague. I had flown back that morning from a 20 day trip in Turkey and had one week of holiday remaining before school began. My bag was still packed, so I left for Amsterdam that afternoon with no production time.

Once again, I over-delivered, working from sunrise (5am) to sunset (10pm) without breaking for lunch. I did the week of work, arrived back home at 1am and started school at 7am. I’m quite sure I was a lousy teacher that day.


The Rotterman Quarter in Tallinn, Estonia

Being Dependable is More Important than Having Talent
The shoot went well and the agency were happy enough to commission a follow up shoot in Berlin-this time with all the permission and access arranged in advance.

Through conversation with the agency, I realized that other photographers had spent too much time trying to create the “hero” shot. This meant that they were not able to fully cover the brief. In addition to working hard, I made it a goal of mine to be dependable.

Imagine you’re an art buyer looking to commission a photographer. Do you hire the uber talented but erratic photographer or the photographer that consistently delivers? Every time I did a job for the agency, I endeavoured to be the second photographer.


Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janero, Brazil

Becoming a Full Time Photographer
After two years of giving this agency all my holiday time, they asked me how they could get more of my time. I hadn’t told them I was a teacher, they assumed I was a busy photographer.

I calculated my annual expenses and my desired income which gave me a figure which I could convert into working days. I told them if they could give me 100 days of work a year, I would take it. They agreed and gave me about 200 days and I resigned as a teacher.


The City of Arts and Science in Valencia, Spain

A Short Answer
So to get back to the question, how did I get into travel photography, my short answer is:

Travel as much as you can on your own budget, putting your work out for the general public. If and when an opportunity arises, do everything it takes to grasp it. In my case, it took 10 years.

What happens if an opportunity never arises? In the worst case, you will have travelled the world, had life changing experiences and created stories worth telling with photographs to prove it.


Cycling in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

A sexier option is to resign from your day job, take out a loan to buy gear and an around-the-world trip. Immerse yourself in travel for a year and then hit up as many art buyers as you can with your portfolio. That is the romantic, quick way for breaking into travel photography.

In my opinion, the first option, the one that requires patience and time, creates a sense of gratitude which leads longevity. Every photographer that I know that is still a working photographer took some version of my story – the drawn out approach.


Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy

Finally, if you’re still reading and your still up for being a travel photographer, congratulations on your career choice. It’s the second best job in the world. If you have any questions, leave a comment and I’ll answer you as soon as I can!

You can see more of Jon’s work at NomadicVision.com, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, FlickrTumblr, and Instagram.

Tuesday
Aug
2014
05

One from my Bridal Shoot Last Thursday (including BTS shot)

by Scott Kelby  |  37 Comments

I shared this shot last Friday on Social Media and here’s what I wrote:

“I hesitate to even post this shot from yesterday’s bridal shoot (Kalebra was there doing the art direction and she was just amazing). It’s one of my favorites but I hesitate to post it because I emailed it to a buddy last night and he said “Selective Color?” Of course, it’s not. There’s lots of other color in the image. Please don’t make me regret sharing it with a chorus of selective color comments. Many thanks.”

So, I held my breath, and posted the image. Luckily the comments were very kind (over 160 that day), except for the usual few unsolicited critiques (groan), but then one of the commenters, Daniel Nicholas said something that…well…here’s what he wrote:

“I love it!!! He must be color blind lol”

The moment I read it, it hit me. Oh my gosh — my friend actually is color blind!!! I am not making this up. I just about fell on the floor!!! My friend was just ribbing me either way, but literally laughed out loud the moment I read that, and felt a whole lot better about sharing it.

Anyway, here’s a behind-the-scenes photo — and if you look on the screen you’ll see the final image is very close to what was captured (more in the caption below the photo).

Above: While she was well lit from the front, from behind it was pretty dark, and I wanted to over-exposed the background so it would blow out to white (for effect), so I had to use a tripod. I actually started with the tripod extended up over my head and used a stepladder (a LadderKart actually), but I kept getting parts of the ceiling in the shot so I finally lowered it and came back down. 

Camera Settings:
This was shot at f/3.2 at 1/10 of a second. My ISO was 640 (I was on a tripod so I could have lowered the ISO quite a bit, but it would have slowed the shutter speed down a lot and if she moved even a little, it would be blurry, so I left it where it was. I was shooting a Canon 1Dx so the noise doesn’t show anyway).

Tethering:
I’m shooting tethered into Lightroom 5.5, and that’s Julio (our 2nd assistant on the shoot — Brad Moore took this behind-the-scenes shot). Kalebra is a few feet behind Julio so she can see the screen and direct the bride). We have a Tethertools laptop stand we usually mount on the tripod, but it was trickier than it looks on those stairs so we removed it and Julio just held the laptop. He loves holding laptops. It’s a sickness.

Venue:
It helps to have an amazing venue, and we sure did. This was taken at the Kapok Tree Event Center in Clearwater, Florida. It is literally attached to, and shares the same parking lot as Sam Ash Music. I think I should get some points for completing this shoot and never walking into Sam Ash, even though I walked directly past their front door. I think that was my biggest accomplishment for the day, but when I returned to the office, the used Boss Super Chorus stomp box I ordered had arrived, so somehow it all worked out.

I think you can see, the camera part of this was simple — what made this come together was having Kalebra doing the art direction, and having the vision for this shot in the first place — that just left me to compose, get the exposure I was looking for, and hit the shutter button. We make a great team. :)

Hope you all have an awesome Tuesday, and we’ll see you here tomorrow for Guest Blog Wednesday. :)

Best,

-Scott

Monday
Aug
2014
04

5 Tips for Awesome Summer Travel Photos

by Scott Kelby  |  4 Comments

Mornin’ everybody! :)

If you’ve been following me here on the Blog for a while, you know I’ve been doing a series of articles for Coca Cola and their “Journey” project, and they just released my latest article — this one is on travel photography and I shared a few of my very favorite tips, including some behind-the-scenes how-to shots.

It’s live now over at the CocaCola Company Website (here’s the link).

Hope you find it helpful. :)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Just a reminder — the deadline to save $100 for the Photoshop World Conference in Vegas  (using the Early-Bird Discount) is tonight at Midnight. If you’re going to come join us — sign up today and save that hundred bucks!!! (you can use that $100 for Blackjack….er, I mean taxi fares and burgers). Here’s the link. 

Thursday
Jul
2014
31

It’s Free Stuff Thursday!

by Brad Moore  |  202 Comments

The Digital Photography Book, Part 5: Photo Recipes
It’s here!! Scott’s newest book, The Digital Photography Book, Part 5: Photo Recipes, has started shipping and hitting bookstore shelves. I know he talked about it here the other day, but today we’re going to give away FIVE FREE COPIES to some lucky commenters! Just leave a comment letting us know you want the book and why, and we’ll pick five of you next week.

Photographing Motion Outdoors with Joe McNally
This class is all about different ways of capturing motion with a still camera. Join Joe McNally for a day of on-location shooting as he demonstrates different techniques for showing the world in motion. From capturing a moving cyclist on a wooded trail to showing the motion of flowing fabric and hair to creating a complex scene with a moving ambulance, Joe steps you through the process of pulling all of the pieces together and then modifying them on the fly to meet real world conditions. Every shoot has its challenges and you get a front row seat watching a master draw on years of experience to make the adjustments needed to get the shot.

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

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

Shoot Like A Pro with Scott Kelby
Aug 26 – St. Louis, MO
Aug 28 – Kansas City, MO
Sept 26 – Houston, TX

The Power of One Flash with Joe McNally
Sept 24 – Cleveland, OH

Photoshop Down & Dirty Master FX with Corey Barker
Aug 1 – Miami, FL
Aug 13 – Austin, TX
Oct 3 – New Orleans, LA

The Lightroom LIVE Tour with Matt Kloskowski
Sept 29 – Livonia, MI

The Photoshop Creativity Tour with Ben Willmore
Sept 22 – Arlington, TX

You can check out the full schedule for seminars through August, and we’ll be updating it with more dates soon! Leave a comment for your chance to win a ticket to one of these events!

Digital Photo Workshops Hangout: The Joys of Landscape Photography
TONIGHT at 8pm ET, join Randy Van Duinen, Rob Sylvan, Brian Matiash, and Nicole S. Young for a free hangout to talk about landscape photography and get some great tips! They’ll also be giving away two free passes to a future workshop, so find out more info here and join the hangout right here.

Last Week’s Winners
KelbyOne Class Rentals
- Joel T
- Daniel Baer

KelbyOne Live Ticket
- Luis P

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

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