Wednesday
Dec
2011
14

It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Jon & Tina Reid!

by Brad Moore  |  20 Comments

Writing the guest post for Scott Kelby’s blog is intimidating. Consider the giants of the industry who have posted here before – masters of lighting, composition and post production – skilled teachers who make complicated techniques simple and practical.

I thought about what I could add and kept coming up blank. I tried to work out the reason behind any success that I’ve ever had apart from blind luck and then it hit me, I’ve always relied on the strengths of someone else.

To have a career in photography requires competency in all sorts of disciplines; art, business, social media, networking – it’s a never ending list and those are just the general strengths needed. Specific fields of photography require specific competencies: consider how all the best wildlife photographers have an intimate knowledge of animal patterns and behavior. To have strengths in all of these disciplines is next to impossible for an individual. At some point it makes sense to outsource your weaknesses to someone else, allowing you to focus on your strengths.


Working in Iceland was one of the highlights of my career. Planning and coordinating shoots from another country required extensive planning and attention to detail, a weakness that I outsourced.

My love affair with photography began at the same time I met Tina, the woman that I would marry. Intuitively, I knew that if I was to spend any time learning photography, I would have to include Tina. She was so surprised when I arrived home with a camera for her (it wasn’t even her birthday). She was even more surprised to find out that I had booked a job involving both of us, leaving her two weeks to learn photography.

Our profile picture is a caricature of us at this point. I was technically competent and knew camera and lighting techniques whilst Tina had a well developed artistic eye. The job involved me setting up the cameras and lighting whilst Tina did the actual shoot – with all of 2 weeks’ worth of experience.  Against all logic, the shoot went well and our photography partnership began. We’ve been working together for six years and in retrospect, most of what we’ve done wouldn’t have been possible as individuals.


Flawless Moves, a London dance group, commissioned us to create promo images for their performance in Street Dance. Whilst Tina worked with multiple lights to create the images for the brief, I noticed beautiful window light highlighting one of the members. I used the light to create a series of black and white portraits completely different from the setup scene. Working as a team enabled us to offer something extra.

Our first commercial opportunity was a dream job. At the time we were living in East London, South Africa. An advertising agency had been contracted to promote the city who, in turn, were looking for a photographer to create the imagery. The advertising agency contacted us after finding our Flickr stream through a Google Image search (this has happened more than once). We were to meet the agency the following day to discuss the possibility of working with them. I was so excited about the job that I spent the entire night going through every possible conversation in my mind.

By the time the meeting began, I was a wreck to say the least. I was over thinking every question and panicking that the conversation wasn’t panning out as it did in mind the night before. As I tried in vain to steer the conversation in that direction, it became painfully awkward and I expected to be dismissed without any further consideration. Fortunately Tina took over, laughing and joking with the client, showing them that we were real people who would be enjoyable to work with. Because of Tina, we were hired to produce imagery covering architecture, landscapes, portraits and in-water surfing. It is still one of the most challenging and exciting jobs we’ve ever done.


One of the images from that first job.

Later, we were contacted by SA Rugby magazine to photograph Butch James. I was delirious with excitement, being a massive rugby supporter and follower of the Springboks. Butch James is a Springbok legend, helping the team win the 2007 World Cup. Rugby is to a South African what football is to an American. When I told Tina about the shoot, she seemed mildly indifferent. As someone with no interest in sports, she didn’t even know who we were photographing.

On the day of the shoot, I was focused on meeting and exceeding the brief hoping to impress the magazine. After taking over 200 images, I passed the camera on to Tina to go and tinker with the lights. She took about 10 images and managed to do something I had completely overlooked – she connected with the subject and created an engaging picture. The editor chose one of her images as the cover of the magazine and I enjoyed the irony.


The image on the right is the cover image of Butch James. A month later, having learnt my lesson, I handed the camera over to Tina who once again shot the cover image on the left.

Now that we’re based in London, the bulk of our commercial work is fashion based.  People who know me find this quite amusing. Whilst I enjoy working with people and love location based portraiture, I have never been called a fashionista. At the first London Fashion Week we attended, one of the fashion personalities did a triple take when he saw me in jeans and a hoodie. He literally needed three looks just to confirm how badly dressed I was. Tina on the other hand gets fashion. She understands that making the clothing look good is just as important as making the model look good. I can’t tell you how many times she has saved me from hours of retouch work, just by being attentive and understanding styling and fashion.


Fashion – an art that I rely on Tina to understand.


Recently we have been doing quite a few dance related shoots, another field where I am completely lost but Tina understands.

I’ve been saved by Tina’s sparkling personality, her ability to engage with people and her keen sense of style. So how have my strengths helped us? Well I can carry a lot of gear and generally take care of post production, but what I bring to the business is that I dream up crazy ideas and put us  into the sort of situation that Tina’s strengths have to get us through.


This is one of those situations I put us in that felt quite scary at the time. We shot this guerilla style, getting the athlete in place than back to safety in under 30 seconds.

The biggest breakthroughs in my photography have not been as a result of a magic piece of equipment, new post production technique or social networking. They’ve resulted from passing off my weakness to someone else and focusing on what I can do well.

Thank you Brad and Scott for the opportunity to write this post. Both of you epitomize teamwork and my own story owes a lot to your example.

You can see more work from Jon and Tina at JonReid.net

Tuesday
Dec
2011
13

My Top iPad/iPhone App Picks for Photographers for 2011

by Scott Kelby  |  74 Comments

I figured after doing my Holiday Gift book picks, it’s time for some App picks that would make great holiday gifts for photographers (especially the free ones!).

By the way: you can send an iPad or iPhone App to someone as a holiday gift: just tap the “Gift this App” link in the top right corner of the App Store screen. You just type in their email address and then Apple does the rest (including charging your account for the App purchase). If you want to give them more than just one App, then it might make more sense to give them an iTunes Gift Card (you can send them via email), and then they can redeem the card on the App Store by clicking the “Redeem” button at the bottom of the App Store home page on their iPad or iPhone.

OK, let’s get to the Gift App list (not in any particular order).

1. Photo Manager Pro
Although Apple’s own Photos App got better in IOS 5, putting your files in order after they’re imported is still a pain (and I finally gave up on using iPhoto to arrange them on my computer and then syncing), but this inexpensive App ($2.99) works great, it’s easy, and it’s got lots of nice features so this is what I’m using now and really liking it (and I’ve tried almost every Portfolio App for the iPad, and most of them have a major flaw or two, but this one just seems to keep it simple, which I love). For iPad and iPhone. (App Store link for iPad)

2. 500px (for iPad only)
Their site has become “The” site for serious photographers, and their iPad App is absolutely gorgeous. The folks at 500px know that how things look really matter to photographers, and everything they do has a great UI, and this App is no exception. This App is my #1 spot to go for photographic inspiration. Beautiful! Oh yeah, did I mention it’s free? (Yay)! App Store link.

3. Plastic Bullet Camera
When you’re in a totally creative mood, this is the App for you. It could not be simpler, and you don’t have to know a thing about editing—-it will generate lots of cool effects, and you just choose which one you like the best. The effects are varied, the previews are big so you can see what the effects look like, and the whole thing just feels like fun (which is why the App has so many fans). It’s only $1.99  For iPad and iPhone. (App Store Link for iPad)

4. Snapseed 
I know, I know, picking the App that Apple themselves chose as their “App of the Year” is a no-brainer as for a Gift lists go, but this App is so brilliantly designed, and has such great effects, that I couldn’t leave it out. If I had to be on a desert island with just one Photo App for the iPad, this might be the one. The quality of the effects are absolutely top notch, and the control is as useful as it is fun. Apps like this are what the iPad is all about. Only $4.99. Worth 10-times as much. For iPad and iPhone. (App Store Link for iPad)

 

5. TrueHDR (for iPhone only)
Moose Peterson turned me on to this App, and if you love HDR, you have got to have this App. I use it in Manual Mode where I take one shot exposed for the Highlights, one for the shadows, and it combines the two into a single HDR image, and I am constantly amazed at what a great job it does with just two shots, taken it two seconds. Wish I had something this fast, and this easy, for Photoshop. Just a $1.99.  (App Store Link)

6. Filterstorm
If you an editing App that’s Photoshop-like, this is it. It doesn’t look like Photoshop, but it has a lot of the functionality, with everything from Curves to Hue/Saturation to Cloning to Sharpening, and loads of other Photoshop-like features, all presented in an easy-t0-use interface. Absolutely that they can do something this sophisticated for only $3.99. For iPad and iPhone. (App store link for iPad)

7. Photogene
This was the App that made me realize that the iPad could actually be a great image editor. It does a lot of the same things that Filterstorm does, but since it does a few things that Filterstorm doesn’t, I still keep it in my editing App bag. If I had to choose either it for Filterstorm…..well….can’t I keep both? Please! How can it be only $1.99? For iPad and iPhone. (App Store link for iPad)

8. StuckOnEarth (iPad only)
If you’re a fan of beautiful photography and a beautiful interface, man are you going to love this App from Trey Ratcliff. It’s very clever, very useful, and very fun (everything you’d want in an App). It’s a visual photography adventure around the world and if you’re going anywhere on a shooting vacation, this App should be your first stop, and your companion along the way. Very clever, and amazingly, it’s free! (App Store Link)

9. Camera+ (iPhone only)
If I want to create HDR-looking effects with just one click (or maybe two) to a single image, this is the app to reach for. Their Clarity effect preset is the worth the price of admission alone (and I love their simple frame borders), but as far as Camera Apps go, this one’s the best. Perfect for folks who want to apply simple effects quality without really having to learn an editing App, plus it’s a great, fast-launching camera, too! (put that combination together, and you have an App that has downloaded more than 5-millions times)! Best of all, it’s only 99¢. What’s not to love? (App Store Link)

10. Diptic
All I want for Christmas is a Photoshop plug-in that makes multi-image layouts as easily as this one (yes, I know Lightroom can do this, but you pretty much have to create the templates yourself, where Diptic has a bunch all ready to go). I’ve also tried different scripts for actions for Photoshop, but this simple 99¢ App still beats them all hands down. Very cleverly designed, with lots of functionality, all at an insanely low price. For iPad and iPhone. (App Store Link)

It’s Hero Time!
If you bought the photographer on your App gift list every one of the photography Apps I’ve listed above, your Gift Basket you’d be under $20.00 (OK, not a lot under, but under) and you’d be a Holiday Hero!

But wait….
If you’re thinking something along the lines of  “Scott, how could you have left off [insert your favorite photo App's name here]?” then just add your favorite App picks here as a comment (just remember to leave a short description of why it’s your favorite, cause everybody (me) wants to find a cool new App this Holiday Season). :-)

Monday
Dec
2011
12

Helping Out at Help-Portrait

by Scott Kelby  |  32 Comments

Above: our crew at Help-Portrait on Saturday. From LtoR: Pete Collins, Me, Matt Kloskowski, RC Concepcion, and Erik Bernskiold. Photo on laptop by Scott Krebs. 

On Saturday morning a group of us from Kelby Media Group (including Matt, Pete, RC and Erik Bernskiold [our buddy visiting this week from Sweden]) and were very fortunate to be a part of the wonderful Help-Portrait movement founded by our friend and entertainment photographer Jeremy Cowart, and once again it was a very special day for everybody involved.

Above: Here’s the main shooting room, with four shooting bays set-up side-by-side.

This year, RC organized our local Help-Portrait event, which consisted of photographers and assistants, make-up artists and hair stylists, IT wizards, and Photoshop retouchers, who call came together to make portraits for moms and their kids living at Operation PAR, a women’s drug abuse treatment center in Pinellas County, Florida. The women and their children live in a ‘village’ operated by the center, and for most of them this was their first and only portraits of them with their children (or even just photos of the kids by themselves).

Above: Here’s one of their first stops—make up. 

RC was out front coordinating the shooting, and Matt, Pete, Erik and I were in a separate room doing all the retouching and outputting 8×10″ finished prints right on the spot, and thanks to RC’s excellent planning and execution, the whole thing worked amazingly well.

Above: RC did an amazing job organizing our local Help-Portrait shoot, and here he is telling us how the workflow is set up, and just generally picking on Erik for being an industrial spy from Volvo.

Honestly, the retouching job itself was fairly easy, and we were in a completely separate room, and we had Christmas music playing all day, and it was actually a lot of fun to be a room with all these guys in the “retouching zone” but we needed to keep things light because every time you open a photo of a mom and her children in Photoshop, your heart breaks a little for them.

Above: Our buddy Erik Bernskiold (more affectionately known as “Erin Brockovich” or just “Brocky” during our retouching day), was in town this week and he volunteered to be one of the retouchers. We took him in this week like he was one of our own, even though we knew he was just here secretly spying for IKEA. 

I have to take my hat off to Jeremy for being behind of all this, because until you experience what this does for people yourself, you’ll never realize what it means to these people who are struggling in such a difficult chapter of their lives.

Above: Matt Kloskowski was just a few workstations down from me, and all day long Matt and I would sing our own versions of Christmas songs where we kept substituting Swedish phrases, Erik’s name, and some really lame Swedish jokes just to mess with Erik.

Ours is just one story in many of thousands around the world that Jeremy and Help-Portrait touched that day and I’m just so happy that we got to be a small part of it. Anyway, here are a few more behind-the-scenes shots from our day.

Above: That’s me at my workstation before the retouching zone got ramped up to full speed.

If you took part in a Help-Portrait shoot, and you’ve posted your images or stories from your day, I encourage you to post them here as a comment. Thanks to Jeremy (and locally to Dr. Michael Sheehan from PAR) for giving us a way to do something we love and get to give something back in such a meaningful way. For more info on Help-Portrait, follow this link. 

Friday
Dec
2011
09

Apple names Nik Software’s “Snapseed” iPad App of the Year

by Scott Kelby  |  12 Comments



I knew it. Nik SO gets the iPad experience that it’s no surprise that Apple named Nik Software’s photo editing App Snapseed their “iPad App of the Year.” I looked back in my email to this summer, and dug up an email I sent to a friend who works for Nik when he asked if I had tried out the Beta of Snapseed. Here’s what I wrote to him back then:

“It feels like this is what Apple was hoping somebody would finally do in an App for the iPad. You leveraged the things that make the iPad great, and combined it with the creative power that makes Nik [Software] plug-ins so great. I would tell you I’m impressed, but that doesn’t go nearly far enough for what you have guys have managed to pull off.”


My congrats to Nik Software You guys did it! :-)

Friday
Dec
2011
09

“This Weekend Only Deal” on “High Def” Metal Prints from ImageWizards!

by Brad Moore  |  4 Comments

OK, they’re not “technically” High-Def prints—-I call them ‘high definition’ because to me they look like the difference between an HD television and a regular television (they are that good!).

These are the prints on metal (aluminum) from Imagewizards (I talked about their prints quite a bit last year—here’s the link), and even though I’ve seen other prints on metal, I’ve never seen metal prints like theirs (don’t confuse these with printing on metallic paper—this isn’t printing on paper at all—your image is printed on Aluminum (they call it AluminArte). The detail is insane!!!).

Since the detail is insane, we asked them for some insane deals. Here they are:

Today through Sunday, ImageWizards is offering a couple of special deals:

FREE Shipping on AluminArte, any size up to 24×36 in a corrugated carton (3 piece max)*

And / OR

20% off any size framed to edge piece of AluminArte, NO LIMIT! *

*Special Does not apply to Recessed Framed AluminArte. Cannot be combined with any other offer.
*Shipping Special limited to the contiguous 48 states. Proof shipping is additional.

To send your files, just go to WeTransfer.com and send your file to info@imagewizards.net. In the comments section, add your order specs and the Kelby promo code SKB1211 along with your contact information. ImageWizards will be available to answer your questions at 1-800-849-3390.  They will review your files first thing Monday and get in touch with you to finalize your order!

Thursday
Dec
2011
08

Photo Focus Photographic Educator of the Year

by Brad Moore  |  53 Comments

Hey guys, Brad Moore here with some exciting news… Scott Bourne over at Photo Focus has named Scott Kelby as the Photographic Educator of the Year for 2011! Scott (Kelby) was super excited, and of course very honored to find out about this. When I saw it, I was really happy for him and wanted to share it with you all as well.

Please join me in congratulating one of the most entertaining, talented, and engaging teachers I know, Mr. Scott Kelby!

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