Hi, I'm a guy from Arkansas.

People pay me to take pictures sometimes, and sometimes they don't. Today is a day where no one is paying me to take pictures, so I'm writing this blog post because Brad Moore asked me to, and he seems like a nice guy (on the internet).

I've been shooting pictures for the last seven years as my only source of income, but that doesn't necessarily mean I shoot "full time" – some months are slow, and some months I can barely keep up, and most months are somewhere in the middle. Photography feeds my family, pays my mortgage, and sometimes I get to buy beer, which is quite honestly everything I could have ever hoped for in life.

I shoot for the New York Times, Reuters, Getty, AP, various magazines, blah blah blah, who cares⦠I have a camera and some gear and I'll point it at pretty much anything I'm paid to point it at.

I know quite a few photographers, and the ones who are successful year after year are the ones who shoot to earn a living and pay their bills, while the ones who want to be cute and vintage and Instagram-famous usually end up becoming real estate agents.

So if you're afraid you might be getting dangerously close to listing your first home, here's one of the more important things I've learned in my career as a photographer:

If your pictures are boring, try making them way more complicated.

Most people will tell you to keep it simple, stupid – but in my opinion, its actually really difficult to make a simple photo interesting enough to build a career on. These days, everyone has a camera and maybe even a light or two, and the internet is flooded with simple photos that really aren't that memorable.

The only way to get anyone's attention in the current photography market is to try things that are complicated, difficult, and a gigantic hassle – but when its done right, it pays off. By going the extra mile to try something crazy, you are telling your client (and more importantly, your future clients) that you'll stop at nothing to give them exactly what they want, and much more.

Get in the water. Use a dozen lights. Wake up at dawn. Contact whoever you have to contact to get a permit. Spend an entire week diagraming and outlining your setup, and your backup setup, and your backup to your backup. Pre-light it. Rent gear if you don't own it. Hire models that know what they're doing. Take your time. Make photos that no one in their right mind would go to the trouble to make. If your models aren't working, get new ones. If your location sucks, change it.

Most photographers don't get into this business to get their hands dirty, and sweat, and spend twelve hours pre-lighting a shoot, but that's what it takes these days. Getting everything to work right is obviously much harder when you complicate it, but in the end, that's what makes you better, and that's what separates you from the pack.

The biggest hindrance to your career as a photographer is not the limits placed on you by everyone else, it's the limits you place on yourself.

Don't dumb yourself down to match the attitude of everyone around you, and don't shoot crap photos just because it's a crap paycheck.

Treat every shoot like it's the cover of Vanity Fair, and your entire career is riding on getting this one shot right, and trust me – your business will grow like never before.

Now, since this is a photography blog, here's a few of my pictures…

You can see more of Jacob’s work at JacobSlaton.com, and follow him on Instagram and Twitter.

OK, I survived the Wedding shoot Saturday, but just barely thanks to all the record-breaking flooding we’re having here in Tampa. It kept us trapped indoors for the entire day (and all my bridal portraits were scheduled for outdoors. Ack!).

The event coordinator let us in an empty meeting room, and when I had the bride open the drapes, it faced directly into a rental car agency and a multi-level parking garage (see image below). LOL!

Solution? Over-expose by 3 stops!
That was what’s outside the window just completely blows out and turns to solid white. I’m not sure if I’ve ever shot 3-stops over-exposed (well, not on purpose, anyway).

Hero of the day? Auto ISO!
To take sure I never had to worry about my blurry pictures, I turned on Auto ISO and set my minimum shutter speed to 1/125 of a second (as seen above). That way, no matter what the lighting situation was where I was shooting that day (or night), my shutter speed would never fall below 1/125 of a second (it just raises the ISO until you get that shutter speed, which is why it’s important to have a camera that has low noise at high ISOs, and I brought my Canon 1D-x for that very reason.

> By the way, in a unrelated, but still kinda related thing since I just mentioned it â” I saw yesterday that B&H Photo had the lowest price I’ve ever seen on a 1Dx â” they had a $700 instant rebate bringing it down to $4,599. It’s not cheap, but I think it’s the best DSLR ever made. More details here (and now back to our story).

It especially works great at the reception where light is changing constantly, but even more than that, at just 1/125 of a second when you shoot people dancing you still get some movement from some of the dancers (some people are sharp, and some have motion blur all in the same shot, which makes it look like they’re dancing, rather than being just frozen in awkward positions).

More to share soon
I have a few more things to share from the day coming up, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I hope you’ll catch us on The Grid tomorrow at 4:00 pm ET (it’s our live weekly talk show for photographers) at this link. 



P.S. I’ll be in Vegas next week at the Photoshop World Conference & Expo. Did you know you can snag a FREE Expo-only pass (a $40 value, but thanks to our friends at B&H it’s free) so you can see all the latest gear direct from the vendors themselves, and catch some free classes in the expo floor theater and the Peachpit theater? Here’s the link to snag your free Expo-only pass for either next Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. See you there!

When I mentioned on Facebook I was shooting a wedding on Saturday, Jose Rodriguez (who follows me on FB and who had been to my original “Shoot like a Pro” seminar) wrote, “Don’t forget an iPad to take pictures of the rings” which brought a flurry of follow-up questions from photographers asking why.

Here’s why â” it makes a great surface to create reflections of the rings if a glossy black piano (my first choice) isn’t available. This is a trick I shared in my original Shoot Like a Pro seminar, and it was my wife Kalebra who came up with the idea when we were doing a shoot last year at the reception hall and couldn’t find a black piano.

Above: That’s me shooting a 100mm Macro using natural light to light the rings. By the way â” the iPad mini (shown here) is turned off to give a solid black background. 

So, the day after I post this tip on my Facebook page it’s Saturday and we’re in the middle of our wedding shoot, and it’s time to shoot the rings, and I realize that I left my iPad downstairs with all the gear (we’re up in the Bridal Suite), so I went with “Plan B” – I pulled out my iPhone 6+ and shot them right on its screen to get the reflection of the rings. It worked pretty darn well, but in the middle of the shoot my phone suddenly woke to a twitter notification (see the third pic below). LOL! :)

Above: here’s the rings from Saturday – I love the design of the groom’s ring. 

Above: The wireless trigger is still on there from shooting earlier – this was just window light.

If you’re wondering if I did thatâ¦
â¦classic shot where you lay the ring flat between the pages of a open bible and then fire a flash behind it at an angle so it makes heart shape shadow⦠wellâ¦yesâ¦yes I did! (and the bride absolutely loved it!). She liked it so much, in fact, I was tempted to do a selective color effect (but I restrained myself).

I wanted to share this with you all this morningâ¦
â¦in case you don’t follow me on Facebook or missed it there (the two posts really struck a chord with folks, getting 7,200 likes (that’s a LOT for my Facebook page), and 358 comments. I read every single comment, but what’s been really cool is how many people who literally tried the technique this weekend on their Wedding shoots, or they just tried it with their wedding rings now and posted examples. Some really great stuff, including my favorite taken outdoors, under a tree, on the hood of a Camaro by photographer Laura Beth Robinson. Lots of really great shots!

Anyway, hope you found it helpful, and here’s wishing you all a great Monday! :)




Some are calling it our best episode ever. I was getting texts during the first 20 minutes or so saying the same thing, but I have to tell you, the first 20 minutes area, well, I’m not sure what it was, but there was a lot of laughing (and dating tips). I think it must have been something in the water (or in Brad’s beard) that kind of took the train off the tracks for a while, but we eventually pulled it together and Roberto shared some really great stuff â” he was really awesome.

Our topic was based on my blog post from Monday called “If you were only allowed 10 pieces of photographic gear, what would it be?” (here’s the link), but when you watch “The Grid” (above), it’s helpful to know that eventually we do get to that topic, but there are lots ofâ¦umâ¦moments along the way. That’s all I’m sayin’. Hope you enjoy it.

Never fear!
While this episode won’t be entered into any competitions for educational content, Roberto was at our studios taping an inspirational class, and we’re working on some other projects coming up, so there’s lot of meaningful education happening under our roof, and of course, he’ll be with us at Photoshop World teaching live in just a few weeks.

Hope you all have a great weekend!



P.S. My wife Kalebra has been sharing some wonderful images and personal stories from our trip to Paris over on her blog. I particularly love her shot from the top of the Arc de Triomphe (wish I had taken it) and the one of our son you’ll see on her blog. Here’s the link if you’ve got a sec. 

How Do I Do That In Lightroom? eBook Giveaway!
You saw it announced here earlier this week… Now it’s time to give some away! Leave a comment for your chance to win one of three free How Do I Do That In Lightroom? eBooks from Scott Kelby!

What’s that? We have three free The Headshot by Peter Hurley eBooks as well? Great! Leave a comment for your chance to win one of these too!

Photoshop World
Photoshop World is right around the corner! If you’re in the Las Vegas area and want to swing on by, we’d love to see you. You can still get FREE Expo Only passes by visiting PhotoshopWorld.com.

Getting Your Best Footage And Editing in GoPro Studio with Mia McCormick
Take your GoPro capture skills to the next level with Mia McCormick! In this class Mia builds on her previous GoPro class to share tips and techniques for capturing the best still images and footage with your GoPro, and then how to use the free GoPro Studio software to create a finished video project. Mia starts off by covering some key considerations for making your camera setting decisions, as well as her favorite must-have accessories, before diving into showing you how to complete a project using GoPro Studio.

Edge Animate Basics with David LaFontaine
Get started using Edge Animate! Join David LaFontaine as he explain what Edge Animate is and why it is becoming so popular. You'll learn how to use the basic tools and controls, so that by end of class you'll know how to make a simple animated banner that includes text, sounds, and events triggered by user interaction. This class provides the perfect foundation for moving on to more advanced skills in the next class in this series.

KelbyOne Live
Want to learn from Scott Kelby, Joe McNally, RC Concepcion or Ben Willmore live in person? Check out these seminar tour dates to see if they're coming to a city near you!

Shoot Like A Pro: Reloaded with Scott Kelby
Sept 22 - Phoenix, AZ
Sept 28 - Austin, TX
Oct 16 - Washington, DC

The Moment It Clicks with Joe McNally
Aug 21 - Orlando, FL
Aug 24 - Miami, FL

Lightroom CC Power Tour with RC Concepcion
Aug 26 -  Charlotte, NC
Sept 16 - Arlington, TX
Sept 24 - Milwaukee, WI

Lightroom & Photoshop for Photographers Tour with Ben Willmore
Aug 4 - Kansas City, MO
Aug 6 - St. Louis, MO

These are just some of the upcoming dates for these seminar tours. You can find the full calendar of events right here, and leave a comment for your chance to win a free ticket to one of these events!

Last Week’s Winner
KelbyOne Live Ticket
– Cheryl Tadin

If that's you, we'll be in touch soon. Have a great Thursday!

Not Every Shoot Is A Winner
Here's the scenario: You go do a shoot, download the images, go through the take, pick the keepers, do your editing, and deliver the shots. The client loves them⦠But you don't. They’re okay, but they don't quite send you to your happy place.

Sound familiar? If it does, I have some good news for you. You're not alone.

Is there anything wrong with this shot? Not technically, but it’s not winning any awards.

I would guess that most photographers go through this, even the best ones. No matter how much we try to make the best possible images we can, not every shoot is going to result in a new portfolio image. You can plan all you want, put together your shot list, research the location, research your subject, make inspiration/mood boards, clean your lenses and sensor, and carry your lucky rabbit’s foot; but when you do the shoot, the shots are decent, but not great. The client is happy, so you're happy that you're getting paid, but you wanted to come away with better shots.

Arrive at the venue only to find out there’s no photo pit, and you weren’t there early enough to stake out a spot up front? Better hope you brought a telephoto lens.

Sometimes your subject just isn't ideal. Or the location you picked days ahead of time fell through on the day of the shoot and you had to quickly find something else that worked. Or you were unexpectedly battling the harsh sun on what was supposed to be a cloudy day. Or you just flat out had an off day of shooting and don't know why.

Right place, right time? Not this time. When the singer takes off down the other end of the stage and you can’t get there in time, this is the result.

For me, it's concerts. There are so many things that come into play here that can make or break an image. How's the lighting? If there's lighting, is it always the same or constantly changing (to give variety to the shots)? Is the band doing fun and crazy stuff, or are they all just standing in one spot throughout the performance? Is there so much going on that I don't even know where to point my camera to try and capture peak moments? Can I get to the spot in the pit I want to be in, or are there twenty other photographers vying for position and I'm stuck where I'm at?

Even when you’re in the perfect position to capture something you know is going to happen, things don’t always come together to capture the best moment.

I get lucky sometimes and I'm in the ideal position as the guitarist jumps off her amp in the perfect light, and my camera focuses, fires, and I nail the shot. Other times I see it happening out of the corner of my eye and turn to try to capture the moment from the wrong spot and there's so little light on her that my camera can't lock focus, and I get a blurry shot. Or a lot of the time I get what are, for me, mediocre shots of the singer with their mouth open and eyes closed standing in front of a mic. It's a perfectly fine shot that you've seen it a million times, but you won't see it in my portfolio.

Is there ANYTHING good about this shot??

Keep firing shots and hopefully you’ll get one that works. Still won’t see this one in my portfolio though!

But here's the thing⦠You've gotta keep shooting. You have to push through those bad days to get to the good ones. I once heard Jay Maisel explain it this way to a frustrated photographer:

"It’s like, if I’m trying to be a well built body builder⦠If I go to the gym on Monday next week maybe or maybe Thursday, or just when I find a day, then it’s not going to happen. You have to go to the gym and work out. I don’t go to the gym and work out as a photographer, but I do the visual pushups everyday. If you shoot once in a while you may get some nice pictures, and if you shoot very rarely you’ll get fewer. But if you shoot all the time, the number is going to go up."

Is there something cool happening but you’re just not sure of the best way to capture it?

Keep working the scene, trying different angles, and sometimes you can work through and find the shot.

So don't let a bad shoot or two get you down. Keep doing those visual pushups so you increase your chances of finding those holy grail shots that you add to your portfolio. When you get them, we'll rejoice with you. And if you don't, just remember⦠You're not alone!

You can see Brad’s keepers at BMOOREVISUALS.COM, or browse the archives to see more of the mediocre stuff if you want. And you can follow him on Instagram and Twitter.