A self-portrait of my Veterans Portrait Project location studio set-up

Howdy Scott, Brad, Kelby-crew and readers! Can you believe it's been just over four years since my last guest blog post? So much has happened since then I'd like to share with y'all. But first, I need to extend a thank you to Scott and Brad for inviting me back for a follow-up.

Okay, let's get to it! As you know from my previous post, I began a personal endeavor, the Veterans Portrait Project, while recovering from combat injuries I sustained in Iraq while documenting the war as a military combat photographer. After spending hours in Veteran Administration hospital waiting rooms surrounded by veterans from every generation and branch of service, I felt compelled to honor and thank them in the only way I knew how, photography. The Project became my new mission. In a way, it was my therapy too, and over time I began to heal both physically and mentally.


The journalist in me felt compelled to take my personal project public, to share the unique stories of these extraordinary citizens. Eventually it became a way to raise awareness too. I wanted to show what veterans really look like: Black, Hispanic, Asian, Caucasian, Native American, male, female, homosexual, heterosexual, young, old, homeless, married, single, disabled, and everybody in between. After all, everyone has his or her own idea of what a veteran looks like, about their background, and their reasons for serving. Admittedly, I did tooâ”white, male, middle-aged combat veteran. And, yes, 92.5 percent are male and 79.2 percent are white, but what's interested me most throughout my experience with the Veterans' Portrait Project has been the smaller groups of veterans, including those like myself, who don't necessarily fit the iconic veteran image.

A self-portrait for my Veterans Portrait Project archive

With the current popularity of war hero movies, such as Lone Survivor and American Sniper, people are inundated with images of Special Forces operators creating a misconception that all veterans fit the aforementioned attributes - young and chiseled. These portrayals, while compelling and worth our attention, are just a small representation of the veteran community. Through the Veterans Portrait Project, I strive to showcase all who've served and to educate and entertain the general public with real American military veterans' stories and to archive the military histories of all service men and women.

[pearsall_slideshow1/] Veterans Portrait Project by Stacy Pearsall

Since starting the Project in 2008, I've photographed thousands of veterans in countless cities nationwide, hosted community-based exhibitions, and conducted numerous public speeches and town hall style discussions on veterans' issues. I continue working worldwide as a photographer, educator, military consultant, and public speaker, but the Veterans Portrait Project is my heart and passion. It has been fuel for my soul.

After every WWII veteran's portrait session, I take a selfie-smooch-picture and post it to Instagram. I've amassed quiet a distinguished collection. I have to say, my heart flutters with every stolen kiss. I'm a lucky gal for sure!

On top of conducting portrait sessions across the U.S., I've been active in organizations such as Songwriting with Soldiers, Fatigues to Fabulous, Defense Centers of Excellence, Veterans of Foreign War, and American Legion. Can you believe it? I've been given awards for what I'm doing - and doing what I love, no less! Yes, the Daughters of the American Revolution presented little ole me with the Margaret Cochran Corbin Award and The White House declared me a White House Champion of Change. Whoa.

Despite the accolades however, I still believe those most deserving of awards are in front of my camera, and not the gal behind it.

Communities nationwide have received the Veterans Portrait Project positively and it's gained so much momentum in just the last three years. My head is reeling.

The Veterans Portrait Project has been fortunate enough to gain a wide breadth of media exposure both nationally and abroad. A documentary series by PBS titled, Coming Back with Wes Moore, included a bit about me, and the work I'm doing with the Project. There have been print and online articles that have reached halfway around the world.


One day I received an email from a retired British Army soldier, and combat veteran, by the name of Stephen Porteous. Here's an excerpt from his correspondence dated December 11, 2014.

"When the funeral corteges and repatriation ceremonies of our service personnel who'd been killed in Afghanistan began appearing on British TV it struck a cord with the general public. However in the short space of time since we've left Afghanistan it is evident we [veterans] are becoming less newsworthy. In a bid to give something back, and play my part in keeping British Forces and veterans on the public radar, I decided I would act on the inspiration you provided through photography. My plan would be to mirror your project for UK veterans. It will be completely non-profit and, for the most part, self funded. Would you be prepared to endorse such an endeavor?"

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I was truly humbled by Stephen's missive. However, I was also hesitant to relinquish my Project, albeit a separate division, into the hands of someone else. That required faith they'd treat the Project, and the veterans involved, with the same admiration and respect I have for so long. I took a few days to consider the proposal and did some soul-searching within. Ultimately, I decided to give Stephen a chance under the condition I'd fly to London to train him. Only then would he have my endorsement.

We decided upon the first week of May 2015, which happened to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day! You can watch a video from our day with the amazing Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioners HERE.

[pearsall_slideshow2/] The Chelsea Pensioners

In the end, it felt amazing empowering Stephen with the tools he needed to stand up the Veterans Portrait Project UK, and to share the healing powers of photography with someone else. I'm encouraged by Stephen's enthusiasm and passion - I recognize myself in him quiet a bit. Truly, it was meant to be and I believe he'll do very well. He already is.

So what's next for me this year? Well, I've got 20+ more Veterans Portrait Project engagements on the calendar, six or so exhibits, a few more speeches, and I'm also teaching a class called Starting a Personal Project (08/11/15 from 3:14-4:15 p.m.) and giving a presentation about my career titled, Shooter: Combat from Behind the Camera (08/12/15 from 8:15-9:15 a.m.) at Photoshop World 2015!  If you're attending, I'd love to meet you! If you can't make it, please be sure to follow the Veterans Portrait Project Facebook page to see if I'll be in your neighborhood.

Other than the growth of the Veterans Portrait Project, here are a few things of note that have also happened since I last blogged: wrote and published Shooter: Combat from Behind the Camera, wrote and published A Photojournalist's Field Guide: In the Trenches with Stacy Pearsall, walked the runway during New York Fashion Week, judged the 2015 Pulitzer Prize, recognized by PDN in the Photo Annual 2015 for Personal Projects, ran the Marine Corps Marathon and celebrated my ninth wedding anniversary with my hubby, Andy Dunaway.

The best part of it all, being able to share my small victories with you! I've had so much encouragement and motivation from so many wonderful, amazing people like you. I couldn't have done any of these things alone either - from my dedicated assistants and supportive husband, to my stalwart sponsors and unfaltering cohorts, you've all had a hand in my success. For that, thank you!

Until next time y'all, salute!

If you would like to contribute to the continued success of the Veterans Portrait Project, you may do so by visiting our Crowdrise site HERE. You can see more of Stacy’s work at StacyPearsall.com, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

OK, over 3,200 of you voted yesterday and I posted the results from that Lightroom Reader Suggested Feature Survey (quite surprising results by the way), over at LightroomKillerTips.com along with a link to today’s even quicker one-question survey, which is based on the series that I wrote which started this whole thing, called:

“What I love to see added to Lightroom”

I did a post on one feature each day for seven days, so there are just seven feature ideas (but you can only pick one). It’s short and sweet â” will take you less than 60-seconds.

Here’s the direct link to this new survey if you just want to jump over there real quick and vote, but make sure you jump back over to Lightroom Killer Tips to see yesterday’s results, too.

Perhaps, equally as important, but not really….
…are the results from my “Which Guitar Has To Go Home?” survey:

That’s right â” the Paul Stanley (lead singer for KISS) Signature Model Flying “V” up in the top right corner was your clear #1 choice and therefore must be banished from my office, and sent into exile within my private residence (which is very close to my house) under strict orders not to get anywhere near my Les Paul or my Paul Reed Smith Custom 24.

In times like these it’s a tradition (for over 1/100th of a century) to conduct an official “Changing of the Guitar” ceremony broadcast LIVE today via the Periscope App (free for IOS and now Android). If you’re not already following me there, please do (I’m @scottkelby) and watch as the magic unfolds. The spectacle and pageantry of this majestic processional is really something to behold. You’ll want to tell your grandchildren about this one, so make sure your batteries are charged, you have plenty of film on hand, and get there early to get a good spot and avoid all the tourists.

That’s all from here in “I’m up way too late” land. Hope you have a rockin’ Tuesday!



P.S. Later today we’ll be forming the “Missing V” formation as we gather in unison to hum “Detroit Rock City.” 


OK, so I’ve been doing this series over on LightroomKillerTips.com called “Things I’d love to see added to Lightroom” and I shared my top seven picks in the last week or so. During the process, our readers posted lots of great ideas for features they’d love to see added, so today I put up a one-question survey where you (we, us, etc.) can pick which feature, from their favorites, is our favorite (if that makes sense).

If that doesn’t make sense, how’s this: “Hey, I posted a survey with a bunch of potentially cool Lightroom features â” could you pick your favorite from the list?” 

Here’s the link to the page with the survey.

Hope you have a quick sec to take the survey (it’s just one-question), and then I’ll post the results tomorrow, and we’ll be able to see what the top most-liked feature ideas wound up being (while it’s just a one-question survey, this is harder than it sounds, because their feature ideas are really good. I’d like to vote for literally all of them, but for the purposes of our survey, we only get to choose one each).

Many thanks everybody. Here’s to a much better than average Monday!



P.S. I’m in Hartford, Connecticut on Friday teaching my full-day seminar. Wanna come?

One of the great things about always working on another book or another online class is â” you get to shoot a lot for these projects, and I just wrapped up a location fashion shoot a few weeks ago at an incredible location â” the Howey Mansion in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida (about 2-hours from the KelbyOne Headquarters). I learned about the location from RC, and our friend Kathy Porupski had a contact there and so we put an all-day shoot together with a very ambitious schedule.

First, some of the final images:


Planning Stages
Once we got close to locking down the location, I asked my wife Kalebra to do all the art direction on the shoot â” everything from picking our models (Adriana and Sara) to the styling (we brought the dresses in from Lindsay Adler’s awesome Dream Shoot Rentals, which is the coolest resource to get access to New York dresses, outfits, and accessories without actually have to be in New York, and at a fraction of the price if you were). She also picked and worked with our awesome Hair and Makeup Team ( Kalebra (art direction & styling); Hendrickje Makeup FX (makeup) and Lauren Edwards (hair).

We had three assistants working with us on the set, Brad, Rob Foldy, and Lynn Miller. The ironic thing was â” we brought so much Lighting Gear and grip equipment that it wouldn’t all fit in Brad’s SUV so we had to go rent a U-Hual van to move it all. As it turned out, we didn’t actually even use any lighting to the very last shoot of the day, which was pretty much a disaster (as you’ll see at the end of this post).

Behind The Scenes Shots
All the shots you saw above were all taken in natural light, with either a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 or a Canon 16-35mm super wide angle. Here (below) are some behind-the-scenes shot (bts photos by Brad Moore).


(Above: Here’s the behind-the-scene shot for the first one, with me set-up wwwwwwaaaaayyyyy back!). That’s a mini boombox on the apple crate in front of me. Having music on the set is an absolute must! Also, this is a natural light shoot, but we softened the light coming in the window by putting a frosted shower curtain liner over the window, a tip I learned from Joe McNally years ago). 


(Above: I’m shooting down low with a Canon 16-35mm, shooting tethered into Lightroom. So, how did we get her dress up in the air like that? See the next shot.).

(Above: On the count of three, either Rob or Lynn would toss the dress in the air and then duck out of the scene, as seen here. Click for a larger view).


(Above: Look how far back I’m shooting here. I’m not even in the same room â” I’m out in the foyer shooting into the room. Again, all natural light). 

(Above: I’m down low, shooting on a tripod with a Canon 16-35mm super wide-angle lens; shooting tethered in Lightroom. All natural light). 

(Above: outside on the balcony, natural light on a rainy overcast day. I shot tight-in shots with a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, and the wide shot you see above this one once again with the Canon 16-35mm). 

(Above: Hey, Scott - this is the behind-the-scenes shot. Where’s the final shot? There is no final shot. I had this idea that we’d put a little bit of smoke up into the top of an umbrella but as soon as we connected the smoke machine, we realized there’s no such thing as a ‘little bit of smoke’ and we spent most of the time just standing there in a huge cloud of smoke just laughing. Nice time â” no smoke machine. Dry ice instead). 

Thanks for letting me share this shoot (the good and theâ¦ahemâ¦bad), and I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!



P.S. Hey, next Friday I’m in Hartford with my full-day seminar. Hope you can come out and join me for the day. Tickets here. 

Photographing Your Sense of Humor with Joe McNally
Do you file away fun photo shoot ideas in your head? Join Joe McNally on location at Weeki Wachee Springs where he gets to finally realize a fantastic photo shoot idea he's had in mind for a long time. In true Joe McNally fashion he pulls out all the stops to ensure he has the lighting, the crew, and the location to pull off his vision. From preparations the day before to the early morning arrival time, and through the end of the shoot, Joe talks through his concept, the setup, and all of the problems that need to be solved to pull off the one frame he's trying to create. Putting everything underwater leaves no room for error and lot's of obstacles to overcome, and you get a front row seat.

Mastering The Family Outing with Annie Cahill
Get ready for your next outing as the family photographer! Typical family outings occur in places with busy backgrounds, challenging lighting, uncooperative children, and lots of motion from place to place. Join Annie Cahill at the Miami Metro Zoo as she walks you through everything you need to know to capture those great moments during your next family adventure. Annie spends the day with a family, and their two small children, as they experience the zoo, and along the way teaches you everything from how to capture kids in motion to what camera settings will give you the best image quality, and from how to pay attention to backgrounds in group photos to how to get into some of the photos yourself. By the end of the class you'll know what gear you need, how to prepare for the day, and how to come away with some great photos that will serve as mementos for years to come.

KelbyOne Live
Want to learn from Scott Kelby, Joe McNally, 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
June 5 - Hartford, CT
July 14 - London, UK

The Moment It Clicks with Joe McNally
June 15 - Lansing, MI
June 17 - Nashville, TN
July 13 - Ottawa, ON
July 15 - Calgary, AB
July 17 - Toronto, ON

Lightroom & Photoshop Creative Integration Tour with Ben Willmore
May 29 - South San Francisco, CA
June 19 - Seattle, WA

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 Winners
Lightroom CC for Photographers Spiral-Bound Book
– Francisco Manzanares
– Denise Beverly
– Cris Da Rocha

KelbyOne Live Ticket
– Ken Choate

If any of these is you, we’ll be in touch soon. Have a great Thursday!

Photo by Sam Haddix

Hi! I'm Kaylee. And I'm going to tell you something that will knock your socks right off. Ready?

I love dogs.

And oh my gosh, I wish I could say this in a sort of casual, non-chalant, “Yeah I think dogs are pretty cool, no big deal,” sort of way. But you guys… I mean it. I mean like, in a totally and completely bonafide ‘crazy dog lady’ kind of way.

So, it's kind of embarrassing when I walk down the street and audibly and uncontrollably squeal with delight over every little wiggling, passing pup I see. My friends actually try and deter me from the path of an oncoming dog as we walk down the sidewalk – for fear that we'll get stuck in a 25 minute interaction that includes me excessively ogling, squishing and kissing a strange dog with a sometimes slightly terrified owner looking on.

The truth is, I find more beauty, purity and joy inside the iris of a happy dog than I do anywhere else in the world. When all else seems to fail me – I find solace in the smile of a dog. Dogs have this perfect ability to live simply – to live in the moment. And that just fascinates me.

Luckily for me, I was blessed enough to be able to turn my copious amounts of â˜dog crazy' into passion – and that passion into a profession.

Yup, you heard it here folks – I am a professional dog photographer.

I know, I know. â˜A WHAT?' (accompanied by a cocked head, big eyes and sometimes a giggle at my expense; this is the typical response I get when people first discover my job title.) A professional dog photographer. I'm wildly humbled and grateful to say that I've turned that passion into a very busy reality that has me booked almost one full year ahead with both private and commercial shoots. Who would've thought that could even be within the scope of reality for someone who only photographs dogs?! Good gravy! Sometimes I have to pinch myself. I wake up every day and smile. I smile because life is so silly and full of wonder. I smile because Im living my real live dream. And that dream is called Dog Breath Photography.

If you told my five-year-old self what my profession would one day turn out to be – I think her head would have actually popped off with joy. If you hang on just a sec, I think I can hear her squeals of delight from all the way back in 1990. Holy banana sandwiches.

So, after being invited to write this guest post on Scott's blog (but not before I finished the elaborate robot dance of joy that I executed quite fabulously all alone in my studio with my dog looking on judging me harshly), I thought how wonderful it would be to share some of my best tips and tricks. The little golden nuggets of wisdom that I've felt blessed to have learned over the past 5 years of my dog photography adventures. While getting great photos of your client's or your own pets sometimes feels impossible â” I can assure you with the utmost conviction – it's not.

I've got some stuff up my sleeve that you just might find helpful – especially when you've got Rufus set up for the most perfect shot, arranged meticulously in the gorgeous, golden afternoon lightâ” and he suddenly runs off in the direction of that squirrel for the 45th time. (Let me tell you now, as much as you try to reason with them, dogs just don't appreciate the nuances of really good light.)

So, let's dive into some content that will help you get amazing shots of your pets, that will create the illusion that you're working with a perfectly trained dog every time.

As we all know, your average dog is anything but stagnant. No, he moves. And when I say â˜he moves,' I mean like, 65mph moves. Like with more quickness and speed than the fastest, angriest ostrich on the savannah.

And not only does he move – but he drools. He barks. He chases his tail in endless circles. He has the attention span of a gnat.

But most significantly, he speaks an entirely different language than you and I. I know what you're thinking. Not the easiest subject for a photograph, right? Precisely.

Some of the first things that people ask me when they see my images are:

â˜How do you get all these dogs to pose so perfectly for you like that?' â˜Do these dogs just sit there, hold exactly still and smile for you?!' â˜Are these magic dogs from a magical land?'

The answer to that last question is an enthusiastic â˜no.’ While I've had a few dreams about this (these elusive, magical, still dogs), I photograph regular dogs. Real dogs. The dogs you see walking down the street every day. The dogs that fly through the dog park at about a gazillion miles an hour. The naughty dogs that dig holes in their owner's tulip gardens and bury bones in their backyards. Dogs that sniff other dogs' butts. Dogs that lie on their family's couches and fart.

You know, those kinds of dogs.

In addition to working with lots of regular family dogsâ” I also volunteer my time to busy, overburdened animal shelters – photographing homeless and abandoned animals who are waiting for a new family to adopt them. Some of these shelter dogs can be rife with a whole different set of behavioral and emotional issues due to the transitionary states of their lives – fearfulness, abandonment, aggression, loneliness, confusion. Even with these sweet, sweet lost souls who lack the stability of a home and family to call their own – with enough knowledge, kindness of heart and patience â” you can get a winning image.

You wouldn't travel to a foreign country and expect them to speak your language right? The same thing goes for dogs. Don't enter a dog's world and expect them to speak your language â” you need to speak theirs.

Dogs talk through their eyes. Their ears. Their tails. Their body posture. Dogs talk with sounds – growls, whines, barks – you name it. If you want to understand the language of a dog – you need to immerse yourself in their world. Be quiet and listen. Once you spend enough time with a dog you'll learn about what most motivates them. You'll find that canines tend to go totally gaga over one or more of the following things:

  • TREATS (because, you know…yum!)
  • PEANUT BUTTER (this stuff is most dogs' kryptonite, I’m serious! For dogs that can't have peanut butter, cream cheese or canned pumpkin will also work just fine.)
  • TOYS (ask me how many Barbie dolls I had when I was 9…I totally get this one.)
  • SOUNDS (things that go squeak! The most successful way to evoke the elusive and highly coveted â˜head tilt.' And a great way to get the mouth closed and ears pricked up at attention.)
  • PRAISE (dogs LOVE praise. â˜HEY DOG! YOU ARE AWESOME!!')
  • THEIR OWNERS (oh HELLO my humans! I want to love you forever and ever and ever and ever ::slobbery kisses::)