Thursday
May
2015
07

It’s Free Stuff Thursday!

by Brad Moore  |  20 Comments

Copyright Essentials for Photographers with Jack Reznicki & Ed Greenberg
Join Ed Greenberg and Jack Reznicki as they get you up to speed with the latest information on protecting your copyright and registering your work. There have been some changes in the process since their last class on the subject, and Jack and Ed walk you through all the steps involved in the registration process to show how it can be done. Beyond the registration process itself, Ed and Jack answer the important questions of what exactly copyright is, why it is important, and what rights you are granted by it. Pulling from years of experience as an intellectual property attorney and a commercial photographer, Ed and Jack share real life stories all the way through to illustrate why this issue is so important to all creative professionals.

Extraction and Close-ups in Nelson Ghost Town with Bill Fortney
Learn how to capture pieces of history and take a walk through time. Join Bill Fortney in Nelson, Nevada, a fantastic ghost town that is just chock-full of Americana. What’s Americana? Well, you’ll learn about that and a whole lot more as Bill takes you through one of his favorite places to photograph. You’ll learn about all of Bill’s gear for this type of project, his philosophical approach to the subject matter, and then he walks you through each photographic setup as he makes a photograph. Bill wraps up the class with a look at his post-processing workflow for different types of images.

KelbyOne Live
Want to learn from Scott Kelby, Joe McNally, Joel Grimes, 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
May 19 – Philadelphia, PA
June 15 – Lansing, MI
June 17 – Nashville, TN

The Photographers Creative Revolution Tour with Joel Grimes
May 8 – Denver, CO

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!

African Photo Safari with Moose Peterson
If you enjoyed Moose Peterson’s Safari Adventure on KelbyOne, you can join in on the fun in person this July! Moose is leading another adventure and there is a seat with your name on it. Dates are July 27 – August 5, 2015, and you can find out more info right here.

Leave a comment for your chance to win the eBook version of Moose’s book Captured: Lessons from Behind the Lens of a Legendary Wildlife Photographer!

Live Photoshop World Tweetchat with Jack Reznicki
Starting at 9pm ET tonight, Jack Reznicki will be doing a live tweetchat where you can ask him anything! Use the hashtag #PSWchat to join in and chat with Jack.

Last Week’s Winners
RC Concepcion Photoshop World Workshop
- Allison Cobb

Lightroom CC for Photographers eBook
- Lyle
- Matt C
- Dennis Zito

Lightroom CC Book for Photographers
- Roger Botting
- Orin Johnson
- Gregg Romey

KelbyOne Live Ticket
- Michelle H

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

Wednesday
May
2015
06

It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Nick Fancher!

by Brad Moore  |  81 Comments


Photo by Chris Keels

Hello everyone. My name is Nick Fancher and I’m your guest blogger today. In case you don’t know me (which is likely the case), I am a Columbus, Ohio based portrait and commercial photographer. A couple of weeks ago I released Studio Anywhere: A Photographer’s Guide to Shooting in Unconventional Locations, on Peachpit Press. The idea behind the book is that photographers can get away with shooting without a conventional studio most of the time, as long as they can learn to make the most of their environments; all with the use of minimal, affordable gear.

This idea was born out of necessity. When I was in New York City last year, I wanted to do some test shooting in my free time. I began looking around for studios to rent for the day, and found the average price to be around $1,000. It’d be one thing if this was for a paying client, who would be footing the bill, but this was for unpaid, personal work. And even if I did shell out the $1,000, all the models would then be forced to come to me, which for an unpaid test shoot, would not exactly be a motivating factor for them. Instead, I opted to meet them at their homes, realizing that all I really needed was a white wall, and every home has at least one white wall. And it worked out just fine.


Setup: one light with grid


White walls work

Once I returned to Columbus, I started putting this practice to test, now opting to meet clients at their homes and offices for shoots. Not only did it allow for me to happen upon some pretty amazing environments to shoot in, I think it also gave me a +1 for convenience, in the eyes of the clients. It also led me to some particularly small spaces, which forced me to get creative with my lighting. As you may know, most of the time you need your light several feet away from your subject, in order to get a larger light spread. But if, say, your client lives in a 200 square foot apartment and the only spot to shoot is the spot next to his bed in his living room, you don’t have that luxury.  To make my light source larger and softer, I turned the flash in the direction of the white wall on the other side of his bed and it worked smashingly.


Setup: one light bounced into white wall


White walls wreally work!

You may have noticed in the previous setup shot that there are white boards propped up behind the subject. I have two white and two black, 40×60” sheets of foam core that I bring with me to every shoot (leaving them in the car until I see if I actually need them). I often end up needing to use them in a variety of ways. Often I tape two boards together to make a v-flat, in order to block a light source or reflect light. Sometimes I use them as a backdrop, as in the previous scenario. Other times I stack them up so the model can stand on them, if I need a full body shot and the room has an unsightly floor, such as shag carpet.

My rule of thumb is to travel as light as possible, since I typically work without an assistant. I want to minimize the amount of trips I have to make to my car. So if I am heading in to shoot in an unfamiliar space, all I take in with me is my camera bag, a light stand and an umbrella, leaving my tripod, sandbags, additional stands and white boards in the car unless they are absolutely needed. And once I get a lay of the land, I scope out viable shoot areas. Large white walls are a plus. Areas with concrete or gloss wood floors will reflect light and make seamless, full body portraits a lot easier.


Setup: three lights gelled cyan, magenta and yellow


White wall plus a sturdy table = clean, full body portraits

I’ve even used grey walls or cream colored walls without issue. Of course white balance isn’t much of an issue when your two lights are gelled red and cyan.


Setup: two lights gelled cyan and red


Cream colored wall is no problem when your white balance is not in play

Once you start working this way, you start noticing things that you can use to your advantage, such as a nice, red wall. I made a v-flat out of my two black boards and used a white board as a bounce, opposite the red wall. By firing a flash into the white and red surfaces on either side of the model, I had a large, soft spread on a black background, creating a stylized final shot.


Setup: two lights, fired into white bounce and a red wall


Large, soft, stylized light

Want a variety of backdrops for little to no cost? Browse royalty-free images on Google or buy cheap stock images to project onto a white wall. It’s an old Hollywood trick, but it’s a cool one to play with.


Setup: projector for back wall and one light, snooted


Free trip to Switzerland

What if you’re just starting out and you don’t own a strobe? Do you have a garage? It’s a great spot for shaping available light. It’s especially effective on a sunny day. By placing your subject closer or farther away from the open garage door, you can control the amount of light falling on them.


Setup: subject sandwiched in a black v-flat


Dramatic, available light portrait

Achieving a blacked out environment, sometimes referred to as “invisible black,” is a lot easier than you may think. Find a background that’s a mid to dark tone, not in direct sunlight. Make sure that you have enough space to keep the subject and light(s) away from said background. Get an ambient exposure and then close down at least three stops to get it to go dark/black. Add your light, output set to a high enough output to properly illuminate your subject. Flag light as needed, to keep it from spilling on to background, by using a grid, zooming in the flash head, angling the light away from the background, etc.


Setup: A medium-toned brown wall in the shade is a perfect backdrop to achieve a black scene. I used two bare bulb flashes on the model, one to light her upper torso and one to light her legs, below the tutu.


Black scene

Sometimes I want to add natural, visual elements to a shot, such as flowers or tall grass. To do this, take a black or white v-flat to a park and place it in front of said flower/grass element and have the subject sit/stand in the v-flat. Side note: if your camera case is nice and sturdy as is my Pelican 1510 case, it makes a fantastic chair for your subject.


Setup: Black v-flat in a field, flagging the direct sunlight from the model


Dramatic portrait on black, with added visual elements

As I mentioned earlier, I typically work alone, without an assistant. This means that I am traveling light, without sandbags, for examples. It also means that I can’t put a large light modifier on my flash, such as an umbrella, without it blowing over with the smallest breeze. So I am usually looking for ways to soften a bare flash, when I am in the field. As was the case for the living room scenarios, lighter, neutral-colored walls are great for reflecting light. Simply place your light 2-3 feet away from the wall, zooming in the head, if applicable. Angle the light into the wall so that it’s heading in the direction of the subject (think banking a pool shot).


Setup: A white wall found in park made for a great bounce surface for my flash


Soft light on my subject without an umbrella (and sandbag) on my light

I realize that many of you are likely already using some of these techniques/hacks, and you may even have some that I have not yet heard of or tried. Please use the comment section for sharing your ideas and experiments. If you feel so inclined, pick up a copy of my book/ebook, Studio Anywhere, here. Thanks for reading and happy shooting!

You can see more of Nick’s work at NickFancher.com, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Tuesday
May
2015
05

My Photo Book From Last Week’s Trip to The South of France

by Scott Kelby  |  20 Comments

Hi gang. Here’s a few pages from the photo book I always create after a trip (I made the book in Lightroom’s Book module). The area we were mostly in is the French Riviera, but there it’s called the Côte d’Azur and that sounds a lot fancier so I went with that for the name of my book, even though we would up taking a day trip to Italy (where we went to in Italy was just 3-1/2 hours by car).

Anyway, I was pretty light on the photography this trip – I did a lot of relaxing and just sightseeing – In six days I only took 1,057 shots total, including a lot of bracketed shots. That breaks down to only around 170 shots a day, which is really light for me, but I have to say, it was one of the most relaxing and fun trips I’ve had in a while. Absolutely loved it! OK, on to the book (I’ll tell more in the captions).

NOTE: Click on the images to see a larger version.

Above: Is it bad that my first shot isn’t from France? This is Vernazza in Italy’s Cinque Terre. We drove there one morning, and then hiked up on the side of the hill to get this shot and stayed there until well after sunset. Kalebra was a trooper to make the climb with me up there because it was a bit of haul, going straight up tons of really steep stairs and stuff, but the view was really gorgeous from up there. 

Above: While we’re in Italy, let’s have lunch! These are from Portofino, Italy. I was there in 2009 and it was awesome to see it again. It looked exactly the same. They hadn’t even moved a pebble in six years. 

Above: It tasted even better than it looks! Bella bella cucina! (inside joke there).

Above: OK, we’re back to the French Riviera, and here’s a shot overlooking Monte Carlo. They had the grandstands and track set-up for the world famous Monaco Grand Prix Formula 1 race, and you could actually drive the track since it winds through the city streets, and so of course we had to. There’s nothing like driving an F1 track in an SUV. ;-)

Above: My two favorite places in Monaco were the marina, where all those amazing yachts are docked, and the area around the famous casino, which is just beautiful. Here’s a few shots from around the casino (btw: the cover shot shows part of the roof of the casino itself). 

Above: Monaco is like a moving exotic car showroom – especially in front of the casino where I found this Ferrari, but honestly finding a Ferrari or Lambo in Monaco takes about 60-seconds — just stop anywhere on the streets and one will be driving by shortly. 

Above: Here’s the Casino at night. They’re kinda “Snapshottylooking” — I just handheld them on the way by as we were heading back from dinner, but I wanted to have something to remind me of how the Casino looked at night. I didn’t even have to wait — a Porsche 911 was, of course, driving right by us. 

Above: Kalebra really wanted to see the Princess Grace Rose Garden and as soon as we arrived it started raining, but we waited it out and an hour later we had the place to ourself. I grabbed a few shots, but I’m not a “flower guy” – I have to say, Kalebra is a “flower girl” and she crushed it with her flower shots. Here’s a link to her blog where you can see some of them.

Above: This is the hotel we stayed in, in Cap-Ferrat, which is located pretty much right between Nice and Monaco, and not far from Cannes. It’s called the Royal Riviera and it was a wonderful place to stay. Terrific service and pretty fast internet (which matters when you’re doing research for what you’re going to do the next day, and backing up your files to Dropbox). Anyway, the next couple of pages are interior shots from the hotel. 

Above: These are 16-bit HDR images compiled using Lightroom CC’s Merge to HDR feature.

Above: More 16-bit realistic HDRs done in Lightroom CC alone. 

Above: We took a morning trip to Eze Village — a tiny old world village on the top of a hill, and it was just as charming as it could be. Really enjoyed it (and the girls loved the shopping). Had an amazing lunch at Deli’, a tiny salad restaurant and olive oil shop at the top of hill. If you go to this region, Eze is a must-see. Here’s a couple of more shots from Eze.

Above: These shots were taken at the restaurant Deli’.

Above: It wasn’t exactly a spice market, but a vendor had a nice set-up selling different spices, including some that looked like potpourri.

Above: I call it “Spice stuff in interesting light.” ;-)

Above: That bowl was behind the spice vendor’s table and it looked kinda interesting. On the right — this little sculpture was under an umbrella at one of the many outdoor cafes in Eze. 

Above: Remember I mentioned earlier that Kalebra and I stayed up on the top of this hill until sunset? Well, the sun didn’t actually “set” it just kind of disappeared into a foggy cloudy mess, so the sky is kinda lame which is why I pretty much kept it out of the shot. I took this one and then we headed back down the hill toward town for a delicious dinner in a charming little restaurant. 

Above: Here’s a few inside the church in the Eze village, and one of the only fisheye shots from the entire trip. Why did I lug a fisheye to France? I have no idea. Shoulda left it home. 

Above: Another one inside the church to wrap things up. 

Two versions of the book
I always make two versions of each book — one for me as a photographer, and one for the folks with us on the trip, and we were there with another couple (Debbie and Kleber), and they were a blast and made the trip so much fun, so the other book has all those sorts of shots, and if you look at my blog post from yesterday you’ll see a shot of Kalebra and me taken in front of the casino — so it’s this book (with lots of other pages I didn’t show), along with a bunch of shots like that.

Well, gotta get to the office. Thanks for letting me share these with you, and I hope you all have an awesome Tuesday!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Tomorrow on “The Grid” we’re doing our monthly “Blind Photo Critiques” show, so check out my Facebook or Twitter pages on how to submit your images to be critiqued on the show. 

Monday
May
2015
04

I’m Back From The South of France

by Scott Kelby  |  6 Comments

Bonjour, mon ami! We’re back from a week in the South of France (our base was in Cap-Ferrat, which is right between Monaco and Nice, France). [photo above in front of the casino in Monaco by Kleber Stephenson].

We snuck away for a week with another couple for some vacation, and we just had an absolute blast! The weather was mostly beautiful, and we even snuck a day trip down to Portofino, Italy and then to Vernazza in Cinque Terre (we put some serious miles on our rental car).

I put together a photo book on the flight home, and I hope to share that here tomorrow (either that, or an Exposure.co post — haven’t decided yet). In the meantime, Kalebra has posted some shots from “her trusty iPhone” over on her blog (here’s the link), and she totally crushed it.

I tried something new this trip that was a lot of fun
During the trip, I broadcast live video (using the free app Periscope) from Cannes, Portofino and driving the Formula 1 track in Monaco, and it was such a blast interacting with everybody live like that. If you’re not already following me on Periscope, I’m on there as “@scottkelby” (here’s the link to Periscope) – hope you’ll follow me – I do just one or two a day usually.

OK, I’m back to work
I’m back home and off to the office today, so I’d better get rolling. Hope you have a great day, and hope you’ll stop back by again tomorrow :)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. I hope you’re going to join me in Las Vegas, Aug. 11-13th for the Photoshop World Conference & Expo. It’s going to be (wait for it…wait for it…) epic! Lots of cool shooting opportunities, some cool new stuff and awesome new instructors. Here’s all the details. 

Thursday
Apr
2015
30

It’s Free Stuff Thursday!

by Brad Moore  |  62 Comments

Photoshop World Vegas – Stay Where The Instructors Stay!
Coming to Photoshop World Vegas in August? You’ll want to stay where the Conference is, where the After Hours Party is, where Midnight Madness is, where the Meetup is, where Birds of a Feather is, and where the Art of Photography is held… Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino! You can find all the reservation info on Mandalay Bay and its all-suite sister property The Delano at PhotoshopWorld.com.

And if you haven’t already registered, don’t wait because there’s only 12 DAYS LEFT before ticket prices increase from $599 to $699! If you’ve already registered, leave a comment for your chance to attend RC Concepcion’s Lightroom Crash Course workshop for FREE the day before the conference starts!

The Lightroom CC Book for Digital Photographers
Scott Kelby’s latest book, The Lightroom CC Book for Digital Photographers, is here! Well, a box of advance copies are anyway, but that means they’ll start hitting shelves any day now. If you prefer digital, you can pick up the Peachpit eBookKindleNook, and iBook versions now as well!

We’re going to give away three physical copies AND three digital copies, so leave a comment letting us know which you prefer for your chance to win!

KelbyOne Live
Want to learn from Scott Kelby, Joe McNally, Joel Grimes, 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
July 14 – London, UK

The Moment It Clicks with Joe McNally
May 4 – Rosemont, IL (Chicago area)
May 19 – Philadelphia, PA
June 15 – Lansing, MI
June 17 – Nashville, TN

The Photographers Creative Revolution Tour with Joel Grimes
May 6 – Boston, MA
May 8 – Denver, CO

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 Winner
KelbyOne Live Ticket
- Craig Coupland

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

Wednesday
Apr
2015
29

It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Leo Trevino!

by Brad Moore  |  8 Comments

Good morning, good afternoon and good evening, my name is Leo Trevino. My wife Brittany and I run a wedding photo/cinema company in Tampa, FL called Rad Red Creative. Recently, Brad graciously asked if I would be comfortable sharing a burglary/theft experience we went through in early February of this year. Sure, it’s an incredibly-terrible-devastating experience to have, but we both earned an enormous amount of wisdom from it and today I hope to impart some of that wisdom unto you.

Alright here we go; it was a dark and stormy Monday morning (no really it was) on Feb. 9th of this year. Pleasant dreams ended as my iPhone alarm went off, pulling me back into reality alerting me that it was yet again Monday and work had to get done. Like most mornings, I started through my routine, phone in hand while I sifted through Instagram notifications, emails and texts and indeed I received a text. It was from my neighbor, who is also a close friend, that told me about several cars at our town-home complex were broken into and burglarized.

My flat feet couldn’t have moved faster as I hustled my way down the stairs, ripped my keys off the wall and bolted past the rain drops to my car. I unlocked the passenger door and found that my car was completely trashed. The entire contents of my glove compartment and center console were flung all throughout the front and rear seats. My car looked like someone went recreational dumpster diving; some of the trash didn’t even look like it was mine. Although it was a mess, nothing seemed stolen. Regardless, I called my absentee landlord and made them aware of the situation and then called the police department and began to file a police report.

Phew! Nothing was stolen. A few hours later one of my best-friends and colleagues sent me a reminder that we had a shoot later that evening and to be ready by 5pm. “Cool, I’ll be ready,” I responded. Sure enough I started that beloved “prep” process that photographers do before a shoot. Check the batteries to make sure they’re charged. Make sure you have enough memory cards. Pick out what lenses you want to use. Make sure your camera bodies have tripod plates if need be. Well it wasn’t long into that checklist I started to realize I left some gear in the trunk of my car from photoshoots the day prior. “CRAPP!!!”

Again I found myself bustling down the stairs and out to my car. I popped the trunk and behold!!!!!!! NOTHING was there…. That’s right folks, my gear was stolen. I absolutely couldn’t believe it. I ran right back upstairs to my office, double checked all of our Pelican Cases and camera bags and nothing. At the time, my wife wasn’t home, so like any other photo/video professional at this time of devastation, I fell to my knees and started sobbing.

Never in a million, billion years did I think I would be a victim to burglary… at least not on this scale. Sure, growing up I’ve had my bike stolen. I’ve been bullied for lunch money and I may have lost a few high tech gadgets here and there but nothing like this. We’re talking a Canon 5D Mark II body, a Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art, a Mamiya 645AFD body with Mamiya 50mm lens, (2X) Canon Speedlite 580 EXII, a Sigma 50mm 1.4 lens, a Canon 85mm, and a Canon 20mm lens which basically amounts to $5,000+ worth of gear just GONE. To any weekend warrior who may have a corporate full-time job with salary, this may not be a big deal. In fact, I WISH I had some form of salary to fall back on. As for us, my wife and I do this [wedding photography] full-time so there is no other paycheck. There is no other salary or form of income. Cameras, lenses and light are how we express ourselves as artists but it’s also how we pay the bills and keep food in our stomachs; it’s a way of life and someone just messed with our livelihood.

Later that evening we spent time talking to our parents and close family members about what had transpired, seeking guidance and solace. After we spoke with them, I decided to share our story with friends and extended family over social media asking for their prayer and support. I’ll never forget how miserable we felt.

Let’s fast forward.

It’s now the end April just past the thick of wedding season and we’re firing on all cylinders! Don’t get me wrong… it wasn’t easy. We had to rent lenses, camera bodies, and speedlites just so we could manage all the weddings we had the past few months. When we couldn’t rent, we had generous friends and local professionals that let us borrow gear when they didn’t have a shoot. Eventually, we spent a vast portion of our savings to purchase essential gear that we could afford to replace. One thing we will never forget, is the outrageous amount of love and support we received when we launched a GoFundMe account to help offset expenses.

Neither my wife Brittany or I are the type to receive handouts or ask for money but we were continually asked by loved ones to set up a fundraiser so they could help us and WOW! We were absolutely blown away! After the fundraiser, we also had some random jobs come our way that also helped rebuild our chunk of missing gear. Finally, after all the paperwork was filled out, our renters’ insurance company sent their check and here we are; alive, breathing and still living our dream of creating and capturing beautiful wedding moments. It’s been a long and grueling process but we made it out alive, with better gear than we previously had.

“What gear did you end up buying to replace what you lost?”

“Yes sir, thank you for asking!” As you read what gear was stolen, it’s obvious that we were still using pretty old gear. It also wasn’t ALL of our gear. Once we had our finances in order, I made the obvious decision to buy the 5D Mark 3, making it our second 5DM3 body. I then bought the 50L (because it’s dreamy and excellent), the Sigma 35mm Art series (it’s so incredibly sharp OMG), as well as the good ol’ Canon 85mm 1.8. I sold my Canon 24-70mmL and bought the 16-35mm L (what can I say I wanted to go wider). We needed one more camera body and that’s where the Canon 7D Mark 2 comes in!

“But isn’t that mainly a sports and wildlife camera?”

Yes and Yes. It’s very clear the 7DM2 was aimed at sports and wildlife hence the mind-blowing FPS speed and 65-point AF system, but all of that can also be applied to the fast-paced world of wedding photography. Being a crop-sensor body, it’s had my back in a few churches where I needed that extra reach! Our company, Rad Red Creative, also does wedding cinema, so the Dual Pixel CMOS AF comes in super handy when we do glidecam shots. The camera is a dream, and once I saw Scott Kelby’s “Real World Field Report” on the Canon 7D Mark II, I was sold and bought it later that evening.

Okay back to my sob-story.

Honestly, the day we had gear stolen I wanted to give up. I wanted to hand over the rest of my gear to the first pawn shop I could find and just sip beer after beer underneath the nearest overpass while collecting cigarette butts. Yes alright fine, all of what I said reeks of melodrama. Still doesn’t change my view of how badly that whole situation still SUCKED (for lack of a better phrase). Not only did someone mess with our livelihood and it was infuriating… but let’s be honest, I too was a major contributor to my own folly. After all I was the numb-nuts who left $5,000+ worth of gear in the trunk of my car! I mean c’mon who else does that?!

Here are some lessons I’ve learned. **Keep in mind some of these lessons/tips may be obvious to some readers but perhaps there are other readers out there (like myself) who may not be aware of what could happen and what precautions to take.**

1: DON’T EVER LEAVE ANY GEAR IN YOUR CAR!!!!
Duh! To be honest, I don’t ever leave gear in my car intentionally. The Sunday before our gear was stolen, we had two long shoots that day. When we got home, I grabbed my camera bag thinking all my gear was in the bag. Indeed it was not. Instead of checking to make sure, I just closed my trunk, carried my camera bag inside and got ready for bed. Big mistake. Always double check your car to make sure everything is inside your home, studio, office, hotel room – anywhere but the car.

2: You Can Never Have Enough Insurance
If you rent an apartment or townhouse, have renters insurance. If you own a home, obviously have home-owners insurance. Renters insurance was able to give us $2,500 because the theft happened while our car was parked outside our townhouse. If you’re a professional photographer/cinematographer, have Liability and Business Insurance. Make sure your gear is covered under accidental damage, theft or any other catastrophe. I would name some companies but each state in the U.S. has different rules for these things. My sub-advice: Partner with a local lawyer or financial advisor on how to better protect yourself and your precious gear. My wife and I didn’t know that our current business insurance didn’t offer theft coverage in the state of Florida. I recommend getting “Photocare” for extra coverage (available by itself or through PPA).

3: Be Discrete
If you live in a low-income area, don’t go walking around announcing that you’re a photographer unless you want to be mugged. I have friends with stories of coming home from a shoot and while lugging camera gear into their home, have been robbed at gun point. Buy bags that don’t look like camera bags, keep light-stands and tripods in some sort of casing. It may sound excessive but you never know who could be watching…. okay that also sounds a bit paranoid but, just be wise and be discreet.

4: Keep Cards And Cameras Completely Separated
Two camera bodies were stolen from me but I did NOT lose any images. Why? After a shoot I keep memory cards in a wallet, on my person, always. When I get home, I dump them on to a drive and then back that drive up, and back that drive up again. That’s data safety 101.

5: Pay Attention To Your Gear
Treat it like a toddler, and by that I mean always know where your gear is; even if you have to have to bring an assistant or second shooter to help you keep track. I’m the top offender when it comes to this rule. When I’m on a shoot the only things I’m concentrating on is my light, my subject and where I put my camera. I switch lenses quick and fast and my wife says I’m notorious for leaving gear behind. Good thing she’s there to pick up my slack! At any rate, it’s something I need to work on and now I even limit how much gear I take on a shoot.

In this day and age, gear-theft/burglary is almost inevitable. I don’t like being a pessimist but it’s the world we live in. There are people out there, ready to make money any way they can even if it means putting your livelihood at risk. The important thing to remember is to stay protected by having insurance and definitely don’t give up on pursuing your dreams. Although I say I wanted to quit and give up (due to a momentary lapse of judgment), there was something that kept me fighting for our livelihood and that thing was: Passion.

I hope this could be of some help and support to those who may have experienced or are currently sharing my experience. Just know that if you persevere and stay focused on your passions, you can make it out of most situations.

Leo and his wife Brittany are full-time professional wedding photographers/cinematographers based out of Tampa, FL and travel worldwide. You can follow them on Instagram, Facebook, check out their short wedding films on Vimeo, and see more work at RadRedCreative.com

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