Wednesday
Jan
2014
22

It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Matt Hoyle!

by Brad Moore  |  9 Comments

About 2 years ago I was feeling somewhat stagnant. I remembered this feeling as it hits me every couple of years. I’d been doing some good jobs and was busy which meant that I was doing stuff to make a living but not necessarily stuff I was completely in control of and happy with.

At that point in my career I had been slowly moving from Advertising and Editorial work to Entertainment and Celebrity work. It wasn’t easy to break into shooting celebrities as you were always up against people who were already proven in the industry. The resounding comment would be, ‘You haven’t shot enough celebrities to do this job sorry,’ and with that the door of the exclusive club would shut in my face.

I slowly made some headway and had a few celebrities in my book and noticed that there was a good handful of funny people in it, like Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, John Oliver, John Hodgman, Steve Carell and a few others. And so I decided to roll with that momentum to do a book on funny people; Comic Genius: Portraits of Funny People

I had no idea how large it would be as I didn’t know who would say yes. I started off thinking I’d do 20 to 30 portraits. I ended up shooting over 90 which turned out to be one of the largest books of the biggest names in comedy that had ever been done. 130 portraits shot from Hollywood to Edinburgh Scotland in over a year and a half!

Even today when I look at the list I don’t know how I did it. How so many said yes and how my team logistically produced each shoot flawlessly. There were of course people who said no. In fact, if you can think of someone who is your favorite who isn’t in here, chances are we asked them but for whatever reason, scheduling or otherwise, they couldn’t do it. But here’s who could:

MEL BROOKS, STEVE MARTIN, TINA FEY, CARL REINER, BILLY CRYSTAL, EDDIE MURPHY, JONATHAN WINTERS, ROBIN WILLIAMS, ZACH GALIFIANAKIS, ADAM SANDLER, DICK VAN DYKE, CAROL BURNETT, STEVE CARELL, NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, BETTE MIDLER,RICKY GERVAIS, LILY TOMLIN, JASON BATEMAN, JIM CARREY, JANE LYNCH, JON STEWART, PAUL REUBENS, JOAN RIVERS, MARTIN SHORT, JAY LENO, DAVID CROSS, KATHY GRIFFIN, SARAH SILVERMAN, MARTIN LAWRENCE, ANDY SAMBERG, MIKE MYERS,NICK OFFERMAN, TOMMY SMOTHERS, DON RICKLES, MICHAEL IAN BLACK, ED HELMS, JON LOVITZ, CLORIS LEACHMAN, MICHAEL RICHARDS, JACKIE MASON, CONAN O’ BRIEN, CATHERINE O’ HARA, ERIC STONESTREET, BOB BALABAN, KRISTEN WIIG, JEFFREY TAMBOR, JANEANE GAROFALO, KRISTEN SCHAAL, BOB NEWHART,WEIRD AL YANKOVIC, CHEVY CHASE, TRACY MORGAN, GEORGE LOPEZ, DAVID STEINBERG, BILLY CONNOLLY, JAY ROACH, EUGENE LEVY, DAVID KOECHNER,TIM HEIDECKER AND ERIC WAREHEIM,JOHN OLIVER, JOHN HODGMAN, STEPHEN MERCHANT, RAINN WILSON, JERRY STILLER, EUGENE MIRMAN, MICHAEL SHOWALTER, ADAM MCKAY, DENIS LEARY, PATTON OSWALT, B.J. NOVAK, BOB ODENKIRK, BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT, FRED WILLARD, JENNIFER COOLIDGE, MARC MARON, MORT SAHL, ANDREW DICE CLAY, RHYS DARBY TOM GREEN, JOHN CLEESE, MATT LUCAS, MICHAEL PALIN, JOANNA LUMLEY, JENNIFER SAUNDERS, TIM MINCHIN, TIM ALLEN, DAME EDNA AND KERMIT THE FROG

It started by making a wish list. That list would be my team’s checklist. Every day we’d search through contacts and locate celebrities. If they were a comic touring or a comedic actor shooting a film we’d go where we needed to get a “YES” from our subjects.

When they did, we’d arrange to have either a phone conversation with them or chat via email. I remember the first time it hit me that it was happening, when Steve Martin called me. “Hi Matt, Steve Martin here”…. I had to just take that in for a moment. I proceeded to tell him my concepts which included the cover shot of him in white suit with his flower/boutonniere growing from a flower pot in his hand.

I had read that he was an art collector and liked surrealist work, so I thought that would be a surreal enough idea for him. It turns out he liked it so that was great!

I found myself like a kid in a candy shop working with my comedy heroes and so I went for broke and half jokingly asked my producer to get me Kermit the Frog so we could shoot a video of him & Steve Martin playing Dueling Banjos. She did. And so I nervously asked Steve if he’d do it.

He said, “If Kermit is into it then I guess I could do it.” And so one of my most memorable days of shooting happened. I walked into Siren Studio in Hollywood and the swamp set was already being built. Real logs, reeds, greenery and a painted backdrop that completed the picture. Kermit had arrived and was getting set up on the log just right; he’s very particular. Steve then arrived with his banjo and offered to play Kermit’s part for him for playback. So a sound recordist and Steve were playing Dueling Banjos in the green room and Kermit was talking to me and my crew in the main soundstage and I was in heaven.

Other memorable shoots include Robin Williams, who came to the studio very quiet and soft-spoken. I was a little concerned that he’d not be into the shoot, but that all ended when he walked out of wardrobe as a marionette pulling his own strings (which is the way I sort of see him being in control of his character so well). It was awesome and we got a mini show of him riffing on being a puppet and the sort of suggestive moves you could make if you were so inclined. He was.

One day I was sitting in my office. The phone rang and it went something like this: “Matt? Hi this is Mel Brooks. So we’re doing a photo shoot. Ok. So I got all your ideas.”

At this stage I was excited that at the end of the conversation, one of the true kings of comedy Mel Brooks would have chosen one of my comedy concepts to shoot and I’d forever have that up my sleeve for bragging rights. ‘Yeah I wrote a comedy bit for Mel Brooks.’

Mel continued. “Yeah here they are, looking at them, they all stink. So here’s what I’m going to do. Get me a comb from a drug store. Can you do that? And I’ll put it to my nose and be Hitler. It’ll be great.”

And it was. Mel also did the intro for my book so I’m eternally grateful to have had my ideas rejected by the great man.

In London I photographed John Cleese. He called me in my hotel room the night before the shoot. He had not approved any of the concepts I presented to him yet and I was beginning to get worried. He said no to a shot of him doing his funny walk (he was over the whole funny walk thing since a day doesn’t go by that I’m sure someone doesn’t ask him to do it), but yes to my concept of him playing a large fish with a bow like a musician. He said he quite liked that. Which made me happy since we could then rush out and find a large fish in time for the shoot. But my favorite shot of him is one where I was shooting some close up portraits of his expressions and he stopped and said “Wait, I have something!” and put his hat on sideways and gave me that John Cleese stare. Love it!

I was looking forward to shooting Ricky Gervais as I am a fan of his biting humor. I had this concept of him doing his big teethy laugh that is so infectious and then accompanying it with a bowl of alphabet soup with the words ha ha in it. He asked what was the cover of the book and I said Steve Martin. He said, ‘Who’s he?’ Which was the perfect comment from him.

Michael Richards was someone who had made me laugh so much during Seinfeld’s reign and even his reruns, so I was happy when he said yes. Even with his recent public incident, he was happy to bring his character to life and I wanted to capture that silliness shyly coming out from the curtain.

Shooting the book was draining, costly and put a lot of my commercial work on hold, yet it was an amazing journey that I wouldn’t trade for anything. It ended up making ‘Best Photography Book of the Year’ lists including American Photography and becoming a best seller on Amazon which is a nice bonus. But one of the most satisfying results is that all net proceeds are going to Save the Children. I just had a child myself who I dedicated the book to so it’s a fitting way to honor him and do something worthwhile.

You can see more of Matt’s work at MattHoyle.com, buy his book Comic Genius: Portraits of Funny People, and follow him on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook.

Tuesday
Jan
2014
21

Scott’s Photoshop MicroTips (30-second little nuggets)

by Scott Kelby  |  19 Comments

A few days ago, just for fun, I started doing these short little Photoshop tips, between 20 and 30-something seconds long (well, that’s the goal anyway), and I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on them. I just cover one little thing; so far it’s been some little-known shortcuts, and I’m not sure exactly what’ll I’ll be covering from day to day, but here’s the first three I created.

I don’t talk on these (a big bonus for some) — I do it all using text (that way I can just bang these out right when I think of them, without having to go to the studio). You should hear the “click” sound from my computer, but for some reason the 2nd one didn’t include the click audio. Anyway, here they are — hope you find ‘em helpful.

NOTE: If you don’t want to miss any of my Micro Tips, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel here. 

All my best,

-Scott

Above: A tip on picking fonts visually — it rocks! YouTube didn’t give me a decent choice for the thumbnail — so it just has this black screen. Ugh.

P.S. Tomorrow, on “The Grid” we have an awesome guest, our buddy (and action photographer), Tom Bol. If you’re not familiar with Tom’s work, or his classes on KelbyOne, you will totally love him! See you tomorrow at 4pm at this link

 

Monday
Jan
2014
20

Why I Switched to Canon

by Scott Kelby  |  249 Comments

I’ve had so many people asking about this, and its more than I can put in a short Tweet or Facebook post (and it would make for one really long blog post), so I’m posting this video clip instead — that way when somebody asks I can just point them to this video. Cheers everybody and happy Monday. :)

Friday
Jan
2014
17

New Photoshop Features For Photoshop CC users

by Scott Kelby  |  24 Comments

Adobe released a bunch of new features yesterday for Creative Cloud subscribers, and I’m sharing some of the videos they created to showcase the new features here on the blog, like the one above which introduces Perspective Warp (really handy for people who are bad at shooting images for compositing. OK, sorry, I couldn’t’ resist).

Above: That’s an overview of the new Photoshop CC features

Above: This is one a lot of folks are psyched about — linked Smart Objects.

Above: 3D printing from Photoshop. Sounds like something Corey Barker would do, right?

Above: This one’s from Adobe’s own Julieanne Kost, and she’s revealing some of the little tweaks, enhancements and little improvements added to Photoshop CC

There’s a list of these little enhancements over at Jeff Tranberry’s blog (here’s the link).

There’s some fun stuff to work on this weekend — hope it’s a great one, and we’ll see you back here on Monday. Cheers. :)

-Scott

P.S. Besides these new features announced yesterday, Adobe released a number of new little tweaks and improvements to Camera Raw back in December of 2013, but the announcement slipped past a lot of folks. Stuff like “Auto Temperature” and “Auto Tint” for white balance, and kind of an “Auto Levels” for automatically setting the Whites and Blacks sliders, among other new little tweaks. The full list of Camera Raw tweaks from December are at this link. 

Thursday
Jan
2014
16

It’s Free Stuff Thursday!

by Brad Moore  |  78 Comments

KelbyOne Live
Want to spend a day with Scott KelbyMatt Kloskowski, or RC Concepcion? Check out these seminar tours!

Shoot Like A Pro with Scott Kelby
Feb 21 – Tampa, FL
Feb 24 – Atlanta, GA
Mar 12 – Phoenix, AZ
Mar 28 – Minneapolis, MN

Lightroom 5 Live with Matt Kloskowski
Jan 31 – Covington, KY (Cincinnati Area)
Feb 5 – Richmond, VA

Photoshop for Photographers with RC Concepcion
Feb 19 – Lansing, MI
Feb 26 – Oklahoma City, OK
Mar 4 – New York, NY
Mar 26 – Arlington, TX

You can check out the full schedule for seminars through March! And leave a comment for your chance to win a ticket to one of these events!

Long Exposure Photography with Matt Kloskowski
Have you ever wondered how people create those amazing photographs where it seems the clouds are still moving across the scene, where flowing water has become a ghostly mist, or where the stars appear to be streaking across the sky? It is all about long exposure photography. Join Matt Kloskowski on KelbyOne.com as he teaches you everything you need to know; from the camera settings and gear that make long exposure photography possible to the post-processing techniques required to take it to the next level. The time has never been better to learn how to create those dramatic images on your own and open yourself to a whole new world of photography.

Leave a comment for your chance to check this class out for free!

Last Week’s Winners
Year of KelbyOne
- Ven McAndrew
- Belinda Johnson
- Brian Parchim

KelbyOne Live Ticket
- DaniLew

Frank Doorhof’s Mastering The Model Shoot
- KC

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

Wednesday
Jan
2014
15

It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Moose Peterson!

by Brad Moore  |  19 Comments

Coming off such an amazing year, it’s a bit daunting to think about the New Year already unfolding. Being a very fortunate photographer with the lifetime self-assignment of affecting the world as a visual storyteller, each day brings its frustrations and rewards, propelling me onto the next. As one who really hates calendars and loathes clocks, containerizing life in twelve-month blocks at times seems stifling. Like Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

The process of projecting the year to come in large part is based on the year(s) that has passed. It’s comparable to what I always refer to as the great blessing of digital photography. We need to go through our day’s images to see what we did right, and most importantly, see what part of the visual story we didn’t capture or we can improve. While these are questions I ask others when they seek my photographic business advice, I ask them of myself when looking to the photographic future. Where do you want to take your photography and where do you want your photography to take you?

Where do you want to take your photography? This question often befuddles folks because there isn’t a technical answer that quickly comes to mind. The usual quick answer is…make it better. But that’s a given and something you really don’t need to put conscious thought into because it’s going to happen without conscious thought. Your photography is always getting better as long as you constantly keep shooting. It’s probably just not as fast as you’d like but trust me, there is no race to win being better quickly. As a creative, you should take this question and look inward for the answer, for it’s in your heart that you’ll find the force that drives your photography forward. That’s right, the answer is your passion, that’s where you want to take your photography.

Dang, there’s no histogram that can help with that! And that’s really hard to put on a calendar or purchase at B&H, that passion thing. What you can put on the calendar are lots and lots and lots of shoots, especially ones that really make you sweat! “So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor” is really sage advice! You want to take your photography where it hasn’t been before, and from that exploration comes the growth that propels you to better photography. What can you look back on this past year that fits that description? How did you fare? Were there failures you can improve on? Are there successes you can build upon? You hold the answers inside your heart as to where you want to take your photography, you’ve just gotta listen to it.

April found me in an 8x8x6 plywood box with my dear friend for 18hrs on the very cold Platte River. Mark and I were once again going after the magical sunrise where we look out our wooden cell-like blind to the delight of thousands of Sandhill Cranes, dancing on the sandbars. And while we had an amazing sunset and lots of hours of conversation locked in our box (good thing Mark is such an amazing pastor), we awoke again to just empty sandbars. Not the first time for us, and not the last, but getting skunked is part of the photographic equation you’ve got to embrace. If I just shared the photos of the naked sandbars, sand isn’t that attractive. Wanting to grab heartstrings, I know the purdy sunset shot with all the reds will suck you in and is the one to share. Perfecting your storytelling is just as important in where you want to take your photography as the f/stop.

After a 13-year absence I headed north again to the Tundra of Churchill, Canada in May for one of the most amazing bird spectacles a photographer can witness. I went looking for one species, the Hudsonian Godwit, a bird that in all my previous journeys to Churchill eluded me. Yet on this summer’s trip, the first trip from the lodge and within a few blocks of the town literally on the side of the road, I nailed it. Go figure. When that happened I wondered to myself what I was going to do for the rest of the week. That’s when you reach down and look for the photos, the stories that sum it all up. Think about it this way. When you grab your iPhone and show folks photos that sum up your trip, how many photos do you show them? One, two, five or fifty? Often it’s just one or two that you find on your journey and put your passion into!

And no matter where you are in your photographic pursuits or career, you have to keep evolving or you parish (my version of the Darwin Photographic Theory). I pushed myself this past year into areas where I’m not only technically not as “sharp” as I should be but also personally very uncomfortable. In July, Jake and I headed to Oshkosh and while most naturally think of planes, I knew for my work that week, they would just be the backdrops. My focus was going to be people involved with aircraft and in particular, WWII vets. Shooting just shy of a thousand portraits in one day (and retouching), I thought I was gonna die! But I made new friendships and furthered others that I will always cherish. One new friend is Clancy.

Clancy and I struck up an instant bond from my very first click. You see him here standing in front of just one of the many aircraft he flew during WWII, a TBM Avenger. In his hands is a photograph of his and if you can identify the four aviation anomalies in the photo, then you’re OK in his book. You see, Clancy amongst his other hooligan roles during WWII, was a Navy photographer. Most of the photos we see in history books from WWII from the Pacific are his.  After I got done taking this easy portrait (18-35AFS with the cement acting like a giant fill card and scattered skies above), I went over to shake his hand and say thanks. Clancy said, “You know light, you worked the situation perfectly.” Our shortest phone call since that day has been ninety minutes, he’s simply a hoot! And you could say I’m slowly, finally, getting out of my box working with folks.

And that’s what we all must constantly keep doing, following our heart to push our photography further. Because it’s in this pursuit we slowly, ever so slowly get the hint where we want our photography to take us. It’s not about a destination, but rather a journey. And more often than not, it’s not a journey we can note on a calendar and schedule, especially not in a twelve-month period of time and perhaps not even unfolding over a decade. I’m going on decade four, if that’s any encouragement.

I’ve been very fortunate that life has taken me on an amazing journey for which I can take very little credit for piloting. The last few years has included my longtime passion for aircraft. And fortunately I learned early on it’s not the aircraft but those behind them that is really the story. Sharon and I love to fly and when you get in the air with classic aircraft with dear friends at the stick, well there simply is nothing better (except a critter). Combining what I’ve come to do with critters and landscapes, seeking the light and wanting to tell the story, aviation photography has evolved into a big part of our lives now. All those WWII vets we’ve come to call friends tell us their exploits from the war, which coming full circle, with our friends flying their warbirds to turn those vets’ stories into living images. And while we think we know where we might want our photography to take us, the serendipitous nature of being creatives, you just never know where the magic will take you.

“We need you to take a portrait.” My good friends at the Texas Flying Legends Museum have carte blanche with me, whatever they need or want I’m there, so with such a simple request, I said yes. “Tomorrow at 1300, meet us in front of the XXX lodge, we’ll pick you up.” The next day with just the D4, 24-70, SB-910 and TTL cord, I was dropped off and walked across the street and waited at the XXX lodge to be picked up. Five minutes later two Escalades came down the road, the door opened on the second one and I jumped in. Greeted by the pilots of TFLM, we headed down the road. Ten minutes later I was in the personal office of Pres. George Bush at Kennebunkport, taking portraits. After it was all said and done I was asked if I wanted my portrait taken with the President. “Of course Moose does,” the President said (the autographed print is one of my most cherished). Moments later I was in the office all alone with the President having a conversation about my dad and the President’s time as a TBM pilot during WWII. You simply just don’t know where your photography is going to take you!

And like all of you, I now look back on the last year and ponder what this New Year has in store. We need to know where we want to take our photography and with reflection we can focus better where that is. The heart is a great guide, keeping in mind one important fact. What the world needs is not more technically perfect photographs, but rather more photographs with passion. And when you share those photos, when you visually tell the stories of your journey, we take the world along with us. Photography is still one of the grandest pursuits I know and I look forward to seeing how the year unfolds in your photographs. “Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

You can see more of Moose’s work at MoosePeterson.com and WarbirdImages.com, check out his iPad app MoosePress to keep up with his iBooks publishing, and follow him on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and YouTube.

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