I can’t believe it’s been seven years since I took these shots in Dubai â” I was there speaking at an Adobe conference, and I got a chance to spend two extra days just shooting and having fun in this amazing place, along with my brother Jeff and my buddy Jeff Revell.

I was there at the height of Dubai’s construction boom. At the time around 25% of all the construction cranes in the world were in Dubai. The Burj Kalifa was about 80% complete (seen below) and at that point nobody really knew how many stories it would be when completed (Well, somebody knew but they weren’t saying).

I said to my brother and Jeff back then, “I would just love to come back here in five years and see what it all looks like when they’re all done.” Apparently, they’re not done â” it’s still growing fast, and it took me a couple of extra years beyond that five to make the trek back, but I’m so excited to be visiting Dubai again â” one of the most amazing places I’ve ever seen.

This time I’m not there to teach â” I am humbled, honored and so excited to be presented Monday night with the prestigious Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award. And it comes with an added bonus that I finally accomplished something that made my young daughter slightly impressed with me. “A Prince is giving you the award?! Now that’s something Daddy!” Lol! Finally!

The awesome folks at 500px did a really nice write up about it over on their blog (here’s the link), and if you’ve got a sec maybe you could pop-on over there as they’ve got all the details.

I’m so looking forward to thisâ¦
â¦and I’m excited to have my buddy Brad Moore along with me for the trip this time. We’re trying to fit in some shooting time during this short trip, and I’m excited to see the completed Burj Kalifa (the hotel we’re staying at has a direct view of it), and to possibly make the short drive up to Abu Dhabi for a shoot there as well. And of course, the highlight will be the awards ceremony (I had to rent a tux and all), and I hope to have lots of photos to share when I return next week.

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend, and we’ll see you back here on Monday, provided I have enough time to actually put together a post. Hmmmm. Maybe I could write one on the plane. Seems like I’ll be a few hours in the air. ;-)

All my best,


A Real Wedding, Live and Uncensored with Cliff Mautner
Get the inside scoop on what it takes to photograph a real wedding with Cliff Mautner! Cliff has shot over 900 weddings, and he knows that each one takes on a life of its own. In this first part of a two-part class Cliff takes you right into the unscripted action as he goes to work photographing a real wedding from the moment he arrives at the venue through shooting family portraits just prior to the ceremony. You'll learn about all the gear Cliff takes to a wedding and why it earns a place in his bag, you'll see how Cliff interacts with the bride and groom as he builds a rapport that helps to put the client at ease and keeps the focus on their big day, and you'll gain the benefit of Cliff's insights into how he approaches a wedding shoot, what his priorities are, and how he prepares for all the unpredictability that a wedding presents.

In the second part of A Real Wedding, Live and Uncensored, Cliff continues the experience of putting you right by his side as he works to photograph a wedding as it happens. The class begins as the ceremony is about to start and continues to the dancing at the reception. All the way through Cliff brings you into the situation by thinking out loud as he calls on his experience to overcome challenges, adjust settings, change lenses, and adhere to the number one rule: Get the shot!

KelbyOne Live
Want to learn from Scott Kelby or Joel Grimes 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
Apr 13 – Salt Lake City, UT
Apr 15 – Los Angeles, CA

The Photographers Creative Revolution Tour with Joel Grimes
Mar 25 - Washington, DC
Mar 27 - Minneapolis, MN
Apr 17 - New York, NY
Apr 22 - San Antonio, TX
Apr 24 - Houston, TX

Leave a comment for your chance to win a free ticket to one of these events!

Denver Sports Photography Workshop with Peter Read Miller
The Peter Read Miller Sports Photography Workshop is back for its 15th year in a row! It’s happening in Denver, Colorado April 13-19, and he’ll be covering mountain biking, basketball, soccer, baseball, lacrosse, and boxing. Not only that, but he’ll also be showing his secrets for location and studio lighting, including arena lighting, and even using remote cameras. If you’re interested in any of this, having your work critiqued, or trying out gear from Canon and Dynalite, you can find out more info right here.

Leave a comment for your chance to win a free copy of Peter’s book, Peter Read Miller On Sports Photography!

Last Week’s Winner
Down & Dirty Tricks for Designers by Corey Barker
– Bill Guy

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

Hey Gang! Holy cow am I seriously writing as a guest blogger for Scott Kelby?! I am honestly a little freaked out right now. When I started working for Scott and Kelby Media Group almost 5 years ago, I never would have imagined I would be asked to speak to such an amazing group of readers. Some of the brightest and most talented photographers on the planet have graced these pages and I am truly honored to share my time with you.

Some of you may know that I direct our on-location KelbyOne classes with our amazing line up of instructors. But I also teach classes on KelbyOne showing you how to edit video in Adobe Premiere Pro. As I sit here trying to figure what exactly a videographer can talk about with photographers, one big topic comes to mind; how can you, as photographers, start to become filmmakers? So I came up with these 5 tips:


1) Watch Behind The Scenes On Your Blu-Ray Movies
This is, for me, one of the most underrated and most valuable first ways to learn filmmaking. Most movies will come with some kind of behind the scenes footage on the disc or in download form. By watching these, you will get to see how the film's set works, hear from the director and cinematographer, see all the fancy gear that's being used, and you may even learn out how they pulled off an amazing shot in the movie.

I have two tips for you in regards to these BTS videos. First, if you buy the "Special Edition" version of the movie (like the Anniversary Edition, and even the 3D Blu-Ray combo packs), they tend to have much more BTS features than just the normal version of the film. Second, do not skip over watching the film with the commentary turned on, often times that will be the most detailed conversation on the film you will ever hear.

2) Make Short Films⦠Lots Of Them
Another great way to learn filmmaking is by telling simple short stories. They can be about your dog roaming the neighborhood, or your kids playing at the park, really any short story will work. Now, your first set of films are going to suck. And that's okay. They are not supposed to look good. But rather it is supposed to help you start thinking like a filmmaker and help you gain valuable experience by making mistakes.

3) Be A PA (Production Assistant) On Someone Else's Film Set
Not only will you see how things are done during filming and how people work on set, you will gain lots of experience and titles for yourself without spending any money. In fact, you might even get paid to learn by working on their set. Another benefit besides seeing how things work on set is that you will most likely see how things can go wrong on set as well. So you can learn valuable lessons from someone else's mistakes and that can save you a ton of headaches in the future.

4) Use Your Smartphone Video Option
One of the cheapest, simplest, and most effective ways to practice filmmaking is by using your smartphone. You can practice camera angles, and test how your scenes will look before you actually film with more expensive gear. There is a phrase in photography that goes like this: "The best camera is the one you have on you," and this applies to video as well.

5) Mute Your Films
This tip can truly be a game changer for people just getting into filmmaking. You need to watch films. Lots of films. From the summer blockbusters, to the less popular independents, to the "lovey dovey" romance films (yes, guys I said it) to comedies. All types of films. But, the one major thing you need to do when watching films for study is turn off the volume.

Yes you read that right. By muting the film, it actually takes you out of the illusion that is the film story, allowing you to really study the scenes in the movie. Pay attention to how shots are used and how scenes are edited together. Look at how often they cut back and forth, and how long they hold on shots. It's much harder to do this with the volume up because the sound draws you in and you get lost following the story instead of studying the filmmaking process.

So there you go! Those are my 5 tips to help you get started in the world of filmmaking without going to film school. As you can see, you don't need a fancy degree (although it helps) to learn to tell visual stories. After all, we ALL already do that with still images right? The major difference is instead of concentrating on just the one frame, as a filmmaker we are now concentrating on 24 frames every second.

I want to give a big shout out to Scott Kelby and Brad Moore for asking me to share some of my experience with you all here. I am truly honored and thankful for the opportunity!

You can check out Brandon’s classes on KelbyOne, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

It’s Tuesday â” and I’ve got nuthin’. Nuthin’! Well, not exactly nuthin â” because here’s a photo of Brad with his beard in full bloom posing in front of a VW Jetta rental car. That’s something, right? It’s something (wait for itâ¦wait for itâ¦) epic!

I’m at Adobe HQ all day today for a bunch of meetings, so I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of friends here, but outside of that, I’ve got nuthin’ and I’m heading to bed, so check back tomorrow for Guest Blog Wednesday, which, no matter who it is and no matter what the topic, it has to be better than “I’ve Got Nuthin'” Tuesday.

Have a good one!

He’s got nuthin’

P.S. Thanks to everybody who came out to my Sacramento seminar yesterday. Awesome crowd and a perfect way to wrap up my tour.

Hi Gang, and greetings from Sacramento where I’m wrapping up my “Shoot Like a Pro” tour today. Here’s what’s up:

Massive Photo Gear Giveaway
Two awesome photographers, Elia Locardi and Ken Kaminesky, have joined force to form “Dream Photo Tours” and to kick things off they are doing some insane giveaways. Here’s the link to enter for your chance to win (and see a list of all the prizes they’re giving away this week).

I’m off to Dubai next week!
More on the whys coming up soon, but Brad and I are heading there next week, and I need some awesome ideas of where to shoot (It’s been 6+ years since I’ve been there and can’t wait to go back, but I want a plan this time, instead just going around kinda blind, so if you have any ideas, let me know).

It’s “The Lightroom Show,” Episode #4
We’re cranking’ ’em out every week. It’s 12-packed full minutes of just wall-to-wall Lightroom tips and tutorials. Here’s the link, or you can subscribe for free on iTunes (here’s that link).

OK, I gotta hit the sack! (big day tomorrow!).

All my best,


P.S. I’m kicking off my all new tour, “Shoot Like a Pro: Reloaded!” in April in Salt Lake City, and then Los Angeles. Here’s the link with details. Hope I’ll see you there!


Earlier this week I was in Las Vegas at the WPPI show (the big Wedding and Portrait Show), and I was honored to be asked to give a talk in Canon’s booth on any topic I’d like (that’s me during one of my talks on Monday â” photo by Brad Moore).

While the name of my talk was “Photo Recipes” a big part of the talk was about lenses, but not the standard lens demo stuff (use this lens for weddings and this lens for sports, and the like), but thinking about lenses in the bigger picture (no pun intended there, but I wish it had been): from the fact that the moment you pick up a lens and put it on your camera, you’ve already made your first composition decision, to why so many people aren’t happy with their lens (and it’s not about sharpness or clarity, weight or price).

Here’s the condensed version
It was a 45-minute presentation so I can’t fit it all in here, but one topic I did touch on (with lots of examples) was why so many folks tell me they think their photos either look like snapshots or are just “nothing special” and I think part of that can be attributed to their lens selection. In particular, I feel (just my opinion here, but I’m not the first one to say this), that there’s a lens range that I consider kind of a “no-man’s land” for lenses because it’s where most of the worst photos are taken â” when you’re first starting out. That range, when you’re a beginner, is where your worst shots are made (stay with me here), and then you get better and leave those behind.

One of my favorite quotes ever
It comes from Bresson and it’s so right on the money:

He’s right, ya know. Now, let’s think about which lenses most photographers these days start out with. Usually, a kit lens, probably an 18-55mm. You can opt for other kit choices, like a 24-105mm or another popular one is the 18-135mm. But most beginner’s photos are going to be taken within that no-man’s land range of anywhere from 18-135mm with lots of shots at 50mm, 70mm and maybe the 100mm range. The reason I don’t really like a 24-70mm on my full-frame camera is that it’s fairly equivalent to an 18-55mm on a crop sensor camera. That range makes an awful lot of average pictures for people just starting out. It’s the beginner’s range of choice.

So, am I saying you can’t take a good picture with an 18-55mm or an 18-135mm?
Absolutely not. I am not saying that at all â” a lot of folks take amazing pictures with an 18-55mm. But a whole lot more, don’t.

So what are you saying?
Most folks that are new to photography are playing the middle ground when it comes to focal lengths. Using the average, standard default focal lengths they have with kit lenses. They live and die in that beginner’s range because they haven’t bought their first “2nd lens” yet, and here’s why this matters:

(1) They can shoot a wide angle shot, but not super wide. Just “average wide.” Like everybody else.
(2) They can shoot a telephoto shot, but not nearly tight enough to really bring you in close to see detail, like the pros do.

I think that’s one big reason they’re unhappy with their shots â” and why I feel they often describe their own shots to me as “average.” They’re comparing their images to the ones they see the top pros make, and their shots just don’t look like that. They’re not that wide. They’re not that close. They’re not that “something” and they probably don’t realize what it is, which makes it all even more frustrating. That average kit focal length definitely makes it harder (not impossible, but certainly harder) to create really compelling images because it’s harder to “stand out from the crowd.” At those focal lengths, you’re producing the same types of shots everybody else with a kit lens does. That’s before we even get to the sharpness issues, which is a post unto itself.

So, what is super wide and why does it matter?
My go-to lens for the past year has been Canon’s 16-35mm lens, and quite honestly, I could just tape the barrel down at 16mm â” I rarely ever shoot it at anything but 16mm, because when I go wide, I don’t want to go “a little wide” â” I want the image to have a chance of looking epic. Of looking big, and sweeping and just flat-out different the instant you see it. I certainly don’t always hit that goal. In fact, I rarely hit that goal, but at least I know it won’t be because of my lens choice â” it will be on me; what I’m shooting and how I composed it. Those alone â” I’m not limited by my lens.

But I want to go wider!
Wider is better, and I just started shooting Canon’s 14mm lens after Brad tried one out shooting a concert and was raving about it’s sharpness, but beyond that it’s just the “look” you get when you get that wide. It brings something different to the table â” something that instantly captures attention. That’s the kind of lens I want to be using (I don’t care that it’s a prime â” I’ll zoom with my feet).

Soon, I’ll be able to go even wider
My dream lens was just announced by Canon, and as soon as it ships, I’m picking one up (that’s a heads up to B&H â” please keep one for me, and can I get free overnight shipping?). It’s an 11-24mm zoom. I haven’t seen one yet. I haven’t shot it, but I know it’s going to bring me the opportunity to take even wider shots, and show a view most folks aren’t already used to seeing day-in, day out. It’s still on me; choosing the subject and composition, to make the shot, but I know at least with a lens that wide I’ll be starting on 2nd base.

For just two shots from each shoot, I want to go even wider. I want to go “fish”
Last year I started using the Canon 8-15mm fisheye zoom, and I absolutely love it (but I don’t use it at anything other than 15mm fish, so I get the full fish effect but without blacking out any of the edges or turning it into a full circle at 8mm). That lens creates really captivating images, but I’ve found that when you show someone a fisheye shot from a shoot, I don’t care if it’s a wedding or a bowl game, they’re like “Wow! That is really cool!” When you show them a second fisheye shot, they’re like “That’s cool” and if you show them a third it’s like “Uh huh.” It’s a special effect lens, and while it has real wow factor for one or two shots, (it tends to get old real fast, like highly processed HDR), so I know going in to the shoot that I’m only going to show one or two shots from it, but those one to two I show will have a huge impact, and knowing I’m going to get two shots that nobody else has, and that they’re going to have a big impact, well, that’s money in the bank where I come from.

Go long or go home
Dave Black said that to me once about shooting the same semi-long lens at a football game everybody else is shooting, but I think his advice extends way beyond just football. I think this is the other side of the coin that beginners are struggling with â” going beyond that 135mm telephoto focal range, and bring something special to the party. 200mm is a great focal length, and there’s so much you can do with it. My Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 is my workhorse lens. I use it for every sport I shoot, I use it for most every portrait, I use it at weddings, I’ve used it for travel, if I was stuck on a desert island and could only choose one lens, it’d be this (or a 28-300mm for full frame, I’m kinda torn). 200mm is a great focal length for sure. Ya know what’s even better? 300mm. Better yet? 400mm. These are ranges beginners rarely capture, and by shooting at 400mm you’re bringing something different, something special, something with impact to the party â” something that separates you from the crowd.

This past year I shot an Eagles/Titans NFL game using nothing but one lens, Canon’s updated 100-400mm f/4.5 to f/5.6 IS II lens. It cost less than my 70-200mm, but I was in tight at 400mm, and churning out shots for the first time at a pro or college game without using a Monopod. It was a revelation, but without that monopod I was (ahem) unprotected in front and took direct contact down south with the business end of a bullet pass and wellâ¦I saw stars for a few minutes there, but it was still an amazing experience, and one that was financially out-of-reach for a lot of folks, but now is in a lot of shooters’ ballpark (no pun, but come on, that would have been a good one), and that puts them in a better chance to make some magic than they would have in kit land. Again, not that it can’t be done â” there are some amazing kit lens shooters out there â” you just have to be really, really good.

Don’t take all this the wrong way
I know when I write an article like this that it’s natural for people who have, and love, and have maybe gotten great results in what I called a “no-man’s land” focal range lens to get defensive when they read this, and write defensive comments. Please don’t take it that way. I had all those same kit lenses, too. One of my favorite shots I’ve ever taken was taken with the kit lens on my first DSLR, the original Canon Rebel, so I know good shots can be taken with inexpensive lenses. This isn’t about the price. It’s about what lens choice means to your composition, your images, and your impact.

What I hope to do with this article, and what I hoped to achieve with my talks for Canon earlier this week out in Vegas, was for photographers, especially new shooters who are frustrated with what they’re getting, to realize that part of their problem might be partially focal length based, and I want folks to know how important lens selection is to the type of image you’re about to make. I think it’s the starting point of every shot â” the first composition decision â” and why we need to really give some thought to which lenses we use and why we use them, because I truly believe it makes that big a difference. When that realization hits you, you can’t look back. This is important stuff, and I hope this helped, at the very least, to get you thinking seriously about your lens choice next time you’re out shooting, or when you’re deciding on which lens to get next.

I’m off to Sacramento!
I’m there on Monday for the final stop of the most fun seminar to teach I’ve ever taught.  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and I hope to see you back here on Monday.

All my best,

Going really wide and really long (stop snickering)