It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Ibarionex Perello!

by Brad Moore  |  9 Comments

Real World Tips for Photographing Real People
People have held a fascination for me from the first moments that I picked up a camera in my adolescence. They were the very first things that I turned my camera toward, and it’s a fascination that continues to this day.

Despite such an early start, I still face many of the same doubts and insecurities that you likely feel any time you are out in public and want to photograph strangers. Such feelings don’t ever go away, but I’ve managed to find a way of working through those feelings to make intimate photographs of people.

The fear that people will become angry or even violent is how far we take our anxiety over photographing someone we don’t know. But the reality is that most people, when approached in a sincere and friendly way, are often flattered and thus agreeable to being photographed.

Though I discuss in depth my personal approach in my e-book Portraits of Strangers, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a few tips that I think you will find helpful the next time you want to photograph a stranger.

Begin with a Compliment
I was walking to my car after a teaching assignment when I spotted this young man talking to some friends in the parking lot. I approached him and complimented on his hair and joked about the fact that I’m follicly challenged. I asked if I could make his photograph, which he gladly agreed to.

Approaching someone with a sincere compliment about something you find interesting is a great way to start an interaction. First off, giving a complete stranger a compliment catches most people off guard. They are often flattered. Secondly, it provides them with an understanding of why you want to photograph them. They don’t need to ask, “Why do you want to make my picture?” because you’ve already established why. Whether it’s their hair, the dog they are walking or just the fact that they look great in a suit or a dress, it helps to bridge the physical and emotional gap that separates them and you.

Having Your Camera Ready
When I saw this caballero walk into the restaurant where I was having lunch, I knew immediately that I wanted to photograph him. As he and his wife were ordering their meal, I was busily setting my camera’s ISO, white balance and aperture to take advantage of the light within the space. So, when I finally approached him and he agreed to my making his picture, I focused completely on keeping him engaged rather than fiddling with my camera.

As I am often making street portraits, I am always assessing the quality and the quantity of the light and adjusting my white balance, and ISO accordingly. I especially pay attention to my shutter speed and increase my ISO as needed to ensure a reasonable shutter speed that will keep my images sharp.

Stay Aware of your Light and Background
During the anniversary of Union Station, there were several people dressed in vintage clothing. I stopped this young man who I thought looked stellar in his suit and hat. Though the light was great in the initial setting, the background was far to busy and cluttered and so I moved him to a location with a simpler and cleaner background. This resulted in a much better portrait that emphasized his style.

Don’t hesitate to move your subject. Often the place where you initially find your subject isn’t the ideal location for a portrait. Remember, if a person has agreed to being photographed, they likely will be more than willing to move to a location where the light and the background is better if you explain simply that you are doing so to make them look as good as possible.

Get Closer
When I saw this fellow place his dog in his jacket, I complimented him on the dog and asked if I could make a photograph. I had a wide-angle lens on the camera, which allowed me to include him in the frame. So, when he pulled out a cigarette and lit, I was ready to include the gesture of his hands to make a better photograph than I had initially anticipated.

Don’t be too preoccupied with invading someone’s space especially after they’ve already agreed to be photographed. For the few moments that you are engaged, you have received permission to move closer to a complete stranger than you normally would have any reason to. Take advantage of that, because the result are images that are much more intimate and immediate than something you could produce at a distance with a telephoto lens.

Include the Environment
While in a small town in Guadalajara, I walked into this muffler shop and simply asked what kind of work they did there. After a brief chat, I explained that I was there as part of a photo workshop and asked permission to make some photographs, to which they agreed. I wanted to do more than a head and shoulders portrait. So I included part of this man’s workspace in my composition to provide some context that explained who he is and what he does.

If the setting provides some insight into who the person is and what he does, it’s a perfect time to open up the composition and include those important elements in the frame. Be careful to scan the edges of the frame to eliminate anything that doesn’t serve the subject or the image. Carefully consider your composition so that you can succeed in making a strong environmental portrait.

Slow Down
When I saw this young man, I complimented him on his look and asked to make his portrait. I positioned him so that the background was as clean and simple as I could make it. There were cars and people passing by in the background and so I had to wait several times for them to pass. I didn’t rush it and I didn’t settle on just making one image. I simply explained why I was taking as long as I was and thanked him for his patience. In the end, we were both pleased with the final result.

I recommend that you don’t rush things once someone has agreed to be photographed by you. It’s tempting, because you don’t want to take too much of that person’s time, but it’s important that make sure that you get the best shot possible. That’s likely not going to happen if you just make one frame. As the photographer, you have the responsibility to make the most of the opportunity and to honor the person with the best image you can muster. You should be quick, but be efficient.

There is no real secret to approaching strangers. Like with anything in photography, it takes practice. Yes, there will be times when you are rejected, but the worst that will happen in those situations is that people will simply say, “no.” Just thank them anyway and move on to your next subject. In due time, you will find yourself making photographs of complete strangers and not only coming away with a good photograph, but a wonderful story to go along with it.

Ibarionex Perello is a photographer, writer, educator and host/producer of The Candid Frame, which features conversation with some of the world’s best established and emerging photographers. He is the author of 5 books including Chasing the Light: Improving Your Photography Using Available Light. You can see more of his work at and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


Greetings from Portland, Oregon

by Scott Kelby  |  6 Comments

Above: That’s me, Nicole Young, Brad “Your face is going to freeze like that” Moore, and Brian Matiash at a waterfall somewhere in Portland (note the beautiful falls behind us. Errrr, to the left of us. Outside the frame. Yeah, that one). 

Greetings from beautiful Portland, Oregon where the sun is shining (well, not this instant as I’m writing this right before bed, but it was a gorgeous day here today), and we’re hanging out with some friends, and shooting’ and stuff.

I’m here for my “Shoot Like a Pro” Seminar today, and as you can see from the photo above…I’ve just got nothing for the blog today. Nuthin’ — but on some level, I think the expression Brad is making above was totally worth a visit. Just sayin’.

Hope you all have a “I hope your face doesn’t freeze like that” type of day!



P.S. Although I’m posing here in Oregon with Brian Matiash (from Google photos), he’ll be our very special in-studio guest this Wednesday on “The Grid” where he’ll be sharing some cool stuff. That’s all I’m gonna say. :)


Exposure (the ultimate story-telling site for photographers) Keeps Getting Better

by Scott Kelby  |  10 Comments

My favorite photography photo-telling site,, has been adding lots of important features for the past few months, but this one may be the important so far because by adding “Categories” they’re making the stories and the photographers who post their visual stories there much easier to find.

They’ve got a bunch of different categories you can browse through now — everything from Travel to Causes, Lifestyle to Events, Sports to Weddings and a whole bunch more. Here’s a link to their Categories page if you’ve got a sec. Also, I’ve got seven photo stories posted there myself — here’s the link to my page (seen below). NOTE: they recently changed their site link from to — I have no idea why, but just though I’d mention it in case you already have them bookmarked. 

This is really a big step forward for the site. If you’re not telling your stories there already, here’s the link to learn how. Congrats and a big high-five to Luke Beard and the folks at for making this tool even better and better! Super digging’ it!



P.S. I’m off to Portland, Oregon for my “Shoot Like a Pro” full-day seminar there on Tuesday. Hope I’ll see you there (if you’re not already registered, here’s the link). Next stop Nashville on June 16th.


My Mother’s Day Project for CocaCola

by Scott Kelby  |  13 Comments

Hi gang: I recently did three portrait shoots for the Coca Cola company and their “Journeys” project to celebrate Mother’s Day.

My idea was to feature three very special mom’s and to make a portrait of them in their home holding one of their most memorable Mother’s Day gifts, along with the person who gave them such a memorable gift, and the story behind it.

If you have a moment, here’s the link.

Here’s wishing all the awesome mom’s out there a wonderful Mother’s day this Sunday. :)




It’s Free Stuff Thursday!

by Brad Moore  |  22 Comments

The Art of Digital Photography: The Inspirational Series with Dixie Dixon
Join Mia McCormick for an inspirational chat with Dixie Dixon, a commercial fashion photographer based in Texas. Over the course of an hour their conversation touches on topics ranging from how Dixie got started shooting fashion to a behind the scenes perspective on some of her favorite images, and from the importance of finding sources of inspiration to the growth that can come from pursuing personal projects.

Leave a comment for your chance to see this class for free!

KelbyOne Live
Want to spend a day with Scott Kelby, RC Concepcion, Joe McNally, Corey Barker, or Ben Willmore? Check out these seminar tours!

Shoot Like A Pro with Scott Kelby
May 13 – Portland, OR
June 17 – Nashville, TN

Photoshop for Photographers with RC Concepcion
May 20 – Hartford, CT

One Flash, Two Flash with Joe McNally
June 19 – San Jose, CA
June 27 – Seattle, WA
July 24 – Milwaukee, WI
July 28 – Boston, MA

Photoshop Down & Dirty Master FX with Corey Barker
June 25 – New Orleans, LA
July 10 – San Diego, CA

Photoshop Creativity with Ben Willmore
May 9 – South San Francisco, CA
May 28 – Sacramento, CA

You can check out the full schedule for seminars through August, and we’ll be updating it with more dates soon! Leave a comment for your chance to win a ticket to one of these events!

Last Week’s Winners
KelbyOne Live Ticket
- John Dewberry

Time Lapse Photography with Tom Bol
- PhillyGunners

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


It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring David Mclain!

by Brad Moore  |  16 Comments

Some Things I’ve Learned Over The Years. In Order Of Importance.
Six things I have learned over the years that are relevant to this increasingly common desire. In order of importance.

1. How you see the world and what you have to say about it (also known as point of view) is the single most valuable asset you have as a photographer. Often, developing a strong point of view has very little to do with photography and a lot to do with what you read, think, and have seen. What is you point of view? What you are doing to develop and expand it?

2. Be a nice person. Clients give work to talented people they want to spend time with. Its that simple. In the past 25 years I could probably trace every job I have ever gotten back to about 15 people. They would recommend me to others because I had put in enough hours to get good at my craft and they enjoyed my company. Its that simple. Solid Talent + Nice Personality = Third Person Referrals. Third person Referrals = everything. This also happens to be a much less icky way to think about marketing.

3. Walk before you fly. The curve of every successful photographer I know represents a slow and steady rise over time powered by passion. They started with small unglamorous assignments for small unglamorous publications and through dogged commitment and talent built their careers one picture at a time. Sorry folks, there is no fast track to success. For some reason people don’t want to hear this. I’m gonna sound old here, but this is especially true with some younger people. It takes 10,000 hours to master a craft. The sooner you accept this, roll up your sleeves, and start doing the hard work the better off you will be.

4. Find a mentor (and listen to them). I can trace everything that has ever happened in my career back to 4 mentors. Each of them helped me through different stages of my career in a very old­ fashioned way. Basically, they would give me advice and I would follow it. A lot of the time this advice made no sense but in retrospect it always did. None of them every told me I was great and all of them expected a lot of me.

5. It’s not about the gear. For every minute you research or think about gear/technology you need to spend 100 hours actually using it. Look at the greatest photographs ever taken, almost all of them could have been shot with a 35mm or 50mm lens. I’m begging you… shut down your computer get offline and shoot more. The real world can be so much more interesting and rewarding than the virtual one anyway.

6. Embrace business. You’re better off being a mediocre photographer who is an excellent business person than vice versa. I know, creatives are supposed to be above business. Here’s the key, don’t think of business as something that will turn you into a suit and tie. Think of business as nothing more than a way for you to enable your dream job and lifestyle. The better you get at the business part of it the more opportunities you will have. Business for photographers is really just a different application of the creative problem solving skills we already posses.

Learn more about the feature film David is shooting at and see David’s work at

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