–”My words can not express the admiration for Mr. Wallace’s life. I am thankful that I could listen to this interview. I’m very moved …”

–”Just finished watching and W.O.W!”

–”Tim Wallace thank you for sharing your inspirational and heartfelt story.”

–”Amazing! Thanks for sharing Tim.”

–”Wow. Great interview. I will never be that good.”

– “Very inspiring.”

There are just a few of the comments about this new “Personal Side” interview series from Kalebra featuring our KelbyOne instructors. Here’s how Kalebra describes this new series (from her blog):

“I wasn’t expecting to be doing an interview series, it wasn’t on my radar (or I doubt anyone else’s in the building) but a few month’s ago Mike Kubeisy called my husband and said he thought we ought to start an interview series that focused more on the photographer’s and instructor’s personal side but the surprise suggestion he threw in at the end of the conversation was that he thought I should be the one to do it. I think my husband said something along the lines of, “There’s no way she’ll say yes.” Hahaha! My husband’s response made total sense because it did take him five years to get me to record an iPhone class, but for some reason, the thought of just sitting with someone and listening to them tell their stories hit me just right at just the right time, and I said, “Yes.” We picked my husband up off the floor, and “The Personal Side” series was off and running.

Yesterday we released The Personal Side of Tim Wallace and if there is any way you can go and watch this interview I ask that you do just that. During Tim’s interview, I had to remind myself to breathe. His story is beautiful, inspiring, humbling and in the end, quite obvious that Tim is Batman. (I’m only half kidding.) It was my great pleasure and honor to be there and to be a part of this interview. I am grateful for how much he shared with all of us. Thank you, Tim. (aka, Batman).”

I hope you get a chance to watch this first in the series — and she’s already recorded more to follow with KelbyOne instructors like Dave Black, Moose Peterson, Trey Ratcliff, and Rick Sammon. Each one is special in its own way and we can’t wait to share them with you. Kudos to Mike Kubeisy for coming up with the idea, and a round of applause for Kalebra for being willing to run with Mike’s idea, and for putting so much heart into it.

Here’s wishing you all the best week you’ve had so far in 2017.

Best,

-Scott

P.S. I posted the images (and the story) from my shoot at the Atlanta Falcons new stadium, including my game coverage of the Falcons/Packers game over on Adobe Spark Page. That stadium is just incredible! Here’s the link if you’ve got a sec. 

Above: That’s me in Copenhagen back in 2011 shooting an all-in-one 18-200mm lens (photo by Terry White).

Greetings from Denver (I’m here for my Lightroom seminar today).

Last week I did a post responding to a flood of emails, texts, Facebook comments, direct messages about which is the best lens to use for travel photography and in that post I gave my lens picks for full frame camera users. Today we’re covering crop sensor lenses, and here it’s a whole lot easier because the lens I’m going to recommend is made by pretty much every lens manufacturer. As a remember: my goal is to travel with just one lens that does it all — that covers such an awesome range that:

(a) I don’t have to carry a 2nd lens at all

(b) Which means I don’t have to carry a camera bag with me either (it stays in my hotel room, mostly empty) and I don’t’ have to worry about someone snatching my camera bag because I don’t have one with me.

(c) I can still enjoy my vacation, which is really important.

Today, I’m just covering lens for Crop Sensor bodies (since I covered full frame lens picks last week).

Nikon Shooters: Get the Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G  VR II Lens ($646 at B&H Photo). This is a very lightweight, inexpensive, not super sharp lens. Yes, it’s not that sharp, but it’s sharp enough. I have a huge 60×40 print I took with it hanging it my house and it looks sharp as anything and people always comment on how sharp the shot looks (of course, I sharpened the image in Photoshop like I do any image), but at the end of the day, the lens is pretty decent. It’s a great deal for the money, and really convenient, and don’t listen to the goobers in online forums talk you out of it — you’ll really enjoy using this lens.

Canon Shooters (like me): Get the Canon 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 IS Lens for Canon (it’s $699 at B&H Photo.). Canon makes one in this same 18-200mm sweet spot and it’s really lightweight, coming in a just over a pound. Pretty decent sharpness at longer lengths; I remember it being not as sharp all the way out wide, but still — it’s sharp enough, and the price is so right.

Sony Shooters: Sony has their own 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens (around $848 at B&H), which is a little pricey compared to the Canon and Sony models. I haven’t used this particular lens myself (so I’m just going on the range), but from the research I did online, it’s sharpness seems pretty much in line with the Nikon and CanonSony lenses, in that it doesn’t have awesome sharpness (and in this low price range, I’m not sure you’re going to experience “awesome sharpness”), but again, it seems sharp enough. There is always a trade-off, on any of these low-priced, lightweight, lens and the tradeoff is usually sharpness.

 

You might want to consider…

The Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD MACRO (the Macro part just means you can focus so close with it, it’s considered within “macro” range, but it’s a regular zoom lens). This is a really intriguing range because it’s wider than 18mm and 100mm longer on the long end, and it’s available for Canon, Nikon, and Sony. The reviews on it have been pretty much like the reviews for the 18-200mms I talked about above. The price is pretty insane ($499 at B&H), and it’s not too heavy at 1.7 lbs.

Tamron has announced an 18-400mm f/3.5-6.3, but it’s not out yet, but I think I’d rather have the 16mm wide, which is more useful for travel (for me, anyway) than the 400mm end would be (great for Safari or birding though).

Hope you found that helpful. Have a great weekend, everybody!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. We released an awesome class with football photography superstar Dave Black — it’s called “How to shoot High School Football Like a Pro” and it’s an update of Dave’s classic class we did five years ago. Dave is amazing! Here’s the link to the course. 

Shooting High School Football Like a Pro with Dave Black and Scott Kelby
Join Dave Black and Scott Kelby on the field of a high school football game and learn how to shoot high school football like a pro. Building on their previous high school football class, Dave shares his tips on choosing the right gear, the camera settings you’ll want to use, and his process for deciding his field positioning for shooting the game. You’ve got to be patient, and you’ve got to be ready to photograph everything from the pre-game huddle to the game play to the interactions on the sidelines. Dave and Scott have a great rapport, and throughout the game Scott asks Dave questions to delve deeper, and even shares his own tips from shooting professional football. You’ve got a front row seat to watching Dave in action and learn how he approaches covering an entire game.

In Case You Missed It
Photograph your kids sports like a pro! Join Rob Foldy, professional sports photographer, as he teaches you the basic photographic principles that will make your subjects proud. This is not a class on gear, but Rob does show you how to use what you have, and how to configure your camera for the best results. You’ll also learn the importance of storytelling and how being prepared before you go to the game will help you take your photographs to the next level. Rob brings it all together by working with three parents while they photograph their kids’ soccer game, providing them tips for shooting with everything from a mobile phone to a DSLR.

Can I be honest about something? Can you share a little secret?

I’ve been burned out on commercial photography for a long time. Don’t get me wrong. I’m always crazy honored when any client anywhere chooses to hire me to photograph something for them. I realize that a client has hundreds if not thousands of choices when it comes to choosing a photographer. So I’m not bitter, I’m thankful. Always.

BUT.

There are still a lot of downsides to commercial photography that can drive any artist crazy.
Here are few things that come to mind, in no particular order:

They often end up using and publishing the WORST image or images from your shoot. 
It’s like they go through and ask themselves “Hmmmm, where is the most horrific photo Jeremy took that day? BOOM. There it is! There is our album cover!!”

So then other photographers ask “So why not trim the fat? Why not only show the good stuff?” Well, it doesn’t really work like that. The client was there for every setup and every wardrobe change. And most of my clients do buyouts of the shoot so they legally get everything. And even if you DO quietly delete the bad stuff, they’ll still choose the worst from what’s leftover. It’s just science. The cool stuff doesn’t get picked.

“Wait, Jeremy, aren’t you the artist? Don’t you get full creative control??”

Ummm, no. I’m one small part of a huge process with many cooks in the kitchen. Sure, I can give my opinion of what was best but that doesn’t weigh very much in the overall decision-making process. So in the end, images get published that are technically mine, but I’d pay good money for them to take my name OFF of the credits haha.

Most commercial images get released long, long after you’ve taken them.
You know that excitement you have after you finish a shoot and you instantly want to share your work with your audience? Well, you can’t do that as a commercial photographer. You have to wait weeks and usually months to show/release commercial work. And by the time, you’re able to show it, you’re usually over it. At least I am… but who knows, maybe that’s just me.

Other people mess with your images.
In my line of work, my images get handed off to a record label or ad agency where my images get passed off to graphic designers. Usually these designers are fresh out of college so they have all kinds of their own ideas of what crazy filters or retouching to do to my work. The final product is usually, well… you can only imagine. Not good. So once again, I find myself not even wanting to show the final product.

Experimentation can be a challenge
Sure, you can experiment and try all different types of lighting but at the end of the day, you still are selling a product or person. You still have to make them look good. This ends up ultimately killing a lot of the weird ideas that an artist like me wants to explore and I end up giving them the super flattering (but also boring) light that I know they’re going to want anyways.

Big sets = a lot of cooks in the kitchen and too many opinions
Working with tons of people on commercial shoots can be overwhelming and exhausting. Sometimes I don’t feel like an artist at all on commercial shoots. I feel like I’ve been hired to just push a button and follow someone else’s creative direction.

So what does one do?

Personal work.

“But personal work doesn’t pay the bills.”

Exactly. Therein lies the challenge.

What if you could get paid for personal work? Hmmm…

That’s exactly what I figured out how to do recently. I figured out how to get people to pay me for goofing off… for experimenting… for creating the artistic portraits that I’ve so been wanting to create.

For as long as cameras have been around, there has been paid portraiture photography for the public. It’s nothing new. But it’s always seemed kinda lame so I’ve stayed away from it. It seemed boring and trivial. Glamour shots from the 80’s comes to mind.

But I wondered… what if people would want to pay for weird, dark, experimental portraits? What if they’re wanting the portraits of themselves that I’m wanting to create?

Worth a shot.

We live in an age where everyone needs new, cooler photos of themselves. For social media, for websites, for whatever. And everyone wants to look cool.

So… I announced this website a while back…

Super simple premise:

$#x2022; 15 minutes of shooting for $250 ($1000 hourly rate, which competes with some commercial rates these days)
$#x2022; All experimental, dark, dramatic lighting
$#x2022; Intimate experience – no massive teams or cooks in the kitchen. Nice and simple, one on one.
$#x2022; I choose the final, released images – No image galleries sent, nothing
$#x2022; I release them when and how I want to release them
$#x2022; I own them and do what I want with them

Sounds fun right? Basically I call the shots. 100%.

It’s working!

To be fair, I started the pricing at $150 for a bit and then $250. And they’re still booking!

And guess what? I’ve made $51,100 for a total of 61 hours of actual shooting time. Crazy right?

You might say “well what about editing time?”

I shoot tethered in the studio and have my editing already dialed in, so as images come up on my monitor, they’re mostly already good to go. I might do subtle tweaks but for the most part, they’re good. Then I do a quick review with the client before they leave and we star our favorites. Then I export them to dropbox and I’m done! So there is not much editing time at all to answer the question.

So I made $50,000+ for 61 hours of shooting, I did all my weird experimenting, I controlled the edit, I released when I wanted to release and guess who’s happy as could be?

It’s me!

“Well, you’re a known photographer and you have a platform. I could never do this” some might say.

Sure you can! Follow the same process, just start with a lower price point. Maybe it’s just $10 per session or $50. This model can scale at any price point and as demand goes up, raise your prices.

Let’s round my numbers to make this simpler. Let’s say I made 50K for 50 hours of shooting…

What if you could make 25K for 50 hours? That’s $125 per 15 minute session.

10k for 50 hours? That’s your rate of $50 per 15 minute session.

5k for 50 hours? That’s your rate of $25 per 15 minute session.

Heck, 2.5K for 50 hours? That’s your rate of $12.50 per 15 minute session.

Surely can you can charge some of these rates right?

You can continue to run the numbers but you get the idea.

The freedom and fun of getting paid to essentially do personal work and learn as I go has been priceless.

Honestly, it’s been more fun than the majority of my commercial work.

So what about you? What can you do to eliminate some of the rules you don’t like in your own work?

What type of photography makes you feel alive but also pays the bills?

That’s a hard riddle to solve but it’s possible!

You can see more of Jeremy’s work at JeremyCowart.com, and follow him on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. And if you happen to be in the Nashville area and want him to shoot your portrait, you can sign up right here!

It has been the subject of blogs, media articles, conversations, magazine columns, and it’s this:

Should we Photoshop people?

Well, let’s relate it all to my genre: travel. Should we Photoshop travel pictures? To what extent and why? Is it an “okay” thing to do?

First, I’ll just get this out of the way: many people will argue that Photoshop is not a verb. It is. It just is. It has become a commonplace term in our society, and if you hear somebody say that something’s been “Photoshopped,” you may want to throw a can of cheese at them, but you know what they mean. This post isn’t about that. So, moving on….

My stance, as someone who writes tutorials centred on Adobe Photoshop, is that Photoshopping fits in travel photography just as much as it does in glamour photography. It has a role to play, and it is useful, but it should (in terms of its use for marketing at least) result in an image being inspiring, enticing, and offering somewhat of a realistic depiction. A representation of reality.

But when does it stop being real? How far do you have to go before your image of some far-flung location no longer looks the way it really looks? What are the limits? Well, to me, when I Photoshop something, I want the final result to look like something that could actually happen. When we apply the fashion stance, the model on the cover of the magazine isn’t real. It’s what we imagine could be real; it’s the image we have in our head, but it absolutely isn’t real. Reverting back to travel, if the image I produce has created something inspiring, but false, then I’ve let myself go too far.


Hohenzollern Castle, Germany

This image is an example. I have Photoshopped it, but it’s a thing that actually happened. If I created something that hadn’t or at least couldn’t happen, I’m no longer operating in the realm of travel photography, but have moved into fantasy. This is Hohenzollern Castle in Germany, sitting high atop a hill, overlooking the countryside for miles around. The moon rose, and I positioned myself on the opposite side of the hill to capture it silhouetting the castle. It’s a thing that happened, but in order to portray it with its massive difference in exposure, I had to retouch.

I suppose something to consider, based on what I’ve mentioned, is what we define as travel photography. When it comes to travel, we occasionally make our decisions based on personal recommendations and the influence of our peers, but in today’s society, we’re making more and more decisions based on social media. We’re looking at the images of travel photographers. Travel photographers like me. What people are looking at in my photography is the scene before me at the time I saw it, the way I saw it, and indeed the way I felt it.

 


Odda, Norway

When I was stood here, I wasn’t just seeing this scene, I was feeling it, smelling it, hearing it. I took all the information available to me from all of my senses for the amount of time I stood photographing that scene (and I’ll add, in various different directions), and I retouched the image to portray, in a tiny, little box, what I was seeing. I wasn’t just seeing an island with a tree on it, I was seeing a bunch of mist, feeling isolated, smelling the fresh, early morning dew, wrapped up from the cold, and I had to show that as best as I could in one image.

It’s for this reason that I say time and time again, “lend me your eyes and I’ll show you what I see.” What I see in my mind’s eye and what’s physically in front of me vary somewhat in most instances, however, with Photoshop I can take everything that was forming that image of what I saw and show you that same thing.


Here I am in real life ;)

One travel subject, which is a prime example of how travel photography has bent the truth, is the famed and elusive Aurora. The northern lights. The lights are phenomenal, don’t get me wrong, but just as one point, they’re generally very dynamic. The countless amazing photos of them on Instagram are what you perceive them to be, not what they actually are. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to crush any dreams here for those of you hoping to tick the northern lights off your bucket list, they’re incredible, but they aren’t like you see them in photos.

Westfjords, Iceland

So, it is okay to adjust things, right? In the world of travel photography, it must be. It’s what we’re used to seeing. But, when we know the truth of the image versus our representation of the scene, it can change. I’ll work to remove the things that I didn’t necessarily notice at the time. The things that were there, but that my mind blocked out of my vision—the power lines, poles, aerials, all of that stuff which is there, but doesn’t form the vision in front of me, but which immediately stand out in the photograph. The other senses have had their input, too, and everything that flooded those senses has had its say, and those power lines aren’t part of it.

If it’s true to say that we do it in real life with our own eyes, and it’s true to say that around 90% of the images we see in everyday media have been retouched, then what’s the limit? When does travel photography become fantasy? When the movement in the scene, the sounds, the smells have all gone, it’s fair to represent those things differently on our image that becomes flat and motionless.

We have a job to do in photography, and it’s not to make things fake. The job of a photographer and retoucher is to make things look real, but the real way you saw it at the time. With the distracting elements gone, the scene looks like real life. If people go and stand in the same spot, they can expect to see what you see too, but looking at its best. That’s our job. That’s what travel photography is. That’s what sets it apart from fantasy.

Lend me your eyes and I’ll show you what I see. Bear that in mind when you consider your limits. Show people what you see. Something achievable, realistic, and at its absolute best.

Yesterday I got the opportunity to fly up to Atlanta to photograph the Falcon’s incredible new stadium with Michael Benford and the wonderful Falcons photo crew (this was the debut regular season home game for the Falcons in their new stadium, and the Falcon whooped the Packers, so it was quite a night!).

The shot you see above, which shows the light streaming into from the retractable roof in the center of the dome, was actually taken with my iPhone using Portrait mode (thanks for the tip, Kalebra). The lens used in the shot you see on the back of my Canon 5D Mark IV was an 8-15mm fisheye lens at 15mm. Such an amazing stadium – can’t wait to share more with you.

I had truly planned to do a post with all the images and stories using Adobe’s Spark Page (the photo storytelling site/app that is absolutely ideal for this type of thing), and oh yes, there are plenty of stories, but by the time I got out of the stadium and got to Terry White’s house (Terry lives in Atlanta, and was kind enough to let me stay in his awesome guest suite), well…it’s no literally 2:48 am as I write this, and I have a flight back home to Tampa in the morning, and blah, blah, blah, it ain’t happening tonight.

Check back later today ’cause it’s entirely possible (Hey, anything’s possible) I have the Spark Page story up with photos, stories, and other stuff. Lots to share so I hope you’ll check back (and I am hitting the sack).

Hope you all have a rockin’ Monday!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. I’m in Denver on Friday with my Lightroom seminar. If you’re out that way, I hope you’ll come spend the day with me. It’s only $99 for the full day, and it’s 100% money-back guarateed if it doesn’t totally rock (dont’ worry — it will totally rock!). 

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