Surprising Gear Changing The Way You Shoot with Scott Kelby, Erik Kuna & Guests | The Grid EP. 544
This week on The Grid, Scott Kelby and Erik Kuna are joined by special guests Chicky Nando, Kirk Nelson, and Sam Haddix! Chicky drops by for a moment to chat with Scott about their upcoming workshop in Lisbon! Then Kirk and Sam join to discuss some unique gear that can help you stand out from average photographers. Tune in for another episode you won’t want to miss!
New KelbyOne Course: At the End of the Day, We Are Storytellers with Joe McNally
Being a visual reporter is a stressful, arduous thing to do. It is also a wonderful, exciting, and important thing to do. The best, most searing and crucial stories of our life and times are recalled in photographs. Our memories are grounded in visuals. In this class, Joe McNally, a former LIFE staff photographer, 25 year assignment photographer for National Geographic, and a contract photographer for Sports Illustrated, takes you through the demands, the research, the happenstance (good and bad) of being on location, and pursuing emotional, important stories out in the world. A good storytelling set of photos stirs the reader’s heart and mind, and involves their head and their hearts. How do you do that?
Editor’s Note: In honor of Joe’s latest KelbyOne course, I wanted to share this post from 2011 in which he shares his experience working for National Geographic!
Crossing the Yellow Border
I’ve been shooting for “the yellow magazine” since 1987, and that land beyond the yellow border is indeed a wonderful, and strange, place. It contains and defines the entire realm of shooting experiences—impossible odds, magnificent occurrences, unprecedented access, nearly unbelievable bad fortune, outright danger, the exhilaration of the hard won chrome or file captured, and the devastation of bad days, or even weeks in the field.
That place, “in the field,” can be the urbane and sophisticated streets of Paris, or someplace literally so remote as to have never felt the footprint of man. It can be the ultra-sacrosanct tombs and structures of societies time has all but forgotten, or the blinking, humming computers that power our most modern technologies. The magazine’s official mission statement is “to increase and diffuse geographic knowledge.” “Geography,” for the editors there, generally encompasses both physical and cultural geography. People and their places. People in relationship to the planet. The planet itself, in all of its’ magnificence, and wreckage. The earth, sea and sky, and all the organisms those elements nurture, and occasionally, punish.
In short, everything. Trust me, I know this first hand. I was once given a story to do called “The Universe.” Yikes. (To my editor, I was like, “Okay, how long do I have to shoot this?”)
I was already an established “New York” shooter, with covers of Sports Illustrated, LIFE, Time, Newsweek, New York, etc., by the time I came to the attention of the yellow border gang. Strategizing to get an assignment, I turned down a go everywhere credential to the Seoul Olympiad for Sports Illustrated to honor a commitment to a week long freebie speaking tour called The Flying Short Course, sponsored by the NPPA. Sounds unbelievably stupid, right? A freelancer turning down a month of day rates to keep an obligation to do a series of free lectures.
On the face of it, yes. But the method to my madness involved being on the same touring faculty as Tom Kennedy, then DOP of Geographic. I had the opp right then and there to show my portfolio to Tom, five days in a row. I gulped, said no to SI, didn’t’ go to Seoul, and instead went off to lecture. At the end of that week of touring and talking, Tom looked at me and said, “You should come down and start shooting for us.” That was 1987. Still shooting for them. Finished my last assignment this past summer. Almost 25 years, and lots of yellow boxes, and pixels, later, I’m still out there, trying to increase and diffuse.
That longevity was not a given, to be sure. It never is in the world of freelancing, and I did my best in my first few efforts for NG to ensure my career with them would be truly short lived. I made big time screw up after big time screw up.
It was a different type of shooting, you know? I was used to the New York method. That kind of played out like this: Get a phone call from an editor at a weekly publication in Manhattan. Say yes. Never, ever be able to reach that editor on the phone again. Make all the arrangements, Go shoot the job. A week was a long time. Six pages was a big story. Get in, get out. Process film. Deliver it in a breathless rush. Not hear anything. Call three weeks later. Finally get the editor on the phone. “Oh, hi. Yeah, Joe! It is Joe, right? That story that you shot? Oh, oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, uh, it was good, we liked it. Thanks. Gotta go to a meeting.”
Have phone ring back, almost immediately. It’s a call from that very same editor you were just talking with. That editor who now all of a sudden remembers you, and realizes you are standing there, somewhere, with enough time to make a phone call and this qualifies you as a warm body with a camera, and potential availability to solve a problem the managing editor just threw on his desk like a big, steaming turd. “Hi, yeah, uh, by the way, are you busy in the next two hours?”
“How Would I Edit Your Photo?” with Scott Kelby and Erik Kuna | The Grid EP. 543
This week on The Grid, Scott Kelby and Erik Kuna lend their expertise to edits of viewer submitted photos! Whether portraits, landscapes, wildlife, or wedding photos, they show you how to take it to the next level in post.
New KelbyOne Course: A Beginner’s Guide to Photographing Airshows with Scott Kelby and Erik Kuna
Join Scott Kelby and Erik Kuna at the SUN ‘n FUN Expo in Lakeland, Florida for a beginner’s guide to photographing airshows. In this class you’ll learn what to do before you go, camera and lens suggestions, camera settings for Canon, Nikon and Sony, important shooting techniques, and so much more. Photographing airshows are the great equalizer because everyone can shoot from the same place, so check your calendar, grab your gear, and get ready to have a fantastic time!
Editor’s Note: When I think of all time favorite guest posts, the ones from Nick Fancher are among the first that come to mind. I remember the first time I saw Nick’s work and how strikingly creative, yet how approachable he makes it look with the breakdowns of his setups. Enjoy this post from 2015 and put some of his tips to use on your next project! And make sure you check out his newest work for updated inspiration.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“Planning” Q&A with Erik Kuna and Christina Sauer | The Grid EP. 542
This week on The Grid, Erik Kuna and Christina Sauer take viewer questions! While they primarily focus on planning for productions and staying on budget, they take questions on a wide variety of topics! Tune in and see what insights you might be able to glean from this info-packed episode.
New KelbyOne Course: Editing Your iPhone Travel Photography with Scott Kelby
Join Scott Kelby for the second part of his series on using your iPhone for travel photography. You’ll find Scott sitting poolside with his iPhone and iPad as he takes you through all the steps for getting your photos into Lightroom, tips for editing raw photos, adjusting color and tonality, using Masking for selective edits, dealing with tricky lighting situations, getting edited photos into other apps, and so much more. You’ll be amazed at how much you can do with just your phone as a camera and post processing tool!
Editor’s Note: This is one of my favorite guest posts from Nicolesy a few years ago! Hope you enjoy seeing it again as much as I do.
A little more than six years ago I wrote my first guest blog post here on Scott’s website, and it’s incredible to see both how much has changed, and also how much has stayed the same. Since my last post here I got married, moved five times, adopted two dogs, traveled to eight new countries, checked off a few items on my bucket list, and I’ve also grown my photography education business into a full-time job. While my life looks a little different than it did in 2012, my excitement and passion to grow as a photographer is the same.
One of the things I love best about my job as a photographer is that I get to call all of the shots. I have gone in a solo direction with my work and get to photograph what I want and make books and tutorials that are of my own creation. It’s fulfilling, but it also takes a lot of self-determination and a good work ethic, and I’m constantly forced to stay at my own very high level of expectations. Here I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learned during my time as a photographer.
Forge Your Own Path When I was in high school, I can remember wanting to be a sports photographer. I had just taken my first class in photography and joined the yearbook committee as a staff photographer. I found my “thing” and knew that photography was something I wanted to do long term. Then, when I joined the military, I chose a path other than photography. I was worried if photography was my full-time job that I would fall out of love with it.