Hands On with the Nikon Z7: Everything you Need to Know to Get Great Shots Join Larry Becker to learn the ins and outs of the amazing Nikon Z7! Whether you just picked one up or are thinking about adding one to your kit, you’ll want to learn all the hidden features and pro tips that set this camera apart. From getting oriented to the buttons and menus to customizations and focusing options (and more!), Larry teaches you how to set them up and get the most out of them. Throughout the class you’ll also encounter interviews with professional photographers, Stacy Pearsall, Cliff Mautner, Dixie Dixon, and Joe McNally, who have a lot of insights to share from their early hands on experience with the Nikon Z7.
In Case You Missed It Join Larry Becker to learn the ins and outs of the amazing Canon EOS R! Whether you just picked one up or are thinking about adding one to your kit, you’ll want to learn all the hidden features and pro tips that set this camera apart. From features such as programmable controls to flexible priority mode to shooting video, Larry teaches you how to set them up (and more!) and get the most out of them. Larry wraps up the class with three interviews with professional photographers, Joel Grimes, Roberto Valenzuela, and Rick Sammon who have a lot of insights to share from their early hands on experience with the EOS R.
How have your thoughts/techniques on lighting evolved? Do you find yourself using gear now that you didn’t think you would use when you started out? Or are you using the same gear but in different ways?
I worked very hard over the first several years of freelancing to perfect lighting techniques, and certain aspects of lighting have become second nature. I’m constantly experimenting to keep things fresh, but one big lesson that I’ve learned is that focusing on lighting alone doesn’t guarantee a great photo. We often get too wrapped up in technical perfection, and I’m certainly guilty of that myself.
As a portrait and lifestyle photographer, I want to make the talent look amazing- and sometimes that’s largely based around the lighting. However, even more important than the lighting, is connecting with whoever I’m photographing in order to create a compelling portrait. Thinking my way into how to make that happen has proven to be more beneficial over time than stressing too much over what type of lighting I’d like to use.
As for gear, though every shoot is different, I try to use a fairly minimal gear pack. Lighting has evolved quite a bit over the last five years, and the Profoto B1 in particular has changed the way I’m able to work on set. It’s enabled me to work lighter and faster than ever before with access to a massive lineup of light shapers for any scenario imaginable.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made that has proven to be a valuable lesson? Has learning from that mistake saved you in some way on another job?
The biggest mistake I made when starting out was saying yes to everything. We’re all hungry for work, and oftentimes seriously undervalue our talent when we shouldn’t be doing so.
Almost every single time I’ve taken a low paying job just for the money, it’s been soul sucking work where there’s zero respect for the creative process.I’ve been learning this lesson all along, but am just starting to consistently turn down jobs for this reason.
Some of those clients have gone away entirely, but I’m okay with that. The truth is, I believe it to be more valuable to spend my time shooting something I’m invested in creatively.
What kind of balance do you keep between editorial and commercial clients? If commercial clients pay more than editorial, what value do you see in working for editorial clients?
About 75% of my client base has been commercial since day one. I never really marketed myself to one type of client more than the other initially, but because my work is commercially oriented, that’s been the majority of the work I’ve gotten. Brands tend to pay a lot more than editorial- which is cool since I live in Brooklyn and the cost of living here is less than ideal.
There is a huge amount of value in editorial work though, and I thoroughly enjoy diving into these jobs when they come in. There’s generally a lot fewer people on set for editorial jobs (sometimes just an assistant and myself), and I find that I can use the talent’s time much more efficiently when that’s the case. There’s often a lot more creative freedom on editorial jobs, and I try to dive in as deep as possible to create something I want- which isn’t always possible on commercial jobs.
What’s the best business/technical/other advice you would give yourself if you could talk to five-years-ago Drew?
Accept the fact that work comes in waves, and that there will be times where you have absolutely no work. For the first few years, I consistently had a few months per year where I had zero work coming in, and I struggled to deal with it. We’re all somewhat insecure artists, and it’s easy to assume that we’ll never work again. It’s tough to make it through this.
Instead of getting into a funk, the only thing that’s ever fixed this for me is picking up a camera and shooting. It always brings me back to my love of photography and reminds me of why I do this in the first place.
If you could re-do one shoot, which one would it be and what would you do differently?
I’d really love to have an opportunity to work with Kendrick Lamar again. I spent a day with him about 4 years ago just before ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ was released, but didn’t completely get what I wanted. I was shooting a media day for Reebok in a hotel suite filled entirely with Reebok branding, so there was very little in the way of candids without logos surrounding him.
I managed to shoot a quick portrait on the terrace, I wish I had pushed a little harder to have some more time with him outside of the hotel suite.
If I were to ever have another opportunity with him, I’d love to shoot something more journalistic.
What would you consider your most successful shoot and why? How do you define a successful shoot (your happiness with the final product, how much you made on it, the size of the production, the biggest name client, etc)?
I was assigned to photograph David Byrne of the Talking Heads, in his Soho studio earlier this year, and it’s definitely one of my favorite shoots in recent memory. David is a true icon, and I did tons of research to make sure I knew what I was getting into. I watched documentaries, interviews, and gathered photographic inspiration to share with him on-set. He was an incredible collaborator, and I shot a few frames that feel very true to who David is as an artist- which was the ultimate goal, and the sign of a successful shoot for me.
This particular shoot was not a moneymaker (in fact, I spent some money on it), but I’m really happy with the photos and the entire experience with him.
How do you keep your creativity fresh? How do you avoid getting visual burnout (consuming so much imagery you just get tired of it/numb to it)?
Personally, a lot of it has to do with being in New York City. As crazy and as living in the city is, there’s more inspiration here than I can imagine just about anywhere else. I feed off the energy, grit, and hustle of the culture constantly, and that’s what keeps me pushing forward.
Pro Tips for Photographing Toddlers with Tracy Sweeney Don’t be afraid of toddlers! Join Tracy Sweeney as she shares her best practices for photographing these little movers like a pro. In this class Tracy teaches you the importance of setting expectations with the parents and shares her tips for coaching the families through a session. You’ll learn her approach to posing toddlers and creating natural opportunities for keeping them engaged. You’ll get to see Tracy putting it into practice through three different live shoots with toddlers and their parents, and at the end of the class Tracy shares her post processing workflow to help you become more efficient at creating your final images. With all of these tips and techniques in your bag of tricks you’ll be ready to create dynamic portraits that your clients will cherish.
In Case You Missed It Join Tracy Sweeney for a masterclass in newborn photography! Filmed on location in Tracy’s studio, you’ll learn the essentials for getting started photographing newborns. Safety and comfort is job one in newborn photography, and Tracy starts off sharing her methods for keeping babies safe, warm, and soothed. From there, Tracy takes you through her choice of gear and lighting, and then gives you a front row seat for a series of newborn sessions. You’ll learn how to wrap the baby, how to pose the baby on a variety of props, and how to maximize the time spent on set to give you a variety of looks in a short amount of time. Family photos are part of the package, and Tracy shares her process for working with the family in a variety of configurations. After the shooting is done, you’ll learn Tracy’s workflow in Lightroom and Photoshop for creating the final polished images that go on to become timeless heirlooms for the family.
I never know how to begin, but it’s definitely an honor to be back here on Scott’s website doing a guest blog. The entire photo community is better because Scott is in it. He’s as good a communicator and educator as he is a human being and a friend, so thank you Scott (and Brad) for having me.
You may know me frompreviousposts, or perhaps you’ve seen me in the background helping some photographers much more talented than myself (like the awesome Robby Klein who took the photo of me), but people usually know me as a sports guy. And yes, most of my living comes from shooting sports. If you are disappointed to find that today I won’t be talking about sports, hit me up on Instagram and we can talk sports all day long.
Today I want to talk to you about a job I recently did for the international non-profit organization BGR. It has always been my desire to do this type of humanitarian work, and I am thrilled to share some images from my time in Guatemala earlier this month. As with any organization, visual content is needed to both document the current projects and increase awareness of the work being done. In addition to this, I was helping to create stills content for their gift catalog that I will talk about later. As you could imagine, I was thrilled when they chose me to help them with their mission and tell some of their stories. (more…)
How To Infuse YOU Into Your Photography with Karen Hutton Learn how to incorporate your unique voice into your photography! Join Karen Hutton on location in Lake Tahoe, California and learn how to see the world in a whole new way. In this class Karen explores what it really means to see a scene, how to get yourself grounded in your environment as preparation for taking photographs, how to use compositional guidelines to convey your messages, how to work the area you are photographing, and so much more! When you get in touch with your unique way of seeing the world you can being to express yourself in new ways. Get out of your comfort zone, open yourself up to new experiences, and have fun telling your your story through your photography.
In Case You Missed It It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see! Join Karen Hutton for an exploration of how to find your voice, and share it with the world. Finding your voice takes a lifetime, but you don’t need to wait to start using it. In this class Karen shares a simple process, using many visual examples, for how you can look at your own life and connect who you are to what you do with your photography. Your voice is who you are, and the world needs you to weave things that matter into what you want to say with your art. From having a vision to practical examples and exercises, Karen shares what has helped her find her voice and bring it to bear in her work. This class was filmed in front of a live audience, so be sure to stick around for the Q&A session at the end.
Unlike many guest posts you have read here I am not here to pimp my own images or career. Rather, I am here to push how much money you make on your images, and most importantly the money you can make on photography as a career. Warning: this my contain the least amount of photo information of any guest blog post… but hang in there if you like to be paid for photography. Doesn’t matter if you are in a small city or Los Angeles.
Photos are like baseball cards, they are only worth what someone is willing to pay for them. Some may value a Jodie Davis rookie card and some may not – a little trivia there for anyone outside of Chicago alive post 1984. How to put a price on your images is a tricky business that many assume only photo reps and art buyers understand. I have news for you, the value of your imagery is between you and what the client is willing to invest to go to market with the message your images are included in.
Now how do you drive at that magical # that a client will pay and you as a photographer will accept? That is the million dollar question… or sometimes the $2,500 question. Getting to the answer starts with you as the photographer asking informed questions of your potential client.
The first questions to ask follow this format: who, what, where and how long.
Who? Who is the client? Getting a sense of the budget based on who that client is starts with understanding the scope of their business and how much marketing they have done in the past. Are they a regional client with 12 stores across 3 states? Are they a local jeweler trying to make their first marketing materials? Are they a multi-national corporation selling carbonated beverages on 6 of the 7 continents? We all know that the latter may have more budget than the jeweler. Start your creative fee on what you think the client will and can pay per day.
What? How is the work going to used? Is it Out Of Home/Outdoor (OOH), Point Of Purchase (POP), print, digital only, internal, broadcast, Business to Business (B2B) or any combination thereof? If a client is at the stage of pricing photographers, then most of the time they also have a media plan of how they are intending to use the ads.
More and more clients are asking for unlimited use in all media in perpetuity. This tells you one of three things:
They are planning on using the ads for a huge integrated media buy across many mediums.
They do not know what their media needs are, so they just want to be covered from the beginning.
Or their company’s lawyers said that is what they were supposed to ask for.
It is your job to find out which of the three it is. Often times you can get to that answer by suggesting in the initial reach out that you can quote for unlimited use in all media in perpetuity (often known as a buyout, complete buyout or all rights), but that usually is too expensive for a client’s budget. As a solution you can quote for more limited usage rights that include a time period and more specific media so the bottom line will be more approachable. This is when the client’s request goes from being vague to giving you a better grasp of their intentions. If you are not familiar with the usage terms I started this section with, it would be to your advantage to become versed in them stat so you know what you are talking about.
Where? Where are the images going to appear? This refers to locality. In Chicago only, in the state of Maryland, USA, North America, Asia Pacific, worldwide? The territory also indicates how big of a campaign you are working with and how much these images are worth. Now Maryland does not mean 1/50th of the price that USA would garner. Think of it like buying socks. You cannot buy 50 pair at the same the price per pair of 1 pair. Anyone in the world would pay more for 1 pair vs bulk rate on 5 pair or even 10 pair, let alone 25 pair.
For instance, the images below were licensed for 7 countries specifically. Wieden + Kennedy, the advertising agency, and EA Sports, the client, knew that the imagery would appear in only 7 countries and would tailor the colors and text to each country the ads would appear. This is a case of an agency and client knowing specifics regarding their media buy. Hats off to their strategy department prior to calling a photographer. But these are the things you are sniffing out before giving a quote. This saved them money by not asking for worldwide usage and got specific.
How Long? It is exactly what the title of this section suggests… How long does said media plan to be in circulation? 3 of 5 times the client will expand the length of usage or territory if the campaign is successful. If you have given unlimited use in all media in perpetuity, a complete full buyout of all rights, then you have given up any possibility to make more money based on the success of an ad.
Entertainment photography for a movie poster will always be a complete buyout as that image will always be associated with that movie or project. For instance, my work for HBO’s Hard Knocks falls under this situation. The client knows that it will appear in billboards, in print, digital and on HBO GO, which may keep that program available forever. We price the image on the front end understanding that I will never receive any renewal license for the work.
With these four questions, you will have enough working information to then assemble the usage and licensing to put in a bid. It is also helpful to gauge your usage fees in relationship to your creative fee/day rate to shoot. It is difficult for a client to understand you charging $25,000 usage if your day rate is only $750.
You my think you are not “big time” enough to license your work and simply include usage in your day rate. I only say you are selling yourself short.
You as a photographer are only worth as much as you are willing to convince your client to pay you. If you feel your days work is worth $85 then that is what you worth. It is your confidence based on information that will dictate your fee and usage $$$ regardless of the market you are in.
For example ask Gregg Shipman, photographer from Tulsa, OK. He purchased my tutorial Making Real Money: The Business of Commercial Photography, and after watching the tutorial, he increased his a bid for a local client by $26,000 from where he was going to bid prior to heeding advice from the tutorial. If you think you are operating in too small of a market for this information to help you, then you have never been to Tulsa.
Monte Isom is a sports and entertainment photographer based in NYC who loves to share information about the business of photography. He offers a 14-hour video tutorial covering in-depth and with real life examples of estimating, invoicing, marketing your work, and even taxes. Isom interviews people who actually hire photographers and gets extremely valuable information working photographers need. This tutorial can be purchased here.