Each lesson is short, sweet, and to the point, so whether you need to learn how to retouch an eyebrow, brighten skin, reduce wrinkles in clothing, add catchlights, or a whole host of other retouching techniques, just find the topics that interest you and dive right in!
In Case You Missed It… Mastering the Natural Light Portrait: Post Processing
Join Scott Kelby for the conclusion to his Mastering the Natural Light Portrait class, as he works through his process for editing the photos from that shoot. In this class you’ll learn the core types of edits you will apply to all of your natural light portraits. In this class you’ll learn different techniques for reducing distractions and making the face the most eye-catching part of the photo. From soft northern exposure light to dappled light, Scott teaches you how to analyze the photo, plan your approach, and get the most out of what Lightroom and Photoshop have to offer.
This class is perfect for anyone looking for tips on post processing or editing natural light photos.
I grew up in the hills of rural East Tennessee. As a child, I learned how to shoot a gun in Shooting Sports and did target practice at 4-H Camp. My dad kept shotguns in the closet, and carried one at his job as a prison guard. Friends, family, and fellow church members all went hunting on a regular basis. Classmates would wake up early to go hunting before school, and arrive with their gun racks in their trucks loaded with their guns.
I worked at a convenience store that also sold hunting and fishing licenses and served as a “checking station” for deer hunters. Heck, they could even drop off their game around back at the processing and taxidermy shop that occupied the other half of the building, then return later to pick up their meat and newly mounted trophies.
The context of guns in my life has primarily revolved around toys, sport, and hobby. But this is not everyone’s experience in life. Many people’s experiences with guns are negative, and even the word “negative” is a gross understatement for many people’s experiences with them. Many people have lost multiple friends, family members, and other loved ones to gun violence.
I like to think of myself as an empathetic person and strive to be sensitive to others’ life experiences. No one ended up where they are in life, holding the views and opinions they hold, in an instant. Everyone has a journey through life, and no two journeys are identical.
So, when I’m having a conversation about a difficult topic with someone else, I try to keep all of this in mind. I’m definitely not always successful. But when I’m able to find out more about a person’s story and their background, it helps me to understand why they hold the opinions they hold, even if I don’t agree with them. And, if I’m lucky, I can sometimes even evolve my opinion on a topic thanks to knowing their story. It’s that added insight, that empathy, that can change your heart when you care more for others than you care about being “right.”
So, it is with that, that I would like to propose something for us all to consider. This is not a change that necessarily takes place in an instant or overnight. But just take a half a second to think before using this terminology…
Let’s stop using the word “shoot” when it comes to photography.
Anything you can imagine you can make happen with landscape composites! Join Bret Malley as he takes you on a journey of creativity while teaching you the techniques and concepts you’ll need to use to create eye catching composites of outdoor scenes. You’ll learn the importance of key blending modes, how to replace skies, multiple techniques for blending graphic elements into a scene, how to use selections and masks, tips for fine tuning your creations, and how to add atmosphere and final touches.
This is a great way to learn powerful Photoshop techniques while breathing new life into your landscape photographs.
In Case You Missed It… Fantastical Compositing: Combining Multiple Images to Create Fantasy Fine Art
Learn how to do a family portrait with a magical twist! Join Bret Malley as he teaches you all the steps, from shooting to post processing, needed to create your own fantasy fine art composite. Bret takes you through the gear he uses, his process for pre-production, how to communicate and work with the subjects, his lighting setup, how to photograph each element of the composite, and then how to bring it all together in Photoshop.
The first half of the class is a live shoot where Bret creates all the pieces, and in the second half he teaches you his tips and techniques for creating a seamless composite that brings your imagination to life.
A while ago, some friends were visiting from America and wanted to meet for dinner. Since it was their first-time visiting Japan, they wanted to try some of my favorite Japanese foods and have an authentic experience. I’m from New York but I’ve lived in Japan for the last four years and have fallen in love with the culture, lifestyle and yes, the food.
For dinner, I took my friends to a non-touristy spot with amazing selections of Japanese food but when it came time to place our orders, my friends asked for something that was not on the menu, chicken teriyaki. I’ve witnessed situations like this time after time and when it comes to decisions (or discussions) outside our comfort zone very often we stick with what we know.
It’s hard to try eating something you’re not accustomed to and it’s hard to discuss or understand being treated differently based on the color of one’s skin if you have not experienced it first-hand. Racism is not a comfortable topic to discuss because it hits at our core and makes us look deep inside ourselves. For some it can be a complex issue and easier to simply ignore. This behavior is something (Samuelson & Zeckhauser, 1988) attributes to the status quo bias.
Last week, I published my weekly photography podcast which has focused on the art of photography for the past 163 episodes. However, with the current state of the world, I could not make the 164th episode of the Master Your Lens podcast about photography, it had to address a bigger world issue.
COVID-19 vs Protesting
When I was seven years old, my family moved from Brooklyn, New York to Columbia, South Carolina where, for the first time, I experienced racism firsthand. That was fifty years ago and still, today, the issue of racism plagues America. Even as the world fights a global pandemic that has brought much of the world to a stand-still, many would rather risk catching COVID-19 in order to protest against an older virus that seems to have no cure.
In the 1960’s, the declaration of the day was I AM A MAN. Photographs of protesters during that time period show predominately African Americans marching for equality. In contrast, today people of all backgrounds march together, united in protest to open dialog that brings about action to end racism.
So how do we turn things around and begin having meaningful conversations about racism that lead to lasting solutions? When it comes to things we don’t understand, it’s comfortable to stay with what we know but we only grow when step outside of our comfort zone. I believe change first begins with empathetic listening and taking to heart the lesson of the golden rule.
Tracy starts the class with a look at her lighting and gear, and then quickly moves on to the hands on tasks of creating props, attention to styling and posing, wrapping each newborn for their comfort and for creativity, how she works through each photo session, and then a close up look at her post processing workflow techniques from Lightroom Classic to Photoshop. By the end of the class you’ll have new skills for creating timeless artwork that your clients will treasure.
In Case You Missed It: Proven Techniques for Repeat Business with Tracy Sweeney
Tracy is all about the client experience, and in this class she shares her secrets for building lifelong clients through attention to detail, creating emotional connection, setting clear expectations, developing consistency in branding, and so much more. By the end of class your head will be swimming with new ideas you can infuse into your own business!
The Story of Working with Square (and how luck can play into landing your dream job)
Like all the best and very worst stories, this story begins with Twitter.
I opened my phone one morning to see that a few friends had tagged me in a long Twitter thread asking for photographer recommendations across the country by one of the creatives running socials at Square, the San Francisco-based tech company who manufacture and process credit cards though the little white credit card readers and iPad stands you see everywhere.
Given that this was such a broad ask and the list of photographers was so long already, I didn’t think much of it – I tweeted my website back, sent a thank you to my friends, and promptly forgot all about it. About a month later, I saw I had a direct message from the official Square Instagram account, asking if I was interested in taking on a project with them and if I could hop on a call in the next few days. Hello and yes!
Fast forward a few weeks, and I learned that Square had been creating a series highlighting small businesses across the country and partnering with local photographers in honor of commemorative months. I was so impressed by their dedication to storytelling for both small business and minority communities and I was instantly on board.
My dream work is when photography is combined with social issues and radical movements that I deeply care about, and that is truly what brings so much meaning and substance for me behind the camera. Our project was going to be profiling a woman owned small business to highlight Women’s History Month for March 2020, and it was so fun when Laura Lemon of Lemon Laine in East Nashville was chosen. See the full set here!
Something that isn’t talked about much in creative circles is how random it can be to land a job like this. Sometimes (honestly, often) it really comes down to luck in our industry – like being in the right place at the right time, knowing the right person, or having a friend of yours grab drinks with someone who works at x company, and they just so happen to mention that they have a new campaign where they want to hire a new photographer (enter you). Or the right designer seeing your name tagged somewhere in a shoot you did three years ago and never thought it’d see the light of day, but then you get an email about a new project with their studio because they liked the feel of the images. Or your name gets thrown out in a giant Twitter thread and somehow it sticks.
I always feel both a little bummed and relieved when people talk about luck influencing creative opportunities – it can be a partial breath of fresh air to feel like getting these big jobs is little out of my control, but also it can be incredibly frustrating to feel like all of your hard work alone isn’t getting you as far as you want it to. However, I’ve learned that there’s so much we can do to make sure both you and your work are ready for when those opportunities drop into your lap.
Three quick bullet points of advice —
Keep showing up. As frustrating as it is that luck is a player in this game, you can make yourself as ready as possible when the right people find you. Trust that the work is good in the meantime! And continue to make it better – keep pushing, keep learning, keep developing your skill set in the meantime. And, make sure your online presence and website is ready for those people to find you — if your dream client were to land on your website today, would they see the kind of work they need in order to reach out to you? Keep going.
Be a good hang. I stole this from my husband who always says this about the music industry, but you and your personality are just as (if not more sometimes) important as your work when a creative team is considering hiring you. Remember, if you get hired, you’re probably going to be hanging with these people on a set for hours at a time. Make sure they’re excited to be around you as a person as well as excited about your work.
Invest in the people around you for the sake of the relationship. Are there photographers in your community that you’ve been following online for years but have never met? Reach out and connect beyond socials! Same goes for creative directors, photo producers, art buyers and more. Start with a simple email, and then see if they’re available to meet in person so you can hear more about what they do and how they do it. Not only will this absolutely lead to some great connections and maybe even a few stepping stones, but more than any of that, relationships are a meaningful life value that goes way beyond photography.
If something like this can happen to me, it can definitely happen to you. Over the last few years, I’ve found a lot of freedom in letting go of control (did I ever have it?) of trying to force my dream jobs to manifest. Instead I’m choosing to trust that if I keep showing up to the work wholeheartedly and investing into relationships in my community, these jobs will continue to show up too.
And sometimes it pays to have friends that are on Twitter more than you.
Nicola is a commercial and editorial photographer based in Nashville, TN. You can see more of her work at NicolaHarger.com and can keep up with her on Instagram and Twitter.