Travel Photography: Making Portraits of the Locals with Rick Sammon and Scott Kelby
Learn how to take better portraits of the locals when you are traveling! Join Scott Kelby and Rick Sammon as they teach you a progression of techniques that you can use to make your travel photos come alive by including people in the scenes you capture. Scott and Rick start the class with a discussion of their favorite gear, and then jump right into giving you the tools you need to come back home with photos you are proud of and really show the culture of the location you visited.
In this class you’ll learn about approaches for candid (and semi-candid) portraits, photographing the vendors and staff you interact with, getting the locals to pose, paying locals, hiring models, and so much more! Watch this class and decide to take these few extra steps on your next travel adventure and you’re sure to see an immediate change in your photography!
In Case You Missed It: The 20 Time Proven Rules of Composition
Don’t just take pictures, make pictures! Join Rick Sammon as he dives deep into his 20 time proven rules of composition. It’s up to you to tell your story with creative composition, and in this class Rick provides you with new ways of seeing when you are holding your camera in hand.
Whether you call them rules or recommended guidelines, Rick shares over 250 visual examples to help you understand how to use these tools to make great shots instead of snapshots. In the end you’ll be a better photographer for not only knowing the rules, but knowing when to break them, and have fun while doing it.
First, thank you to Scott for the opportunity to do another guest post. And thanks to Brad for all the work you do here too. Both of you inspire me daily.
As you can probably guess by the title of this post, I’m a concert photographer, and I think every photographer should try photographing a concert at least once. It is one of the most fun photo environments you will ever encounter. It will also require that you can operate your gear without thought.
Unlike some other areas of photography, where we might position the subject, and control or shape the light, in live music photography you can’t do any of that. The lead singer may be in front of you with the perfect expression, and then gone before you can get focus. He may be in low light as you set exposure, and under bright landing lights by the time you shoot the shot. The lighting director will try to push the limits of what the human eye can see, and since the camera sees much less dynamic range than our eyes, your images may be clipped on both ends of the histogram.
For photographers that are accustomed to having full control, concerts will challenge you at every turn. Like with any type of photography, there is a lot more to concert photography than I can cover here. My hope is to give you a few general tips below, in case you ever try this yourself.
My first tip is to ignore the noise. We music photographers live at ISO settings that make some people cry. Just crank the ISO as needed to allow a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the action, and a sharp noisy shot is always better than a blurry clean shot. That is not to say you can’t play with motion and blur, just that when needed be sure you can get the shot you want or need.
What is Concert Photography?
The answer to this question is part of the reason I love this genre. At its core, concert photograph is really just Low Light Action Photography, similar to photographing some sporting events. But, it is also event photography, environmental portraiture, and photojournalism.
Depending on who you are shooting for it could be any one of those, a combination of some, or all of the above.
The most important thing to know about shooting live music is that you can’t just walk into a Foo Fighters concert with a pro camera. Major artists, the ones that play festivals and arenas, want press coverage.
That means you will generally need media credentials to shoot the show. How do get those?
From Taking To Making: The Secrets To Great Photographs with Ibarionex Perello
Learn to see in a new way and rediscover your joy for photography! Join Ibarionex Perello in downtown LA for an exploration of the principles used to make great photographs. While this class uses street photography as the vehicle for seeing differently, the lessons learned can be applied to all types of photography. As you follow Ibarionex through the streets he’ll share his perspectives on gear and camera settings, how your mindset affects what you see, and how to see the world graphically so that you can use those graphic elements to build stronger photographic compositions.
In Case You Missed It: An Expert Guide To Street Photography with Zack Arias
For the last few years, I have made a goal of mine to create the most amazing memories with my kids, both in real life and photography-wise. Of course, it is a mission of mine to make our Christmas Card an epic one every year. Who wants to receive another boring Christmas card anyways?
Our Christmas Cards and my Bad Santa series were personal projects I started doing for fun, and they turned out to be the greatest marketing tool for my business during the Holiday Season.
This year, I started booking Christmas Cards sessions even before Halloween.
As the song says, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, and it is also the perfect time for you as a photographer to make money.
Mostly everybody I know sends Christmas Cards to their family and friends. A big part of that group prefers to send family pictures instead of store-bought Christmas Cards.
I am sure you usually receive pretty much the same version of a Christmas card from different families. Matching outfits, fake smiles, all of them in front of a Christmas Tree. But not all Christmas Cards have to be like that!
What I look to capture on Christmas Card sessions is a little bit of everyone’s personality in one image. For me to be able to do that, I make sure to collect as much information as possible from my client’s family. Some of my clients have already a concept picked by the time they book the sessions, and some others need a little help choosing a theme. That’s when the info I collect from them comes handy. I go ahead and customize inspiration boards for them and even draw a few sketches.
Then my job is to escalate their concept to the epic level!
Having shot multiple clients’ Christmas Cards through the years, I can also say it’s a very competitive time between family and friends, but the fun kind. Once you send out your first fun Christmas Card, there’s no going back. They will be expected every year.
This family recreates a rock album cover every year for their Christmas Card… Can you guess which one is this?
This family wanted a portrait of the chaos that goes behind doors… I can relate!
Kitchen portraits are always fun!
This lovely classic portrait:
Here’s a beach theme without having to pray to the weather Gods for good weather or having to spend a few days getting rid of the sand.
Our Christmas Card this year was inspired by our beloved state of Florida and its fumbling superhero, the Florida man. Who every year gives us the most embarrassing, outrageous, cringy, dumb, awkward, funny, infuriating, and even sometimes, inspiring news stories.
I built up the set in my garage with a ton of Props I got from Spectacular Themes. I really wanted to have a wooden fence as a background, but I couldn’t fit anything like that in my car. After giving it a little thought, I remembered I have laminated wooden floor that I sometimes use on portraits, so I put it against the garage door and BAM! Instant wooden fence!
I didn’t have to spend money on outfits; we used what we had, and of course, I had to wear my Santa suit like every year.
After setting all that up in my garage, I wasn’t going to shoot just one picture. We created a fun little series, and my kids made sure to stamp their personalities on them.
Since I managed to get all the props I wanted, I only had to Photoshop the sky, and I added a little bit of my personal retouching style.
All of these images were shot with my Nikon Z7 and a 24-70mm Z mount lens on my 3 Legged Thing Leo (except for Christmas car one, that was shot with my camera on my Platypod Max). I used two Elinchrom BXRi 500 strobes: one with an octa on camera right and the other one with a strip light set horizontally on a background stand for fill. I also had a Vflats from V-Flat World on each side of the set to bounce light.
This is my busiest time of the year, but it is also the most fun because I get to be creative doing the kind of work I love.
I hope you have a fantastic Holiday Season!
Here are our Christmas Cards from the previous years:
Travel Photography: A Photographer’s Guide to Chicago with Scott Kelby
Join Scott Kelby and Larry Becker to learn where to go, what to see, and what to photograph in Chicago! In this class Scott shares an in-depth look at 21 visually rich locations to photograph in and around Chicago. Throughout each lesson Larry Becker asks the kinds of questions you are thinking to get Scott’s answers to the gear and camera settings he used, post processing techniques, insider tips for each location, and all the important information you’d want to know before you go. Be sure to download the PDF that includes all of the addresses for each location mentioned in the class.
In Case You Missed It – Travel Photography: A Photographer’s Guide to New York City
I’ve always felt that capturing a well exposed picture was easy, but capturing a portrait that reveals the essence, character, and personality was hard. And that’s because the most successful portraits take us well beyond the surface of how someone looks and show us the inner essence of who someone is. They reveal character, soul, and depth. They uncover hidden hopes and inner strength, revealing that authentic and deeply human light that shines within.
And while technical expertise is undoubtedly important, it’s not the technique, lighting, camera, or pose that creates a great portrait. It’s you, and it’s your mastery of technique and the way you make the connection with the subject, that makes the image come to life. Because ultimately, good portraits have very little to do with the surface of how someone looks.
Good portraits go beyond the surface and in doing so, they make us feel. I like how Antoine de Saint-Euxprey put it, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” So in a sense, the craft of portraiture is all about capturing what you can’t quite see, but what you can clearly feel. That’s what makes portraiture such an interesting craft. And at the same time, such a paradox.
The Paradox of Portraiture
I like how the French poet Charles Baudelaire put it, “A portrait! What could be more simple and more complex, more obvious and more profound.” Authentic portraits—at least the ones that endure—are paradoxical in these ways. These pictures aren’t single-minded; they’re a complex and sometimes conflicting combination of ideas, emotions, and themes. Like good literature or art, they give you access to multiple emotions at once.
Authentic portraits speak to the many paradoxes of life: absence and presence, fragility and strength, pity and admiration, nostalgia and regret. Paradoxes are truths in disguise. That’s why they thrive in good literature, film, and art. The element of surprise draws us in. What at first seems like a flaw suddenly makes sense, and the original contradiction metamorphoses from dissonance into interest, believability, and depth.
So how then do we capture more authentic, more meaningful, and more interesting frames? Here are three tips:
1. Carry Less. Capture More.
One of the quickest ways to capture better portraits is to work with a single camera, lens, and natural light. And that’s how I’ve built my career and had my images published by Rolling Stone, New York Times, Esquire Magazine, etc. and worked with dream clients like Google, Adobe, Patagonia, The Nature Conservancy, etc.
99% of all of my images are created with natural light. So if you’d like a great primer on natural light, I’d highly recommend Scott’s new book. I was sent a prerelease copy and it’s really good. His book will give you the foundation to start capturing great images without a lot of gear. This way you can work quickly and build up a body of work.
2. Search For More
When we see someone standing in front of our lens, it’s easy to think of the person in regards to how they look. But great portrait photographers always resist the urge and look past the surface in search of something more. My friend Travis Blue put it this way, “To be human is to look so closely and so deeply into another that you see yourself.” In other words, we must find a way to search for the story within that resonates with who we are.
Like with the photograph below on the left. At first glance he seemed like an “ordinary homeless person.” But as I got to talking with him I discovered that he really was a writer without a home. And I was able to identify with that. Not that I’ve ever been homeless, but that I have experienced what it’s like to be displaced, marginalized, and discouraged even while I was committed to my craft. And it was my craft that kept my spirit alive.
So when you photograph someone, never settle for what you see at first glance. Take time to search, look, listen, and learn about your subject so that you can create portraits that reveal more.
3. Find The Common Ground
When I am photographing a celebrity, a stranger, or a close friend, the process is always the same. And it always begins with making a connection through finding common ground. I’ve found that the quickest way to do that is through the art of asking interesting questions. Rather than telling my subjects what to do, I ask them about their life. And that’s true whether it’s a world famous celebrity like Millie Bobby Brown (below left) or a good friend like Chris Burkard (below right). The point is to start a dialogue and to learn about the subject so that more of who they are shows up in the frame.
Chris Orwig is a best-selling author, photographer, and teacher who blends a down-to-earth approach with technical expertise. Having authored 7 books and over 5000 hours of online tutorials, Chris knows his stuff. But more importantly, he knows what matters most. After having survived a near death rock climbing accident at an early age, Chris realized that life is a gift, and that the camera is the perfect tool for savoring and celebrating the time that we have.
He regularly speaks on creativity and photography at conferences and workshops, and has been invited to speak for companies like Google, Facebook, Adobe and on the TEDx stage. Whether capturing photographs, teaching, or writing books, Chris strives to inspire others to become more creative and lead more meaningful lives. Find out more at ChrisOrwig.com and on Instagram @chrisorwig.