Dustin Snipes is a full time staff sports photographer and part-time Red Bull drinker in Los Angeles, Calif. When he is not taking photos (or drinking Red Bull) he spends his time watching reruns of “How I Met Your Mother.”
For the last few months, people have been asking me about the post-production involved in the photos on my blog post “70 basketball portraits I did in two days.” I always planned on sharing it with everyone but just haven’t had time to put anything together until now. Recently, I was asked to do a guest post for Scott’s blog and thought, “What better way to share this Photoshop tip with everyone than on Mr. Photoshop himself’s blog, Scott Kelby?” I was pretty giddy, to say the least.
It’s actually a pretty simple process that has a few steps to get this “look” (and it’s not LucisArts or HDR :) ).
There is one thing you must promise me–and yourself–before reading this post. Repeat (or read) after me:
“I, (state your name, or clever web user ID) will not overuse this technique on EVERY photo I take. I will only use it in moderation.” (more…)
Greetings! My name is Chris Orwig , and I’m a photographer, interactive designer and educator. I whole heartedly agree with the acclaimed French photographer Marc Riboud who says, “Photography is about savoring life at 1/100th of a second.” And it is true, isn’t it? Photography enriches, enlivens and expands how we think, what we see and who we are. Photography helps us live more fully, more completely. Having a camera in hand does make a difference. Yet, throughout one’s photographic journey, there are seasons when our passion and vitality dwindles. That’s why we read blogs like this. We’re looking for a bit of straightforward information and inspiration that will further us along. In light of that, here’s a post devoted to providing you with some creative thoughts and anecdotes that will hopefully lead you to creating more compelling photographs – enjoy!
Burn out or Burn Bright As a photography faculty at the Brooks Institute, I’ve worked with a wide range of students. Some have gone on to accomplish great things – even fame! Others have dried up, burned out and left the field all together. I’ve always been interested in this dichotomy, and it interests our students as well. They are always on the lookout for the secret that will help them excel. A few years back, one student was having his portfolio reviewed by the legendary Jay Maisel.
The review was fine, yet after it was over the student pleaded with Jay, “Tell me, how can I take more interesting photos?” With missing a beat, Jay volleyed back, “Become a more interesting person.” Or said in another way, as Chris Rainier told me last week, “…at some point photography becomes autobiographical. In order to create better photos, sometimes we need to put down the photography books and magazines. Then we need to go out and to develop who we are.”
Who we are, shapes what we see.
Make the Ordinary Extraordinary Regardless of who you are or what your do, it is easy for anyone to fall prey to “if only” thinking. If only I had that lens. If only I had that camera. If only I was given that assignment. If only I lived in that town. If only. Yet, to counter such stifling thoughts, many photographers I know use their imagination to redefine circumstances. And right now, I’m not talking about photographically finding beauty in unlikely circumstances. While that is critical, here I’m talking about defining who you are and what you do. Let me explain. (more…)
When high school guys have a little too much courage (or booze) in their system, they sometimes hit the road for a game of “chicken.” In the game (primarily designed to thin the herd of the stupid young males before they get to breed) two people drive right at each other in cars, until one blinks and swerves out of the way first.
This person is the loser of the game.
Get a little more age and enough alcohol involved — and a handgun — and you may end up with a game of Russian Roulette, which is an even faster ticket to a finalist slot in the Darwin Awards.
As a young sports photographer 20 some-odd years ago, our professional equivalent was a little game we liked to call “First Frame.” I was introduced to it by my friend Rich Riggins, who was a ridiculously good sports shooter at a very young age.
The rules were simple: Two competing photographers shooting the same game shot the first frame of a 36-exposure roll of Tri-X at each other, thus verifying that no rolls of film were switched later. The very next frame was your entry in the game. Whoever had the best action shot (moment, composition, focus, etc.) won.
Mind you, this was in the days of film and manual focus cameras. We didn’t have 11FPS auto-focus digital Uzis with 4000-shot clips. And yes, we walked to school, five miles, uphill both ways — in the snow. Barefoot.
Rare is the software application that transcends its basic utility to become not only a ubiquitous element of pop culture and daily life for many, but also a verb. Photoshop is one such unicorn.
As such, many successful approaches to life can also be applied to gaining proficiency in Photoshop—and vice versa. Here’s a look at ten life lessons to be gleaned from and applied to mastering one of the world’s favorite software applications.
Flexibility is Key
While there’s no easy Cmd/Ctrl+Z equivalent in life, the value of flexibility is easily understood. Just as having options in life makes it more manageable , maintaining flexibility in Photoshop is also crucial. Smart objects, masks, adjustment layers—these are game-changing ways of working that provide the ultimate in flexibility. Use them to your advantage.
Experimentation Leads to Breakthroughs
Throughout human history, there are many storied examples of how experimentation, happy accidents, and unexpected discoveries have led to enormous scientific breakthroughs (penicillin, anyone?). The same sense of curiosity and wonder can be applied to Photoshop to unlock new potential. What effect does the Difference blend mode have? How many different ways might you make use of the Render > Difference Clouds command? How exactly might the Pencil tool be useful? What happens if you invert your image or apply your edits in a different order? One of the best ways to figure out what a command or setting in Photoshop does is to push the limits and see for yourself. Drag sliders to their extremes and see what happens. Unlike life, you can’t ruin Photoshop with poor choices. There’s always a way back.
The Learning Never Ends
No one knows absolutely everything there is to know about Photoshop. Everyone has their respective silos of mastery. Some know everything about working in 3D, others can teach you everything there is to know about non-destructive editing. But there is always more to learn. Even after 20 years of Photoshopping, I’m constantly surprised by random little quirks or hidden surprises I somehow never stumbled across before. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to ask questions of some of the original masterminds that have been part of Photoshop’s creation since the beginning—and even they didn’t have all the answers. Let this be both a comfort and a call to action. In life, as in Photoshop, the day we stop learning is the beginning of the end.
Pandemic Productivity & Creativity: You Don’t Drown by Falling in Water; You Only Drown if You Stay There
“You don’t drown by falling in water; you only drown if you stay there.”
That Zig Ziglar quote sounds kinda funny, but it sure is true – especially during this worldwide pandemic where many of us have “fallen in the water.”
Breaking my ankle and having major surgery in July of 2021 compounded (greatly) my personal experience of “sailing in rough seas” during the “tidal wave” of pandemic.
At times, like many of you, I felt as though the “water was rising” – especially with how the business side of photography was being affected. However, being the positive person that I am, I found a “life preserver” that pulled me to safety: a life preserver of productivity and creativity.
I share my story with you (thank you Brad and Scott for the share) with the hope of giving you some encouragement if you feel as though you are falling beneath the waves – and to illustrate how being productive and creative is important, some may say essential, for the health of the mind and body . . . and your business.
To begin . . . In the early stages of the pandemic I started the Photo Therapy Facebook Group – a safe place with no politics, and a place where members could share their photographs and get honest feedback. Today we have more than 5,000 members worldwide who find posting their photographs and sharing their stories very therapeutic and rewarding. Yes, I hope you can join the photo fun and photo learning!
As part of the Photo Therapy Facebook group, I set up a Photo Therapy YouTube channel. Here my friend Linda Marshall hosts Monday Meditation, and I share slide shows (that’s me on piano) of some of the members’ photographs . What fun!
Shortly after starting the Photo Therapy Facebook Group I came up with the idea for another inspirational book, Photo Quest – discovering your photographic and artistic voice. I felt as though the pandemic was the perfect time for photographers to find their voice. Many of my pro photographer friends agreed, and contributed to the book, hence the “All-Star Photo Mentors” in the credit line.
When I started getting into photographing concerts and artists, it wasn’t long after that when everything shut down due to the pandemic. I ended up going to Arkansas and staying with family for a while. I had no idea what life was going look like after coming back to Nashville. Everyone of course was wondering about the unknowns.
I just did what I could with in each day. One morning, I received a DM on Instagram and it was Chandler’s manager. She told me she and Chandler were looking to do an album photoshoot in Nashville and wanted to know if I would be available. Just to give you some background: Chandler is part of the Maverick City Music collective based in Atlanta. He’s done many collaborations with talented singer-songwriters within the worship realm. This year he performed on Justin Bieber’s Easter EP ‘Freedom.’
I didn’t know who Chandler was; I had never heard his name. I just quickly said ‘yes!’ Sydne, his manager, shared specific examples of what they had in mind. As I was looking through them, I thought, “Okay, we could totally do this in my house.” After they agreed to this idea, I thought to myself “Why on earth did I suggest that we shoot in my home? Okay, I can do this.” I turned my house into a studio space and planned where we could start from room to room just using certain spots as references points based from their ideas. I didn’t have any special equipment setup; I just depended on the natural lighting.
On the day of our shoot, they arrived at my place and they of course were cordial and just really down to earth. We talked for a bit and then we went straight to work. In one of their photo examples, the model was sitting where sunlight came through these window blinds and the shadows from the blinds were cast across the model’s face. I wanted to emulate this setting. So, we began in one bedroom where I knew the lighting was going to be great for the first few shots. I photographed several angles and poses and in between shots I showed Chandler what I was seeing and he was happy with what he saw.
We hopped from one spot to the other throughout my house, playing around with the light and shadows. We were going for really moody effects. I pulled from their vision but also included some fun impromptu stuff here and there. Prior to meeting, Sydne encouraged me to have creative freedom in directing Chandler with his poses. So, I kept this in mind as I was feeling out the energy and what felt right. It was a good momentum. Honestly, it was probably from the 2 1/2 cups of coffee I had that morning. But, ya know… I felt a steady flow and I went along with it. I found myself just listening to it.
There were a few times where I asked Sydne to assist me and she was awesome and jumped right in. I think I remember her telling me she had played around with photography herself so there was a fun dynamic going on. At one point, I had Chandler stand in front of this wall, and, as I was adjusting my camera settings, he started singing; just being himself and just chilling. It was a great time! I felt comfortable and I didn’t feel awkward or shy posing him.
When we made it into the last room, which was my bedroom, I had him sit in a chair and then on my bed and I grabbed some final shots. As we were wrapping things up, I had one last idea come over me. I asked him to relax and place his hands over his face. This had nothing to do with their original vision. I just went for it. It was one click and then we were done. I didn’t know what photo Chandler was going to use for his cover. I just remember sending their edits to them and then I moved on.
A few months later, on the album release day, I saw that he ended up using the last photo I took of him hiding his face in his hands. It was that one photo I took at the very end of our shoot. My heart literally expanded so big when I saw this. This shoot will always live with me, because we were total strangers. We were in a pandemic. And we created something in my house.
This experience also reinforced something inside of me as a creative, and that is to always listen to that quiet nudge in your gut. Yes, obviously keep in mind what the client wants but when the opportunity presents itself, grab a hold of that instantaneous “aha moment.”
Sharing this reminds me and I genuinely hope it does the same for you, to allow yourself to push through your own doubt and make some room for your own canvas. Because someone sees the art in you.