Photowalks & Exercising Photo Skills w/ Jefferson Graham | The Grid Ep. 469
This week, Scott Kelby and Erik Kuna are joined on The Grid by photowalk expert and former USA Today tech columnist Jefferson Graham to talk about photowalks and putting those photography skills to work to keep them in shape!
New KelbyOne Course: Travel Photography: A Photographer’s Guide to LA with Jefferson Graham
Learn how to photograph LA like a pro! Join Jefferson Graham as he takes you on a tour of the most iconic spots in and around Los Angeles to photograph. You’ll find out how to get to the best spots for epic travel and street photography, where to shoot the Hollywood sign, where to go downtown, insights to photographing the most iconic buildings and landmarks, and even a look at surf photography. There’s no shortage of subjects and locations, and Jefferson helps you avoid the most common mistakes and leaves you brimming with ideas for your next trip to the city that launched the movie industry.
Hey there, I’m Meika, a content marketer by day and a photographer by night (and during any other time that I can free up). I specialize in portraits, food, and lifestyle photography. I’m a lover of studio settings, but I found my visual voice while exploring the concrete jungle that is downtown Philadelphia. There’s so much sauce there.
I started this photography journey by capturing landscapes. Finding interesting buildings that stood out to me because of their composition or their color. I also found beauty in odd shadows, shapes and combinations of natural and manmade objects. I told myself that there was beauty in everything. Some people who saw my work agreed, others scratched their heads.
Looking back, I think starting there was important. Vital, really. Starting from ground zero, not knowing anything about photography or why I thought certain things were breathtaking, was and is a gift. I didn’t know anything about the rule of thirds, s-curves or composition. Now that I’ve been taking my photography more seriously, studying terminology and conducting my own research, I’ve come to realize all of that beauty I was seeing was what people like to call “My Eye.”
“Girl you’ve got an eye!” “Wow, there’s no way I would have stopped to take that picture, you make it look so beautiful.”
You know, that stuff.
Did you know that having “the eye” can be taught? The fundamentals, the maneuvering, the structure of an image, the composition, it can all be taught. Brilliant artists have been writing about it for ages. One thing they may not teach you in some of those books is the sauce.
What’s The Sauce, You Ask?
It’s the vibe, the funk, the freshness, the dopeness, the sway, the love, the heart of an image. The reason you stop dead in your tracks to glare for a second longer. It’s the tilt in your head and the squint in your brow. You can’t find that in those books.
I know when I’ve got the sauce when everything aligns both in front of the lens and behind the lens. When the sun is kissing my subjects’ forehead with such grace, and the lines from the architecture behind them sit so nice that it makes me pull back from my viewfinder and scream “THIS RIGHT HERE!”
When the shadows feel right, when the wind picks up a piece of hair and carries it across the subjects’ face, when the posing isn’t forced or directed, when the eyes of my subject aren’t calculating anything, but instead, just existing. That’s when I know.
Remember that saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder?” Well, think about that in relation to photography. Having the sauce isn’t a scientific measurement or statistical calculation, (remember art is subjective). It’s a feeling. When pairing down my images with clients, I’ll express my love for images that sometimes they dismiss. What you find saucy, others may consider bland and vice versa. What I found that works for me is creating a set of images for my clients, and sometimes selecting a separate set of images I can display on my website.
Making Your Own Sauce
The best way to make your own sauce is to get out and shoot until you start hearing yourself say “THIS RIGHT HERE” when looking at your RAWs. Take to social media to find your favorite artists and figure out what makes them your favorite. Sit with that. Take those thoughts as inspiration and develop your own sauce. You can grab your angle inspiration from one place, your color theory inspiration from another, and your posing inspiration from a third and combine them all to make your individual magic. The sauce.
Talking Aviation Photography w/Scott Kelby, Erik Kuna & Larry Grace | The Grid Episode 468
Recently, Scott Kelby and Erik Kuna went to the Sun n’ Fun Fly-In Aerospace Expo to try out some new gear! On this episode of The Grid, they are joined by US Air Force veteran and photographer Larry Grace to talk about aviation photography! This is an exciting episode you don’t want to miss.
New KelbyOne Course – Advancing Your Photography: Making Photos People Will Love with Marc Silber
Make photos that people will love! Join Marc Silber as he walks you through the same cycle of photography that past photography masters and professional photographers use today. Throughout the course Marc shares inspirational interviews, quotes, examples, tips, and his decades of experience to help you take your photography to the next level. By the end of the class you’ll have a better understanding of your camera, have stronger visualization skills, have a better understanding of composition, know how to process your images, know what to do after you’ve crafted an amazing photo, and so much more.
March 12, 2020. Thursday. Lunch time. It could have been just a regular day at the office, but it wasn’t…
The rising number of Covid-19 infections in Portugal forced me to send home everyone on my team. I grabbed a pen and wrote on our whiteboard “we will be back soon,” then turned off all the lights, and slowly closed the door while looking at the empty office that was being left behind.
On that day, I had absolutely no idea how our life was going to be impacted. I was able to anticipate a few things – and no, that did not include the rush for toilet paper – but it took me a while to realize how my photography was going to be impacted.
One of my goals for 2020 was to become a better portrait photographer. After being a landscape and travel photographer for many years, I was feeling the need for a change. I still love landscapes and I really enjoy traveling, but I was getting tired, and I needed a change and a challenge. Perfect timing, right?! A change? A challenge? Could I have asked for more?
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we were not allowed to travel anymore. I couldn’t (and still can’t) travel freely, not even within my country! Forget landscape and travel photography! I guess my new-year’s resolution of becoming a better portrait photographer had the perfect timing! Except for one reason: I had no one to create a portrait of. Now what?
During the first few weeks I didn’t even reach for my camera. Just like everyone else, I had to adapt to stay home and work from home full time. Suddenly zooming was not a thing I could do with my lens; it was something I would do on my computer.
Part of my work involves some public speaking in front of an audience, and now I had to do it from my home office. “- How am I going to do my job?!”… Enter the wonderful world of live streaming: “- I need lights! I need a chromakey green background! I need a better microphone! A video mixer! I need to learn a lot of new things! Noooo!!!” It was a bit overwhelming, but at the same time, everyone likes to get some new gear, right? Is it just me, or do you also love the smell of new recently unwrapped electronics?
While all this was happening, I was also nagging Erik Kuna so that we could an online meeting with the KelbyOne Community members. What better excuse than a pandemic?! So, on Friday, May 1, 2020, we had our first CommunityLIVE meeting: Erik Kuna, Ross Chevalier, and me as co-hosts, plus a group of around 30 members including some famous names like Scott Kelby himself, as well as Rob Sylvan, who were both kind enough to stop by. Participants liked it, so we decided to do it again (and again, and again…).
CommunityLIVE meetings are private meetings for the KelbyOne Community members. You know the KelbyOne Community, right?! If you are a KelbyOne member – and I hope you are! – and you have never visited the KelbyOne Community, you are missing a big part of your membership. If you are not a KelbyOne member, stop reading now. Open a new tab on your browser and do yourself a favor: become a member today! Now, back to where we were…
Photography Website Critiques with Scott Kelby, Erik Kuna & Gilmar Smith | The Grid Episode 467
This week Scott Kelby and Erik Kuna are joined by Gilmar Smith for photography website critiques! Sit back, relax, and see what advice they share that you may be able to apply to your own website.
New KelbyOne Course: Lighting Portraits for the iPhone Photographer with Scott Kelby
Learn how to take your iPhone portraits to the next level! Join Scott Kelby as he takes you through the camera settings, lighting options, subject positioning, lighting positioning, accessories, and more, to create professional looking portraits with your iPhone. Using small high-powered lights, minimal accessories, and your iPhone you’ll learn how to mold light, create shadows, and make your subjects look fantastic indoors and out on location.
Yesterday was Portfolio Day, so I thought I would share some of the most valuable advice on portfolios I’ve been given over the years!
First though, let’s talk about Portfolio Day. It was started by designer Audrey Gonzalez in 2018 as a way for freelancers to share their portfolios online as a sort of virtual job fair, and has grown into a worldwide event in the years since. It’s a quarterly event, so if you missed it yesterday, you’ll have a chance to participate again in July. If you want to share your portfolio, or if you’re someone who hires freelancers, check out the #PortfolioDay hashtag and account on Twitter!
Show The Work You Want To Be Hired For
As creatives, we’re going to take on work that we don’t necessarily love sometimes. But that doesn’t mean we have to show it in our portfolio! Make sure your portfolio is focused on the kind(s) of work you want to be hired to do. If you want to be a food photographer, you probably don’t need any photos of your kids playing soccer next to a photo of ice cream.
Your Portfolio Is Only As Strong As Your Weakest Image
Worry less about hitting a certain number of images in your portfolio and more about the overall strength of it. When people view your work, their perception of your ability is going to include your weakest image.
Start Strong, End Strong
Not only do you need to focus on the overall strength of your portfolio, but you’ll want to make and leave a lasting impression with the viewer. Start with an amazing, attention grabbing image, and end with an image they can’t forget, and you’ll be off to a great start!
Tell A Story
Think about the sequencing of your photos. Don’t just let them be in whatever random order the filenames dictate. Tell a story with the flow of your photos, take the viewer on a journey through your work if you can.
Think About Image Pairings
As you’re thinking about sequencing, also consider how photos look next to each other if you’re creating a physical book or creating a web page layout. If you have a two-up, maybe the images compliment each other with similar colors. Or maybe they contrast with opposite colors. Maybe the subject matter mirrors each other, or creates an interesting/funny juxtaposition.
Be Who You Are, Not Who They Want You To Be
Just because you work or want to work in a certain genre doesn’t mean you have to conform to what everyone else does. Take a chance and do something different so you can stand out from everyone else. Make sure your personality comes through in your work. As they say, there’s only one you, and your perspective is unique. It might take some time to find your voice and style, but it’s worth that time, effort, and experimentation to get there!
Show Work You’re Passionate About
One of my favorite portfolio meeting stories is from Jeremy Cowart. He told of a meeting he had with a potential client in the entertainment industry. He started off by showing them his celebrity portfolio, and they flipped through it quickly, unimpressed because it was the same type of shiny photos of famous people they saw every day.
He thought the meeting was basically over as soon as it began, but then remembered he had a book of photos from a personal project he had done after the Haiti earthquake. He pulled it out and handed it to them, and their eyes lit up as they started to look through it. This was something different that they didn’t see every day, so it caught their attention. They loved the stories of the subjects, and how Jeremy was able to capture such captivating photos with minimal gear. They could see the passion and heart in the images.
They ended up hiring Jeremy for some of the biggest campaigns he’d done at that point in his career, and it was all because he showed work he was passionate about.
More Helpful Resources
If you’re a KelbyOne member (or want to become one), here are a few courses to help you build an amazing portfolio:
Building a Winning Portfolio: Editing and Sequencing Your Images with Stella Kramer
Become a better photographer through editing and sequencing! Join Stella Kramer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo editor, as she teaches you how good editing and sequencing can help to do a better job of telling a story with your work. You’ll learn the basics of editing and sequencing, the importance of knowing your objective, how to deal with critique, why you should stand behind your work, and the value in letting go. Stella brings all of these points home in a series of live edit and sequencing work sessions with three different photographic projects.
The Art of The Edit with Peter Hurley
It’s all about the edit! You’ve just had an awesome photo session and now you need to narrow it down to just the best ones. How do you do it? Join Peter Hurley as he walks you through a series of live headshot sessions and then talks through his editing process with the subjects at the end. Peter is joined throughout the class by Scott Kelby, and together they edit through multiple different shoots that Scott has brought in. Editing is all about narrowing shots down to just the ones that will go into your portfolio to help you get more work. Learn how to develop this muscle and find your own shabangs!
Professional Photography on a Budget: The 5k Challenge with Zack Arias
(NOTE: The portfolio section of this class begins at Lesson 9). What could you do photographically with five thousand dollars? Join Zack Arias as he sets out a challenge to show what can be done on a budget of $5,000. Zack does everything from buying the camera gear to covering his expenses for a weekend of travel in New York City, and even hiring a photo editor to sit down and help him edit his photos down to a tight new body of work. At the end of the project he’ll have new gear, an interesting experience, a new portfolio, and money left over to do it again.
Getting Your Portfolio Online Using Adobe Portfolio with Scott Kelby
Take advantage of the online portfolio option that is included in all Creative Cloud subscriptions, and showcase your work! Join Scott Kelby to learn how to use the latest templates and features found inside of Adobe Portfolio. In this class you’ll learn how to get started with Portfolio, how to build a single gallery, how to add multiple galleries, how to add a contact page, how to add an about the artist page, and how to customize the most important settings to make your portfolio reflect your personal style and taste. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to use once you learn the basics.