In this class you’ll learn the basic terminology needed to use the planner, how to use the app to plan a photo shoot based around the position of the sun, the moon, or the milky way, how to discover when the next eclipse will occur at a given location, how to perform useful calculations, and so much more! Erik even breaks down all the steps he used in planning for a variety of different photographic scenarios. By the end of the class you’ll have a whole new appreciation for the ability to plan around celestial events using PhotoPills.
In Case You Missed It – Under the Milky Way: Lightpainting and Photographing Stars
Join Dave Black for some lightpainting under the stars in Mono Lake and Bodie Ghost Town. Dave starts off with a walk through of all the gear needed for lightpainting before taking us through the importance of a site survey. Over the course of six different shoots in a variety of locations Dave shares all of the steps and settings needed to create stunning lightpainted starscapes. Each lesson is packed with tips, tricks, and lessons learned from Dave’s decades of experience. Dave is a master teacher, and his love for creating these photographs is truly infectious.
When people ask me what I shoot, I respond with, “I’m a portrait and travel photographer. That pretty much sums it up, and I get the corresponding head nod. I have spent years practicing my lighting setups, model direction, getting my camera settings down, and investing in gear. I’m happy. However, if I stopped here, it would be such a waste.
Professionals will tell you that you should pick a genre and master it. Shoot what you like and concentrate on it. I agree. You should figure out what it is that you want to do the most and do that. It’s impossible to become great at everything. With that said, there is no reason whatsoever not to try something different and new from time to time. While I started out shooting portraits, I realized that it would be a missed opportunity not to shoot travel as well. I travel for a living and have been to some of the most beautiful places on earth.
Stepping outside of your comfort zone means that you’re going to take the chance of shooting something that you’ve never shot before. You’re willing to accept that your first attempt is probably not going to be great. However, you’re going to learn! Just getting the settings right means that you’ve mastered doing manually what the camera would have probably done had you set it to AUTO. That may seem harsh, but it’s true. It’s not enough just to take a technically correct photo anymore. It’s expected!
If you’re a “photographer,” then, of course, we expect you to get a shot that’s in focus with the correct exposure. Are you surprised when you go into a restaurant, order a dish and it comes out exactly how you expected? No. You expect the chef to be able to prepare the meal you ordered. That’s why you went to a professional in the first place. Now, if you take a bite and it’s better than anything you’ve ever tasted before, then you’re surprised and pleased. That’s how photography works.
I’m not a morning person by any means. However, I got the opportunity to attend a landscape workshop led by Joe McNally and Moose Peterson. Who says no to that opportunity? Next thing you know, I was in my car headed up to Traverse City, Michigan.
How To Prepare For Your Travel Photography Adventure with Dave Williams
Prepare for your next travel photography adventure with Dave Williams! In this class Dave teaches you how to identify locations that are on trend, what sights are popular and iconic, and then how to identify the gaps and opportunities that you can leverage at each destination. Dave also shares his perspective on gear, his techniques for minimizing crowds in photographs, how to avoid the status quo, and the importance of continually investing in yourself. By the end of the class, you’ll be well armed with the knowledge you need to capture new perspectives of wherever your adventures take you.
In Case You Missed It: The Photographer’s Guide to Traveling Right: What Gear to Take, How to Pack it, and Killer Accessories for Travel
Whether you are going on a big photo safari or a vacation with family, join Scott Kelby and Larry Becker as they share their killer tips for how to travel right. In this class Scott covers everything from choosing the right bag for your gear, tips for ensuring you are within size and weight restrictions, what accessories can make your experience more successful, what to consider about tripods, strategies for backing up on the road, what to do when you get back home, and so much more. All through the class Scott and Larry share their experiences and advice to help you decide what gear to bring, how to get it there, and how to bring it all home with you. Safe travels!
It’s been a couple years since my last guest blog post, and a couple hundred thousand miles’ traveled in between now and then.
Since speaking last, I’ve traveled the world with musicians, produced over 3,500 videos, produced, directed, and shot a couple documentaries, picked up a full time gig and moved to the city of dreams, New York City.
Sounds like the dream right? Every dream comes with its sacrifice, but it’s all about perspective.
While I may hold a steady full time gig, I will never forget what got me here. I’d attribute my position now to living like I’m scraping for pennies and hustling just as hard as I was when I didn’t know how I’d pay for my next meal. Freelance life gives you a lifestyle of freedom, but a full time gig gives you both a lifestyle of freedom and financial freedom if you look at it from the right perspective.
Opportunity exists for everyone; you just need to be willing to put yourself out there. It most likely won’t be smooth, won’t be easy, but I can promise it will be worth it if you look at everything as an opportunity for growth rather than accepting ‘no’ as defeat and making that your identity.
I’ll give you a brief look into my story since we last spoke and we can pick up where we left off….
I’ll start with the idea that I’ve always lived by as long as I’ve been doing this thing called art.
In order to succeed, you need to approach freelance business with a calculated risk mentality.
Look at things as opportunities to grow, rather than a quick buck or freebie. Be safe, be logical, and play life like a game of chess. Set yourself up for success if you see the window for it.
During the summer of 2016, I was producing a few small projects for musicians and some small businesses (music videos, commercials, tutorials, etc.). These projects weren’t necessarily risks, more of safe plays that paid decently and got me through my next month of expenses.
The first most specific instance of taking a risk came via the world of music.
At the time I was holding down a full time position at a TV station in Tampa, Florida and felt like I wasn’t doing anything truly creative or challenging. So during my time outside of the office – I volunteered myself and my services to a band that had only played a single show.
I put myself on their radar months prior when they reached out to me about sharing a photo that I took. Conversations bloomed and an opportunity arose. I wanted to create and collaborate. All I wanted to do was let my creative juices flow, invest in the music scene that I loved, and support the community around me, with zero expectations of getting anything in return. My mindset at the time was, ‘If it worked, it worked – if not, it would have been a fun experience regardless, so let’s make the most of it.’
This band was ‘connected’ in a few different unique ways, but that never mattered – I just wanted to create, just as they wanted to perform. I offered to drive my car from Tampa to Orlando, Orlando to Atlanta, and Atlanta to Nashville, and back to Tampa (so I could make it back to my full time job on that Monday morning) to capture their first tour all for a grand total of NOTHING.
I spent nearly $300 on travel expenses plus an additional $300 on camera equipment rentals to film and produce the content I wanted to make. We didn’t have a set agreement, just my word and their gift of access to a life behind the scenes of a small touring band. With this given opportunity, I wanted to do everything possible to shine and let them know I was there to do work and share their story.
I proceeded to produce daily recaps of each of the shows, videos that would be shared on their social channels the morning/day after each performance. Along with those videos, I produced a 13-minute behind the scenes mini-doc.
Following the first show, one of the band members approached me with the idea of touring with his other band, Underoath, that following March. He proposed the idea to the rest of the band, shared what I was capturing and creating, and gave me the chance to prove myself with a small social campaign for the band later that fall. I hit the ground running.
The opportunity with Underoath developed into something special and a lot of other opportunities stemmed from that. Every risk you take comes with the opportunity to prove yourself and position yourself for further success; you can take it or leave it. You can just do the job to get it done or you can go the extra mile, exceed expectations, and do far more than what was asked of you in the first place. The biggest opportunity of my career at that point came when Underoath asked me produce, direct, and shoot their in-studio documentary for an album that no one knew they were making.
In Case You Missed It: Jaw-Dropping, Heart-Stopping, Eye-Popping Photoshop Effects
Join Unmesh Dinda and take your Photoshop skills to the next level! This class is jam-packed with tricks and techniques that will make your jaw drop. You’ll learn how to retouch any surface without damaging texture, how to selectively apply blur for dramatic effect, how to scale a photo without damaging the main subject, how to automate actions to work faster, how to gain unlimited filters through the Gradient Map, and so much more. Unmesh has a great knack for making complicated techniques simple and approachable, and he even provides files for you to download and practice with as you learn. By this end of the class these lessons will serve as a go-to reference to come back to anytime you need a refresher.
Today I wanted to share some of my favorite photos from international workshops, along with the stories and techniques behind them. I’m also including the EXIF data of each photo so you can see my settings. Enjoy!
Behind the Shot: Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam: Roberto Valenzuela
During the shoot with model Yen, it began to rain. We were stuck in a little neighborhood in the middle of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. While we waited for the rain to recede, I was inspired by the old world look of the neighborhood in front of me. To add to the nostalgia of the scene, I used a technique I created called “Flash Flare,” where a flash is inches from the lens pointed right at the lens to hit the sensor.
Because I wanted to add to the old world feel of this place, I added a ½ CTO filter to the light to give it an “In Camera” vintage look. I posed the model as if she was taking a stroll around her neighborhood. Another flash was used to illuminate the model. The officer on the motorcycle to the right, contributes beautifully to the cinematic old world feel of the scene.
Behind the Shot: Hanoi Vietnam
This photograph was created with quite a bit of luck. The model Thuy was actually the MC for the Canon EOS R event in Vietnam. I asked her if I could take some quick photos of her in the old district. With her beautiful red dress, I thought it would go nicely with the old vintage feel of the old district in Hanoi.
Once there, to my surprise, we ran into these two soldiers dressed in uniform on the street playing a game. I politely asked, with the help of my translator, if we could include them in the photograph. Not only did they say yes, but they were excited about it. To bring visual attention to our model Thuy, I used a Profoto B10 with a beauty dish to illuminate her.
Behind the Shot: Hong Kong
This photo was taken in a very odd place. As we explored our surroundings in Hong Kong, I noticed a tiny little island on the Google Maps app on my phone. This island is called Magazine Island. Even though it was a long shot, I asked our boat driver if it was possible for us to go to that island. She laughed, but she did it.
Once we got there, we hiked to the top to take advantage of the interesting rock formations. So I asked the model Fanny to lay on the floor and frame her face with her arms. We used a Profoto B10 very close to her face to create this flattering illumination on Fanny’s face.