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MAKING MY FIRST MUSIC VIDEO 

I met Lyrah (Kathleen Warner) on twitter. Honestly I forgot when exactly. She thought my videos were cool and I liked her music. She asked if I’d be down to direct a video. I’m not sure if she knew I hadn’t made one before, but I said yes. My skills directing product and brand videos could translate right? Plus I have friends that have made music videos and I occasionally volunteered for WDMV which connected me with plenty of talented directors I could ask for advice. Plus there’s always YouTube right?

We had our first official meeting about this video on November 9th 2019. The single and video dropped last week on March 18th 2020. Hella great response so far. It made it to COLORSXSTUDIOS Song of the Day, was featured in the Nightcap Apple Music playlist and the best part – friends and strangers have told us so many nice things. Also as of writing this, zero dislikes on YouTube. Now that I’ve said it though someone will probably just dislike it out of spite. Oh well.


The Approach

We started with a meetup in NYC to talk about the project and outlined the details on Dropbox Paper. We started with her overall aesthetic, vibe of the song, and narrative in the lyrics. Over the next couple of weeks we added moodboards, references, and outlined a storyboard based on the lyrics. Also iMessage. Hella ideas and references exchanged back and forth. I was a lil afraid but just went for it and asked lots of questions and showed her things I found interesting. This helped us narrow things down for the video and get on the same page. Even though we never worked with each other before this we understood how to project manage the hell out of this because of our respective professional experience. Then we settled on a date in LA for the shoot and worked backwards from there.


Pre-Production

I have to mention a lot of music videos don’t operate on this long of a timeline. I heard if Gucci Mane has a song Wednesday night he wants a video for then the video will be done and out Saturday night. This was a completely indie production between me and the artist Lyrah so we made up our own process and rules. Also we both worked our respective jobs while making this project happen.

In hindsight our storyboard was very ambitious. We had two different worlds, choreography, freestyles, scenes with extras, performance scenes, and several locations we wanted to shoot in. Also styling, props, make-up, art direction for everything. All in one day. I’d like to think I was optimistic and planning well but perhaps there was more naivety and a big ass cup of Dunning-Kruger effect.

Animatic

Since Lyrah already had the song recorded I found references from movies and other music videos that generally fit the storyboard and put it together. This served as our template for making the video.

Choreography

My brother’s name is Green – yes we are named after colors. I enlisted his help in making the choreography for after the chorus. He’s hella dope, just check out his Instagram or Tik-Tok. He can move. He filmed himself doing all 3 parts and then cut it together and did hella masking to plan out the blocking. What a pro.

Crew 

The crew would be myself, my brother and my friend Carl. Green worked with and for a lot of YouTubers in LA so he knew how to operate on set. My friend Carl also came on as DP and gaffer. I met him partying in Hong Kong during study abroad almost 10 years ago. I don’t know why but I remember he had a bowtie and suspenders on. He’s the only one that actually went to film school and that made a huge difference on set. My friend John also showed up to take BTS pics and hang. He’s the one to thank for the beautiful non-iPhone images you get to look at while reading this.

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#TravelTuesday has come around again, and the lockdown is still confining many of us to within our four walls. It’s important to maintain mental well-being, as well as social distancing, and education is a great tool for that because of the stimulus it creates. Looking at it from a photographer’s perspective, we know that we have two main elements to being creative: producing content and consuming content. We take and retouch photos to demonstrate our creativity, but we also read, watch, and learn from other sources to test our creativity and absorb ideas, opinions, and creative processes.

When learning about photography I turned to books, YouTube, KelbyOne, blogs, practice, all manner of methods. One thing worth noting here is that four of those five things are attainable during lockdown and the remaining one, practice, can be done indoors or out, so it isn’t 100% ruled out. 

I have a couple of ideas to put out to you this week to help you learn and practice. Let’s start with learning: –

Reading about photography is a great insight into some of our favorite photographers’ minds, and these books are a wealth of valuable information because the time and effort that has gone into creating them to ensure their success is a huge priority for the authors and the publishers. If you haven’t read them already, some great places to start are with Scott’s The Landscape Photography Book, Glyn Dewis’ Photoshop Like a Thief, Dave Clayton’s How Do I Do That In InDesign?, and of course, I have a Northern Lights book out (and I think we may just about be back to normal in time for next season!).

When it comes to YouTube, Glyn is high on the list again, with an awesome recent video about printing. Among KelbyOne instructors, Terry White, Unmesh Dinda (PixImperfect) and Colin Smith (PhotoshopCAFE) have some great videos on Photoshop, while Larry Becker will show you some tech and how to use it.

KelbyOne classes are always a go-to for learning, but right now, as well as the plethora, née, the smorgasbord of classes, there are live streams accessible to all by Scott and the team.

In terms of blogs, you’re already on a great one, but there’s also Scott’s Lightroom Killer Tips, and I also write for DIYPhotography where there’s a load of inspiration and news.

But then, there’s the practice. If you want to practice at home, I made a terrible little eBook, which you can download here, and I have now taken it up a gear by making 31 of my RAW files from around the world available for download. So long as you only use them for personal use, you may do as you wish. I’d love to see your interpretation and retouching, so be sure to tag me – I’m @idavewilliams on every platform. Here’s what Cheeky Nando made from one of them, from the Lofoten Islands, Norway.

Have fun, stay safe!

Much love
Dave

PROGRAMMING UPDATE: I’m sharing a great strategy for backing up your photo library and LR catalog – another of our free live Webinars (normally just for Kelbyone members, but we’re opening it to all photographers) today at 11:00 AM ET. Taking your questions, too https://kelbyone.com/livewebcast

OK, I may have mentioned in a previous post that this would be a four-part series, but as it turned out, it’s a five-parter, and this is Part 4 (of 5), but this one won’t take you too long, and though you may not realize it yet, this actually helps to move you closer to making the kind of images you want to be making. Also, if you missed, Part 1, Part 2 or Part 3, well…there are the links. Ready to jump into Part 4? Let’s go!

Here’s what we’ve done so far:

(1) We went to Instagram and identified around 20 or so images that are the exact type of images we want to be making.

(2) We played detective and I gave you a list of how to break down those images to their basic elements.

(3) We went through that list one-by-one and gave a 1-5 ranking for which things we left were the most important elements in making each image special. What were the things the photographer did that make that image what it is.

Now, here in Part 4, go back through that list you made last week and look for a common thread that runs through your picks. Look at your #1s and #2s, and see if they share a common thread? Do you see the same type of comments appearing over and over.

Here’s a sample list as an example:

So, above I went through a bunch of shots I liked, and briefly noted the #1, and #2 most important things to me — the things that I think made that photo special. OK, what can we learn about our photography from this list of shots you admire?

I highlighted in red each time I noted the LOCATION was one of the two most important features. That tells me, for the type of images I want to be making, the location of the shot is a very important factor. Are the location landscape locations or travel locations? Are the shots you choose portraits, and you feel it’s the background or environment that made all the difference? Make note of each time you wrote location, and then write down where or what those locations were. Is there a common thread? Are the indoors, outdoors? Maybe sweeping coastal landscapes, or are they portraits in a studio. Write this down on paper, and look for the common thread. I’ll bet there is some common denominator that is typing them together somehow.

OK, let’s keep digging it a little further:

Look at how many times (above in red) I chose that Light, or Lighting, was one of the two top features. If the shots are portraits, is the lighting in those shots dramatic? Bright and high key? Is it one light, two lights, more? Or, if they are landscape shots, is it dramatic light? Beams of light? Dawn light or sunset light? Mid-afternoon light. Try and define exactly which type of light is happening in each, and see if there’s a common thread — some type of lighting that you’re drawn to.

Another feature that pops up on my list quite a bit, is color. I always knew I’m drawn to color, and this list just confirms it. The color in these shots really drew them to me. Now, can I find a common thread between them? Is the color I’m drawn to a warm color? A cool color? Contrasting colors. If I can determine exactly which type of colors, that will help in Part 5.

Look at how many times “people” (or people related things, like clothing or expression) show up in the list above? What does this tell you? It looks like you’re (well I am) drawn to people. Look at the people shots and see if you can see a thread — something that repeats. Is it the clothes? The styling? The location where the shots are taken? You know how that you’re drawn to lighting, so is it the lighting? How about the over color or the color of the clothes they’re wearing. Is it that they’re great subjects? Maybe a fantastic model, or a person with an interesting or fascinating look? Find that common thread that runs between those shots.

Here’s another common theme from my list – simplicity. I’m obviously drawn to shots that have a simple composition or simple lighting, or maybe both. Maybe instead of trying to add things to my photos to make them better, maybe I should try taking things away, and simplifying the scene that’s in front of me?

You know what to do next…

For this to work, you have to write this stuff down. On paper, on your phone, or your iPad — you have to write it for it to stick. If you do, it will start paying off very soon. In fact, I think you’ll find that it already has started to reveal things to you about the type of images you want to be making. More to come in Part 5.

Stay healthy, stay indoors, and keep pushing your learning forward, so that when this awful virus is behind, you’re set up for success.

Wishing you good health. :)

-Scott

This week, Erik Kuna and I did an episode of “The Grid” (our weekly live podcast) that we’ve been told was super helpful to photographers who have their portfolios online. We did a critique of the design, usability, and layout of their sites, and when you watch it (it’s embedded below), you’ll see a lot of photographers making the same mistakes again and again, and you’ll see why certain layouts and designs work, and which ones don’t.

Even though we may not have gotten to your site if you submitted one, you’ll still pick up a ton from seeing what works and what doesn’t.

Hope you found that helpful, and we’ll catch you here on Monday for the final part of my four-part series on learning more about your photography (where you want to go, and how to get there).

Have a safe, stay-indoors, wash your hands kinda weekend. :)

Cheers,

-Scott

P.S. My book editor Kim Doty is giving away some copies of the eBook edition of my “Natural Light Photography Book” today over on her Facebook page. Here’s the link (and good luck). :)

Hands On with the Nikon D780: Everything You Need to Know to Get Great Shots with Larry Becker

Get a hands on look at the Nikon D780 with Larry Becker! The D780 is an amazingly powerful performance camera that’s packed with features. In this class Larry gets you started quickly with a few need to know items before digging into the buttons and dials, metering modes, white balance, focusing controls, important settings, customization controls, and rounds it out with an explanation of the features and settings every D780 owner needs to know.

In Case You Missed It… Hands On with the Canon EOS R: Everything you Need to Know to Get Great Shots

Join Larry Becker to learn the ins and outs of the amazing Canon EOS R! Whether you just picked one up or are thinking about adding one to your kit, you’ll want to learn all the hidden features and pro tips that set this camera apart. From features such as programmable controls to flexible priority mode to shooting video, Larry teaches you how to set them up (and more!) and get the most out of them.

Larry wraps up the class with three interviews with professional photographers, Joel Grimes, Roberto Valenzuela, and Rick Sammon who have a lot of insights to share from their early hands on experience with the EOS R.

Welcome To The Endless World Of Photo Manipulation

I started my creative journey 20 years ago, when I got my first copy of Photoshop as a birthday gift. It was a time of no YouTube, really slow dial-up internet connection, and not so many places to learn Photoshop from.

So, I needed to learn it on my own.

I practiced a lot, experimenting with the tools and having fun with Photoshop.

The first tools I learned how to use were the Magic Wand Tool and Lasso Tool. With those two tools I was able to select and extract objects from scanned photos. And that was how I made my first photo manipulation. My father standing in the mountain near the camp fire with a rifle in his hand.

That was the time when I opened a door to the world of endless possibilities.

The photo manipulation world is such a great place to be, because you can do whatever you want. The only limitation is your imagination, and the knowledge to use the tools necessary to turn your imagination into reality.

Today I will walk you through the process of making a photo manipulation. I will tell you what is important to know to be able to create a realistic result, and how to make your life easier by following some general rules.

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