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New KelbyOne Course – Retouching in Lightroom: It’s All in the Details

Portrait photographer, Tracy Sweeney, will share with you her “It’s all in the details” approach to crafting captivating, creative portraits in Lightroom Classic. In this session you’ll focus on texture and clarity sliders in Lightroom Classic, and learn how to elevate your portraits with simple techniques that will enhance details and diminish distractions, resulting in wow factor photos.

In Case You Missed It: Pro Tips for Photographing Toddlers with Tracy Sweeney

Don’t be afraid of toddlers! Join Tracy Sweeney as she shares her best practices for photographing these little movers like a pro. In this class Tracy teaches you the importance of setting expectations with the parents and shares her tips for coaching the families through a session. You’ll learn her approach to posing toddlers and creating natural opportunities for keeping them engaged.

You’ll get to see Tracy putting it into practice through three different live shoots with toddlers and their parents, and at the end of the class Tracy shares her post processing workflow to help you become more efficient at creating your final images. With all of these tips and techniques in your bag of tricks you’ll be ready to create dynamic portraits that your clients will cherish.

Editor’s Note: In honor of Tracy’s new KelbyOne course, Retouching In Lightroom: It’s All In The Details, we’re sharing her guest post from September 2020!

FIVE TIPS TO CAPTURE AUTHENTIC MOMENTS IN CHILD PHOTOGRAPHY

Well Hello! Tracy Sweeney here, owner/photographer of Elan Studio in Bristol, Rhode Island. I’m thrilled to return and guest blog about an absolutely important topic in family photography.

Have you ever viewed an image that was so powerfully driven in “something” that it physically stirred you? Perhaps it was “something” so evocative, a single moment crafted from someone else’s time, and yet the picture’s energy mirrored an indelible memory of your own, bringing forth genuine connection? Or possibly there was a level of emotion that resonated so profoundly that it made you just feel “something?” That “something,” that thing that pulls us, draws us in and makes us wonder, anticipate, relive, laugh, cry, gasp, pause, that “something” is authenticity. 

Authentic imagery is powerful, and because I know that, I approach every photo session with the goal of crafting beautiful images through authentic means. Authentic, in elementary form, is defined as real and genuine. And through this consideration, it might seem paradoxical that my entire aim is authenticity, because, after all, I am a child and family photographer who poses, orchestrates, and directs; I am not a lifestyle photographer. Do I capture candids? Absolutely, but my style is certainly not photojournalistic. So then, how does one, under these self-imposed parameters (that have shaped my business), create natural, authentic imagery?

1. BE YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF

The key to creating natural, authentic images is quite simple: be authentic yourself. That seems rudimentary, right? Perhaps there was a specific tool you were hoping I suggest, or an actual phrase, game, gear, or direction I would give to guarantee that, even in a melange of subjects, you would be able to draw each out naturally, and each of their best selves would shine.

Well, in part, that’s true, because your authenticity, your approach that makes you feel so natural and fluid, will attract that likeness, and in other trending words, “your vibe will attract your tribe.” If you are interacting with your clients in a way that feels fluid and true to you, your subjects will respond effortlessly and relaxed, allowing you to capture them naturally. This applies to adults and children.

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It’s #TravelTuesday and I, Dave Williams, am here as always bringing you a dose of my world. This week is no different and in fact, there’s a familiar face to include – Vanelli!

You may or may not know that Vanelli is the Director of Education over at Skylum and we caught up at The Photography Show last week, having not seen each other for a few years. The usual antics occurred – I tried to sneak up on him with my super-stealthy skills but was thwarted by his super-human strength whenever I got too close, however I was able to steal the keys to the Vanelli-mobile and take it for a spin of the show floor at the NEC! I’m taking that as a small win. But let’s stay on track – today I want to tell you a little about Luminar Neo. If you’re a reader of Photoshop User you’ll see a more in-depth review soon, but here’s what I have for today: –

There are several companies on the scene giving us Adobe Photoshop plug-ins (and more) right now, and each has their own merits. I have all the main players’ software for use and review so I’m in a position to point out the benefits and downfalls of each of them, and I have to say that I’m particularly impressed with Luminar Neo. You’ll have noticed, I’m sure, that it’s all about Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, and this is even reflected within Photoshop’s Neural Filters. Luminar Neo has taken the input of millions of images to kick out some killer image processing abilities, with more coming soon. There’s Sky AI, Relight AI, Atmosphere AI, Face AI, Skin AI, Structure AI, the list goes on and on. Each of these tools is on-point.

Some photographers are extremely averse to the AI tech we’re seeing introduced all around us but let me tell you, it isn’t going away. We have to find the tech that will help us and improve our photography and creative processes, and embrace it as part of our workflow. Software like this is here to help us so it’s important that we give it a try (which I mean quite literally – they all offer a free trial.)

The funny thing is that all the tricks we’ve learned in Photoshop for our edits are now simplified into ‘one-click’ actions, which kind of makes all our previous learning obsolete in places but also makes our lives that much easier moving forward. The thing is, if it’s going to make our lives easier it really shouldn’t require any real effort or further learning, which is why I place Luminar Neo above its competitors. Each of the pieces of software out there looks and feels different, but Luminar Neo is intuitive and easy. Every tool is where you’d expect it to be and it’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into the UX and UI. Having such an effective and intuitive aesthetic within the software and combining it with such powerful tools driven by AI is a game-changer for us as photographers and creatives.

Much love
Dave

(PS – I got hold of an extra copy to give away to one of you! To win, check my Facebook)

This is such an eye-opening video from ‘Studio Builder’ (a full-time working pro photographer), and he’s got some eye-opening takes on Vero for all those photographers who are thinking of moving there as an answer to Instagram’s recent changes (SPOILER ALERT: where Instagram is designed around photography, Vero clearly is not – as you’ll see, but there’s much more to it).

I even went back and started posting on Vero again myself, but this video is making me rethink investing time and energy there. Check it out:

Also, when Vero started back in 2018, with its promise of no algorithms and no ads, a lot of photographers did grab a spot over there (myself included), but then everybody kind of left in a hurry (Google it for the reason), but this video (above) doesn’t go into all that – just why it’s not what you think (or hope) it is, or would be. Give it a look – he did a LOT of research, and it makes a lot of sense.

OK, we’re off to a kind of a chippy Monday. Let’s turn it around and make this a kick-butt day!

-Scott

Two separate topics that taste great together. First, check out what we just announced – our last training conference of the year – ‘The Travel Photography Conference.’ Check out the trailer below and why this is the perfect time for a conference like this, which covers the shooting, traveling, gear, the post-processing, and more:

You can sign up right here (and don’t forget – you get the entire conference, all the classes, archived for an entire year, so you can stream any session again, or any missed, on demand.

Burger King Totally Blew It!

Chicken Sandwich Wars Important Update: Burger King had it. They had one of the top contenders in the entire Chicken Sandwich war in their “Ch’King” chicken sandwich. It was pretty incredible. So much so that it made me actually go to Burger King, perhaps my least favorite restaurant anywhere. Never been a fan, but the Ch’King changed my mind. It made me a believer, and a customer. Until last week, when I was at the Burger King drive-thru near me, ordered a Ch’King, and they told me it had been discontinued. What? That’s right – it’s no longer available. Apparently, a lot of people loved it, but there was a problem. Here’s how a top exec at Burger King explained the problem:

“The Ch’King “was a great product that was difficult or challenging for teams to execute on.”

So, they didn’t replace the Ch’King with something that tastes better. They replaced it with something easier to make. It’s not about their customers. It’s about how easy it is for them to make.

But I gave them the benefit of the doubt since they’re running TV ads non-stop for their new “BK Royal Crispy Chicken Sandwich,” so after ‘The Grid’ last week, I bought one to give it a try (even though one of our viewers commented that they had already tried it, and it was totally “meh”).

I tried it, and I can tell you this: It’s misnamed. It should have been called, “It’s our old boring chicken sandwich back again,” and their TV campaign could have been, “You didn’t like it before, and now it’s back.” It was completely ‘meh.’ Super ‘meh.’ They quit. They gave up. Save your money.

We Have a New Champ!

I mentioned this on The Grid recently, but we have a chicken sandwich that finally (finally) beats the famed Popeye’s spicy chicken sandwich (and it’s close 2nd place entry from Zaxby’s), and I am crowning it the new reigning champion of all Chicken Sandwich wars contenders. It is from the Outback Steakhouse’s new fast food chain called “The Aussie Grill,” and their ‘Crispy Sriracha Chicken Sandwich” is remarkable. Truly. It is the new ‘king’ and Burger King…well…they totally blew it.

Have a great weekend, everybody. Hope your chicken is crispy and spicy!

Scott

Frank-15-Mei-2011-28

Editor’s Note: This was originally published in 2016, and I thought it would be great to share again along with Frank’s latest KelbyOne course!

A while ago I posted the following online: When you look at carpenters, you will not see them laughing at each other because of the brand of hammer they use. They know it’s all about the work they create, the end result.

Still in almost every workshop I teach, I will have attendees who think they can’t do something because of the camera (or even the brand) they use. In essence it’s all about the work you do, it’s just a tool.

Much to my surprise, some carpenters responded and told me that this was not true and that there are indeed (just like with photography) people that talk down to carpenters using a certain kind of hammer. To say my dream was destroyed goes a bit far but… Well I was actually a bit surprised.

Of course there are fields where gear is incredibly important like biking, racing, etc. that are highly depending on the gear. Fine tuning the car a bit more can be the difference between placing pole position and all the way at the back. The driver is also vital, but sometimes I wonder what the combination is; I think it’s mostly machine “helped” by the human driving it.

Now, with photography I won’t tell you that the gear isn’t important at all. I wish that were the case because that would make our passion a lot lot cheaper! But what I do want to tell you is that the human factor is incredibly important.

Our History

When my wife Annewiek and I were still living in our caves and I came home from the hunt with my dinosaur and could relax while Annewiek was preparing our meat on the BBQ, I couldn’t watch TV so I started drawing on the caves walls. I didn’t draw beautiful women in tiger skins (realize the women back then were also carrying weapons). What I drew were literally stories about my heroic adventures and how I discovered fire and later the wheel. Fast forward to our pyramids and we also used drawing/imaging for story telling.

For me photography is not only story telling, but I do like it if most of my images (if not all) have an element of story telling.

What Is Story Telling?

When you talk about story telling, for a lot of people this means letting the model/sitter do something. Add a REAL element of a story and this is 100% true. I would rather call this a concept shoot, meaning you really tell a story.

Nadine Juli 9 2015 0091

For me story telling is more adding some elements in a shot that make the viewer go, “Mmmm I wonder what he/she is thinking?” or, “What is going on?” It can be done with a simple element like a camera, but it can also be done with something like an expression.

Sometimes people ask me why most of my models look away from the camera. I think this is actually part of that story telling element. If a model looks straight into the camera, this can be incredibly powerful (don’t get me wrong). However it can be even more powerful when the model isn’t. Then the immediate question becomes, “Where is she looking, what’s going on over there?” Hence your story telling element.

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