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A funny thing happened on the way to publishing my book… 

A pandemic. It sure has changed things for everybody. Everywhere in the world. No exceptions. And in business, most of us have made big adjustments to deal with new restrictions and regulations. 

I don’t have a crystal ball so I had no idea that this was coming, but a book I already wrote and had in the publishing pipeline, launched mid April, in the middle of stay-at-home orders. So while just about everybody, in practically every industry, was thrown into video meetings, my book Great On Camera came out.

On top of that, I decided to do some tips and tricks videos so people could quickly learn some best practices for Zoom and Skype meetings. I posted those on Facebook and YouTube (with a little book promo at the end of course). Well, USA Today saw it and ran a feature story on me. That publicity got me even more publicity from radio and TV stations and the Washington Post.

Since this is Scott’s blog, and since most of his followers are photographers, I pulled some things together just for still shooters. And since video is exponentially more important today than ever before! Here are 7 important things you need to know.

Thing 1. You can/should easily master being GREAT on Skype and Zoom:

If nothing else, you need to realize that looking good, sounding good, and communicating well on live video meetings with clients and prospects is the 2020 version of professional business attire. Look better, more confident, and sound good, and you’ll get more clients and keep more customers. This isn’t a photographer thing. It’s an every business thing. And most people still look really bad on video meetings.

Thing 2. If you do headshots, locked-down video should be on your list:

As a photographer, you already have better gear than most people, and practically every recent DLSR and mirrorless camera can capture great looking video. I’m not going to push you toward indy filmmaking. But if headshots are any part of your business, you should learn how to capture video headshots so you can help your business clients.

Thing 3. You’re enough of an expert that you can help friends and clients be better on their own Zoom calls:

A lot of people could use your help to get them looking and sounding better on their business videos. You understand lighting. You understand camera position. You understand composition. You understand exposure. By just looking at the tips in the video about being better on Zoom meetings (linked above) I also did a quick tips video about webcam exposure and photographers will ‘get it’ right away.

Sure, most people have terrible, fully automatic webcams so you won’t be changing lenses or adjusting settings to get a better exposed image on camera. But by looking at someone’s environment, you can help them position their camera properly. Add lights in the right place. Help them simplify complicated backgrounds. Tell them that, just because they have a picturesque back yard and they’d love to have that as their video background, a camera pointed out to the back yard will make you look like a silhouette unless there’s a BUNCH of studio lighting on your face. Help them get a shirt that doesn’t make the overall image too dark or too bright and throw off the exposure for the face.

Thing 4. Simple commercial videos are easy for photographers:

Beyond video meetings between co-workers, small businesses will need to communicate with their customers and target market using videos. Now more than ever! This means they’ll be looking for pro video help. Consider adding simple video production to your mix. Even if you don’t want to edit, you can capture the video and turn it over to an editor.

Thing 5. Learn a little audio and you’re good to go:

When it comes to video, the only thing that’s really new to photographers is audio. An inexpensive wired lapel mic or a $200 wireless mic will capture great spoken audio. But just start with a 20’ wired mic and you’ll be going in the right direction.

Thing 6. Start by being on camera yourself, to create an ad and to get on-camera experience:

Photographers know that the lock-down slowed down business and with a little extra time on your hands, now’s the perfect time to create your own commercial. Jump on camera and record yourself talking about your business. You can spend 2 or 3 minutes talking to the camera and that will get you experience being on camera, so you can help your clients. Plus, it will get you a commercial for your own work.

Thing 7. Cut away from the talking head with stills or other footage that shows what’s being narrated:

And don’t worry that you need to be on camera, talking to the camera lens the whole time. You don’t. Just set up a simple scene, maybe in your studio, where you can talk to the camera and as soon as you start talking about your work and the kinds of shoots you do, keep the audio discussion going but cut away from the visual of you in the studio, and show image after image of your work. Think of it as a narrated video portfolio.

Bonus Thing. A (free) video critique:

Since you follow Scott, you know all about ‘Blind Critiques’ on The Grid. I love that stuff! Similarly I do paid video critiques where clients send me videos they’ve done and ask for advice on how to improve what they’re doing. Well, if you’ve read this far, and you have a video you’ve created, or you’re about to do a quick promo video, I’ll do a critique for free. Just go to my website (GreatOnCamera.com) and use the contact form and let me know you have a video and you read about my free offer here. I’ll tell you how to upload it to me and we’ll work out the other little details.

Of course there are a few strings attached. The video needs to be 3 minutes or less. It needs to be a business or promotional video with a spokesperson on camera (hopefully you). And I’m limiting this offer to the first 20 readers or until July 15, 2020.

Whatever you do for a living, and even if you don’t want to add video to your portfolio, I hope this helps you with meetings and your own on-camera presentations so you can be Great On Camera!

You can find more about Larry and being Great On Camera at, well, GreatOnCamera.com! Make sure you pick up his new book, Great On Camera while you’re there.

#TravelTuesday has landed again, and I’m here! I’m Dave Williams, and I’m here every Tuesday on ScottKelby.com with something from the world of travel photography for you all. Right now I have seriously itchy feet and I just keep scanning the internet for somewhere to go. Iceland is high up the list and I’ve also been looking at Patagonia, Canada, Greenland, Norway, Finland, and some sunny places, too. Anyway, the problem at the moment is quarantine – nobody is letting anybody in without quarantine, and the quarantine period is longer than the trip. But what about attracting people to the country or destination? How does that actually work and how do we play our part as photographers?

Travel photography explores and shares the dream of visiting faraway places, and perhaps that has never before been so true as it is now. Social media provides a seemingly endless supply of wanderlust-inspiring content and with a click or a scroll we can see almost anywhere in the world. As a profession, travel photography is all about creating images which do the following: –

Travel photography takes landscape and light and culture, a sense of place with no sense of time, while crucially encapsulating the essence of the destination and containing, within one frame, everything required to attain and retain the attention of the viewer and working to make that viewer want to be in the photo.

Travel photography that achieves this aim is all around us because this is the point of travel photography. We can see it in magazines, on postcards, on travel websites, on tour operator social media, literally everywhere that is trying to sell us the concept of travel, because these are the images that make the sale – the ones that make us want to be there.

Take a look at @STATravel on Instagram and notice how, on this account and many like it which sell travel, there’s a huge range of images which make us want to be in these places. There’s no consistent style, no consistent theme per se, no consistent subject, and all the images vary in their style. The one thing they all have in common is the feeling or, if you like, the result. They all make us want to be there.

Moving ahead in travel photography and learning how to develop yourself as a travel photographer is therefore about two things: –

First, we need to know and understand the technical and artistic elements of photography.

Second, we need to learn how to employ all the methods we learn to convey the sense of wanting to be in the images we create to everyone who looks at them.

There are many techniques to help achieve this: good composition, enticing leading lines, a clear and engaging subject, a sense of timelessness, and many other elements – the thing is, if it’s a well-considered shot at the time of taking it, this consideration will carry forward to those viewing the image and the passion of the photographer will shine through.

Take the time to consider your shots and think about what, in each particular scene, will make people want to be there.

Something to think about! Catch you again next week!

Much Love

Dave

Today is Memorial Day in the United States, and our offices are closed as we honor and remember those who gave their lives in service to our country.

This post is dedicated each year to the memory of David Leimbach, (shown above; the brother of our dear friend and colleague Jeff Leimbach), who died 12 years ago in combat in Afghanistan.

Just a humble word of thanks to the dedicated men and women of our armed services and to all those who came before them who laid down their lives to protect the freedoms we enjoy each day.

Here’s wishing you all a safe, happy and healthy Memorial Day.

-Scott

How To Make Magical Kids Portraits with Natural Light with Tracy Sweeney

Go behind the scenes with Tracy Sweeney during a sunset beach photo shoot with her two five year old daughters. Tracy shares her process and thoughts for guiding and directing the girls during the shoot, as well as her choices in gear and camera settings.

After the shoot Tracy takes a deep dive into her post processing workflow using Lightroom Classic and Photoshop. Sharing her techniques for bringing out the beauty, light, and color in the photos from her sunset shoot will reveal how you can apply that to your own photography. Tracy wraps up the class with a demonstration of how to breathe life and color into photos that were taken in less than ideal natural light.

In Case You Missed It… Family Photography: Sibling Shots

Join Tracy Sweeney to learn how she creates authentic and dynamic photos of siblings in rain or shine. In this class Tracy shares from her treasure trove of secrets to ensure you can achieve the shots that parents just cannot create on their own.

From the importance of managing expectations and planning a session to capturing the final images, Tracy teaches you what she’s learned from years of experience. You’ll even get to watch Tracy work her magic during several on-location shoots. By the end of the class you’ll be on the road to developing an effective workflow that’s guaranteed to give you confidence and wow those family clients.

A few weeks back I was on Instagram and saw that Frank Ockenfels was selling a print of his for $100 and it made my head spin! I love Frank’s work and I also have a continually growing print collection on the walls of my home and studio so I jumped at the chance! That’s when I saw that Frank and many other artists were a part of a campaign created by Tim Tadder called “Art for Assistants” aimed at raising money for photo assistants out of work due to COVID-19.

I think I speak for all the photographers in Nashville when I say our assistants are family and an essential part of our teams. With that in mind, I wanted to find a way to join in and help our crews. After speaking with a few Nashville photographers and then with Tim Tadder, we ended up joining forces and put together AFA- Nashville.

AFA-Nashville is a local branch of “Art For Assistants” out of Nashville,TN featuring 13 of the city’s top image makers.

We will be offering 100 limited edition, 11×14″ prints (per photographer) from thirteen of Nashville’s top photographers. Prints are $100 each, but of course, donations of any size are welcomed.

I’m so thankful for the Nashville photographers that joined in on this effort, and for Tim Tadder for creating this and putting so much effort behind the initiative!

Here is a look at the Nashville images that are currently up for sale.


Questlove by Eric Ryan Anderson
Questlove by Eric Ryan Anderson

Eric Ryan Anderson

Questlove: This contact sheet comes from a cover story shot for Brooklyn Magazine. Questlove and our small crew took a stroll through Central Park, just like old friends. Quest was one of the kindest, most engaged subjects I’ve ever worked with. Purchase Print


The Valley of Elah by David Bean
The Valley of Elah by David Bean

David Bean

The Valley of Elah: This is a photo I took of IDF soldiers walking through the Valley of Elah; which, according to the Bible, is where the battle between David and Goliath took place. Purchase Print


Imogen Heap by Jeremy Cowart
Imogen Heap by Jeremy Cowart

Jeremy Cowart

Imogen Heap: This image of Imogen Heap was shot in the very beginning of my career in 2006 and has since been an all-time favorite image. It was also the first time I really experimented with a portrait in post-production, using mixed media. Purchase Print


Billy F. Gibbons by Alysse Gafkjen
Billy F. Gibbons by Alysse Gafkjen

Alysse Gafkjen

Billy F. Gibbons: Photographed in Nashville, TN a few days after meeting him and the rest of ZZ Top at the Ryman Auditorium. Shot on a Rolleiflex camera on Tri-X 400 film. Purchase Print


Crows Funeral by Michael Gomez
Crows Funeral by Michael Gomez

Michael Gomez

Crows Funeral: Purchase Print


Robert Plant by Russ Harrington
Robert Plant by Russ Harrington

Russ Harrington

Robert Plant: I shot this image of Robert Plant at my studio in Nashville. It was to promote the Grammy- award winning recording, “Raising Sands,” a collaboration with Alison Krauss. Purchase Print


Ed Helms by Robby Klein
Ed Helms by Robby Klein

Robby Klein

Ed Helms: Photographed for Billboard magazine. I got to spend the day with Ed at Bonnaroo back in 2017 making fun photos and this was a particular favorite from the day. Purchase Print


Dolly Parton by Slick Lawson
Dolly Parton by Slick Lawson

Slick Lawson

Dolly Parton: Purchase Print


Joseph Llanes

Lisa Marie and Priscilla Presley by Joseph Llanes
Lisa Marie and Priscilla Presley by Joseph Llanes

Lisa Marie and Priscilla Presley: Photographed in the music room at Graceland. Purchase Print


Maren Morris by David McClister
Maren Morris by David McClister

David McClister

Maren Morris: Photographed for Garden & Gun. Purchase Print


Sojourn by Cameron Powell
Sojourn by Cameron Powell

Cameron Powell

Sojourn: Purchase Print


Keith Urban by Gregg Roth
Keith Urban by Gregg Roth

Gregg Roth

Keith Urban: Purchase Print


Dave Grohl by John Shearer
Dave Grohl by John Shearer

John Shearer

Dave Grohl: The Foo Fighters frontman was photographed during an MTV VMA promo shoot in Hollywood. Purchase Print


All prints can be viewed and purchased at AFANashville.com, with all proceeds going to help Nashville’s photo assistants who have been without work since COVID-19 arrived.

With things slowly easing up the world over, it’s time #TravelTuesday got more travel focussed again. I’m Dave Williams and I’m here again, crossing my fingers and checking airline and government notices daily to see when I can go explore again!

I want to share with you the way I find the most cost-effective ways to get shots when I’m self-assigned. When someone else is commissioning a shoot it’s easy—just wait for the tickets and reservations to land in your inbox. But, for self-assignment when shooting stock, for example, it’s a little trickier and every penny counts. That’s why I have developed a system for finding the best prices for flights, hotels, and cars, and it’s this system I want to let you in on today. Being based in the UK it will vary slightly for those of you in the US or other parts of the world, but the system remains similar in all locations.

First up, I need to work out where I need to go. If I’m flying from London to Paris, there are many options, which means there’s healthy competition. London has several airports: Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, and a couple of others. Paris, similarly, has multiple airports. Charles De Gaulle and Orly, serving the city from the north and the south. This range of options means airlines are competing to get you there, and this reflects in the price. Take a look at Stockholm, Sweden, and notice there are three airports: Arlanda, Skavsta, and Bromma. Similarly, New York has JFK, La Guardia, and Newark. Most major cities have multiple airports, which helps to drive the prices down and the options up. But how do I find the best options?

I constantly monitor Hopper to find out the best time to book, and what I mean by this is how far in advance. There’s a whole load of mystery around flight pricing and we know there are controls in place to fill the flights up to make the most profit for the airlines, but what Hopper does is it monitors the prices for major worldwide routes to suggest the best time to book a specific ticket. Once I know this, I know how far ahead to be planning.

Next up, I can do the searching. I tend to start with Skyscanner to gauge the routes available. Skyscanner lets us input a city or an airport, and allows us to select dates or view a range of dates to compare prices. The result is the cheapest ticket. We can select different airlines for different legs of the journey and even different airports for each direction. When I see the results I will go to the airline’s own website to check their price, because although Skyscanner is usually the cheapest option, there is the odd occasion when the airline’s website shaves a couple of quid off the price.

With the flight sorted, I’ll source accommodation. Knowing that I’ll be spending a lot of time out rather than in, it’s more important to me to choose a tactical location than it is to choose the services, etc., that may be available. Some of my favourite places to stay have been in the middle of nowhere, waking up to the sounds of sheep bleating at the door of a mountain in Iceland, with nothing but a bed and a lamp in the room, but perfect positioning to explore the landscape. The best places to find these sorts of accommodations are Booking.com, Hotels.com, and AirBNB. The way I use these is to search the dates and locations, then switch to the map view to view the results geographically, selecting the most appropriate option in terms of price and location to ensure I can get the job done, on-budget. I have an account with each of these companies, and this gives me access to cheaper rates and extras, like early check-in and late check-out, which I’d definitely recommend.

Last on the list is cars. Rentalcars.com is the winner, but a close second is Hotwire. These are price comparison sites as well, and for some reason, I always find the cars cheaper here than with the rental companies themselves. The off-airport companies are always cheaper, but it’s a trade-off whether you’re willing to wait 45 minutes for the agency to send someone to the airport to collect you and to return the car that much earlier at the end of the rental, as well. My top tip for making this cost-effective is to consider that the full insurance is rarely included, and it’s always worth having. The price of a small scrape can run into the hundreds, so unless you have a permanent rental insurance policy, get the insurance (but don’t over-buy it.) Buying it from the rental company when you arrive is the best way to do it to bring down deposits and excesses, rather than buying it through Rentalcars.com or whichever company you used in the first place.

Essentially, it’s important to shop around and put in the research to make your trip as cost-effective as possible. When you’re running a business, this will increase your margins. When you’re not, it’ll save you enough money to be able to see more places! I hope this has been useful.

Much love
Dave

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