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The Canon 6D Mark II Real World Users Guide
If a Canon 6D Mark II is in your future or already in your camera bag, then this class is for you! Join Larry Becker as he gets you up to speed on everything you need to know to get started on the right foot with the 6D Mark II. Larry focuses on getting you oriented to the layout of the camera, teaching you the quickest ways to do the tasks you’ll want to do, and how to customize the camera to suit your workflow. By the end of the class you’ll have a solid grasp of what this camera is capable of doing, and where to go to make any needed changes to this amazingly powerful camera.

In Case You Missed It
Learn why the Canon 600EX-RT is a quantum leap forward in speedlite technology! Join Michael Corsentino, a portrait and fashion photographer based in Florida, as he takes a deep dive into the Canon 600EX-RT speedlite system. He’ll get you up and running with the key features and functions that will enable you to get the most out of this flash. In this class you’ll learn about the key buttons and dials, how and why to use the different exposure modes, the importance of shooting with the flash off the camera, how to take advantage of high speed sync, and so much more. All throughout the class Michael shares his insights, tips, and tricks to help you get the most out of your flash and enable you to create the images you’ve been dying to create.

Growing As A Professional Creative

When I was around 6 years old, my friend asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said “an artist,” and every chance I got I would pick our activity or game. He would want to climb trees, I’d say, “Let’s color!” (meaning our coloring books). When he would suggest we go outside and pretend to be characters from our favorite cartoons (Transformers, GI-Joe, and HeMan and the Masters Of The Universe) I would say, “Let’s try drawing them instead.” Since the beginning this is all I’ve ever known. I wanted to create things, and to craft things.

At a very young age my grandmother gave me my first camera. A 110 Fisher Price camera with flash bulbs you could mount on top. It had a snap and pop black string for a camera strap with yellow plastic fittings. The body was bright blue, and it had rubberized sides making it rugged and tough for kids. It worked really well. It went everywhere with me and I loved it!

I grew up in a family that came from an industrial part of England. Everyone had a trade skill. They could all work with metal in some way. My father was a draftsman by trade, creating the plans and drawings for big ships, but he understood the craft of building them. So much of my childhood was spent around ships, waterways, and seeing them be created, or rotting away along the shores. Wooden ships abandoned for newer metal ships. It was fascinating to look at.

My grandfather, my uncles, and even my brothers, all worked in the shipyards. My family worked with the steel and iron that formed large vessels for very utilitarian purposes. I always loved walking around and seeing the giant cranes. Often the yard crews were making the machines that became tools they would use to make the ships.

We traveled the world seeing various shipyards where my father’s projects were happening. Ireland, Germany, Holland, and more. Growing up around the people in those environments, a few things were engrained in me.

  • You need a trade skill.
  • You need to work hard. Not just in will, but in effort (blood & sweat type of equity).
  • You need to understand the value of your effort and your trade.

Fast forward many years and it became clear to me, the ship building industry was not going to be my path. In the early 90s as I got a little older I fell in love with skateboarding. The design, photography, graphics, fashion, and music, all mixing together in one lifestyle. I had upgraded my camera gear to a 35mm film setup that I used to shoot for various theaters, local newspapers, skateboard magazines, and local bands. It was the start of something that never felt like work. It felt more like a place I belonged.

I was also beginning to learn and create computer graphics with my first capable computer, a Commodore Amiga with Deluxe Paint. This allowed me to start freelancing as a teenager. I’d make graphics for local businesses. Things like flyers, clip art, menus, and more. I was off and running, but you know what I wasn’t ever taught? I was never taught my value to others as a professional creative. At this point, it was all intriguing, and it was all fun. But to have a career, it meant more than just that.

Today, at this stage in my career, I’ve managed over a few thousand people. I was a Manager at Google. I’ve been a Senior Imaging Expert for Apple, and I’ve helped multiple agencies build out professional development programs for their creative departments. For a punk skateboarding kid from the middle of nowhere, I’ve been very fortunate for the opportunities I’ve received. Regardless of projects, titles, and positions, one thing I try to help creatives learn today, is to understand your value. Not money, not hourly rates, but actual value.

I don’t think I can exclusively call myself a Photographer, or a Designer, or anything so specific. Many creatives I meet wear lots of hats. They are often generalized and feel guilt they aren’t a specialist in something. My value is in that I provide professional level creative solutions to our clients. Sometimes that makes me the Creative Director, sometimes I’m the Photographer, or even the illustrator. But it’s our thoughts, our ideas, and our service that bring value.

Have you ever wondered why someone got a project with a client and you found the final result unimpressive? I’ve heard this before: “I could do better than that! It was boring.” But maybe, that was the result of hours upon hours of collaboration with a client who together with the creative, arrived at a place of exactly what they valued. Who knows, what is impressive or boring to us, might have had a purpose and mission. A tactical result of a well thought out strategy.

What matters most is the value we add to the project, whether that’s shooting images of the Apple Cinema Displays at an Apple Developer Conference, or if I’m executing on a custom fabricated steel entrance for a gallery in San Francisco. Maybe it’s just how I direct in my photo studio. That’s the point of being a Professional Creative. The expectation is yes, that we have good Photoshop skills, good Illustrator technical abilities, that we know lighting, can control a camera, or be the retoucher the client needs. But what it really means is that we deep dive into our client’s projects so that we can suggest, and execute, on solutions. This month alone I’ve retouched photos for a National Geographic Photographer and I’ve designed graphics and shot photos for a restaurant menu. The value add was the same despite the difference in the projects.

For example, a few years ago I created a survey which received hundreds of responses. In it, I asked people to prioritize what they expect when they get a project from someone. At the top of the list creatives wanted:

  • To be creative
  • To be appreciated/respected
  • Work on something interesting/portfolio worthy

But on the client side of things the priority was not the same. When they hire a creative for a project their order of thinking was more like this:

  • Deliver on promises
  • Don’t be complicated to work with
  • Provide reasonable solutions

Here is where we often see the divide, and the struggle, for people working in creative positions. What we often see as our wants, our goals, and measure as our successes are not those shared by our clients. When I asked many people in positions who hire professionals, they said, “I expect them to be skilled and creative.” The value is no longer that you are creative or skilled, that is the baseline of their expectation. It’s the foundation of why they hired you in the first place.

So, what would make you more valuable to them? Excellent service, crystal clear communication, being collaborative perhaps? Your creative side allows you to see things that maybe they don’t. It’s not their experience to look through the creative lens. Listen to Jay Maisel talk about the gesture of objects, or the expression of color. It’s clear why he added value for his clients. Steve Jobs often spoke of this at Apple. It was even a campaign, “Think Different.”

In the current state of the world, it’s easier than ever to get information. More people are becoming excellent at their technical abilities. But are they adding value? Probably the most common question I get asked these days. “How do I make more money?” or “How do I get more clients?” There isn’t a shortage of opportunities out there, but you have to know how you add value, and getting potential clients to know about your value.

This is where you should begin if you’re looking to grow. There are lots of articles, exercises, and more about realizing your value proposition. It’s the difference maker between you, and the other person out there calling themselves designer, photographer, editor, and more. The value is in the service leading up to the finished product and the experience your client has while the project is happening. They expect the final image, or graphic, or design, or website, or anything to be good. That’s why they hired you. But what was their experience like when you were producing it?

Our company, my wife and I, work mostly in the commercial and enterprise tech sectors with Fortune 500 clients. That means understanding what is most valuable to them and how to speak in their language so they understand we are the right provider of that solution. I offer this advice to you, do the exercise of asking what would be your value proposition? How are you differentiating your solutions and services? Here are a few tips to help:

  • Speak in the language of your client (they don’t know Photoshop, Nikon, or Profoto)
  • Learn how to say “Yes, and here’s how” rather than saying “No”
  • No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care
  • Always work to turn customers into clients and then into partners

This is more than equipment and software after all. Just like a tradesman in any shipyard doesn’t talk about the welding torch or hammer they use. The value isn’t in the tools, it’s in the person holding them.

Mark Heaps is the Executive Director at Heaps LLC where alongside his wife they manage a small team of creatives who provide design communication services to their clients. Some of those clients include Capital One, Dell, Google, Apple, Coca-Cola, TEDx, Ford, Polycom, Riverbed, and more. Mark is also the creator of Reactive Exposure (www.rawplugins.com) A native exposure correction plugin for Lightroom. He also owns and runs ATX Photo & Video Studio in Austin, Texas. A low-cost community project where photographers, videographers, actors, students and more can come use their 1400sq ft warehouse with all equipment included for the same price as a date at Starbucks.

Follow him on almost any social media, like Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook (where he streams live weekly giving insights from the trenches of working in the real world), with the user name @lifebypixels.

–”My words can not express the admiration for Mr. Wallace’s life. I am thankful that I could listen to this interview. I’m very moved …”

–”Just finished watching and W.O.W!”

–”Tim Wallace thank you for sharing your inspirational and heartfelt story.”

–”Amazing! Thanks for sharing Tim.”

–”Wow. Great interview. I will never be that good.”

– “Very inspiring.”

There are just a few of the comments about this new “Personal Side” interview series from Kalebra featuring our KelbyOne instructors. Here’s how Kalebra describes this new series (from her blog):

“I wasn’t expecting to be doing an interview series, it wasn’t on my radar (or I doubt anyone else’s in the building) but a few month’s ago Mike Kubeisy called my husband and said he thought we ought to start an interview series that focused more on the photographer’s and instructor’s personal side but the surprise suggestion he threw in at the end of the conversation was that he thought I should be the one to do it. I think my husband said something along the lines of, “There’s no way she’ll say yes.” Hahaha! My husband’s response made total sense because it did take him five years to get me to record an iPhone class, but for some reason, the thought of just sitting with someone and listening to them tell their stories hit me just right at just the right time, and I said, “Yes.” We picked my husband up off the floor, and “The Personal Side” series was off and running.

Yesterday we released The Personal Side of Tim Wallace and if there is any way you can go and watch this interview I ask that you do just that. During Tim’s interview, I had to remind myself to breathe. His story is beautiful, inspiring, humbling and in the end, quite obvious that Tim is Batman. (I’m only half kidding.) It was my great pleasure and honor to be there and to be a part of this interview. I am grateful for how much he shared with all of us. Thank you, Tim. (aka, Batman).”

I hope you get a chance to watch this first in the series — and she’s already recorded more to follow with KelbyOne instructors like Dave Black, Moose Peterson, Trey Ratcliff, and Rick Sammon. Each one is special in its own way and we can’t wait to share them with you. Kudos to Mike Kubeisy for coming up with the idea, and a round of applause for Kalebra for being willing to run with Mike’s idea, and for putting so much heart into it.

Here’s wishing you all the best week you’ve had so far in 2017.

Best,

-Scott

P.S. I posted the images (and the story) from my shoot at the Atlanta Falcons new stadium, including my game coverage of the Falcons/Packers game over on Adobe Spark Page. That stadium is just incredible! Here’s the link if you’ve got a sec. 

Above: That’s me in Copenhagen back in 2011 shooting an all-in-one 18-200mm lens (photo by Terry White).

Greetings from Denver (I’m here for my Lightroom seminar today).

Last week I did a post responding to a flood of emails, texts, Facebook comments, direct messages about which is the best lens to use for travel photography and in that post I gave my lens picks for full frame camera users. Today we’re covering crop sensor lenses, and here it’s a whole lot easier because the lens I’m going to recommend is made by pretty much every lens manufacturer. As a remember: my goal is to travel with just one lens that does it all — that covers such an awesome range that:

(a) I don’t have to carry a 2nd lens at all

(b) Which means I don’t have to carry a camera bag with me either (it stays in my hotel room, mostly empty) and I don’t’ have to worry about someone snatching my camera bag because I don’t have one with me.

(c) I can still enjoy my vacation, which is really important.

Today, I’m just covering lens for Crop Sensor bodies (since I covered full frame lens picks last week).

Nikon Shooters: Get the Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G  VR II Lens ($646 at B&H Photo). This is a very lightweight, inexpensive, not super sharp lens. Yes, it’s not that sharp, but it’s sharp enough. I have a huge 60×40 print I took with it hanging it my house and it looks sharp as anything and people always comment on how sharp the shot looks (of course, I sharpened the image in Photoshop like I do any image), but at the end of the day, the lens is pretty decent. It’s a great deal for the money, and really convenient, and don’t listen to the goobers in online forums talk you out of it — you’ll really enjoy using this lens.

Canon Shooters (like me): Get the Canon 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 IS Lens for Canon (it’s $699 at B&H Photo.). Canon makes one in this same 18-200mm sweet spot and it’s really lightweight, coming in a just over a pound. Pretty decent sharpness at longer lengths; I remember it being not as sharp all the way out wide, but still — it’s sharp enough, and the price is so right.

Sony Shooters: Sony has their own 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens (around $848 at B&H), which is a little pricey compared to the Canon and Sony models. I haven’t used this particular lens myself (so I’m just going on the range), but from the research I did online, it’s sharpness seems pretty much in line with the Nikon and CanonSony lenses, in that it doesn’t have awesome sharpness (and in this low price range, I’m not sure you’re going to experience “awesome sharpness”), but again, it seems sharp enough. There is always a trade-off, on any of these low-priced, lightweight, lens and the tradeoff is usually sharpness.

 

You might want to consider…

The Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD MACRO (the Macro part just means you can focus so close with it, it’s considered within “macro” range, but it’s a regular zoom lens). This is a really intriguing range because it’s wider than 18mm and 100mm longer on the long end, and it’s available for Canon, Nikon, and Sony. The reviews on it have been pretty much like the reviews for the 18-200mms I talked about above. The price is pretty insane ($499 at B&H), and it’s not too heavy at 1.7 lbs.

Tamron has announced an 18-400mm f/3.5-6.3, but it’s not out yet, but I think I’d rather have the 16mm wide, which is more useful for travel (for me, anyway) than the 400mm end would be (great for Safari or birding though).

Hope you found that helpful. Have a great weekend, everybody!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. We released an awesome class with football photography superstar Dave Black — it’s called “How to shoot High School Football Like a Pro” and it’s an update of Dave’s classic class we did five years ago. Dave is amazing! Here’s the link to the course. 

Shooting High School Football Like a Pro with Dave Black and Scott Kelby
Join Dave Black and Scott Kelby on the field of a high school football game and learn how to shoot high school football like a pro. Building on their previous high school football class, Dave shares his tips on choosing the right gear, the camera settings you’ll want to use, and his process for deciding his field positioning for shooting the game. You’ve got to be patient, and you’ve got to be ready to photograph everything from the pre-game huddle to the game play to the interactions on the sidelines. Dave and Scott have a great rapport, and throughout the game Scott asks Dave questions to delve deeper, and even shares his own tips from shooting professional football. You’ve got a front row seat to watching Dave in action and learn how he approaches covering an entire game.

In Case You Missed It
Photograph your kids sports like a pro! Join Rob Foldy, professional sports photographer, as he teaches you the basic photographic principles that will make your subjects proud. This is not a class on gear, but Rob does show you how to use what you have, and how to configure your camera for the best results. You’ll also learn the importance of storytelling and how being prepared before you go to the game will help you take your photographs to the next level. Rob brings it all together by working with three parents while they photograph their kids’ soccer game, providing them tips for shooting with everything from a mobile phone to a DSLR.

Can I be honest about something? Can you share a little secret?

I’ve been burned out on commercial photography for a long time. Don’t get me wrong. I’m always crazy honored when any client anywhere chooses to hire me to photograph something for them. I realize that a client has hundreds if not thousands of choices when it comes to choosing a photographer. So I’m not bitter, I’m thankful. Always.

BUT.

There are still a lot of downsides to commercial photography that can drive any artist crazy.
Here are few things that come to mind, in no particular order:

They often end up using and publishing the WORST image or images from your shoot. 
It’s like they go through and ask themselves “Hmmmm, where is the most horrific photo Jeremy took that day? BOOM. There it is! There is our album cover!!”

So then other photographers ask “So why not trim the fat? Why not only show the good stuff?” Well, it doesn’t really work like that. The client was there for every setup and every wardrobe change. And most of my clients do buyouts of the shoot so they legally get everything. And even if you DO quietly delete the bad stuff, they’ll still choose the worst from what’s leftover. It’s just science. The cool stuff doesn’t get picked.

“Wait, Jeremy, aren’t you the artist? Don’t you get full creative control??”

Ummm, no. I’m one small part of a huge process with many cooks in the kitchen. Sure, I can give my opinion of what was best but that doesn’t weigh very much in the overall decision-making process. So in the end, images get published that are technically mine, but I’d pay good money for them to take my name OFF of the credits haha.

Most commercial images get released long, long after you’ve taken them.
You know that excitement you have after you finish a shoot and you instantly want to share your work with your audience? Well, you can’t do that as a commercial photographer. You have to wait weeks and usually months to show/release commercial work. And by the time, you’re able to show it, you’re usually over it. At least I am… but who knows, maybe that’s just me.

Other people mess with your images.
In my line of work, my images get handed off to a record label or ad agency where my images get passed off to graphic designers. Usually these designers are fresh out of college so they have all kinds of their own ideas of what crazy filters or retouching to do to my work. The final product is usually, well… you can only imagine. Not good. So once again, I find myself not even wanting to show the final product.

Experimentation can be a challenge
Sure, you can experiment and try all different types of lighting but at the end of the day, you still are selling a product or person. You still have to make them look good. This ends up ultimately killing a lot of the weird ideas that an artist like me wants to explore and I end up giving them the super flattering (but also boring) light that I know they’re going to want anyways.

Big sets = a lot of cooks in the kitchen and too many opinions
Working with tons of people on commercial shoots can be overwhelming and exhausting. Sometimes I don’t feel like an artist at all on commercial shoots. I feel like I’ve been hired to just push a button and follow someone else’s creative direction.

So what does one do?

Personal work.

“But personal work doesn’t pay the bills.”

Exactly. Therein lies the challenge.

What if you could get paid for personal work? Hmmm…

That’s exactly what I figured out how to do recently. I figured out how to get people to pay me for goofing off… for experimenting… for creating the artistic portraits that I’ve so been wanting to create.

For as long as cameras have been around, there has been paid portraiture photography for the public. It’s nothing new. But it’s always seemed kinda lame so I’ve stayed away from it. It seemed boring and trivial. Glamour shots from the 80’s comes to mind.

But I wondered… what if people would want to pay for weird, dark, experimental portraits? What if they’re wanting the portraits of themselves that I’m wanting to create?

Worth a shot.

We live in an age where everyone needs new, cooler photos of themselves. For social media, for websites, for whatever. And everyone wants to look cool.

So… I announced this website a while back…

Super simple premise:

$#x2022; 15 minutes of shooting for $250 ($1000 hourly rate, which competes with some commercial rates these days)
$#x2022; All experimental, dark, dramatic lighting
$#x2022; Intimate experience – no massive teams or cooks in the kitchen. Nice and simple, one on one.
$#x2022; I choose the final, released images – No image galleries sent, nothing
$#x2022; I release them when and how I want to release them
$#x2022; I own them and do what I want with them

Sounds fun right? Basically I call the shots. 100%.

It’s working!

To be fair, I started the pricing at $150 for a bit and then $250. And they’re still booking!

And guess what? I’ve made $51,100 for a total of 61 hours of actual shooting time. Crazy right?

You might say “well what about editing time?”

I shoot tethered in the studio and have my editing already dialed in, so as images come up on my monitor, they’re mostly already good to go. I might do subtle tweaks but for the most part, they’re good. Then I do a quick review with the client before they leave and we star our favorites. Then I export them to dropbox and I’m done! So there is not much editing time at all to answer the question.

So I made $50,000+ for 61 hours of shooting, I did all my weird experimenting, I controlled the edit, I released when I wanted to release and guess who’s happy as could be?

It’s me!

“Well, you’re a known photographer and you have a platform. I could never do this” some might say.

Sure you can! Follow the same process, just start with a lower price point. Maybe it’s just $10 per session or $50. This model can scale at any price point and as demand goes up, raise your prices.

Let’s round my numbers to make this simpler. Let’s say I made 50K for 50 hours of shooting…

What if you could make 25K for 50 hours? That’s $125 per 15 minute session.

10k for 50 hours? That’s your rate of $50 per 15 minute session.

5k for 50 hours? That’s your rate of $25 per 15 minute session.

Heck, 2.5K for 50 hours? That’s your rate of $12.50 per 15 minute session.

Surely can you can charge some of these rates right?

You can continue to run the numbers but you get the idea.

The freedom and fun of getting paid to essentially do personal work and learn as I go has been priceless.

Honestly, it’s been more fun than the majority of my commercial work.

So what about you? What can you do to eliminate some of the rules you don’t like in your own work?

What type of photography makes you feel alive but also pays the bills?

That’s a hard riddle to solve but it’s possible!

You can see more of Jeremy’s work at JeremyCowart.com, and follow him on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. And if you happen to be in the Nashville area and want him to shoot your portrait, you can sign up right here!

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