Category Archives Guest Blogger

Indian Summer was officially over. Snow was in the forecast and 3 to 5 inches were expected in the Philadelphia area with game time temperatures hovering around 30 degrees. The 118th meeting of Army vs Navy @ Lincoln Financial Field would be vastly different this year.

Inclement weather has never been an issue for me. I’ve been a skier since the age of two and have developed my own rules of engagement with mother nature. On top of the list, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” Okay, a little trite, but true for the most part. The North East has four distinct seasons and this includes winter. It’s a great time of year. Bundle up and wear good quality clothing.

Staying warm & dry is imperative to capturing a few good frames. It’s hard to focus on imagery, when you’re too busy dealing with the elements.

That being said, I’m not sure electronic devices share my enthusiasm… Most camera bodies seem to be labeled as water sealed, weatherproof, or water resistant these days. I’ve never been exactly sure what this means or how far I should push my luck. Safe to say, I don’t want to find out! Let’s just say, they are not waterproof. Protect your valuable assets by any means possible.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed sports. Everything from baseball to skiing was on the calendar. If I wasn’t actively participating, I was photographing the action from the sidelines. It all started with a Nikon FM and has since transitioned to Canon, Sony, iPhone 7 Plus and more recently a Holga plastic camera ($39) to get back to basics! You might say, I’m camera agnostic these days and simply use whatever works for the given situation.

I believe sports photography has two layers… action & art. On the surface, you’re looking to capture a moment in time to tell a story. Ideally, it’s the key play of a game or a pivotal moment. Many photographers will be bumping elbows at center court of a tennis match and thus have the same perspective as one another. Similar images often result with split nano second differences due to motor drive speeds.

The photojournalist will usually freeze the moment with a high shutter speed. When working in a news capacity, this is often expected. They’re capturing the essence of the game and that particular moment. It makes for good print (or internet use).

However, the photographer’s artistic interpretation is often what separates imagery. The creative goggles come out and new ideas enter the frame. A big picture approach or ‘Scene Setter’ image as it’s often called, is one such example. Step away from the action and capture a fan’s perspective. Change the typical presentation and allow your personal interpretation to shine. This may include a different angle. Or, perhaps a panned image. You get the idea; put your own signature or spin on the scene in front of you. Life is too short to look at repetitive sports photos!

Personally, the images I consider to be classics often have strong graphical elements in the composition. As subtle as they may be, everything from color, lines, texture, patterns, shadows & shapes add tremendous value and keep the viewer engaged. The more elements, the better!

I’ll admit, it can sometimes be hard to control graphical elements at a sporting event. You’re working within the confines of the venue and you have to take what you’re dealt. However, be observant. Take notice of backgrounds. Clean with no distractions is ideal. Look for the quality & direction of the light. Is it overhead or creating long shadows?

Also, you may wish to avoid the spray & prey approach when it comes to capturing the action. We’ve all been here. Slow things down. A few quality frames are better than 1,000 average images. The digital era allows us to easily delete unwanted images at no expense. But, it’s time consuming. Be selective and fire away accordingly.

Special thanks to Scott Kelby and Brad Moore for allowing me to guest blog this week. It’s quite an honor and I’m truly grateful for the opportunity. Cheers!

You can see more of Mark’s work at www.MarkACarruthers.com, and follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Quite an honor to be back here on Scott’s guest blog!

It’s amazing how time flies… this will be my 10th year as a working photographer in the fashion industry. And although I would love to say that in that time I have figured it all out…. the opposite is true. That trite saying – you never stop learning – it seems it’s true! It’s both exciting and terrifying to always be learning, just seeing whats around the corner as you take the next step.

I’ll do a small recap from the last time I posted on this blog. I grew up with a fine art background and never thought picking up a camera would be part of my journey. Studying painting, I had a good grasp on things like color, tone and light. Those disciplines carried me to get my first job at a graphic design studio, primarily working on imagery and retouching. From there I got my first camera and figured it out.

I get a lot of questions about how I “got in” to the crazy world of fashion. I have always loved fashion in general including all the advertisements and editorials. Then as I began really studying it, I became obsessed. I studied and watched what the leading photographers in the industry were shooting at the time and tried to mimic it, which was a great learning experience in the beginning.

Many of my mentors gave me some great advice when I started. They told me that you will eventually get hired for what you show. If you show portraiture, you’ll get hired for portraiture. If you show weddings, you’ll get hired for weddings… and so on.

From the beginning, I tried to focus all my time on fashion and anything pertaining to it. Enough repetition and hours put into the craft and people will start to recognize what you do. It’s a very congested industry, a lot of photographers battling for the top. You must have something unique, so that when the time comes, your style and viewpoint will be exactly what a client will need for their assignment.

Early on, I met with modeling agencies who gave me a chance and developed a portfolio… I’ve been going non stop since then. Between assignments and campaigns, I create personal work …. no clients or pressures attached. Just a chance to create. This seems to be key.

My parting word of advice for anyone reading this is to never stop. You’ll hit times where bookings might be slow, you are dried up creatively, and maybe wanting to give up all together. The successful ones push through that. They pickup their camera and go create.

You can see more of Trever’s work at TreverHoehne.com, and follow him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and his blog.

Photo by Cameron Powell

The making of the Ugmonk Gather product video

A peek inside the process of a successful crowdfunding video

In December of 2016 Jeff Sheldon and I first talked about collaborating on the launch of an upcoming Ugmonk product. 5 months later the video I directed helped him raise over $446,022 in pre-orders, was viewed over 1,092,758 times and shared by more than 900 people online.

Background
Jeff is a designer-turned-entrepreneur and the founder of Ugmonk. He produces high-quality products with fresh, simple designs. We had connected on Twitter a couple of years ago, and in November of 2016, he reached out to me about a product idea that he wanted to launch on Kickstarter.

My Role
I worked with Jeff to produce and direct a product video to help him raise the funds for the manufacturing of his biggest product endeavor, Gather. Gather is a minimal, modular organizer that cuts clutter. When Jeff first told me about it, I couldn’t quite picture the appeal of the product. But as soon as I saw photos of the product mockups, I knew that he had come up with something that had the customer appeal to reach far beyond his own audience.

My Approach
Jeff’s branding and product photography style is very distinct, and when we started planning the product video he came prepared with significant visual inspiration and ideas. Originally, there were a lot of colors in the conceptual imagery, but we ended up narrowing the color palette to reduce setup and filming time during production. Because Jeff came prepared with significant aspirational content, Dropbox Paper was an incredibly useful tool for project planning. Everything — the script, inspirational visuals, and mood board — were all organized in Dropbox Paper. Below are some of the images we had in our moodboard.

Jeff had spent over three years designing and prototyping Gather, and simultaneously, how he tells the product’s story. He wrote the entire video script himself. Jeff has always written wonderfully compelling copy for his website and products, and he did an excellent job of highlighting the product and features. I gave him minimal notes before we locked the script.

Pre-Production
Jeff recorded the narration before we started production. I used this voiceover to cut together a storyboard animatic of the entire edit. He had a list of product videos that had similar camera angles he wanted to use, so I sourced those for the animatic. I also borrowed visuals for the intro scene from an Apple commercial.

I did some rough Photoshop edits for a couple of the desktop shots. Jeff had some images of his desk setup on Unsplash (a free stock photo website), which was very useful for this. I also used the Unsplash photo of Jeff’s desk as a stand-in for the desktop shots in the video. For the front-facing shot of the model in front of the colored background, I borrowed from a prior project that I directed for the agency Ueno. Below you can see some screenshots taken from the animatic.

The final result was an animatic that matched the final edit with near-exactitude. Jeff filmed his own interview at his house after the animatic was finished. Since I knew which exact moments we wanted him to appear onscreen, we filmed just those portions. Jeff and I set up a FaceTime call while he filmed so I could direct the angle and placement of his camera in relation to the room and windows. Jeff had filmed a couple of his prior product videos in the same office, so I had plenty of reference footage for camera placement.

Filming and Production
We spent two full days filming all the studio elements and a half-day filming the interior home scenes. Since we were filming in Nashville and not Philadelphia, Jeff’s hometown, I had to re-create Jeff’s desk in the studio. He brought his speaker and miscellaneous knick-knacks to set dress the desk. My friend Brett Warren (no relation) owned the same iMac as Jeff and generously provided it for filming. To recreate Jeff’s monitor stand, I referenced the instructional guide that he had written a few months prior.

We had multiple tabletop surfaces made of different materials that we could quickly swap out for different looks, which you can see at the beginning of the video. My friend Emily Carlton and her boyfriend were generous enough to come by the studio to model their hands on the screen, which you can see at the beginning of the video. My friend Anna Russell also modeled her hands and her face on screen for the product use demo.

Post-Production
Even though about 90% of the edit was taken care of by the time filming was completed, much finessing still needed to be done. I also had to create animation overlays and color grade all of the footage. We ended up going through 16 revisions to get to the final video. Most of the changes were small, but each revision made for an even better product video.

Results
I love sharing the process of what I’m working on in the moment, but often I can’t talk about what I’m working on until it’s both finished and released to the public. What made this project unique is that Jeff wasn’t trying to keep everything secret until launch day. He teased the product with an abundance of behind-the-scenes photos and product shots. This helped build up anticipation and excitement about the new product leading up to the launch day.

Within 47 minutes of launching the Kickstarter project, it was completely funded. In 24 hours it had passed $100,000 in funding. We reached $250,000 in funding 1/3 of the way through the campaign. The final amount raised on Kickstarter was $430,960. We got some great press write-ups on sites like Uncreate and GQ. Product Hunt was also helpful with building momentum.

Unfortunately, Kickstarter doesn’t allow you to accept product orders after the deadline is met. However, Indiegogo has a nifty feature that lets you import a project from a competitor’s platform. Jeff was able to raise an additional $15,534 in pre-orders on the Indiegogo platform.

If you want to learn a little more about the process of planning this launch, you can listen to Jeff’s interview with Dale Partridge, eCommerce Influence, and GrowthLab. He discusses the whole project in detail, and if you’re planning a product launch yourself, I’d highly recommend listening to these interviews.

Jeremiah Warren is a filmmaker and photographer based out of San Diego, CA. You can see more of his work at JeremiahWarren.com, and follow him on Instagram, Vimeo, and Twitter.

There are many ways to set up a successful photo shoot. Some are obviously more effective than others, depending on what you focus on. The part I really love is the production prior to the shoot itself.

To understand where I’m coming from, you should know that I currently run my own Real Estate Photography business in Southern California. Agents all over southern California use my services for their listings. One of the many things that have helped me with my business being successful is my focus on time management and always being ready for my shoots.

These tips can easily be used for studio photography, family portraits, or other photographic pursuits. In fact, you can use these techniques for pretty much anything you want to do. As I perform a lot of different styles of photography, compositing has become one of many that I just love to do. To make sure I always have the time for this, I ensure that I’ve collected all the info I’ll need to establish the shoot. After that, the process of creating the photo becomes a downright fun experience. Just like it should be!

When I’m collecting that information, it’s important to ask the right questions. I always start with the absolute basics…

“What am I shooting?”

“Will it be a model?”

“Will it be a house, landscape, etc…”

These questions dictate a lot about my set up. From lenses to tripods to how early I show up, these questions ground my process in the reality of the shoot.

In order to keep this discussion short as possible, and straight to the point, let’s say this will be a studio photo shoot for your own portfolio.

Concept
The first thing you’ll need to do is come up with a concept. I often get mine from movies, TV shows, Pinterest, and my personal favorite: 500px. To be honest I have seen some of the best photos I’ve ever come across on this site. If all you get out of this article is 500px, you’ve already found an immense wealth of value here! A couple of great photos from people I follow on 500px.

Compiling this inspiration into a mood board on my private Pinterest allows me to gather my thoughts in one place and start thinking. This also lets me share with everyone that is working on the photo shoot, reducing communication errors. We’ll talk more about this later on.

Budget
After a concept has been established, budgeting quickly becomes our top priority. Understandably, to the starving artist, the budget in question is simply non-existent. That being said, even a budget of $0 is better than having no idea what you’re working with. The most important thing to remember is that you should put money into your portfolio. This will be shown as your best foot forward when you bring in paying clients. Having a portfolio that can persuade paying clients is the primary purpose of a portfolio.

Collaborating
I’ve always tried to find other creatives that are interested in the same things I am. When it comes to photography, it is no different. I’ve found over the years a network of models, makeup artists, and stylists that I utilize if I need help with a photo shoot. They can’t always do it for free but if it’s the right concept they just might be willing to collaborate with you. Sometimes, they’ll do it for free if they can have digital copies for their portfolio. The main takeaway is you can always try and find a group of people to work with on future projects. I’ve found a majority of my resources through workshops, friends of friends, and various outlets of social media. Particularly Facebook.

Distribution
Once I’ve built my team, including a model, makeup artists, and stylists, I make sure to share the Pinterest board I described earlier. It is important that only we can see this board. What this achieves on the shoot is a boost to the communication for what we’re attempting to shoot. If we can improve the understanding of the team, we’ll get done sooner, and be more satisfied with the results.

Scheduling
Truly, nothing is more complicated than getting a team ready to shoot on the same day(s). It’s important to understand some of the people involved will have a day job or other obligations to handle. As a result, these people won’t be as flexible as other members of your team. Keeping this in mind, understand that scheduling will rarely work perfectly! What will set you apart from the rest, is to avoid getting upset when the makeup artist calls in at the last minute to cancel the shoot. Obviously, this pushes back the entire shoot.

As this can happen often when you are collaborating with others, it’s best to know how to handle it like a professional. I haven’t always been as coolheaded as I am these days [read: Screaming at my computer in frustration!], which is why this advice is so pertinent.

So this is why we try and get as much of this production set up early as possible to minimize this kind of setbacks on the day of the shoot.  Understanding that we can’t control all of the setbacks, we should at least take ownership of the setbacks we can control. If you are paying someone to help you out, say a makeup artist, your chances are a little more likely they will not flake on your project. Money is an excellent motivator for your team to stick to their commitments.

What we’ve established here is a pretty solid plan prior to your next shoot. I think it would be irresponsible to go into more depth at this point as there are so many little steps involved in the photography process. Making a photo requires a lot more preparation that people simply don’t take into consideration. This guide is for you to keep your plans simple and reliable.

On your next shoot, remember that a successful shoot revolves around a detailed plan. Creating your vision is pivotal, and you’ll need to clearly explain it to your team in order to make it a reality. I hope that this guide helps you realize your vision. As a fellow photographer, as an artist, and as a professional I am here to answer questions that you may have. You can contact me at jr@maddoxphoto.com I will certainly talk your ear off about anything photography… My advice? Shoot, shoot, shoot, then shoot some more!

You can see more of J.R.’s work at MaddoxPhoto.com, and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and 500px.

A Bit About Me:
My name is Eric Van Nynatten and I am a photographer based in New York City.

I grew up in Brazil and frequently moved around across the country, which allowed me and my siblings to experience life in a way few others get the chance to.

We were accustomed to being transplanted every couple of months to a new city, a new neighborhood, being introduced to new people and new food. Looking back, I think that the constant change in scenery and environment I was exposed to while growing up contributed to my ongoing desire to explore and photograph new people and places.

The Gear I Use:
Nowadays I shoot primarily with Sony mirrorless cameras, which I chose for their lightweight design and full-frame sensors, my primary one being the A7rii with a 55mm Zeiss 1.8 lens.

I also shoot a lot using my iPhone. I find that if the camera is cumbersome, you will leave it at home more often and miss incredible photo opportunities, so the lighter the better.

A Bit About My Process:
One of my favorite pastimes as a kid was drawing and painting together with my siblings. I could spend hours trying to capture the mood of a scene that I had had imprinted in my mind from a new beach I had been to or a movie I had recently seen, trying very hard to perfect the colors and lighting on a single piece.

Even after picking up a camera, I continued to apply the same effort when photographing, always making sure I was capturing the best light and colors the scene had to offer, be it a cityscape or portrait.

In my photography I always like to approach the scene as if I were shooting a live-action film, always trying to capture a cinematic quality to it, from the composition of the scene to the actions of the people.

When shooting cityscapes or street scenes I’ll often wait quite a while for a shot to line up. Of course, most everything doesn’t align the way I want it, so patience and timing is essential, including being able to walk away from a scene to move on to another when it isn’t working.

I like to imagine the millions of beautiful scenes that go un-photographed every second all over the world. It gets me out and about to try to capture at least a couple of them.

I enjoy shooting the most during uncomfortable hours. It could be just before dawn, during a thunderstorm or blizzard.

To me, the experience of observing those moments in person, capturing a bit of the beauty and excitement on camera, and making sure the finished image transmits a small percentage of that magic to the viewer on the other side is probably the best part about what I do. In fact, It’s probably the sole reason why I do it.

You can see more of Eric’s work at EricVanNynatten.com, and follow him on Instagram and Behance.

Allow me to introduce myself; my name is Bal Bhatla aka @mrwhisper. I’m a London based photographer and I’m hyped to be the guest on this week’s blog. I’ll be sharing my story of how I turned my passion for photography into a full time career, followed by a selection of my favourite projects.

Background
Before I became a commercial photographer, I worked full time as a digital creative director in a variety of ad agencies in London for just over 12 years. During the last few years, I noticed how social media was becoming increasingly important within the campaign work I was doing. Simultaneously my personal Instagram account was growing at a steady pace, and I began to get commissioned by notable brands like Lonely Planet, Jaguar, and Adidas to name a few. In the back of my mind I began thinking that perhaps one day I could leave my full-time role to become a freelance commercial photographer working directly with brands.

So about five years ago, I quit my job and decided to freelance as a creative director, which would then afford me the time and flexibility to see if I could make this photography dream a reality.

Fast forward two years and I was lucky to be receiving enough commissioned work to just focus on photography full time. Since then I’ve been on an incredible journey working with some pretty cool brands.

I’m a street photographer at heart, and this is what drives me to keep making images everyday. However I don’t let this limit what I do commercially. During my career my portfolio has been built up with a variety of genres (fashion, cars, travel, alcohol, and sports and film), and below are just a few highlights from the memorable projects I’ve worked on.

Star Wars Rogue One x Disney
Commissioned to create a small series of London based images, which would visually draw comparisons to the locations and themes used within the movie.

When Disney first approached me for this gig, I thought it was someone playing a prank, however after a few meetings and receiving the brief I knew this dream job was 100% real. Surprisingly I was given almost complete creative freedom to create the series of 5 images. Some Star Wars specialists supported me to ensure the scenes being created would be plausible within the Rogue One world, as I certainly didn’t want to upset the huge fan base who are particularly protective about the storylines.

All the props used in the shoot were originals from the movie, which meant that I had security with me on the day of the shoot.

The series of images were then displayed at the Films Premiere in the cinema Lobby.

I was also invited to get some exclusive shots of the Cast at the Launch party held at the Tate Modern.

Narcos x Netflix
I flew out to Bogota, Colombia to shoot portraits of the main cast members of the hit Netflix series Narcos.

Sadly there was no moustache as he had finished all his scenes for the series. However, it was great to meet Wagner, especially as I’m such a huge fan of the show. The best part was when he stopped the shoot to discuss my Fuji X-T1 (my camera at the time), which proved to be a great ice breaker.

Shot on set in-between takes, literally had less than 5 minutes to get the shot.

Audi A4
To celebrate the UK launch of the brand new Audi A4, I was asked to come up with a concept for a series of 5 images for their social campaign. I was given the car for 24hrs, and here are a couple of my favourite shots from the night shoot I decided to do.

ROUX – A London Based Fashion Label
I’ve had the pleasure of working on a few fashion projects, but one label I’ve worked with consistently and built up a good relationship with over the years is ROUX. The label is heavily embedded within the Soho, London history and culture and therefore was the ideal choice of backdrop for this shoot for their lookbook.

Timberland Europe for Hypebeast Magazine
Timberland released a new boot called the Flyroam designed for the city, and so they asked me create a small series on the streets of London.

Bombay Sapphire – Artistry Of The Ultimate Gin and Tonic
This was a slightly different project than what I’m normally used to. Bombay Sapphire invited six of London’s leading mixologists to create their take on the ultimate gin & tonic. My role was two-fold. Firstly I was to present the final creations as they were unveiled at an exhibition at the Bombay Sapphire distillery to the media, and secondly then travelled to each of the mixologists respective bars to shoot them creating their innovative drink in situ.

You can see more of Mr. Whisper/Bal’s work at MrWhisperStudios.com, and follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, or reach out to him at mr.whisper@gmail.com.

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