Category Archives Guest Blogger

Editor’s Note: You can jump over to the all new LukeCopping.com now and peruse it as you read through this post, or wait till the link at the end. Either way, make sure you check it out!

I was really bad about updating my portfolio during the pandemic. Really really bad. 

I felt an overall lack of motivation for marketing in general, and many of the projects I had been excited to share with clients had their releases pushed back — by a year or more in some cases (some are still tied up with indefinite release dates). I was sitting on some excellent work — images that I loved — and I had no idea when I would be able to let the world know about them. Even new stuff I was shooting for regular clients seemed to be on a longer, more extended release schedule. While I did add some small commercial and editorial projects to my website and social media, It had been a LONG time since I’d done a full-scale re-work of everything. 

An influx of new assignments in mid-2022 and the eventual release of a lot of those images towards the start of the new year made me realize that now was a viable and timely moment to make an update to my site that could have some significant impact and provide a lot of marketing content for the next several months as I worked on current projects. 

The final catalyst was that as 2022 came to a close, I made a massive change to the visual components of my brand. A new logo, color palette, and overall look came with a shift in the philosophy of how I wanted to present my work. I redesigned the site to put a lot more emphasis on impact and color, letting the bolder images I had been working on stand out. 

It was time for a change. 

For years I’ve used A Photo Folio to manage my website. I’ve always found it a simple and efficient way of handling various essential tasks, including setting up and managing galleries, SEO management, and hosting hidden galleries so I can show small collections of relevant work to clients privately. It also gives me a ton of fluidity in altering the site’s design. It allows me to change a variety of the site’s design parameters without having to do a total rebuild so that I can constantly evolve the experience for visitors and the presentation of the images as design trends change and new features are released. Since I’m still delighted with the platform after all these years, I decided to continue using them for this site iteration.

The first step in updating the site was the easiest — sitting down and assessing what was working and what wasn’t with the current mix of work. What could I leverage, and what needed to be reevaluated? Did I need to recategorize work? Add content focused on specific areas to make the site more appealing to certain clients? Were there any images that I knew deep down I needed to retire?

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Editor’s Note: In honor of Joe’s latest KelbyOne course, I wanted to share this post from 2011 in which he shares his experience working for National Geographic!

Crossing the Yellow Border

I’ve been shooting for “the yellow magazine” since 1987, and that land beyond the yellow border is indeed a wonderful, and strange, place. It contains and defines the entire realm of shooting experiences—impossible odds, magnificent occurrences, unprecedented access, nearly unbelievable bad fortune, outright danger, the exhilaration of the hard won chrome or file captured, and the devastation of bad days, or even weeks in the field.

The Palomar Telescope fires a laser 60 miles into the heavens.

That place, “in the field,” can be the urbane and sophisticated streets of Paris, or someplace literally so remote as to have never felt the footprint of man. It can be the ultra-sacrosanct tombs and structures of societies time has all but forgotten, or the blinking, humming computers that power our most modern technologies. The magazine’s official mission statement is “to increase and diffuse geographic knowledge.” “Geography,” for the editors there, generally encompasses both physical and cultural geography. People and their places. People in relationship to the planet. The planet itself, in all of its’ magnificence, and wreckage. The earth, sea and sky, and all the organisms those elements nurture, and occasionally, punish.

Over the Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. I found that my fingers didn’t work so well trying to load a 617 Pano camera with 220 film in an open door chopper at 14,000 feet.

In short, everything. Trust me, I know this first hand. I was once given a story to do called “The Universe.” Yikes. (To my editor, I was like, “Okay, how long do I have to shoot this?”)

I was already an established “New York” shooter, with covers of Sports Illustrated, LIFE, Time, Newsweek, New York, etc., by the time I came to the attention of the yellow border gang. Strategizing to get an assignment, I turned down a go everywhere credential to the Seoul Olympiad for Sports Illustrated to honor a commitment to a week long freebie speaking tour called The Flying Short Course, sponsored by the NPPA. Sounds unbelievably stupid, right? A freelancer turning down a month of day rates to keep an obligation to do a series of free lectures.

On the face of it, yes. But the method to my madness involved being on the same touring faculty as Tom Kennedy, then DOP of Geographic. I had the opp right then and there to show my portfolio to Tom, five days in a row. I gulped, said no to SI, didn’t’ go to Seoul, and instead went off to lecture. At the end of that week of touring and talking, Tom looked at me and said, “You should come down and start shooting for us.” That was 1987. Still shooting for them. Finished my last assignment this past summer. Almost 25 years, and lots of yellow boxes, and pixels, later, I’m still out there, trying to increase and diffuse.

For a story on Global Culture, i needed a global storyteller. Who better than George Lucas? I wanted George Lucas to simply be part of the tableaux I created outside this old theater, but it didn’t quite work out that way. George is front and center, surrounded by his creations.

That longevity was not a given, to be sure. It never is in the world of freelancing, and I did my best in my first few efforts for NG to ensure my career with them would be truly short lived. I made big time screw up after big time screw up.

It was a different type of shooting, you know? I was used to the New York method. That kind of played out like this: Get a phone call from an editor at a weekly publication in Manhattan. Say yes. Never, ever be able to reach that editor on the phone again. Make all the arrangements, Go shoot the job. A week was a long time. Six pages was a big story. Get in, get out. Process film. Deliver it in a breathless rush. Not hear anything. Call three weeks later. Finally get the editor on the phone. “Oh, hi. Yeah, Joe! It is Joe, right? That story that you shot? Oh, oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, uh, it was good, we liked it. Thanks. Gotta go to a meeting.”

Have phone ring back, almost immediately. It’s a call from that very same editor you were just talking with. That editor who now all of a sudden remembers you, and realizes you are standing there, somewhere, with enough time to make a phone call and this qualifies you as a warm body with a camera, and potential availability to solve a problem the managing editor just threw on his desk like a big, steaming turd. “Hi, yeah, uh, by the way, are you busy in the next two hours?”

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Photo by Chris Keels

Editor’s Note: When I think of all time favorite guest posts, the ones from Nick Fancher are among the first that come to mind. I remember the first time I saw Nick’s work and how strikingly creative, yet how approachable he makes it look with the breakdowns of his setups. Enjoy this post from 2015 and put some of his tips to use on your next project! And make sure you check out his newest work for updated inspiration.

Hello everyone. My name is Nick Fancher and I’m your guest blogger today. In case you don’t know me (which is likely the case), I am a Columbus, Ohio based portrait and commercial photographer. A couple of weeks ago I released Studio Anywhere: A Photographer’s Guide to Shooting in Unconventional Locations, on Peachpit Press. The idea behind the book is that photographers can get away with shooting without a conventional studio most of the time, as long as they can learn to make the most of their environments; all with the use of minimal, affordable gear.

This idea was born out of necessity. When I was in New York City last year, I wanted to do some test shooting in my free time. I began looking around for studios to rent for the day, and found the average price to be around $1,000. It’d be one thing if this was for a paying client, who would be footing the bill, but this was for unpaid, personal work. And even if I did shell out the $1,000, all the models would then be forced to come to me, which for an unpaid test shoot, would not exactly be a motivating factor for them. Instead, I opted to meet them at their homes, realizing that all I really needed was a white wall, and every home has at least one white wall. And it worked out just fine.

Setup: one light with grid
White walls work

Once I returned to Columbus, I started putting this practice to test, now opting to meet clients at their homes and offices for shoots. Not only did it allow for me to happen upon some pretty amazing environments to shoot in, I think it also gave me a +1 for convenience, in the eyes of the clients. It also led me to some particularly small spaces, which forced me to get creative with my lighting. As you may know, most of the time you need your light several feet away from your subject, in order to get a larger light spread. But if, say, your client lives in a 200 square foot apartment and the only spot to shoot is the spot next to his bed in his living room, you don’t have that luxury. To make my light source larger and softer, I turned the flash in the direction of the white wall on the other side of his bed and it worked smashingly.

Setup: one light bounced into white wall

White walls really work!

You may have noticed in the previous setup shot that there are white boards propped up behind the subject. I have two white and two black, 40×60" sheets of foam core that I bring with me to every shoot (leaving them in the car until I see if I actually need them). I often end up needing to use them in a variety of ways. Often I tape two boards together to make a v-flat, in order to block a light source or reflect light. Sometimes I use them as a backdrop, as in the previous scenario. Other times I stack them up so the model can stand on them, if I need a full body shot and the room has an unsightly floor, such as shag carpet.

My rule of thumb is to travel as light as possible, since I typically work without an assistant. I want to minimize the amount of trips I have to make to my car. So if I am heading in to shoot in an unfamiliar space, all I take in with me is my camera bag, a light stand and an umbrella, leaving my tripod, sandbags, additional stands and white boards in the car unless they are absolutely needed. And once I get a lay of the land, I scope out viable shoot areas. Large white walls are a plus. Areas with concrete or gloss wood floors will reflect light and make seamless, full body portraits a lot easier.

Setup: three lights gelled cyan, magenta and yellow

White wall plus a sturdy table = clean, full body portraits

I’ve even used grey walls or cream colored walls without issue. Of course white balance isn’t much of an issue when your two lights are gelled red and cyan.

Setup: two lights gelled cyan and red

Cream colored wall is no problem when your white balance is not in play

Once you start working this way, you start noticing things that you can use to your advantage, such as a nice, red wall. I made a v-flat out of my two black boards and used a white board as a bounce, opposite the red wall. By firing a flash into the white and red surfaces on either side of the model, I had a large, soft spread on a black background, creating a stylized final shot.

Setup: two lights, fired into white bounce and a red wall

Large, soft, stylized light

Want a variety of backdrops for little to no cost? Browse royalty-free images on Google or buy cheap stock images to project onto a white wall. It’s an old Hollywood trick, but it’s a cool one to play with.

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Editor’s Note: This is one of my favorite guest posts from Nicolesy a few years ago! Hope you enjoy seeing it again as much as I do.

A little more than six years ago I wrote my first guest blog post here on Scott’s website, and it’s incredible to see both how much has changed, and also how much has stayed the same. Since my last post here I got married, moved five times, adopted two dogs, traveled to eight new countries, checked off a few items on my bucket list, and I’ve also grown my photography education business into a full-time job. While my life looks a little different than it did in 2012, my excitement and passion to grow as a photographer is the same.

One of the things I love best about my job as a photographer is that I get to call all of the shots. I have gone in a solo direction with my work and get to photograph what I want and make books and tutorials that are of my own creation. It’s fulfilling, but it also takes a lot of self-determination and a good work ethic, and I’m constantly forced to stay at my own very high level of expectations. Here I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learned during my time as a photographer.

This is a selection of some of the images I created while in high school. I quickly fell in love with photography but worried I would fall out of love with it if I made it my full-time job.

Forge Your Own Path When I was in high school, I can remember wanting to be a sports photographer. I had just taken my first class in photography and joined the yearbook committee as a staff photographer. I found my “thing” and knew that photography was something I wanted to do long term. Then, when I joined the military, I chose a path other than photography. I was worried if photography was my full-time job that I would fall out of love with it.

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Editor’s Note: This inspiring post from 2021 is just as applicable today as it was a couple of years ago!

9 Top Tips From For Taking Better Photos in 2023

Hi from England, and I hope that you are safe, well and warm wherever you are.

I don’t seem to have taken many photos in 2020. The global pandemic has not helped but doing other stuff has also restricted my opportunities in what has been an incredibly difficult year for all of us.

Time to look forward to better days I say. I have decided that 2021 is the year that I get back to taking more photos, both for my clients, my business and also for myself. And with that thought in mind I am going to be making a concerted effort to take better photos as well. And this leads me seamlessly into this post (blimey – it almost sounds like I know what I am doing here), which I am delighted to be writing for Scott’s website.

These are my own words, thoughts, and opinions based on well over 30 years of photographic experience.

Ok let’s get in to all this good stuff.


1. Get Out and Take Photos

Yep, this is my number one tip. The number one way for you and I to improve our photography is to get off our collective backsides, get off the sofa, computer, tablet, phone, TV or games thing and get out there and take photos.

And it is so good for our physical and mental wellbeing to get out and about. Sure, there are restrictions that are in place now, but they will be gone hopefully and in 2021 we can all get back to normal life.

I still love doing this.

I find this one thing exciting even now, after well over 30 years of practising and enjoying my photography – I still get a buzz from packing my (small – see later) camera bag knowing that I am off to explore somewhere new.

And fresh air is good for us of course.

It is all good.

There is no negative to going out taking photos, unless you spend all your time doing this and neglect your nearest and dearest that is. And I am not advocating that of course!

Or if you still use film which is not cheap these days!

You will feel better for getting out and about, refreshed and invigorated, and you never know you might have some great photos to enjoy forever and a day.

So, get out and take some great photos with me in 2021. Well not actually with me but you know what I mean.

Talking of which, this is me photographing the wonderful Durdle Door.

There is only one thing that I can guarantee though – if you do not get out and take photos you will not get any great new images.


2. Stop Looking at New Gear

I spent years doing this. I would buy some shiny new gear and use it and then be on the lookout for something else.

I even bought gear that I never actually used.

And do you know what – I spent more time looking at gear than I did taking photos.

And where did that get me?

Poorer and with cupboards full of stuff that I did not need. And my photography at a standstill.

Yep I did this for years. And then the penny dropped.

I was looking for something specific, and in looking for it I had to go plough through a whole heap of gear that I had either hardly used or not used at all.

The One-Year Rule

I put all this gear in a box (or three) and put that lot in the garage and invented the one-year rule.

And one year later the stuff was still there unused. I sold it all.

And unusually for me I learned from this lesson, and now only buy something if I specifically need it, or if I see something that will help me take better photos.

Ongoing Gear Lust

OK I’m not perfect – I have bought the odd thing that I did not need. But the real takeaway from this is that I do not look for gear any more – what I do is look for gear to fix a problem when a problem arises.

This is where I prove myself.

I am still using a Canon 6D Mk 1 – it took great photos in 2014 when I bought it and it still takes great photos in 2020. And will do so in 2021.

Which takes me nicely on to the next point…

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BradMoore-Levi-edit
Photo by Levi Sim

Editor’s Note: With the new year upon us, I wanted to share my post from 2015 about a principle that I still try to adhere to and share with others. Enjoy, and here’s to becoming the people we want to be!

Your Calendar Isn’t Your To-Do List… It’s Who You Want To Be.

Last week I was in a conversation with my pastor, Tommy, who was talking about counseling people regarding their lives and relationships. He mentioned talking with people who have these big aspirations of things they want to do with their lives… Become a pilot, get their black belt, write a book, etc. Yet when he asks if they have the steps toward doing those things on their calendar, they don’t. And that’s when he said the thing that’s stuck with me since…

Your calendar isn’t your to-do list. It’s who you want to be.

– Tommy Phillips

If they were serious about these things, they would be scheduling time for them. Otherwise they’re just pipe dreams.

Tommy-at-Watermark
Tommy Phillips at Watermark Tampa

Every year, Tommy and his wife Sarah map out their family calendar to be sure they make time for the important things: Date nights with each other, family time together, one on one time with each of their three kids, evenings on the porch remembering the past and discussing the future. They’re not just going about their lives and marriage haphazardly. They’re being purposeful about it and planning for the future they want together.

badcalendar-sm
A not very well planned month

So all of this got me thinking about my own life. Am I just taking things a day at a time, or am I planning and taking steps to become the person I want to be? Am I saying yes to the things I want to do and that are important to me? Am I saying no to the things that are just distractions and won’t mean anything a year from now? Have I been taking advantage of my free time and using it to better myself and accomplish the things I want to accomplish in life? Or have I been wasting it away in the vast, bottomless, never-ending (though very entertaining) vacuum that is Netflix and giving in to every distraction that pops up?

As we draw near to the end of 2022, I’m going to invite you to join me in making a plan for 2023. Grab a calendar and think about the things you want to accomplish in the next 12 months. Then figure out the steps you need to take each month, week, and day to accomplish those things and put those steps on the calendar. And along the way, say no to the things that are just distractions from accomplishing those goals. If you get to the point where you have so much on your plate that you can’t handle it all, learn to ask for help and delegate the things that don’t require your full attention to others.

If you know you have a habit of starting strong but not finishing, plan for that. If one of your goals is to get in better shape, maybe just joining a gym isn’t enough. Maybe you need to take the extra step of hiring a personal trainer or enlisting a friend who will hold you accountable. If you want to up your photography game, watch some classes and read some books, but don’t stop there. Actually schedule time to create some new photos and make time to experiment with new techniques. Explore other genres of photography outside of what you normally shoot to see what looks and techniques you can apply to your own work.

What if you’re not happy with where you are but you don’t know where you want to be? Ask the people in your life to describe you. What traits do they see when they think about you? Are you a strong leader? Do you find joy in helping people? Are you happiest when you’re working by yourself or with others? Do you like variety or repetition? Ask yourself the age old question… What would you do if you could do anything and money didn’t matter? Then figure out what steps you can take now to start working toward that.

goodcalendar-sm
Make time for the important things, both personal and professional

This isn’t a set of New Year’s resolutions that are going to be abandoned by March. Put the steps on your calendar and stick to them. Seek support through friends, family, community, and any other ways you can stay accountable to yourself. Learn to adjust to the things that life throws at you without abandoning what’s important to you. Let’s make 2023 our best year yet!

You can see Brad’s work at BMOOREVISUALS.com, and keep up with him on Instagram and Twitter.

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