Category Archives Guest Blogger

Photo by Justin Bettman

Times will change, let the waves take you.

It’s been a couple years since my last guest blog post, and a couple hundred thousand miles’ traveled in between now and then. 

Since speaking last, I’ve traveled the world with musicians, produced over 3,500 videos, produced, directed, and shot a couple documentaries, picked up a full time gig and moved to the city of dreams, New York City.

Sounds like the dream right? Every dream comes with its sacrifice, but it’s all about perspective.

While I may hold a steady full time gig, I will never forget what got me here. I’d attribute my position now to living like I’m scraping for pennies and hustling just as hard as I was when I didn’t know how I’d pay for my next meal. Freelance life gives you a lifestyle of freedom, but a full time gig gives you both a lifestyle of freedom and financial freedom if you look at it from the right perspective.

Dan Newman filming for Levo Wine

Opportunity exists for everyone; you just need to be willing to put yourself out there. It most likely won’t be smooth, won’t be easy, but I can promise it will be worth it if you look at everything as an opportunity for growth rather than accepting ‘no’ as defeat and making that your identity.

I’ll give you a brief look into my story since we last spoke and we can pick up where we left off….

I’ll start with the idea that I’ve always lived by as long as I’ve been doing this thing called art.

Calculated risk.

In order to succeed, you need to approach freelance business with a calculated risk mentality.

Look at things as opportunities to grow, rather than a quick buck or freebie. Be safe, be logical, and play life like a game of chess. Set yourself up for success if you see the window for it.

During the summer of 2016, I was producing a few small projects for musicians and some small businesses (music videos, commercials, tutorials, etc.). These projects weren’t necessarily risks, more of safe plays that paid decently and got me through my next month of expenses. 

The first most specific instance of taking a risk came via the world of music. 

At the time I was holding down a full time position at a TV station in Tampa, Florida and felt like I wasn’t doing anything truly creative or challenging. So during my time outside of the office – I volunteered myself and my services to a band that had only played a single show.

I put myself on their radar months prior when they reached out to me about sharing a photo that I took. Conversations bloomed and an opportunity arose. I wanted to create and collaborate. All I wanted to do was let my creative juices flow, invest in the music scene that I loved, and support the community around me, with zero expectations of getting anything in return. My mindset at the time was, ‘If it worked, it worked – if not, it would have been a fun experience regardless, so let’s make the most of it.’

CARROLLHOOD // ORLANDO // 8.19.16

This band was ‘connected’ in a few different unique ways, but that never mattered – I just wanted to create, just as they wanted to perform. I offered to drive my car from Tampa to Orlando, Orlando to Atlanta, and Atlanta to Nashville, and back to Tampa (so I could make it back to my full time job on that Monday morning) to capture their first tour all for a grand total of NOTHING.

I spent nearly $300 on travel expenses plus an additional $300 on camera equipment rentals to film and produce the content I wanted to make. We didn’t have a set agreement, just my word and their gift of access to a life behind the scenes of a small touring band. With this given opportunity, I wanted to do everything possible to shine and let them know I was there to do work and share their story.

I proceeded to produce daily recaps of each of the shows, videos that would be shared on their social channels the morning/day after each performance. Along with those videos, I produced a 13-minute behind the scenes mini-doc.

the hood lives // Carrollhood – Fall 2016 (mini-doc)

Following the first show, one of the band members approached me with the idea of touring with his other band, Underoath, that following March. He proposed the idea to the rest of the band, shared what I was capturing and creating, and gave me the chance to prove myself with a small social campaign for the band later that fall. I hit the ground running. 

030717///REHEARSAL

The opportunity with Underoath developed into something special and a lot of other opportunities stemmed from that. Every risk you take comes with the opportunity to prove yourself and position yourself for further success; you can take it or leave it. You can just do the job to get it done or you can go the extra mile, exceed expectations, and do far more than what was asked of you in the first place. The biggest opportunity of my career at that point came when Underoath asked me produce, direct, and shoot their in-studio documentary for an album that no one knew they were making.

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Roberto Valenzuela will be teaching at Photoshop World Las Vegas, taking place August 21-23, so register now to come see him in person!

Behind The Shot: A Look Into My Process

Today I wanted to share some of my favorite photos from international workshops, along with the stories and techniques behind them. I’m also including the EXIF data of each photo so you can see my settings. Enjoy!

Behind the Shot: Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam: Roberto Valenzuela

Female model, Yen, posing in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo by Roberto Valenzuela.
Camera: Canon EOS R | Lens: RF 28-70mm F2 L USM |
Focal Length: 50 mm | Exposure: 1/100; f/3.5; ISO 400 | Flash: 2 Profoto B10 flashes used

During the shoot with model Yen, it began to rain. We were stuck in a little neighborhood in the middle of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. While we waited for the rain to recede, I was inspired by the old world look of the neighborhood in front of me. To add to the nostalgia of the scene, I used a technique I created called “Flash Flare,” where a flash is inches from the lens pointed right at the lens to hit the sensor.

BTS Video by: Tyler Austin

Because I wanted to add to the old world feel of this place, I added a ½ CTO filter to the light to give it an “In Camera” vintage look. I posed the model as if she was taking a stroll around her neighborhood. Another flash was used to illuminate the model.  The officer on the motorcycle to the right, contributes beautifully to the cinematic old world feel of the scene.

Behind the Shot: Hanoi Vietnam

Camera: Canon EOS R | Lens: RF 24-105mm F4 L USM |
Focal Length: 24 mm | Exposure: 1/50; f/3.5; ISO 800 | Flash: 1 Profoto B10 flash used

This photograph was created with quite a bit of luck. The model Thuy was actually the MC for the Canon EOS R event in Vietnam. I asked her if I could take some quick photos of her in the old district. With her beautiful red dress, I thought it would go nicely with the old vintage feel of the old district in Hanoi.

Behind the scenes shot of the setting.

Once there, to my surprise, we ran into these two soldiers dressed in uniform on the street playing a game. I politely asked, with the help of my translator, if we could include them in the photograph. Not only did they say yes, but they were excited about it. To bring visual attention to our model Thuy, I used a Profoto B10 with a beauty dish to illuminate her.

Behind the Shot: Hong Kong

Camera: Canon EOS R | Lens: RF 28-70mm F2 L USM |
Focal Length: 28 mm | Exposure: 1/400; f/6.3; ISO 1600 | Flash: 1 Profoto B10 flash used

This photo was taken in a very odd place. As we explored our surroundings in Hong Kong, I noticed a tiny little island on the Google Maps app on my phone. This island is called Magazine Island. Even though it was a long shot, I asked our boat driver if it was possible for us to go to that island. She laughed, but she did it.

Once we got there, we hiked to the top to take advantage of the interesting rock formations. So I asked the model Fanny to lay on the floor and frame her face with her arms. We used a Profoto B10 very close to her face to create this flattering illumination on Fanny’s face.

Behind the Shot: Singapore

Camera: Canon EOS R | Lens: RF 28-70mm F2 L USM |
Focal Length: 28 mm | Exposure: 1/800; f/3.5; ISO 100 | Flash: 1 Profoto B10 flash used
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Canon Explorer of Light David Bergman
Canon Explorer of Light David Bergman

Remote Cameras for Concert Photography2

As someone who has photographed over 1,000 concerts and teaches a series of live concert photography workshops, I’m often asked, “How do you keep it fresh?”

Bon Jovi in concert at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, GA on April 15, 2010.
Bon Jovi in concert at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, GA on April 15, 2010.

I toured with Bon Jovi for nearly a decade and just started traveling with country superstar Luke Combs earlier this year. On tour, it’s easy to make the same pictures over and over, so I need to challenge myself to make unique images every night. Something I do to help keep things fresh is use remote cameras.

I spent many years covering sporting events around the world – first for the Miami Herald and then for Sports Illustrated – and we would often set up remotes. Making this extra effort gives me two huge advantages over everyone else.

First, I can make images from places where it’s not physically possible to go, like behind the backboard at a basketball game or in the net during a hockey match. Capturing the action from those angles is pretty awesome, and it’s now commonplace to see television shots from those exact locations.

Second, by using multiple remotes, I can make pictures from many different angles at once. When I covered the NFL Draft, I had remotes all around Radio City Music Hall so I could get multiple shots of the first draft pic meeting up with the commissioner.

Matt Stafford, the first pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, is photographed with commissioner Roger Goodell from four different angles at the exact same time using multiple remote cameras.
Matt Stafford, the first pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, is photographed with commissioner Roger Goodell from four different angles at the exact same time using multiple remote cameras.

Many years ago, I started using remote cameras at concerts. Since I work for the bands, I’m allowed to go on stage to shoot. But I’m very respectful with that access and I pick my moments to go up there. I get the shot and get out. By putting a remote camera on stage, I can make those unique images from the band’s point of view all night long.

My favorite spot is on the drum kit, since it’s usually centered behind the singer. No matter where I am in the venue, I can trigger that camera and make pictures when they turn around and you can see the crowd behind them.

David Bergman's remote Canon 1Dx Mark II camera mounted in Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres' drum kit during a show in Columbus, OH on March 18, 2017.
David Bergman’s remote Canon 1Dx Mark II camera mounted in Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres’ drum kit during a show in Columbus, OH on March 18, 2017.

I will sometimes put a secondary remote in the lighting trusses above the stage. I have to set it up early in the morning when our crew is loading in, and I won’t have access to it until after the show. Luckily the battery on the Canon 1Dx Mark II camera easily lasts all day so I don’t have to worry about it dying before the show starts.

Luke Combs and fans are photographed using an overhead remote mounted in the lighting truss during a show in Evansville, IN on February 16, 2019.
Luke Combs and fans are photographed using an overhead remote mounted in the lighting truss during a show in Evansville, IN on February 16, 2019.

To attach the overhead remote, I use a Manfrotto Super Clamp and Magic Arm to attach to our trusses (with a safety cable of course!). For Bon Jovi, I used another Magic Arm to attach the camera onto one of the drummer’s mic stands. Luke’s dummer doesn’t have stands as his mics are clipped directly onto his kit, so I use a Platypod Max floor plate and Syrp ball head to position the camera on the riser. I taped some non-slip rubber material to the bottom of the plate to absorb some of the vibration and keep it from sliding around.

I fire my remotes using Pocket Wizard transceivers. I use the Pocket Wizard Plus IV on the bodies since it’s low profile, and I manually trigger it with a Pocket Wizard Plus III that hangs on the pass around my neck. Using the “long range” mode, I’ve triggered my cameras from the other end of a football stadium without any problems.

If I’m shooting on stage and want to trigger all cameras at the same time, I move the Wizard to the hot shoe on one of my handheld 1Dx2 bodies, and all the cameras will fire at the same time.

Luke Combs photographed from a remote camera on the drum kit during a show in Baton Rouge, LA on February 9, 2019.
Luke Combs photographed from a remote camera on the drum kit during a show in Baton Rouge, LA on February 9, 2019.

My remotes are all manual exposure because the spotlights often hit directly into the lens and that would throw off any automatic setting. With experience, I can usually guess the exposure and, shooting RAW, I have some latitude if I’m a bit under or over. I usually use autofocus since the subject moves around too much. Depending on how much I’m zoomed in, I’ll keep it on zone autofocus, which picks up my subject almost every time.

In general, shooting a concert with remotes is a numbers game. If I snap 1000 frames and get one or two awesome images, then I’m happy. Those are the only photos anyone will ever see.

By going above and beyond to make unique images, it’s more fun for me and keeps my clients (and the fans!) wanting more.

——

Canon Explorer of Light David Bergman is a New York based commercial photographer and photo educator who specializes in portraiture, music, and action. As the official tour photographer for Bon Jovi and Luke Combs, he has documented bands on stage and on the road in more than 30 countries, and shares his experience with photographers of all skill levels at his “Shoot From The Pit” live concert photography workshops. In addition to his other celebrity clients, Bergman has 13 Sports Illustrated covers to his credit and has photographed numerous Olympics, World Series’, Super Bowls, NBA, and NCAA Championships. His high-resolution GigaPan of President Obama’s first inaugural speech was viewed by over 30 million people, and he produced a 20,000 megapixel image at Yankee Stadium that was printed and displayed 130 feet wide. Bergman is an engaging and passionate public speaker and hosts the weekly web series, “Ask David Bergman” on the Adorama Instagram TV channel. He was a charter member of Apple’s prestigious Aperture Advisory Board, is on the design board for Think Tank Photo, and is an AdoramaPix Ambassador and Red River Pro. 

You can see more of David’s work at DavidBergman.net, and keep up with him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Peter Hurley will be teaching at Photoshop World Las Vegas, taking place August 21-23, so register now to come see him in person!

Are You Ambifacial?

As humans, we all know that we are quite unique with each of us having traits like no other. As portrait photographers, it’s our duty to bring the best out of whomever steps foot in front of our lens.

Our brains should be assessing their features while actively directing them toward what we deem as the most photogenic angle of their face. Each and every one one of us has a sweet spot, and it’s your job to find it for your subject’s.

Although a rare few may be ambifacial, most are not, and being able to figure this out correctly is imperative to make the most out of any portrait session. Here are some of my favorite tips to help you implement that process not only in your own work, but to figure out your own best side as well.

You can see more of Peter’s work at PeterHurley.com, and keep up with him on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. You can also join the Headshot Crew and learn from him and his ever growing group of associates!

Peter will be teaching at Photoshop World Las Vegas, taking place August 21-23, so register now to see him in person!

Photographer Mat Hayward wearing oversized red glasses and a red feather boa
Mat Hayward will be teaching at Photoshop World Las Vegas, taking place August 21-23, so register now to come see him in person!

When my family and I were searching for the perfect puppy, my wife thought we were buying him for our children and as a household companion. Little did she know that I had a hidden agenda. I was on the hunt for the perfect stock model. While she was worried about temperament and overall health, my only requirement was that he be photogenic. Hold your judgment; Hudson is by far my best-selling model earning me thousands of dollars, and his modeling fee is just one piece of popcorn.

Hudson the Golden Retriever, emerging from a pile of leaves to steal your heart.
Hudson the Golden Retriever, emerging from a pile of leaves to steal your heart.

It’s not just my dog. No one in my life is safe from my camera. My wife, my kids, friends, cousins and co-workers, really anyone who happens to be in my line of site. A few years ago my dad broke his leg on a walk. He was rushed to the hospital and as I drove to see him I was worried about the poor guy. All that worry disappeared when I entered his room. The first thing I saw was floor to ceiling windows…the light was beautiful! I thanked my dad for the great stock photo op and started shooting away. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, I’ve always got stock on the brain.

Broken leg in cast with patient in hospital bed

Stock photography has been an effective way for me to supplement my income as a professional photographer. For the past 10 years I have been focused on shooting celebrity-based entertainment events in the Pacific Northwest and around the world. I love this work as it presents so many unique challenges and diverse opportunities leaving me rarely bored. Every week is different whether it be in a photo pit for a concert, on a red carpet for a film premiere or festival, snapping portraits of various movie stars, musicians or whomever. 

Jason Momoa kissing his reflection
Jason Momoa
Lady Gaga in a white dress at the Academy Awards
Lady Gaga
Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters performing on stage
Dave Grohl
Russell Wilson getting slimed
Russell Wilson

When I find myself with a bit of down time I shoot stock. Not only does it allow me to push myself creatively and try different styles and techniques, but more importantly I enjoy the constant revenue stream it creates for me.

Watch Mat behind the scenes during an Adobe Stock photo shoot!

My stock portfolio is generating income 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I love waking up to sales notifications. I made money in my sleep! Here is a crazy fact about my portfolio. I have earned more money on this image of jellybeans than any celebrity image I have ever taken. I know what you must be thinking…well yeah, this jellybean shot is incredible! Right?…….

Bright, colorful jellybeans in red, green, pink, blue, yellow and orange colors.
Bright, colorful jellybeans in red, green, pink, blue, yellow and orange colors.

In my commercial stock portfolio, I have found the greatest success with general lifestyle imagery featuring real people, like my family and friends doing real things in real situations. It’s easy to upload and keyword images and videos for Adobe Stock, and the content is usually online within a day or two. My day-time career is to be an Evangelist for Adobe Stock, so of course I’m biased towards our service. But I was already submitting to Fotolia before it was acquired by Adobe, and you could say I’ve been walking the walk a lot longer than talking the talk. Anyone can create a contributor account and submit to Adobe Stock simply by signing in with an Adobe ID on the Contributor Portal.

Woman smiling on NYC street
Couple at home reading book

What should you shoot you ask? Let me answer that question with another question. What do you love to shoot? There is a huge market for authentic and diverse stock content. Whatever you are passionate about is where you should start. Shooting stock has become a part of who I am and is top of mind whenever I have my camera in hand. If you haven’t already given it a shot (pun intended) I highly recommend you do so. Good luck!

Woman with blue hair and red glasses wearing black and white striped shirt, standing in front of yellow background, holding pink and yellow balloons with confetti falling around her

You can see more of Mat Hayward’s work at MatHaywardPhoto.com, and keep up with him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Rick and Susan Sammon with their new book, Oregon Coast Photo Road Trip – How to Eat, Stay, Play And Shoot Like A Pro

Hey Scott! Thank you for having us here on your awesome blog. It’s always an honor. And thanks Brad Moore for putting this all together! You Rock, too – especially with your rock and roll photographs.

In this post Susan and I will share some of the photo tips (many more in the book) from our most recent book: Oregon Coast Photo Road Trip – How to eat, stay, play and shoot like a pro.

As the title implies, it more than just a photo book. It’s travel guide to one of the most beautiful places in the United States, if not on the planet.

We’ll start with a few of Rick’s tips, for digital SLR and mirrorless shooters (he uses a Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon EOS R), followed by Susan’s tips for smart phone (she uses an iPhone) photographers. We’ll add the locations, too!

Here we go!

From Rick:

Horse Silhouette at Sunset on Bandon Beach
Location: Bandon Beach

Silhouettes Are Sweet

Silhouettes are fun and creative to shoot, because they have a sense of mystery and wonder. To prevent overexposed highlights, which is easy to do at sunset and sunrise, set your exposure compensation to -1 . . .  for starters.

Mother Seal and Pup at Strawberry Hill
Location: Strawberry Hill

Pack A Telephoto Lens

In addition to offering breathtaking scenic opportunities, which you’ll capture with your wide-angle lens (I recommend a 16-35mm lens), the Oregon Coast also offers wonderful wildlife photo opportunities. For close-ups of the animals, you’ll need a telephoto lens. This photograph of a mother seal and pup was taken with my Canon 100-400mm lens, which is my favorite wildlife photography lens. You’ll need that 400mm focal length because in many cases, you can’t get close to the animals.

Sea Stars on Mussel-Covered Rock at Strawberry Hill
Location: Strawberry Hill

When You Think You Are Close, Get Closer

I used my Canon 15mm fish-eye lens to capture all the sea stars on this huge, mussel-covered rock. The image has impact for two main reasons: interesting and colorful subjects and because I was photographing very close, maybe about two feet from rock. The concept of getting closer does not always work, because “negative space” can be nice, too. But give it a try and see if your image looks more dramatic with a closer perspective.

Devil's Punchbowl
Location: Devil’s Punchbowl

Explore HDR

High Dynamic Range photography is needed to capture the entire brightness range of a scene with very high contrast. Basically, you take a series of pictures at different exposures at, over and under the recommended exposure setting, and then use an HDR program to merge the images together into one dramatically exposed image.

Long Exposure Black and White Photo with Silky Water at Coquille River Lighthouse
Location: Coquille River Lighthouse

Slow It Down

For creative seascape photographs with silky-looking water, you need two essential accessories: a neutral density filter (ND filter) or set of ND filters, and a sturdy tripod.

ND filters reduce the amount of light entering your camera, allowing you to use slow shutter speeds – from ¼ of a second to several seconds or even minutes – even on bright days.  You need a sturdy tripod to steady your camera during long exposures.

Variable ND filters let you “dial in” the light-reducing effect, usually from 8 to 10 f/stops. Fixed ND filters come in different grads, 3, 6, 10 and 20 f/stops. I use only fixed ND filters. Why? Because variable ND filters can produce a dark band or circle in the image when using a wide-angle lens. Sure, a set of fixed ND filters is more expensive than a variable ND filter, but the quality and results are worth it.

And Now From Susan:

Before and After: Adding Lens Flare to Yaquina Head Lighthouse.
Location: Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Spice It Up with Lens Flare

Here is a before-and-after pair of images that illustrates how apps can enhance a scene. Here I used the LensFlare app to transform a shot with flat lighting and color into a dramatic black-and-white image with cool blue light beams radiating from the light.

Wave Crashing into Spouting Horn, near Thor’s Well in Yachats
Location: Spouting Horn, near Thor’s Well in Yachats

Make Beautiful Black and White Images

Converting color photos to black-and-white images can make them look more dramatic. The app Dramatic Black & White gives you lots of options including regular Black & White, Dramatic Black & White and Infrared. The day I took this photo of Spouting Horn, near Thor’s Well in Yachats, it was very sunny and everything was evenly lit. I selected one of the Dramatic Black & White presets to increase contrast and make the splashing water look more powerful against the rocks.

Horse Running on Bandon Beach
Location: Bandon Beach

Add Clouds

Sometimes a clear and cloudless blue sky is not the best background for a beach scene. To break up the uniform color and make your image more compelling, try adding a cloud effect found in the app Distressed FX. I use this app to add texture and to boost color using the Original Overlays pack. After you purchase the app, you can buy more options. Wonderful clouds are found in The Heavens pack, such as the Waving cloud effect I added to my Bandon Beach image. In this case, I was going for a realistic look.

Coquille Lighthouse in Bandon
Location: Coquille Lighthouse in Bandon

Touch Up with Textures

Nothing transforms a photo like adding texture. Make your photos look more artistic by using photo apps to add color and texture . . . just like a painter! The app Brushstroke is very easy to use. Select a photo and then test the presets in different brush stroke categories including oil, washed and natural. Keep clicking until you see something you like. I chose a Simple style brushstroke for this photo of the Coquille Lighthouse in Bandon.

Seal Rock Recreating Site
Location: Seal Rock Recreating Site

Reflect

I have two tips that have to do with reflections. One: Compose your pictures with the reflections in the foreground Two: Reflect on the beauty of the Oregon Coast, and how lucky we are to have such a beautiful and accessible natural area to explore and photograph.

Well my friends, we hope you can make it to the Oregon Coast someday. We are happy to be your virtual guides via the pages in the book. 

Learn more from Rick Sammon on KelbyOne! The dude has more than dozen classes, including his latest: Uncovering the Magic of the Rain Forest.

You can see more of Rick’s work at RickSammon.com, and keep up with him on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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