He stared at me with a blank look on his face. It was a look of surprise and embarrassment that betrayed the fact that he had never considered this very fundamental question before. He was a marketer for a large international law firm, and the answer to this question should have informed many different decisions he made in marketing the firm. I wasn’t very surprised by his reaction.
I used to be a trial lawyer and I am accustomed to cross examining people. This felt exactly like that. “Why do you put pictures of the lawyers on your website?” He stared blankly for a moment and then stammered out, “So you know what they look like?” I promise I am not making this up.
This answer isn’t wrong, but it isn’t very good either. Perhaps a better way to say it is, “To put a name with a face.” When I am talking to or emailing Johnny Lawyer, I can picture his lovable mug. Considering how unpopular having your headshot made can be with some people, this does not seem like a fantastic answer.
Another answer I commonly get to that question is, “Well, you just have to. Most people do.” Again, while this isn’t a great answer, it definitely is not wrong. It is true that most people do it, and if you don’t it looks strange, like you are not serious. Have you ever received a friend request on social media such as Facebook or LinkedIn where the requester did not have a profile picture? It’s like that. It’s strange. You wonder if they’re even a real person.
For the clients that I market myself to, there is often a more important reason. That online headshot is going to be the first impression they make on many potential clients. First impressions and the common knowledge surrounding them are one of those things that everybody knows is true and actually is true. The research in this area is overwhelming. First impressions are formed almost instantaneously, visuals are far more important than text, they are very sticky, and first impressions formed online carry over into the real world. Since that is the case, it is a good idea to make that first impression a very strong one.
The majority of headshots I see do not make good first impressions. What really makes me mad about these shots is that it is not the subject’s fault at all. They don’t deserve it. They just have no idea what to do in front of the camera, and of course they should not. It is not their area of expertise. The expressions on their faces when they were being photographed should not have been left up to them.
Just so you don’t think I am beating up on other people, I will use myself as an example.
It’s #TravelTuesday right here on Scott’s blog, and that means that I, Dave Williams, am here!
It has been a full-on week with lots of prep and planning for a couple of upcoming missions for me. I’ve been working through files from my most recent trip to Norway, and I’m lining up ideas for a little trip to Dorset this weekend for my birthday. It’s all go here, and to top it all off, I’m formulating ideas for an awesome project that has already started rolling: The Diary of the Traveling Platypod, which sees a Platypod Ultra travel the world to help create amazing images (#TravelingUltra)! Larry, the creator of Platypod, sent it to Gilmar Smith to begin its journey, and now I have it! You can sign up here if you want to host the Ultra on its global journey.
But, let’s get back on track and take a look at a cool Adobe Camera Raw trick that can help you create an HDR look from a single file.
HDR (High Dynamic Range) is a look that has come in and out of fashion, but the concept behind it remains very useful. With this trick, you can take a single exposure, so long as it isn’t overly clipped either way, and create an HDR look from it by ignoring every piece of advice I’ve ever given you and going to 100 on a few sliders! Watch this: –
Here’s a fairly bland shot of a Norwegian road in Senja, turning a corner along the edge of a fjord, with the rugged mountainscape background (mountainscape—definitely a real word).
You can see it’s pretty “regular” looking—more of a snapshot than a creative photograph. By opening this RAW file in Camera Raw and maxing out some sliders, we can really bring it to life.
If we first consider what HDR processing involves, we can start by replicating it. We’ll do this by bringing in the darkest elements of the brightest exposure and the brightest elements of the darkest exposure by setting the Highlights slider to –100 and the Shadows slider to +100. We can give some “punch” to the image by also setting the Contrast slider to +100 and the Clarity slider to +100, increasing the contrast across the entire dynamic range of the image.
Once this is done, we’ll likely end up with something a little bit dodgy looking, but stick with me. The last little tweak is the Exposure slider. We’ll just move this slightly in order to reduce that overly dramatic hit. In this image, I’ve moved it to 0.60, and it has done just the trick.
We now have that HDR look from a single exposure, and it was incredibly easy!
Don’t just take pictures, make pictures! Join Rick Sammon as he dives deep into his 20 time proven rules of composition. It’s up to you to tell your story with creative composition, and in this class Rick provides you with new ways of seeing when you are holding your camera in hand. Whether you call them rules or recommended guidelines, Rick shares over 250 visual examples to help you understand how to use these tools to make great shots instead of snapshots. In the end you’ll be a better photographer for not only knowing the rules, but knowing when to break them, and have fun while doing it.
We did a live webcast last week about the upcoming Photoshop World Conferences (one in Orlando at the end of next month, and then in Vegas near the end of August), and we had a number of folks asking if the conference was for them (was it over their head? Did they have to be pros to attend? Stuff like that). So, while we covered a bit of that during the webcast, I thought I’d tackle it in more detail here today in case you’re wondering if Photoshop World is right for you. Here we go:
Q. Is Photoshop World mostly for pros? A.Most of the people there will be hobbyists, or beginner to advanced photographers or designers, and there will be some pros, and aspiring pros (folks who’d like to make some money off photography one day, but they already have another full-time job so it would be a side hustle).
Q. I thought driving for Uber was a side hustle? A.Well, that’s true (it has to be true, ’cause I heard it on an Uber radio ad), but there, apparently, are two other “side hustles,” those being driving for Lyft and of course, photography.
Q.I’m kinda new to photography. Will I be lost at the conference? Will it be over my head? A.The people who learn the most, and get the most out of Photoshop World are people who are kinda new at all this. I’ve read literally thousands of evaluation forms from folks who have attended our previous conferences (this is our 20th year producing the conference), and while I’ve read many evals from people who said that they feared it would be over their head, in nearly every case, they told us they were relieved that it wasn’t and that they learned a ton.
Q. I’m not really big into Photoshop, I’m more of a Lightroom user. Will there be anything for me? A. There will be a ton for you! We have a Lightroom training track that runs every day, all day during the conference, and we cover about every imaginable Lightroom topic from the ground up.
Q. What about Lightroom for the PlayStation 4? Do you cover that? A.There is no Lightroom for the PlayStation 4.
Q. Yes there is. A.No, there isn’t and that’s not a question. You must state your response in the form of a question.
Q. What is this, Jeopardy? A.Kinda. Thank you, next. (By the way, I know nobody got that last reference. It was just for me and my 13-year-old daughter who does get stuff like that, thanks to YouTube and SnapChat.)
Q. So, it’s called Photoshop World. Is it mostly Photoshop classes? A.There are a bunch of Photoshop classes, but there are more classes on photography, portraits and lighting, Lightroom (as I mentioned, but only for Lightroom on the Xbox), travel and landscapes, plus some really brilliant classes on the business side of photography. There is also a design track, along with classes on Adobe’s Creative Cloud, but the conference is more of a photography conference these days. Photoshop is still a very important part of the photography workflow, so we have lots of those classes, too.
Q. Scott, is there any chance you could embed a short 33-second video clip here that would give me a brief glimpse at what the conference is about? A. That’s a very specific request, but it happens to be one I really like, so sure. Here ya go, kind stranger:
Q. I’m new at all the post-processing stuff, like Lightroom and Photoshop. Will I be lost? A.What I would recommend is to come a day early, before the official conference begins, and take one of our in-depth workshops on Photoshop or Lightroom. That way, you’ll get a jump start on learning, and you’ll be able to take the classes in the conference track and pick up a lot more. We have lots of folks who do this every year, and it works surprisingly well. Well, that’s what they’ve told us anyway.
Q. Is this more of a trade show or education? A.It is definitely an educational conference first and foremost. We do have a small partner pavilion where some of our friends and sponsors will be exhibiting. But, right alongside them, we have live theaters for more training, we have live sets for you to shoot and try out new gear, and you’ll have a great time hanging out there, even though our main focus is on education.
Q. What if I come alone. Will it be weird? A.You won’t be alone for long. The conference is designed for you to meet new people, and make new friends, and we have all sorts of events to get you together with other folks, including those that are there alone like you. In fact, the first night we have special dinners set up called, Dinner with a Stranger where you all meet up at a restaurant, share a meal at the same table, and suddenly you now know 12 or 14 new people you didn’t know when you landed. We’ve been doing this for years now and it’s always a big hit.
Q. Should I bring my camera? A.Absolutely! We have sets for you to shoot on, and photography challenges for you to try, and live models to shoot (which are so much more appealing than having dead models to shoot. Lesson learned).
Q. Should I stay right there in the Hyatt in Orlando? A. Well, yes, but only if you’re going to the conference in Orlando (sorry, I couldn’t help myself). We have the run of the place at the Hyatt (or host hotel), but the rooms are nearly sold out (last year we sold out in advance), so go grab your room right now, and stay right in the middle of everything (it’s where all our staff, crew, and instructors are staying, and well, pretty much everything happens there). It’s been our favorite venue for Photoshop World ever because everything is right there. It’s all just steps away. Such a perfect place for a conference like ours. Here’s the link for travel info.
Q. Do I get a discount if I’m a KelbyOne member? A.You bet! You get $100 off the full conference pass, and if you book right now, you’ll save another $100 using the Early Bird special, so that’s $200 off. Sweet!
Q. Scott, I so loved that 33-second video you so kindly embedded above. It was epic (I cried several times). But, I’m a photographer, so do you have any stills from the event I can see? That would really inspire me! A.Well, I’m a sucker for heartfelt genuine requests like yours, so OK, here’s a link to a post I did with loads of images and the stories behind it all. Get your tissues ready, it’s even more epic than the 33-second video. Here’s the link.
Q. Will I meet other people from the KelbyOne Community? A.We have a community hangout lounge just outside the classrooms in the main lobby, and you’ll see me, and some of our community leaders, and other instructors all hanging out there together, and we’d love it if you came by and hung out, too. All the cool kids will be there.
Q. Really, all the cool kids? A.Actually, no. Some of the really cool kids will have skipped class and gone to Disney World. Others will be stealing cars. That’s pretty much the only two options for cool kids in Florida. Well, that and aligator wrestling.
Q. Is it OK if I have questions for the instructors or just want to say, “Hi”? A.Are you kidding? That is what Photoshop World is all about. We’re all in this together. We’re here to help, and our instructors are the most genuine, helpful, passionate folks on the planet (and handpicked because of it). I can tell you without reservation they would love to meet you, they’re happy to answer your questions, and you’ll see them everywhere during the event—at the first night’s Meet Up, at the After Hours party, at Midnight Madness, and at the restaurants and lounges at the hotel (they really like to booze it up…I mean, they enjoy the occasional adult beverage). They would be tickled if you came up and said, “Hi.” I know I sure would be. Not the boozing stuff. The “Hi” stuff.
Q. What if I’m looking for more advanced training? A.You’ll find it here, too. Advanced classes usually have “Advanced” in the title, but you can also tell by reading the class descriptions if it’s for you or not. I think you’d be surprised that even if you’re intermediate level, our instructors are such great communicators and teachers, that you’d still be able to keep up. Yes, they are that good.
Q. Do I have to sign up for which classes I want to attend beforehand? A.You do not, and that’s one of the things that I like best about our conference. You can choose any full conference class, any time, and move between classes any time you like. So, if you wind up in a class that you quickly realize is too advanced or too beginner for you, you can just move to any other class, in any other track, at any time. How cool is that?
Q. That is cool. A.That was more of a rhetorical question, but thanks.
Q. Can you help me convince my boss that she should send me to Photoshop World this year? A.We sure can, because we’ve already written a highly convincing, fact-filled, mind-blowing (that’s pushing it) letter to your boss telling her why it’s as awesome as everybody says it is. All you have to do is copy and paste it into an email to her (and add your name, of course), and that’ll do the trick (at least it has for a whole bunch of folks). Here’s the link to the letter.
Q. Is the conference open to anyone? A.Everybody is welcome at Photoshop World, but the folks you’ll find there are: photographers (landscape and travel photographers, wedding photographers, wildlife, flash and lighting lovers, street photographers, pet photographers, headshot and fashion photographers, food photographers, and photojournalists). Plus, you’ll have lots of graphic designers, freelancers, web developers, video editors, ninjas, rodeo cowboys, and Art Directors. You’ll have pros, hobbyists, beginners, intermediate and advanced users. It’s basically a bunch of creative people, from all skill levels and backgrounds, coming together at this one place to get away from everything else to focus on learning, laughing, and making new friends.
Q. Do I have to dress in “business casual?” A.We like being really comfortable when we’re learning, so the dress is totally casual. In fact, the whole atmosphere is casual. You’ll dig it. We also have several clothing optional events (not really, but it’s worth a try in 2020).
Q. If I come, can I enter the Guru Awards competition? I hear it’s a pretty big thing. A.Yes, it is, and no, you may not.
Q. Really? A. OK, you can enter if you pay the Guru Awards entry fee.
Q. How much is that? A.It’s free for conference attendees, but then only conference attendees can enter this competition in the first place, so basically, everybody enters for free. Entire careers have been launched off winning a Guru Award, so I hope you’ll enter.
Q. Do you think I’ll win? A.No. It’s all rigged, but it’s fun to enter anyway.
Q. Really? A.You say “Really? a lot. But no, it’s not rigged. However, there’s a large panel of judges, and a few do accept bribes. When you shake their hands, just have some folded up bills in there. Do it smooth, like you’re tipping a Vegas casino host to get a good seat for the Celine Dion show.
Q. Really? Seriously? A.No, of course not. You should definitely enter, and you certainly have a shot at winning. The odds are in your favor because it’s only people who are attending the conference that can enter. But, to be honest, I’ve seen your work, and I wouldn’t hold out much hope.
Q. Seriously? Really? A.Wow, you are so gullible. You’re not ready for Vegas Photoshop World. You’ll come home broke, or wind up in jail. Go to Orlando. The worst trouble you’ll get into there is a parking ticket at Johnny Rockets or maybe getting kicked off the monorail for yelling “!Por favor manténgase alejado de las puertas.”
Q. OK, actually this all sounds pretty awesome, where do I sign up? A.Here’s the link to the official site. You can choose Orlando (May 31–June 2, 2019), or Las Vegas at the Mirage Resort & Casino (August 21–23rd, 2019).
Q.One more thing: will Peter Hurley be there? I love Peter Hurley. A. I’m sorry, all questions must be submitted in writing.
Q. That question was submitted in writing! A.Oh. I see. Well, okay then. Yes, Peter Hurley will be teaching at the conference. I love Peter Hurley, too. We all do. He is love.
Q. What does that even mean, “He is love?” A. I dunno. I think I saw it on a billboard once, but you said, “One more thing” two questions ago, so it’s time to move along little doggie.
Well, folks, I hope you found that somewhat informative, a non-irritant, and that it gets even the toughest stains out of carpets, linens, and even upholstery on the first try (see, this is what happens when I finish a blog post at 1:27 a.m. on a Sunday).
Hope I’ll see you at the conference in Orlando, or Vegas, and if you’ve got any questions I didn’t address here, just drop a comment below and I’ll pick ’em up during the day, and have them washed and folded by six.
I am so excited — this is the first thing I’ve ever invented (with lots of help from my friends at Westcott) — it’s a lighting tool for educators and students, and its sole purpose is to teach people lighting before they go and buy lighting. Check out the video below to see what it’s all about (and how the idea came about).
So, now that you’ve seen the video, you know — it’s about experimenting, learning, and seeing “the light.” That way, when you do buy a flash or a studio strobe or continuous light, the frustration, the futzing, and the whole guessing game is over because you’ll have a plan — you’ll know what you’re trying to achieve, what light does, when to use hard light, diffused light, what gobos do, what fresnels do, the color differences between tungsten and daylight. You’ll know all this because the light comes with a full training class on light, and how to use The Learning Light, in your classroom, or with other students, or for just you as you’re learning.
We released a full training class on it to KelbyOne members this week, but if you buy the light, you get full access to the class as part of the lighting package.
It’s available today
The light, with the gobos and the training class, is just $89.90 and you can get it direct from the folks at Westcott (here’s the link), and B&H Photo will be carrying them any day now, too.
As an educator myself, you can probably imagine how exciting it is to have a tool like this for other educators and students, and I’m so grateful to my friends at Westcott: Eric Eggley (who came up with so many great ideas for The Learning Light, and took my initial idea and took it much farther than I’d ever hoped), and to Brandon Heiss, whose vision and commitment to helping teachers is why there is a Learning Light today at all.
I’m super-psyched! (can ya tell)? ;-)
One last thing, and it’s something I think is really important (and you’ll hear me talk about this aspect a lot). This is not lighting. It’s a learning tool. It’s the light you buy before you buy real lighting. It’s for experimenting with shadows, and light, and for learning lighting before you fully invest it in. I truly hope you’ll find it helpful (and I think you’ll find it’s a lot of fun), and thanks for taking the time to let me share this all with you (and tell your teacher friends about it, if you would). :)
Have a great weekend, everybody!
P.S. Did I mention I invented a light for educators? Whoo hoo!!! I’m super-psyched!