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Alright folks, we are just a few days away from the next creativeLIVE three day class. It starts this Friday and it is called “The Foundations of a Working Photographer.”
I’ve been teaching workshops for about four years now and I’ve met hundreds and hundreds of photographers. I would venture to say that most photographers entering the industry today are self taught. You read blogs, watch DVDs, go to workshops, attend conferences, read books, and do a lot of trial and error. We all do that. We are all learning and growing and trying to move forward but from my experience working with a lot of emerging photographers these days I see a number of holes in a lot of people’s foundations. There are a number of missing ingredients and this weekend’s class is designed to identify those weak areas in the industry and fill them in with knowledge and practical advice.
The goal you should have for yourself is to be able to walk into an environment, size up your subject, your shooting conditions, and your camera bag and formulate a plan quickly, efficiently, and with a smile on your face. Before you ever open your camera bag you should already know which lens you are going to need. You should have an idea of where your subject needs to be, what your background will be, and what you are going to have to do to the light. It’s like the matrix. You have to see the code.
This Friday we start with the basics of cameras and lenses and knowing your subject. Can you run your camera blindfolded? Do you know it? I mean KNOW it? I mean KNOW KNOW KNOW your camera. When you walk in a room do you know which lens you need and why you need it? When you are ready for a new lens do you know EXACTLY which lens you have to purchase next and EXACTLY why you need and do you know EXACTLY what it will do and what it won’t do for you? Are you nailing your exposures? Do you know how far your in camera meter is off? Can you identify 18% grey quickly? Do you know that aperture is only a SMALL part that determines depth of field? It isn’t the only thing that determines that and sometimes it’s the LEAST significant part of the depth of field equation.
Do you know your subject? Do you know how to best light them and best photograph them? Do you know how to keep them happy while you are freaking out in your brain about the shoot? When it all goes to hell can you keep them engaged, keep the shoot going, and make it the best experience they’ve had in front of a camera? That’s all on Friday.
Saturday starts of with light. Available light, flash, strobe, mixing the two, etc, etc. Get rid of the plastic cocktail cup on your flash and grow as a photographer. It’s all about light. It always has been and always will be. We are going to be shooting a lot on Saturday. Working with light, working with our gear, working with our subjects, and taking lots and lots of technical questions via the creativeLIVE chat room, twitter, etc. I’m going to end the day with my take on Jeremy Cowart’s 90 minute portfolio. I’ll have a few subjects to work with and I’m going to try to create as many different looks and photos with whatever I have to work with in whatever environment I have to shoot in. We’ll be taking breaks from shooting to talk about the creative process, getting rid of fear, and moving forward when you don’t have it all figured out.
Sunday will be a recap on the technical and then it’s on to business and balance. If you are trying to do this for a living or would like to then you need to know how to position yourself in your market, how to price for your services, how to research the industry around you, and how to find a way to stand out from the crowd. If you begin to find success with any of this you may just find your personal life going down in flames. Photography will take everything from you if you let it. Sunday we will be ending the day with my love, Meghan, and I having a transparent conversation about work and life and family and the issues we face trying to keep it all together with a business and four kids aged 12 and under.
There are going to be times I get on a soapbox. There will be times I say things that aren’t a lot of fun to hear. This isn’t going to be all double rainbows and fluffy kittens. This is a hard damn job and there are some people who just aren’t cut out for it. Photography calls many but chooses few. I know what it’s like to find success in this field but it wasn’t until I was an utter failure in everything. I sucked as a photographer. I sucked as a business person. I sucked as a family man. I’ve seen the mess that this can become and it sucks. I’m going to do all I can to help you avoid some of this and hopefully increase your odds at being one of those who are called and chosen. I promise to leave you on Sunday with plenty to be thinking about and plenty to be working on. I’m going to also free you up from some of the stress you may be feeling about some things. Like, forget about branding. It really doesn’t matter for you right now. Go get a cheap blog and don’t spend a dime on a logo. Huh? Really? Yep. Go rock $50 portrait sessions like it’s nobody’s business… because it’s nobody’s business. You’ll see.
It’s going to be like flying a kite in a hurricane and it’s going to be a blast!
Do you have any initial questions right now? Things you really, really, really want to see covered? Drop them in the comments below. We will also be taking questions Friday, Saturday, and Sunday via the chat room and twitter. It’s free to watch all weekend and they will be rebroadcasting over night for those of you on other parts of the globe.
PS – I might get into my new personal project that I’m working on. A few of the images are above. If you know what project I’m speaking of don’t mention it in the comments.
I’m really excited about the next creativeLIVE weekend I’ll be teaching. I’ll be teaching April 29th, 30th, and May 1st. If you aren’t familiar with creativeLIVE the deal goes down like this. You can tune in and watch it live… for free! If you like it and want to see it again, you can buy the download. If you think it’s crap then you never have to pay a dime for it. Broke and can’t afford anything, then take the weekend off and grab a notebook.
The first class I taught was all about studio lighting. This class is going to be based more around a theme than one specific aspect of shooting. It’s built off of a talk I give called “Stuff you need to know to be a photographer”. That’s a one hour talk that I’m turning into a three day class. It’s almost a top 10 things you need to know kind of class but it won’t suck like most top 10 photography lists do.
So many of you have requested a class about business. Many requested natural light. Plenty of you want strobe + ambient. All of you want more “client interaction” and posing guidelines. Each of these could be a weekend class but I only have one weekend this year I can do a CL event so I’m going to open a fire hydrant on you and get a number of things covered. The creativeLIVE crew is already telling me to plan on staying within X hours of teaching each day and, well, they should know better than that. If you aren’t going to purchase the download then you better pull up a comfy chair to the computer cause it’s gonna be on like Donkey Kong that weekend.
I’m going to start with the basics and move into intermediate and advanced concepts and techniques.
Here is a rough outline of how the weekend is going to go down… (Note that live shooting will be a large part of each day)
#1 – Know Your Camera
- Aperture / Shutter Speed / ISO
- Camera skills
- Considerations when purchasing new cameras
#2 – Know Your Glass
- Lens selection is one of the most important things you do as a photographer
- Aperture isn’t the only thing that effects depth of field
- Perspective expansion & compression
#3 – Know Your Subject
- Subject interaction and direction
- Knowing the needs of your subjects
- Contributing your own vision to a project
#4 – Know Your Light
- Available light, continuous light, small strobes, big strobes
- Creating moods
#5 – Know Your Limits
- Working within the limits of the gear you own
- Pushing the limits of your gear
#6 – Creativity
- Most people can see. Few have vision
- Making the most out of a little
- Simple exercises to expand your creativity
#7 – Vision & Style
- Your photography and your business both require it
– Zack’s take on Jeremy Cowart’s 90 minute portfolio
#8 – Courage
- Fear of gear, clients, business, marketing, other’s opinions will kill you
- Live critique
#9 – Business & Marketing
- How I did it wrong
- How I’m learning to do it correctly
- Branding sucks. Don’t worry about it right now.
- Stop being shy
#10 – Service & Balance
- A transparent Q&A session with Zack and his wife Meghan on how photography, business, and family are both a blessing and a curse.
NOTE :: As of the initial posting of this information, creativeLIVE does not have this listed on their site yet. I’m working on getting my stuff to them and they are working on getting that stuff on their site so please sit tight and give them a day or so to get all the crap they are waiting for from me on to their site. You’ll then be able to sign up in advance for the free weekend and I’m sure they’ll have some sort of pre-sale on the download.
I think Meg needs to finish off Sunday evening with playing a few songs for all of us and we’ll all sit back, listen to her music, and have a beer. What do you think?
So that’s the basic run down of the weekend. Some of the order/titles/etc may change around depending on the logistics making this happen. Want to be part of the live studio audience? There are very few spots (like 4 to 6) so follow the directions in the video above and send your video our way.
Have questions? Want to see something covered that you don’t see in the list above? Hit me in the comments.
Just wanted to update you on a few videos and blogs posts we are working on.
I promised a studio tour of our place here in Atlanta and that will be coming up. Currently we have a large job in house and we’re under a pretty tight NDA. In order to do the studio tour we would have to clear the entire space of our client’s merch and that’s just something we can’t pull off right now. We will most likely have some down time in October to get that finished up. Sorry for the delay.
The photo above is our cyc wall. It’s about 12 feet tall, 19.5 feet wide, and has a 3 foot radius. From the cyc wall to the other end of the studio is 64 feet. We’ll show you all that in the video along with grip, carts, workspaces, storage, deals we found on furniture, set pieces, etc, etc.
When we get the studio cleared out again we’ll knock out the color worflow video as well as the grip video. We’ll drop them all at once most likely.
Ok. Are you ready to get your nerd on? Calling all pixel peepers! Here are the images for the modifier run down we went through on Day 03 of the creativeLIVE studio lighting class. I’m not sure which took me longer… Shooting all of these images during the class or prepping them for the web.
Before we get started with the images there are some things I want to go ahead and cover with you before you check these out.
This isn’t the most comprehensive light modifier test in the world. It isn’t even half way scientific in approach. There are real issues with comparing modifiers like this. I’m telling you right now that this isn’t the true proper nerded out way of doing this kind of thing. While we strove for consistency and Dan and I spent some time in the morning before the broadcast testing things out, remember there can be variations 1/3 of a stop from pop to pop with those Alien Bees. That’s why they are affordable. With all that said let me now say… if you run through some modifiers in this way you’ll learn a lot. I do this kind of stuff when I’m checking out a new modifier.
Why do I feel the need to give this big disclaimer? To ward off the measurebators that are about to descend on this post. The guys who look at photos on the photon level and lose all the soul of this craft. I like to nerd out from time to time and discuss CMOS vs. CCD but never at the cost of losing the soul of the craft. So… enjoy this comparison. There are things to learn.
Things to look for ::
• Take a look at how the modifier effects the exposure on the subject and the background. • Watch the transition from highlight to shadow. How hard is that line? • Take a look at the catchlights in the eyes. • How effecient is the modifier in terms of lost light from the standard? • Look at the difference in the quality of light when some of them are moved closer than the standard shooting point. • Moving the light closer to the subject changes exposure so I didn’t list the change in aperture for those images since they deviated from standard position.
I’ve highlighted a few areas here to watch in the photos below… Look at this crop between the 7′ and 4′ Octabanks…
Notice how the transition from highlight to shadow is much more gradual with the larger 7′ Octa. Notice how the shadows are more open with the 7′ as compared to the 4′. Notice the 4′ Octa has a brighter catchlight. Notice they have about the same effect on the exposure of the background. The background is important to watch with these. There are times I pick a modifier based on how it is going to throw light on or flag light off of the background. Here is the same image without the circles. From modifier to modifier some areas will change dramatically and some will barely be noticeable.
The following image is the “standard” for this test. It is an Alien Bee with its standard 7″ silver reflector in place. The standard exposure for this at this distance is f13. We then paraded different modifiers off of the same light stand position. At times I moved the stand to demonstrate a distance I would more likely be using that particular modifer.
Here is a crop of the 7′ Octa (our largest modifier) in comparison to the standard 7″ reflector. Notice how light from the Octa wraps all the way around to her ear.
Want to pixel peep? Here you go!
If you look at a few of these and say “I can’t really tell any difference between the $30 modifier and the $800 modifier!” then note the disclaimers above. There are ways of shooting a shoot through umbrella in this kind of situation and make it look a whole lot like the Octabank. Then there are times that one will absolutely run circles around the other and the difference is night and day. To walk through each of these drastic and subtle usage changes would have taken the entire three days of teaching. Your goal is to get to know YOUR modifiers and be educated about the basic differences between different kinds so you can make educated choices the next time you go buy one of these.
As Bill, one of the creativeLIVE crew members, said so well… “There’s no morality in choosing a light modifier.” Let that sink in. Sometimes I pick a modifier based on… “Ummmm. How about…. Uh. This one.” Other times I walk in a room and I know that I want my 28″ Westcott Apollo and there is no other modifier in the world that will do the job. Sometimes I pick a modifier because it is more efficient with light than another that is similar to it in look. Note how the reflective umbrella lost 2 stops of light as opposed to the 4′ Octa. Sometimes that stop is a make or break situation on a job.
At times there’s “just something” about one modifier over another. You can’t quite put your finger on it but you just like “that thing” about that modifier. That’s how I feel about the 22″ beauty dish. I could get a very similar look from the 28″ Apollo or a small silver umbrella but there is just “something” about how the light feathers and falls off with the beauty dish that makes me pull that out over a small softbox. Sometimes I just like the catchlight more.
I like circles.
Other times I like rectangles.
There’s not a moral issue on the table here.
Another issue with this test is we aren’t shooting full length. You’d see a BIG difference between a 60″ umbrella and a 7′ Octa when shooting full length. I tested that out and went back and forth on it. The reason I decided against it was our awesome subject, Lou, would have been standing in one spot for a long time. That little stool she was on was bad enough. I felt standing for as long as we needed to run through this would have been too much to ask. Remember, we are in the service industry. Serve your clients. Make them as comfortable as possible. I guess I could have had her lean on something. That would have been a light stand or a broom handle. Neither make for the best props.
My last caveat to all of this… Go shoot your own lighting tests! Seriously. You’ll learn so much doing this. Change the distance, the angle, the height, etc. Watch what your modifiers do full length vs. head and shoulders. LEARN YOUR GEAR!!!
All the images and download links after the jump….
I can’t tell you how overwhelming this past weekend has been for me on all fronts. Hundreds and hundreds of man and woman hours went in to pulling this three day live event off. It was frantic. It was stressful. It was exhausting. It was one of the greatest things I’ve ever been a part of. Thank you one and all. Here are a few selects from the weekend.
Interested in seeing the 16 hours of studio training? Check it out here.
More images after the jump…
The shot above and the shot below were using the same background.
There are some other images on this blog post from the weekend.
Want to find out about the class I taught? Check it out here.
Many thanks to ::
Affix Music (provided the bumper music on Friday and Saturday)
And the entire crew who made this thing happen.
And you know what? I would not be able to do this had Marc Climie not put a camera back in my hands 6.5 years ago.
We have more material, videos, and stuff coming to the blog from this event.