Hit Me With Your Questions Now :: creativeLIVE This Weekend

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.

Get all the details and times here.


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. :)


  • Jeff Dietz said on April 26, 2011

    My question would be is I’d love to hear more on your thoughts of Commercial photography PRICING, and for bands, etc. How do you work in the licensing for different uses, digital files, etc when it comes to that world of commercial. And also how we can apply that into the smaller/local markets. Andddd also how to change the mindset of companies that are use to taking their own ‘point and shoot’ photos for their adverts. Any other tips on how to market to businesses for these services etc, are also all good topics.

  • Jay said on April 26, 2011

    Everybody talks about pricing. Problem is, nobody ever really does anything specific. What would be nice is to see you actually take a sample proposal and price it out. Give a bottom line price and say, “Here is how I got to this point and why.”

    Looking forward to the class!

  • Daniel Gregory said on April 26, 2011

    Zack, can’t wait for the workshop this weekend. One thing that I would love to hear you talk about is holding your vision when the people around you try to change it. I have started finding my vision, got my little blog going and have been shooting more and more everyday. On thing that is driving me a little crazy is when I share work I keep getting feedback like, oh if you only tried shooting this way or printed this way or shot a little more like so and so you would be onto something. How have you been able to successfully keep your vision and develop your business so that it supports you as the artist and the business person who at times has to make compromises to make the integration of work, client, life and family happen?

  • David Moore said on April 26, 2011

    “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.”

    That pretty much answers my question. This is the main thing I am looking for. I am looking forward to hearing it all (or all that I can until I get the DVD’s)


  • Rick Wenner said on April 26, 2011

    Looking forward to this Zack. It’s going to be a great course for a lot of us. My questions to you are: How did you start promoting your work in the beginning of your music photography career and how is that different from the way you do it now? When you started getting bigger clients, such as shooting Big Boi & T.I., how did you decide on pricing for those jobs? And finally…are those 22’s on that Crown Vic or just little ol’ dubs?

  • Rick Wenner said on April 26, 2011

    Licensing is a great topic too since not too many truly understand what it’s all about.

  • mauricio rivera said on April 26, 2011

    I’m fairly new to photography, and have learned a lot from online resources, a few classes and a great mentor, the question is, do I have to wait until I shot like u to get paid? If someone offers me a gig based on the work they see I do, should I turn it down based on the fact I’m not gettin Zack caliber work? Or is it a good way to get baptized by fire sort of thing…. Thnx!

  • Paul said on April 26, 2011

    Your course overview looks great, and I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say. One thing I’d like you to comment on is this:

    Jasmine Star says, “It’s all about your brand.” Zack Arias says, “Forget about branding.” Discuss :)

  • Alex said on April 26, 2011

    Zack, I’d love to hear your perspective on negotiating contracts. What are deal breakers for you in a contract (rights, indemnification, usage). Having a real hard time trying to get clients to understand that signing THEIR contracts aren’t always the best decision for me. Can’t wait for this weekend!

  • Paul Clarke said on April 26, 2011

    Hi Zack,

    On several occasions you have mentioned ‘personal projects’. Can you elaborate more on the importance these projects hold as a photographer. Do you use them to keep your portfolio fresh and perhaps prevent potential boredom setting in or is there another reason?

  • Kenneth Ceulemans said on April 26, 2011

    That’s it. I’m pre-ordering.

  • John said on April 26, 2011

    Is portrait photography viable without offering prints? Nobody wants print anymore, amiright?

  • Laurie said on April 26, 2011

    Hi Zack! I’m really looking forward to your second Creative Live weekend! So, I have a few questions. Two are related to the weekend and one is just curiosity (and could be related). So, my questions are:

    1) How do you move from a very enjoyable serious hobby to a business without it sucking the enjoyment out of it?

    2) As a follow-up, what part of running a photoraphy business gives you the biggest headache and what do you do to minimize it?

    3) You seem to really enjoy teaching others. If money weren’t an issue, would you give up the client side to teach full time?

    Thanks for keeping it real and always being open and honest.

  • Mike Lyons said on April 26, 2011

    I have some great shots. I love them enough to put them up on the wall (big prints). Everybody that sees them loves them. How does a photographer (artist) get passed the comment “I love it” to “I love it and I want that on my wall and I will pay you very well for it”. To make a big print costs good money. How to price prints with out putting myself in the poor house? What is a good approach to someone that wants my cool print as their screen saver, effectively giving the negatives away? Thanks for this weekend!!

  • Rick said on April 26, 2011

    “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.”

    I hate you.

    I need you.
    Gotta go book two more sessions so I can pay for this.


  • bix-art said on April 26, 2011

    Hi Zack! In your previous workshop, I did not get in to the mix until after the pre-order deal expired (my bad). I learned a lot on your workshop. I can now say that I’m pretty comfortable with my skills/techniques and the “vision” finally comes to me before I even open my camera bag (usually, but not always). Your big emphasis on getting to know your modifiers made it all happen. I think that is the most important thing to know to move on to the next level. Thank you!

    This time around, I actually purchased the pre-order (not being dumb this time). I am mostly interested now in the business part of your workshop (I hope there will be plenty of stuff about it). Actually, I wish this workshop is only about the business aspect of it as we can always refer back to your previous workshop for resource on skills and techniques.

    I’m very comfortable now with my photography knowledge/skills but I’m still afraid to take on jobs – not because I lack confidence on my photography, but I just dont know where to begin. I would like to learn the ins-and-outs of starting a photography business. How to build a successful portfolio, how to price my work, how to find good start-up jobs, essential documents/paperwork/contracts/etc, legal stuff, marketing. I’m afraid to move on because of all these stuff. I’m hoping that after the workshop I will have some clues on what to look for and what to watch out for, what are things to avoid…. just hope to be able to devise a plan and work from there (I need at least some direction to follow). I’m counting on you Zack! Please give me some directions. Tnx and more power to you and your peoples! You’re contributing awesome things to photography.

  • Elisha said on April 26, 2011

    In the video world, you just charge a day rate for shooting a project. Seems like the still world you charge for usage of the final image(s). Can you clarify how this works, how you deal with copyright, and what we need to watch out for?

    Thanks, really looking forward to this weekend. Your last CL workshop was awesome.

  • Chuk said on April 26, 2011

    Hey Zack, I’m really looking forward to this weekends CreativeLive and I have a question about contracts. When dealing with a client who just isn’t happy, no matter how much you’ve done to ensure so, how do you know when to end that relationship and how do you protect yourself from taking a loss on a project. How would you carefully present this in a contract without scaring the client from the start. Thanks! Looking forward to tuning in.

  • Rob Brook said on April 26, 2011

    Hi Zack
    I’m just starting out but I’m struggling to get out of the starting block business wise do you have any ideas to get people in front of the camera?

    All the best for the weekend.

  • Megha P said on April 26, 2011

    Hey Zack,
    I’m really looking forward to your creativeLIVE workshop! I’d like to hear about the essentials of a contract, and how a client meeting usually goes for you. Thanks, can’t wait for this wknd!!!

    Megha P

  • Andrew Fleming said on April 26, 2011

    How do you handle proofing with a $50 blog? Or, more broadly, how do you serve a customer well on the cheap?

    How did you handle things like insurance, both for your business (someone trips over a light stand) and for your gear (oops, I dropped it) in the early days?

    How did you deal with taxes and income in the early days? Create a company right away or just claim it all on personal? Just dealt with that so its fresh in my mind.

    Do you have an special thoughts on determining your CDB or did you just wing it in the beginning?

    I say in the beginning because I have to assume how you do it now is very different than what it was like then… and what you do now may not even be practical for someone just starting out.

    Thank you being so willing to teach Zack. You continue to be a source for inspiration.

    PS – I think we all need bracelets that read: WWZD? 😉

  • Alin Ion said on April 26, 2011

    Hey Zack!
    I’m really looking forward to the workshop. Really enjoyed the first one and I’m curious on how this one will turn out.

    The real question would be, marketing your photography business. You’re just starting up in the industry, you have few or no contacts and you need to get noticed. What’s a good starting place? What should be the first steps?

  • Tampa Band Photos said on April 26, 2011

    Hey Zack….with respect to the music photography industry in particular, I’d like to hear your take on licensing (what the client can/can’t do with the images, and under what circumstances), pricing (whether to charge by the image, the hour, the shoot, etc.), and some of the best strategies for establishing relationships with record companies. Thanks, and I’m very much looking forward to the webinar! ~Russ

  • Matthew Carter said on April 26, 2011

    I’d like to hear:
    * Scoring the first editorial assignments
    * Not getting screwed / what to avoid like the plague whilst performing said assignments
    * How you would go about pitching a story: shoot and pitch? pitch and shoot? sample and pitch?
    * Staying busy in the beginning – drumming up alternative business

    Thanks for all you do. I can’t wait for this weekend!

  • Carl Spring said on April 26, 2011

    As said before, how do you handle licensing, money and pricing yourself when working in the music market? Everyone is keen to say how you should never undercut people, but no one is keen to share their pricing.

    When meeting clients, is print portfolio still king? Is there any other form of mailers etc. that you think are worthwhile?

    What is better when contacting potential clients? Email, Mailers? Crashing the office?

    How do you keep going at it when even Rick Ross couldn’t hustle more?

  • Chase said on April 26, 2011

    Zack, first thank you for taking this route, the emerging field, we need this.

    Secondly, I challenge to not beat around the bush and put some of the reality out there on subjects such as:
    Finding clients

    These questions have been asked to the big guns in their workshops, online chats etc and it’s always a fluff answer or nothing specific. I’m not lookin for hand holding or paint by numbers, that doesn’t exist, I get that. I’m saying share something that means something. Most dont.

    It sounds like it is going to be worth purchasing this download, prove me right.

  • Brice J Lin said on April 26, 2011

    Hey Zack,

    I’m super excited for your workshop this weekend! You are one of the resources I always refer back to when I have a photography question, thanks for all of your insight through your blogs/critiques/advice.

    My question is: When you were starting out, did you have other friends/acquaintances that shared the same passion as you? Or did you have to go outside of your circle to network and meet other photographers? And how did you go about that?

    Thanks again for your help, I look forward to seeing you on creativelive!

  • Jessica Sweeney said on April 27, 2011

    Looks awesome. My question is: I need some sort of bravery juice. Can you and Meghan whip me up a batch?

    But seriously, I’m looking forward to the class. What I’m looking forward to most is you answering the questions that I don’t know I have yet.

  • B said on April 27, 2011

    Looking forward to it. Work-Life balance is an ongoing issue, so i’m looking forward to your candid conversation with Meg. I’m jumping off the dock in May and balance will be a priority. Of course the technical and process info is always useful.

  • Mike said on April 27, 2011

    How do you know when you’re ready to start charging money?

    I’m having a hard time crossing that chasm, even though I’ve been getting positive feedback on my portrait work.

  • Giovanna Mandel said on April 27, 2011

    Dude….you way want to camp out in Seattle. This is going to take a lot longer than three days:)

  • Rick said on April 27, 2011

    I live in a lower middle class community, there are quite a few photographers in the area offering their services, I am just as good if not better than any of them, my style is very much my own. The market here is pretty much shoot and burn with portrait shoots starting at $100 and weddings topping out at around $850. I am trying to get my start in portrait and wedding photography but don’t have the cash to do a lot of advertising or to open a studio. I get gigs here and there, but have not been able to establish a steady flow of work like the other local photographers…what kind of things can I do to get things rolling.

  • steve said on April 27, 2011

    How important is a custom-designed website for someone looking to break into high end photo gigs?

  • Jennifer said on April 27, 2011

    Can not wait!

    Here is my blog! I blogged about you coming on creativeLIVE event!


    1. Anything you wish you knew when starting your business, that others can learn from?
    2. How to build a portfolio?
    3. What documents to have when starting out?
    4. Insurance should have
    5. The contract what should be in it?
    6. How to deal with Taxes when selling photos and anything that I am not thing about
    7. What is a must have and do when running a business


  • Surly said on April 27, 2011

    At what point does one obtain a business license?
    At what point does one obtain insurance?
    I’m sure there’s a gray area between guerrilla photography with a day job doing $50 portrait sessions and semi-pro business owner with a day job.
    How does one make that transition?

    Looking forward to tuning in. Thank you.

  • Aaron Pelly said on April 27, 2011

    Where’s the magic button on my camera? How do I properly use the un-suck filter? 😉

    Seriously – I’d love to see you cover using reflectors with natural light to shoot headshots, etc. Not something I’ve seen taught a lot.

  • Walt Figgy said on April 27, 2011

    Yo Zack! I hope to be working with you someday man! Your work is awesome! By the way Newcastle sucks. Sweetwater. MMMMM MMMM good! No but seriously, Im at Gwinnett Tech man. Been hearing alot about here. Youre like a photog legend. Even though i was following you before I got here.

  • JamesMinor said on April 27, 2011

    I’ve seen you have clients clap, rub their hands together like lathering them with soap, and the “thinking about kicking someones ass” chin rub….what are some other things you use to get movement into a pose? (mainly with hands I never know what to do with them)

  • A. Shelton said on April 27, 2011

    Main question: Where the @$#% do I start?? I have the gear, the confidence in myself and my skills, and the drive…but I can’t find the right path to follow. Do I do some free assignments to build a portfolio? I’ve heard emphatic “yes” and “no” answers, both with sound logic to back up their answer. If “no” then how do you convince people you know what you’re doing in the absence of work to view?

    Starting out do you take whatever you can get? I could probably shoot kids and make some decent money. I’ve done it and did pretty well, but that’s not what I want to be doing and I don’t want to build a reputation for that.

    Lastly, up to this point in your career what has been the most influential advice given to you from a peer?

    Thanks for another CL class! Can’t wait to see what you bring to the table!

  • brec said on April 27, 2011

    how to develop goals, a lot of people set their goal like: “shoot advertising”, which would involve a lot of goals that are set before that. it’s a bit like you want to make it to the NBA but first you have to rule at your local team, etc. and not aim for the nba and having no success.

    I think it’s a lot about setting things straight. develop a portfolio is a nice thing to say, but it’s a portfolio for whatever you do at that time with a little aim to what you aspire to do in the future. besides total sales men like joey l not many people have it to develop a portfolio and then immediately work the advertising agencies.

  • Matthew Coughlin said on April 27, 2011

    PRICING. How to build a foundation to generate income from my camera and what to charge. Spectrum of pricing from say senior portraits to a major magazine cover story. How do you determine these prices and why is there a difference? Also, what are the most common causes of failure for people trying to run a photography business.

  • David said on April 27, 2011


    is there any possibility in the future to see you in europe?

  • arttriq said on April 27, 2011

    Master Zack

    If it fits in your scheme can you tell something about making authentic, outstanding and commercial work without falling into the copycat trap. Jeremy C, Joey L, Joe MacN, Chase J, Zack A yo’all inspire us and are big examples of what many want to achieve in photography, the now-a-days masters of photography, but what made you become outstanding above the rest of the industry? Is it experience, practice, examples, vision, struggle, endurance, education, passion, workshops, artistic genes, a cover of a mag, motivation, fairy dust, dvd’s, contacts, photoshop, social media or just being lucky’ish or being on the right place on the right time? It’s easy to copy light setups, buy dvd’s, but if you are copying other photographers that means -to me- that you still suck. In short: how to find a style that is commercial and yet different from the competition.

    I reserved the next weekend for creativeLive.
    Keep up the good work,


  • Collin said on April 27, 2011

    How do you find people who will write a check or swipe a credit card? I do a lot of work for my Church, non-profit groups, and friends. Everyone always complements my work and I believe they genuinely like it. However, I have only landed 2-3 jobs from these efforts. I believe since I do so much work for free, people just expect me to do everything for free. How can I continue these volunteer efforts and actually find clients who will pay?

  • Kyle Gustafson said on April 27, 2011

    Is this just the Photo 101 weekend all over again or will there be more to it? The schedule looks very similar.

  • Peter said on April 27, 2011

    1. Contracts – what are all the basic elements that are included with your photographer/client contracts? Regardless of whether it is for a commercial client or a wedding client.
    2. When shooting high noon with some terrible light, what are your lighting options/strategy?
    Thanks in advance!

  • Jens Richter said on April 27, 2011

    You’re the man Zack!
    I’m glad that I’ve pre-ordered the course right after watching the trailer 😉
    Would be nice to see you in Europe like David asked.

  • Chris Rowe said on April 27, 2011

    “I’ve seen you have clients clap, rub their hands together like lathering them with soap, and the “thinking about kicking someones ass” chin rub….what are some other things you use to get movement into a pose? (mainly with hands I never know what to do with them)”

    I second that – how do you get people to not be so “posed” and stiff.

  • Saer said on April 27, 2011

    Hello Zack,

    First thank you very much for coming back and doing this workshop. Your last session was a tremendous inspiration.

    My question is about “formal education”. What are your thoughts and recommendations for someone who already has a degree but feels that structured training might be the best way to learn some of the basics/in-and-outs of photog? How would you suggest someone approach learning all of the nuances

  • Amy Matthews said on April 27, 2011

    -Surviving in a small town where everyone is used to paying wal-mart prices.
    -Geting Joe Public to understand that you cannot crank people in and out in 30 mins and hand off “sheets” the next day for pennies
    -Do you give up on trying to convert the wal-mart mentality into your client and only focus on those who already like what you do?
    Seriously, how do you keep on keepin’ on in such an environment when you just cannot give up because photography is the only thing you’re happy doing. Thanks a million.

  • ismael G said on April 27, 2011


  • Tiffany Kelly said on April 27, 2011

    Zack, I would love to hear more details about your second beginning in photography. I have heard the general story about how you went out with one light and one camera on the streets of atl and hustled. I am curious how to hustle something up out of nothing. Did you just approach people on the streets or is it more of a metaphor? Looking forward to Friday, I have been so excited about this since they first announced it.

  • Jenny said on April 27, 2011

    Hi Zack,
    I’m really looking forward to the class! I’ve watched all of your critiques. They have helped me see my portfolio in a way I haven’t been able to before. I’ve consistently made changes after each review, and am working up the nerve to send mine in for critique. I have a question about on-line portfolio presentation. Can you identify some guidelines of what to include in your on-line portfolio? I’m assuming it’s important to have a diverse enough body to represent your work/approach. Start off with something very strong…don’t have too many of the same composition shots…stuck there.



  • ashley said on April 27, 2011

    i love your honesty! i am buying the download, and i can’t really afford to buy anything right now. i know it’s gonna be THAT good.
    seriously, when i hear you speak i feel like i’m in church. i mean that in a really good, positive way.

  • ashley said on April 27, 2011

    okay, so i thought of a question.
    so should i consider the economic climate of my very small towm when pricing myself? i know my art is worth more than i’m charging currently. i KNOW i could charge way more if i lived in a different part of the country (for family portraiture). every pro photog i’ve talked to has told me to significantly raise my prices based on the quality of my work. but they don’t live where i live. should that matter? how do i find that balance?

  • Josh Leeker said on April 27, 2011

    Hi Zach,

    First off, really looking forward to your CreativeLive workshop!

    Secondly, I’m curious as to what you would price a print being shown in a gallery. The print in question is 24×36″.


  • Dean McCoy said on April 27, 2011

    I am looking for some creative ways to photograph jewelry. Lighting being the most
    difficult to perfect.

  • Wing Wong said on April 27, 2011

    What’s a good way to transition into the photography business? Working on the camera skills, but it’s hard to figure out where to start on the business side of things. Btw, looking forward to your in-person class this summer!

  • Rick said on April 28, 2011

    I am taking my first steps into the world of portrait photography and will be doing a photo shoot in 3 weeks. During your “know your subject” section, I would like to learn your tips for working with a model, especially for beginning photographers. It would be great to see a 2 or 3 minute mock photo shoot if possible where your interaction is only with your subject. Thanks for your consideration and for your willingness to take part in this event!

  • DKSEA said on April 28, 2011

    As someone above said I am in that gray area of portrait photogrpher with a day job. I moved from the suburbs to a city (Seattle) a couple years ago (20 miles). I had lived in the suburbs ~20 years. So most of my photography gigs are with people that I knew in the suburbs.

    What are some ways to market your photography when your new to the area?

    And for a followup – usually when you hear photographers talk about marketing your photography it turns out they are selling to photographers their road show, templates, programs or books. How do you tell the worthwhile from the hukster?



  • Omar said on April 28, 2011

    Zack, can’t WAIT for you to teach us!! Some things I would love to know:

    1. Gear related: how often (if ever) do you use the custom functions on the camera and, if so, how do you set up your custom functions?

    2. With 4 kids…do you ever go away with the family, leave the gear at home, and travel? Do you turn photography off when you’re with the kids/wife or do you have your SLR at Denny’s.

  • Matt Gibson said on April 28, 2011

    Hi Zack, REALLY looking forward to your CreativeLive class and thanks for taking our questions! Thanks also for leading, teaching and sharing from your experience and knowledge – you are a huge gift and blessing to us in the photography community/industry.


    Here are my initial questions:

    1) could you once and for all demystify what good light is, how to see it, how to use it when photographing people, and what type of light/light situations to avoid?

    2) could you explain how the focal length of different lenses, aperture and distance to the subject relate to the amount of depth of field – if that makes sense?

    3) do you recommend a particular workflow/order for dialing in camera settings when arriving at a shoot and assessing the light – i.e. put in manual, set ISO, set aperture, white balance?,etc?

    4) how do you expose for natural looking skin tones on your subjects?

    5) any thoughts on when to use what metering mode – spot, evaluate,etc?

    6) thoughts on learning and improving composition?

    7) recommendations on setting and increasing prices for a wedding or portrait business for the 1st 3-5 years in business, and how to make a profit and stay in business?

    8) recommendations on how to budget/what to spend money on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year in business including gear, computer, software, training/seminars, accountant, lawyer, marketing and how to determine salary – value of one’s time and work? and what not to spend money on?

    9)what to focus and spend time on during the first weeks, months and years in business, and what not to focus and spend time on? how much time would you recommend allocating to the different parts of the business on an average week?

    10)how and what to study and learn from other photographers without copying their style and spending 20K a year on seminars, workshops and conferences?

    11)what photography, business or other books do you highly recommend that have shaped your life, business and vision? who are your mentors and heroes in life and what lessons have you learned from them?

  • Nicole Prestby said on April 28, 2011

    I have never really been able to figure out what to do about model releases and contracts. Is there a good generic template we could start with or guidelines to build these?

  • Doug Hall said on April 28, 2011

    OOOhhhh long bearded one,

    TFP shoots are very common around here. When should you draw the line and either restrict TFP or not do them?

  • Michael Montalto said on April 28, 2011

    I think the obvious question that everyone wants answered but noone had the guts and/or grit to ask is….

    Where did you get that fantastic green Adidas outfit for your promo video to CreativeLive 2?!?!?!


  • Emma Godfrey said on April 28, 2011

    I can’t wait, I have my timings all planned out (9hrs ahead). My biggest problem at the moment is exposing for natural back lighting and how do you get great hair light outdoors?

  • Linda R said on April 28, 2011

    Hi Zack!

    I would like to hear your thoughts and recommendations for photographers wanting to get into fashion or editorial work- specifically, how to (successfully) approach magazines or designers and actually end up getting paid work out of it etc.

    Thank you!

    Linda : )

  • John Pollard said on April 28, 2011


    Really looking forward to the workshop, bought the first one, learnt a lot and went full frame because of what you said, and dared to believed I may be able to make a business out of photography – thank you.

    In the workshop I would love to see you explain and demo the use of open shade/natural reflectors. I know this is Jasmine Star’s style of shooting, and she briefly covered it in her first workshop, but I still can’t make it work/what to look for. Would appreciate your help!

    Thanks from the UK.

  • Bob K said on April 28, 2011

    When you shoot a band on white seamless, and they Photoshop a brick wall into the background, then they use it on a poster and credit you as the photographer… what is the polite response?

  • Keith N said on April 28, 2011

    What were the 3 biggest mistakes you made in your business?

    What are your greatest challenges currently?

    What do you know now that you wish you knew when your business was beginning to grow?

    Not wanting to be negative, but I learn way more from my/other’s failures than my/other’s successes. Thanks for being real Zach. It’s so refreshing!!

  • Andy said on April 28, 2011

    “and they will be rebroadcasting over night for those of you on other parts of the globe” I love you man!

  • Michele McNickle said on April 28, 2011

    This may be a crazy simple question, but what do you do when your camera sensor is dirty? I suspect that my D300s has this problem because sometimes it suddenly won´t focus on what I am shooting. At first, I thought it was a low light problem, but another photographer told me he thinks my sensor probably needs cleaning. It is frustrating because I never know when this is going to happen, so I always bring my backup camera D200…but still, my goal is to have the D300s up and working perfectly.

  • B Pizzle said on April 28, 2011

    zack attack! man, you are AlWayS on my wavelength man…. I will be glued to my screen this weekend like the rest of the world!

    thanks for keeping it real and down to earth. and for not charging $16,000 like some poser :)

    Rock on,

  • B Pizzle said on April 28, 2011

    Insert really specific and contextless question here.

    Zack attack! Man, you are always right up my wavelength.. I’ll be glued to me screen as much as my weekend will allow. thanks again for doing this … And not charging $16,000 like some poser!

  • jj said on April 28, 2011

    Your work is awesome and inspiring. I am taking off work tomorrow to catch your whole seminar. I cant wait. I have a couple of questions.

    How do you get people to model for you when you are first starting out?
    What did you use for your crossbar for your lightstand/superclamp setup?
    What professional lens should you get first and why (mostly for portraiture)?

  • Edgar said on April 28, 2011

    Don’t make the “Saturday starts of with light. (…) mixing the two” to short

  • Jason said on April 28, 2011

    I would love to see some material on large light setups… as in two or more lights for each of two or more people… lighting groups is always a challenge!

  • Sree said on April 28, 2011

    Hey Zack! You mention $50 portraits and not branding and all that. However, what if you started a business, stopped, realized you needed to rethink, but already have had a few paid customers a higher that $50 – then what do you do? How do you rethink? Reinvent? Reprice? How do you transform?

  • Daniel Gregory said on April 29, 2011

    On more thing, I hope that you leave plenty of time for your conversation with Meghan about the balance of family and work. It seems that the work is more and more with shoots, teaching, blogging, etc. Yet as you say it can consume your life and send you down a dark hole. Hearing from the both of you and how Meghan is able to keep balance in her work as well as how you have been able to and still both achieve harmony with family would be great. And, what signs you see in each other that you are crossing too far in one direction or the other. After all sometimes we avoid work too.

  • chris m said on April 29, 2011

    Zack! Really excited about this weekend!

    How did you make the transition to more editorial shoots? Did you send your portfolio to PA’s and AD’s?

    I am also all about doing things with ZERO debt as thats where we stand right now (w00t!!) and I would like to keep it that way. Do you have any suggestions for keeping your equipment well maintained and current while staying debt free? This is something I seem to struggle with. Thanks Zack and I look forward to this weekend!

  • Vergentino Robles said on April 29, 2011

    We met in OneLight – Miami. Broadening from live events/concert photography to portraiture and other areas.

    Would love to hear more about your take on balancing between job and family. What works for you. What didn’t work. What have you learned in the process.

    Married with two daughters (2-years and 1-month old). The technical I can manage and deal with. If it doesn’t work, try again. If everything falls apart, start from scratch. Can’t really use the same approach with my women. 😉

  • Kevin King said on April 29, 2011

    Thank you for coming back to the wonderful Creative Live team. I would love to learn about how to get clients to buy into why they need my service.

  • Lori said on April 29, 2011

    1.) Do you suggest doing your own edits or sending images to a company who specializes in editing?
    2.) How do you decide on pricing? Packages? Do you add a percentage to printed images ordered?
    3.) Would you ever recommend just charging for the session and giving the client a DVD with original files?

    Looking forward to this weekend! You inspire, encourage, and yes, even tell us the sometimes painful truth. Wouldn’t want it any other way. Thanks, Zack!

  • Chris Rowe said on April 29, 2011

    Hi again Zack.

    As part of my job I teach photography to Sixth Form students (16-18 year olds – whatever that is in the US) Many of them really want to get their own setup but have very little money. I also heard you on a podcast once saying that you would love to do a piece on building your business wihout getting into debt. If you only have £300 (say $500) what would you buy to get started? Or is that unrealistic in which case what is the minimum you’d have to spend?

    Cheers Zack – can’t wait for the class (It’ll be a nice change from Royal Wedding fever over here!)

    Chris Rowe, Essex, UK

  • Christine said on April 29, 2011

    I was the ultimate cliche photographer (a mommy who started with a camera)…but feel like I’ve proved myself worthy over the last 7 years. It’s been a long, nasty road…I’ve stuck with it, learned from mistakes, grown as a photographer, artist, and business owner. I’ve been struggling over the last 2 years on moving into a higher price bracket. I’ve come to the theory that “god forbid I turn a profit”. I am constantly getting sob stories from just about every potential new client.
    I was wondering if this is something you still deal with? Is it inevitable with I either do free/low paid work…or just slowly build a jerk reputation?

  • Jvan said on April 29, 2011

    Hey Zack, with this audience please speak to the new folks that are giving away the farm with every session. They are undermining all the work done over the last 20 years in educating the public about the importance of having prints on the wall. I see all the newbies giving 10 to all the files on disk for anywhere from $50 to $200, that doesn’t even cover expenses for $%&$&%* SAKES! I think they should give it away and wait till they are worth something. Ok off the high horse. I sense a real fear of selling with new folks as well, that is why they all just post a gallery and let the client order what they want, usually not much I bet. Can you help them with that as well? Have a fun weekend!

  • Josh said on April 29, 2011

    Can you please discuss using rear-curtain flash in conjunction with slow shutter speed? It’s a great trick but too many people are doing it wrong.

  • Sara Mac said on April 30, 2011

    Awesome live cast today. You basically condensed my first year at Brooks into one easy discussion. Oh I wish these live sessions were happening 5 years ago :(

  • Mark said on April 30, 2011

    Thanks Zack for your inspiring workshop @Creative Live. I rewatched the 1st day and now I will head out to take some pictures. Greets from Austria! mark

  • Ben Scheurer said on May 1, 2011

    I just saw your retweet (creativelive):

    “Many people asked. So tomorrow we’re offering the same $99 deal on Zack’s workshop from last year.”

    I just wanted to mention that last year’s deal was cheaper >>> only $79. So it’s not “the same deal”.
    I pre-ordered anyway…:)

  • jamesminor said on May 1, 2011

    jvan–looks like he covered your question….but not with the response you wanted.

  • Brandy said on May 2, 2011

    I just wanted to say thank you for the classes this weekend. I really appreciated them. I’m not looking at photography from a business standpoint (right now, anyway); I’m looking at it from the perspective of improving my personal (family photography) and website photography.
    I grew up with self-employed parents, and my husband is self-employed, so I appreciated your advice about the employment aspect of being self-employed. I loved what you said about not getting into debt, and charging for what your bills were! I did that recently; I charged someone for 3 hours of gardening advice based on my electric bill. She paid it without flinching, and I went home with the ability to pay one bill that wasn’t paid before.

    People are often asking me what kind of camera I have. Lots of people told me I had to buy a certain camera, and that I shouldn’t buy the camera that I was buying. Nevertheless, I bought only what I could afford to get, and I’m learning with that–and it’s okay.

    Thank you for a free class that was right in my budget! Loved it!

  • Stan said on May 2, 2011

    I have been watching all weekend and I love it!
    I love the subjects you covered, I love the 5min shoots with you hovering right there to provide intimidation/support. I loved the portfolio review and the stories of your beginnings.

    I’ve been watching all weekend, damn near all night (including 5am this morning when i woke up!)

    I will have to buy this series after I pay for my retouching workshop this month

    Keep up the good work!

  • Jason said on May 2, 2011

    Avery big thank you for the creative light class I really connected to you especially at the end when you brought up your wife and discussed balance! I can relate in that I am a working chef and rarely see my wife and two kids. Balancing your life is tough and there is no magic bullet that applies to all. I wish you all the luck in achieving your goals I am trying to be a photographer and took away a wealth of information thank you! now I wish I had the money to afford your dvd well thats a goal to save for i guess nothing worthwile is free!!! thanks again your truly,jason

  • Collin said on May 2, 2011


    I didn’t get to watch much this weekend. However, I had several good take-aways. I got the $99 deal so I can actually watch it over time. Thanks for your efforts!

  • chrisdavid42 said on May 3, 2011

    Zack – I took your advice on branding and made sure I wasn’t copying anyone. http://peoplephotosdotbiz.squarespace.com/journal/2011/5/2/rebranding.html Prepare yourself for the waves of copycat photographers. Actually I may not even be that funny, but I was inspired and I did have fun. Thanks for another great talk.

  • DanP said on May 3, 2011

    Zack – Thank you to you and your lovely wife for such a wonderful weekend. I really appreciated the open discussion at the end of Sundays session. My wife and I deal with some of the same issues (husband of pretending to be a photographer while wife struggles at home with three kids…). I appreciate your willingness to share your gift, and knowledge, I love your passion and open honesty. I like your pics too…Keep up the great work

  • Gianmarco said on May 3, 2011

    Thanks again for a great weekend, living in Italy, the chances of participating to one of your workshops would have been very slim, let alone two.

  • Rick said on May 3, 2011

    Once again an awesome time watching you on CreativeLive this weekend. As always I learned a lot. One of these days I am going to have to take your workshop when it comes to Indy….

  • Ouddy said on May 3, 2011

    Thanks Zack for a great weekend of education. I’ve learned not only photography but many good ideas of how to manage my works.

  • Ingo said on May 3, 2011

    Zack, thank you for this inspiring 3-days workshop. I felt you were really trying to transfer as much as possible of your experience and knowledge to the audience helping them to find their own style and vision, and this makes you stick out among other colleagues which primarily promote themselves. Please keep on teaching whenever you can arrange it. Greets from Rio/Brazil

  • Alexis said on May 3, 2011

    CreativeLive Feedback:
    Thanks for the depth of the content. Real content is hard to find.
    I already knew my photography sucks, now I know why. It may sound a ridiculous
    takeaway but this is ZE (sorry my frenchness strikes again) most valuable thing
    I learned in a very long time. Actually, it’s huge, I do suck, yes ! but I know
    why, ain’t that awsome ?

    Cheers for that.

  • Gabriel said on May 3, 2011

    This weeckend was an open minded (and my eyes) in order to get the grip in my kickking off bussines, watching you on CreativeLive .
    Very big thanks to Meghan since his thought about the photography bussines , be aside a great professional and in the very center of a family , was very inspiring to my wife too.
    i´m taking my messures on the big struggle inthe photobussines..
    Gracias totales !! sorry for my English.
    Argentinian photographer based in Madrid.-

  • Carl Simpson said on May 4, 2011

    I missed the whole thing… I guess I’ll have to buy it. Or something.

  • Jennifer said on May 6, 2011

    Thank you Zack for coming on creativeLIVE for the 3 day workshop! I tuned in for the 3 days and the bonus roof shooting! I learned a lot and blogged about it here: http://jennifergenevishphotography.blogspot.com/2011/05/creativelive-with-zack-arias.html

    Thanks again,

  • Andy said on May 6, 2011


    Just wanted to join the chorus of thanks for the CreativeLIVE weekend. Hell, even my wife, who isn’t that into this thing, was watching over my shoulder for chunks of it and enjoying it!

    Great class, learned lots, but also really enjoyed being able to check some of the things off the list that I’ve worked on and learned in the last coupla years, thanks (largely) to you, Strobist, Chase, and some solid goya.

    Big love from the other side of the Atlantic. Next time you’re in South Africa…


  • Simon said on May 7, 2011

    Thanks very much for CL again Zack, you’re a great teacher and you really know your stuff! Love to Meg and the bambinos.

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