Image copyright Jordan Bunch. All rights reserved.
Now and then, an image is posted in social media that's simply spectacular. That's when I love to share it through a "Spotlight" post because it deserves to be seen by more photographers.
Jordan Bunch is a LUMIX Ambassador and posted this image from a recent wedding. You could hear him singing his comment, complete with musical notes...when the suns hit your lens like a big pizza pie!
Jordan is an accomplished wedding artist based out of Austin, Texas. As both a photographer and filmmaker, his work sets a high standard for imaging, as well as storytelling. I love his approach in the way he's positioned the importance of capturing those special memories from a wedding. Under "Our Story" for Ladybird Studios is the perfect message for a bride to read:
At the heart of every wedding is a love story worth telling well.
Your story matters. It matters to you, it matters to the ones you love and your future family.
Your story matters to us.
Leave your wedding in the hands of the romantics at Ladybird Studios.
Now, to the image above. First, keep in mind this is a screenshot from a Facebook page. Imagine how stunning the original image must be! It's also SOOC - (Straight Out Of Camera) - printable with no manipulation whatsoever! It was captured with the LUMIX S1R and 70-200 mm lens. You can find out more about these two extraordinary members of the LUMIX family with a click on either thumbnail below.
It's not very often there's a video produced about a lens, but the LUMIX S PRO 70-200mm deserves it. It's worth just over a minute of your time to check it out, and understand the technology that's gone into this remarkable lens!
You'll find more of Jordan's images with a visit to his website - just click on the image above. You'll never be disappointed in the content he shares. And check out the LUMIX Ambassador team. This is one of the most diverse groups in photography, and they're on the road all year long with workshops and presentations at LUMIX dealers and conventions across the country.
Image copyright Ken Hubbard. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
It's been one of those years where I feel like I'm trapped in an old Hollywood movie, and the hands of the clock are spinning out of control! It's December, and since Chamira Young and I started this series, we've introduced you to another artist each month since January. We've learned so much from some of the best imaging "chefs" in the world. As I've written in the past, they're artists, educators, writers, and passionate about their careers and love for the craft.
This month, we're finishing out the year with one of my favorite "Chefs," Ken Hubbard, Field Services Manager for Tamron USA. He's no stranger to SCU, and his work has been featured many times over the last six years.
Ken actually lives in the "Tamron Kitchen", and we're so excited about him joining us that I wanted to share two of his images. I love the fact that he chose black and white photographs. I'm a huge fan of black and white because there's no distraction of color. Don't get me wrong, I've loved all the images we've shared this year, but there's something about the power of Ken's two choices for this post.
Image copyright Ken Hubbard. All rights reserved.
In these two new Recipes, Ken is using Tamron's SP150-600mm Di VC USD G2 with the wild mustangs, and with the portrait of musician, Slim Fatz, he's using the Tamron SP70-200mm Di VC USD G2 lens. The links to both lenses are below and it's a bonus this month to share two BTS videos involved with both images.
With every Tamron Recipes post, I always manage to find a quote that fits our guest "chef." The quote below is Ken, through and through.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life,
and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.
And the only way to do great work is to love what you do!
About "Chef" Ken: Ken is an artist, filmmaker, photographer, educator, manager, and friend to so many of us in the industry. All you need is one minute with him, and you know you've met somebody who loves what he does!
Visit Tamron's booth at any of the major trade shows, and you'll find Ken at the counter - helping photographers raise the bar on their work. He's always approachable and worth waiting for if you caught him in the mad rush of people often in the Tamron booth.
Part II of Ken's recipe series will air next Tuesday. You can be sure we'll get into the backstories about both of these images.
Ken needs to be on your radar - follow everything he's working on and where's he headed through his Facebook page. He's always sharing great content.
Part of the fun of this Tamron series is the artist is sharing the experience. The BTS videos below will give you more insight into Ken's work and the circumstances that put him on the scene with both images. I hope you'll watch both these short videos and enlarge them full screen to really appreciate the story-lines.
Photographing the wild mustangs Ken wrote: Capturing them interacting with each other, running wild as fast as they can and just standing about next to each other was phenomenal...They started to kick up some dirt, rear up on their hind legs and jostle about...All I could do at that point was press the shutter, tell myself don’t stop just keep firing and hope that I didn't run out of media space...No matter how long you have been capturing images, that feeling you get when you nailed the moment is still the same and will always be incredible.
Ken wraps up 2019 as our twelfth guest "chef" in the Tamron kitchen. Join us on the next Tamron Tuesday when Chamira Young and I will be sharing our conversation with "Chef" Ken in another new podcast. You can be sure Ken will be sharing a lot of great insight into his career in photography, and especially the hundreds of phenomenal artists he's worked with over the years and how he's developed his own remarkable skill set.
Tamron never slows down manufacturing some of the finest glass in photography. Their tech team is on the road all year long, helping photographers become great "chefs." There are some outstanding holiday savings at your Tamron retailer. Both lenses are part of a special holiday program going on right now!
Finding your local Tamron Dealer is just a click away.
by Skip Cohen
It's Mirrorless Monday and also the home-stretch of the holiday shopping season. If you're thinking about an incredible camera to add to your gear, the new full-frame LUMIX S1H is it. But my post this morning isn't meant to be a sales pitch on the camera as much as it is to get you to check out the way Panasonic's told the story.
The under three-minute "Sizzle Reel" is just that - all sizzle! It's a composite piece of shorts from four different films, each by a different artist. But the common denominators are their creativity and putting the S1H through the paces! It's worth your time just to be inspired by the quality of the images, each artist's approach to making their short film, and the way Panasonic's told the story.
How would you tell your story?
Panasonic's tagline is "Changing Photography." Well, they've gone well beyond that and are changing imaging. From still images to filmmaking, they never slow down providing more creative tools artists need to capture, and create the ultimate story!
The LUMIX team needs to be on your radar! Follow the LUMIX Ambassadors for great content and a lot of terrific diversity. Each Ambassador has a unique skill set, but the common denominators are their love for the craft and respect for quality and creativity. And whether you currently shoot with LUMIX cameras or not, check out the LUMIX Facebook group. There's always great content being shared by over seven thousand photographers from all over the world!
by Skip Cohen
It's Throwback Thursday, and while a big part of this post is from the SCU archives, it's so relevant to helping many of you raise the bar on the quality of your images, especially with tall grooms and short brides. It's a great lesson in posing and all thanks to Don Blair.
I've written a lot about him over the years, almost always about something I learned during our incredible friendship. "Big Daddy" pretty much became the older brother I never had.
He believed in the "rules" of photography, but he broke them all the time. He was always looking for a different way to take everything he learned and create something new, but he never compromised at the client's expense.
The two images above are a prime example of Don pushing the edge of the creative envelope. (My apologies for the quality of the scans. They're from a copy of the book we wrote together in the '90s.)
What do you do with a tall groom and a short bride?
He was a 6' 4" Algerian boxer, and she was the All-American cheerleader type, at best 5' 1". Just about every photographer at the time would have him hunched over her or put them on some stairs to balance things out. Don sat them down on the floor and created some of my most favorite bridal portraits.
And then, to do a different spin - he sat the groom down and brought the bride in behind him. The bridal portrait becomes so much more pleasing than the usual hunched over groom!
There are no shortcuts to becoming a great photographer. Make it a point to know every aspect of your camera and especially the different focal lengths of your lenses. Stop being a "natural light specialist" and get to know studio lighting. Spend time experimenting with various techniques and learn every rule in photography. Attend every hands-on workshop you can; watch every video, and read every book!
"You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice.
And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail."
Once you've learned the rules and understand them, you've earned the right to push the envelope, break the rules, and be a true artist. Throw away the rule book and like Charlie Parker suggests, just wail! You can break any rule you want, with one exception...NEVER disappoint a client.
Happy Throwback Thursday!
Images copyright Bob Davis. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
I consider myself one of the luckiest guys in the industry, mostly because of the people I've met and worked with over the years. I'm not a tennis player, but we've all heard that your game improves when you play with somebody better than you. That's the way it is with creativity. That's also why taking as many workshops/classes as you can each year will help your skillset. It's not just about learning something new but being exposed to creativity on a different level.
Bob Davis is one of those creative buddies who never sits still and is always pushing the edge of the envelope. Together with his "partner in crime," Dawn, they're always looking for new ways to support their clients and build relationships. If you've never heard them talk about how they build relationships with vendors, listen to this past episode of Mind Your Own Business.
Every photographer is looking for ways to make their work different, especially in the wedding industry. We all know the sequence of events at a wedding, and it's tough to tell the story differently each time. But there are things you can do to make some of your images unique - find a different perspective.
That's one of the things I love about working with the Platypod team - they're giving artists the ability to capture from a different perspective. In turn, that creativity trickles up to the clients and helps create beautiful albums and memory-making images.
Bob sent me the images in this post (click on them to view in the SCU Lightbox) and wrote:
Platypod is the one of the best pieces of grip gear that goes everywhere with me! Sometimes tripods are not allowed in many public places, and when I travel it's much easier to pack this camera support over a tripod. I use remote cameras often and the Platypod is perfect for getting my remotes in position and out of the way.
He takes it everywhere, including while on Safari in Mashatu, Botswana, Africa, last April.
I had a vision of the Tree of Life, beneath the Milky Way and thousands of stars in the heart of darkness in Africa. It's the oldest Baobab trees estimated to be over 6000 years old, and I can only imagine what this ancient tree has witnessed.
Using the Platypod with a small Manfrotto ball head to support Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a EF 16-35mm f2.8 vIII lens, I was able to accomplish my vision. This frame the tree is rim light using the modeling light of Profoto A1.
Check out more of Bob's work with a visit to his website. And, if he's teaching at any conference you're attending in 2020, run don't walk to get a seat! You'll never be disappointed in what he shares. He's an artist who needs to be on your radar!
Interested in finding a different perspective for more of your images? Check out Platypod. There are some great holiday specials going on right now, and more creative tools to expand your skillset from macro to landscape and everything in between! Just click on the banner below.
Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell!
Over the last few years, I've written this at least a dozen times - Your website is about what you sell, but your blog is about what's in your heart. It's the fundamental difference between these two pieces of "real estate," and done right, your website and blog should work together.
The stories you tell start with your about page and talking about why you love being a photographer. For most of you, "Mom" is your target audience, and she doesn't care about what gear you work with, what awards you've won, or how you got started. She wants to know if she can trust you to capture the kinds of images she wants. She wants to see if you love being an artist or you're just in it for the business.
Next up is the importance of the products/services you sell. Your blog can position the importance of capturing memories, while your website can share ideas on how to preserve and present them. For example, a wedding album isn't a book of pictures - it's the first family heirloom of a new family. As my buddy, Denis Reggie, used to say, and I'm paraphrasing a little, "The flowers will die, the food's been eaten, the gown will never be worn again, but the album is priceless and will last forever."
Talk about the importance of prints. Share ideas on displaying images. Consider an idea like Justin and Mary Marantz do when they "Shoot for the silver frame." It's that one spectacular image that becomes the signature memory maker of the wedding. While every artist does their best to capture nothing but great photos, there's always one that's a show-stopper.
And, if you're having trouble getting clients to understand the importance of printed images, Michele Celentano has made it easy for you. She's permitted you to plagiarize her "I Believe" statement. Here's the link to the first time I shared it on the SCU blog.
Ironically, photographers are the world's greatest storytellers, yet when it comes to selling their services, so many do an underwhelming job of telling their own story!
by Skip Cohen
Regardless of what holiday you celebrate in December, there are some great gift ideas this year for the photographer in your life...or just for yourself.
I won't deny for a second the products/services below are all from SCU partners, but they're here because they believe in education, and helping you build a stronger business. So, as somebody who believes in truth in advertising, these companies live up to their reputation for quality and support for the industry. And I've worked with many of them for a considerable part of my career.
So, whether you're stuck for gift ideas or not, here are some of my favorite show-stoppers for this holiday season:
Platypod - The Perfect Gift
While Platypod is relatively new to SCU, it's a product line and company that's grown near and dear to me. They're more than just an SCU partner, I'm personally active in the company helping them with their marketing, but I also love their product line. I'm having fun with it myself. Nothing is going to break the bank when it comes to the cost, and best of all is the new perspective Platypod will add to your creativity.
From an instant macro/closeup setup like we've shared in posts from Shiv Verma, Don Komarechka, and Larry Becker to simply using the Litra Torch 2.0 lights behind my laptop for better lighting on video podcasts and chats, there's been no shortage of creativity. I love the diversity. And, for travel and hiking, the Ultra with the Benro ball head is perfect.
Wander over to the Platypod website and check out the full product line and while supplies last, this year's holiday specials.
PhotoTexting - Helping to Grow Your Business
Senior photography isn't for every artist, but diversity is! Everyone is looking for ways to grow their business, and PhotoTexting recently launched its new Senior Rep Program. They've made it easy to get started and then build brand awareness based on your best marketing tool - relationship building with seniors and their parents.
As a gift idea, it's a classic and another no-brainer. PhotoTexting is standing behind their products with a great promotional getting started offer - the price of a cup of coffee! Plus, there are dozens of videos to take you through each step of the process.
If you're a portrait artist, growing your senior business can be an incredible experience, not to mention pushing your creativity to the max. Gone are the days of boring headshots! A senior session today is about capturing the personality of the subject and establishing the first step in a new relationship. Done right, that senior will be coming back for other events. Seniors become brides and grooms; brides and grooms start families, and the opportunities go on and on.
Marathon Press - From Marketing to Bella Art Prints
As the industry's leader in support for photographers printed needs, Marathon's grown to be the "new sheriff in town" when it comes to stunning print quality and albums with their Bella line. Going back to when I first came into the professional side of the industry, they were best known for all their support in printed business material - from business cards to brochures to direct mail pieces.
TODAY - it's everything from marketing support with the benefits of MAP, to bulk order holiday cards for your clients; family marketing campaigns, stationery, beautiful prints and albums, and the list goes on and on. They're an amazing company. They never slow down helping photographers with the tools they need to grow their business, and at the same time, create products with incredible consumer appeal. Their BOGO program is going on right now on holiday cards for your own use, or as a finished product for your clients.
Click the banner below and start doing a little shopping to help grow your business.
LUMIX - "Changing Photography"
Four years ago, I started shooting mirrorless with Panasonic's LUMIX line. Yes, they're an SCU partner, but remember my background - twelve years as president of Hasselblad USA. While I don't make a living a professional photographer, I know more than I let on. And it takes a lot to impress me. LUMIX totally recharged my love for having a camera in my hands.
But it's not just how easy Panasonic has made expanding my creativity and helping me grow - it's the durability and features built into every camera. It's the low-light ability it gives me to capture tack sharp images and control the variables in every scene.
Don't take my word for it - wander into your LUMIX retailer and check out the line for yourself. Look at everything - I currently shoot with the G9 with the 14-140mm lens and love it. And if you're looking for full-frame, check out the new S series!
Tamron - Expanding the Creative Tools in Your Camera Bag
Over the years, Tamron has grown to become one of the most respected manufacturers in the world in optics and great glass! Over and again, their lenses have won awards, but of greater significance are the outstanding artists who we've featured in SCU blog posts and podcasts. Again and again, we've shared stunning images captured thanks to Tamron products.
Tamron has an outstanding savings program going on right now, and it's a click away to check out. Then, wander into your Tamron retailer for your own test drive! You'll never be disappointed in the quality Tamron's brought to the industry or the diversity of the lens selection you have to choose from.
ClickCon - Expanding Every Artist's Skill Set
Last year ClickCon launched it's first show in Chicago. It was an overwhelming success with one innovative educational idea after another. With a busy trade show and jam-packed educational platform, close to 1500 photographers took part in establishing this incredible boutique conference as a venue to help artists grow their skill set in capture, post-processing, business and marketing.
There's a special early bird registration going on right now. It's a unique gift for the photographer in your life, or again, just a present you need to give yourself. Plus, it's in August and gives you a chance to recharge your battery before the seasonality of the year kicks in.
by Skip Cohen
A few years back, Bryan Caporicci sent me a copy of Scott Stratten's book, Unmarketing with its subtitle,
"Stop marketing and start engaging!"
It's one of my favorite business books, and deserves a place on every business owner's bookshelf. Nothing beats your most powerful tool to build your brand, and succeed in business than relationship building!
If you've had an interest in growing your business into senior photography or your already a veteran in senior portraits and you want to build a stronger presence, it's time to check out PhotoTexting. Prime season to reach seniors is RIGHT now. And, there's little that beats a strong senior rep program because it's about relationship building with both the students and their parents — making it easier than ever is PhotoTexting, with dozens of short videos to take you through each step of the way. Combined with their programs, and customer support, for the price of a cup of coffee you can get started. It's a no-brainer.
Technology keeps changing. How we communicate changes every day. Consumer trends are a nonstop moving target. From cyberspace to mobile technology, your reach as a business owner matches the power that only magazines and newspapers had just a few years ago. But the one consistent component for success in business that's never changed, and is stronger than ever today, is the importance of relationship building.
In the same way, I've talked in past posts about artists today having the most creative tools in the history of photography - you've also got the most marketing tools! It's worth two minutes of your time to watch the video below and then visit PhotoTexting.com and check out all the benefits of their Senior Rep Program.
Think about the new year that's fast approaching. Here's an opportunity to expand and grow with a solid goal to make 2020 your best year in business yet!
Part of the fun of this industry is thanks to talented photographers/educators who are always willing to share their expertise and help us meet the need to expand our skill sets. In this new short video, my buddy Larry Becker put together five minutes of terrific "how-to" content to help you with simple product shots.
The key here is the simplicity of the setup. It's not rocket science, but done right; it can have results far better than what most people get when they need a product shot. We're not talking about the complexity of commercial table top images, just simple product shots we all need from time to time.
So, whether it's for something you're putting up on eBay or a product shot for your website, there's a lot of great content here to consider.
Larry's working with the Platypod Max Macro Bundle, which is part of Platypod's Holiday Specials this season. Just click on the banner to right to visit Platypod. Whether it's for yourself or the photographer you love the holiday season, there are different bundles along with the individual products to meet everyone's needs.
Check out Rick Sammon and Larry's podcast series, Picturing Success, with a click on the banner below. They're always sharing great content to help photographers achieve success in so many different areas of the business.
Images copyright Teal Garcia. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
There's so much great content on the Internet. With 214 videos on their YouTube channel, Tamron is a leader in building good solid content, always shared with a level of quality that matches their product line and commitment to education in photography.
Teal Garcia's in the spotlight today. She's no stranger to SCU and in fact, was featured in the September series of Tamron Recipes. Take the time to listen to her podcast as she shares more insight into her growth and career as a professional photographer.
Posey, posey, smile and say cheese - I don't do a lot of that - so, controlled chaos is what it is!
One of the key ingredients to being a success as a portrait artist is making the session an experience. It's not just about the results - you've got to make it fun for the client. Teal makes it fun, and in the process, she's using her most important marketing tool: building the relationship!
Click on any of Teal's images to visit her website and see more of her work. And enjoy the video below - there's a lot you can learn just watching another artist work!
We're in the peak season for holiday shopping and Tamron's Holiday Instant Savings program is in full swing. Just click on the banner below for information.
Tamron's manufacturing some of the finest glass in photography, but don't take my word for it - visit your local Tamron retailer and check it out for yourself.
Images copyright Shiv Verma. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
One of the most fun aspects of this industry is about the photographs regularly shared by so many of my outrageously creative friends. Shiv Verma is one of those buddies who lives by a standard of always pushing the edge of the envelope and asking, "what if?"
It's the creativity of artists doing things with Platypod that got me involved with Platypod in the first place. There are an estimated 20,000 photographers who have added Platypod to their gear. It's a game-changer, always giving you a different perspective.
Shiv did just that with a ring shot recently. In fact, with these images, he wrote, "Platypod Max and two Litra Torch 2's (you can carry them in your pocket or your bag). Place the lights as appropriate and have a blast - I did."d
Both images were captured with the LUMIX S1R and LUMIX S 24-105 lens. The exposure triad for the ring in the petals of a white rose was F/4.0 @ 1/200 ISO 400. And the ring below was F/11 @ 1/30 ISO 400.
Platypod's Holiday Specials are going on right now! They're so worth the minimal investment to help you change your perspective and capture unique images. Add in the new goosenecks and Litra Torch 2.0 lights, and you've got more ingredients to expand your skillset and let the creative juices flow.
Check out the short video below and hear what several of the industry's most recognized pros had to say about the Platypod Ultra when it was first introduced. Now, you've got two models to choose from, plus more accessories and even the Ultra Travel Bundle, complete with a Benro IN00 Ball Head!
by Skip Cohen
Rick Sammon is no stranger to the SCU spotlight. In fact, you'd have to have been in solitary confinement the last thirty years not to know Rick's work shared in so many other venues. He's an artist, podcaster, author, educator, and essentially the Energizer Rabbit of imaging. He NEVER slows down, especially on his creativity!
Rick's always looking for a different perspective with so many of his images. Anybody can shoot beautiful postcard shots, but Rick looks for a way to capture moments that get us to look his way just a few seconds longer. That's exactly what he did on a recent trip to China and the image to the right.
One of my favorite "Sammonisms," is, "Use your hand-held camera like a drone. In other words, move your camera up and down, tilt it and move it side to side for creative angles. Thanks to Platypod, I was able to follow my own advice while photographing this woman in a rural village in China in September 2019."
Rick's angle is awesome but so is the lighting. Notice the true Rembrandt lighting (triangle of light under the eye on the shadow side of the subject's face) in the close up of the woman.
Learn how to become a better photographer, which is different than taking better pictures - in Rick's 40th book, Photo Therapy Motivation and Wisdom - discovering the power of pictures: Also check out Rick's online classes. Click on either image to see more of Rick's work and check out his workshops, books, blog and podcast while you're there!
Click on any image to enlarge and view in the SCU Lightbox!
Images copyright Gilmar Smith. All rights reserved.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Half the fun of photography is looking at great images, but the other half is the fun of getting to know the artists who create them!
When I started working with Platypod last September, I had no idea what to expect. I knew Platypod products were used by many of my good friends; I'd heard Scott Kelby talk about them on The Grid. My buddy and LUMIX Ambassador, Shiv Verma always has a Platypod Ultra and Max in his camera bag. A good pal and wedding artist, Bob Davis has a signature shot he loves from the floor just before the ceremony starts, and the list goes on and on...but I had never met Gilmar Smith.
As a member of the Platypod team, her primary focus is on social media. She's always sharing images and great content on Instagram, but her love for photography goes so much deeper. She's incredibly talented, not just as an expert in image manipulation, but as a children and family photographer.
I had no idea what to expect when I asked her about doing a guest post for SCU, but she exceeded expectations! Her post below is a perfect example of her passion for the craft, her family, and her clients. She redefines the meaning of the word "FUN."
She sent me at least a dozen images to share. I chose the Platypod image first for obvious reasons, but then pulled a mix of client portraits and her own family. As you think about the work you've captured and created for your clients, ask yourself one question, "Have I exceeded their expectations and made myself habit-forming?"
Gilmar never disappoints and has brought the best of technology into her skillset and combined with it her never-ending quest for creativity and fun. And it brings her clients back, over and over again!
Check out more of Gilmar's work with a visit to her website, and follow her on Instagram and Facebook too.
by Gilmar Smith
Photographing kids is one of the most challenging things ever, but sometimes it is not even kids who make these photoshoots challenging. It's the pressure and expectations of the parents. Everybody has this idea of having a perfect family portrait where everyone looks their best with huge smiles and a perfect pose. That, to be honest, is pretty unrealistic. Every family has different dynamics; every member of the family has a distinct personality, likes, and dislikes. To me, that's the most beautiful thing about families, that regarding our differences, we are meant to be together and love each other unconditionally amid chaos. That is what should be portrayed in family pictures.
If you look at a perfect family portrait on Pinterest, chances are that at least one of the faces of the member of the family was swapped from another picture. Unless you as a photographer, get really lucky and got everybody to give you your best in one shot, including a toddler and a five months old baby! If that's the case, CONGRATULATIONS!
As a parent myself, and photographer, I have witnessed it all, bribing, threating, crying kids, mom losing her marbles, dad uninterested and annoyed. It's a lot! Not to mention the time and money spent on buying new clothes for the Photoshoot. Then people hang those pictures on the wall that pretty much remind them of all the stress they went through. But heck, they are all smiling!
As a photographer, I find all that process ridiculous. I understand we all want to have beautiful memories of our families, but to me, it is extremely important to connect in a positive way to the images we hang in our walls.
That's why I approach my photoshoots differently.
Don't get me wrong; this is not something I came up out of nowhere. It is actually a technique that I developed with my kids, especially my son, and now I use it with my clients.
My son was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism when he was almost four years old. At about that same time I got a camera and started experimenting with photography. Obviously, I wanted to take amazing pictures of my son, but he wasn't interested at all; in fact, he was irritated by me trying to take his picture. So, I started using storytelling as a way to get him interested in getting his picture taken.
We would sketch a story, and then with the use of costumes, props, and the magic of photoshop, we would recreate our story. I noticed that by doing this, he was getting so interested, and he was enjoying being in front of the camera. He was also letting me into his world. Making these images together became our thing. As time passed, he started coming to me with concepts we could photograph, and that completely changed my approach to photography.
By photographing kids the way I do, I'm not only making the process a lot more pleasant and enjoyable for the kids (and the parents), but I'm also giving kids a way to express themselves and use the magic of imagination. And that's the best part of being a child!
This technique also works when photographing the whole family. Think about putting together everybody's personality in just one image!
I offer to create an image that really portraits their life as a family right now, that when they look at it in a few years, they can laugh and really see what everyone was like at that specific moment.
So how do I do it? I quickly explain my approach to my clients and show them a few examples of my work.
Then I go ahead and ask the kid's age, interests, mom and dad's hobbies, and what they do in their free time as a family.
With that information, I come up with different concepts and even create a mood board and sketch something for/with them. If you make sure to incorporate something that reflects the kids' personality in the shoot, such as a prop, toy, something they like to do, you are guaranteed that they will be more than happy to be in front of the camera, and most importantly, they will be willing to do it again!
One of Gilmar's favorite creative tools when it comes to hardware is thanks to Platypod. Check out their current Black Friday promotions, only available while supplies last. Click on any bundle below for more information.
by Skip Cohen
Don Komarechka is no stranger to SCU. We've shared so many of his images in the past, along with podcasts and great "how-to" content.
Last week the industry's favorite mad scientist astonished us again with "Liquid Flow" photography and the video below. I know this is very different from the kind of images most of you capture. However, besides the beauty of each photograph as art, pay attention to the way he tells the story in the video.
As one of photography's leading most creative educators, he's also ALWAYS willing to share the process he's used for the images themselves.
Platypod and the LUMIX GX9 and S1R played key roles in the short film below. And, if this was Hollywood, Don would be walking away with the Oscar for best director, producer, and writer!
Don needs to be on your radar! You'll find him regularly sharing outstanding content on his Instagram page, and his website is jam-packed with more images, podcasts and information about his workshops! Just click the thumbnail below.
As I mentioned above - Don's always willing to share the backstory on his images and each piece of gear used along the way!
by Don Komarechka:
Here's how you do "liquid flow" photography (and video, obviously) using ultraviolet lights and fluorescing inks!
Gear involved all listed below!
First, the lights. I'm using a bunch of stuff here, basically everything I had that I could fit in. That includes:
- 3 Convoy S2+ flashlights: https://www.fluorescents.com/products...
- 1 Convoy C8 'Fyrfly': https://www.engeniousdesigns.com/prod...
- 1 'Jaxman' UV flashlight: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07...
- 2 "Master Ultra365 units from MinerShop (AC-powered): http://www.minershop.com/051718/html/...
The lights are all held together with Platypod Max and Ultra units, with gooseneck arms: https://platypod.com/our-tripods
- added "crab clamps" to hold the lights, readily available from generic vendors on Amazon.
The tank is an 8" cube aquarium from a local supplier, but any glass aquarium would work.
The inks! These are all from a company called "Noodler's". The three used in this video include:
"Blue Ghost": https://www.gouletpens.com/products/n...
"Dragon Catfish Orange": https://www.jetpens.com/Noodler-s-Dra...
Cameras used: Lumix GX9 for wider shot: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc... Lumix S1R for main video/stills shooting: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc... Kit lenses used for both.
The shooting of the stills was simple: maintain a 1/200sec shutter speed, shoot wider than you need to crop in to the areas of interest (and get a greater depth of field from shooting further back), F/13, and whatever ISO is required to make those other two settings work. With the amount of lights I had, that was ISO 1000.
These images survive noise reduction VERY well, so don't be afraid to push to ISO 6400 and beyond if needed!
by Skip Cohen
With every step in the evolution of imaging, there are always artists who hit the panic button. If you look at the last few decades of milestones, we had people upset when color came into the black and white world.
Then, we had photographers and even a few retailers upset when auto-focus lenses replaced manual focus. In the late 80's, I remember Calumet throwing Nikon out when it was announced they'd no longer manufacture manual focus lenses.
Digital came along, and once again, there was this quiet rumbling of discontent. I'm guessing it was the offspring of those artists upset over color, interrupting the black and white world who were most worried. They couldn't help it; it's in their genes.
Over and again, we've had moments when imaging has changed, as technology continues to push the evolution of imaging in other directions. So often, I hear artists upset because anybody can be a photographer today. But, here's the difference - It's not the gear that makes the artist - it's the skillset. "Uncle Harry" may have better equipment than you, but he doesn't have the skillset.
Photographer, artist, videographer, and educator, David Nguyen, made the point last week when he shared the video below all shot on an iPhone 11 Pro Max for a full wedding! He was a guest and wanted to put his iPhone through his own fun test. I'm not suggesting anybody should do this professionally, but David's skillset makes a great point. And as he mentioned, he was a guest at the wedding, not working professionally.
Technology isn't going to slow down for any of us, and "Uncle Harry" or "Debbie Digital" are going to keep getting in the way at weddings. Often they'll have better gear than you. But the difference is your ability to be a storyteller. It's your skill set in understanding lighting, exposure, and composition.
And in talking with David, when I asked for permission to share the video on the SCU blog, he reminded me of another important element that separates the pro from the hobbyist at a wedding..."As professional photographers, we also contribute by directing the portrait sessions, interacting with the people to create moments, and helping the B&G keep track of time." The intensity in relationship comes out of the trust established with the couple early on - usually starting in the engagement session.
Uncle Harry can only create an album - as a professional photographer, you can create the first family heirloom of a brand new family! There's a difference between great images and a great story that captures memories the bride and groom might have missed.
Images copyright Rick Friedman. All rights reserved>
"You gotta have fun. Regardless of how you look at it, we're playing a game.
It's a business, it's our job,
but I don't think you can do well unless you're having fun!"
by Skip Cohen
With each new "chef" who joins us in the Tamron kitchen, I like to go off in search of a quote that seems to fit their style and personality. Rick Friedman is definitely a photographer and educator who believes in fun. You can see it in every class he teaches. Walk by the Tamron booth at a convention or into a Tamron dealer where Rick is doing a demo, and you'll instantly be drawn to a photographer having fun!
While I've known Rick for a lot of years, we never seemed to find quality time to hang out and talk until a couple of years ago. That changed in 2018 at WPPI, and since then, we've worked on several different projects together. When he recently became one of Tamron's newest Ambassadors, it was the perfect time to have him join us in this series.
Rick's best known around the world for his work as a photojournalist for the last 40+ years. In the podcast, he talked about the backstory of getting his first magazine cover on the right.
But, Rick's also an educator, and he's been teaching for the last sixteen years. He's well-respected as one of the leaders in lighting. It's under that umbrella of education that he's had an impact on thousands of photographers.
As we discussed in this new podcast, being a successful photojournalist and educator is about relationship building. It's about establishing trust with the clients as a photographer and the students in any class or demonstration. Even a twenty-minute demo on the floor of a busy trade show requires a level of trust with the attendees!
Click on any of Rick's images below to visit his website. I pulled some of my favorites, but there was so much from which to choose.
"Chef" Rick's recipe is a click away if you missed it last week. And, check out two Tamron lenses that are a critical part of Rick's creative tools, no matter what the subject. Click on either thumbnail for more information.
Rick shared a lot of great insight in this new podcast. He's based in Boston, but the world is his home. As you look through his images, it's obvious wherever his creative eye and camera's needed, that's where he's going to be.
As Rick pointed out in the podcast, he believes in the expression, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Having lived in Boston a significant part of my life, Arthur Fiedler was a very special legend. Rick captured the image below shortly before Fiedler passed away, and all it took was a knock on his door.
The next thing you know, he's sitting in Arthur Fiedler's bedroom, having a conversation with one of the greatest conductors of all time! And what was Fiedler doing when Rick joined him? Reading music!
From photojournalism on the campaign trail to travel to lighting workshops and published editorial images, I'm not sure there isn't anything "Chef" Rick hasn't photographed!
If you haven't visited your local Tamron dealer, it's time to check out the entire family of Tamron lenses. And the Tamron team is on the road nationally all year long.
In just the next few weeks, you'll find the team in Greenfield, WI, Sacramento, CA; Reno, NV; Middleburg Hts, OH; Fort Worth, TX; Canton, OH; Saguaro Natl. Park, AZ; Omaha, NE; Greenville, NC; and Lansdale, PA.
And, if you're headed to PPE in NYC, stop by Tamron's booth. They've got a lot going on, including their Pet Portrait Studio!
Tamron is manufacturing some of the finest glass in photography. You owe it to your clients and yourself to capture images with the very best tools available!
All images copyright Rick Friedman. All rights reserved.
There's so much we take for granted these days, especially in the way we share images. The images above are part of a new ad campaign from Panasonic, which is remarkable. I grabbed a screenshot of eight of the forty-six featured photographs. You'll need to click on any image above to connect to the full ad, but here's what I love the most.
Besides sharing the latest in technology and information about the new full-frame LUMIX S1R, when you click on any photograph you link to a short piece about the artist. From there, you can scroll through more of their work, read a little about them, their experiences, and their love for photography.
I clicked on the black and white wedding image above and the banner below appeared. It was captured and created by my good buddy William Innes. I love his comment about the Lumix 24-105 mm lens, "It is the type of lens that can spend a great amount of the wedding day on your camera."
I hope you'll take the time to scroll through the entire LUMIX piece - all the banners in the Panasonic campaign link to www.makeyourbestshot.com. But there's another reason you should look at this page - it represents some of the very best storytelling. The story is obviously about the LUMIX S1R. But as storytellers, photographers need to pay attention to how everybody delivers their message. How are you going to share ideas for your own story?
Isn't time you found out what all the buzz is about with the new S1R? As I've written so many times before, Panasonic's tagline is "Changing Photography." They're keeping that promise with every product in the LUMIX line. And, they're also changing advertising with an interactive approach introducing us not only to the S1R, but some of the most respected artists in the world!
Click on any thumbnail to link to the campaign. Then, kick back and enjoy the journey with some incredible artists and beautiful images. Each one is a testimonial to LUMIX technology.
What a kick!
by Skip Cohen
Today's post is a little different than the previous weeks - only because the Bubble Trailer Light Tour is at the halfway mark. After teaching at AVC Photo School today, Suzette, Jonny, and Ms. BT are taking a few days off. However, there's a remarkable story to share, and it's all about "Hope." It's not a sappy vague concept, but about reality and a story about a real-life miracle.
Suzette Allen and I have known each other for a lot of years. I initially met her the same way many of you have, as one of the industry's most respected Photoshop instructors. In 2013 she became a LUMIX Ambassador, and that's where the friendship started to blossom. A couple of years later, her husband, Jonny, officially became part of the LUMIX team as well. We taught together at Marathon's MAP Getaway a few years back, and the four of us as two couples being together added another dimension of friendship.
Yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of Suzette experiencing a horrific accident that resulted in a traumatic brain injury. She shared the story on her blog yesterday and I pulled a few paragraphs to share.
Today marks the 30th anniversary of my accident with a bull moose in Alaska. Many people don’t realize that I am a survivor of a brain injury that happened 30 years ago today. I was driving home from a dance class in my car when a legal bull moose was standing in the road and I hit him going probably 55 mph.
When you hit a full size moose with 6 foot antlers with a car, you hit them in the shins and the body comes through the windshield and crushes the entire car. The moose’s body broke out the windshield, cutting up my hands, but the fur hit my face so my face didn’t get any major cuts- it just shattered my entire face with the impact of over 1500 pounds.
...But honestly, as horrible as that sounds, it was all minor in light of the real damage: a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Unfortunately 30 years ago (and in Alaska) not much was known about brain injuries and I was not diagnosed for over two years, while my life spiraled downward in a horrible spin, ending very badly. Not having disability insurance as the wage earner meant we suffered the loss of our two businesses, our home, everything we owned, and sadly, because of my instability and emotional state of a two-year-old (damage to my frontal lobe emotional centers) my husband of 10 years took me home to my parents in California and divorced me. Click to read the entire post on Suzette's blog.
And here's my point - There are so many ways to find inspiration in this industry. So often we're inspired by the skillset and technique of other artists. But, sometimes, there's more inspiration to appreciate when you meet and spend time with them. It's not about what they share, but why!
Over a year ago, Suzette and Jonny had an idea to teach and meet photographers in a unique way. The Internet and online education have changed our lives, but we're so often missing human contact. Meeting somebody face to face, a handshake, a hug, and talking, enriches our lives. The only thing better than capturing moments in a photograph is making memories directly.
Now, halfway through the tour, they're taking time off with friends. We couldn't be more proud to know our house is one of the stops. While there's plenty more time on the road, probably a few meet-ups and a lot of photography along the way, their next major presentation is on October 25 at Arlington Camera in Arlington, TX.
I hope you'll take the time to join them on the back half of the tour. And, take the time to read Suzette's story of hope going back thirty years ago. She's inspirational in her love of the craft, life, and spirituality. And, with Jonny, they've become much more than just LUMIX Ambassadors. They're Ambassadors for hope, inspiration, creativity, and an industry so many of us love dearly.
Suzette also wrote...
So today, I KNOW there is always HOPE and also that persistence is omnipotent. My Why in life is to Inspire and Encourage...The brain is capable of so much more than we realize, if we just believe and persist.
Great programming doesn't happen without strong support. The Bubble Trailer Light Tour is sponsored by some of the finest companies in our imaging. They don't just make great products - they believe in education and helping artists raise the bar on their skillset to thrive, not just survive!
The Bubble Trailer Light Tour needs to be on your radar. Here's the schedule for next two weeks. Occasionally dates and locations are subject to change. The complete itinerary is available with a click on the button below!
This is one of those posts where I feel like Carly Simon should be singing in the background, "Nobody Does It Better!" Because NOBODY teaches like Jay P. Morgan.
In just under six minutes, he hits eleven solid tips to help you become a more effective artist! And, if you're not a filmmaker but a still-photographer, you'll still find Jay P's tips and suggestions helpful to expanding your storytelling skills.
Co-starring with Jay P, actors Sean Ritchie and Savannah Phillips, Platypod had a couple of key roles. Check out Platypod's Instagram page for more ideas on how to change your perspective and bring more creativity to your videos and photographs.
If Jay P's website, The Slanted Lens isn't already on your radar, then you need to take a scroll over there. Check out his YouTube channel too! The archives are packed with helpful how-to content in 484 posted videos.
No matter what the topic, I can promise you Jay P is always sharing ideas that trigger something new to your skillset, you've forgotten or overlooked. Nobody does it better!
by Skip Cohen
Gareth Rockliffe is a good buddy, and he's currently on the road in New England. I caught up to him on a text the other day, and just for the fun of it, he sent me the image above. I love the power in this image and the way Gareth's choice of black and white, composition and technique, pull you into the photograph.
There's another piece of the backstory that's special for me personally. I lived in Boston for many years, and this is captured up north in the Rockport area at Lanes Cove, Cape Ann, MA. I asked Gareth for the "gearbox" and exposure triad, and he sent me the text below:
I love the "old school" comment. Going "old school" is like those favorite recipes we have for so many different things we enjoy, especially in classic cooking! "Old school" always works!
Gareth is no stranger to SCU. Check out his July podcast on "Beyond Technique." He shared a lot of great insight into the spirituality of life and imaging.
And his website is just a click away.
ClickCon 2020 Circle the Dates!!
It's rare that a first year conference has the power that ClickCon brought to the industry this past August.
The dates have been announced for 2020 at the Palmer House in Chicago. August 11-14!
What a kick!
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.