BTS - Lighting Tips in Filmmaking
by Skip Cohen
Every Wednesday I take a scroll through WestcottU and then over to the Westcott YouTube channel. Well, this week on Wednesdays with Westcott, you're going to meet an incredibly talented filmmaker, David Geffin. There's so much you can learn watching a seasoned pro in action.
I also like the way the BTS video below takes you through the process, but then there's more information on the blog post itself. Westcott never does anything halfway, especially in their support of filmmakers and photographers. On any shoot like this, the clock is ticking. Time isn't slowing down, and neither are the production costs - that means having the right gear!
When you click on the shot above, check out the final film at the bottom of the post. It will give you an even better appreciation for David's expertise. And, check out more of David's work with a trip to his website. It's only a click away!
Don't forget - everything you buy from Westcott when you go through the gateway at the right earns 10% of your purchase for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. NILMDTS is one of the industry's most respected nonprofits with thousands of photographers involved. They're helping families through the most difficult pain any parent can experience.
SCU is a Westcott affliate, but we do NOT keep our commission. Instead we'll be cutting a check to NILMDTS at the end of the year.
There are two aspects of this industry I love. First, is working with companies who care about the industry like Westcott. Yes, they're a company who needs to sell products, but there's so much extra they do in support of helping photographers become better at their craft. The content on WestcottU and their support of so many of the best educators in our industry is a prime example. Brandon Heiss says it best in the intro video on YouTube, "Westcott is much more than a lighting company!"
Second is being surrounded by talented friends who have become the leaders in imaging. Bob Davis is one of those artists blazing a trail of creativity for you to follow. He's always sharing new ideas in "how-to" technique as well as business and marketing. He never slows down on pushing the edge of the envelope and helping other artists.
While it's a chaotic period at every wedding, it's also a time when photographers have some of the very best control. It's your opportunity to capture some stunning moments. Plus, there's a level of anticipation in the air, almost demanding you pay attention and not miss the special moments.
Click on the video and play it full screen to fully appreciate Bob's tips, and then click on the "groomal" photograph above to read the complete post, including great suggestions on bridal images. Bob should be on your radar - his website is just a click away!
Don't forget - if you need lighting gear or any of Westcott's great accessories - everything you buy when you enter through the door above to their website earns 10% of what the cost to Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. SCU is a Westcott affiliate, but we do NOT keep the commission, but send it on to one of the most recognized nonprofits in photography.
And, if you need a little inspiration - there's a lot waiting for you with a click on WestcottU below!
by Skip Cohen
It's Wednesdays with Westcott, and Zach Gray is in the spotlight packing some outstanding tips on lighting into a less than two-minute video. I love the way Westcott has developed their educational programs - always relevant, and at the same time, to the point.
Zach's no stranger to SCU. In fact, one of our most-read posts was a few years back, thanks to Zach and Jody. It's not about technique in capture, but your technique in branding and building your reputation. "You Are Not a Second Class Photographer" is worth taking a few minutes to read. The links in the post may no longer be active, but that doesn't make their message any less relevant.
And another thing to help you stay relevant is understanding lighting. We all love natural light, but I know when I meet a photographers who mention they're "natural light specialists," they simply don't understand studio lighting.
Click on the video thumbnail and watch full screen - Zach shares a lot of great "how-to" advice, all in just over a minute. Then, practice the technique he's sharing so you're never in a position of lighting a subject in a tight space and not getting the results you want!
Through the end of this year, remember, whenever you enter Westcott through the gateways below, 10% of your purchase goes to Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, one of the industry's most respected nonprofits. SCU is a Westcott affiliate, but our 10% commission will be going to NILMDTS.
Click on two of Zach's favorite lighting tools above for more information,
and a wide range of lighting accessories to choose from.
There's so much solid content in these short videos on Westcott's YouTube channel. This recent release featuring my buddy Will Cadena is loaded with great tips on getting the most out of shooting on location, but there's something else I appreciated. While it's only three minutes long, notice the way Will's shooting and his interaction with his model, right down to the high-five when they've grabbed the last shot.
Will needs to be on your radar. His website is just a click away but your best opportunity to keep tabs on what he's up to is follow him on Facebook. He's pretty much proof that hyper-active kids grow up and have careers! LOL - seriously, he's all energy and never slows down in his passion for imaging, teaching and supporting other artists.
And, when you're looking for a little inspiration, check out WestcottU. It's jam-packed with great content and plenty of diversity from still photography and lighting to video. Westcott never strays from their goal to help you raise the bar on the quality of your work.
Remember too, everything you purchase when you go through the SCU portal to the Westcott "store," at the top or below, earns 10% for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. SCU is a Westcott affiliate, but we do NOT take our commission. Instead, we're passing it on. They're one of the industry's most respected nonprofits. NILMDTS photographers help so many families through one of the biggest most difficult challenges in life.
There's an incredible amount of helpful content on the WestcottU site. And it's all FREE.
It's "Wednesdays with Westcott," and I found the perfect piece of inspiration and support for a lot of you! Scrolling through, I found a topic that speaks to the help, so many of you need - product lighting. Now, before you roll your eyes, and suggest I don't know what I'm talking about because you don't do product shots and you're not a filmmaker.
Let's use wedding photographers as an example. I love going through the list of specialties to find out what everyone in each of my workshops is doing. When I ask about tabletop work, there are almost no hands that ever go up. Yet, wedding photographers have the toughest of all table-shots to get - the wedding take. And, what if the bride is using her great-grandmother's engraved cake knife and she wants the detail?
Then there are those of you who like to share product shots on your blogs as both still images and video. For example, coming up to this year's holiday season, you want to show a new frame line, albums or presentation boxes from a company like PhotoFlashDrive. (Note, I love their products to completely upgrade your client presentations!) You need to show these products with the same professional look you're working hard to achieve in all your work.
Tips for Capturing Tabletop and Product B-roll
This video was inspired by seeing how some of our favorite content creators have been using Flex LED mats in their production workflows. Whether doing an unboxing or creating a cooking channel, compact Flex light are awesome for creating a professional set even in the tightest of spaces. For this setup, we used a few Flex LED lights along with a variety of modifiers to create multiple lighting setups for a standard tabletop b-roll shoot. But before we got started, there were a few things we needed to prepare…
After we got our environment ready, it was time to begin placing our lights. When shooting tabletop b-roll, there were a few questions we had to keep in mind while setting up.
These things will typically be determined by the products that you’re shooting. If the items are extremely shiny, dark, or reflective, you’ll need to be aware of reflections as well. Shooting with a monitor is extremely helpful in this case, allowing you to see the finer details. Here, we were shooting on an A7III with HLG2 into an Atomos recorder using Kit and Gamma Assist.
For the shot above, we placed a Flex 1x1' Bi-Color mat in a China Cube overhead. This created a very soft key light. We used blocks on each side of the cube to flag the light off of the background and edges of the table, keeping the focus on the products. This light was set at 4500k.
Then, we added an edge light and back light to add some contrast. The back light, a Flex 1x1' RGBW set to a bright blue tone, was softened with a hard diffuser and mounted below the the table with a QR Mount. We placed an egg-crate grid on this light to really direct it onto the wall. This light reflected back onto our products slightly, acting as a subtle edge light.
Don't forget everything you buy, when connecting to any product from an SCU blog post or through the door to Westcott below puts 10% of your purchases in the funding for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. As a Westcott affiliate, SCU keeps no commission but for the rest of this year, directs it to one of the industry's most recognized nonprofits.
Westcott never slows down on their efforts to help photographers raise the bar on their skill set and capture the very best in imaging. And, their YouTube channel is packed with great content plus a never-ending flow of inspiration on the WestcottU site!
by Skip Cohen
It's "Wednesdays with Westcott," and I love the creativity/inspiration shared non-stop on Westcott's YouTube channel and on the WestcottU website. This one I particularly like because it's tied in a DIY level of creativity, and gives you complete control over the results depending on the textures you add to the plexiglass and the way you set up your lights.
Westcott never slows down in their efforts to help you raise the bar on the quality of your images. In this under two-minute video they take you through each step in the process, planting the seed for an infinite number of ways you can change the look of your portraits, starting with a piece of plexiglass. Just click on the banner below to watch the video.
And remember, everything you purchase through the SCU Gateway to Westcott's website helps one of the industry's most respected non-profits, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. SCU is a Westcott affiliate but we do not keep the 10% commission - it's all going to NILMDTS through the end of this year.
So, need lighting gear or accessories? Check out Westcott's extensive product line through the door below!
Need a little inspiration? There's so much available at WestcottU and it's just a click away!
It's "Wednesdays with Westcott," and it's a kick to share this video featuring a long-time friend, Hernan Rodriguez. We met years ago at WPPI. Over the years Hernan's work was shared many times in Rangefinder Magazine, and he's no stranger to SCU with a lot of great videos and posts. As I've written so many times in the past, the best thing about this industry has nothing to do with photography, but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft.
I so appreciate the way Westcott and Hernan have put this short video together, as he takes you through a one, two, and three-light setup. Pay attention to all the tips he shares along the way. There's a lot of good reliable how-to content in this video. I grabbed two screenshots to show in this post, but Hernan takes the time to share what he's doing and why each step of the way.
Looking for more stunning portraiture? Check out Hernan's website!
Hernan is working with Solix lighting - for more information click on either thumbnail below to link to the Westcott website for these products...and remember, 10% of anything you buy from Westcott when going through the SCU gateway supports one of the industry's most respected nonprofits, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.
Regardless of your photographic specialty, Westcott not only manufactures great lighting gear, but they also build inspiration! It's all FREE at WestcottU with a click of your mouse on the banner above. And, don't forget their YouTube channel, also jam-packed with great content to help you become a better artist!
It's not very often I miss a scheduled post, but after teaching at ClickCon the last few days and traveling yesterday, my "hard-drive" memory crashed. So, it's Thursday, and after a great night's sleep, I'm back.
For those of you who missed ClickCon, put it on your schedule for next year. "The Heart of ClickCon" team put together what might be the most electric launch of a new conference in the history of the industry. And, thanks to great companies like Westcott, it was jam-packed with opportunities to grow as an artist, network, and be inspired.
For me, the most fun of any conference is networking, and there was no shortage of incredible talent and passion in both instructors and attendees. One of the photographers who I hadn't met before but have followed for some time was Will Cadena. I shared one of his videos for Westcott previously here at SCU, but watching him work live is something else altogether!
He's all energy, passion, and a kick to watch. He sets the bar pretty high for loving what he does for a living, and that love for the craft is contagious. I watched him for a little while in the Westcott booth. He was surrounded by attendees who simply learned by watching and listening!
This morning in looking through his YouTube channel, I ran across this video from a year ago. It's only a minute, all music, and great images. But, if you pay attention to each portrait he captures with the Ice Light combined with his style and visions for portraiture, you'll learn a lot!
Check out Will's galleries for more inspiration and a look at a body of work that demonstrates an incredible commitment to the craft, his subjects and clients! And, don't forget that when you purchase through the SCU door to Westcott you're helping one of the industry's most respected nonprofits, NILMDTS! SCU's sales commission as an affiliate all goes to the organization.
While I know most of you aren't videographers, I also know the lines are getting thinner and thinner between the specialties in imaging. So often, as photographers, you're in situations where you're expected to be the expert on imaging, regardless of what your core skill set or specialty might be.
Well, it's "Wednesdays with Westcott," and I love the way Caleb Wojcik teaches. The video is only four minutes, but he's going to take you through a mini-workshop on lighting - all while inside a food truck, with minimal room!
I'm reminded of a segment of education in still photography that David Ziser used to teach called "Big Church Little Church," and David talked about understanding your lenses. Shooting with the right lens changed the perspective on the size of the church. Caleb's presentation below takes you through the importance of lighting the right way for video and all while crammed into a tiny space.
Watch this short video, and you'll see how effective he is in controlling only the light he wants to create the final video. Again, while I know most of you aren't filmmakers, you need to step out of your comfort zone. You need to understand and explore how to maximize the quality of everything you shoot.
Save when you bundle! Flex Cine Sets feature the mat of your choice with the Cine Wireless DMX Dimmer or the Cine Dimmer plus AC power. Our Flex Cine mats are so durable that we back them for life. At 1/3" thin, these lightweight mats offer powerful, pristine, and flicker-free lighting for any situation. Each mat is designed with a water-resistant surface that conceals in tight spaces, mounts virtually anywhere, and offers up to a 360-degree beam angle.
Westcott never slows down in their support for the imaging community, in both photography and video training and products. They're helping artists raise the bar on their skill set and quality of their presentations. And, whenever you need a little inspiration to get you through the day, check out WestcottU. Just click on their banner below.
Don't forget - 10% of everything you purchase through the gateway below to Westcott goes to one of the industry's most recognized non-profits, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.
Need new lighting gear or accessories? Check out Westcott's complete product line
by entering their site through the door above!
By Chamira Young
There's nothing like upgrading a lens and seeing how it can revolutionize your work. I recall the first time I decided to do my first lens upgrade years ago, and couldn't believe I hadn't done it sooner! The quality of my work instantly skyrocketed, especially as I tested and became familiar with my new equipment.
Speaking of testing and becoming familiar with new glass, today's post is going to demonstrate how versatile and fun Tamron's SP 15-30mm F/2.8 lens is. A great piece of glass is a powerful asset to any photographer's repertoire, and when it comes to high quality glass, Tamron walks the walk. I decided to embark on a journey to see how flexible this lens could be while still maintaining high-level quality. Spoiler alert: I was not disappointed in the least! From up close portraits to panoramic shots, this lens is great for a variety of situations.
The first thing I used it for was a high school senior portrait session. The setting was a Michigan overcast afternoon with rain threatening at any moment. The lens was sensitive enough to grab sharp photos, and all I needed was a little extra fill light for the shadows falling across my subject's face.
I also decided to try out an up-close portrait of yours truly, as it was time to update my self-portrait. For this shot, I was indoors against a black backdrop, with the shades drawn and just one key light in order to give it a dramatic flair. I used Westcott's Ice Light 2, which was perfect for the challenge and so efficient in a situation like this. After some creative editing in Photoshop, I was quite happy with the result.
Next, I couldn't resist heading down to my favorite local park, hopping on my kick scooter, and grabbing some fun nature shots. I absolutely love the level of both foreground to background sharpness the lens was able to capture.
Finally, I wanted to really push the envelope in terms of how large of an object I could capture, so grabbing a shot of a local freighter crawling by was the logical decision. This behemoth felt like it was practically on top of me, and yet the lens allowed me to capture it in its entirety. As for the bridge behind it, I managed to capture a solid chunk of the structure.
All in all, it was fun getting out in a wide range of situations and seeing what this baby could do! Tamron never compromises on quality, and their SP 15-30mm F/2.8 lens is a great addition to many photographers' arsenals.
By the way, if you're going to be attending ClickCon in Chicago, be sure to visit the Tamron booth August 5-6 and check them out for yourselves!
Intro by Skip Cohen
We all have a moment now and then when the "lightbulb" goes off above our head, and we've got an idea. This is a lot of fun for me to share, because it's from Chamira Young and she had an idea.
Most of you know Chamira from her podcast series on ProPhotographerJourney, and my co-host on Tamron Recipes, along with Mind Your Own Business and Beyond Technique. However, she's also a talented artist, photographer, and tech nerd when it comes to any product or technique that makes her life easier.
As a professional photographer outside Detroit, she's worked with a wide variety of clients from high school seniors to families, moms, and corporate clients. Recently she sat down to play with Westcott's Ice Light 2. She not only discovered a little insight into what her clients feel when they're in front of the camera, but she also had fun.
As I've written before, "fun" is one of those words so often lost in business today. It disappears under the stress of running a business. And, especially for artists who are chasing deadlines and the challenge to be more creative with their images.
Well, she showed me the final self-portrait, and I talked her into a guest post, which I hope is the first of many about her photography.
by Chamira Young
Truth be told, I’ve been drooling over the chance to use Westcott’s Ice Light for a while. The longer I work as a portrait photographer, the more I’ve come to value portable, lightweight equipment. And with the recent news that my amazing assistant has decided to move out of state, I’ve had to haul everything around myself, which has led me to appreciate the need to be as efficient as possible.
So when I was offered the chance to try the Ice Light 2, I jumped at the opportunity. In no time it’s quickly become a favorite key light for my corporate headshot clients. It’s also served as great fill light for the occasional outdoor senior high school portrait on cloudy days. However, I wanted the chance to use the Ice Light 2 in a more dramatic project. Hence, today’s self-portrait.
The Dramatic Self-Portrait
Self-portraits can be tricky. Having grown accustomed to being the one behind the lens, I found it a bit intimidating to break out my camera’s remote control and start snapping the shutter at myself. Immediate insecurities arose; ironically, the same insecurities that I’m constantly reassuring my clients about. Should I smile? Should I not smile? How’s my hair? Will my skin show my age?
Nevertheless, after setting up my tripod, camera, portable 5x7 black backdrop, and chair, I plopped down in the hot seat and flipped on the Ice Light 2.
The thing is like a powerful light saber. In fact, one of my teenage clients (who turned out to be an avid Star Wars fan) nearly refused to give it back when I let him hold it during a recent photo session.
Operation is easy: just turn it on! It has ten levels of brightness, so after some testing, I settled on a stetting of 6 and held it out slightly to the side, just outside of frame.
As I listened to my favorite tunes, a few practice shots quickly turned into an impromptu full session. As you'll see in the image, I didn't even bother to take my headphones off. Instead of having to reposition hefty softboxes, all I had to do was literally change the position of the Ice Light in my hand and adjust the output of the light if needed.
It took all of 30 minutes to get a series of shots to choose from. After making some basic edits in Lightroom, I took my favorite portrait over to Photoshop.
After hand-painting some streaks of color and adding in a bit of gritty texture, I was quite happy with the final result shown in the first image.
The Ice Light 2 has essentially changed the way I work, and for the better. It’s fun and it’s easy!
by Skip Cohen
Even if you've followed me for just a short time, it should be obvious I'm a huge fan of education, especially when it helps artists raise the bar on the quality of their images. It's also one of the reasons why I love writing/sharing "Wednesdays with Westcott" because the WestcottU site is jam-packed with educational content.
Check out the way they've tied together educational support with their top five creative tools for wedding photographers. Each one links to a well-respected photographer and often an article on how they've used the product to capture some spectacular images.
With just one article on the WestcottU site, you've got the work of five different respected photographers and educators. Each one shares how they're using the specific product to capture stunning images, and all in the wedding category.
Photographing a wedding is one of the most challenging specialties. As an artist, you have minimal control over the location, your subjects, and most often the quality of light. Westcott never slows down in their efforts to manufacture the tools you need to control light and create images that exceed client expectations.
Click on any five of the images in today's post to link to the specific product used to help create the photograph. And remember - purchase through the link on any image, and 10% of your purchase goes to one of the industry's most recognized non-profits, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. As a Westcott affiliate, we're giving up our commission to this wonderful non-profit through the end of this year.
For other outstanding lighting products that link to fund-raising, visit Westcott through the door at the bottom of this post! We're sending our commission to NILMDTS on anythiing you purchase from Westcott.
It's "Wednesdays with Westcott," and this recently shared under three-minute video is chocked full of great information. It's one of the best "how-to" videos I've seen. It's a great video with tips on studio lighting for filmmaking all along the way: filmmaker, Caleb Wojcik shares so much great information. He does a terrific job of explaining each component in the setup.
So many of you don't think of yourselves as filmmakers. However, the reality is business is continually changing, and along with it, your skillset needs to adapt to the needs of your clients. Plus, understanding lighting, no matter what your specialty, is going to make you a stronger artist.
Westcott is continually expanding and sharing content to help you raise the bar on your skillset and business. There are almost 400 videos on their YouTube channel, and WestcottU is packed with more new inspiration practically every day.
Remember, when you enter the Westcott site through the SCU gateway, 10% of everything you spend goes to NowILayMeDownToSleep. SCU is a Westcott affiliate, but we're not taking the commission and instead, writing a check to NILMDTS!
Click on any banner below and take a scroll through some of the finest lighting tools in imaging!
Creating Moody Portrait Lighting
"...that's what we're looking for in a moody photograph - highlights and shadows,
that's how we sculpt the body."
It's Wednesdays with Westcott, and once again Jen Rozenbaum knocks it out of the park! There's so much you can learn watching a photographer/educator like Jen in action.
The quality of the content she packs into this short video isn't just about the tips she shares to help you create mood in a portrait. All along the way, she's helping you understand how to direct the subject and look for the right angle to capture the most powerful image.
And, thanks to help from the team at Westcott, you're getting a solid course in one aspect of portrait lighting jam-packed into seven minutes! So, imagine how much you'll learn in a LIVE workshop environment with Jen!
Check out ClickCon coming up next month in Chicago. Jen's part of the lineup of outstanding instructors and Westcott will be there as well. Use "ccskip" in the discount box for registration and save $50!
Don't forget - 10% of everything you purchase from Westcott when you enter their site through the "door" to the left goes to Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, one of the industry's most recognized nonprofit organizations.
Click on any product above for more information!
Westcott U never slows down in sharing great content and "how-to" support to help you raise the bar on the quality of your images! Inspiration is just a click away.
It's "Wednesdays with Westcott," and Jerry Ghionis is back with two short videos jam-packed with great how-to content. If you've met Jerry or attended one of his workshops then you know, just like Westcott, he NEVER does anything halfway!
He's working with the Ice Light 2, which working together with Westcott, he designed. It's a remarkable addition to your gear and also one of the most creative lighting tools you can add to your skill set! These two videos are part of a series Jerry and Westcott created three years ago, but there's nothing dated about the tips Jerry shares to help you become a better artist and make your work stand out.
Timing is everything because on July 1, Westcott launched a special limited time promotion of a set of barn doors FREE with the purchase of an Ice Light 2! Click on the thumbnail to the right. And remember, 10% of everything you buy from Westcott when going through the SCU gateway goes to one of the industry's most recognized nonprofits, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.
If you think Jerry shares a lot in a short video, think about what he's like when teaching a class! He's the opening keynote speaker at the upcoming ClickCon conference. A lot of photographers have described the speaker list for ClickCon as the most impressive list of educators in professional photography, but don't take my word for it. Click on the banner below and see for yourself.
"I'm going to show you what I do in order to save time in post-production."
by Skip Cohen
One primary ingredient in being a success as a wedding photographer is all about being a great storyteller. The wedding album isn't just a collection of beautiful photographs but the story of the couple, their wedding day and capturing the details, especially in the bridal gown. Remember, a well-done wedding album is the first family heirloom of a brand new family! (You should be able to hear angels blowing trumpets at this point! LOL)
It's "Wednesdays with Westcott," and this new video featuring Will Cadena is loaded with wisdom! His quote above says it all - if your images are clean right out of the can it's going to save you time. Time is your most valuable commodity and rather than sitting at your computer cleaning images up in post-production, if you do things right from the beginning, you're going to have more time to market yourself!
One of the things I love most about this video is Will and Westcott's, additive approach to lighting. After you watch the video check out the article, which will take you through each ingredient being added to create the final portrait above.
"If you want to make money, do it in the camera!"
That's Will's other quote that hit me hard. So many of you think you're saving time with a fix-it-in-post attitude when the reality is your wasting time. So, take three minutes now and check out Will's tips on capturing the details in the wedding dress!
Interested in raising the bar on your skill set? Will's teaching at ClickCon in Chicago in August. It's going to be an event that for many of you could be life-changing. If Will can pack this much information into just a short film, imagine how much he can pack into his classes?
For more information on what's destined to become the best new boutique photography conference of the year, click on the banner below. And if you're joining us register through the link below and use "ccskip" to save $50 off your registration.
Westcott never slows down on sharing great content to help you raise the bar on your skill set. And, they manufacture/distribute some of the finest lighting equipment in professional photography.
Check out their YouTube channel for 375 videos covering virtually every aspect of lighting, and WestcottU is always loaded with great inspiration.
For the rest of 2019, when you purchase anything from Westcott through the "door" below or through the link on the Rapid Box Switch to the right, 10% of your purchase price goes to one of the industry's most recognized nonprofits, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.
Thanks for helping SCU give back and I'm looking forward to catching up to many of you in Chicago. What a kick!
A week ago I announced a very special promotion in support of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, and teaming up with Westcott. SCU is a Westcott affiliate, which means 10% of whatever you buy from Westcott when you go through the SCU gateway is our sales commission. But we're NOT going to take it.
With everything you buy, when you click on a specific product in a blog post or when you go through the door above, 10% of what you spend, for the rest of 2019, is going to one of the industry's best-known nonprofits, NILMDTS. I've been a NILMDTS Ambassador for many years and couldn't be more proud of the help their photographers have provided families having to deal with the worst kind of pain - the loss of a baby.
One of the most read SCU guest posts about NILMDTS was published in 2013, only a few months after SCU launched. I wanted to bring it back today because it gives such a strong perspective on the gift these photographers provide each family.
In response to Aurora Daley Olmstead's guest post about photographing baby Dora, the mother of the child responded directly as a comment. I'm not sure there's any higher honor than for a photographer to hear back from the client directly, especially when it's the mother of a child who's died!
Westcott is manufacturing some of the finest and most diverse lighting gear in professional photography. And, if you're headed to Chicago for ClickCon in August, swing by the Westcott booth and meet some of the crew. They're always looking for ways to help you through the challenges of capturing stunning images...and now we're adding support for NILMDTS to the focus!
The Real Definition of the Ultimate Image
by Skip Cohen
When I asked Aurora Daley Olmstead if she'd do a guest post about her experiences with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep several years ago, I had no idea the significance of my request. Typical of most photographers, Aurora got busy, and it was at least three weeks before she was able to find the time to send me something. Even when I first read her guest post, while it obviously touched me, I still failed to recognize the true impact. But read what the baby's mother posted as a comment to Aurora's blog just a day or so later:
When I asked Aurora Daley Olmstead if she'd do a guest post about her experiences with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep several years ago, I had no idea the significance of my request. Typical of most photographers, Aurora got busy, and it was at least three weeks before she was able to find the time to send me something. Even when I first read her guest post, while it obviously touched me, I still failed to recognize the real impact. But read what the baby's mother posted as a comment to Aurora's blog just a day or so later:
Thank you so very much for the beautiful blog. My tears are pouring reading it and reliving the most precious moments in our lives! I also want to take a moment to thank all the photographers from the NILMDTS who volunteer their time to help families like ours walking through the darkest moments of their lives.
I also want to let you know how much we cherish the pictures you took. I carry Dora's picture in my wallet everyday. It reminds me not only of her beautiful face, but all the wonderful people she brought to us, including her aunt Aurora. I know my little girl is just as happy as we are now to see her little brother grow everyday, and to see more people like you bringing light to other people's lives.
Love and kisses to your little princesses!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
The ability of the baby's mother to open her heart and publicly comment on the meaning of Aurora's work and NILMDTS as an organization represents the rarest of feedback and affirmation of what everyone hopes to accomplish as a photographer. There could be no greater "thank you" than to receive a comment like this from a subject, a client who has now become part of Aurora's life as a professional photographer.
I've said it at the end of virtually every workshop, class or program where I've ever spoken and in dozens of blog posts. "Except for modern medicine, no career field has given society more than professional photography! "
Everyone dreams about capturing the ultimate image - that one shot nobody else could get that becomes your signature. Sometimes the ultimate image is a moment in time when you're given an opportunity to use your skill set or as Weihau put it... "help families like ours walking through the darkest moments of their lives."
Aurora said it best in one of her comments on the blog, "...my life and my heart are fuller for having given what I can to these families - it always fills my heart to know I've been able to help them even in some small way!"
I'm not sure I've ever shared a post as loaded with content as this one today. And, while I know blog posts are supposed to be short, and singular in topic, it's tough to do when there's a lot of good stuff to talk about.
Giving Back Campaign With NILMDTS
If you've followed me over the years then you already know I'm a big fan of finding ways we can use photography to give back. For me, in terms of the industry, it started with selling Ansel Adams Cadillac to raise money for Photographer + Friends United Against AIDS in the early 90's and later Ansel's camera gear to shock jock Don Imus for $100,000 with the proceeds going to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the Center for Creative Photography.
Over the years there's been a growing list of non-profits we've talked about here at SCU, including my involvement with the Senior Friendship Centers in Sarasota who are responsible for providing health care to thousands in the community along with over 250,000 meals each year to the elderly...and the list goes on and on.
For the last few years, I've been honored to be an Ambassador for a very special non-profit, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. NILMDTS has a pretty remarkable team of dedicated photographers and staff focused on helping families deal with the loss of a child. We've shared a lot of great posts thanks to members of the NILMDTS team.
And, here's where the fun of a blog like this comes into play.
Teaming Up With Westcott
SCU is a Westcott Affiliate. That means for every piece of gear you buy through the SCU/Westcott portal; we would normally get a 10% affiliate credit (commission). Effective immediately and at the very least through the rest of 2019, ALL of that commission is going to NILMDTS. Looking for great lighting gear? Here's an excellent and easy way for all of us to help the NILMDTS community and at the same time, raise the bar on the quality of your images!
Great Expressions? Yeah, we've got that!
I can't think of a better way to launch our new giving back campaign than with Peter Hurley's latest video and a great list of gear he's helped design working together with Team Westcott!
I do hundreds of website reviews each year, and when it comes to looking at galleries, there's an immediate quality in the images that tell a lot about each artist - the expressions on their subjects. Natural expressions are a sign of exceptional quality in an artist - the ability to build trust. And, when you're doing a headshot, your time to build trust is often so limited.
In the words of Carly Simon's old hit, when it comes to Peter Hurley, "Nobody does it better!" The video below is jam-packed with great content and includes Peter's set up for this particular sitting. He shares a lot of great insight. But think about it, his advice is perfect for all kinds of people photography, including weddings! So, don't think just because you're a wedding photographer, for example, you won't learn a few new tricks to bring out the very best expressions with your bridals and "groomals."
And, when you purchase any of Peter's gear through the SCU portals, 10% of everything you buy goes back to helping NILMDTS!
All of you are looking for ways to make your work stand out from the competition. It takes more than just great marketing - you've got to be able to walk the talk. There's no better way than making sure every image in your galleries is a "wow" print - in other words, they're so good you'd only have to show one to get hired.
Images copyright Peter Hurley. All rights reserved.
I love the way Peter brings out the best in his subject, Kerstin. He shares a whole series of images of her in the video, but listen to his comments, especially when he finds out her father is in the studio. And, all along the way, he's giving us great tips on how to make it all happen.
But maybe most important of all, Peter and his clients are have fun in the process. Remember, "fun?" It's a word so often lost in business today and buried underneath the day in day out stress of decision making. However, being fun to work with and capturing images that exceed client expectations are two of the very best building blocks for your reputation and brand awareness.
Check out Peter's primary gear from this video with a click on any of the products below. And, if you make a purchase through the SCU portals below 10% goes to NILMDTS.
Peter Hurley is one of the finest and most recognized educators in professional photography. Check out why by attending the newest boutique conference in photography, ClickCon. It's all happening in August in Chicago - use "ccskip" in the discount box and save $50.
It's "Wednesday's with Westcott," and with ClickCon coming up in less than two months I thought it would be fun to share four classic short how-to videos** from Westcott's Top Pros who are also teaching at the Chicago event. Each video is thanks to Westcott and one of the photographers above. Each one is short, but packed with great content.
These are just four of the ClickCon speakers who have videos on Westcott's YouTube channel. You can add Lindsay Adler, Clay Blackmore, and Will Cadena, Westcott's Top Pros who are also teaching at ClickCon.
There are over fifty of the most recognized educators in photography today, and they're all going to be at ClickCon, and supported by many of the finest companies in photography who believe in education. Westcott never slows down in helping photographers raise the bar on their skill set and the quality of the images they deliver to their clients. And, Westcott will be exhibiting at ClickCon, giving you a chance to meet more of their team and check out great lighting gear!
Use "ccskip" to save $50 on registration and register through my affiliate portal. Plus, I'm sharing my registration commission with each of you together with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. The affiliate commission is 10% of whatever you pay for registration - so half will go to you in cash right at the conference and the other half to NILMDTS. Just click on the banner to the right for more information.
Meanwhile, enjoy the four videos I pulled from Westcott's extensive YouTube library. And, if you're looking for a little inspiration...check out WestcottU with a click on the banner below.
Lighting isn't complicated when you understand the process - with Jen Rozenbaum
Peter Hurley's new H2Pro bags
Part 4 of Jerry Ghionis' Ice Light Master Series
Creating Cross Lighting with Joel Grimes
** Now if only I can figure out why Weebly and YouTube cut a 1/4 inch piece of the video off when posting! LOL
Images copyright Joel Grimes. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
It's "Wednesdays with Westcott," and I love how much content Joel Grimes packs into this video. He's creating two completely different portraits, each with substantial drama, and along the way sharing each step in his lighting to create the final image.
Here's a thought - if Joel can pack this much helpful "how-to" information into one video, what will his classes be like at the upcoming ClickCon show in Chicago in August? If you haven't checked out the faculty at this new conference wander over to the website. There are 50+ outstanding instructors to choose from over the 2-3 day event.
And, not only will Joel be teaching there, but several of Westcott's Top Pros - Jen Rozenbaum, Jerry Ghionis, Clay Blackmore, Peter Hurley, Lindsay Adler, and Will Cadena are all involved. And, the team from Westcott will also be in attendance on the trade show floor. Use "ccskip" to save $50, and we're also sharing our ClickCon affiliate commission with each attendee, and Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. Click for more info.
Joel never compromises on the quality of an image, and he takes you through each step as he adjusts his lighting and exposure to bring the most drama to the finished portrait. And, just like Joel, Westcott never slows down on building relationships with their audience. They believe in education and helping you raise the bar on the quality of your photographs and videos.
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.