Over the last several years, I’ve been fortunate enough to grow an audience wider than I’d ever thought possible. From the days of taking photos of whatever was in front of me, to speaking at the Phase One Stand Out Photographic Forums this October in LA and San Francisco, it’s been, to the say the least, quite an adventure. All that would not be possible, however, if it wasn’t for the Google and, more importantly, a core group of photographers who, at one point or another, shared with me the answers to questions that had been burning so bright in my mind, that I literally couldn’t sleep until I’d found a satisfactory answer.
Articles written by John Schell
If you’ve been following along, you may remember that back in July, I packed up my apartment, loaded up my car, and set off on a month-long cross country tour of the southern United States with my girlfriend Holly and my dog, Olive. Along the way we met and hung out with some incredible people, had the opportunity to take great photos, ate at some great local places and most importantly, got to experience first hand the freedom of the open road.
Let’s face it. From the first moment we decide to pick up a camera, call ourselves a photographer, and try to make some money at what we do, we are constantly trying to find ways to stand out from the billion or so other photographers in our our who are trying to do that exact same thing.
It’s August. And if you’re anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, you’re warm - hot even. So why not sit back and relive the good old days, back when our cameras were new, the exposure triangle was confusing, and the idea that photography could be something that could to take us to the ends of the earth and make us a lot of money in the process was still a far off dream.
In addition to lifestyle, I have an affinity for shooting natural light portraits/beauty/headshots - whatever you want to call them. It's not something I shoot often, but when I do, I'm reminded of how much I love it. In fact, you may recall a few months ago, I wrote an article detailing my ideal natural light setup for the black and white portrait / headshot photos that I occasionally shoot. In the article,
When I was in High School, I took, among other things, an introduction drawing and painting class. At the beginning of the year, our teacher, Mrs. Yantz directed us to draw a landscape using either crayon, charcoal, pen or pencil. At the end of the session, she told us, excitedly, that we were going to tape our finished pieces to the chalkboard and our classmates would critique our work.
New Orleans, Louisiana. If you’ve been following along, you may remember me mentioning at some point that starting around the beginning of July, my girlfriend Holly, our dog Olive, and I, will be giving up our apartment, putting almost everything we own into storage, and hitting the open road for at least two to six months.
If you’re like me, you believe that within every photo there are a multitude of layers that exist. Whether it’s the eyes of our model, the body language of the engaged couple, or the overwhelming joy and love we see expressed in the smile of a groom seeing his bride for the first time, each photo we take, each photo we see,
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of testing out the Phase One IQ250, and so I thought I would put together a practical write up of my time spent the Phase One IQ250 Camera System, the Capture One software, and whether or not either one has found a permanent place in my workflow.
A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a new friend via Facebook and he asked me to describe my most creative period of time and, if I could talk about what led to those circumstances. “Easy,” I said. “That moment is now - it’s right this minute.” I went on to describe how I’ve never been happier nor more focused on what I’m doing, how my work is being well-received, etc. But, later, when I thought about it, I realized that I was wrong (sort of).
A number of years ago, I read on a photography/marketing blog that there are reasons why we, as photographers, should think about working for free. As I was just then beginning my journey with my brand-new DSLR, I took the information with a grain of salt and imagined a day where getting paid to do what I love wasn’t some far-off pipe dream,
It was something I’d been thinking about for a while. Casually admiring others and how they went about it so naturally. Watching from afar, admiring the differences between them and me and wondering if there every was going to be a day when I was comfortable enough to do it myself. The more I watched, the more interested I became. Soon, I began visiting websites, looking at the photos and day dreaming what it would be like when I had the nerve to do it myself.
In photography - and in anything else, really - it seems as though when we first discover something new, whether it be a new camera, a new technique, and/or a new system of doing things, it’s fairly natural I think to want to use it all the time. When I first “discovered” photography, I immediately gravitated toward those photographers like Emily Soto, Zach Arias, Joey L, and Syl Arena.
One of the most trying experiences I've had since becoming a photographer has been coming to terms with the fact that there are places in our county where, quite simply, we are not allowed to take photos. Now, I’m not talking about setting up hundred-person movie sets complete with production vans and craft services tables, nor do I mean shooting on private property, sacred land, and/or Area 51-type secret military bases...
When each of us picks up our camera, whether it be for the first time or the ten-thousandth time, our finished work is a product of everything which has inspired us. Everything we've seen, everything we've done, everything we've learned and grown from can be seen in our work in at least some small part. That's why, I believe, it's important to not only look back at our work on a regular basis with an eye critical to how technically proficient we've become, but to look back at our work from an influence-based standpoint to see how much of ourselves we can find into our work.
About four years ago - or about a month or so after I picked up a camera and decided I was a photographer - I thought it would be in my best interest to start up a Facebook Fan Page (as they were called back then). I assumed that because a few friends were liking the random collection of photos that I was posting to my personal Facebook page, strangers - and eventually clients - would find my Fan Page, like it, and then money and fame would come rolling in.
Although it would seem like common sense, proper motivation is key toward not only getting things done, but getting things done well. This is true in any creative field and this is especially true, it seems, in the over-saturated everybody-with-a-camera-is-a-photographer world we live in.
When it comes to putting together a photo shoot, if there is anything that I’ve learned (and continue to learn), is that the time spent working out the smallest details will save you from at best a tremendous amount of work after the fact, and at worst, the horror of having to scrap the shoot entirely. That’s why when you’re putting together a photo shoot, no detail should be overlooked, least of all the talent that you choose to work with.
As a working photographer, my gear is obviously very important to me. My most-used lenses, Canon’s 35L and 50L, are both long time favorites and are glued to my camera almost 24/7. For many reasons, I’ve been a fan of Canon’s prime lenses for a number of years, taking both the good, the bad, and the price tag that they each have to offer. When something new like the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 comes up I, like most of us, give it a quick once-over and then head back to the comfort of our expensive name brand gear.