What’s the best photo tip you’ve ever received?
Hi! My name is Steve Brazill, and I’m a Southern California-based music photographer, and host of the Behind the Shot podcast. I want to start by thanking Scott for reintroducing me. I read this blog regularly, so it’s really an honor. Thanks also to Brad Moore for all you do.
Last time I was here I talked about “The Joy of Live Music Photography” and the first time I talked about “Five Lessons Learned from Hosting the Behind The Shot Podcast”. Today I want to talk about the photo community and how we support each other.
If you’re like me, you have a lot of questions about photography. Thinking back to the years I’ve done this, I find it interesting that this happened the whole time I was in photography. Even when I was just starting out, knowing less than I do now, people would ask me questions – often questions that were beyond my skills. If I didn’t know the answer, I usually tried to do a little research to help them find an answer.
Well, fast forward to today and I still get questions, only now I get them more often, and on everything from photography to licensing, copyright, printing, what to charge, podcasting and networking ( as in real networks, my background is in IT). To be clear, a lot of this is still beyond my level, but people ask anyway, and I try to answer, time permitting.
In my case, part of that stems from hosting the Behind the Shot podcast. Every episode I have an incredible guest photographer and we break down one of their images. Occasionally I do a special, but for almost six years that’s been the basic formula, and it makes it seem like I know more than I actually know. But every photographer I talk to also seems to have a lot of questions, and every one of them, in my experience, takes the time, if possible, to help. The creative community simply feels unique.
In fact, we’ve all been on both sides of this equation at some point. Whether asking questions about equipment, technique or business or answering them for someone else. Reviewing a friend’s website, critiquing their pictures, or helping them figure out how much to quote for a gig are just a few of the ways we, as a community, help each other. It’s part of what makes me feel close to other photographers, many of whom I’ve never met in person.
Good, honest advice is invaluable in any field of endeavor, and I’m sure it happens in many industries, but in the creative world, it can be the difference between getting a gig or not.
This got me thinking… what if I could ask a few photographers a question:
“What’s the best photography advice you’ve ever been given?” »
By “some photographers”, I mean a wide group: from professionals to amateurs, and familiar names to people you don’t (yet) know.
I had this idea a while ago, but the idea of sending cold emails, many of which are only known through Twitter or Instagram, or because they’ve been invited to my show, m was uncomfortable. That changed a few weeks ago. Someone I don’t know messaged me through Facebook asking how they got into concert photography. To be honest, I’m shocked to even see the post. I gave up Facebook for personal use a long time ago. Other than posting show releases, I’m never around. Luckily I saw it, and I really hope my answers helped them. About a week before that, a friend texted me asking for help with a quote. These two messages pushed me to try to make a program based on this question.
I emailed a bunch of friends and show friends, and to my surprise, while a few couldn’t due to scheduling issues etc., almost everyone I emailed responded – 19 in total. And to be clear, the list includes people who I guarantee are inundated with people wanting them to answer questions, and they took the time to answer this one. The list includes people almost every photographer and KelbyOne member knows:
- Joe McNally
- rick samon
- Peter Hurley
- Moose Peterson
- Adam Elmakias
- vanessa joy
- David Bergman
- Christie Goodwin
- And… our very own Brad Moore!
Add to this list the incredible talents of a few creatives that you may not yet know, but will now discover:
- Pruitt Ant
- Andy Ihnatko
- Troy Miller
- Steve Rose
- Jose Negrete
- Jeff Harmon
- Ian Spanier
- Freddie Clark
- Britt Bowman
- Aki Fujita Taguchi
It was not a small “request” by the way. I asked each of them to record a video, about a minute or two, where they introduce themselves, share their best advice, and tell you where you can follow it. Some of them have professional setups to do this (I’m looking at you Bergman), while others have used their phones. That’s what made it all really work for me. This show isn’t about being on a set or having a good mic in front of you. This is the great knowledge that these pros share.
The answers I got…. Wow, they were amazing. Everything from technique and technical advice to business concepts, and this show turned out to be exactly what I hoped for. I hope you find it as special as I do.
The show is available wherever you get your podcast, in audio-only or video format, and on YouTube. Be sure to add your answer in the comments!
A Side Note on Good Planning – “Steve’s Mistake”
Speaking of tips, let me share one here…planning is important. I hadn’t really thought about the production part when I started. I just knew I wanted to ask the question and have amazing creatives answer it. I didn’t think about the little things, you know, those things that always come back to bite you. I do my show in 1080/30 in SDR, that is to say a standard HD resolution of 1080p at 30 fps in Standard Dynamic Range. Audio is still 48kHz, the standard for video, not 44.1kHz. I should have mentioned these snippets of information in the email I sent, or as I said to myself during the editing… “You’re not very smart Steve.
The videos I recovered were mostly 1080p/30/SDR, with audio at 48k, but three were HDR instead of SDR, two were 720p instead of 1080p, and a few had audio at 44.1k. Audio isn’t a big deal, I can change 44.1 to 48 easily, but HDR and 720 files…that’s another story. Just like in photography, when you go from 720 to 1080, you add data that does not exist. This results in a loss of quality, in particular sharpness. I wasn’t going to go back and have these people redo their videos and change their phone settings, but instead I was able to scale pretty well I think for this project. HDR on the other hand… when you drop HDR video into an SDR timeline in Final Cut Pro, you get a warning that it will remove all added dynamic range. It makes the video completely blown away. Then you need to add the HDR Tools effect to convert HDR to SDR, which solves the problem, but often results in very flat video. You now have less dynamic range and color data to work with. At this point it adjusts the color grading to try to match the appearance of the HDR file as closely as possible.
So the advice? Planning is important.
Last thing I want to add… There was one person who submitted a video that didn’t make the show. They uploaded to my Dropbox and everything seemed to be working fine. On my side the video never appeared. After I released the show, I found I had left out my mate and KelbyOne star Dave Williams. I saw the video he made now, and it sure is awesome. Maybe I’ll do another one later, so I’m inviting Dave in there. In the meantime, thanks for taking the time to record this Dave, and sorry for the confusion!
Again, thanks to Scott and Brad. What an honor to share this space.
You can see more of Steve’s work at SteveBrazill.com and follow his news at Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Be sure to subscribe to the Behind The Shot podcast so you don’t miss an episode, and also follow him on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.