19 September 2013

Sticking With it

Art Model, Emese © 2013 Terrell Neasley
“If you compare yourself to others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”
~ Max Ehrmann, Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life

There are a lot of things we can do to be better at photography. And sometimes it can get overwhelming to learn it all. It can be intimidating to see some masters at work and reach a conclusion that you can never achieve that sort of greatness. I know I've looked at some artist's work and felt that way before. Even today, I am amazed at some of the artwork being put out by some of these newcomers to the game. They tend to see things differently. They were born into technology and are not afraid to try new things that get introduced in the market. They take new tech and re-purpose it for something entirely different and create gold with it. It can be depressing to have a concept that would seem simple to everybody else, yet Chinese arithmetic to you...assuming you are not Chinese, of course. In which case if you are, you still get my point.

Art Model, Emese © 2013 Terrell Neasley
But here's two assumptions I'm going to make based on my own experiences:

1. With the exceptions of the true pioneers in this trade (and any other, for that matter), everybody you come to idolize and drool over started out just the same way, doing the same thing. Nobody starts out understanding an f/stop or stroboscopic flash. Granted some may learn quicker than others, but we all start out at ground zero. This is not a race at all. Just because someone crosses the finish line in front of you, doesn't mean you lose. Just keep running. Cross the finish line and continue to run!

Art Model, Emese © 2013 Terrell Neasley
2. Many of the great ones are not as good as what you might think! I'm telling you. I've been sort of amazed at this. Even at this latest Photoshop World, I recently blogged about one such situation. I could not understand how the instructor's work became significant. Then there are other times, its not the photographer that works the magic, but rather his team of people that make them look good. I hope I'm not sounding too cynical, but there is truth to what I say. There are some photographic geniuses out there. Had you been at Photoshop World, you'd have met a whole host of them. They also exist in some of your own peers! Study your trade. Pull out your camera and just go shoot. Keep researching the web. If you want, for starters, just follow my lead... Get up on PhotoFocus, with Richard Harrington and TWIP, with Frederick Van Johnson. Then stay tuned with Lynda.com., FStoppers.com, SLRLounge, Strobist, and Luminous-Landscape. You can learn from anybody! Never think you own photography, else she will, at some most inopportune time, bite you in the ass. Be open to be educated from anybody anywhere. The better you become, I tell you for certain, some of the very people you look up to will look to you for guidance, advice, and consult.

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”

~ Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button screenplay

But here is my point.

Art Model, Emese © 2013 Terrell Neasley
Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid to learn. Don't be afraid to ask. Don't be afraid to look stupid. Some of my most valuable lessons have come from looking stupid. Don't be afraid of new technology. And above all...Don't be afraid of anybody else's work. Never downplay your own work. I've got work that I don't show right now because I'm not ready. If it doesn't meet my own standards of satisfaction, then I acknowledge that and keep trying. I do my own landscape art. But Bjorn Burton...DANG! That kid is bad ass with his landscape and fine art. I can't touch it. I can try. But I'm not into making mine look like his. And I've got my own style that has been successful. So instead, I've learned to appreciate his work without feeling negative about my own. Okay, I just revisited his site and can understand how some people may feel bad about their own work. I don't condone that, but I UNDERSTAND! Kidding...kind of...

And lastly, keep this in mind. Its never too late! No matter how slow you get it or how little time you can put into it at once, stick with it. Start early, start late. Just do it. I'm very happy to see so many people picking up a camera again at a later age in life. When I'm in the camera store, whether working or not, there is always a elderly gentleman or lady who comes in with a film camera wanting to get it cleaned or getting advice on a new one so they can get back into photography. I tell you it does my heart well. Its never too late to do what you love...whether photography or modeling. This is what I love about Art Model, Emese who chose to model for me. Who cares when you start, just start! And she has. Looking forward to more work with this new art model.

06 September 2013

Photoshop World, Day 3 - Finale

Art Model, Enyo © 2011 Terrell Neasley
"Photoshop is not a verb. It is a noun. It is the means to an end, not the end itself."
- Vincent Versace

All good things must come to an end, as its been said. And such is the way with Photoshop World 2013. Overall, I give this year's convention an A-. Today's classes were much like yesterday's results. Lots of good lessons and one that wasn't as great as I had hoped. Today covered my first introduction to video editing. I've done some video, but have not been involved in video production. I've sourced that out opting to stick with photo in the past, but the more I think about it, nobody's got my vision the way I have it. I no longer want to surrender that artistic control.

Art Model, Enyo
© 2011 Terrell Neasley
This was my second Richard Harrington class and he made video editing seem so simple. I got to talk to him afterwards. The guy has been a stalwart in this industry for years yet all you get from him is a sincere desire to help everybody else. He's not elitist in any sense of the word, despite his accomplishments and saying he's approachable is an egregious understatement. It was cool to talk to him after the class, but he came by the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep booth on the expo floor and we talked again briefly about NILMDTS and the new look of the PhotoFocus blog. This is how I know Richard has no high-horse! For a brief moment, you could could see it in his face that we switch roles for a second. He asked for my input about the new look of the blog, but he did so with the look of a little kid seeking approval from a teacher on a new drawing he did! The guy is so on our level, but he's actually trying to get under us to boost us up. I love it. I know I've beat this point up but there was simply no air of superiority in him.

Art Model, Enyo © 2011 Terrell Neasley
I also got my first Scott Kelby class today covering portrait retouching. Scott Kelby is the king of photog education and is the one responsible for the umbrella of proven photo professionals who come to bless us with insight and inspiration. He's a master educator and is the genius behind Photoshop World. I finished up the day with a class on system back-ups which I didn't feel was as beneficial to me. I was convinced to give DNG more consideration and will likely change my workflow because of the class, but I disagreed with his back-up strategy and did not feel like I took away anything that would make me alter my own in the slightest.

So my overall grade of A- reflects the grade A, top of the line, quality education, but I subtract a bit for the two classes that I felt were not so beneficial to me. I do not think an hour per class is enough time. In college, some of our classes were an hour and 15 mins. There was simply not enough time. Every one of my classes had to rush the end of the presentation, but I'm not sure there is an answer for that. I would have loved a class on photographing the nude! I would have loved to seen some experts on a higher level demonstrate their techniques. I totally MISSED the Light Painting class. I simply didn't see it. Light painting is something I am endeavoring to do more of and master. I wish I had not missed the opportunity to learn.

Art Model, Enyo © 2011 Terrell Neasley
I think I will make Photoshop World an annual event from this point forward. My experiences were very positive. I was even interviewed by some of Scott Borne's people on my Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep work. And one of the other unmentioned benefits is the camaraderie you have meeting with your peers and better yet making new ones. I met three women in particular who were simply a joy to talk to, each whom I hope to stay in touch with. Photoshop World is not just about learning more photo stuff so you can make more money. Its also about growing the industry and improving the strength of the trade as a whole through a community enrichment effort.

Photoshop World, Day 2

Art Model, Leslie ©2013 Terrell Neasley
"You see something happening and you bang away at it. Either you get what you saw or you get something else--and whichever is better you print." 

Day 2 started of much like its predecessor...An Early Morning! I learned some interesting techniques and completely new Photoshop applications working in video and animation. Corey Barker taught Creating Motion Graphics in Photoshop CC and it was a blast. Not saying I mastered ANY of it, but I know its available to me now, so that's cool. My next class, which I won't name, was a dud for me. I mean, utterly and complete. I then went on to some more masterful techniques in Compositing with Joel Grimes. This guy is definitely a guru in artistic composite work. Most of his is simple portrait on a blended background, which is the way he likes it. I think I'd like to push it a bit more. The guy is a masterful educator. I ended up taking another class with him that I finished my day with.

Art Model, Leslie
©2013 Terrell Neasley
But then there was the next class for me which was sort of duddish. I got nothing. I tried to sit through it more out of respect and appreciation that he came to help us improve our work, but I think I got 40 mins and simply had enough. That happens sometimes. You just don't gel with an instructor. However the surprising element to me was that I did not enjoy his work! We saw some of the images he's made over the years and it was boring to me and almost unimaginative. This guy has made a lot of money in his career and has been hailed and lauded for his vision. I just couldn't see it. But that leaves me questioning what that says about me. Granted, I know what I like. I know what inspires me. His and he did not, I'm sad to say.

But then came redemption. My next class was with Richard Harrington and he covered Digital Publishing. Excellent, excellent work. He told it like it is and entertained us as well. I thoroughly enjoyed his class. If that name sounds familiar to you then you've taken my previous advice and subscribed to the Photofocus podcast, which he now hosts. I've described the Photofocus blog and podcasts as must-do sites to visit a couple times on this blog. But let me just reiterate. If you are a photographer and do not have that blog faved or have subscribed to that podcast, you are wrong...plain and simple.

Art Model, Leslie ©2013 Terrell Neasley
"You have a lifetime to learn technique. But I can teach you what is more important than technique, how to see; learn that and all you have to do afterwards is press the shutter." 

At this point we broke off into the Expo session which lasted all afternoon. Vendors and sponsors show and demonstrate their latest wares that help you in various aspects of your photographic trade. You can come by and visit me and my crew at the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep booth #237.

Art Model, Leslie ©2013 Terrell Neasley
But the day got even better. Get this... my next class was Pricing, Negotiation, and Selling with, who else but Scott Borne. Scott Borne is the celebrated local photographer here in Las Vegas. I'm pretty sure he's the biggest name here and he is responsible for starting Photofocus in the first place. This was my first time to actually get to meet and talk to him and after listening to his voice practically every week and checking out every blog post, the man in the flesh did not disappoint. He was hilarious, but had some of the most practical advice I've ever had. Some of it was a reminder. One thing he asked us to do is read any and every Zig Ziglar book we could find. I've read several and need to reread them. Its been quite some time. Zig Ziglar came to my high school one year and I was impressed beyond belief. No doubt, I benefited most with his class and as I mentioned previously, I finished the day with one more Joel Grimes class on Photoshop techniques. Great day.

05 September 2013

Photoshop World 2013

Art Model, Emily © 2013 Terrell Neasley
"I want the viewer to look into my images and see a new world with new rules."

I don't think I've ever posted about my convention or trade show attendences. I've only ever done WPPI and Photoshop World on a regular basis. Today is day one and it was a good day, complete with one learning from one of my favorite instructors, Julianne Kost who is the most brilliant mind/guru of Photoshop and Lightroom I've ever seen. Her dry, yet witty humor keeps you entertained as you unconsciously learn something of value. Before you know it, she's having to cut things short because she's running out of time. I try to get at least one of her classes as a rule. Brooke Shaden spoke during the opening keynote. While Julianne Kost was the most entertaining, I gotta give props to Brooke Shaden for being most inspirational. This little bitty spitfire got up on stage and in a soft, but spirited voice and laid down an air of possibilities that left you wondering what you could do if you cast aside fear and conforming rules (sound familiar) and did what you wanted to do.

Art Model, Emily
© 2013 Terrell Neasley
It was sort of a toss up this time. There are two things I usually want to focus on when I come to these trade shows. One is Photoshop techniques. I had to start out learning Photoshop on my own with a bootleg old copy of PS7 that was given to me when I first came to Vegas, while I was still doing film. It was strictly trial and error. I mean, STRICTLY trial and error. There weren't as much in terms of tutorials on the web as there are today. But it was quite the trick to learn the different tools and what layers were. I eventually got a book to help me.

Art Model, Emily
© 2013 Terrell Neasley
“If I saw something in my viewfinder that looked familiar to me, I would do something to shake it up." 
~ Garry Winogrand

My breakthough came from my first Photoshop World convention. I only attended the free trade show, but when I saw an exhibition of the Nik Silver Efx, I was hooked. Why? I had seen other black and white plug-ins at this point. And I could convert to B&W in Photoshop too. What made Silver Efx so special? Well, I'll tell you. It was the first piece of software that I had ever seen that came so close to the actual darkroom. It aided me in my conversion to digital photography. Before Silver Efx, I just couldn't get the rich black tones that I had with silver-halides in photographic paper brought out by chemicals. It was simply unmatched. The burn and dodge techniques were not mimicked in any other software so well. Masking, which I sucked at in Photoshop at the time, was made more simple with Nik's U-point technology. And on top of all that, Silver Efx, was also the best at simulating the different brands of pro-grade B&W film I used...principally, Kodak TMax 100 & 400.

Art Model, Emily
© 2013 Terrell Neasley
To learn that Nik had several more editions such as Color Efx, Dfine, and Sharpen only cinched it for me. But I learned all this at my very first Photoshop World and its always been a blessing for me every since. Sometimes its learning of a new vendor to process my photos. Sometimes its learning a new post-processing workflow that is much more efficient and effective. Other times, I get educated on a better business practice, such as back-up techniques or copyrights management. One thing I don't really go to Photoshop World as much for is photographic techniques. They have some great lighting specialists here for sure and other tips on improving your photography. I think they are great, but its much easier for me to get photo tips. I can manage that from anywhere.

This year, my focus has been more on the Photoshop end of things instead of the business side. So these are the classes I've been taking as of day 1: Compositing with Julianne Kost, Smart Objects with Dave Cross, and Commercial Post Processing with Jim DiVitale. Days 2 and 3 are a bit more tricky as to my choices, but I will figure it out. Photoshop and post-processing classes have the priority and I can choose 6. Thursday is the longest day and we finish up on Friday. Should be good days ahead.