Action Sport Photography with Red Bull Photographer Corey Rich

Lesson 50 of 50

Panel Q&A

 

Action Sport Photography with Red Bull Photographer Corey Rich

Lesson 50 of 50

Panel Q&A

 

Lesson Info

Panel Q&A

Ya know, there have been a lot of questions that have come from online that we didn't get a chance to answer, not because we didn't want to, just we had to kind of stay in the flow of making pictures because that takes time. And I know you guys had lots of questions that as we'd go into breaks, we wanted to talk, but we got pulled into the next segment. So why don't I have, I'm gonna have everyone come up. So let's have Bligh Gillies, and I'll do a quick introduction for those who didn't get to meet everyone. So this is Bligh Gillies, Bligh works in my office, he's a very gifted photographer, wears many hats in my office. Jeff Johnson, Jeff is obviously, you just spent two segments with Jeff, really working with the light. Jeff doesn't just work in the action-adventure sports world, he does big, commercial advertising jobs. He is always the go to man when it comes to lighting. And of course, Corey Martinez, Red Bull athlete, and thanks for the great day, by the way, that was awesome. A...

nd I think it's valuable, so, and Brett Wilhelm, of course, who just gave us the great tutorial on how to transmit from the field. And I think between all of us, we can really field virtually any question, I think, from an athlete perspective, I think Corey brings a great perspective to the table, and the rest of us from the photography lighting, technology perspective, and we're willing to talk about anything, the business, we're willing to talk about equipment, we're willing to talk about anything you wanna throw our way. But the number one question that has come in via the internet is, "Okay, this is really cool, "I've learned a lot. "I'm inspired, I wanna go out and take pictures, "but how do you turn this into a career? "What is that stepping off point, "that kind of crossing of the line into transitioning "from being a hobbyist or an enthusiast "into doing it professionally?" And I think the baseline answer for me is it turns out, even though there's tons of content out there and tons of photographers, there is still a shortage of really great content. And as soon as, it's not who you know, it's not the athletes you know, it's not the editors that you know, it's not the companies that your cousin works for, or your uncle, and getting in the door. It's if you are out there as a photographer making great pictures, you will find clientelle, that's just the bottom line. There is a lot of people that own great cameras, there's a lot of people that own lots of lighting, but those that can actually use their heads, they have the discipline and the focus to make sacrifices in life and be disciplined about making great pictures, not just one, but repeatedly over and over and over again and working really hard, and getting those pictures out there, it turns out, that's the beautiful of the internet, when you make great pictures in 2016, the world lets you know that you're making great pictures. If you're making mediocre pictures, the world also lets you know you're making mediocre pictures and so I'm a huge advocate of, you don't go out and you write a business plan and you have a strategy for month one, month six, month twelve. It's you tirelessly with as much passion as you possibly can, you go out and shoot the things that you care the most about and you sacrifice a lot of other things in the process, and when you start making great pictures, the paychecks start rolling in. And I know that's a really simplified answer, but there is no substitute for making great pictures. It helps if your uncle works for the company and it helps if you know the editor and it really helps if you hang out with Corey and he invites you to go on a trip, but he's not gonna invite you to go on a trip unless you're making really awesome pictures to begin with. So, one other philosophy that I have and I will take another question, but the other thing that's really important is raw talent. I always say raw talent's important. A whole lot of passion, which means you're willing to work hard and it really helps if you're a nice guy, because people want to hang out with you. You wanna work with people that you like. Corey wants to hang out with people that are fun to be around. If you're going to sit in a van together and fly around the world, you don't want a jerk sitting next to you for two weeks, you want someone that you enjoy being around. And so it's, ya know, a lot of passion, some raw talent, and being a good guy, those are the three ingredients. All right let's open it, sure. And let me add one thing that I don't think you touched on is we joke a little bit about how your network is your net worth and I've had recommendations from other people they ask, "How do I start professionally? "How do I start professionally?" You've developed all your skills, you have a lot of friends, It comes down to getting your foot in the door and sometimes getting your foot in the door means eating a slice of humble pie and entering as an intern, entering as a, we say, a librarian someone who's just doing digital archiving. It may not be what you immediately aspired to, but if you get your foot in the door with a company, with another photographer, with someone with great connections, maybe a magazine, I know plenty of people that started at magazines at the most basic level, sleeping in their car, ya know, doing whatever they could to get their foot in the door and once they get their foot in the door, you start working your way up that mountain of that connection, where people know you as a person, they start finding out that you're a nice guy, and that way you start climbing that tower. I think that's a really great point that Brett makes. Ya know we, as you transition into larger and larger productions, you just need more team and I can't tell you how many times we hire someone as a PA which stands as production assistant, it's the person that we need to go and drive the car, go and grab coffee and pack gear, and it turns out getting the foot in the door, so many of those PAs have become critical, key members of our team. They don't just remain as the PA, they move into a really critical role and eventually, their career moves on to doing something awesome. In our office, we've had interns for years, and I can tell you that many of those interns are now accomplished, talented individuals in their own right, and I think Bligh is a great example of that, started as an intern in our office, is now one of the most critical members of our team. Whatever he decides to do in the future, he will be wildly successful at that. That can actually carry over and translate into the BMX aspect too, if you have friends that are interested in athlete photography of any sort. I know friends of mine that started out just mediocre photos, just shooting photos of their friends around town and eventually, they got their foot in the door, and it's like, "All right, "I'm going to just do this for these guys, "go on a couple trips, not get paid much," but eventually their photos spoke more than you would think and then the next thing you know, they're working for the companies, they're editors of the biggest magazines and stuff like that, so it kind of relays into what you're saying as well. And I think Corey just said two other, kind of, two things came to mind. One is one of the other qualities of making it in the action-adventure sports world is to be an expert. Actually have a huge amount of knowledge in a specific category. So whether that is in the BMX world, if you are passionate about BMX and maybe that's as an athlete or it's as a photographer, if you have a huge knowledge base, where you understand all of the nuance of what Corey is doing on his bike and you have the photography skillset, those three qualities, you have some raw talent, you're willing to work really hard, you're a nice guy and you're an expert you, really understand the BMX Street world, you are way ahead of the pack at that point. Now people are gonna recognize you within that endemic world and the folks at Red Bull, those editors, they're gonna see, "Who is this name "that we keep on seeing appearing, "they're shooting these amazing BMX photos." You stand out, you're no longer just in the pack and the athletes notice that same thing. They sort of see, "Wait a minute, "there's this one guy from BC that keeps on. "He's continually producing great content." So that's thought number one, number two, it made me realize and I think I'm definitely the result of this, my expertise was in climbing in the very beginning, at 13 years old, I fell in love with rock climbing and then I picked up a camera to document those weekend adventures, and as I photographed climbing more and more and I began to meet the athletes, the athletes that were doing it professionally or at the beginning of their careers and we grew up together, and so you know, I know, how old are you now Corey? I'll be 33 next week. 33 I'm 40 years old, but you started riding a bike pretty young is my guess. I was 10, yeah. 10 years old. When you grow up with someone like Corey and you're shooting pictures along when you're growing together, it's you default to, you become the photographer Corey starts asking for, Corey if you've grown up together shooting pictures, so it's as you emerge as a photographer, you grow with athletes, and so that's also hugely valuable because I know it happens at Red Bull. If they're going to do a big shoot with Corey, the editors, the photo editors, the photo department, of course they're looking at who can do a good job, but they also want a photographer that Corey's going to enjoy spending time with and he gets along with. Great let's open it up to questions. I have one, so let's say you have a book of pictures that you're happy with and you're ready to approach new editors, how do you recommend approaching new editors that you may not already know? Do you send them promo books, do send 'em a quick note via email? Ya know, I'm and again, I'm not an editor, but of course I sometimes am trying to get the attention of editors out there, and I go back to my first answer. If you have pictures that are truly awesome, you have to say very little. It's not that difficult to track down an editor's email address or their Facebook account or their Instagram account and you send them pictures. You let those pictures speak for themselves and when you send a picture that truly is remarkable, you're gonna get their attention. I mean the truth is, you don't need three paragraphs, you need a sentence that says "Editor X, "I love what I'm doing," and I always put passion before my business pitch, it's, "I've been working hard "on this project, here's a few pictures I'd love to share. "If you have any interest in these images," ya know, "please reach out, I'd love to discuss," ya know, "where I could take these pictures." I never overtly ask for a job. That's kind of a big turn-off, I think, for editors. Ya know, they know why you're sending pictures, it's you want to work for them, but I really think what counts the most is getting pictures in front of the people that make the decisions, and if those, I always say, put your time into making pictures, don't put your time into marketing and building promos. Never has it been easier than electronically putting a file, putting a photograph in front of an editor. And I'll say, we work in the commercial advertising world, we talk about doing print promos, but we haven't done one in years at this point, and then it's all about electronic. And it's not to say that if you send postcards that one postcard might catch that person's attention, but if in terms of where you're going to make an investment early in your career, my advice would be just focus on making awesome pictures, putting them in social media and electronically delivering them to the key people. And one other important point is when you shoot pictures, always give those pictures to the athletes, share them with your subjects, because it's just as valuable for you to get those pictures to Corey, because Corey then, is forwarding to the people, his Sponsorship Director at Red Bull, for example. When Corey shares a photo that you shot today, it then gets forwarded in a roundabout way back to the photo department and it's, "Hey who shot this picture? "How do we, let's use him for the next shoot," but you know focus on, and I know I'm oversimplifying, put your time into making pictures, awesome pictures and worrying less about spending money on paying for cool slick print promos. Thank you. Speaking to that and the immediacy that you talked about earlier, what applications or other ways or outlets are you using your photography to reach other people? Like such as, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and things like that, how crucial are those today for you to keep going or getting new clients? Yeah, I mean, my opinion is that social media is like the number one marketing tool available to photographers today and it's kind of amazing. It's free, doesn't cost you anything to put your pictures online and everybody's paying attention to it. Ya know, the editor that you want to work for at Red Bull, if you're making great pictures of Corey, they're gonna be following your feed. That's the beauty of social media, is because you're tagging Corey in that image, Corey likes it, he shares it, his Sponsorship Coordinator sees it, in turn, it gets circulated, you start to attract a social network that is Corey's social network and within that social network is Red Bull and so I can't say enough how frequently I'm surprised by the opportunities that come straight from social media. Ya know, Bligh and I work in the same office every day and I'm embarrassed to admit how much time we spend talking about social media and looking at social media. Ya know, part of it is just from an inspiration perspective, it's like, ya know, I can't help but look at my friends' pictures on social media and get excited, it makes you want to go out and shoot photos and see what athletes are doing. Ya know, I'm definitely going to be following Corey after today and it'll, ya know, it gets you excited about who you're working with and what you're shooting and gives you ideas. Yeah I would add to that only that social media can, it's almost a blessing and a curse because it is so powerful, but it requires so much attention only because consistency is almost as important as anything else with that. It's a beast that needs to be fed consistently. The other is just to back up. We were talking about how it's never been easier or cheaper to share all of your work. It's never been easier to email the right image to an editor to make that contact. For that very same reason, maybe I'm old-fashioned, maybe I worked and mentored underneath a very classic guy, but I really appreciate taking the time to send out printed holiday cards, to send out the occasional promo, for the very reason that people are so inundated with social media links, with web galleries, editors, if you take the time to send them a note a handwritten note, especially if it's one, if you have a publication or a brand that you really admire and you find the right contact, if you take a moment to write that person a note saying how much you appreciated the photo annual they just put out, and it just so happens it has a really nice picture of yours on the back of it, it can be incredibly powerful. You're not going to do that every day, you're not going to do it every week, but maybe once a month, you find a publication or a brand or someone that you really want to work for, you take the time to study it and you fire off a handwritten note that says how much you've gained inspiration, that you really appreciate the last issue they put together, that can be an incredibly powerful thing when used occasionally, because it is, it's something that has been going away, so now it's stands out when you do it. And again, I work for a guy that's now and is still working, it just comes from a different generation, but there is something to be said for it. I'll say that to Brett's credit, he sends the best gifts in the industry. Every time if I see Brett Wilhelm on a package, it's a keeper, like we are... And I think-- I think the tangible is getting lost-- Absolutely. And that's great to hear from him that ya know, I always miss printing images in the darkroom or making a See Print or a digital print and having that in my hand and looking at it. And I love getting other people's work just as much, so that's a great point. There's a cost to it, but it stands out in a different way. I have a couple friends that shoot photos, as well, for BMXing, and what they like to do either holidays of any sort, they'll print out something, like a cool black-and-white photo of a trick that they shot with you years ago or something, like, "Oh here ya go," this is a great gift. Right. It means a lot definitely, these days. True, true. One of the other questions that came in from the audience at home and it came in a few times and we just never quite had the chance to answer it, and it was, "Which backpacks were you guys using?" We were using gray Lowepro backpacks and it's called the Whistler series. I think it's the 450 and the 350, if I'm not mistaken and it's a great backpack, great for being outdoors, working in adventure environments. The fabric is water-resistant, but the most important feature, because this is not unique only to Lowepro, there are other brands out there making great photo backpacks and in fact, never before have there been so many great action-sports backpacks on the market, but the key feature in my mind, features, one it's the rear entry, so rear opening, which means when you set your backpack down, you set it down on its face, the part that is not touching your back and then you unzip the back of the backpack to open it to pull out your camera equipment. What that allows is you're not setting your backpack down in the mud and the snow to get into it and then you put that same muddy or snowy surface on your back and so if you're shopping for a backpack for action sports that's a really key feature. You're looking to enter through the back, and you're looking for, depending on what you're shooting, because every use case is a little bit different. If you're shooting in the snow a lot, and you know this well, it's this idea that you want to be able to put enough of your other stuff in there, so your Avalanche shovel, an extra couple of layers, some water, your skins. If you're not shooting in the snow, maybe you don't have as much missile. If I'm in the BMX world, I might just want photo equipment, I want to put one of those B-1 heads, monoblocks, and have a light stand on the side, but it's really looking at the pack and thinking about, what is your kit, what are you going to be working with, and which of those packs allows you the ability to operate, whether it's a one-man band or as a team, how can you divide and conquer with putting equipment in that backpack? I'll go back to yesterday, there was a moment when we, you talked a little bit yesterday about communicating with athletes, I'm thinking more in an event setting, communicating with athletes so that they know where you're going, what you're doing, you're not getting in their way. Maybe you could talk a little bit about etiquette amongst photographers and how you feel about that. That's a good question. Ya know, in the event environment, and Brett shoots a lot of events. Brett works for Red Bull frequently, he works for ESPN and frankly, it's been years since I've shot events. And it's worth actually saying that I realized, I'm just not an event guy. Like I could shoot pictures there, but I have a huge smile on my face when it's just me and Corey and we're at a venue, with a small team or alone, making cool pictures and looking at the back of the camera together. Events are a different animal, and whether that's professional sports, mainstream sports, ball sports, the Olympics, X Games, a Red Bull event. The reality is you're not alone. There's other photographers, you're sometimes elbow to elbow. The bigger events, they actually tell you where you're gonna go you, don't just make the decision where you're gonna go, and you're oftentimes, you have to collaborate with one another. The day and age of you just roam the property and pick positions, that's kind of a thing of the past. And so, in the action-adventure sports world, we're sort of in this hybrid moment where we're no longer just a small pool of photographers, but we're not the NBA, and so some of those same rules that have been applied to the big games, the big sports, are now being applied to action-adventure sports events. But Brett, maybe I'll let you speak to the etiquette-- Sure, sure. Of how to... Yeah, certainly there are more and more control now at the bigger events, photographers are allowed to stand in a certain place, and that somewhat resolves some of those issues, because there's no photographer wandering out in front of you when you're in a fixed location. One of the things you need to remember in the live television world is that television is going to be king and oftentimes, whatever cameraman might wander out in front of you, he's not even standing where he wants to stand, he's being told where to stand. So even if you pop your top and start yelling your head off because he's just walked into your frame, there's nothing he can do about it. He has to be standing where his director is standing. So you're going to play second fiddle to live television. That's one of the reasons they've started to corral photographers to where they've corralled them. Among photographers, each of you, say, in a practice session, where I'm lining up a shot. If I move into position first, I usually feel pretty good about it. If I see another photographer shooting and I want to get closer, the first thing I'm doing is moving into that position and looking back at that photographer and saying, "Am I okay here? "How about here? Where can I be not in your frame?" Because that kind of respect will turn around and benefit you when that situation is reversed. And the more I can make an example of myself saying, "Okay, I know he's shooting you "and I'm going to be... "If I'm here, am I still good here? Am I my still good?" Because that kind of thing goes a long way. As far as athletes, it comes down to being a student of the sport. Ya know, at a practice environment, if we were in the warm-ups to an event and I step in the center, I need to be somewhat visually communicating with Corey to say, and he'll be free, if he's about to hit a rail and I'm standing at the end of it, because I'm shooting someone else, he'll give me the heads up. Some of them might yell at me a little bit more. Oh yeah, definitely. But it's just an awareness. Usually, the athletes are gonna be looking out for anyone that's on the course with something like that, and if you're in the middle and trying to like, lost, they'll say something, "Hey, probably step to the side "a little bit, I'm riding this and..." Yeah. It's usually pretty casual. Yeah. And I think it's worth saying that in both the photographer situation and with the athletes, people remember your attitude, that you do not want to become known as the guy, by other photographers or by athletes, it's like, "That's the guy that's clueless, "or is just totally disrespecting everyone all the time," because that sticks, that's hard to lose, it's hard to shake once that's your image. Yeah. Yeah I've definitely been in a position before at a contest, where I've had a line I was doing and someone stepped out in the line and it kind of like got in my way and I slammed and crashed, you know so like you're always gonna remember that and remember who that was, but even though there's an accident that you're still gonna remember that, so yeah definitely got to keep a look, eyes on that. And in the photo community, people really joke ya know, people build reputations really quickly and it's, boy, it's a bad reputation to have, because it also trickles back to the editor that hired you. People don't like to be around that guy, and I guess it's called Karma. Yeah, yeah, and you're also representative of whatever brand or whatever publication you're working for, so if you're the yahoo that walks out in the middle and he smacks into you, suddenly you've not only made a bad name for yourself, but you've made a bad name for your client. And sometimes it's almost like the old, what was the old game, Frogger? Where you tried to cross the road with all the cars, in a situation like this, at a motocross event you can hear those things coming from a quarter-mile away. BMX bikes are nearly dead silent, and so you really need to have that like 360 degree awareness as soon as you step into that space. That goes for surf, it goes for some of the freestyle ski competitions, you really need to have your awareness. You start getting into that tunnel vision of looking down your camera, you need to remember to get up, look around, you're looking at what rider's coming down the rampage course, you're looking at who's dropping into double pipes so you're not standing in their way, and at an event like that, it's just that, kind of that 360-degree awareness of other photographers, of other athletes, of the TV angles. You start messing with TV angles and you will get yanked out of there very, very quickly. So you talked about copyright on the first day. Can we talk about appropriation in social media specifically, how do you keep from the images that you do share socially from being shared by folks that aren't you? Sure, ya know my philosophy with social media is of course, when I put my pictures out there, my goal is I want the world to see them, that's why you're sharing, and I think it's important to draw a line between those I want people to share those pictures that's the ultimate goal, right? That's what we, when people start liking it and sharing the image, you're successful. That means the image, that image worked, people are responding to it. But I think there's a delineation that's important between Joe Public sharing your picture, that's what we want, and Company X taking that picture and using it to leverage their brand. And there's that delineation. The delineation is that corporate entity, they're now using your picture to market their brand. That's where I draw the line in the sand and that's actually where the law draws the line in the sand. I'm happy to have someone share my picture. Ya know, the kid that's learning to do a triple backflip over there, I hope he likes the picture that I just shot of Corey when we put it online and he shares it with his buddies. It's when another company, a large entity, a corporation takes that photograph, and usually in all honesty, it's mistakenly, someone in the marketing department doesn't understand copyright laws, grabs that picture, puts it on their feed without permission or takes the image, it somehow ends up in a database and it ends up being an email blast, and they paste in a company name below it. That's where you draw the line in the sand, and frankly at the beginning, it's really just a quick email to the company, ideally, which is, "Hey, this is my picture. "There should have been some licensing "or usage fees associated with it," because there's two issues that are happening in this case. When the company, let's just say Brand X, grabs that photo from my Instagram account of Corey's portrait or Corey doing a trick, and because we're looking at this computer screen, it's super cool lit photograph from above of Corey, I don't know if you guys can see that same image on the screen, but all of the sudden, a company grabs this and they add a tag line that says, "You can fly "if you buy our vacuum cleaner, juicer." All of the sudden there's a conflict. Corey's a sponsored athlete with Red Bull, Red Bull makes energy drinks he doesn't endorse that juicer company, I didn't shoot this picture for the juicer company and so that's when then, ya know, I reach out for or we work with the company that reaches out to that juicer company, and says, "Hey, one cease-and-desist, "please take that image down, and two, "we need to get compensated for that usage," because that's what we do as an occupation. Corey's a professional athlete, I'm a professional photographer. At the beginning and with smaller brands, it's just simply a cease-and-desist, "Can you please take it down? How long has it been live? "Do we need to?..." And it's case-by-case, you analyze the situation and try to figure out, should I be charging for this use or not? As soon as the company starts pushing back and says you know, playing the game of ya know, not taking it down then instantly it elevates to, "Okay, you are going to pay for this image." And when you register those pictures with the Copyright Office, the power, the law is on your side as a photographer. The company will not win, you will win if they're using the image without permission. For Corey Martinez, as an athlete, what are the pictures that you eye that as when a photographer takes it, what do you like? Is it you in the moment, portraits, what makes you share it on your Instagram? I mean ultimately, it's going to come down to the photographer's gift, ya know? Like if he's going to show you as best as he can and if you're comfortable with it, then that's usually how I'm going to share it. As a trick, it's generally you going to look at the position of a certain body language or anything like that. Barspin is usually a really good example. You want to catch the bars when they're 180 degrees, completely backwards as timing. Generally, you want to go for, not always does it work out, you do a scary setup, photographer misses it by split-second and you're just slightly there and you'll decide if you wanna use it or not, you know relationship between the photographer and the athlete. And do you go through a review process with the photographer and if it's, do you like to kind of approve images? Like, "Yeah that one works," or "No, don't use that one?" Ideally, yes, if you're on spot, kind of like how we were here, we just view them on the back of the camera, if there's a position, say my arm was in a crazy way and I didn't like it, it's like, "Let's give it another go, "I don't really like that," yeah, ideally you want to try and do that with, that relationship with a photographer just so everyone's happy. Right. Ya know, before it's been sent out to be published or whatever. Yeah that's great. Ya know Jeff, you brought something up the other day. It was you and Bligh and I were talking after the shoot and it was really around the kind of the team dynamic of what, you've worked with a lot of crews, with a lot of photographers, on a lot of productions, for a lot of brands. What's sort of the secret sauce that makes the entire crew productive and everyone feels, not only do you create great content, but that everybody walks away at the end of the day feeling good about it? And I think this applies to whether it's Jeff and I alone or whether it's Jeff, Bligh, Brett, and I with Corey, no matter what the scale, there's a few ingredients that turn out to create not only the best pictures but also the best sort of attitude and atmosphere on set. I think one of 'em, and one of the big things and it's with anything is a positive mental attitude, ya know, it's just sometimes it's really nice just to have good people that you're working with and a really good work ethic, ya know, people that are knowing that these jobs are sometimes 20-hour days, you're doing long, hard hours, you're working hard you're not, it's not just one of those, ya know, I'll sit back and see what I can get away with not you know not doing any work. There's a lot of passion, there's a lot of effort, and then once you start working with people for a long time, you start to get to know them, you start to know what they're looking for and then one of the things that you spoke about earlier too, is you're always looking ahead, you're always kind of thinking ahead, "Okay what's the next thing gonna be? "What's a potential problem, what's a potential success?" Ya know, so you're just kind of thinking ahead, planning for things, you start to know what the photographer, from working with the photographer, I start to know what he likes to light like, so I will already prepare lights that I think that the photographer will like and or if it's something that's ya know, conducive to the look of what we're shooting, if it's action sports, you know a lot of times we stick with more of a hard light. If you're shooting beauty you're going to go softer, obviously, you're shooting cars you're gonna light for specific body lines and stuff like that, so a lot of the times it's just kind of, it takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of time to work with people, but foreseeing what people are doing and trying to be flexible and I think that's a lot of the... And I think, I'm gonna not embarrass Bligh, but compliment him for a second. One of the qualities that Bligh, he's really stood out in this industry, it's a given that he's a talented photographer, he has an eye he has that raw talent part and he also has that passion part, which is he's willing to work really hard, but there's this other gift and it's, it goes back to this idea of when you get your foot in the door, he's also willing to wear a lot of hats. If on a given day, he needs to be the digitech, he can be the good digitech, because he has that skillset. If Jeff's not here and he needs to own the lights, he'll own the lights that day. If he needs to be the mountain guide that day, he has enough skillset to be the mountain guide that day, and that willingness to adapt and sort of... Oh, and if he needs to be the PA that day, he'll be the PA. If he needs to be the second camera because we're shooting video or he's shooting stills, he'll be the second camera or the first camera for that matter, and I think that willingness to adapt and having a real skillset, a box of skills, a tool box, where you can pull out whichever tool you need to apply that day is really valuable. We live in a world now where jobs are less compartmentalized. The younger you are growing up in this industry, you kind of have to have more skillsets. You need to have the Photoshop skills, you have to have the lighting skills, you need to know how to do some basic web design, you need to know how to communicate, which means you can read and write and talk on the telephone and so I think, and I'm pointing at Bligh because I think he's a great example of this and he's a decade younger than I am. He's a great example of a guy that has a diverse set of skills and is willing to put on whichever cap is necessary for that job and I think that's a huge attribute and it goes back to question number one, "How do I make it in this industry today?" A really, really unique quality or special important quality. And absence of ego too I think is a big one too, is ya know there's, I think there's sometimes there's people that come in and they think, "Oh well that's below me. "I'm not, I'm not going to go run and get coffee, "I'm not going to go move that light stand," or "I'm not," ya know... And Corey, you're great, there's times where Corey'll run over and do something, but you also have to know when it's not your place. You need to stick to what your skillset is or what your assigned job is for that day, and say, ya know, "I'm more useful over here, "let's delegate this somewhere else," but it's like set etiquette ya know? You learn how to behave on a set and how to be clean, how to help out where you can help and that goes a long way, I think people get noticed when-- Yeah. When they say, "Oh that guy's great, he's a nice guy, "he's great to work with, he doesn't have a problem "if I ask him, 'Hey, can you grab me a cup of coffee?'" A lot of times, if I see a photographer and he's winding down, I'll go grab him a cup of coffee and say, "Hey man," or drink of water or whatever it is and go, "You look tired," ya know, that goes a long way. Ya know, that's another point that it just came to mind. When you get to that point where you're calling your buddy to help you, you need an assistant, you're moving more gear than you can handle, remember that person that's helping you. They're still a representative of you and it gets back to the brand that hired you, and so ya know, when you made that comment about cleanliness and respect, even if the guy's cheaper, make sure the person you're bringing to help you is respectable and no one's going to make the observation, "Boy that guy was rude," or "He was difficult to deal with "or had an attitude," because that also, it's amazing how quickly that gets back to your client or Corey, your athlete for that case, it just rubs him the wrong way, it affects that total experience. When you talk about client delivery in the field, two things, one, questions on are you delivering JPEG or raw? But second, how much post-processing do you put into situations like that on speed of image and does it depend on the client? Yeah, I mean, maybe I'll give an overview and then I can let Bligh and Brett respond to this. The key is just being on the same page with your clients about what their expectation is, even before you go out and shoot. Red Bull is an amazing company in that they have a very clear, clearly defined set of guidelines. When you got as a Red Bull photographer, what the expectation is, how you deliver, how you enter your metadata, what the deliverables are, raw, size of JPEGs, quality, and it's clearly, clearly defined, but Red Bull is an amazing brand in the photography world and there's an incredible team behind the scenes that has helped evolve that process. That's not true for every brand that you're gonna do an assignment for, and so then it becomes your job as a photographer to more clearly define, what are the expectations, what do you want in the end? And I think, I've learned, rather than ask, you tell them what you're going to deliver, because frankly they're not sure oftentimes ya know, what they need and I think I would say that our default and Bligh could speak to this better than me, I think our default is we say we're gonna deliver all the raw files and we're gonna deliver high-res JPEGs of all of the selects and then when you choose what you want, then we'll do retouching and if we can, we'll either predefine how many images we're going to retouch or we'll say we can retouch and it's for this amount of money per hour to do that retouching. Is that, would you say that's accurate? Yeah, yeah that's definitely towards our workflow, but just speaking back towards, you'd be surprised how much the client doesn't know exactly what they want and they may be asking for something specifically, but most likely, they don't even know what that is or how it's made or what goes into that necessarily, so that's file types or certain types of retouching or any of that, so it does go a long way as far as maybe take some time to explain what that is or why they don't want it that way, but it's more about kind of telling them what you're gonna deliver and in an instance like this, which Brad can speak to more clearly, but it's gonna be a JPEG that most likely untouched, as far as post-processing, just because of the time and you saw, Brett took a picture of Corey, a portrait, transmitted it, was on the site in 15 seconds, ya know? If you try and do it a different way, such as a raw file or taking the time to retouch that file, obviously, it's going to take longer. There are great tools these days, as far as mobile retouching, say, if you don't have your laptop, he's going straight to his phone. You can go straight to the phone and then use one of, ya know, mobile editing app where you can quickly tweak colors or whatever you wanna try and do and then send it off to the client, like that way, but for the most part, with transmitting files quick and dirty, this is the way to do it. And one other thing that's happened with newer cameras is camera companies have realized it's very important, this kind of quick upload to the web, and so while you're shooting a raw file, you can also be shooting a JPEG and you have a lot more control over that JPEG, so straight out of camera, you can today, create a JPEG that looks pretty darn good and you can add your thumbprint to that JPEG, the look that you like, the contrast, the saturation, you have a lot of control for example, in the D5 of what that JPEG looks like, you can add your sort of aesthetic to the image, so again, it streamlines that process of if you know it's going direct to the web, it's what you're uploading via the transmitter looks a whole lot better than it did three generations of camera ago. And I'll also say this as kind of a tip, Bligh was spot-on. In my world, I'm mostly transmitting that JPEG, but another feature that has come into the later generations of cameras is there's actually in-camera editing now, especially when you're shooting raw. You can go into, I don't know if you get down here, on the Nikon's you have a full retouching menu and so I can go and find a raw image that maybe it's not the crop I want, maybe I blew the white balance or I blew the exposure and I can actually make changes to the image right here in this menu before I transmit that image. So again, they're giving you better and better tool sets in order to customize it, and that way, I'm not having to transmit an image that I might have screwed up a little bit, but I'm able to fix it here without going back to the laptop or even going to the phone and change an exposure, change the white balance, recrop the image and then transmit it. Just a quick one, 'cause I'm a photo nerd myself. Yup. Are there any particular photo apps that you would recommend for quick editing or in general I guess, that you guys would recommend? 'Cause I have a few, but I definitely would love to hear you guys's thoughts on some of that. Just personally, Snapseed to me, is just kind of a great all-around tool, again there's nothing that I would do that's very heavy or big-time retouching, color correcting, whatever, just because you are working off smaller files and you know, you're usually on a little screen. (Corey mumbles comment) Yeah, yeah exactly, but the versatility some of these programs these days are absolutely ridiculous, it's just what you can do is crazy and they're making it easier and easier with cooler filters, and you can do whatever you want these days on a phone. It's kind of funny to me, because you can go through all those crazy filters and then before you know it it's like YouTube, you've done everything, you put ten filters on it, and you'd be like, "How did I get here? This is terrible." Yeah, I'm a Snapseed fan, myself, yeah, absolutely. Thank you. And this is probably another one of the most popular questions throughout, how skilled at the sport you want to shoot do you have to be? Yeah, ya know, I think it goes back to the, I think there's two things for me. It helps if you you have a deep knowledge of the sport. I mean, I think, and I was super straightforward and honest about it this morning, I've shot BMX once maybe twice in my entire career and I made no, there were no illusions when I introduced myself to Corey this morning, I didn't want him to think I was an expert. Joe knows a heck of a lot more, he can actually ride. She didn't date married, but she makes you as an expert. Yeah, but ya know, when you are an expert, I would have saved a lot of energy. I mean, it would have saved some of Corey's energy, because he wouldn't have had to explain the real fundamentals to me, so I think having knowledge is one thing. Being a great rider, on the other hand, ya know, in the climbing world, I think, I'm gonna take a stretch here, I'm gonna take a leap. In the bike world, I'm not sure you have, you could be an expert at the sport, it would sure help if you knew how to ride and you enjoyed it, because it doesn't feel as boring when you're there, because you're engaged emotionally and mentally and physically. In other sports, you absolutely have to do the sport. Skiing is a great example. There is no way you're gonna get to great locations shooting skiing unless you can ski. Rock climbing is a great example of that. You are not gonna go and shoot pictures on the side of El Capitan unless you're a rock climber. And so I think it's really, it's specific to the actual activity. BMX is actually a unique example in that I could totally be in love with the sport but not be have the ability to ride a bike and really begin to understand the nuance of the sport, because gaining access to that sport is not dependent on me riding a bike. Do you have a deeper understanding? Absolutely, because you can ride a bike. I think that helps a lot. So I think it really depends on the sport. There's no, ya know, there's no snowmobile that is gonna take you to an Alaskan spine and drop you in the right position or a helicopter that's going to drop you there, you have to be able to ski. So I think it's sport-specific, but it certainly helps if you love the activity and you're a participant, you have a deeper understanding and frankly it's more fun for the athletes to hang out. If we talk the same language, Corey will get super tired of telling me, reminding me that it's called a ledge not a bench. You can call it whatever you want. Well let's see, some final thoughts. I think I can honestly say this was a really fun three days and you guys were awesome. I wish we all would have had more time to shoot. Sessions like this are not about making great photographs, sessions like this are really about thinking about the learning process and then applying it to your own work, on your own time, with another athlete, when time is no longer a constraint. We talked about a lot of things, some of them complex. I think it's really important to not go and try to apply these text techniques when you're actually on assignment, because as you saw, a lot of things go wrong, it always takes time. Joe, Mike, Alex, Ralphie, you guys were awesome. I can't wait to actually, I mean, I hope this moves the needle forward a little bit for all of you. It definitely got me excited to go out and shoot more. We covered a lot of ground. Day one, we spent in the cabin, we opened with critiquing photos, Red Bull content pool images, some of Chase Jarvis's images, some of my images. I hope what you took away from that is you have to be really critical. You have to be super critical of your own work, because you have to be your toughest critic, that's how you grow. From there, we went into sort of pre-production. How do you go, how do you create a concept and then how do you execute on that concept? Looked at everything from locations to wardrobe to props. We went and dissected all of our camera bags and the gear that we're using in the field, and then we went into workflow. Brett did a great job on workflow and asset management and then Bligh did an awesome job on post-production and retouching. Kind of how do you make that image look incredible after you get that raw file onto your computer? Day two was fantastic, we went to Northstar and shot in the park with Cody LaPlante and Dylan Zellers. Cody's one of the shining stars in the park world and Dylan Zellers is an amazing big mountain skier or snowboarder, rather, awesome. Both incredible individuals as well, real role models. And I think they both have bright futures ahead of them. We shot with available light, we then shot on strobes, and then we shot a pretty darn cool portrait of both Dylan and Cody, so I've kind of touched on natural light and lighting. And today, Corey you were awesome. Although many times, someone yelled, "Corey," and I turned my head and I realized they were looking at you or the opposite. Definitely a few mix ups. But today we kind of went through some of that same process, we started with natural light, available light, and then we added some strobes. I think we made some really cool pictures, I saw you guys did as well, in both categories or in both uses of light. We set up some remotes, Brett, thank you for leading that. And then we dove into shooting a portrait. I think that was my favorite shot of the whole three days, actually, I think Ralphie's image of with the hazer and looking through the doorway, awesome photograph. And finally, this panel discussion. And I think, I hope anyone that's watching this at home or if you download this later, I hope what you walk away with is a couple of lessons. One, there's a ton out there to shoot and shooting pictures is really fun and if it's the right passion for you, you can make a career out of this or you can apply these same skills to photograph the people that you care most about, your friends and family. And I hope you also take away the lesson that even though I call myself a professional and all of these guys are pros, we make a ton of mistakes and it never goes smoothly and that's just part of the process. You just never admit that to your friends or to the people that are hiring you. A huge thanks to Red Bull Photography for allowing this to be possible. Thank you to you guys for being great participants and sort of reminding me sometimes what's working and what's not working and showing me your cameras. It's really cool to see the raw talent amongst the four of you and I can't thank the guys sitting up here enough and thanks to CreativeLive. So I'm Corey Rich, thanks for tuning in and get out there and make some pictures, thanks.

Class Description


Being an action sports photographer is about more than getting freeze frames of famous athletes. It’s about documenting the experience of people for whom the line between passion and work is blurred. At his or her best, the action photographer tells compelling stories that show us at our most daring, fearless, and adventurous.

Corey Rich is one of the world's leading outdoor adventure and action sports photographers, adept at distilling the essence of extreme action sports and adventure travel and lifestyle.  In addition to documenting extreme sports for Red Bull, Corey has worked for many of the biggest brands in the world.  This is your opportunity to follow Corey as he prepares for a shoot on location, and learn how he evokes powerful brand stories like those he has made for Red Bull. 


Join us for this live class, and you will learn:

  • How to work with a client, and shoot with their brand in mind
  • How to prepare yourself and your gear for a shoot in an extreme environment
  • How to take photos of extreme sports pros, and work with variable light conditions

This class will stream live from the location of the shoot in Lake Tahoe. Corey will be shooting Red Bull athletes as they perform at Ski Mountain Terrain Park and at a nearby BMX park. There will also be a live session from a Tahoe cabin to discuss photo theory and Corey’s experience of building his photo practice and working for Red Bull. 

Lessons

  1. Class Introduction
  2. What Makes A Great Action Photo
  3. Conceptualize the Shoot
  4. Research Location / Wardrobe / Props for Action Shoot
  5. Safety Tips for Action Photographers
  6. What Gear Do I Need? Packing and Prep
  7. Workflow and Asset Management
  8. Ingesting and Organizing Files
  9. Editing Down Your Selects
  10. Post Processing Overview
  11. Working with Clients to Select Finals
  12. Retouching & Post Processing: Image 1
  13. Retouching & Post Processing: Image 2
  14. Retouching & Post Processing: Image 3
  15. Final Client Delivery
  16. Introduction to Snow Athletes
  17. Setting up the Shot: Using Natural Light
  18. Getting that First Action Shot: Snow Park
  19. Scouting Location for Action Shot: Snow Park
  20. Capturing Variation of Snow Park Action Shot
  21. Refining the Snow Park Action Shot
  22. Action Shot with Strobes Overview
  23. Shoot: Action Shot with Strobes
  24. How to Light Using Strobes
  25. Action Shoot: Snow Park with Strobes
  26. Refining the Snow Park Action Shoot: Using Strobes
  27. Capturing Variation with Snow Park Athletes
  28. Capturing Portraits: Snowboarder
  29. Capturing Portrait: Skier
  30. Shoot: Feature Jump Action Shot Afternoon Natural Light
  31. Introduction to Today's Shoot
  32. Building a Rapport with the Athlete: BMX Rider
  33. Scouting Location for Action Shot: Indoor BMX Park & Natural Light
  34. Getting the First Action Shot: BMX
  35. Conceptualizing the Action Shot: BMX
  36. Prepping Gear & Refining the Action Shot: BMX
  37. Action Shoot: BMX Athlete with Natural Light
  38. Setting up Remote Cameras
  39. Capturing BMX Action Shots: Remote Cameras
  40. Conceptualizing the Shot: Using Strobes in Indoor BMX Park
  41. Lighting with Strobes: Indoor BMX Park
  42. Action Shoot: BMX Athlete with Strobes
  43. Capturing Variations of BMX Athlete
  44. Shoot High Angle Action Shot: BMX Rider
  45. Directing an Athlete Portrait: Indoors
  46. Lighting a Portrait: Indoor BMX Athlete
  47. Portrait Demo: Indoors BMX Athlete
  48. Portrait Demo: Adding Atmosphere
  49. Transmitting Live from the Field
  50. Panel Q&A

Reviews

a Creativelive Student
 

If you're looking to learn from one of the greats of action photography who also happens to be an incredible instructor, look no further! Corey Rich and his fantastic team will show you every facet of being a great action photographer and they share all of their insights from A to Z. Their instruction is heartfelt and they laid it all out there for everyone's benefit. A huge thank you to Creative Live and Red Bull Photography for bringing this to the world. This is a must have class in your library!

WildWithin
 

One of the best photographic purchases I've made. Big fan of Corey Rich's work and getting a behind the scenes look at how he works and thinks was thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening. Corey and the others also provided a great amount of insight into the business world behind action sports photography.