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Creative Expression in Photography

Lesson 10 of 10

Images and Process Part 2

Joel Grimes

Creative Expression in Photography

Joel Grimes

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Lesson Info

10. Images and Process Part 2

Lesson Info

Images and Process Part 2

So here's mustafa photographed him for his cd uh, rapper and give you a sense that side to this he was loosed off those great guy. I've got to know him since them, but he was a little bit reserved. And so I got these pictures and photographed him. Now I think three or four times, but he was about these pictures and I had just gotten back from alcatraz. And so I was sitting there going I want with one of my aka trash shots would work, so I dropped him in. I sent over there. Our director, our director jo oh, my god. That's amazing sends it to him. Mustafa freaked. He was pissed so that our director calls me up. Says mustafa is really pissed what he hates that picture what I go asking why so finally get a calling he says, well, here's a story mustafa grew up in a rough neighbourhood and his mama said, don't you ever end up in jail? And what do I do? I put him in jail so later I said we stopped, like, has do another session with him. I said, I love that picture he goes, yeah, okay, keep it...

hey, was I like it to people around me all like it and he and I think using it but the point is is you kind of have to know that kind of stuff I don't really you know there's things that I missed you know I'm not sensitive to and so anyways fun stuff uh and this habsburg um now he does a lot of allstate stuff he's a great guy too and then here this is for a book cover uh when you live in l a you have prop houses they're literally around the corner you get just about anything you want this is actually metal steal all that it's riel armour and so it's really fun to be able to work out of you know lacey where you have all that stuff to be able to use for props and stuff I love musicians I love this guy was actually football player but he was in disorders and so we thought well let's try something kind of fun so you know again eyes these images aren't all that thought out but yet my lighting is do you know that my lighting is thought out is no mistakes on my lighting I'm really a fine tuning things and so uh this is an early picture but look at the jawline the light going across the cheeks and you got you got a question I just want to say I don't know if there's a person watching this that doesn't wish they had a picture of themselves photo of themselves on a portrait of themselves on by usual okay now here's that now here's here's a kind of a good segue way to something and people have asked me now you're really over doing things like they're kind of like, you know, lighting drama whatever like this and these people asked me does anybody hate your work? And I have had people that said I don't really like that that's just too much but generally yes you people go oh my god this is great, right? But the fact is is that now that I've built the body of work so if you come to me say I want a portrait or I come to you and I say I would love to see your portrait you pretty know much know what you're going to get that's a good thing because there's no surprises at the end of it is I'm gonna do this superhero, you know, image and so that's what? I've built enough images now where it's like oh, I like that I want you to do my picture so I get calls from musicians and different actors and whatever and so it's fun to have built that reputation or that look so that people know what they're getting there getting into um so let's listen let's go um I want to show you one image here um it's of this guy on a motorbike or his chopper in the background this is not a composite and so I remember when I photographed timothy and it was the first three ej light right not but maybe a couple weeks or I don't know exactly when but it wasn't that long after I photographed his name is david dave sorry if I messed up his name but so I go to do my three ads light right and I had I had um two vagabonds before my einstein's but I had the regular white linings and I didn't make you in the vagabonds in those days they had a little connection that you could take out there's a fuse there and stuff well I forgot that popped out right so I plug everything to get charged up have two vagabonds but one's not charged up so you know location the first couple pops worked and then when I started to shoot my light over here quit working but the sun was coming this direction already had one light over here it went overhead light and we grew way drew a crowd I mean it was crazy we had people all behind these people are what you do and now I'm making no that's my fault I got this guy and I didn't know my light wasn't going off so bummer I got the stuff back but still there's enough light in ways so I've built this image but this image is the image that I did I open was over christmas time that I sat down. I literally opened this image from start to finish over one hundred times and I built my photoshopped techniques off of this image and I kept going down that patent hope this back I like that but don't like this up and about halfway into the week or so I thought, what would it look like if I took a color version and a black and white version and blend the two together and that's how he got that look I showed you member was all from this picture spending over a week or so just going over one hundred times opening closing it so that's what helped me build that look so that's the fun thing is just exploring and I knew is right win when it felt right and so I have a question here from robbery toa who would like to know has anyone ever shot you in your style of shooting? Well there's this I was teaching a workshop and and uh the uk in london and um one of the guys took a picture I was standing in front of my lights talking to people and he says let me take a picture of quick and I was just stand there going like this, right? And then they all laughed and I said who and this guy takes a picture of me right marc and I look like a cartoon character I like her and so now would you go on google joel grimes images there's this goofy picture of me and so I'm not joking I have been introduced account but I'm on a venue they say welcome joel grimes and they're behind the screen comes up that stupid goofy picture like get that thing down but uh you know it is what it is you know what about in your style well that was kind of he did it kind on that in that look and had three ej light and you know but not really not like you know like I know I haven't had it officially officially done but so here's a guy stepping uh looks like it's in portland I was teaching a workshop and I got there early drove around got some backgrounds so all I had that all I had this guy doing was he would step like this in a studio just keep doing that and finally get the look I wanted to drop him in there is it looks like he's walking down the street so um all fun stuff here's one of um uh unique and I think she was on her wall yesterday but um I did this little siri's of tables you know I mean this table look you know you've seen more and more of my my website um and so people say, hey, while that's a really cool idea, you know, with the hair and what happens we're doing a portrait doing portrait and then I go I was trying something let's, do something, just grab your hair, do something that's what she did so was I brilliant? No, but I was prepared to see it happen to make it happen. So it wasn't because I was smart here's a here's a uh uh joshua, same table and, uh so here's a campaign I did for bc lotto. Um you don't see a lot of pictures of with me or with more than one person, right? So people come in and have more than one person. Well, because I love that one port portrait in your face. Look, now, when you get more than one, people which this is shot in the studio here and then the backgrounds dropped in, right? So it's a lot of work to do this, but, um when you shoot more than one person there's a little bit of a trick that will help get you so that the light looks more even on all your subjects. And that is the more you back your lights up the value of light from your first person to your second person to your third person is more equal, right? So if it's really close to soft box or whatever it is it's going to blast the first person and then the last person barely gets the light so if you back your lights up and my light's here had to be at least ten, fifteen feet from my subjects out a way to be able to make that ratio I guess you'd call it mohr equal, so I still three light approach, but they're backed up so that makes sense. So now that I know that when I first got him in there I had a lot of problems I just kept back in my lights up until they got to where they're even so um that's just a little little trick that you might wantto look at um forced perspective member what I said I love forced perspective here's one of a rapper and um I didn't know this, but I dropped him in the background put it all together and then I was showing it at a event and someone said, it looks like he's got wings, so I didn't know that, but I'm positioning a man it just felt right and so again I could say, oh yeah, I did that on purpose and he's called his rap name is I think the future or something, so, um bringing in something about that person that tells a story is extremely important that tattoos the cross you know um you know he did the pose I just said you kind of do something and he did the pose but I'm there waiting for it to happen and so that's what I love is uh not too scripted but yet I know um when I see it so here's a funny story arizona highways magazine called me and they said we want to do a portrait of the arizona rangers do a syriza portrait of theirs and rangers and I said to the editor I'll do that if I could do it in composites and I've already done the cactus thing member I did the cactus thing and I didn't digital and then I did some stripping in the sky and stuff so they said okay we'll let you do it so we were living a tucson the time and so these five rangers showed up all the same time in their trucks big fool drives because they go out the back hills it with all their guns and they converged on my house all the same time the neighbors started calling and my wife being a jokester uh said well I think joe lt's been caught for running drugs they're coming to get him and uh anyways no they were they were actually in my living room we photographed in the sweep and uh they looked they were perfect subjects perfect subjects for what I do and I created that whole background you know and then that light in the corner up there that's completely created from scratch and photos first time ever done that but it's kind of fun funny comment just came in from captain check joel who says please tell joel that I would be happy to shoot him in his style I need the practice and if he says no I'll ask it at least eight yeah you know I've had assistance contact me and say ok I'm going to ask you a times to be your assistant but uh actually they know none of them ever actually gone to eight they said they were but they weren't um here's the first image have ever done that has more than one element okay so normally what I do is I photograph the portrait in the background so on this one um I had this is one of my son's friends when they were kind of doing the rock and roll band thing and so I photographed paul and he was sitting originally on an apple box uh my assistant al had a couple old um suitcases he brought over weeks photographed each one of those separate photograph the guitar separate photograph the dog separate I had to photograph the leash I actually had my son hold the dog in his hand with the the leash in his hand droop off his knee and ijust later just took it out and drooped it and put put put the position on paul's hands so this is I think seven elements and so I this is the first time I ever did shadowing around a subject you know full and I actually did the shadowing on the background and so I was locked in I couldn't change it and I learned the next time to make a blank lay remember I showed you guys had maybe I'll do that but uh so that was fun it's a funny image teo um explore on so let's keep going anymore questions I'm gonna crank through these and let's get teo I think entertainment there are questions but we can wait. Okay, well, musicians um here's here's um this guy his name is saul found him on model ma'am so look at the model man and here's this guy has got a little profile. I'm like email him hey, I'd love to photograph you he shows up in my studio and I dropped him in the background and so uh so much fun and then this is um uh a reggae singer and to get, um the background remember I told you how I shoot into a soft box I was going till the wrinkles disappear, so if you're gonna blow light into a white background like this that's when I used the blink ese so you set your camera to blink, ease, and you'd start putting light until the blinky start going and you back it down just a little bit, and then you get nice, pure, clean white so you want a blast, too much light, and then it could express to fog around so let's see any other questions on this? I'm going to just go through here and see if there's another one I want to talk about, um, there are questions that come up, and I know we have have talked about this last couple of days, but licks picks would like to know how long do you take processing? One one image on average? Great question, and I had a whole thing on this. I think I actually shared this in mexico last week. I was speaking at photo experience, I get people to come to me say, you know what I mean? Ten minutes into photo shop, I'm exhausted, I'm done, I said, great. Some people come to me, you say I can go three days on an image and that's about my limit my limit three hours, maybe four and then I'm done. I'm exhausted so that's, this is a good point I've created a joel grimes look with that takes about three hours to four hours a day that fits my personality, so people say, why don't you have forty different things happening in your backgrounds and, you know, spaceships flying through the air and, you know, because I have about a three hour for our limit, I'm done with an image. I don't know what your limit is if it's four days bill images that take four days and guess what, you're going to create a bodywork I could never do and if ten minutes is your limit that's great bill, the bodywork that takes ten minutes on per retouching, does that make sense? That's part of our uniqueness, you can't get me to work four days on an image I'm telling you what I would I don't have any here to pull out, but I would give nets so that's important to understand so here's the good news if you have a limit of ten minutes and you want to try to copy joel grimes, you'll never do it because I don't think you can do what I do in ten minutes, so if I look at someone I go, oh my god, look at their work and I go to try to copy it, but I don't realize that takes in four days or weak to build one image I don't know how long it takes dave hill to do an image, but it's just not for us hours so I could ever be dave hill because I can't I don't know how long it takes. I heard it takes. He does a lot of retouching takes a long time. I don't know. Well, uh, alfie wanted to know if you sleep on it and then maybe after it's done and then change something later. And we did talk about that yesterday. Yes, because what happens is you get so absorbed in an image and you don't see things. So you go to sleep. You wake up the next morning. Go. What happened? What did I do? What was I thinking? I missed this. Did that forgot to do this, and I might clean it up a little bit. Pull back on some things. Luckily, I have a bunch of layers, and I could do that. So, um, yes, I do sleep on it. And have you ever done this? You ever posted a picture on flicker or something? And then three days later you go. What in the heck was I thinking? Yeah, I do that all the time. So, yes, guess what? I'm human. I do crazy, stupid things. And I don't think through things all the time I got a question for you yeah, the chicken before the egg do for the majority of your shots are you shooting the subject and then finding the background or vice versa you know that's the question I get almost every time I speak so that's a great question um it really works both ways so ah lot of images you see I d'oh I've done the background before and then I state that the subject I just married him together it's but I know I don't think it out most the time I'm not it's not that well thought out the girl that's standing on the rock and sultan see the swimmer she's like like this I shot the background found the swimmer put him together but most of time is not that thought out so like I just did a campaign for I'm shooting right now and tell the client but now they're sending me off to the backgrounds so I've already shut the studio stuff that's not gonna shoot the backgrounds so it works both ways but um uh the way I answer that is this usually that people think that I'm mohr thought out the process is more thought out I guess that's why I'm saying it's not and so what does that tell you that even someone who's not all that brilliant can actually pre great images it's just that don't try toe overthink it that's why I tell people you know you're really smart it's a handicap and you're just too smart you're overthinking it bang your head against a concrete a few times and then you come down to my level and then you creates amazing images all right so here we have uh monique great model on in l a and so um with this was hanging on the wall yesterday but I love to show this image in that that those values from here to here is fine tuned exactly the way I wanted so to do this if it comes down the lighting good model but a good lighting you know and fine tuning it's all those lights are being positioned and valued perfectly and so I say that on ly not because you know uh I won't discourage you but is that when you learn lighting like we did the first day you confined to knit that well that's the beauty of it and so don't be afraid to um just move those life just enough to get what your eye says good there's monique again oh, those birds they keep following me um I love panorama I love so I went up on the side of the hills you started creating backgrounds now north of san francisco so let's talk about back grounds for second I said this is the day that people e mail me all the time do you sell your backgrounds or do you buy your backgrounds is from stock and I am almost like you have got to be kidding how could you think that the reason why I do that is because I'm an artist and I would never want to use someone else's background, would you? I hope not now if you're on a commercial advertising scenario and the client he has to put another background with your picture in it or whatever I guess that's fine, but ultimately I want my own backgrounds why? Because I'm an artist I want to see it all the way through and so to get backgrounds takes a lot of work to build a library of images a lot of work so I've been shooting backgrounds now for six years every free minute I get out the door I'm out doing backgrounds and built a pretty good library there's still not enough images I'm my own stock house basically and so when I went to sweden remember john what was I doing? What did I say? Get backgrounds and I'm recruiting people to take me out to shoot what? Remember docks I one of those docks you guys would call him what were they bring your whatever I kept saying I need some docks what? You know, doc, you know you're in the water what? But anyways um there's like doc's everywhere and so we you know out here is like, you know, you have to search the lakes and you finally find a doc right maybe not in seattle area but there may be lots of docks, but the point is is I have envisioned I want these docks and his backgrounds and I got a really good one still sweet been in landscaping photograph before you do you'd use old pictures from that time no because they're all in the film days and they're all packed in a box somewhere in the middle of the attic okay, you know I haven't scanned them and that probably wouldn't be very good I'm grown that much I wish I could use my old someone landscapes but I tell you what I got I brought with me all those years of shooting landscapes I bring it to me to be able to shoot backgrounds so people say, hey, your backgrounds alone could be just great picture I hope so I hope it's that though they're that good but they're not always that good but I'm just saying I worked really hard on my backgrounds so um but I can tell you this shooting the backgrounds like I'm like a little kid tripod camera right shoulder boom out the door go I don't need let the lights I don't eat assistant I just go out and shoot backgrounds I'd like a little kid I have so much fun shooting backgrounds, so when someone someone says do you stock images I go what you're kidding I'm having too much fun why would I want to go and buy a stock image and that someone else took and um you know not not do it myself okay so let's talk about let's go with this one with amy um they remember I shot on day one the big soft bach or the umbrellas the diffusion and the overhead zach same lighting here and so what I did was I shot a background in the huntington gardens or huntington mansion and then I blew that out I just on purpose and photoshopped boot out through a lot of white in their and um there's my lifestyle shot very soft life shell shock I love this picture so um again not very difficult not rocket science so let's think about what else? Any other questions on some of these I go through every single image we did have a request in chat if you could talk about the woman with the cactus well I don't have that on here perfect um that was like a couple weeks ago is prettier new image and she's she's cut out knocked out um the background is shot in joshua tree uh was shot with a tilt shift lens and then um process thirty two bit and which means what bit death what does that mean? More tones more values more information so we got we got mega pixels is one thing but death is another thing so in fact, I just got a text from rick births rick is the master explaining um explaining a bit depth and I'm learning more about about it but let's put it this way and rick has these grafts are just amazing, but if you take a bit and you make it into a piece of paper so that's the height of the paper laid on the table that's a bit that's j peg and so we don't we capture raw, but our cameras capture fourteen and I think I explained this in my creative live thinking outside the box and one hundred percent sure but um fourteen bit gives you a lot more information thousands of colors more and then you've got sixteen bit which what we could do if we go hdr and go from votomatics or nick or whatever we go bring sixteen bit so fourteen bit is a stack of paper like that sixty bits that stack of papers like that do you want thirty two bit is a stack of paper hits the ceiling that's a lot of information now we can't work in sixteen been photoshopped, right? So what's the value of thirty two bit well I captured thirty two bit see how dark the skies are there that great aided the great degradation in there? If I had done that in sixteen bit or fourteen bit, it'd be like garbage really hard doesn't hold very well great asians are really hard for for digital and uh and in photography and so um sixteen it would've been better, but thirty two big gives me ability go like butter from top to bottom, so what I do is I'm bringing the thirty two bit into raw moving on my sliders that were I want I'm getting this guy's the value I want then go boom over to sixty bit and I'm nailed it then I do my stuff to him I don't have to go back and make the skies dark and all that so that backer was shot uh thirty a bit and then of course the portrait was in the studio my typical three ej light but I have one lights a little bit more on her face there and and so I was doing all these pictures of her straight on and also I just said turn member yesterday I told her two days ago I told alex just it was yesterday what day is it? Well, I told her to turn and I'll said boon that rim light comes right upon her face beautifully that's what I did there so that's how that picture was coming about but again, it's explained three two bit were great time folks, so you got only can create thirty two bit out of hdr I don't think it's a camera on the planet right now maybe there is nasa might have one or somebody's got one built but nobody's selling it unless you wanna pay a hundred grand for it so you gotta get build thirty two bit through hd are so um that's fine all right, so let's go to another one of these is some old images here um the other thing about a composite is I shot this cactus straight overhead so actually put my camera up on a kind of a boom thing I just did it and then I bring it flip it and photo shop and put in front of her right this is kind of interesting thing so here's, another thing is really wild this is fun I was in his garage and really you like kind of like what's the water was seeping through, causing all these great streaks I was like, wow, these air beautiful but the one there's only one section that was about this wide that was perfect and it had a concrete here it was concrete here concrete here with water you know stains so I set up and I shot it and it's only this wide right I flip it and then put a person in it and it looks like this huge, really decrepit ated old concrete facility but the backgrounds on lee this big in real life that's the beauty of compositing is you don't know the scale so I can fool you and you don't know that's a side our overview shot of a cactus I hope you don't I don't maybe do but so it's like there's ways of fooling your audience to get things you couldn't do in one capture so that opens up what a whole another world of possibilities and so um also recently I've been doing thirty two bit landscape images I did the lake lake tahoe lt's off and this is a plug for camera injured because I love what they're doing but with my camera inger aiken bracket s o and so when I was doing hdr of water you'd have let's say for example for seconds fifteen seconds thirty seconds or something like that and so when you put all the three the three together and uh either photoshopped or knicker are automatics you got the water has different movements right? Because a four second exposure on water looks different than a thirty seconds and so it funky things were happening but because I when I saw a I s so brackett possibility I was like wait a minute I could do that on water so all my lake tahoe stuff is I got my iphone out on location with my camera ranger and I'm doing bracketing I s o so I said it of thirty seconds or fifteen seconds and I just go go and in brackets click click click on different isos, but the water stays the same throughout the whole bracketing sequence. So there is some fun things that are happening with the technology we're getting at our fingertips today. Plus the really fun thing about that little camera inger is aiken, go set my tripod up, go get in my car, get a cup of coffee, sit there and actually take pictures which I don't think I've ever done. But, you know, you could do it from a distance or sit on a rock, put the camera in the water a little bit and come back and shoot not to stand right there and control your camera, but it was a fun stuff, so but but what? What I'm thinking is saying is that because of all these tools we have today, I can do things like again and hdr overhead cactus flip it and we're talking about jason, about your with your cattle and about doing a photographing a cattle cow, having a hard time with all the terminology there on a sweep or something that's, just you knock it out and then dropping that cow into rolling hills, right? Create it's unbelievable, gorgeous background that there's no way you could get that cow necessarily there. Because it might be you driving on the road you go look at this spread here you hop out shoot over the fence get back in takeoff and then next week you get your cow sitting in that spread beautiful and then you become the number one cattle photographer in the world by doing some composites um all right how we doing any other questions that were going along here? Well, we're doing vigil so you know we've covered your techniques in action and we've talked about that yesterday we watched him shoot we watch him do photo shop we've talked about the creative process and we've learned how to think like artists which I love so why don't we get into your final thoughts or the just to summarize where where we going with all of this? Joel well when I started out I said I wanted to not impress but to inspire number one goal number two is when you get inspired what do you do? Hopefully you go out and create so I am complete failure as a teacher if I don't get you out of your little butts out into the field or whatever it is studio and creating images that's my goal I want you to in your brain go I can do it it is possible I'm not ill equipped member I said your unique one of a kind there's no one on the planet just like you you have all the tools I guess you say or the makeup to be the next ansel adams, henry carter basan edward weston any leave with whatever it is you want to say you have it in you it's just that not everyone takes that opportunity to go and do it, make it happen and so study any of those great people and they went out and built a body of work, took risk, took the sacrifices and did it year after year after year you look at ansel adams. How old was he when he got on the cover of time magazine? I think he was in his sixty seventies. Ok, sixties. Okay. And when did ansel adams actually get become a national icon? Baby? Fifty sixties. I mean, you know, he took while actually is a time magazine, uh, cover that launched him on a whole nother level, but it's it's it wasn't like he was in his twenties and he was the rock star. We got rock stars today I say rock star photographers, they're doing things today that are more popular in ansel adams was when he was in his twenties, thirties and forties actually think you started it is taking serious pictures in his thirties, but what I'm saying is he spent a huge amount of time doing it, and he repeated it a thousand times that's all it is is repeating a thousand times if not one hundred thousand times how many pictures do you think I'm taken millions not many is the portrait's but millions exposures at least since I started and so it's that repeating it building on top of each other getting out and doing it and so my goal for you is to go out and practice it and believe that you can in fact achieve great things and my other goal is that recognized that you are a human and we have you human traits were very predictable remember I said that and we are weak president secure but we don't have to live there and that's the whole thing is like I said if you do get hurt which we will just go you know what us okay country western versus rap you've produced here you be produced something that someone just didn't quite get and that's okay don't expect everyone to get it so that's my goal is with you go out and make it happen and so I love testimonies when someone says a year later they called the email me joel guess what amazing things are happening because I just finally decided to be an artist stick with it and build the bodywork and now really cool things were happening so that's what I want you guys to dio and of course those that are listening and and uh following this program

Class Description

This course is part of the Joel Grimes Bundle.

Every photographer is an artist, but few consider their photographs works of art. In this one-day online workshop with iconic photographer Joel Grimes, you will learn how to ditch ratio-driven staid photography techniques — and how to embrace the artist within. By unlocking your true creative potential and tapping into your artistic intuition, you will radically transform the quality and range of your photography.

This one-day workshop will teach you how to identify your unique way of seeing the world. Joel will walk you through every step of the creative process, starting with the human condition, how we define art and what constitutes an artist, and why chasing the unattainable is a process crucial to your success in the industry. A photograph is not a reality; it is a representation of reality.

By the end of this workshop, you will understand how to harness the artist within, take bold risks, and make a name for your unique style.



I loved the course, i laugh because Joel and I are kind of alike in General. Hey Joel if you like Ray's music you might like A guy by the name Amos Lee, Different than Ray but great song writer.

Kelley Hurwitz Ahr

One of the things that I love about Joel is that he has a great message along with great photography! I find him to be relatable, an expert in the field and quite motivating. Highly recommend any of his classes.


That was excellent. Loved the seminar and you hit on a lot of great points when it comes to defining yourself as someone who uses photographic equipment as a tool to be creative.