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There's Just One You

Lesson 5 from: Creative Expression in Photography

Joel Grimes

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Lesson Info

5. There's Just One You

Lesson Info

There's Just One You

There's just one you I love this section now did I say that on every section right? But I love this section there's just one you and now this guy I love that this is steve uh stevens he picked me up in kansas city for an event he's my driver he was a photographer but he he was one that picked me up I love people I'm looking I'm going dude, you make a great portrait and so we brought him into the class and we photographed him I love people I love recruiting people of making someone looked like a million dollars like a larger than life superhero that's my goal as a photographer to do something that not only filled fulfills my vision but also give somebody a gift all right, you are unique one of a kind there's no one on the planet just like you if you take my workshop I'll probably to pete that one hundred times you're unique one of a kind there's no one on the planet just like you that's the beauty of it you can't be anybody else but you but what happens if I have curly hair what I wanna...

do with it straighten it if I have blond here what I want to do darken it if I have no hair what ideo cry there's not much options there but no, we always want the opposite right? If we have light skin we want any darker we could go to the tanning booths you know if you had dark skin we want the skin lighter whatever we are we want the opposite now why is that it's true it's because of our human condition that's being human we always want what we don't have and so once you understand this, it helps you because, um we're very fickle dh infact I say this a lot our human condition is so predictable ever watch um, intervention the show intervention on I don't know what I'd do it on netflix or whatever sad cases right and it's almost the same story every time almost every time someone got hurt, they turned to alcohol drugs something and they just destroy their life all the people around that love him try everything they can to get him to go on and it's like a battle right very predictable so you're predictable, you're predictable were all predictable and so the fact is is that whatever I have, I want something I don't have, but if you embrace your uniqueness, unbelievable things are gonna happen, so I always put ansel adams up cannery carter basan, irving penn there like the fathers of, you know landscape the decisive moment street photography irving penn the father of portrait photography if you don't know those I think we all know hands allowed is right, but you don't know those looking up henry carter basan unbelievable street photographer like irving penn was way ahead of his time in the fifties and sixties. They're one person they made an impact in the photography world. And when we look at ansel adams, we say, oh, ansel adams was so amazing, or henry carter basan or irving penn, or even someone like annie liebowitz, you know, someone that's, a current, you know, kind of throw a woman in there because there's, um, amazing women photographers, but we think there's something special, but guess what? They got nothing on you that you don't have. They were special because they took what they had a passion for when at all cost and with all risk went out and built a body of work and the world took notice. They got nothing on you. Though they weren't any more unique than you. They weren't any more talented than you. Wait a minute. No. Come on, joel. Are you serious? Yes. They had that certain attitudes towards certain things. And they built a body of work, a lifetime of pounding and pounding and pounding the same old thing over and over, exploring but they got nothing on you that you don't possess you had it all right and you but we think oh great people great you know they could do great things well, you could do the great things too now do I sound like I'm over overstating it? I do, but I believe if it within my soul that if you take your uniqueness bill the bodywork work really hard at it amazing things will happen I believe it and I said this from day one I'm a testimony I'm just an average joe or joel just numbers guy yes, when his little kid I was always looking out the window, you know, I had visual I'm reading a book right now I said by malcolm gladwell, the david and goliath and you know, I have ah issue with being dyslexic when words take words like this really fast they start to go and things happen I can't. My brain doesn't catch up as I go across the page and reading had a hard time reading is a kid and, uh, back in those days to I don't think they understood a lot about how to overcome those kind of, you know, learning disabilities but mark malcolm gladwell's that's a case for and that kids that struggled in that area overcompensate and become and become great people accomplish great things and he lists a whole list of people that were disk lex iq had problems with reading that achieved unbelievable things because what they did and I do is I had to compensate and being visual came natural for me and I've had to work really hard at overcoming that but what I'm saying is is that we all have something that we're not really good at and we've had I'll compensate around that and so um so it is true that we're all made a little differently but the fact is is talent is just a result of someone who refined something and bill's does something and puts the time in and achieve great things that's what talent is you're born with you you got you got things that you could take and rock the world but we just don't believe it most of time remember I said as a little kid we were taught to not be leaders we're taught to be followers for the most part and um so there's just one you on the planet and that's good news how many michael jackson's that we need in the spine right one lady gaga does that name any great singer we only want one we don't need ten of them I love bob dylan my wife hates bob dylan how could that be now bob dylan does bob dylan have the greatest voice on the planet? No amazingly the boy when vh one did the top one hundred artists of all time bob dylan would think was number five beatles stones whatever was bob dylan how is that possible? You know he was just like I mean but he rocked the world white because he was a poet he wrote poetry and music and he changed the way we look at how we write music huge influence was he a great guitar player but he had it all in terms of enoughto rocked the world of what he did you got it built right into your uniqueness is a single greatest asset you possess as an artist let me say that again your uniqueness is a single greatest asset you possess as an artist then we right told you I was a bit colorblind have so called blind when I tell the story and people laugh I told my wife I'm going to the dealership I'm gonna buy a car and I said I want a gray a grave toyota forerunner I came back with a green one pulled up in the driveway my wife said do you realize you just bought a green car like are you kidding me? I'm colorblind now when I was a freshman in high school freshmen in high school I started photography and dr are mr dobson was my teacher he was a bit older probably in his sixties and we had uh all these assignments to do in a dark room and stuff on the board, in the classroom or on the on the one side of the room was this board and I had all these names they're about thirty names on and off the side of the name was in number six hundred points all the way up to about nine hundred something points and there was there all the students previous he'd been there for years and so if you wanted, you could go and see if you get on that board, give you assignments, go out new perspective, go out and do you know the different, you know assignments and he'd give you six points, ten points, whatever and so I started going and working I want to get on that board. I'm a very competitive guy and, uh, for the first time in my life, I felt like I was doing something that clicked to me, you know? I didn't do too well in math didn't do too well on reading, writing all that stuff and but photography in this school and so I said I'd get on that board and I said not only my get on that board, I'm gonna be number one on that board that was my mindset, so I started working, I was doing all sorts of assignments and after school doing stuff and it finally came to where I had to do a color assignment and I went in the darkroom and so we had a big huge black dark room and there was little room off the side was old color dark room so he gives you actually a negative so negative you know how much reference do I have on a negative in terms of accuracy of color a transparency is one thing a negative so I put it in there do all my calculations and try to figure it out I come out and beaman I'm like wow, I come out what do you think, mr dawson? He says and I got this big smile he says you're color blind right and just like the wind went right out of me because I was like on a roll and I kept thinking of my head I'd like to do this I could be a photographer right? And he says you're color blind, aren't you? I said yes and he saw the expression on my face and he said to me see that board over there I said yeah see the number one kid I'm not on top of that so yeah he was car blind to really yeah he said don't ever let your color blindness keep you from chasing your dreams that's amazing and I never did okay now let's let's speed up today I'm do photo shop now I know I could never go in a dark room and make a print you ever hire me in a lab that's for sure? In fact, women are the best printers and color correcting you know, on the planet goto lab and saw women usually doing that guys are you know, kind of a little bit color blind you know, whatever but point is when when photoshopped came along I'm like panicky I think how can I do my own photo shop? Because I don't see green pink purple I went in arts to supply store and I wanted to get a gray paper stock and I found this great paper stock is like and had a little polka dots on it was like ma'am excuse me excuse me I go do you have this gray like this without the polka dots? She says that speak oh that's how color blind ma'am taste so how can a color blind person like me color correct my images? What did I do? Oh, I created a look that fits me I went down a path that was safe for me so I d saturate my images I'm taking a color black and white together who is the saturation that built my look the look that I have today my color blind is the single greatest asset I possess is an artist because that path took me down uh direction that was in the unique to joel and what happens when you do that you stand out from the crowd good or bad I stand out love it or hate it I stand out and so I tell people they always coming to me go oh you're color blind, huh? How can you be a photographer greatest thing I ever had that happen to me as I'm color blind go on tio identify your uniqueness for you and the color blind wass urine uniqueness but that's probably not the only thing oh yeah I gotta think still yeah but how do you identify it when how would I sit down find my uniqueness your uniqueness yeah all right. Okay it's easy. We're talking about a minute. Okay? Good it's so easy to find your uniqueness because when you become you if it's like a glove if you don't become you and try to be someone else it's a struggle so all you gotta do is just be you we'll keep going I think I think I'm more that create within your uniqueness and you'll stand out from a crowd but if you copy someone else you're gonna blend with the masses okay? So let's say I think I mean, what do we got going here? Be yourself and original is worth more than a copy in fact that's not my quote I was sitting in the bathroom and that was on someone's wall I was visiting their home be yourself how hard is it to be yourself not that hard how is it heart how hard would it be to meet you to be me a lot harder so the joy is is that when you're working from your uniqueness it's easy you say ok I'll give you an example my friend stephen and we were in portland and uh we're roommates and we were love photography went up and uh the columbia gorge and we're driving along columbia gorge we look over here is this stream going on the freeway were packed kind of backpack it back in their little ways and I said stop stop stop we pull over he said I go there's gotta be a waterfall up there I was in the waterfalls so we get a little camera bags we start trumping through no trail up through the the trees will get all the way up there and it's like an hour hike we finally see and there's this gorgeous waterfall I'm like oh I can't get in my camera time sitting there taking pictures I'm like do long exposures but for digital right but and I look over and there's my friend steve he's on a stomach he's got a camera with his macaron and he's photographing a flower I go steve what do you doing we just hiked an hour about killed herself were all is wonderful what do you want a graphing the flower for because I think this is a lot more interesting than the waterfall I go you could photograph that down there by the car probably, but even that's are you differences? I wanted the grand land, the landscape he wanted to close up different. Something different were drawn to it. So if you said to me you have a photograph mackerel close up flowers will be not so exciting for me but for him a watch just follow your techniques. Uniqueness that takes you down a path it's easy and so that's. The fun part about being an artist. How many richard avedon's is the world looking for? Greatest fashion photographer that I think we know of there's some good fashion tires but he was one of them. We don't need one. I only need what you want to you but you possess it. You already possess it. You don't have to go look for it. You already already have it. You know the train for it yet to recognize it I think maybe I guess but were afraid to be us. Why criticism? So how do you? We talked a little bit about overcoming criticism yesterday. Um, but it's a risk being you, teo teo, where you take it and put your put it on? You know you wear it on your sleeve what's that that term yeah, because what's gonna happen is someone's going to take a swing at it we're going I think talk talk about that more later but someone's going to take a swing at it you bu but here's the thing if you if you say I won't take the risk and you feel the bodywork you don't do a good job I mean you refine your craft you looked at my portfolio when I was in college would you say it was a good photographer? No, probably not. And did you say jules got he's got a chance to be a world but over time you get better and better you were all going and even in the year from today I hope I'm better than today. I hope I've you was going back to building a body of work. I mean, how many images are we talking about the body? Twenty thirty images hundred images? Well, we talked about it yesterday about a portfolio how many images in a portfolio? My all in back in the old days we used to put about thirty and then today we're used to more images, right? Because the one yet internet stuff I have about seventy and my current print portfolio on my port on my website probably one hundred fifty I don't know, maybe more net broken down by categories well, let me ask you this if you had a gallery showing how many prints do you think they would have feels it was your gallery showing you probably have what? Twenty thirty okay that probably got a good body of work my cactus siri's I did when I strobing cactus probably ended up with about twenty five thirty images that I thought looked like you know that rocked so at least they're twenty five thirty images how long's it take to get that at least a year probably remember I don't know if I said this but um I try to do fifty self assignments a year one almost every weekend or weak and miss all my chaos of speaking and doing commercial advertising work and a family and everything else I do I try to stick in one test shoot a week because I know that's what it's gonna take to compete in the real world so that's hard work remember go backto hard work we're going to talk some more about that a minute but that's the way it iss you have to compete but build the bodywork and here's the beauty of building the bodywork well I don't know I guess I'm maybe jumping ahead but here's the thing bill the body of work that you have something that's access within probably an hour drive of your home you see I want teo I want teo eh siri's of um uh skiers in the rocky mountains but you live in texas a little bit of a challenge to get enough you know, you got maybe take a couple trips, but but if you live in texas what's close to you you know, there's things close to you I did a syriza cactus and tucson because that was my backyard so I could repeat it and I tell you the first time I went out to the desert to do a picture of a cactus trove it I had a soft box up because I shops lockbox on everything right? So I set the soft box up, I get back and the wind blows, it just flies right over, right? So the next day I went on camera and umbrella I'm so smart put an umbrella up and go back to make pictures that blows over. I got bare hood just a bare head think that's why I use from then on just a bare head all my cactus stuff. But I learned a long time and I learned that okay, when you photograph a cactus, you got a bunch of clutter in the front of the cactus don't look very good so you want like a swirl with smooth rocks or something in front so you'll go drive down a dirt road where there's lots of the world and how many squirrels have a smooth front with nothing in front of it? Not very many so you're bouncing me on the road for two hours, looking for the perfect cactus with the perfect background takes time, but I didn't know that at first. So what time I get better and better, I I get trained that I'm driving on the road just jump out going shoot it because I'm trying to mai's when you do a siri's of something, you do well up and I for it. So the first time you go out, do cactus you pride make the same mistakes I did, but I'm ahead of you because I've been doing it for thirty days or whatever. Three years ahead, people I had so many people emailed me and said love your cactus stuff. I went out and did it, and I realized how hard it was. That is not easy, so just like shooting concerts, I was in a concert situation, put it on p for professional and start shooting. I could probably get a whole case shots, but guess what concerts a lot about tiny right? Position yourself in the right spot and then I'm sure there's a whole list of things I don't even know about there's a lot of thinking about what, actually, so how many concerts does it take before you start getting good couple years worth? Okay, there you go that's the way it isso bill the bodywork but it takes time but it takes time to get better at understanding what you're doing and what doesn't work. And then what happens is you look at a picture. You go. Wow. Everything came together there. Why did it come together? Why is it so perfect? It just amazes me. It just fits me it's like you go well, here's, some elements that why so next time you go out and you try to get those same kind of elements toe happen again. So that's why a serious is so important you become an expert at it. So if I wanted to kayaking, I have a friend character james. He does a lot of chi. Aki has his own kayak photographs, people in elements, beautiful lakes and streams and whatever. Cocky. So if I try, teo probably drowned first ball, but he knows because he's done it so many times. And guess what? When you're on a kayak, you don't just take a camera because you go blue and there goes your camera, right? So you gotta have prepared for in case you go under, so gonna have the gear that supports that so many things to think about when you just duke iyke, but you look at character work and you go wow, these are amazing pictures well, because he has figured it all out by doing a series of something so jason just like when photographing a cow I wouldn't know the first thing about a cow I just don't know the cow language very well and you you ever been around horses okay when I was a kid I was around horses you ever had a horse step on your foot only happens once you learned really quickly don't get near a horse to step on your foot man it hurts so that's why a serious is important and you build a body work and um you become an expert at it. So any questions at this point because I want to make sure we don't jump too far ahead I just before we get into questions you know, john you had asked what makes you unique and julie said way we're gonna talk about what makes him unique maybe we could maybe if you all think about what your uniqueness is we could kind of get into a conversation a little conversation about that what do you know about that? Okay, so john tell me what you like what what is it that really tickles you? I mean that you say you know what I love this doesn't that is my problem because there's so many parts off my photographing diet and that I love I love shooting families I love shooting commercial I made a couple of books training, fitness books and I love it all so the problem is that I'm I love so many different things to shoot the main parties I loved shooting people so let me ask you this if you were a musician I love music right? You're a musician and you want to go and build a body of songs go on the circuit created get a producer, get an album and hopefully rocked the world do you have a country western song on your demo? A rap song on your demo you have ah heavy metal rock on your demo no right? Yeah you do country western or you do heavy metal or you do whatever now there are some people that had the gift of cross over the com crossover people they start here then cross over. Taylor swift is one of those kenny rogers is one he's in fact acted just photography to they're gonna honor him and people a in january um but, um there's crossovers but most of time you pick what you want to do and you do what you do in that genre, right? Don't confuse your audience so I would say this figure out when you really love to do and then just say I am going to discipline myself to stick with something and build the bodywork so for example robin, you do babies you do weddings, you do portrait you do uh all these things people but after looking at my work actually last night I went back and looked and I had a different perspective just from the lighting workshop um and realized that I really enjoy doing babies and working with kids and so I was thinking maybe I should try and there without in a little bit I think so now now let's go back to the human condition is so important this might help you when my wife I have a wonderful wife and when I say so honey it's a saturday I'm gonna give you ten dollars you go and spend it wherever you want do you think she goes out and spends it? No you know I give her more than you don't really say that I'm just joking is gonna have to say no no she has in fact complete control over my bank account and she could go on buy whatever she wants she's a total tightwad but when it comes to my kids she spends money like it's free right? I go go buy us something to go buy some clothes no but when our kids they come back with stacks of clothes ah woman we'll spend money on their kids so I'm a photographer I want to make a living where do I go to the dad go to mom babies senior portrait when when most senior portrait our shops or set up it's the mom and the kid that come in it's not the dad and it's not because of dad's working because dad's not really interested and a mom took it to heart right? No, you may open the wallet quickly and so now that it's all about money I'm just saying that if you think about your audience who's your audience who you trying to get teo create an income um and let me ask you, robin have you ever seen an ugly baby not in my think they're you know they're they're precious right? You know? And there might be an ugly baby out there I don't know maybe I was one of them but the point is my mom I loved me right? You ever see that's that's saying you've got a face that only a mamma would love but that's it with mothers, mothers and babies are precious you could make a great living because there are fun to photograph and it is an art form to get it right and there's a lot of people there doing some great baby pictures and, um I think about it okay, so pet portrait okay across the I think in next door to this building there's a dog training center or something because when I look out my window there's two levels of people with all their dogs at six thirty and green they're treating their dogs they put a lot of time and energy and money into their dogs and so when it comes to making an income you could make a really good living photographing pet portrait you're saying there's there's go find out what your audiences so maybe john think about it what would you what could you do that you love that there's a market for it and you build the bodywork concentrate on a little bit more than than they would you would normally and then a year from now alice talk and you'll say joel things were going with gangbusters because I stuck with one little thing for awhile built enough stuff you don't this day there your whole life that's the beauty of being a photographer you say I built a good body of work I'm shooting babies that business is going great I want to try something else does that make sense absolutely way couple q's that sounds great so joel when you created what you consider your greatest artistic achievements how often do you pre visualize your our work as opposed to being really down and dirty creative on the set okay good well that's a good question okay, so what people want to believe and some artist actually get you to believe this is that they're so brilliant that they can figure it all out ahead of time and then executed well I'm here to tell you know that's not the way it works for me yes I have an idea yes aiken sort of pre visualize in my head some things I want explore but no it usually happens on the set or things just happen in fact on our very, very last session today I'm gonna go and look at some images I'm gonna tell you a little bit of what I was thinking how I approached it looking at the lighting and things and but the thing about life is that it's a discovery process you can't over script it and I get emails all the time and I talk to people that are really a town that I say talented but they have lots of skills but they're always being held back because they want to overthink it and they get so worked up that they don't do anything so my thing is is you don't have to have all scripted and so there's a fear right? So you have a model come in or subject come in and there's a fear that says I may not get it right I'm a below this I may have a right like they called writer's block I may just go oh what to do well that happens to me sometimes so it could happen to you but that's a risk right but the odds are the person comes in they start happening experiment a few things all sudden lamela you get this amazing picture so don't overthink it sometimes it helps to be a little slow right there's not quite all you know too smart yeah so what does the artist joel bring to the set energy wise on dh extra wise the artist joel is opposed to the photographer joel as faras music food wine that I mean what do you what do you bring when you bring energy do you bring to the set for that created side well okay so when I remember I said about if I look at my my scenario I'm gonna dio I asked myself a question could I have done this ten years ago? I want to do something unique I want to do something pushes the boundaries a little bit I want to do something I wanta hang on my wall that's the probably the most important thing when I get done with it I want a hand on the wall I can't wait to show it off that's the artist in me so I worked really hard at that and again I may go to all that trouble hanging on the wall and nobody pays attention to it that's true there's arrest there but I'm willing to take the risk so it's really just saying I want to do something that's, just so much fun. I want to put on that wall. I just want, you know, those kind of things go through my head, and I'm using a lifetime of experience that comes into the mix of things but it's. Not over thought or over scripted.

Ratings and Reviews


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.

Student Work