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Lesson 14 from: Experimental Portraiture

Jeremy Cowart

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Lesson Info

14. Q&A

Lesson Info


Thank you all for watching. All that chaos, that was truly interesting. I've never done that before. And I didn't really know what to expect and hopefully y'all enjoyed it. I know I had fun, usually when I'm having fun, I'm hoping that means you're having fun watching. We wanted to announce the last DVD winner, which is, This Is Appropriate. This is from Chandler Attaway. I guess that's how you say your name. You quoted me saying, "There goes coward again, screwing it all up. Thank you Chandler. (laughing) That's perfect 'cause I did screw up a lot, so that's great. So now we're doing Q and A Right? So Kenna and Susan-- We certainly are. Are our chat hosts and they're gonna be passing your questions along. Drilling you. (chuckling) What's that? Drilling you with questions? Yes, bring it. Okay, let's start with a question from (indistinct), in the chat room. Are you getting asked to do more motion and video? A lot of people had asked about video and do you see the indust...

ry moving in that direction? Are you interested in that? Do do a lot of that? Yeah, that's a good question. I would like to do some, I have done some already up. Directed two music videos, which you do not wanna see. They are.. Because I got into photography, because I was genuinely passionate about it. I wanted to experiment, I wanted to try new things. Whereas video, I feel like I started to get into it because I was expected to and 'cause clients wanted me to. And I would rather do something out of natural born passion than doing something 'cause I feel like I'm supposed to, I mean, because other people telling me I should. So we'll see, I mean, I'm interested in fine art, I'm interested in and a lot of things and so I don't really know what's next. I mean, obviously photography will be next still, but I'm interested in lots of other things. So I would rather go out and film something on my own, whether it's on a mission trip or to Africa or something, I don't know that I wanna jump back into music videos, unless I love the song, I love the artists, I don't wanna just direct some country music video because I'm supposed to. So things are moving that way. I do know a lot of very famous photographers who are now video directors and they're doing motion. And I mean, you're an idiot, if you don't think it's headed that direction, it seems like everybody's doing it. So, I'm not jumping in just 'cause everybody else says, "I wanna wait till it feels natural "And it feels like the right time," so we'll see. Good answer. Thanks. So Jeremy, building on, you mentioned your personal work in Africa and Haiti. Question yesterday from (indistinct) was, how do you find nonprofits or NGOs that are interested in photography services? And what has been your experience working with NGOs? I mean, mine of all come through relationships. I mean, a lot of my friends are naturally involved in Africa related nonprofits. And so for me it was just a natural progression of knowing the right people who were working in Africa already. My general advice would be to figure it out what it is you're passionate about, whether that's PETA or Africa, working with animals, whatever it may be and calling that organization. And if you don't know of any organizations, I don't know, I mean, maybe look up World Vision and contact them, see if they're doing stuff. But there's always generally nonprofits looking for photographers, it seems like. Or just when you're there. You can go and find local NGOs and nonprofits when you're on the road traveling. Yeah, in fact, we were talking about that last night. We, my friend, Donald over here who you can't see, we have a friend named Austin Meine who's a good friend of mine, he shoots a lot in Africa and instead of going back and forth, he's just gonna live there, that way, he can make it cheaper for the organizations to use him, so they don't have to pay for his airlines back and forth to the states to his flights. So he's just gonna live there 'cause he loves it that much and does it full time. So that's one way of doing it move to Africa. Another question from (indistinct), and many people had asked this question. How are you presenting your work in meetings? Prints or digital? And if digital are using an iPad or what are you using? People were asking about do you have a print portfolio that you carry around? Or do you recommend that these days? Yeah, I mean, having an agent, she has about four printed portfolios that are 11 by 14, they're black leather bound books, and my library, sorry, I couldn't resist. They are leather bound, but portfolios, and we have my name engraved. It's actually the very standard photographer portfolio but she has those, and she ships them. She mails them to my clients, and I don't really have any on hand, but when I go, she'll send me on the round to LA and New York and go meet and then she'll shoot me my portfolio and so I'll carry that to those meetings. Otherwise they're looking at my website. And when I do those meetings lately, I have taken an iPad with my work and I just asked the art director what they prefer. You wanna look at my work on an iPad or prints and it's usually about 50 50 as to what they prefer. That was gonna be my next question. Cool. I have a question from Levi Carneiro from the chat room. Have you ever turned down a job due to ethics? It's a good question. I've certainly certainly been an interesting... I never know if I'm talking to you guys or the camera? Camera, I guess. Either one. Up to me? All right. I'm tryna think back on that. I mean, generally people know where I stand. I mean, if we're really getting into beliefs, people know kinda who I am, or what I'm about. And so they, I don't think anybody's gonna ask me to shoot, go shoot. I actually have photographed the Playboy of Playmates, but they were fully clothed and it was a part of a bigger shoot. E! asked me to shoot all their talents. So in one day, I got to shoot Ryan Seacrest. Snoop Dogg was supposed to be there, but he didn't show. I shot the Playboy of Playmates, I shot, who else was there, Denise Richards, the Kardashians, all in one day. And so that was part of that, but I don't think they would call me and say, "Hey, go shoot their new show or whatever." And so, people generally know where I stand on stuff. But, I had been in a few situations, where that got fairly awkward. And that's a much longer story. I don't know, it's a good time to go into that right now. But yeah, I mean, people know who I am, for the most part if they're calling me to hire me. So is that good? Question from (indistinct) in the chat room. When starting out, is it better to show variety in your portfolio, to show your versatility as you're doing, as you did today, or should you try to keep it focused more on your style? Even if you're still developing your style? I'm sorry, I was in La La Land. Repeat that one more time. Okay, that's right, no worries. Okay, when starting out, is it better to show a variety of work in your portfolio kind of like what you did today? Or is it better to keep focused on your style? That's hard, 'cause it depends on what industry you're in. I mean, if you're trying to get into what I'm doing, which is entertainment, they usually wanna see a more specific style. I mean, if there are photographers out there who live in a small town and just wanna get work, they probably wanna show people that they're capable of just taking good pictures. So I think variety is a safer route. If they're trying to get into advertising, advertisers usually know exactly what they want. I mean, if you wanna go shoot for Nissan, if you wanna shoot cars, you do not want a portfolio full of fashion stuff. They're gonna wanna see how well you can (indistinct) a car. If you want to shoot lifestyle, if you wanna go like, for example, shoot a target campaign, and you need a portfolio full of happy, smiling people on the beach, or a guy named Nick Onken is a great advertising lifestyle photographer. And he is laser focused on that style and he's a great example of knowing what he wants. And he's very successful now, he's a friend of Chase (mumbles) So, he's known what he's wanting, and he's getting it, he's getting great jobs. But, if like I said, if people are in smaller town and they're just wanting local work, then for now I know that it needs to be as as focused. So I guess it depends on where people are coming from. Jeremy, have a question from (indistinct) in the chat room that was building upon the portfolio question. And what is the smallest number of images that you recommend to have in a portfolio? Or how many images do you recommend? Yeah, Zack (indistinct) has called me recently, and he asked how many I had in mind and I have probably way too many. In my printed portfolio, I think I have between and 90 images, which is far too many. I mean, I think you should be able to show what you're capable of, in about 15 to 20 images if that I mean, 10 images should show a client what you're capable of. So keep it short and sweet. I think I'll go with 20 images. I have more just 'cause I do shoot a very (mumbles) with a very wide variety of stuff. And so, my work is kind of all over the place. Okay, next question from Jessica. How is it that you decided to get into entertainment photography? And then a follow up question from (indistinct). At what point did you consider yourself a professional photographer? I never made a conscious effort to get into entertainment per say. My friends are just musicians and I started photographing them. So it was a very seamless, easy transition for me. I just fell into it basically. I do think it's wise for photographers to choose (mumbles) where they wanna go. I think a lot of people just start out, tryna take good pictures. And while that is a good goal, the sooner you figure out where you wanna go, the better with your work, with your life. I mean, it's not just photography, but what are your goals as a person in your marriage. 'Cause if you want to be married and have a family of five kids, you probably don't want to be a tour photographer, 'cause you're gonna be gone all the time. But if you wanna be single for a long time, then being a jet setting advertising photographer, traveling all over the world might be a safe bet for you. So first of all, decide where you wanna go with your life, and then maybe figure out what works well in terms of what avenue in photography. And then what was the second question? When did you consider yourself a professional photographer? I don't know, I mean, I guess-- A sting shoot? What's that? A sting shoot, All right, sting shoot. I guess at that point where I just quit my job and my design company and so this is what I'm doing full time. So I guess when you're making a living as a photographer and have no other income, I think it's safe to call yourself a professional. Hopefully, you're actually getting work at that point. But yeah, I guess that's what I tell people. On April 1st 2005 is when I started shooting full time, which to me means aka professionally. A question from Michael 69 in chat. Do you encourage shooting for free to build your portfolio? Ooh controversial question. Man, it's like no matter how I answer that, it's gonna fire people up. There's a lot of different opinions on that. I did do some shoots for free in the beginning of my career, I can only answer for myself. Yeah, I mean, I think it's a generally good idea, you just have to be really careful, 'cause already our rates seem to be going down. I mean, people want their music for free these days. They want, we're giving them free training online granted it's paid later, but I feel like the arts in general are being more and more and more devalued. People are like, "I have to pay for this video, "Or I have to pay for your DVD? "By the way, I think that's really funny." Somebody was mad at me the other day on Twitter, for my DVD being $250. I'm like, man, this is like five years of my life that it's taken me. I've had to learn the hard way and I really feel like I'm putting everything on this product. And so I know I have a few friends, that went to a college that will not be named, but they paid $60,000 a semester. And didn't feel like they learned anything. And they're kind of like okay with it. It's like, it's a bummer that I now have over $100, in debt. And then here, I'm trying to give somebody five years of my knowledge for 250, it's you know... When we think of DVD for 250 it sounds expensive, but then when you think about all the education. And I'm not, maybe I should have used somebody else's DVD as example, I don't mean to be pushing my own product. But I think overall, we need to be pushing the bar up, we need to be charging more for photography, we need to be... If you're releasing, I wish that music videos could be paid for somehow, even if it's like 99 cents. I guess some are on iTunes, but I just get sad when I see creatives all around me struggling to make a living and not being able to pay their bills. And so I'm all for creatively figuring out how we can all pay our bills and provide for our families as artists. So as an artist, how do you encourage other artists to value themselves? I think that's something that people struggle with over and over, is how do you put a price tag on yourself? And do you have advice for that? I'm thinking through the answer to that question. I think first of all, do as much research as one possibly can, read books, ask your colleagues, find out what the industry, what the standard is in your city so that you're not undercutting your competition maybe. I mean, I think there's a lot of different answers to that question. Can I guess I'm not specifically asking about pricing more so as valuing yourself. It's interesting. Jeremy, during the (mumbles) During the CHASE workshop, I had asked a question about in order to be successful, do you have to believe that you're capable of being successful? Yeah, I think. Do you think it comes from that place? I think you do and I think that belief could come from a lot of different things. Some people's parents, were not encouraging growing up, so a lot of people just never, no one ever believed in them so they didn't believe in themselves. I'm blessed enough to where I was raised by parents who always believed in me, and I was always encouraged. And so I grew up with a lot of drive and confidence in me, I think that's been a huge part of... My dad, I grew up and he has always said, "You can do anything you wanna do." 'Cause I remember specifically had memories of being on the baseball field, not being able to hit the ball with a bat and I would get so mad and so angry and say, "I can't do this." And he would just drill in me that thought that you really can do anything you want. And so over time, I gained that confidence in myself. And I know a lot of people who are amazingly talented, with no confidence whatsoever and they don't believe and so ultimately, they go nowhere. And so I mean, it depends on the the person I think and their background and the way they were raised or maybe some things that have happened in their past, sorry, my phone is ringing. So again, it's a very complicated thing, but I think the short answer is, if you believe in yourself, then absolutely, I think it's gonna get you a lot further a lot quicker. And furthering that Jane in the chatroom, is asking during the Chase Jarvis interview, you said that you've never had fear, but definitely doubts. Can you talk about that a little bit more? Yeah, I mean, I have this underlying confidence, like (mumbles). When a client calls me and asks me to make a job happen and get the job done, I know I can do it. But I am constantly bombarded with comparing myself to other photographers. Especially when I'm not shooting a lot, I'll go online and I'll see what somebody else has created and allow that to leak into my head and get into my head and think that I really suck. In fact, most of the time, I can honestly say I'm not that. I don't know, I don't think my work is amazing to put it that way. I mean today like, all the stuff we're doing, it's fun to experiment, it's fun to play, and I have confidence in myself to create an interesting picture. But there's a certain bar in my field that unless you're hitting that bar, you're not getting hired. And so I tend to compare myself all the time to this industry standard bar. And if I'm even slightly below that, I tend to start doubting myself. And especially since I'm not in LA, I live in Nashville with my kids. And so I just sometimes feel like I'm out of the picture, I'm falling behind and so those mental games can be rough on all of us as photographers and creative people. And it's just a constant thing to deal with. But I also, I'm comfortable in knowing that I have a long way to go. I like feeling like I have a long way to go, a lot of room to grow and so, it's a journey. We said yesterday that you are really driven. And do you ever procrastinate? Do you wake up every day and work and make sure you get your work done or do you slack? Yeah, I slack a lot. Trying to think of examples. Not that many. No, no, there is. 'Cause I look back on the past two years, and I think my goodness, I toured with Britney Spears, I toured with the (mumbles), I created a book, I went to Haiti, I did a series there, I've done all these jobs, I've made a DVD, I've done all these different things. And so in that bigger picture view, it seems like I've gotten a lot accomplished but then like, for the past two months, I don't feel like I've been doing much at all. I mean, work has been slower this fall. And so I do feel like a slacker a lot of times. I mean, I know other people look at what I'm doing, they think I'm constantly making stuff happen, but I don't feel that way. So you're not perfect. Is that what you're tryna tell me? By no means, yes. That is the mental game, that really is. What else? I have a question from Kevin in the chat room. Do you ever use professional editors as part of your team? And how involved are they in creating the final product if you do? Yeah, I mean, there's some times like the more... I'm a dad now I've got a family, I am running Help-Portrait, I've been creating this DVD, I'm trying to create some iPhone apps, I've got a lot going on. So, I just don't have time to sit in front of the computer like I used to. I used to sit in front of Photoshop for hours on end and I'm more of an entrepreneur these days and when I go home at night, I'm with my kids. So there's a lot less time for me to play in Photoshop and so there's a friend of mine in Nashville named Brad, that I have, do some retouching, but we partner and I kind of pass a file back and forth, but I trust him and I do, I'm still very specific, I want it to look like if I had created it. And then sometimes clients don't even give me that choice. They wanna use their retouchers, I would prefer to retouch everything but I just don't have that kind of time anymore. In the next year, I think something Chase and I talked about is, how I want to spend a lot less time sitting in front of my screen emailing. I mean communication overwhelms me, between texts and emails and DMs and replies and Facebook and blogs. I mean, there's so much communication that we could easily just envelop ourselves with. And frankly, I've gotten to a place where I just don't wanna spend my life doing that. I mean, Twitter and email, I mean, all that stuff will be a part of my life, but I'm trying to decrease it more in and spend more of that time doing what I've been doing today, experimenting and trying new things. 'Cause ultimately, the more I experiment, and pursue personal work, the more of those clients are gonna call even more, so it's kind of a win-win for me to start pushing myself more. Very cool. Cool. We have a question from the audience. Yes. What is your technique for, or of your techniques for smoothing skin and other a lot of different ones, but what are those that you use? Smoothing skin. That is a good question. 'Cause there are a million different ways to retouch skin. I know when I'm in a rush, and I have a lot of images to work on, there's actually a Nik filter I use, Portraiture, or y'all have heard of that. Is that what it's called Portraiture? (mumbles) What's that? Portraiture is not a Nik one though, I think it's imagenomics. Yeah, I came with the name, I'll have to look that up. But the other way I do is, the legit way of zooming in at 1,000%. And, hand touching pore by pore and doing the really long way. Clone up pores or do you fill them (mumbles) I've tried a little bit of everything, I've done the whole dodging and burning where you're, you're dodging the light spots and burning the bright spots. And I've done the Healing Brush thing, where you're just healing out the individual pores. I've tried cloning and textures, I think I've tried all the different techniques that exist. Is it just like per image, you decide which one you would kind of-- Yeah, I mean, it depends on the job. If it's a really high end client, I will spend a full day on one image, but if it's like a type of thing where, like I recently did a smaller budget fashion shoot, they didn't have this huge budget for a week of retouching. So I quickly use that filter and then went in and fill it manually, filled in a few spots but it got the job done and they were very happy. So Jeremy, there are so many questions that we wish that we could ask you for today. We're gonna start wrapping it up. So I just wanna read out to you some things on Twitter. Okay. People have said so many thank you's. Melissa says, "Thanks for inspiring us creatives." Dan says, "You've done an awesome job the past two days." Jade says, "Thank you for believing, Jeremy." I have a great one in TL queen in the chat room says, "Thank you, great inspiration. "Didn't get to see it all, but it's all enough to know "I need to watch and rewatch every minute. "So just made the unplanned purchase." Sweet. And Diego saying, "Sir this has been interesting, amusing, educating inspiring and motivating. All right, that's awesome. That's a lot of thanks. Yeah, before we... Are we wrapping now? We've been told by Craig that we are wrapping. Okay, well do not forget guys, tomorrow, for me is a really big day. Today and yesterday was fun, but tomorrow is not about me, or not about CreativeLive, even though we are hosting here in Seattle, this is a worldwide event as I said earlier, we now have every state of the US participating. We have 59 other countries doing Help-Portrait around the world. And so if you guys can help us out by using the Help-Portrait hashtag tomorrow, we're going to try to get Help-Portrait trending globally on Twitter, because that will make a lot of noise. More people will find out about Help-Portrait, more lives will be affected. So tomorrow is gonna be really cool. One of my favorite things about Help-portrait is that I've met so many photographers who are friends with other photographers because of Help-Portrait. They say, "I met, this is my best friend "And we met last year at Help-Portrait." And so I just love that tomorrow people are gonna meet for the first time, people are gonna have their photos taken for the first time ever. So tomorrow is a very big deal. And I hope that y'all help us spread the word and I hope you all participate. I actually hope you won't be watching, I hope you will be out serving people and hanging out taking pictures of people in need. And, but if you any reason do not participate, you're welcome to watch us on CreativeLive. We will be checking in around the world with other locations and it's gonna be awesome. And Jeremy, (clapping) You guys applause was basically coming up. Just from everyone here at CreativeLive, from everyone online, from all the lives you've touched in the last two days, thank you very much. Sure, absolutely. (applauding) Am I still on? So basically we're gonna fade out on the recorded video on the applause but we're gonna stick around with people who are streaming for a while. But we're live now? We're live right now. Okay 'cause I wanted to thank Chase for inviting me, I wanna thank Craig, last time I watched the production the audio the video really was incredible. You guys are getting a pretty cool deal online So let's give them around applause. Thank you Celeste (applauding) And I wanna thank Andy for coming out and helping me out personally. (clapping) I wanna thank my class, a lot of these guys flew in from around the country to come out here and hang with us. I wanna thank my models, my hair makeup, my wardrobe all you guys and (indistinct) who did an amazing job on the set. So let's give him a round of applause. (clapping) Come on we gonna bring (indistinct) up 'cause he really did. Yeah, he did an amazing job. Come on. Move faster. Keep bringing the applause. (clapping) Nice job buddy. (clapping) And I wanna thank John and my assistants for being amazing with the lighting. (indistinct), thank you very much, and thank you for the sets. All you guys, Anna, yes, AJ. Yeah, she had to leave. And thank you internet. Of course, that was what I was getting to. (chuckling) Thank you guys for the internet. Like I said last night, your feedback really fired me up and inspired me just to see how you guys are responding. You're already shooting on your own. So it just, like I said earlier, my goal for this was to inspire ideas, to get you thinking out of the box and from what I saw last night, you're already doing that. So nice work. Bye bye bye.

Ratings and Reviews

Lisa Carney

This guy is FANTASTIC. Creative and thinks outside the box. Totally had me rethink my shooting style. LOVE LOVE

a Creativelive Student

I almost didn't watch this one. It was a little slow at first, but once JC get's going it's a fun ride. He transitions from using $2k strobes, to using just a few dollars for lighting. This course opens a lot of doors and shows that it's ok to go against the grain and to think outside the box. Lots of good ideas to see in this one!

Mike Taylor

Experimental portraiture is just that. Experimental. However, I don't feel that JC was properly prepared. Shooting a single person with a 2400ws pack is simply overkill, considering that he wanted to be shooting wide open. A fairly simple solution would have been to use a few sheets of Lee ND filter over the light head. I do suppose this was typical of any shoot. Especially a shoot that I'm doing.

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