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Roberto's First Photos

Lesson 20 from: Location, Posing, Execution

Roberto Valenzuela

Roberto's First Photos

Lesson 20 from: Location, Posing, Execution

Roberto Valenzuela

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Lesson Info

20. Roberto's First Photos

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The topic of the lesson is Roberto Valenzuela sharing and analyzing his first wedding photos as a beginner photographer and discussing the importance of improvement and learning from mistakes.


  1. What kind of feedback did Roberto receive when he first started out as a photographer?

    Someone told him that he had no aptitude for photography and advised him to keep his day job.

  2. What was Roberto's mindset when he started out as a photographer?

    He was determined to improve and take his photography seriously, not just wish to be good.

  3. What did Roberto learn from his early photos?

    He realized that his early photos were not good and had many flaws, but he saw them as an inspiration to work hard and improve.

  4. What is the main message Roberto wants to convey to aspiring photographers?

    If you have photos that are good, people will hire you and you won't have to worry about charging low prices.

  5. What is the difference between needing to have a photographer and wanting to have a photographer?

    Needing to have a photographer is a powerful feeling, like needing air or food, while wanting to have a photographer is more like wanting something, but it's not a necessity.

  6. How did Roberto price his services as a beginner photographer?

    He charged enough for people not to doubt his skill level, but his prices were affordable to anyone with a regular job.

  7. How did Roberto feel about his early wedding photos?

    He was initially proud of them, but soon after, he realized they were not good and that's when he decided to make a change and improve.

  8. What does Roberto believe is the value of sharing his early photos?

    He believes that sharing his mistakes and progress can inspire and encourage others who are going through a similar journey as photographers.

  9. How did Roberto realize the need for improvement in his photography?

    By studying and analyzing thousands of photos from photographers he admired, he started to pick up on patterns and understand what made a good photo.

  10. What is the main lesson Roberto wants viewers to take away from his lesson?

    Improvement and growth in photography come from hard work, studying and learning from mistakes, and being open to continuous improvement.

Next Lesson: Image Review

Lesson Info

Roberto's First Photos

I asked someone to go over my work my pretty first shots I ever told when I was trying to be a photographer on when I was just like enjoying it I'm still enjoying it I'm saying back in the day and the guy came up to me and said do you really have no aptitude for this you need to keep you you need to keep your day job just just don't even don't even try and I was just like what are the positives that you can give me is like the positives for you to keep your data positives that you have a day job then you can go to I was just like oh man just keep bringing in a baby because you know you're feeling of fire that's never going to come out you know I mean granted I was the world's worst photographer when I started out I mean I was I was worse than the worst I've ever seen you know I tell you when I tell everyone out there watching normally what I really bad and you just hear me say it I am willing to prove it to you I'm gonna show you one of my first weddings I'm gonna show you what I did t...

hat I thought was good on worst of all embarrassingly enough this is the photos the's out of photos that I gave to my bride and groom ask their photos the ones that I picked out for them they're not the ones putting the trash no no no I was proud I thought this was great and I gave it to them on uh I hope the servants and inspiration for everyone out there that it's got nothing to do with nothing else other than you deciding I'm going to be a photographer and I'm gonna do it seriously I'm gonna take this seriously I'm not just gonna wish to be good I'm going to make it happen okay I'm not gonna have it excuses I'm goingto have solutions okay if I don't have the time I will make the time because if you really want to stop complaining about not paying your bills or having a hard time or you're having a hard time switching between your regular job and you want to make the switch to a photography career I strongly believe if you have photos like what we're going to show today later on people hire you all the time you will not have a problem you don't have to ask photographers how much do you charge because I'm trying to figure out how to prise my my work your work will speak for itself and you can charge whatever the heck you want and people will be willing to pay for it because you like what I said on the first day you will make the difference between people needing tohave you and just wanting to have you kneading tohave you is a powerful feeling wanting tohave you it's like you want a tootsie roll you want gum you want mcdonald's but if you don't want it if you don't have it you can just be okay with it when you need something you have to have it you need air you need food I need papers photography for my wedding so you mean I need nick is for I need naked to photograph my wedding it's a whole different mind set those two decisions are in two very different parts of the brain okay when it's in the old part of the brain which I'll explain later another one is kind of in the new part of the brain the new part of the brain is the one that thinks you want something the old part of your brain says I need tohave it or I'm going to die I need to have it so everyone in the world watching this please enjoy my first wedding enjoy I know I do not care that I'm showing this work to everybody because I'm actually proud because to show it to you because I'm proud of my progress that came from hard work I repeat hard work not shortcuts not photoshopped filter's not the latest software hard work right that was me when I took these photos that was a while ago six seven years I don't know how long you wass I was holding my range finder because I was reading it religiously it was like the greatest thing ever and phyllis it was fun but that's when I decided to make it happen I really didn't know anything about photography back when that picture was taken he was really funny you know let's take a look at my first for symmetry wait not going way get that going would you take a look at this I don't even know what the heck is going on here why are they looking at each other when they're in their personal space isn't that awkward do you see why their noses are pointing towards each other there's no x factor of the nose remember that I see ninety degrees in pretty much every joint there's things happening and look at that what is that what is that what what is this what's going on here why is this better than they are but guess what people it was a gazebo it's like the fountain you have a gazebo you gotta use it it's like the kid's whole case everybody let's just kiss kiss case because I cannot come up with anything better I mean I remember he's going can you just look at each other and smiled your lord hope out of disaster that's the close up of their expression so you can get a really good look how cheesy this is this is like the ultimate in blue cheese is like the most pungent cheese yuk I can think of right now that's what that isthe that's like eight twenty five years something sense very classy very classy people I'm using foreground middle ground background I'm using death I'm really going out right now when I took that I was like I got this I got the flowers I was like I got this I'm totally creative with my flash on with my flash on right and I told them to just kind of move around and stuff and they were like move around like how it just like I don't even move around like dance or something this is why I said to you guys be specific in your directions remember that I was just like move around yeah I just just do whatever you feel like you're feeling at that moment I'm like I'm feeling like you are really dumb that's probably what they were thinking right and why would that I look to him because I was holding the flowers with my camera going to you know I'm putting depth in my father's house remember for all of you watching on the internet and all of you watching right now these are the photos that I actually gave to my plants ok that's the key man I love saying that it's a good time roberto the internet is just loving this on thanking you for the so genuine and honest way relate to you yeah thank you you're welcome no it's great I think everyone out there really relates with this a little bit in one way or the other right I was trying to incorporate like the fountain so reversal trixie and the lounge would like to know how much the clients paid for these photos you don't have to answer that I just thought that was funny I'll tell you what thing you don't have to answer that not much I deserved that you know I mean they paid um I mean not much in comparison I had a little strategy that if I charged enough for people not to doubt my skill level I would be able to put more weddings but people nickel and dimed me and they because I was desperate for trying to get some weddings whatever price I put out I didn't have a good strategy and a good framework for sticking to my guns because my client just we're going for me because of price it wasn't something like it wasn't for artistic expression or because they were seeing their wedding through my photography or anything like that it was just who's the cheapest or who's like someone that we can sort of a ford was kind of fun personality wise so they would just hired me because of that my prices were not that cheap but they were not expensive at all affordable to pretty much anyone with a regular job but this is the kind of work that I would I would give them on dh I was pretty proud of a pretty proud of it I wasn't too proud of it soon after and that's one of my decision to make something about it began you know I mean it was like this is not happening because when I went to see my favorite photographer's work and I'm not just talking about wedding photographer looking about all kinds of photographers out there I saw my work and I wanted to get a bucket to throw up my breakfast lunch and dinner all at once because there was serious issues happening on I didn't want to be like you know what you know what I didn't want to be like I don't have this camera gear I only have this little juan I have the plastic lands I don't have the serious lands I mean it's like that got me nowhere this excuses was going nowhere you know so just you want to do it or not what the heck is that window doing there why did I put that in my frame let's get this is what I tried to get another angle it looks like she's about to like if ice could kill that's it right see and she's holding the flowers that I was holding on the other shot see how her collar bones are facing me yeah this is all that she's not even the biggest brightest or she's not even in focus what is the three things I talked about subject emphasis are you the brightest are you the biggest oh are you the one that's in focus right I have neither off the three here not just two or one none of them okay what is going on with this like just right there huh not bad look at that creepy hand that's like creepy hand of his past people you don't even see their face neither on their faces well you see the veil e on this cactus is like this whole like crazy bright thing is was red over their head with all kinds of little branches sticking out god talk about financing the hand right I mean that's like right there I'm gonna claw you wanna chlo you maybe I was trying to show the engagement ring or something every thousand my idea of showing the engagement ring I don't know what iwas I don't even know what this army is doing hanging like a monkey I mean the guy's seriously just like this how much effort does it take to put the arm like that takes a lot of effort and if there's effort get rid of it because if there's effort the post is not gonna work this like that's a lot of effort people like that's difficult you have to do things that looked flawless that way solved in the hands and so forth sorry it's e love having cannons isn't laughing it's easy for us to stay here and laugh but it's funny ball done it we've all been here you know what I mean I'm standing here now but look where I wass well in just like six or seven years really susan susan was just saying I need to go back and look at my first wedding photos is yeah exactly first of all there's a random bench kind of like about to slide out of the frame the groom is falling off he's not exactly happy with me right now okay that's not I'm really I'm really happy I hired you roberto face okay and the best part about this is the really great tree hat he's got going on he's growing a tree all over the place so when I asked you to show me your photos that you needed help with I'm doing it for you now same thing okay not just put on that I'm not just gonna put my best foot forward for you one for it for everyone I'm gonna show the truth okay because that's that's how we do things that's how we roll here right this is just about the worst groom post I have ever seen but the best part is look at that exquisite composition here right look at the focal invisible focal plane going in and just kind of totally like it's like putting his face as far away from the focal plane responsible right that field of the camera is just totally not working the trees coming out of his head he looks about a fricking angry as possible right he's all these white stuff like I didn't even fix it it's just horrendous and I gave it to him this is me working really hard on being creative with my poses it's just awfully speechless for me how cheesy is that is that like twenty five aged cheddar cheese or is that about fifty years aged I would say it's about what stronger than blue cheese can I wants a stronger cheese and blue cheese not sure but there's a lot of stinky cheese is out there you know what I saw in every sort of discovery channel about lindbergh has all the warmth inside and the world the worms have the worms go to the restroom inside the cheese okay wow and then that that's what makes it creamy and then you eat the industrial that's kind of what this is right there that's that level of punching this okay you see how there's no interaction between them is not even believable does this look so post like a photographer said hey wake up I got this go up the stairs on you're like helping her that out yeah that would be killer they'll be killer because I'm not using the fountain and I'm not having your case I'm totally like going out there right now like my artistic level just see what I mean okay how about that people how about subject emphasis at its best get a lot of that creepy head I mean that's it I own you if you're not going anywhere no way that hand like that I would love to blur this in photoshopped with russian blur you won't even be able to find the bride and groom in there see what I mean I mean get a load of the cocked I it's not like this is exactly helping me remember I said I don't include everything unless you're really you're just include what you want carry her yeah I just stare at me like you're just like a just stare at me both of you please look at the expression get a lot of that thumb creepy hand going on I don't even think they're in focus I couldn't even get that right right mylar is having a good time right angle even he's still not happy with me she looks pretty ok she looks like she's still believing I feel like I need to go back give him a call and ask him to do a reshoot I need to do that I'm gonna call me like you probably want to talk to me but let's do a reshoot I can a little bit better get a lot of that now that's artistic level that it's best dress I am busted I might my flash and everything with tricks like that because I had my wife hold it so it looks like the wind is taking it oh ron hey came my wife kim came I got this let's create this drama let's grab the dress and just hold it just like really take it out like the wind was blowing she's just blowing with the wind it would look so cool I'm gonna turn on my flash it's gonna look so good we're gonna get the sun set and everything you know we got the son said we got the clouds we get the wind we got it all we're set winner winner leased I want to thank you so much for sharing this pictures because we all I'm sure everybody out there we're all struggle and we'll look at our pictures and we really you know we see a little bit off improvements and we think were their on dh I mean it's nice to see that people like you in such a wonderful level already went through this and it's very inspiring so thank you for sharing it really isn't darla k online says I love that he can laugh with us at himself how could I know you know that it's funny how this is almost more inspiring right then having you show your best your best photo ever taken because everyone everyone can relate to this and there's tons of people probably watching right now that are still at this place I really really hope everyone out there is just understanding and feeling not inspired because I could care less encouraged encouraged exactly right encourage tow tow I feel bad whenever I teach conventions and people really come to me and so that's that they start crying and stuff about them not being able to pay the mortgage or something or their rent it's not going to get paid because they decided to take the plunge into full time photography and it's not working out I was in argentina recently and in greece and I had like three people bawling in my shoulder because they were not gonna be able to pay the rent on that guy gave up his job he has two kids and I'm like so what are you doing it's like you know it's a terrible feeling and I hope this creative life class I hope I really just hope everybody can see just if you like to talk if you wanna learn just learn do it you know I feel bad I really do what my heart was dying because I was just like I feel bad for you but in same time what have you done about it like I'm hugging them you know like what have you done goes crying is not going to get you better you know you you have to do something so so I have one last thing to say yeah I just want to say that two days ago perhaps you wouldn't be laughing it's hard because you wouldn't be saying all these mistakes to this everyone we wouldn't be laughing as hard because we wouldn't have seen the mistakes you have made because we learned so much in the past two days that we can see I'm showing you this now after on the third day for a reason yeah I wouldn't show you this on the first day because you wouldn't have nothing to compare it to what would I do this on purpose the third day comes in you are ten years ahead of your time in your photography skills now you can look at this and be like what the heck and that's why this course is so valuable for people because they can just do it themselves after this okay I'm not only that they can see that I wasn't talented ever in photography this is not talented white balance you know okay I love you but you know by the way uh shut out you're awesome that is not what I would call talented white brothers and there's definitely a creepy thing coming up off photograph that's my silhouettes people that's my silhouettes when I saw when I saw this I was like oh fire goes that's like look at the arm they did agree on it's best like what the heck is going on look at their noses why they glued together like that and he just looks terrible let's go now it's my foreground background trying to be creative with the field and stuff cannot police yeah folks if you could maybe for a couple of these tell us what you would do differently or maybe even the audience but I mean I can respond that really asleep yeah everything I think that's the best way to respond to that there was not a single thing here that I would do the same neither would you by now I don't think yeah I know right I don't even know what you see how they're looking at the same location on the same location is just a brick wall do you see why you have to think at the whole frame before you take your photograph because we take a look at our bride and groom or our fashion models or our senior reporter or whatever were photographing on we don't look at the rest of the scene because we're concentrating on this andi you realize that you just had a look at a brick wall all to like really sternly looked at the brick wall and that brick wallace has blown out as you can get that's about the worst possible choice to look at on their noses are now parallel looking at the same looking at the same location right there's no criss crossing off the notice this is my attempt of reflections this is my reflection shot that's a mirror there we are what you think about that day were you enjoying the photo yeah yeah would you buy this in a canvas put it up in your house how about that the choker let me love you god going dough you right that's the double choker you got the double choker going on he's like yeah I want to die I'm good squeeze a little harder just take me out of my mystery because roberta sneaking this photograph please kill me now keep on choking me look at that look at the hand random person's coming out of his head is just like you don't even see the origin of her body just here I am right huh not cheesy at all this is like the fountain right like the gazebo park yes you do have a chest yes I feel something there it's like look at this what is this arm doing here why's her hand like this at least they're shifted their body weight that's good this is blown out like crazy she's got a ninety degree on the wrist you see what it does not it agree so you can see how they don't help you I remember what I said sometimes I do the ninety degrees if I feel like that's the best option at that time but at least you're aware of it okay that's choker number two this is that I'm about to break your neck right so it's like you're already here ready ready right this's what's going on here it's her spinal cord slouching is his lodging take a look at that invisible plane that I talk about it's about four feet from his eyes because the shoes are right there right very straight I thought that was so cool because I gave it a cool camera tilt artsy hello this is my attempt I get any in the moment I was trying to get in the moment this is my photo journalism I seriously thought this is what people were talking about to really get close into the moment I was just like I took very literally I think very literally I got close to that moment like this show me that cake baby all over your face not to mention my exposure just dead on on my crop of my composition is just and it's picture perfect rigsby says this one's not even good for facebook ones when he says this isn't even good for face yeah facebook would cancel my account for putting a photo even facebook would have standards does not make sense have you ever thought of ah career as a standup comedian three different angles people different angles my detail shots that's my ceremony exposures I tried to turn on my flash this is what I got then I'm like oops I don't know how to use my camera even though I call myself a professional photographer how many of us were in that boat right I don't know how to use my flash even though I call myself a professional photographer right so I tried to switch my flash and I get this then I'm like not working thiss the whole certain when it looked like that the entire ceremony was like that I was like I was not prepared I went to the wedding to practice not to perform what I have practice before and I was the result yeah let me see your nose holes please just get him out get him in there let me get my matter really just getting there let me get to the juicy part oh her detail people this is what you call full coverage photography I cover everything you have something in your hair I will be there to take a picture of it okay way happy with this that was awesome roberto you think my face hurts from smiling but I do have one question a question for you from john ellis which is when did you how long how many seasons did it take you before you realize that you needed teo drastically improve your photography how long did it take me when you were doing it like how long did it take for you to look at those and say wow I really need to improve that's a good question because it's a it's a complicated answer because you can just when they wake up and have all these knowledge it started out from a serious fire and desire to look at photographers that I admire I'm not just wedding photographers but many other kinds of photographers on be able t o be ableto watch thousands of photos I don't owe something starts to pop in my brain that makes sense so what I mean is if you watch only your own work you have no reference point if you watch the work of one thousand photographers that you really like you have a reference point but you don't know what's happening you just know that you really like the photos but keep looking keep studying keep looking on little patterns will start to come out those patterns is what all of this was designed this is where this little chart was born from meat looking at hundreds of photos on picking off patterns for example I looked at a lot of fashion magazines and I realized most fashion my photos don't have many colors in the background at all they only have one like like a seamless scholar like if you look at bcbg advertisements if you should like a great background and the models just like doing something and I'm like why do they always use seamless backgrounds why not go outside and do stuff well because you want the attention to be on them subject emphasis three colors so subject emphasis is important more important in the background more important in the fountain more important in the gazebo makes sense and then it started looking at more photos and the photos that I saw everybody looking at each other with the nose is looking at each other like why's that awkward away after ten thousand photos later it's awkward because you're in your personal space and when you're in your personal space you don't look at them in the eye so it was pure determination and focus on looking at photos and start to pick out little hints that come out of you if you do that for ten minutes and then you give up well don't you're not gonna learn you know that's what this this was designed for me to improve on this chart took me literally five years to make it and it has been like my bible for everything I do and it has transformed my photography completely and I think a lot of other people's you know reporter were you proud to give those photos to the couple or were you ashamed of those photos at the time or we're no at that point I was still pretty excited about it I mean I did get the reflection on the year and the little head piece the little thing with the year you know but I didn't think of it that way back then I just thought I captured the little details in the head in the hair when she got the cake in our face I thought hey I captured the moment like that cake in your face and I'm right there I mean I really did that's why I tell people don't just look at your photos look at you need to look at thousands of photographers photos I'm pay attention with a little notebook the paper and then just start right down when things start to pop out and you ask yourself why does that look good on he could take you half an hour to answer that question and also ask yourself why does that look awkward why do I feel like that's not working for me it's like an instinctive feeling and then you have to find a way to rationalize it in your brain because if you do not rationalize it how can you know about it to improve on it you know what they say when when you uh have an issue they're like the first the first step to your solution is knowing that you have a problem well how do you know that you have a problem if you don't have to find the problem okay

Class Materials

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Roberto Valenzuela creativeLIVE Keynote Slides.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Im a freelancer and have studied photo school several years ago and also been working as an assistant for a few years. I think you always have things to learn and keep you from getting stagnant in photography, and i find creative live is a great source for that. Been taking some of Lindseys classes and watched several others from Sue Bryce as well as other classes for equipment and about shooting people in general. I always read what others have said before to avoid any classes that are not informative etc or have a teacher that leave out too much, i was drawn to what people said about Roberto walking the students through the shoots and that he had this great system you could use and take with you when you go forward. I actually never heard of Roberto before but were mainly interested cause of what he was teaching here. I have now watched almost the whole course and first of all let me say i do recommend it a lot. Its a great system to use in my opinion, and i have learned some great stuff to think about that will enhance my own photography, and its a great reference to go back to when you need it. Roberto as a teacher is relaxed, intelligent and has great humor that i can relate to. So you you are not "bored" which is also very important, he keeps it interesting. Some things that i did not like about his way of teaching was that he was a little too impatient at times when the students tried shooting themselves , he reminded me of other photographers i have worked with in past. They were also very impatient sometimes when people around them were moving to slow for the shot to get done etc. I understand during the course the students had limited time to get every shoot done. But many times i was frustrated with that Roberto almost always stepped in too early to "help" them out but instead kind of took over telling them what angle would work best or what light that should be used. It was almost as he wanted his system to show up as flawless and felt as he was scared letting the students try it out on their own because that would somehow show a flaw in his system. I would rather have had him let them try first and later he could come in and suggest the different angles and light. But now many times he would take over and also take his own picture and pointed to the strengths of that picture and why it worked. Still, you learn because he explains at the same time, and walk you through everything. I just find that you would learn even more letting the students fail first or do it right on their own. Also sometimes he would choose a location and say: You can use this wall and these props etc, then when the student would start he would suddenly limit them and instead tell them what to use and how they should crop so that the location itself would not make much difference. Otherwise though, great course. I think i would buy another course from Roberto as well if it was something i needed from it.

a Creativelive Student

I have seen many of the creative live workshops, and attended many great workshops by photographers, including Jerry Ghionis. It was Jerry's wife - Meliisa Ghionis who suggested that Roberto's course on creative live should be a must see. This course was by far the best on creative live for improving your photography of couples, it is just brilliant and has improved my photography in leaps and bounds. There are many great photographers, but most do not know how to pass on their knowledge to others - Roberto is the exception I would consider this course a must see for any wedding photographer, no matter what your experience.


Love Love Love this class!! The way Roberto integrates class participation into his teaching is such an amazing teaching technique! CreativeLIVE has some amazing teachers, I have learned so much from many of them, but Roberto's "hands-on" approach put's the on-line audience in the moment. Very captivating teacher! By far I would say this is one of the, if not the best photography class I have watched!! Thank you!!

Student Work