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Portrait Photography: Creating and Styling your Environment

Lesson 47 of 52

Next Steps: Create New Work


Portrait Photography: Creating and Styling your Environment

Lesson 47 of 52

Next Steps: Create New Work


Lesson Info

Next Steps: Create New Work

So I wanna give you guys a quick crash course on what do we do now? I've created this work. What do I do with it? How do I actually get people to see it? How do I get people to think about me? How do I get people to hire me? Actually maybe get paid to do this, which would be awesome. I'm gonna give you a quick crash course. I will say this is something that I do a workshop on twice a year. It's called Survival Guide and we talk about business and marketing and style for three days straight, kind of like we've done here, but it's just completely focused on this last section. So if that's something you guys are interested in, you can find out more at our website which is To start off, we're going to talk about how do we get your work seen? As we kind of start in here, I thought I would show you guys some of my early work. The perfectionist in me is like, "Oh, I don't want to show people work" but this is stuff that I created probably ten years ago. This is a port...

rait of my mom and my sister. When I started and started realizing, again we talked about this discovery of editorial portraits and this idea of stylized portraiture. These were mostly shot on film. I had a Mamiya 645 medium format film camera This was a little bit into my career. I had done weddings and stuff like that but I started discovering lighting and everything. Basically, I photographed anyone I could, which was family and my roommates and friends and stuff like that. This was before a lot of this stuff we talked about now, where its like, How do you find someone to photograph that you don't know? i.e. a model or whatever it is. I just kind of threw myself into it and wherever I could find people who would be willing to sit, I would photograph them. Here's another person, a friend of my parents, that I took a portrait of. This was a good friend of mine. He came over, I don't even know if it was planned but I made him sit down. We took a portrait. It was this thing that I was just obsessed with. The most important thing whether these are still images that I use or not, the important thing is to practice. You've got to remember. Keep practicing. Don't stop. Just because you create four images, even if you're excited about them. That's awesome, use those images. But start thinking about the next thing, too. You can't rest on what you've done. It's gotta be about what you're about to do. That's also how we learn. This is another portrait from that same time period. This This is This picture actually maybe happened before any of the ones that I just showed you guys. This was a big breakthrough for me, personally. This was pretty much by accident. Maybe that's not being fair to myself. It was the first portrait that I took that actually felt something like what it was I thought I wanted to say. Again, I didn't know what that was. I didn't have any of this understanding or language we're talking about now. Again, by accident, it was the production value of all the colors being the same and the eggplant kind of matching the wallpaper. And the wallpaper being interesting. The subject. Adding something in with his expression. His look. It was something I had a loose idea of what I wanted to photograph my friend's grandpa. He was someone that, I don't know if you guys remember the Tom Green Show? A long time ago, my friend was involved in that show. He did a couple segments about his grandpa, who is just this fascinating guy. So I wanted to take a portrait of him. Anyway, so we shot this. I went home and developed the film and came back and was like, "Whoa!" So exciting. Literally, I found something digging in the dirt. I didn't even know it was gonna happen. This is really what propelled me to start moving forward and try to figure out first of all, why do I even like this picture? What is it about this picture that I like? It took a long time to figure that out, even to be able to say something as simple as the production value of the color and the straightforwardness of his pose and his confidence. The fact that the wallpaper speaks to the eggplant. The awkwardness and confusion. What is the eggplant? Why is he holding it? Again, just keep shooting. Don't feel like everything has to be just how you planned. Sometimes you're going to go into a shoot without a solid idea, and that's okay too. Just keep shooting, and experimenting, and trying to understand more about yourself through the work that you're creating. You can't market yourself and you can't get jobs unless you have that work to show. As we just said, create new work. Make sure that you're doing all these things to develop your voice. Make sure you're taking time for introspection. Remember constantly reflect back on those seven words that we talked about. Maybe you only leave here and you only think of three. Maybe you'll think of seven, maybe you'll think of ten. But go back to them a week from now and see if that still feels accurate. In the same way we talked about revisiting your edit. Maybe something will have changed. Maybe you will have spent some time over the week and your thoughts kind of... You remember a story or something that makes you gravitate towards a different word. Always be thinking about those things and always be creating new work. It's not something you just do at the beginning of your career. It should be something that you carry out with you forever. We saw these, but here's a few of the selects from our shoots that we did this week. Kind of fun to see them a little more full screen. Actually, the more I see this one, the more I like it. It was, maybe, I wouldn't say least favorite, because I really do like them all, but seeing it full screen even just now makes me really excited about this image.

Class Description

Connect to your photos
Don’t capture another picture that says nothing of your own style. Grow your confidence in creating or styling a portrait that pops and, more importantly, resonates. Recognize that you’re tired of feeling disconnected to your photography.

Tap into your artistic vision
Establishing your creative voice and finding the inspiration and support to stay with it are essential skills for a career in photography. Commit to mastering the technical elements so you can save time in production, focus on creating images with emotion, and start making the pictures that express your creative vision and ultimately resemble what you want to get paid to take.

Learn from the authority: John Keatley
John’s photos have filled the pages of Rolling Stone, Wired, and the New York Times Magazine. He’s covered celebrities from Anthony Hopkins to Macklemore and even had the rare opportunity to photograph Annie Leibovitz. He’s also passionate about education and supporting artists to find their personal style.

In this one-of-a-kind class, John breaks down how to conceptualize, produce, style, light and fine-tune your ideas. He leads you through the creation of an environmental portrait series, showing you how to make a vision come to life with any budget.

What you get out of this exclusive shoot:

  • Find inspiration and execute your vision
  • Research and create desired environments for set design or location scouting
  • Cast for portrait and direct subjects on set
  • Build a team of support around your project
  • Lighting and styles to make the background and subject work together
  • Creative ways to build your vision, regardless of budgetary limitations

Commit to your creativity
Are you ready to push the boundaries and find your unique voice? Get the hands-on tools to flex your creativity, collaborate for results, and carry out your vision.


a Creativelive Student

What an amazing show. I'm so happy that I could be a part of it. It was so great to see John at work and in his element. I learned so much from watching his process from beginning to ending. So many questions have been answered. I feel more confident, to get myself out there and create and make work that comes out from my imagination. I will definitely be keeping a journal/notebook with me at all times. I would also like to suggest that we have another course for John Cornicello, home studio. I'm curious to see what John is working on in his studio.

Doppio Studio

It's amazing to watch and understand how this great creative professional work. There's a lot to learn about with his production process. For me, that lives in Brazil, is a major opportunity to enjoy this class.

Vitamin Dee

Wow! There's just so much great information in this class. If you've ever wondered what it takes to produce an environmental portrait, this is the class for you! John did a superb job of taking us step-by-step through his process. From model casting to set building, lighting setups to culling; it's all here. He even wraps up the class with next steps and how to put it all together. He gives the knowledge so you can take it to a place you can create your own magic!