Portrait Photography: Creating and Styling your Environment

 

Portrait Photography: Creating and Styling your Environment

 

Lesson Info

Next Steps: Share Your Work

Know your goals. Again, you may not know right away, and it make take time to figure it out, but you've got to have an idea of where you want to go, in order to get there. This is a very difficult thing, especially as creative people, we kind of want to go where the wind blows us. Again, for me, I'm like ooh, look bright lights over there. Then I see something over here. We do need to take time to start thinking about what are our goals. What is it that we want to do? First of all, what is it that we want to say, then what do we want to do with that? Once you can identify at least some sort of general goal, that doesn't mean you can't keep adapting it. Even for me, over the years, there comes a point, where it's like, that was my goal, and that was awesome, but now my goal is this. Is okay, it's fine to pivot. You don't have to stick to that original goal, just because at a certain period of life, that is what made sense for you. Where ever you are, try to understand what your goal is ...

at that time, take some time and make sure it's a true goal and not just an infatuation. But once you have that goal, you've got to figure out how do we get there. What are the steps it's going to take to get to that goal. This is a shot that I did for health plan finder. Which was the first reveal of Obamacare. I guess maybe was that four years ago? Not to get too sidetracked, but if anyone's interested, this is actually a set we built. I don't think I worked with John Labin on this one, but we built just a roof. And the roof was about this high off the ground. It was a lot safer to work there, than actually getting, also then you know, the lights don't have to go up and all that kind of stuff. This again is another example of production. Deciding where is it we want to go? How do we achieve that? It's the same thing really again, with marketing, it's understanding what's the goal, what do we do to get there. Sometimes, there can be really creative ways to get there that aren't necessarily as expensive as it sounds like it has to be. Once you know what those steps are, or what the goal is, do whatever it takes to get there. It's going to be really hard work. There are no magic bullets. There's no easy answers. You're going to have to work really hard, and commit yourself to getting to wherever that goal is to the end point. You can't do that without sharing your work. You can't assume that just because someone follows you on social media, that they've seen everything that you do. You can't assume, even though you met with someone, and shown them your portfolio, there going to remember who you are. It takes repetition. It takes repeating. It takes time to build trust. Show your work. Never stop showing your work. The two things you should never stop doing is creating new work and showing your work. It's just this endless cycle, and there's times where it's like, ugh, I'm tired of showing my work. I'm so excited I did this awesome thing, why can't this just be enough? You've got to put in the hard work of actually showing it. We'll talk a little bit about some ways to do that. Some obvious ways are Instagram. Social media is obviously a big part of culture today in society. An old adage is that you've got to go where the people are. If you want your voice to be heard, you've got to be where the people are. Otherwise, don't expect anyone to hear you. I think you can get carried away with social media easily. There are platforms that I don't use and there are platforms I'm starting to use less and less. But identify for you what makes the most sense for your voice. Also, where are the people? If there's a platform that you just love, but no one's on it, it might be time to face the music and realize that not maybe the best use of your time. Go where the people are, make sure you're doing something that feel genuine. Share your work. The other thing to remember again is, it takes at least seven interactions with a brand for someone to form a memory of it. I always want to natuarlly go into this in depth. Think about your interaction with any brand, in life. It usually takes seeing an ad, and then it usually takes an ad popping up on your computer and then it really helps if a friend tells you about it because they use it and that build trust. But rarely do we just see a brand and just go oh, I'm going to do that. We need to get familiar with that brand, we need to actually remember it, so half the time we don't remember it. We actually have to have a need for that brand. You can have a connection with a brand that's super cool, but that still doesn't mean there's a need for it. Often times that's what happens in photography. When you really break it down, depending on the type of photography you do. For me at least, some of the clients that I work with they hire a photographer once or twice a year. That's it, it doesn't mean that they don't want to do more, it just means that the nature of their business is, maybe their particular work flow, or their team, it takes like six months per project or something. So again, let's say they have two projects a year. They're not just going to hire their favorite photographer, they're going to hire a photographer they love, that does the type of work that they need. No one is going to hire me to shoot tabletop or food for a fast food chain. It doesn't matter, again going back to infatuation, someone can say, hey we're going to spend half a million dollars shooting food, and it's like oh I could do that. No that's not, that's out of my lane. I'm going to stay in my lane. I'm not going to try to chase that, and no one's going to be looking at me so it's just developing an understanding of what you do. I'm getting a little side tracked. Social media postings, but you've got to repeat. Don't assume because you post an image on Instagram, that everybody has seen it. Don't assume that you've posed something on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter that everybody's seen it. Not the case. They have other things to do and their following other people. Put it on your website. Put it on your blog. Put it on a newsletter. Put it in your portfolio. Put it on your website. Continue to show it. There's many many instances, I'll tell you one real quick. This was a good part into my career, a few years ago. I sent out a newsletter with an image, a series of images. And then I sent out a physical mailer with those same images to a select group of people. A couple weeks after that I scheduled a meeting with one of those people who I sent that to. The idea was I'm trying to build a memory. I'm trying to build trust and recognition. I know that they're looking at a lot of photographers, so this way, by the time I get there, there's a memory. There's a feeling about this brand. I went to the meeting, an it became apparent pretty quickly, which is normal and totally fine, the art buyer I was meeting with, they're like you're works looks familiar, where have I seen it? I'm not really sure, it's like, I don't know. You can say maybe you saw here or, I'm not really sure, but I'm glad it's familiar. They go through it and then there was a particular project that they came to that they were like oh that's really cool. It was the same thing that I'd sent the mailer of, and the same thing I sent them in the email about. But this was the first time clearly, that they had ever seen it. And that's fine, I'm not going to be like, I sent you an email, why didn't you check your email. You have to have an understanding that this is how it works. I had also brought the same mailer that I had already sent to them, and I said, oh if you liked that I would love to leave you one of these. They said oh my gosh, that would be awesome. If you have a couple of others, I'd love to spread them around the art department too if you don't mind. Yeah, sure, so I gave them to him. That was a great, it had an idea of how things worked, but it was a great concrete example of exactly how it goes. Maybe she did see the email, totally fine if she did. Think about your own life patterns when people are marketing to you. It's not always your favorite thing to get marketing materials. Most people working in an ad agency, see like 50 to 100 promos or emails a day, so that's a lot to keep track of. Also in a agency, a lot of times, there's someone at the front desk who they decide what promos to throw in the trash and what promos to keep. That's a totally arbitrary process. I had a friend years ago, who worked in an ad agency, and she said over drinks one day, the only promos I keep are the ones that say Keatley on them, the rest go straight into the trash. So that's great for me but if your someone else, that's just the sad, I didn't tell her to do that. And whether she really did it or not, who knows. That's kind of how it goes. It depends on who's working there and how they feel. Maybe some promos pass the person at the desk, and they go to the art department, and they just sit on the desk and get piled up, and eventually they all go in the trash. The point is, you've got to repeat. You've got to not make anyone feel bad, don't take it personally, you think someone should see your work and they haven't. Just know it's a grind and be grateful when someone forms a memory and just continue to show. It's a continuous cycle. Here's just a quick little email. I think in all fairness I would say it a little differently. I think this email's eight years old. It gives you an idea from earlier in my career. If you buy this course, you'll get all of these in the course, so don't worry about trying to write it down. Basically it's just me, introducing myself, to someone who gave me a connection, and just trying to find a reason to reach out and say hello and share your work with them. These days, Kenna insisted that we put her name in here. The names are made up to protect the innocent. Also J Pop insisted we put J Pop Inc in there. That's her second shout out. Find ways to connect and reach out. The one thing that I tend to do more now, whereas in the past, where you saw in that last one, I used to say, hey I met so and so and they said to call you, here's my work. You definitely want to share your work that way, but you also want to make sure that you're being personable. Going back to hanging out with clients on set, I'm trying to get to know them and form relationships. The next time I write I don't want to be writing and saying hey, check out my work. Ideally, I'm writing and saying, I remembered you mentioned you're really into baseball and my friend's got whatever it is, a tournament or something, if you want to play or something. Writing and saying, hey it was so fun, I'd love to go for drinks. Relationships are so important. Don't get carried away. It's important to show your work, but you've got to find that balance of relationship and showing your work. Because relationships are really what makes the world go around in our, not just our industry, business in general. So follow up also. That's the other thing. If you here of an opportunity, see an opportunity, or say you're going to do something, make sure you follow up on it. Just because someone said something, or said, oh I know someone who might need a photographer, I'll have them reach out, or I'll reach to you or something. Don't assume that they're going to remember to do that. Follow up, be proactive. It really is all about you making your reality happen. Here's another example, again very early on in my career. The emphasis back then was more look at my work kind of thing. Now as I read this, I'd try to be a little more personal. I'm trying to give some context starting out versus the things that you learn as you go on. If you meet with someone, there's no harm in following up again and saying, it's so great to talk with you, thank you. Sometimes you can leave it at that. If you want to put in your website again, that's fine too. Acknowledge people. Photographers always want people to look at our work, but art buyers and producers, they do really hard work too and they want to be acknowledged and not just be someone who's being used. Acknowledge the people that you're working with. And be like, oh my gosh I loved that thing you did. Just thank you for spending time with me. I value your time, I know your busy. Little things like that go a really long way.

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

What our students are saying:
“The amount of information John gives is mind blowing. To see the process from beginning to end, the road map to creativity...you cannot help but to be on the right road to success. He gives you steps to take and shows you how it's done.”
- Lorenzo Hill

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.

Lessons

1Class Introduction
2Creative Photography Path
3Importance of Personal Work
4Concepts and Inspiration
5Choosing Your Environment
6Research and Mood Boards
7Finding Your Style
8Establishing a Team
9Jobs on Set
10Production Hurdles
11Working with an Art Director
12Pooling Resources
13Casting
14Wardrobe
15Set Design and Props: Interview with John Lavin
16Gear
17Lighting
18Technical vs. Flexible Lighting
19Creating Environment
20Gear Essentials vs. DIY Solutions
21Lighting for Your Subject
22Lighting for Your Environment
23Q&A
24Directing Your Subject
25Tips for Directing Talent
26Pre-Lighting and Test Shoots
27Shoot: Stylized Portrait - Close Up Part 1
28Shoot: Stylized Portrait - Close Up Part 2
29Shoot: Stylized Portrait - Close Up Part 3
30Set Tour and Lighting Set Up
31Shoot: Building Environment & Lighting Adjustments
32Shoot: Building Environment Part 1
33Shoot: Building Environment Part 2
34Photo Critique
35Shoot: Row Boat in Fog Set Tour
36Shoot: Row Boat in Fog Part 1
37Shoot: Row Boat in Fog Part 2
38Shoot: Row Boat in Fog Part 3
39Shoot: Row Boat in Fog Part 4
40Shoot: Scuba in the Hull Part 1
41Shoot: Scuba in the Hull Part 2
42Shoot: Scuba in the Hull Part 3
43Image Selection: Stylized Portrait
44Image Selection: Building Environment
45Image Selection: Row Boat in Fog
46Image Selection: Scuba in the Hull
47Next Steps: Create New Work
48Next Steps: Share Your Work
49Next Steps: Marketing and Branding Consistency
50Final Image Reveal - Concept and Casting
51Final Image Reveal - Retouching: Communication and Direction
52Final Image Reveal - Final Q&A