Foundations of a Working Photographer

Lesson 1 of 25

Class Introduction

 

Foundations of a Working Photographer

Lesson 1 of 25

Class Introduction

 

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

I'm zacarias and uh less is sitting there nodding your head going yes yes this is the class on dh this is the foundations of a working photographer all right um I have been teaching now for four five years and I've been trying to become a photographer for about fifteen, sixteen years that that's me saying ok, I have to do something with my life I don't want to be a company man my dad was a company man worked for the phone company for thirty five years retired got set of silverware the watch and and clock for the mantle and and just kind of went into retirement and that was not something I really saw for my life but I had no clue what I saw in my life really I didn't know um so somewhere around ninety five I guess it was um I just I woke up I was like I got to do something with my life and one thing I always enjoyed was photography and one thing that, um I once had a college professor tell me a photo class was you know, I think you have a talent in this if you don't do something with it...

you're wasting it and no one had ever talked to me like that before no one had ever so what kind of called something out of me uh so I said what do I do? She said go to art school all right, she had the first part, right? She had second part wrong I went off the art school failed miserably. Um I just didn't do well in the art school environment on it wasn't until I got to a technical photography school did I start to find my feet in this? Um so that was, uh yeah nineteen ninety five that all kind of got really going. Um I went to school, I assisted photographers I managed a commercial photo studio for a while um and tried to get out there to become a freelancer to do my own thing I've always loved environmental port tritscher I've love photojournalism really is my heart of hearts but uh started a family early in my career and I was told you could either have a career or a family pick one so I went to commercial route uh and what I found that no matter where you go in this industry it's very difficult to have a career and a family um and so this weekend will be talking about that as well. S o I went off trying to become a freelancer and was just flailing about uh there was I had technical up in my head, but I couldn't get it out through my camera um I had a really bad case of gas gear acquisition syndrome all right uh with a bad case of gas I wasn't making enough money with the camera so I was putting it on credit cards I went heavily in debt I put my family and just massive stress financially um I spent so much of my time on the computer and on forums and all of that on and it all came crashing down in two thousand one uh somewhere around there two thousand one and I had to leave the industry I had to walk away from photography and there's a quote about photography that says photography calls many but choose his feet and I thought ok it called me but it didn't choose me and I'm standing here today thirty eight years old I'm a photographer and if I am not a photographer I don't know what else to do with my life I am a photographer because it's the only thing I know how to do if if you take photography away from me today all I know how to do is go toe kinko's fedex office um you know a coffee shop and make a lot of days or go to attempt service and get like you know, a ten dollars an hour warehouse job like that that's all I know how to do and then photography all this gear up here cameras and lenses and all of this um two thousand three rolls around I'm working at kinko's making copies I'm just I'm I'm thinking I'm going to get on the management track one day my goal was one day I would run run a kinko's store would be a manager maybe go to district manager and just go up the management food you know food chain um my my dear friend in atlanta mark climbing uh put a camera in my hands and I can't be one hundred set me loose in a wedding he needed a second shooter at a wedding and I quit my job uh the next week and I had ah camera body I had a flash and that was it and mark let me lenses let me compact flash cards and I started again on two thousand three all right? So um that's what seven years ago? Um somewhere and um this time around I had to do it with whatever resource is I had I had to make it happen all right? So if I don't have the lens than I don't shoot it if I don't have the lights than I have to figure it out if I don't have the modifier I want then I have to figure it out kind of thing um and I had to build a business all right? So the technical was in my head uh I had to figure out how to get that through my camera the ideas that I had in my head how to actually make that happen and then I had to figure out howto build a business around it and how to make money and how to feed my family and build a life. All right, so this weekend is coming off of that combined with now my experience of teaching photographers and networking with photographers and being out in the world and talking to photographers, engaging photographers and what I'm seeing in the world because I came in at the end of the old school era, I call it when I started topography, it was right at the end of film was still king, there were still kind of pre defined path that you would take to become a photographer, okay, you're going to go to school, you're going to assist, you're goingto work for other people, and then you're going to go the route of small jobs to build up to big jobs, and you have you kind of have this path, and the path now is gone, like today entering the field is just like, if you'd be joey l I mean, he's canadian for, you know, all states like, you know, so you have hope not. So, you know, joey's, like seventeen and starts a career, you know, I didn't go to school and become an assistant and shoot film and work in a lab. You know, in process other people's film and he didn't he just he went his way jeremy character his way uh chase jarvis his way um created and beat down their own paths and that's kind of where it's going today and that's a beautiful thing but what I see happening in so many photographers lives right now as there's there's fundamental parts of their foundation they're missing when I'm you know, talking to a photographer there a full time photographer it's what they do for a living it's how they feed their family and then I say, well, yeah, I used two hundred millimeter lens for this reason and like, well, what's that why oh, I didn't know that that happened I didn't know it changed perspective or will your reciprocal if you're to eight sixtieth, you need to goto f four thirty blank stares you know your reciprocal is right my what you're a working professional full time photographer. I've met a lot of photographers where I'm talking about stuff and I say and this is how it works and they go, you know I do that, but I don't know why I do it, but I guess that's what I'm doing so my take on being a photographer is you need to know what you're doing with the camera, all right everyone's like business, business, business when you pick up a camera and you push this shutter release but that is business you get your business done right there and if you pick this up and you really don't know what you're doing with it or you're stuck in lots of automatic settings or you're hoping that between the camera and your post production it's going to create the magic for you, that doesn't really like put a lot of confidence inside of use of dogs when you lay your head down at night you want to be able to say I know what I'm doing with the camera because as you go out in the day saying I'm a photographer nice to meet you um hire me pay me money to do this you need to know that when you pick up that camera you know what you're doing when you look in your camera bag you need to look at what you have available and know what you need to pull out to get the shotgun you need to see a picture in your head and know how to get it and that's based on the camera you're using the lenses you have the light that you have to work with all of that is part of your confidence part of your skill set part of your talent that when you go out into the world to sell yourself you know what you're doing now as a photographer as an artist you are always going to, um you're you're always going toe have self doubt all right? You're always going to second guess yourself, you're always going to lack some level of confidence, right? Um, every job I go on, I'm nervous, I'm standing up here teaching for the weekend, I'm nervous like I'm pacing like I'm just hold gosh, is it going to happen this weekend? And I'm going to do it and my going toe like, is this going to be helpful for people is going to be worth their time is worth skipping the royal wedding that over right now, like in that done like, aren't they off on there like this? The crews now, um so but I go forward with it, and I think one mark of a professional is between a professional and amateur is that I have fear before that job, but I go forward through it and I I just get past the fear and I get the job done right? No matter how you know bad, I may be beating myself up when that client walks in the door, I get that job done and I know a lot of people that fear just holds them back fear holds them back from going to that networking event fear holds them back from from pushing their lighting, you know it pushing their aircraft outside of whatever they're comfortable with it the fear keeps him away from lights fear keeps him away from you know this or that or another and to be a professional you have to just get past that fear and what I have found that has helped me so much is that when I'm lacking some sort of confidence just being your stereotypical stupid artists going oh I threw it uh what was me when I look at all this gear I know exactly what it's therefore I know what it does I know what it doesn't do and I know how to run my gear and work with it so that I can go get the job done I never want to be the kind of photographer that's standing behind that camera just pushing buttons praying to god something will happen correctly or just throwing it all an automatic settings and just go on please sprain and praying hoping I'll find something I'm going to shoot a haystack and I'll go look for the needle later in light when I see a haystack in front of me I want to find that needle with the camera I don't want to just find it later so everyone's asking business business, business business show me the bill show me the money is that I want the money show me how to run this as a business I'm confident my skill set and I'm not appear to be a jerk I'm not appear to be arrogant, but nine times out of ten when people are asking me, I need to know business I'm comfortable with I understand my cameras in my life I'm good with that, I need no business and then I go and I do my research on him and I looked up their websites and I find their flicker pages and I look by research and nine times out of ten the folks that are just got to know about business don't really know what they're doing with the camera I look at their work going your work has to get up in skill and talent like you have a long way to yet to go and I think you can make a proper exposure, but it goes beyond that. All right? Uh we have to get beyond just making a proper exposure that's just the beginning of it. All right, so we are spending time on the camera. We're spending time on the linds were spending time on the light this weekend. This is the foundational stuff you have to know. All right, um and it's it's the kind of thing that you just need toe have in your brain a second nature, all right, okay, what just happened there? I hear a laugh from over there and you think it's got a good laugh, ok? And then you started smiling and he's laughing. I'm like what's happening on the internet anyways. So, um, I like to start every single workshop and teaching thing I do now with this quote from a guy named edward weston. All right, now, this quote, I've tracked it down to something like nineteen twenty seven. All right? So back in the twenties now western in his contemporaries were at the forefront of of making photography and acceptable vocation unacceptable job like this is what we do. I'm a photographer and it's how I see my kids, all right? They were also on the forefront of making this is an acceptable art for for much of the beginning of photography and sometimes even today, people don't look at photography as art sculpting is art, music is art, writing is art, you're taking nothing and you're making something out of you. Take a blank canvas and you make a painting on the blank canvas solely from your mind. Whereas with the camera, you just well, there's a subject you point your camera at it, you take a picture that's not art, right? Um, it's, totally art and western western had a lot to say about photography. Hey magazine articles and things like he would have had a very popular blawg had things like computers even existed that we're talking nineteen twenty seven we're talking like I s a one hundred film would have been revolutionary damp I also one hundred right there's no t t l there's no auto focus there's no you know like soft boxes and small hot shoe flashes there's no pocket wizards is none of that there's apertures and shutter speeds and lenses in film and and it wasn't too long before that that being a photographer was kind of like a life threatening vocation because you're in a dark room with cyanide stuff right? Was it too far before that? So the quote is the fact is relatively few photographers ever master their medium instead they allow the medium to master them and they go on an endless squirrel cage chase from new linds two new paper to new developer we we read that as a new photo shop action all right that's our developer these days to new gadget never staying with one piece of equipment long enough to learn its full capacities becoming lost in a maze of technical information that is a little or no use to them since they don't know what to do with it and that was my first started my career all right when I started my career I needed this linds I needed this camera system I needed this light I needed this modifier I'd buy a soft box than I'd go assist a photographer I'd set up his lights with some different soft box he'd take a picture, I'd see that film later I go. Wow, that's, great picture. I got to get that soft box. Wrong connection. I need to get his eyes. I need to get his brain. I need this and I need to think like that. Photographer, right? Did not get the gear. That photographer had us and I desist one for the harder for one day who shot with this gear and I'd look at what they were shooting. Go. Wow! And then I shoot with some other photographer and see what they're shooting. Go. Wow! And I want their gear because their gear will help them. Your gear helps you with your vision, it's true, right? The less gear you have, the harder it is to pull your idea for a shot off. But you're gonna have all the gear in the world and and suck, right? I'm currently researching medium format digital backs right now, and I use flicker a lot whenever I'm researching. What are people doing with these cameras? What are people doing with this, linds, what are people doing with this? I want to I want to see some of these you know what people are doing and there's a particular camera twenty thousand dollars camera that I've just been kind of eyeball and it's gonna be a while till I get one um and I get on flicker and I do a search for that camera and it's it's a damn travesty of the horrible pictures people are shooting with that twenty thousand dollars camera I won't tell you the exact search term, you know, because they come up on the first page and maybe you all are watching this right now, but as horrible they have such a gorgeous camera oh my gosh, it's such an amazing camp and they're shooting the worst that they could they might as well just get a camera phone what they're shooting with, but then I'll go do a search for like a point and shoot and there's some fifteen year old kids somewhere in the world with a point and shoot shooting pictures that have just blowing my mind like, oh my gosh, I cannot believe you're doing this with a point shoot there's this kid on instagram right now that, like he does just all this cool stuff with iphone I'm looking at this picture is gone I wish I had a shot that I wish I'd have shot that I wish I'd have shot that and he's just a kid with an iphone you know, it's, not about the year, so one thing that I'll be talking about a lot isn't never staying with one piece of equipment long enoughto learn its full capacities, all right, and that I see happening so often you get a lin's and before you know that, linds, you're on to the next let's, you're on to the next thing, or someone comes along and says, oh, you really should get this lens. Why? Why do you need to get that linds, for your style of shooting and for the clients that you have and and for what the situations you find yourself in? Why do you need that? Linds? I don't know, someone told me it was a good linds and I should get it. Why? Why do you need it? Every time you purchase something in photography, you need to know why you're purchasing it and it needs to come from your experience. So what I'm saying today is whatever gear you have right now, if you're an emerging photographer trying to figure this out as a craft and as a business, whatever gear you own, that is it for the next six months to a year for you, no camera body's know linds is no lights, no flashes, no modifiers, whatever, like, you know that equipment you know it, you know it inside and out the first lens that I bought when I came back into photography does this thirty five millimeter f two I got it for one hundred bucks used and that was my linens for almost a year, and if I'm shooting a bandit was with this lens from shooting a family, it was with this lends if I was shooting children porch terms with this land is like, whatever job came my way, I shot some tabletop product with this linds like, so at the end of that, nearly a year's about nine, ten months or something that I had before I got another linds as this linds was coming up to my I already knew what scene was going to look like. I knew what this linds was going to do. I could look out into the world and know what this viewpoint was going to give me your lenses, your viewpoint and before it even gets to your eye, you need to know what that's going to look like. There are times that especially at weddings, where I've got to get my camera over here to shoot a picture, but I physically can't get over there, I gotta shoot over someone's shoulder, and if I know my linds enough, my goal in my head as I want to be so much of a ninja that I can hold that up and feel the composition now that's all really nice and emotional like I just feel your composition you close your eyes daniel son few composition right uh but it's true it's like I know this thing I know it and when I add a new lens to my kid that one goes away and I just start shooting everything with that newlands everything with that knew it the lens that I want right now is a one thirty five will get it all into that's on this camera right now one thirty five that's my next linds. Probably when I get one I wish you everything with that linds like everything's getting shot with that lends until I know it and know it I know what it's going to look like. I know what it feels like I know it when I put my hand in my camera back I just I know exactly where it is, what it feels like in my hand like and need to know everything about that let's and that's. What I want to challenge all of you is that you know your gear so if you're with a rebel and a kit lands in a pop up flash then you're going to get to know that rebel that kit lindzen that pop up flash like breathing before you buy the next piece of here all right, so we do not want to become lost in a maze of technical information that is a little or no use, since we don't know what to do with it. We need to know our technical information and we need to know what to do with it, and we want to be the photographers that master the medium and we don't want photography to master over us. We'll get into this on sunday, especially when meghan I sit down and talk about photography will take everything from you. Everything it'll take your time, it'll take your money, it'll take your family. I don't think your credit score, it will take everything from you. All right, um, if you let it and it's kind of a wild beast that you have to stay, keep under control and the less you know what this stuff is doing, the more it can just take over. And the more people that come out with some crap to sell you for forty nine point five saying this will take care of this problem for you. The more magic bullets you buy, the more like, well, so and so uses that wind. So I have to buy that, linds well, so and so he likes that camera body, so I need to buy that camera body. Well, so and so lives in one part of the world and shoots one kind of style and you live in another part of the world should a different kind of style you know that doesn't match right but I see so many people like what lynn should I buy what are you shooting? Everything under the sun will you need every lens under the son I don't know like what do you want like you know I don't know I just need a good linens and tell me what settings are what do your settings all right? So today we're going to talk about the camera we're gonna talk about the linens we're going talk aboutthe subject we're going talk about the composition all right? So these are foundations for me you say show me the business that's a business camera lin's subject interaction composition as the business like when you're shooting your our new business all right um then tomorrow on saturday we're going to start with the light all right? We'll start with the light but we're going to go from window light outside an alleyway toe flashes toe mixing them up mixing flash with ambient will work inside so it's gonna be strobes it's going to be so hot flashes we're going to go bounce all over the place with light, all right? I'm not going to spend a lot of time discussing studio lighting so much because we spent three days doing that in a previous class there's no reason to just completely revamp that again so I want to spend a little more time on available light all right um I love available like half of my portfolio is available like a lot of people think well, zach he uses strobes and flashes for everything. No, half my book is available like um there times when you got to turn that strobe off and their times you've got to turn it on and you is the working photographer whose mastering your craft walks into the situation and say I don't need a light there but I do need a light there and being able to size that up quickly is the gulf uh, the assignment all right um the assignment again it's going to be more working with the subject ah working with your client interaction between can't photographer subject on what's the goal kind of what you were going to mchale at the beginning of you know how far can you push lighting? How far can you push your creative direction? It's a lot of it's based on the assignment you got the ceo who comes in and very stuffy and ty and I need a head shot for, you know, our newsletter that's not really when you're pushing the limits of things on actor and actress head shot is definitely not to be pushing the limits of lighting someone comes in say I'm trying to build a modeling portfolio and I want to do you know editorial work in new york we'll go anywhere you want to go you take pictures that are out of focus and your good right um uh bands when bands come in um I can kind of push my limits with bands uh when a company comes in and they need employees photos not so much pushing even if they go we want some really creative what they really want is still something pretty conservative so what is the assignment in front of you and that's going to dictate what lenses and everything that that I go to all right um and then the shot trying to get the shot sunday the test I'm going to be putting you guys to the test on sunday all right? We're going to have a couple hours beginning of sunday and I would say definitely go over to that white wall, turn it black and give me something dramatic. All right? Mchale go over there and shoot me and just a really nice available a head shot just and I need you to get I need you to do it so sunday just be prepared like we're going to put you under the gun you're gonna have a short time limit and we're going toe, you know whatever limitations you have to work with when we give you an assignment and you've got to like go get it kind of thing or if you specifically have like oh, I have an idea something I'd like to try then I want you to go take ownership of that and then make it happen quickly all while interacting with your subject although it without breaking a sweat you could be breaking a sweat up in your brain but you've got are like role and flow like water in front of that client like it's nobody's business kind of thing all right uh feedback all right? We're going to be talking about uh we're still working on some logistics for for one thing we're going to be doing but the feedback the critique that uh the basically it's building your portfolio um going through the process of putting your work together to put it out there in the world to get business again it all comes back to business when I'm talking apertures and shutter speeds I'm thinking business but I'm talking about your light soft boxes are grid spots and with the picture I'm trying to create as business I've got to create something for this clan today that is going to make them happy it's going to be they're going to be glad that they're writing a check to me today because I'm creating something for them that they didn't know could be created or they had an expectation of the pictures they wanted and I exceeded that expectation or they walked in and had such a great experience with me that they got to go tell all their friends about me because they had such a good time, right? I got to know the assignment I gotta know this gear I got a noble and lenses I got to know my light and then when that subject gets in front of my camera, I gotta, like, nail it for them and beyond that's business, it's all business it's, all business. All right, um, so we'll be getting into the business. Um and we will get into numbers and we will get into pricing and we will get into branding and I'll looks like I said on my block this week don't worry about randy and alex, I'll break that down, all right? Like, if you're just getting started and just emerging is a photographer just trying to get this thing rolling, don't worry about me now I know that goes against some stuff you've, uh you've heard from other people jasmine star says it's all about branding and I'm gonna bust that down of wind branding comes in and out as I see it, and please remember that this weekend I am not here as coming down off a mountain top on high going this is how you're supposed to do it, I'm going to tell you what's important to me is a working photographer how I've built up my careers of working photographer, what I've seen that has worked what I've seen that hasn't worked and give you some some step by step things to start working towards all right? Um the other take that I look at the industry is there are people who are fantastic in business and they have fantastic photography businesses and they're mediocre photographers and I know some amazing photographers who have horrible businesses and my goal and where I teach from and where I live from is tryingto like run down the middle of those two I want to run a successful business I want to do well with my business, but I want to be a good photographer I want to be a great photographer I want thirty years from now that like I am proud of the work that I created, not of the business I created at the end of my day when I'm getting planted in the ground. How good of a photographer was I I don't give a damn about business and people who are great at business but mediocre photographers they could be greater business alone in a sandwich shop owner and a dry cleaners they could have started to dry cleaners and had a successful dry cleaning business you know and they could have started it could've bought a truck and two lawnmowers and be like a successful landscape because they're good at business right? And and we have a lot to learn from people in that range because we'd learned how to run this is a business how to run our numbers um and we there's amazing photographers who can't pay their bills and for me it's somewhere down that middle of being great photographers and running a business sunday we're getting into that and there were ending up sunday with the balance all right, the balance of because we have families we have lives I mean, you know, it's sad when I don't see my best friends for six weeks or two months like and they live a mile away and I just don't see my friends and I don't see my you know, I don't think my mom will it's forty five minutes away and I don't see her for a month and a half that's sad like I got to find that balance it's not I mean photography is everything but no, it isn't photography stupid at the end of the day it's just a job we're not carrying cancer or anything you know it's just pictures shall we even really can we just go home? It's just pictures, right? But it's the only thing I know how to do

Class Description

Want to be a good photographer? Want to do it for a living? Want to rise above the bottom? Then join Zack Arias for this creativeLIVE course. Zack's first workshop was all about studio lighting. This time around, he's covering what you need to know to be a professional working photographer. Many people requested a class about business. Many requested natural light. Plenty wanted strobe + ambient. Everyone wanted more “client interaction” and posing guidelines. Zack's digging deep and covering as much as he can.

Reviews

Ivan
 

Outstanding! There are so many gems, any photographer aspiring to venture into business will gain much from this course. There are plenty of technical how-to's with superb examples, from choosing the right lens for a given situation, to learning about reciprocals, expressed in Zack's warm and fun style. He's a joy to watch. But, this class is much more than that. Zack is extremely generous in sharing very personal experiences and insight, on how he began from early days of struggling, to current projects, how he built his portfolio, and looking ahead to the future. And, in the final discussion with his wife Meghan, they open up and share their personal struggles balancing work and family life, and their strong support of each other. We can all relate to this. This class is a great guide on what it takes to start and become a successful pro photographer, and pulls no punches. It's not easy to do, but with some creativity and an insane amount of hard work, is doable and very rewarding!

a Creativelive Student
 

Zack's always been one of my favorite photographers and when I think about why he is, it isn't even his work that comes to mind. Zack's technical knowledge and ability to pull off really stunning images is reason enough to check out this course. While he does a good job at teaching the fundamentals, he even better job at explaining why he makes the choices he does. Anyone can tell you what "rules" to follow and what you should and shouldn't do but Zack does a good job explaining why those guidelines are JUST guidelines and shouldn't be taken as law, which can be limiting. I highly recommended this for anyone who has an interest in becoming a better photographer.

a Creativelive Student
 

I haven't finished the course yet either but I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I love Zacks work I think he is an amazing teacher and a very funny man. I loved one light and I'm looking forward to finishing this and starting the his studio lighting course also.