How To Find Your Style (Video)

How To Find Your Style (Video)

How to Find Your Style in Photography.

We find it looking back at our output, not ahead at someone else’s.

Imitate. Assimilate. Innovate. – Clark Terry

It is not what you shoot, it is how you shoot what you shoot.

Most of us start out shooting everything that comes in front of our lens. We simply fall in love with the process of fixing a still image from our visual surroundings.

We love the act and product of photography.

But down the road a bit, we start focusing in on the subjects we choose. Perhaps we lose interest in urban street photography in order to make more portraits. Or we find less and less to shoot in the city because all of our efforts seem to be focused on the wild that lies beyond.

Natural progression.

But after a while we begin to see a particular kind of image more and more in our work. Perhaps it is a way we compose, or a consistent way we present our subjects. Our post processing begins leaning toward that ‘look’ and we have the beginnings of style.

Style is NOT just a filter set or a plugin.Style is NOT using a specific lens.
Style is NOT making images that look like someone else’s style.

Style is what we do with all of the tools at our hands.

How we compose, frame, light, interact, present emotion (or not), deliver a story (or not). treat the subjects relationship to the world, reframe the subject into a place that may or may not represent reality.

It is how we make images that are uniquely ours.

Totally unique?

Nope. Damned difficult to do.

But unique to us in that they are a cohesive set of images – a body of work – that relates to our vision and presentation of the photography.

We find our style looking back on what we love.

So we need to make a lot of images before we begin to see our ‘style’ emerging.

Imitate. Assimilate. Innovate. – Clark Terry


Lighting Essentials is a place for serious photographers.


The Top 10% Club and the $10,000 Gig

The Top 10% Club and the $10,000 Gig

I discuss the 10% rule.

It’s easy to get to 50% in your art.
Then it gets progressively harder.

Breaking into the 80% is hard, and many photographers work to stay in that group hoping to push into the 90% group. The ninety percent group… Hard to do.

Going to the top 10%…

When most people are doing as little to get by as possible, what does it say when you do as much as you can to deliver something small? It means you care more about them than you do about what is expected. It means you are going out of your way to deliver more than most would. And that means you win.

Treat every gig as though it was a ten thousand dollar shoot. Every gig. Remember, you agreed to the fee, the quality of the work has to be top notch no matter what fee you negotiated.

To set yourself apart, do more than was expected. Do more than most others do. Go the extra mile to deliver something more unique, with more value to the ones who get it.

A recent downhill skiing event (speeds of 80-90 miles an hour on skis and a steep mountain):

Fastest skier down the mountain: #1 | 1:27.97
Slowest skier down the mountain: #24 | 1:35.11

Yeah, the last skier is in the top of the skiers in the world, but he was 10% off of the time of the best.

If he gets 1% better each month for the next ten months… just imagine.

What are you going to do to get to that 90% club?

(If the gig is worth $20,000, of course you should not do it for $10,000. Did I really have to say that? Heh.)

Lighting Essentials is a place for serious photographers.


15 Things To Consider When Leaving Your Corporate Gig

15 Things To Consider When Leaving Your Corporate Gig

Going Pro Photographer from a corporate gig is not as easy as many think it is.

Here is part one of things that you should think about before making the switch.

The List

  1. Turn a 9 – 5 job into a 5 – 9 job
  2. Do not underestimate the power of a good budgeting system. If you are not good at delayed gratification, this will be harder than it seems.
  3. Learn to love Mac and Cheese and Ramen
  4. If you don’t use it weekly, you don’t need to own it
  5. You will hate your boss… you will work when you are sick, and never be late
  6. If you are not working harder than you did at your corporate gig, you are failing
  7. Dress for the day. PJ’s and slippers will not put you into a work frame of mind
  8. Make sure you have a calendar and stick with it. There are far too many distractions to deal with otherwise
  9. Forget TV
  10. Save for rainy days… they happen
  11. Spend time with your family and be there when you say you are. Important to not work when you are with family time
  12. Shoot something every day… or every other day at least.
  13. Don’t measure your self or your work against others, just don’t.
  14. Watch closely for resistance… it can show up in the damnedest of disguises
  15. Don’t hide in your office… get out and meet people – especially other entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Being prepared is the best way to make anything work out.

Planning for a Portrait: What Gear Do I Bring

Planning for a Portrait: What Gear Do I Bring

Gear List:

I would say that there are three levels of shooting, and unless I know ABSOLUTELY what I am walking into, I take it all.

That said: Level one.
Quick, on location shoot.
2 booms, C-stands
4 additional stands
Two medium and one large Octabox
Umbrella Bag (2-60’s, 2-43’s, and assorted)
Shower curtain scrim
Background stand
Two Profoto 600 WS
4 Speedlights
Gels for color correction
2 grids
2 barndoors
Assorted reflectors

Level Two:
A corporate shoot where I may have to move sets and do a varied assortment of shots (Headshots in the morning, working people at noon, still life product in the afternoon)
All of the above.
2 additional booms (small/medium)
4 additional stands
Large softbox
Small softbox
“Kit” box with clamps, wires, blowers, and anything I may need on location to do product
Small folding table
Camp style chairs for waiting
2 Additinal Profotos (total of four)
1200 WS Dynalite with one head
Reflectors and holders
Extra batteries/cables/cords for redundant redundancy
Short ladder

Level Three:
We know exactly what we need for the shoot since we have location, concept, scouting info and such.

All of the above plus any additional items that the shot may call for;
Smoke machines
Extendable ladders
Custom extras

Budgets can range from stupid low to incredibly hign. It all depends on the client. Typically magazines may not have much budget, bud an ad agency may not think anything about spending a couple hundred thousand for what it needs.

Walking this minefield can be very treacherous, so if it is a bigger shoot, with lots of moving parts, it may be wise to get some help with figuring the budget you need and how to conform it to the budget they are willing to pay. I have had art directors carry my strobes for me, and we have used accounting staff as models… all depends on what the final dollars come out to.

But what you do not discount/cut/modify/lower/change is YOUR CREATIVE FEE… once it is established the rest is negotiable.





Looking to get and play with a film camera that has some weight to the images… well, this bad boy has some weight, and it makes exceptionally wonderful images as well.

The Mamiya RB 67 is a medium format film camera that makes a 6x7CM image (2 1/4 x 2 3/4) on 120 film. It is heavy, a solid performer, and can shoot vertical and horizontal without having to turn the tripod head (film backs swivel to either vertical or horizontal).

Remember when looking that you want a 120 back and not really be interested in 220 backs since there is no one making 220 film anymore. You can still get some, but for how long I would worry about.

This is a serious camera and far enough away from the usual type of eye-level cameras we shoot that it can be very exciting to make images.


We are going to be Vlogging a lot more in upcoming weeks. I hope you stick around to see what comes up.