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When I was 14 year's old I wanted to be a lawyer or a naval officer and then I borrowed my mom's camera and went to summer camp. Having that point-and-shoot in my hands gave me a reason to walk up to new people and make friends, something I couldn't do at my school because the die was cast for this poor and overweight kid. I quickly realized photography was for me and I set out to make it my career, overcoming some big hurdles along the way as I transitioned from photojournalism to become a commercial photographer.

How I overcame major challenges and setbacks to become a successful commercial photographer

When I was 14 year’s old I wanted to be a lawyer or a naval officer and then I borrowed my mom’s camera and went to summer camp. Having that point-and-shoot in my hands gave me a reason to walk up to new people and make friends, something I couldn’t do at my school because the die was cast for this poor and overweight kid. I quickly realized photography was for me and I set out to make it my career, overcoming some big hurdles along the way as I transitioned from photojournalism to become a commercial photographer.

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There are two ways photographers can grow and improve -- practice and critique. But the feedback we get online is often all positive and unqualified or destructive and also unqualified. So in today's video, James Quantz Jr. and I will go over 6 images, submitted by their makers, and give suggestions on how the photos could be improved.

Photo critique with James Quantz Jr.

There are two ways photographers can grow and improve — practice and critique. But the feedback we get online is often all positive and unqualified or destructive and also unqualified. So in today’s video, James Quantz Jr. and I will go over 6 images, submitted by their makers, and give suggestions on how the photos could be improved.

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Behind-the-scenes of my YouTube Set-up

I wanted to give you a behind-the-scenes look at my YouTube setup, including all of the gear I use to make my videos.

Nanlite provided me with these lights and modifiers. However, after using them, I decided to sell most of my Aputure gear and buy more Nanlite products.

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using a color wheel calculator to create color harmony on set

Color Harmony

I can’t stress the importance of this topic enough, because coordinating all of the elements in your shot is ultimately things you will do on set as a photographer. This video will examine color theory and using a color wheel to match wardrobe, props and backgrounds.

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model excuses

Ten Stupid Model Excuses When Canceling Photoshoots

Setting-up a test photoshoot is a great way to try out new ideas and hone your craft, but like many of my friends I still have models who don’t show up or come up with these lame excuses. It comes with the territory and you just have to laugh because they’re so ridiculous. So for today’s video I’ve compiled 10 of the lamest excuses that I’ve heard lately and maybe just maybe one of the models will watch this video and come up with better material next time.

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How to tether with Capture One and still have images write to the card in your Canon EOS R5 Camera

How to tether with Capture One and still have images write to the card in your Canon EOS R5 Camera

People ask me about tethering all of the time. In Lightroom it was a struggle, even with Tether Tools cables, but when I started using Capture One, I wasn’t thrilled that the images were only written to my computer’s hard drive. So I set up this workaround so that photos would write to both my Canon camera and computer, creating an instant backup of my data and allowing me to review images in the EVF and on the LCD.

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Full Review of the Canon EOS R5 for Commercial and Portrait Photographers switching from the 5DIV

Full Review of the Canon EOS R5 for Commercial and Portrait Photographers switching from the 5DIV

After using the R5 for a full month as a professional commercial studio and portrait photographer, who shoots some video, I have decided to fully switch from the 5D Mark IV. It took me a while to test everything from auto focus, to tethering to video (including overheating) and how to get the best color out of the new RAW files. This video also covers post production in DPP (Digital Photo Professional), Lightroom and Capture One 20. Please see a full summary of the time line below.

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Canon EOS R5: How to get the best color in Lightroom, Camera Matching Standard Profile

Canon EOS R5: How to get the best color in Lightroom, Camera Matching Standard Profile

I was so excited last week when the Adobe applications updated and then I was so disappointed when I realized the Camera Matching Color Profiles were missing.

After searching everywhere I came across Color Fidelity (https://www.colorfidelity.com/canon.htm) , a third party vendor that sell packs of color profiles for Lightroom and Photoshop and plopped down $15 hoping they would work! Eureka! One of them emulates Camera Matching Standard or Picture Style Standard, giving you basically the same color you would get in DPP (Digital Photo Professional) but in Lightroom.

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How I made it thorugh the great recession as a photographer

How I made it through the Great Recession as a photographer

During the 2008-2010 Great Recession, 50% of my business disappeared and to fill the time I practiced my lighting by working with aspiring models, which transformed my life and greatly improved my skill level. If it wasn’t for this hardship, I wouldn’t be where I am today. As we head into similar circumstances, I would encourage everyone to work on whatever they have been putting off, because if you put in the work during this time, you will emerge stronger than before you ever heard of Covid-19.

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Using passive and active fill to madimize shadow detail and dynamic range

Fill is not a person, but he is your friend

As photographers we might obsess about this modifier or that one, believe me I have, but often times we fall short when it comes to shadow detail. This is something I struggle with from time to time when shooting in a new room and every shoot poses its own set of problems, so the purpose of this post is to share some basic concepts that I hope will help you maximize dynamic range and develop more details in your depictions.

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My garbage can full of photo modifiers

A garbage can full of modifiers, that’s perfectly normal right?

Let’s pretend for a moment I am sitting inside a reality show confession booth. Instead of disparaging the other characters on the show, I’m going to disparage myself (not really, actually. In my garage I have a garbage can full of modifiers. It looks like an episode of Hoarders in miniature, only instead of holding on to teddy bears and half-full beer cans, I collect things that make hard light look soft and in turn, make me look good.

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Canon C200 with a gold mount battery

Powering a Canon C200 with Gold Mount Brick Batteries

After picking myself up off the floor following my discovery of the sticker price for Canon’s C200 batteries, I decided to look at other options. I have seen people using V-Mount and Anton Bauer Gold Mount batteries for while, but they remained a mystery to me until push came to shove once my new camera was on its way.

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Broncolor Siros 800S and Profoto D1 Flash

Broncolor Siros 800 S v Profoto D1 500 AIR Review

The first time I showed my old assistant my Profoto D1 Air 500 Monolights he remarked how sexy they were…. that’s all he kept saying… “these lights are so f&*king sexy!” I can only imagine his sophomoric reaction if he got his hands on the more attractive Broncolor Siros, which comes in multiple flavors from the battery powered 400ws and 800ws Siros L to the 400ws and 800ws Siros S.

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Chicago Photographer John Gress using a Photek Softlighter II Umbrella

The Photek Softlighter II Umbrella… the Best $115 You’ll Ever Spend

When I received a Photek Softlighter II for Christmas in 2015, it quickly became one of my most treasured tools. I first became aware of this miraculous modifier when I discovered my favorite photographer, Art Streiber’s work on Instagram and I noticed him using a ten sided umbrella while shooting Placido Domingo for Vanity Fair. I loved the way it looked and rather than just asking him in a comment what he was using, I went on a day long journey to find it and once I did I never looked back.

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Chicago Photographer John Gress Steady Focused Interview

Steady Focused Interview: Going Full Circle

A few weeks ago I had the great pleasure and honor of spending the lunch hour chatting with Simeon Hendrix, and recording an interview for his Steady Focused web series. Which covers photography, filmmaking, lighting, lenses, cameras, etc…. discussing how to identify weak points, overcome struggles, how to succeed and how to live a fulfilled life. Their most important rule is to work hard, love yourself and have fun!

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It’s Christmas in March – New Cameras!

It’s an exciting day! Right before I left town I got a call from Adorama saying two Canon 5D Mark III cameras were on their way and now they are here!It’s an exciting day! Right before I left town I got a call from Adorama saying two Canon 5D Mark III cameras were on their way.

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Rice Saved The Day

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am the clumsiest person on earth. After I finished shooting the Kentucky Derby Saturday I knocked over a bottle of water onto my laptop. Luckily for me, the computer was off at the time. My friends helped me dry it off and disassemble it on the spot. Water was everywhere inside the case.

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