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That Kelby Clan…..

Feb 23

In On Location, Videos at 8:10am

Had a blast last week with the gang from Tampa out at PhotoShop 20th anniversary in San Fran. Though a couple folks let me know that no one out there refers to their fair city in those terms. It’s either full blown San Francisco, or just simply, SF. Okay. Nicknames or no, it’s still a great place. We dovetailed with the Kelby Online Training video team, led by the intrepid Scriv, and shot a new video. We had great fun, and great subjects.


How can you not like a bunch of guys who sing nothing but Leonard Cohen songs, acapella, and call themselves a Conspiracy of Beards? When they perform, they are 30 strong, but we were happy that 4 of the guys showed up at the Java on Ocean Coffee Shop.

I just wanted to put the camera down and listen, I tell ya. No instruments, no music, just the power of their voices. Jeff, the guy with the gray beard, smiled and said, “Yeah, load in’s a bitch.” (They just walk into a venue as they are and start singing.) They were great to work with, and Hossam, the owner of the shop, not only makes great coffee and killer deserts, he couldn’t have been nicer about letting us shoot in his store. You know how some people understandably get nervous when they see c-stands, wires, power packs walking in the door? None of that. He was totally cool, and we got good pix without driving too many folks crazy.


Used big light sources for these pix. Shot both with two Elinchrom Quadra heads, each with their own power pack. For the lineup, the lights are in the street, and we stitched together swatches of diffusion for the window. This should make for good video. Window was so big we were taping everything we could think of to block the straight sunlight from pouring in. Used Lastolite one stop diffuser material, tri-grips, bits of the local newspaper, concert posters, you name it. I stopped just short of going into the mens’ room and stealing the toilet paper. For the table pic above, the light source is just over my head, a 3×6 Lastolite panel, rigged horizontal, with the two heads popping through it. Shooting multiple faces close together, soft, wide light sources are the way to go, at least most of the time.

Been having a lot of fun shooting the Kelby videos. I shoot every shot as if it’s for a portfolio piece, and sometimes I fall short, right there on video. But that’s the nature of the location beast. Sometimes you da window, sometimes you da bug. But I keep looking and talking as I go, trying to find solutions that work.


This one worked pretty well, also shot recently for an upcoming training video. Big light in the background, hot shoe flash for the foreground (30″ Ezybox Hotshoe Softbox) on a paint pole. In between…smoke! And another light way camera right, gelled and defining the far wall. When working in a space like this, sometimes your light has to not just light the person, but define the space.

Enjoying doing the tours stops for the NAPP gang as well. Now wait a minute here fella…you’re actually saying you enjoy having every single frame you shoot pop up on screens in front of 800-900 people? Are ya stupid or just plain crazy?

No, I really do enjoy them and feed off the energy of the kindhearted (mostly:-) people in the audience. It’s hectic, and while I have a game plan, I do riff around pretty continuously. I’ll say to Drew, hey, you know, we could do a double exposure in camera right now, don’t you think? Drew will just roll his eyes and adjust admirably.

But we do move fast. In NY, we made our model look these three ways, in, as they say, a NY minute.




The three above were shot mostly small flash, with a bit of big flash for the fashion shot. As I recall, anyway. At the end of those days, I am a wet noodle, and really sometimes ask Drew when we are reviewing frames, “How did I light that again?” Sheesh…

Got some dates and stops coming up for this year already….Philadelphia, 4/7Denver, 4/28 …and Sacramento, 5/7…we’ll be knocking it back with all sorts of flash techniques.

Last week in SF was great. Anytime I can head out there, it’s a good trip. Did some shooting, found a ballerina in the woods, went to the PS20 deal. I had no business being there, but hey, nobody said anything. As I tweeted the night of the fest, they rejected my idea of the Jennifer Aniston slider, which makes everybody beautiful and appealing, at least for a while:-)

Nor did they accept the “Lindsay Lohan Transform Tool,” which puts a dull glaze in everyone’s eyes. Even bounced back my notion of a Tiger Woods plug in, for, I guess, their own reasons.

Gotta go…packing for Dubai….more tk….

Ben says:

on February 23, 2010 at 8:50 am

Love the three shots at the end! Cool post – Thanks

Richard Hales says:

on February 23, 2010 at 8:53 am

Great shots, as ever. Can you persuade those Kelby guys to do a PSW in the UK sometime?

Kevin Glackmeyer says:

on February 23, 2010 at 8:56 am

End of fourth paragraph…”Shooting multiple faces close together, soft, wide light sources are the way to go, at least most of the time.”

It’s great reading your blog…you have to trudge thru the antics and bullshit to discover the tip of the day…kg

Ken says:

on February 23, 2010 at 9:45 am


You and all the guys at Kelby training must come to Keeneland Race track, located in Lexington, KY in April.

The best boutique track in America.

Make a outrageous location shoot

Nice post

Ken in KY

Michael Preston says:

on February 23, 2010 at 9:46 am

“Tiger Woods plug in…” Heh…

Good one. :-)

Stephen Nesbitt says:

on February 23, 2010 at 10:09 am

Enjoying your photos Joe… You mentioned that these are for an upcoming training video. Are they for Kelby Training?

Timothy says:

on February 23, 2010 at 10:24 am

your work always blows me away! please come to singapore!!!

Natalie Armstrong says:

on February 23, 2010 at 10:45 am

nice work. Just ordered your “Hot shoe diaries” and looking forward to understanding it all a bit more. Thanks for sharing.

Ken Toney says:

on February 23, 2010 at 11:13 am

For some odd reason while I’m reading this blog I can see you singing with these guys while you are shooting. Would have loved to be a patron that day!

Jomi Garrucho says:

on February 23, 2010 at 11:46 am

I wished they’d put a “McNally” lighting slider too

Lisa Brazieal says:

on February 23, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Actually Mister M. locals pronounce it “SanFrancisco” (all one word).

Great shots. Glad you were witness to the Beards. Thanks, as always, for documenting them so beautifully.

Bob DeChiara says:

on February 23, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Waiting for another stop in Boston.

Polgara says:

on February 23, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Beautiful shots as always. Wish I could hear those guys sing! I am supposed to shoot a self-portrait for class. Could use the Jennifer Aniston slider!

Andrew says:

on February 23, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Nice post, Joe. I’ve read for a while but never commented. Recognized some of your work while looking through the POYi winners yesterday, congrats on third place for Cosmic Vision in the Science/Natural History Picture Story category!

Nicholas Franklin says:

on February 23, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Man, if we could only get those 30″ Ezybox Hotshoe’s stateside..

Billy Mitchell says:

on February 23, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Joe, that last portrait has shadows above the nostrils. Planned or too much reflector under?

Ziv says:

on February 23, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Hey Joe/Drew

I like image #3 Fashion… alot. Nice falloff. Details?


Marvin says:

on February 23, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Nice post, Joe. I can’t wait for you to come to Dubai. I enrolled in one of your classes there on the Thursday of that Photo Weekend, and will be seeing you again the following day, Photo Friday. Looking forward to learning A LOT about your techniques. Have a safe trip.

Mike Sims says:

on February 23, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Cya in Denver Joe! VERY excited!

Rich says:

on February 24, 2010 at 12:19 am

For those of us who were born here, San Francisco is simply “The City”

randy baran says:

on February 24, 2010 at 12:39 pm

leonard cohen! i would have thought “sweet home alabama.” then again, if they all had beards, the smith bros.

great portraits, great mastery of strobes. thanks. rb

Ingoman says:

on February 25, 2010 at 2:48 am

I am so excited for getting to know the mcnally plugin in Dubai. 4days to take off. Cu there Joe.

Nathan deGargoyle says:

on February 25, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Thank you Joe for introducing me to Conspiracy of Beards. That is the best laugh I’ve had in years!

Iden Ford says:

on February 25, 2010 at 3:35 pm

I like the bottom one which I assume is the fashion shot. Has a Karsh like feel to it

karl bratby says:

on February 25, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Great post Joe, love the lingo you spout….

Jason says:

on February 25, 2010 at 10:08 pm

finally i can buy your hot shoe diaries in China.Great.

Barbara Thorbjörnsson says:

on February 26, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Also…the portrait where he is wearing a scarf (which is my favorite, the lighting is perfect.

Kevin L. says:

on February 27, 2010 at 7:18 pm

You were at the SF PS20 celebration? I was there didn’t see ya. Too bad cuz I would have loved to pick your brain. I’m actually enrolled in a photo lighting class now.

hfng says:

on February 28, 2010 at 5:28 am

Simply wow!! Love those 3 shots.

bayrak says:

on March 1, 2010 at 10:44 am

Hi! very very thanks, this website is helpful :)

Kev says:

on March 3, 2010 at 6:30 am

Great work. Loved the picture of the 3 guys in the coffee shop. Keep up the good work.

Lewis Coward says:

on March 16, 2010 at 9:07 am

That image of Clara after the edits in PS – the transformation is stunning.. Quite amazed at the final output and would like to see more of these Joe.

scriv says:

on March 16, 2010 at 9:20 am

Hi gang! Yes, it’s true, we shot some vids that busy week in Francis… yeah, I called it that… once. Then some guy in fatigues jumped out and said, “call it Francis and I’ll killya.”

Anyway, these vids are a little different and are coming up right around the corner. However, I thought you’d like to know that we have many more from Joe that haven’t gone up on the site yet. Take it from me, too much Joe at once will melt your brain.

Good photographer AND great teacher… and he’s right, we show the good and the bad images. I shoot his classes a bit different in order to keep up with his spontaneity. Because of this, there are times you see him back himself into a corner, only to watch him pull out of it in the end.

I know this sounds pitchy, but i really love it. some times i take my job for granted. i get to work with really cool people… AND Joe!

scriv, video guy.

viscara says:

on March 18, 2010 at 3:27 am

Actually I am from the bay area and “YES” Individuals do refer to San Francisco as “San Fran” its only the young 20 year olds that have “MOVED” here but never were “Raised” here that do not call it San Fran.. Those are what the locals call San Fran Live in “Tourist” …. THey are the individuals that are transplants only living in the city after college or when they started college and have lived here for a mere 4 or 5 years… Born and “Raised” locals do refer to the city as “San Fran” So dont listen to the “Tourist” listen to the actual “Real” locals… Hope you liked the City its beautiful but the last 8 years the city has gone down hill.. Crime is bad and the bums are out of control up in the city.. But its one fun city and great diversity as well as food. Just dont have your white but out after dark beyond 3rd street or in Hunters Point when the sun goes down..

Dariusz Bartosiewicz says:

on March 19, 2010 at 3:21 am

Hello Joe,

my name is Dariusz Bartosiewicz and lived in Poland for some time trying to fathom your books 2. Only regret that I can not come to your photo seminars.

Regards Dariusz B

I apologi ze for my language (:

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