Welcome to the first blog post for “Bluesky” a new website dedicated to the study of photographic lighting, production, and business issues! My name is Greg Blue and I am a 30+ year veteran commercial photographer whose career has spanned from fashion photography to product, food & conceptual still life, to advertising photography (which includes pretty much every imaginable type of photography presented in a narrow and manipulative context ;). I am also a 20-year veteran teacher of photography and program director at the Langara College CS Photography Program – one of the most respected colleges for training commercial photographers in Canada.
This website is divided into a few primary sections – in my opinion the most important section is the one on Lighting Theory. This section contains the critical information that drives every lighting technique that exists – every single photograph you have taken relates to this section. Light is the medium we work in as photographers and the only tool that can transcend lighting theory is Photoshop, which is not constrained by the physics of light. However, even if Photoshop is a tool you use extensively, you still need to be an expert at lighting – otherwise your images can have a flagrantly “Photoshopped” look (and not in a good way). This can often happen when you composite two different images together that have not been lit accordingly – the results look pasted and fake. But just because you understand Lighting Theory does not mean you have to adhere to it – the Image Tutorial named Billy shows an example where I very purposely produced a shot where the lighting is subtly impossible – but the shot was designed from the outset to be that way.
Other sections of the website look at specific Lighting Techniques and Business issues, which are also free to all viewers. These sections will continue to grow as I build on ideas and techniques on an ongoing basis. Lighting techniques such as Key Shifting, Painting With Light, Projected Light, etc will be explored in-depth as I continue to expand this section. The lighting section will also include opportunities for members to upload their own images if they have technical questions about an aspect of the image that did not work out the way they expected, or if they would simply like an honest critique of their work.
The Business tutorials will be divided into two areas – marketing and logistics. The marketing section looks at how to promote and position yourself in this industry with a strong emphasis on the content of your work, it’s relevance to your targeted markets and how well it separates you from your competition (not easy topics)! It will also cover all of the traditional forms of media and marketing used by photographers in today’s industry.
The other section on the photographic business looks primarily at the logistics of running your studio. This means understanding pricing, usage, contracts, copyright and a host of other topics. I have unfortunately seen a number of very talented and capable photographers fail utterly in this business simply because they did not know how to take care of their business. I will be adding Bluesky to the numerous other websites and resources out there to convince photographers to use sound business practices that protect both the photographer and their clientele – I hope you find these resources useful!
Finally there are the specific Image Tutorials where every shot that is included on this site is presented in an extremely in-depth tutorial on exactly how the shot was created. Right from the conceptualization through to the final post-production – every aspect of the production is explored in great detail. This is the only section of the site that is for paid members only – you can access all of the growing content for a flat fee of $49 USD per year.
I have to admit, I was not happy about charging access for this – the original idea was for the site to be entirely free, but I quickly realized that was not possible since it costs an average of $400 – to $1,000 to produce most of the individual images for the site. The only other alternative was to allow advertising on the site, but I am loath to do that as I do not agree with a lot of the advertising messages sent in our industry – such as “You too can become a pro, if you just buy this particular brand of whatever.”
Finally, there is the blog here! I love this part, as it allows me the chance to spontaneously shoot off my mouth on a whole host of topics! More importantly the blog, along with every other part of this site, allows readers to join in with their opinions, ask questions, make points, disagree with what I say, and generally add their own voices to the site.
I’ve taught long enough to know that when you engage with a group of intelligent, passionate, knowledgeable and capable photographers, the conversations become fascinating pretty quickly! And if you’re not yet as knowledgeable as you’d like to be (and who is), then you will likely end up asking questions that cause everybody to stop and think – and that is how all of us learn. I hope you’ll join me in this exploration!
What The Duck cartoon used with permission from Aaron Johnson
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Welcome to Bluesky
Welcome to Bluesky! Welcome to the first blog post for “Bluesky” a new website dedicated to the study of photographic lighting, production, and business issues! My name is Greg Blue and I am a 30+ year veteran commercial photographer whose career has spanned from fashion photography to product, food & conceptual still life, to advertising photography
Bluesky is a photography tutorial website created by veteran commercial photographer and college instructor Greg Blue. This site advocates an approach to learning studio & location photography that focuses first on light theory (these are free tutorials). Lighting, camera and post-production techniques are equally important, but should follow the study of lighting theory (these tutorials are also free). The site also offers a host of specific image tutorials that take a mile deep look at theory and technique from the perspective of individual images (these tutorials are members only).