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Episode #125

Behind the Scenes of a Photo Shoot (+ How to Build Your Photo Story Skills in 1 Hour)


UPDATED: May 26, 2023
ORIGINALLY AIRED ON December 27, 2022


Use this 1-hour photo shoot exercise to build up your creative muscles! I take you behind the scenes of a short photo shoot and discuss what I was thinking about throughout the shoot and how I composed images on the fly, plus the editing strategy for choosing the final images for a photo essay.


A quick exercise to build your visual storytelling skills fast

A big challenge nature photographers face is feeling overwhelmed by the thought of photographing people.

It's intimidating to capture a moment with someone if you don't have much experience in portrait photography or shooting for a story.

Yet, people are often a crucial element of effective, compelling conservation photo stories. After all, many conservation stories are about volunteers, activists, scientists, community members…

Luckily, there's an easy 1-hour exercise that helps to build confidence and overcome this fear so you can create beautiful stories with your images.

Simply photograph someone you already know doing something. That's it!

I know it sounds too easy, but trust me when I tell you that this exercise will work wonders for you.

In this episode I take you behind the scenes of a short photo shoot of my partner, Nick, doing a craft.

You'll Learn:

  • why it's important to do zero-pressure photo shoots to build your creative muscles
  • the difference between photo stories and photo essays
  • exactly what I was thinking as I was photographing so I could make interesting, diverse images
  • what I was looking for as I composed images
  • working with what you have when you're a “fly on the wall” photographer
  • how many images I took in one hour (!!!)
  • how I edited a big set of images down to only the best 26

This episode is filled with insights to use next time you pick up the camera  — and I hope it's to do this very exercise! – that'll help you break through barriers you might be feeling about photographing people.

Brace yourself – you're about to have a LOT of fun!!

And to help spark your inspiration, here's a peek at a small handful of images from the shoot:


Resources Mentioned

Episode 125: Behind the Scenes of a Photo Shoot (+ How to Build Your Photo Story Skills in 1 Hour)

Shownotes: ConservationVisuals.com/125

(Digitally transcribed, please forgive any typos)

Jaymi Heimbuch:
Welcome to this episode of Impact, the Conservation Photography podcast, and this is a Joe episode. So Joe, welcome to

[00:00:07] Jo: Yay,

[00:00:09] Jaymi: and this is gonna be a really fun conversation because as you know, I just got a new camera body.

[00:00:17] Jo: I know. So how is it going or have you been playing with it? Are you having a good time with it?

[00:00:21] Jaymi: I'm having a blast with it. So I saved up and I got a Canon R three. It was like the instant that B and H sent me the notification that it was available to buy. I got all excited. God. So this is, so you just cracked me up because I felt like I was getting a text every second. It's in New York. Okay. It's left New York. Okay. It's over the Rockies. Okay. It's actually on the Pacific. I mean, like you were like

[00:00:49] Jaymi: Well

[00:00:49] Jo: my, at my door. It's at my door.

[00:00:54] Jaymi: I know I opened up the door and I think I kind of scared the delivery guy cuz I was like, hello, [00:01:00] I've been waiting for you all day

[00:01:02] Jo: That that's really lucky that you didn't get like, you know, some sort of, suit against you or something.

[00:01:09] Jaymi: That lady's weird. We don't deliver. She has to come in for her packages because we

[00:01:13] Jaymi: don't deliver to

[00:01:14] Jaymi: that house

[00:01:15] Jo: Right, right. Yeah.

[00:01:17] Jaymi: But yeah, I mean, I haven't made. a purchase of this scale in a very long time. And so just the excitement of being like, oh my gosh, there is this new tool slash toy that's on its way.

[00:01:29] Jaymi: And I was really impressed. I think I ordered it on Tuesday and it was here on Thursday or

[00:01:35] Jaymi: something insane. Or it was here

[00:01:36] Jaymi: on Friday. I mean it was bananas cuz I wanted it to be able to have it in hand before holiday travel because I knew I was gonna come see you and we have

[00:01:44] Jaymi: to go out and go photograph and

[00:01:45] Jo: Yeah. We had to go look at birds and try and photograph things and see what was gonna work and what didn't, and the monarch butterflies and that was great. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:01:55] Jaymi: Well, and I'm not a fan of gas gear acquisition syndrome [00:02:00] or using equipment as a reason for like taking part in photography. Like, oh, I can't take these great pictures until I have this piece of equipment or whatever. And I think that's why I waited a really long time to upgrade any equipment is cuz I'm like, Just make what you can with what you have. You don't need more. Like do what? Do your best with what you've got. But I was talking to, someone at Nampa and he said that he had gotten the R five and he's not a, tech nerd, like equipment nerd at all, and so he doesn't really pay attention to all that stuff, but he went ahead and upgraded to the R five and was like, and oh my gosh. I am just so excited about, like I'm making shots that are way more creative. I'm having more fun than I've had in a really long time, and I thought if he's saying that there's something to this, and he was right. I have been having a blast with this.

[00:02:50] Jo: Well, when we went out and, we walked by that night hearing and, and he was like, six feet away and you're just taking all of these shots [00:03:00] and not a sound coming out of that camera and. , you turn to me and go, aren't you gonna do anything? I'm not, hell no. I'm gonna, the minute Mike goes off, it's gonna go click, click, click, click, click, scare the thing away.

[00:03:11] Jo: So it was just amazing watching, you know, you go, oh shoot, my card's already filled up because

[00:03:18] Jaymi: It was hysterical cuz we we were photographing, I think it was the bush tits on the sage

[00:03:24] Jaymi: brush. And I'm standing there photographing one and you must have been getting your settings ready or

[00:03:29] Jaymi: something cuz I'm photographing it and it's doing its thing and then all of a sudden it goes, oh my god.

[00:03:33] Jaymi: And

[00:03:33] Jaymi: leaves right

[00:03:34] Jaymi: when your shutter goes

[00:03:35] Jo: Yes. Yeah.

[00:03:36] Jaymi: Oh,

[00:03:37] Jaymi: I'm not gonna have to worry about doing that

[00:03:39] Jaymi: anymore. This is so awesome.

[00:03:40] Jo: That's exactly why I didn't do it, cuz that was the next day when we went out. I was like, okay, this isn't good. She's not gonna lose this opportunity, not this time. Yeah.

[00:03:49] Jaymi: Yeah. That was really, really fun. Well, I, I, so I'm glad that we're talking about how much fun I've been having with this camera because it leads right into our topic of the day [00:04:00] and the topic of the day is kind of building up this creative muscle and loosening up and limbing up creative muscle for being able to create photo stories, because what I see happen so often, and I know I've done it as well, is we start to think about a photo story and really psych ourselves out and say, oh, but I've gotta make it really big and it has to be important. I have to get these epic images and I don't know how to do that.

[00:04:25] Jaymi: And so you start to like psych yourself. And especially when it comes to photographing people doing stuff. I know this is a big struggle with my students when they first come into conservation photography 1 0 1 because a lot of my students are wildlife photographers. And then when we start to go into photo

[00:04:43] Jaymi: stories, often there's people involved.

[00:04:46] Jo: Oh yeah. And am I posing or not posing? And are you caring or not caring? I bet, yeah. Oh, yeah.

[00:04:52] Jaymi: Exactly. And so because I'm having so much fun with this camera, I did something that I'd been thinking about for a while, but [00:05:00] never really got the gumption to and was just like, oh, I'll do it later. But now that I have this camera, I'm like, Ooh, I'm gonna do this. Which is Nick, my partner,

[00:05:07] Jo: What you don't see is her little happy dance when she's saying, oh, I'm gonna do this, but okay, keep going.

[00:05:13] Jaymi: I'm really glad that this is a podcast and not a YouTube because I can be a complete dork. but, so Nick, my partner he loves to shape surfboards and in the basement downstairs he has these little rooms set up. So he has a shaping room and a glassing room to be able to make surfboards. And so I've been really wanting to do just a little photo essay about him in his craft and kind of a photo essay about the surfboard shaper, like a basement surfboard shaper, and someone who's just super, super into this craft and hadn't done it yet.

[00:05:45] Jaymi: But the

[00:05:46] Jaymi: other.

[00:05:47] Jo: what's a photo essay?

[00:05:48] Jaymi: Okay, so a photo essay. So there's a difference between a photo essay and a photo story. A photo story is something that has characters and a narrative arc, [00:06:00] and it's got, you know, an intro and it's got a conclusion of some sort. It's really what we think about, like when we read a novel or when we tell stories to each other. but with photos, you're really illustrating that story, but you're illustrating characters and locations and process and actions and all this other stuff.

[00:06:17] Jaymi: With a photo essay, it's a lot more on the kind of artistic side. It's really

[00:06:22] Jaymi: something that is a collection of images that's based around a theme. So you don't have to have this narrative arc, but you do have to have some sort of visual variety.

[00:06:32] Jaymi: They have to really kind of go together. So yeah. So I wanted to do a photo essay about Nick and Surfboard shaping because I don't, I'm not really thinking in, in terms of story. There's not a story that I'm, I'm excited about, but I am excited about the idea of documenting. Who he is as

[00:06:48] Jaymi: a surfboard shaper, what it looks like, kind of what the vibe is, because the thing that's really cool is the way that you shape surfboards is you have these very bright [00:07:00] lights that are sort of at like hip level, so as you shape a surfboard, which is at about, even with these lights, you can see all the angles of the foam.

[00:07:10] Jaymi: It casts these crazy, crazy

[00:07:12] Jaymi: shadows. So you get to see all these very dramatic

[00:07:15] Jaymi: Angles and light and all this stuff because that's how he can see the v very subtle

[00:07:20] Jaymi: curves and things that's going on. And then it's also just chaos cuz there's foam dust everywhere and there's tools

[00:07:26] Jaymi: everywhere and there's this and that. And so it's a really interesting. Scene. But again, I'm not trying to create a story about here's this surfboard maker who did this cool thing and, you know,

[00:07:36] Jaymi: whatever. I don't know. Yeah, I'm not worried about that. I'm just like, here's someone at

[00:07:40] Jaymi: their craft.

[00:07:42] Jaymi: And that ultimately can be a really compelling story. Like you could create a photo essay that has a compelling story in the text alongside it, but I just wanna create a collection of images.

[00:07:51] Jo: So basically you're using this as a reason to work and work your creative muscles, you

[00:07:57] Jaymi: Yes. Yes. Thank you. You're getting me back on track. [00:08:00] So what I was mentioning earlier is like we get ourselves really hyped up and, and stressed out when we start to photograph stories and stories that have people in them. And it's super easy to do that. Super easy to build something up, make it feel stressful, scary, there's a lot of pressure.

[00:08:15] Jaymi: Overwhelming, even unwieldy in the types of images we wanna get. But you can really help yourself out by flexing and building these creative muscles when it comes to these little micro stories or these little photo essays, or these little things that you can do in an hour of shooting and a few hours of post-processing that help you build.

[00:08:36] Jaymi: The way that you see a scene and capture a scene and get comfortable, photographing people, get comfortable being, you know, kind of a fly on the wall with a camera as someone does something. And then you can use that kind of muscle memory in the photo story shoots that you

[00:08:53] Jaymi: do. And that way

[00:08:54] Jaymi: photo stories don't have to be so heady.

[00:08:56] Jo: So you're practicing getting your mind and your eye [00:09:00] and everything sort of trained to see opportunities and to know what to do with them when you see them and

[00:09:08] Jo: understand how people move and what they're gonna do and what it means to be able to look at something going on maybe from the top versus at the bottom, versus from straight on, and all of that kind of stuff that you wouldn't necessarily do with just wildlife, for instance.

[00:09:23] Jo: because you might be looking at different things for wildlife as example or some other conservation subject.

[00:09:29] Jaymi: Absolutely. Yeah, and that was what I was noticing when I was photographing Nick, is I was like, man, this is a really great reminder of how much you use your storytelling photo composition skills, even in these little practice sessions at home, because while I'm in this very small room, it's probably. I don't know, maybe like eight by 12 or 10 by 12, something like that. So while I'm in this room, I'm thinking, oh yeah, this is kind of what it feels like to try and stay out of the way [00:10:00] of, you know, a researcher, a scientist, or someone who's doing some work. You, you don't wanna accidentally bump into something and damage

[00:10:07] Jaymi: foam or distract him. There's a lot of calculations and really careful measuring.

[00:10:11] Jaymi: So I didn't wanna distract him from anything that he was doing, and so I was practicing those skills. I was practicing how many different images can I make? In a 10 by 12 room or

[00:10:22] Jaymi: however big it is, where nothing's really shifting. It's just one guy moving around this space doing these tiny little movements or tiny little adjustments with

[00:10:30] Jaymi: this. And so it was really cool to see man, if if photographers are, who are excited about making photo stories, but feel overwhelmed by them, if they were to take maybe one or two of these opportunities a month and practice that, it's gonna be a massive confidence booster.

[00:10:49] Jo: how long did you take to do this? Like an hour you said, or something

[00:10:53] Jaymi: yeah,

[00:10:53] Jaymi: So I took about an hour. So I just ran. Nick was working in the basement. I ran downstairs and said, Hey, do you mind if I just [00:11:00] photograph you for a bit? And I spent about an hour, hour and 10 minutes between when I headed down there and when he was done working on the surfboards.

[00:11:06] Jaymi: There was nothing else to to do. And so it was literally just one hour. And I ended up with a total of about 26. I'll have to look in Lightroom. I think it's 26 very different images that show. A lot of personality,

[00:11:23] Jaymi: a lot of what the scene looks like because there's all this dramatic light and all these angles and things.

[00:11:28] Jaymi: I transitioned everything into black and white. So I used a lot of creativity in the uh, preset that I used that mimics black and white film. Cause I used to shoot in black and white film like

[00:11:39] Jaymi: back in the day. And so it's fun to go and play with that and try and mimic the look of black and white film and make it moody. and yeah, it was an hour of shooting and probably about, I'd say probably about three hours or so of editing. And so I kind of wanted to walk you through some of what I was thinking about while I was actually photographing the scene in order to [00:12:00] get visually diverse images. And then also I wanted to walk you through some of the editing process. The idea of like, how did I go? a huge pile of images to just a handful of different images that feel like a pretty solid photo essay that I'm proud of and excited about, and that helped me practice those skills. Does that

[00:12:19] Jo: So tell us about that Jamie . That sounds great. No, that sounds very good. Especially because it sounds like it's something that can be very spontaneous and actually not take up a lot of time.

[00:12:29] Jo: And you can, you could do a 15 minute. Shoot. Or you could do a two hour shoot, whatever energy level and timeframe you have, but it's a good workout for what, trying to feel comfortable in this kind of space.

[00:12:42] Jaymi: Mm-hmm. .And I

[00:12:43] Jaymi: think that's what's important to remember about trying to do an exercise. So if you're thinking, yeah, photo stories kind of feel big, but I know I wanna dip my toe into this and start to build confidence in it. This is a great exercise to do, and. Again, like look for these li little micro stories, [00:13:00] your spouse making breakfast for the kids,

[00:13:02] Jaymi: your dog having a field day out in the yard, you know, an hour of your dog's life in the yard. If you know someone who does a craft like Joe, you're a potter. So if I

[00:13:12] Jaymi: revisit. You, I'd be like, Hey, would you mind making a mug? And I

[00:13:16] Jaymi: can photograph you while you make a mug. If you're, you have a birding group, you know, photograph what it's like to go on an outing with them. It's these little like micro moments, these little things that you could do that might take an hour or a couple hours at the most. and you start to practice what it is to see as a storyteller, see as a visual storyteller and start to think about the difference between, okay, so that's a photo essay. I can create this really visually diverse portfolio that shows a theme or who someone is, and how might I develop that into a story? Is there more of a story here, something that I might develop into something that has more of a narrative arc, so it gives you all this practice.[00:14:00]

[00:14:00] Jo: So tell us what processing, you used to go through all of this, because it sounds like you, you walked away even though it's something that you've had a lot of practice in and kind of do naturally, almost now that you have this conscious thought process of what you went through and

[00:14:15] Jaymi: Yeah. Well, I have to be really honest here, and that is, it's been a long time since I've actually headed out. and photographed a story with my camera because I've been so wrapped up in everything that I wanna do with my students and teaching them and helping them get out and create these stories that I've just completely prioritized that.

[00:14:34] Jaymi: And so it's been a while since I've been like, Okay. It's Jamie photo time right now.

[00:14:39] Jaymi: And so I got really excited for kind of getting back into that vibe a lot. And so I have to say, even though it's been a long time since I've photographed a story, because I've built those muscles in the past, it was great to feel them come right back.

[00:14:55] Jaymi: And so I walked away from this exercise feeling. I know it [00:15:00] sounds silly, but I felt really proud of myself and really excited about the photos and really like creatively fired up and I'm kind of like, okay, go make another surfboard, or, okay, I've had enough of that, but I'm ready to go photograph, you know something out on the creek, you know, my

[00:15:13] Jaymi: favorite creek that I wanna go visit. So at any rate what I

[00:15:17] Jo: No, you don't sound excited at all.

[00:15:22] Jaymi: but, so as I got down there, some of the storytelling mindset that came up that I think could be really helpful for listeners thinking about this, like, okay, you're in a tiny room with someone doing a craft. So the first thing I did when I walked into this room was sort. Took a photo of the scene as it was the whole scene. I used a 24 millimeter lens, it's very close proximity, and so I wanted to have a nice wide angle lens. So I used a 24 millimeter lens and I just started a photograph. okay, this person doing this thing. So it's a pretty wide photograph of Nick drawing lines on a surfboard.

[00:15:59] Jaymi: And he [00:16:00] was putting in thin boxes. And so there's a router being used and a ruler being used, and there's drawing lines with a pencil and that sort of thing. So I just sort of started to assess that and then I thought, okay, well what if I make a photo that's more from the same vantage point, but it's about Nick?

[00:16:18] Jaymi: Okay, well I'm gonna shoot in a shallow depth the field. Have him in focus. Well now I'm gonna do the same photo, but it's really about the surfboard. So all I do is same shallow up the field, but I focus on the surfboard itself, same composition. But now because of where the viewer's eye goes, there's a shot that's about the maker and there's a shot about the board itself, this object that's being made.

[00:16:41] Jaymi: And then I started to move around the room a little bit more and Okay. There's a bit of process that's going on and I'm capturing that. What are the tools that are being used? Wow, there's a lot of foam dust on all of this. Is there a really interesting way that I can show how much dust is on everything?

[00:16:59] Jaymi: That's kind of [00:17:00] interesting and. of the tools that are being used. Are there any that kind of have some personality to them? Something that I might wanna show And Nick's notebook was laying open with dimensions of the board that he was making and Oh, I wanna make sure and photograph those kind of detail shots. Okay. So I've done that. and now that I start to have some bearing, I start to feel kind of confident. Like, okay, I know what this space looks like. Cuz honestly, he's, yes, we live together, but I'm rarely ever in that room. I just kind of see it every once in a while when I go down to tell him that dinner's ready or something. So this was really the first time that I was in the space paying attention to it. So once I felt like I was comfortable in the space and I had some basic shots down, I thought, okay, well what about this person is really interesting to me? What's it like for him to do this craft? What kind of gets him excited about making a surfboard?

[00:17:52] Jaymi: Or what is he doing right now where you can really tell that love of the craft is coming out? So I started to pay attention to some movements that he was doing, or [00:18:00] these details that he was engaging in. And one of the details was, he started to write out the dimensions of the board on the board itself cuz it was done being shaped and he was about to move it into the next room to start glassing it.

[00:18:12] Jaymi: And so there's all these little touches. So, oh, he's writing on this film, so I'm gonna go ahead and get some, some details of what that looks like. And he writes these little notes to himself that no one will ever see once the board is done. But they're just these little thoughts and. The last word that he made when he put the fin boxes in, he accidentally messed it up and was really frustrated about that. So this time as he's moving about doing the fin boxes, he wrote inside one of the fin boxes, don't F this one up. And so I made sure to get a detail shot of that because it's a lot of personality that comes out in those moments.

[00:18:49] Jaymi: Also, I noticed,

[00:18:50] Jo: hold on, I wanna interrupt you for a second. Okay. So first you basically thought about it in terms of just the space

[00:18:56] Jaymi: Mm.

[00:18:57] Jo: and then you started thinking about it in [00:19:00] terms of the subject of what you're photographing and you were changing the subject, and then you thought a little bit more about then the other senses that were going on in the room with the dust and the.

[00:19:11] Jo: Feeling of stuff and then you shifted to the mindset of the crafter it sounds like,

[00:19:17] Jo: including don't f this one up. So , it sounds like there's a lot of different and all of those just because of the experience you had, they just sort of. Came out when you were doing this by, because you've done this several times.

[00:19:33] Jo: So it's like, okay, I'm gonna start from this aspect, then I'm gonna move to this, then I'm gonna move to that. Is that okay?

[00:19:39] Jo: Just I wanna catch up because there's all of this really cool stuff going on and it's like , whoa. That's a lot of information.

[00:19:47] Jaymi: Well, that proves what a good listener you are because you literally repeated everything that I went through and it's like, oh, she's really paying attention. That's awesome. But yeah, no, you're absolutely right. And part of it is, it's the, it's [00:20:00] not, you know, a, a secret or it's not some crazy masterful skill.

[00:20:03] Jaymi: It's more like, okay, I've, I'm done with this scene.

[00:20:06] Jaymi: I've gotten photos of it. What else? What

[00:20:08] Jaymi: else, what else? So it's

[00:20:09] Jaymi: sort of like having that mindset of being like, okay, I know I've got a shot in the bag. What's, what can I do that's different and start to move on? And so every time you feel like, okay, I think I'm, I'm done.

[00:20:20] Jaymi: I, I got the shot I'm thinking of. how else can I show this? What else is going on? And it's just a matter of really paying attention, not only paying attention to the scene itself, but paying attention to why you're actually taking images. What do you wanna accomplish here? And I know that I don't just wanna take snapshots, I wanna create photographs that are about the craft that this person is doing. And so that's what I started to really dig into was, well, okay, I got a couple of detail shots of some. Now anything else I take is gonna be boring. What

[00:20:52] Jaymi: other detailed shots are there? Oh, well, there's that message to himself. There

[00:20:56] Jaymi: was um, as he was doing some [00:21:00] kind of final touches of Using this like sort of metal sandpaper thing on the edge. All this foam was like kind of flowing up into the backlight, and so

[00:21:09] Jaymi: there's all this back lit foam. So I started to play with that. Another thing that I started to play with was, well, I've gotten all of these sharp. very static shots with quick enough shutter speeds. What if I used some motion blur?

[00:21:21] Jaymi: And so he started to spray off the surfboard to get all of the foam dust off of it.

[00:21:26] Jaymi: And so you see all of that kind of blowing up as he is moving things around. And so I used a 40th of a second so I could focus on just his face as the sharp. Thing in the scene, but then everything else is moving and blurring around, and so I just played with that. I played as much as I could with whatever was going on. Now, I should say, the whole time, I'm not directing him on anything of whatever to do. I'm trying my best to not be there.

[00:21:51] Jo: Right. That's what I was just thinking is, is that you're adjusting as his, as he's going through his process. It's, it's not a [00:22:00] photo shoot. You are shooting what he's doing. So it, you know, you're telling this story and he's just going. Along doing his thing, and you're having to think, okay, how could I look at this differently and, adjust on the fly based on what's presented to you.

[00:22:16] Jo: So now you've got this, you know, dust flying up and it's like, ooh, motion blur. Okay. I just think that's really cool that you could sit there and sh and just do this mine shift. of here's an opportunity, I'm gonna look at it like this. I'm gonna try and capture this, this way, as opposed to just documenting the process as it

[00:22:36] Jaymi: Yeah,

[00:22:37] Jaymi: Well, and that's, I think once you get to a certain experience level, it's really easy to recognize like, oh yeah, this is just documenting process and there's not gonna be anything unique.

[00:22:46] Jaymi: And so it pushes you, especially because this is something that has zero pressure attached to it. It's not like I'm turning these into an editor for a magazine.

[00:22:53] Jaymi: There's no pressure. And so I get to be like, oh, but that's kind of boring to me. What can I go play with? What would make it feel like I'm [00:23:00] creating shots that feel unique to me?

[00:23:01] Jaymi: And yeah. And so you're really adjusting on the fly. And because this is a super chaotic scene, I'm paying attention to what's going on in the background.

[00:23:11] Jaymi: And there's not, there, there's no control that I have over that. I'm not gonna go adjust wires or move tools or do, I'm not gonna change the environment at all, which means that I have to think about as I'm composing this in very tight quarters. Okay, well is there a wire going through his head in the background?

[00:23:27] Jaymi: is there, how can I move my body to be

[00:23:30] Jaymi: able to, to do this? And granted, I'm

[00:23:32] Jaymi: not gonna catch

[00:23:33] Jo: that's how it's gonna be, is if you're on a fishing boat or you're in a researcher's lab or you're, you know, out in the swamps and you know, whatever. It's, it's, that's what you're

[00:23:44] Jaymi: is what it is. .

[00:23:45] Jaymi: Yeah.

[00:23:46] Jaymi: Yeah.

[00:23:47] Jaymi: And so he went from the shaping room into the glassing room. So basically these are just like areas with. Tarps designating them as rooms. So he, he takes the board into [00:24:00] the shaping room, and then there's a moment where he's staring at the board, sipping his coffee cup.

[00:24:06] Jaymi: And then there's a moment when our dog niner pokes his head through the tarp and is like, Hey, what are you guys doing?

[00:24:12] Jaymi: So I'm noticing all these little things that you have to, as you practice and practice and practice, you start to get quicker at being like, this is a moment. What are my sightings? How do I. This is a moment. What are my settings? How do I compose it? This

[00:24:26] Jaymi: is a moment. And so you can capture those because a

[00:24:28] Jo: See, that's why you get paid to do that, because I do that and then it takes me five minutes to go figure out the settings. So , that's why

[00:24:37] Jo: it's worth the practice, right? I mean, you know, because the fact that you have that ability to just go zip, zip, zip, zip, and change it. But with the new camera, you had to learn all of that

[00:24:47] Jaymi: Exactly, and that's what's so much fun about learning a new piece of equipment is

[00:24:51] Jaymi: you're, you're settling into where buttons are in settings and everything, but everybody starts there.

[00:24:56] Jaymi: Everybody starts at at feeling clumsy and [00:25:00] slow and missing everything. And I

[00:25:01] Jaymi: missed shot. Too. There were moments where I, like he did the dust blowing thing the first time

[00:25:08] Jaymi: and everything's super swirly.

[00:25:09] Jaymi: And I'm like, this is cool. I'm gonna get it. And, you know, and he turns the board over and it wasn't a swirly. And I'm like,

[00:25:13] Jaymi: Oh,

[00:25:13] Jaymi: well what I

[00:25:14] Jaymi: got, I got something that

[00:25:16] Jaymi: worked, but it's not a swirly. Okay, well, whatever. But yeah, you're, you're really, and that's the beauty of these little, I'm gonna. Hour to photograph a person doing a thing is you just build these muscles, build these muscles,

[00:25:28] Jaymi: and it makes you so confident when you know that you're gonna go photograph a story and you have a shoot with one person and you're gonna go and like, let's say you're photographing a story about bird research and you know you've got a field day with a scientist and they're gonna do some bird netting, that can make you feel really freaked out,

[00:25:45] Jaymi: right?

[00:25:46] Jaymi: But if you've got enough of this practice, you're like, I know, I trust my creative muscle memory that when I'm in that moment,

[00:25:52] Jaymi: I'm gonna be able to work the scene. I'm gonna get a diversity of shots, I'm gonna be able to get storytelling moments and capture them quickly, and [00:26:00] you build all of that trust in this, so,

[00:26:03] Jo: and, and I love this example too because it shows that it's something that, especially if it's a situation that happens a lot like it's not like he only does one board and then he never does one in, you know, for a year. He's down there all the time, so, , you could go down there and do it again and do it again and do it again, and it's like, oh, this is what it's like when there's a lot of contrasting light.

[00:26:25] Jo: Oh, this is what it's like when there's lots of swirly dust. This is what it's like when there isn't, you know? And so every time even though he's doing the same thing, technically

[00:26:35] Jo: it's not. Because you can then focus on the different parts of things that you want to practice

[00:26:40] Jaymi: Mm. .Yeah. That a thousand percent. And so if someone's listening to this and thinking, this sounds like fun, I wanna try it. Yeah. Maybe Land on something that people around you do repeatedly, or it's a person who does something repeatedly, whether it is a craft that they do or a. a hike in the woods that you do all the time or [00:27:00] you know something that happens a lot because then you can start to think, okay, I went and I got these photos in that hour. How might I do this differently? Or what did I miss that I wanna try for again? And all of that is creative muscle

[00:27:12] Jo: Yeah, yeah. Or even different times of the day or different kind of weather or all kinds of different situations that could come up that you're practicing a different aspect of

[00:27:22] Jaymi: and Yes, and you start to notice how much you notice things too.

[00:27:28] Jaymi: And so you start to have some confidence and trust in yourself that you're gonna notice those compositional moments. Cuz like there were moments in the shaping room with all this dramatic light where I was noticing, oh, it's doing this really cool like diagonal thing and know that's just something, there were these little fractions of moments that went by where it was not even about what was happening in the scene.

[00:27:49] Jaymi: It was how all of. And darks were coming together to build something very like just that

[00:27:54] Jaymi: looked dramatic and

[00:27:56] Jaymi: cool and kind of graphic.

[00:27:57] Jaymi: So, okay, so I did that for an [00:28:00] hour. Guess what? I come back upstairs with my memory card full. I took 1800 photos in an hour. I am not someone who is precious

[00:28:09] Jaymi: with my

[00:28:09] Jo: to set your camera to make noise now.

[00:28:11] Jaymi: know well, there's so many photographers or, or people out there who are like, oh, you know, you have to wait for the decisive moment and if you, I feel like you're just making it this really precious process. And yes, there is something to be said about being very strategic with the shots that you take.

[00:28:27] Jaymi: Like there's a workshop, Missouri photo workshop, and one of the limitations they said is you have to create a photo story within 400 frames, and the purpose is that they're making you think critically about every shop that you're taking.

[00:28:40] Jaymi: That is a cool exercise I love.

[00:28:43] Jo: you telling me about that, and that looks so hard to do.

[00:28:46] Jaymi: So hard. Right. And I'm, I love that as an exercise. I think it's really valuable, but I'm the type of person where I'm like, I just wanna make sure I walk away from something knowing that I've got what I need. So I'm not worried about taking a whole bunch of [00:29:00] pictures, you know?

[00:29:01] Jo: but you pay for it on the other end.

[00:29:03] Jaymi: Oh, yes.

[00:29:04] Jo: your energy,

[00:29:05] Jaymi: Yeah. Yes.

[00:29:07] Jo: either putting your energy in at the front end or you're putting it in at the back end.

[00:29:10] Jaymi: Yeah. We

[00:29:11] Jaymi: might wanna rephrase. This is a PG podcast, Joe

[00:29:22] Jo: Uh, Yeah, we'll think of something else.

[00:29:27] Jo: Oh.

[00:29:28] Jaymi: Yeah, so I came back upstairs and with 1800 photos, an hour's worth of shooting was probably three plus hours of editing. And in fact, the next day I was supposed to be writing emails and Nick comes in and he's like, are you working? I'm like, Technically, what are you doing? What? Editing photos, because I couldn't resist getting my hands in this, but I do wanna walk you through some of what that editing process looks like.

[00:29:54] Jaymi: Because you might go and, and do this for an hour and you're practicing these creative skills, but then you're gonna come back, get on the [00:30:00] computer, and you need to be able to see what you have and are you creating the images that you think you're creating in the field? Because sometimes that happens, right?

[00:30:07] Jaymi: You think you're creating this like epic photo, and then you get it on the computer and you're like, mom.

[00:30:12] Jo: Sometimes that happens to me all the time. Are you kidding me? ? Yeah. Wa wa is part of my whole repertoire.

[00:30:22] Jaymi: I enjoy your.

[00:30:23] Jaymi: For what it's worth. But yes you get on the computer and you're like, okay, is what I thought I was making in my head in the camera actually what I'm getting and how do I go through these and think strategically because the goal is also not only the shoot itself, but it's curating a photo essay about something, right?

[00:30:39] Jaymi: And so you wanna have some visual diversity in there. And I do have a whole podcast episode, I'll link to it in the show notes about my five step strategy for editing a portfolio so that it's not this burdensome thing. Because one of the things that I've seen repeatedly from students in my in-person workshop, is there, coming [00:31:00] back from their day of photographing, getting their images in Lightroom and going through them. By one, by one by one and judging them one by one. And wow. If you wanna turn an hour into eight hours of processing, sure that's your strategy. But I don't wanna do that. I wanna turn an hour of shooting into a couple of hours of editing. And so I have a different way of looking at it because you can look at every single image and decide, is it sharp enough?

[00:31:25] Jaymi: Is it how I like it? Da da da da da. The way that I like to look at images is, are the images in the series that I. are any of 'em even close to the composition that could work? Are any of 'em kind of messing something up where it's not even worth looking at 'em one by one? Cuz I can see from my thumbnails that they all kind of suck.

[00:31:44] Jaymi: So I'm gonna move on to the next one. So you know, like I said, I took a ton of photos because I'm moving around and I'm playing and playing with different settings and everything, but I might be playing with different settings with the same compositions. So one of the things that I do is I look at my images at like three or four across in Lightroom.[00:32:00]

[00:32:00] Jaymi: So I'm looking at probably a batch of 12 at a time, is I'm scrolling. And so for example, I took a series of images with the surfboard leading. Me into the scene, across the scene to Nick, but I noticed that all the surfboard shots like that were off kilter. Like the surfboard was way off center and I wasn't gonna be able to adjust the crop to center it the way I wanted.

[00:32:22] Jaymi: So I'm like, oh, cool. 15 photos I don't even look at cuz they're

[00:32:25] Jaymi: just, that didn't work at all. There was another set where there was a, the way that I framed it, Had a light coming in, and I didn't notice that for a while, so I probably took maybe six or seven images of this one scene that had a light coming in at the top that was just so distracting.

[00:32:41] Jaymi: And so in the moment I noticed it and I reframed and made it so that that light was cut out. So in the. Editing of this. I'm like, oh, I know those are there. I don't even have to look at those, cuz I already know that in the moment. I was like, oops, nevermind. That's not gonna work. I'm gonna skip over them and look at the ones that I framed without the light in them. And [00:33:00] so it makes it go by so much faster. When you're really thinking, you're just editing with brute force, you are being brutal to yourself and just saying, look, if it doesn't look good as a thumbnail, it's not gonna look good when I zoom in, so I don't even need to zoom in. if it looks good as a thumbnail. Okay, now I'm gonna give it a second look, so I go through a thumbnail view and just give one star to any image that might be worth looking at large later.

[00:33:26] Jo: So then you're basically looking at the composition as a whole, and you're not worried about whether or not it was sharp enough or. You are gonna change the light or maybe you'll crop it or something. You're just looking at the general composition and then deciding that's a composition I like. That's a composition I don't like.

[00:33:46] Jaymi: Yeah, exactly.

[00:33:47] Jaymi: And then also like, am I giving one star to too many of the same type of photos? So how

[00:33:52] Jaymi: many of these photos are verticals with the surfboard taking up two thirds of the frame?

[00:33:58] Jaymi: Okay, well I don't need to [00:34:00] one star five of those. I'm

[00:34:01] Jaymi: only ever gonna use one anyway, so why don't I look at one of the best out of all of the series that I took and just give that a one star I'll look at, maybe I'll do that with two, maybe three.

[00:34:11] Jaymi: But

[00:34:12] Jaymi: I, I'm only gonna, I'm gonna kind of minimize that and so

[00:34:15] Jaymi: that speeds it up a lot. So I went through 1800 photos going through and thinking, okay, what compositions are cool? Am I getting enough variety in here? I wanna make sure that I've got variety. I'm not gonna give a one star to a bunch of images that look the same like I

[00:34:29] Jaymi: just said. So once I did that, I had about 300 images that got one star. So out of 1800 I had 300. So I don't know what percentages that is. I don't do quick math in my head, but it's a lot less. I know that

[00:34:43] Jo: It's about one sixth.

[00:34:44] Jaymi: one 16. Thank you

[00:34:45] Jaymi: Joe, my, my bookkeeper, data nerd. I appreciate. So I had 300. So then I go in a thumbnail size to those 300, and I start to weed out any obvious ones that are just like, eh, those are really similar. Oh, that one's not [00:35:00] really as good as I thought, whatever it might be. But the way that I weed those out is I actually give two stars to the strongest ones. The ones where I'm like, okay, that I think I wanna go edit and play with. I think I wanna post-process that I wanna play with the crop, I wanna play with the lighting. That's something that I actually. Play with inside Lightroom, so that gets two stars. Anything. Just isn't as strong. It's just gonna stay one star, cuz I might wanna go back, I might wanna change decisions and so I just leave it as one star, but I give two stars to anything else. And so here is where I'm really starting to narrow down the ones that look like they have some real potential.

[00:35:35] Jaymi: And I wanna make sure that I'm not, like I said, having too many images that are all kind of the same idea. So I'm weeding. any images that are, okay, I already have a bunch of detail shots. Which of these are the detail shots that are different from each other? And add to the concept, you know, the, the photo essay theme.

[00:35:55] Jaymi: And so I'm gonna give two stars to maybe three of those detail shots. And are they [00:36:00] really different from each other? Do they add to showing different sides of the personality of the surfboard shaper?

[00:36:06] Jo: So I like the idea too that you're Adding OnStar, not deleting. So in the sense that it truly is narrowing it down, but I can let go of it because I can always go back. It's

[00:36:19] Jaymi: Yeah.

[00:36:20] Jo: because that's my biggest fear, right? It's like, but what if I, I, you know, I'm only at image, you know, 342, and what if I get to 653 and it's better?

[00:36:29] Jo: It's. , you know, so I like this idea that it's, that's okay. Cause you know, 3 41 is still there. You can go back and get it, so, okay.

[00:36:39] Jaymi: Yeah. I have the same fear and I am, that's why I never delete images. Cause I'm like, but what if, but what if?

[00:36:45] Jaymi: And there's always these moments. Cuz the other thing that's really interesting is when you're going through this the first time, you might be in one mindset or one creative vision for what you wanna do with this photo essay. Give it six months. You might come back with a

[00:36:57] Jaymi: different creative vision of what you wanna do and you don't [00:37:00] wanna go through 1800 photos again. Maybe you only wanna

[00:37:02] Jaymi: go through those 300.

[00:37:03] Jo: I gotta say, I love that you say that because I noticed that there's this ownership or this connectedness that I'll have to a photo or a set of photos that I just can't let go of. But if I come back a month later, I'm not as attached to that moment,

[00:37:20] Jo: and I can look at it more objectively and be able to say, but will people other than me really care about this?

[00:37:28] Jo: And, and so I love that idea, that space of knowing that sometimes going back and looking is not that bad.

[00:37:35] Jaymi: yeah.

[00:37:35] Jaymi: I, I do that all the time.

[00:37:37] Jaymi: I just think, oh, this is the most amazing shot. Or, oh, this one's awful. And then I'll go back

[00:37:43] Jaymi: later and be like, oh, this one's actually pretty good. And that one that I thought was amazing. Nah.

[00:37:48] Jaymi: You know, so Yeah. Wrong. Well, yeah.

[00:37:54] Jaymi: So, so that's the two star phase. And

[00:37:56] Jaymi: then that's, I'll go in and actually start to post [00:38:00] process the two stars, because by now I've narrowed it down from 301 star photos to 62 star photos.

[00:38:07] Jaymi: I ended up with, And not because I'm aiming for a certain number, it's just like that's what ended up. I wanna try and get that down to the ones where if I'm gonna take the time to post-process something, it better be a pretty good photo to start with. And

[00:38:20] Jaymi: so I got it down to about 60. And then from there I thought, okay, I think I'm gonna wanna play with some of these.

[00:38:26] Jaymi: And as I started to play with a couple of 'em, I figured out, oh, here's how I'm sort of sinking into the theme of this photo essay.

[00:38:33] Jaymi: And I realized that I really loved. Very. Com, how do I say this? Like the, the images that I loved the most. The theme that I was building were the images that had the most dramatic shapes and lines and contrast between light and shadow. So once I figured that out, as I started to play with a couple of 'em, I thought, all right, I'm ready for phase three. And [00:39:00] phase three was the three star phase, I guess, is alright. Now I know I'm looking for the images that fit this theme that I want for this

[00:39:08] Jo: So you found a connectedness between them that you liked,

[00:39:12] Jo: and that's then how you're going to then shrink it down the next stage.

[00:39:15] Jaymi: Yeah, so what I did was I went through it and thought, okay, I know that that is the connectedness that I want. I want the compositions that feel like there's a lot of lines and shape and dramatic light. but I also want story in there. So I still want a lot of what are the moments that show personality?

[00:39:33] Jaymi: What are the moments that show the quirks of this person and you know, this scene and everything. And so I started to think, okay, as I'm narrowing it down, I wanna make sure that I'm showing as many facets of that as possible. So again, I'm weeding out, well, how many detail shots do I have and how many would I really need in a photo essay to add to the photo essay?

[00:39:51] Jaymi: Rather than start to, cuz once you add too, Images to a collection, you can actually water down their impact.

[00:39:59] Jaymi: [00:40:00] So you wanna be really strategic because you want each photo to add to the impact, not start to water it down and be like, oh great. There's another, like, you end up

[00:40:08] Jaymi: watching, you know, someone's slideshow of their vacation.

[00:40:10] Jaymi: Like, oh, there's another shot. Okay,

[00:40:12] Jaymi: aren't we done yet? So I did that with this where, okay, I'm gonna see what of these ad and what of them take away. And that took a little while. So I, it probably took me a good hour. To make critical decisions, but I narrowed it down to 26. I knew that I wanted it to be a reasonably tight portfolio of images, and I felt pretty comfortable around 26. And from there I know, okay, if I were gonna create a very tight. Photo story or photo essay about this. I could probably make that more like eight to 10, but I have a nice set of 26 images that are the best of the lot that I can definitely post process, that give the visual diversity that I want, has the theme that I want shows. The personality and the craft and all the stuff that I [00:41:00] want. But it's still kind of a big enough portfolio that if I have to get really nitty gritty to choose, like the shots for, let's say it's going in a publication, there's plenty of room to play with what actually ends up with those final ones.

[00:41:12] Jaymi: So that was the process to go from 1800, I think it was 1,886 to

[00:41:18] Jaymi: 26 photos.

[00:41:20] Jo: Nice. I don't know that math, that one would

[00:41:22] Jaymi: No, that's

[00:41:22] Jaymi: I need to like find my little calculator app on

[00:41:25] Jo: Yeah, yeah, yeah. . Wow. So what did you take away in terms of that, the whole thing you went with? So what, what thi what muscle memories, what things did you learn? What, what kinds of things did you re-energize that, that you weren't expecting?

[00:41:44] Jaymi: Okay, well, so that's a really great question, and I don't want my answer to sound too cheesy, but honestly what I walked away with is what I hope any listener listening to this who goes and does this will walk away with, which is I felt really good about myself [00:42:00] as a photographer. And no one has to like these images.

[00:42:04] Jaymi: I will go ahead for, I think it's only fair to actually post these images in the show notes so people can see what we're talking about. So there's gonna be a little gallery in the show notes of these images. But like even if nobody, Liked these images, even if they never saw the light of day. I was really proud of myself because like I said, it's been a while since I've picked up the camera to photograph anything in a very purposeful way.

[00:42:25] Jaymi: I think the last time I assisted on a shoot where I was doing any shooting was last May for a film assignment.

[00:42:32] Jaymi: So we're talking like a year and a half or something

[00:42:35] Jaymi: since I've been a shooter on something, and so to be able to pick up my camera and fall into. Okay, I noticed this. Okay, now I need to change my thinking about this.

[00:42:45] Jaymi: And okay, do, am I getting a variety? Well, what's the meaning of this image? What's the purpose it's gonna serve? Are there other elements of personality? Like what's, am I creating a storytelling shot? Or

[00:42:55] Jaymi: am I just taking a snapshot?

[00:42:57] Jaymi: And all of these things that started to kind of be like, [00:43:00] oh, so yeah, your brain is still remembering what to think about when you're behind the camera in a situation.

[00:43:05] Jaymi: Your body's remembering what to do too, cuz you're remembering settings and all. But then in the editing process, actually seeing that collection of 26 and seeing the variety that was there and seeing what I actually made about this person who does this craft, and all these little, little moments that popped up kind of on the fly that add to that personality. seeing that made me feel really great about, oh yeah, I can walk into a photo story and that might have five shoots associated with it, or even two shoots associated with it. And I know that I'm gonna be able to get what's needed

[00:43:38] Jaymi: for the story and to

[00:43:39] Jo: So you got to go do, do do instead of wa wa.

[00:43:43] Jo: So that's good.

[00:43:44] Jaymi: And that is done with an hour of photographing my partner, doing a craft, you know, that he's doing all the time and, and this is something that anyone can do.

[00:43:53] Jaymi: And so I what. Walked away with. I hope that if anyone listening says, oh, I could do an hour [00:44:00] of trying this out, that you walk away with that feeling too, and even if you try this and you're like, so that didn't go so well, but I'm gonna try it again, then I think that that's a huge win too.

[00:44:11] Jo: Well, and also there's always gonna be something that you learned. So even if you didn't, it didn't come out the way you envisioned. Now you understand what it is that you wanna go look for the next time. So, so even though it may not necessarily be the finished thing that you would go use three times from now, you're gonna feel so much more comfort.

[00:44:34] Jaymi: Mm-hmm. , that's a really great point. You're absolutely right cuz no matter what, you're gonna be thinking critically about what you captured and, oh, I noticed that I was doing too much of this, or I'm always too far away from my subject, or

[00:44:45] Jaymi: I get way too much of this type of shot. One of the things that I do all. The time. I'm so glad that there's a level on my camera is whenever I try and do vertical shots, I

[00:44:55] Jaymi: think that I'm being parallel to the horizon, but I'm so

[00:44:58] Jaymi: not, they turn out really wonky, [00:45:00] so it's like, oh yeah, that shoot reminded me. I have to go back into being really careful with noticing. Are my horizon lines straight, cuz I'm

[00:45:08] Jaymi: always off kilter, but I don't know that in the

[00:45:11] Jaymi: moment. So

[00:45:12] Jaymi: you're gonna learn little things like that. You're gonna learn quirks about yourself, you're gonna learn. Yeah. Just there's

[00:45:18] Jaymi: so much that you'll

[00:45:19] Jaymi: learn

[00:45:19] Jo: spin them into the positives of, oh, I didn't do this, but oh. It's like, oh, I'm gonna go practice that next time. Yeah.

[00:45:28] Jo: Yeah.

[00:45:28] Jo: And it won't be scary to do because you're not doing it in anything that anybody's going to judge.

[00:45:34] Jo: You're just doing it for yourself to, to,

[00:45:37] Jo: to get that workout right.

[00:45:39] Jaymi: Yeah.

[00:45:40] Jo: Nice. Jamie. Thank you.

[00:45:43] Jo: I'm ready to go out now.

[00:45:46] Jaymi: I know I always, this felt a little bit self-indulgent cuz I'm always into like, here are your three steps or here is the process or whatever. And this felt like a story of just my experience, but I do hope that it is really good advice that that [00:46:00] folks can run with cuz I had a blast.

[00:46:02] Jaymi: It was so

[00:46:02] Jaymi: much fun.

[00:46:03] Jo: That's great.

[00:46:04] Jaymi: Awesome. Cool. Well, Joe, thank you so much for, for listening to this and for adding all of your thoughts in too. You bring up so many great points and I really appreciate that

[00:46:14] Jo: Oh sure. \

[00:46:14] Jaymi: . All right, well everyone, I hope you enjoyed this episode and we'll talk to you again next week


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