Joey Lawrence Tutorial: Review

If you read our chat with 17-year-old hotshot photog Joey Lawrence earlier this week, you probably made the jump to check out the new Tutorial he just released. And your first reaction was probably, "$299? WTF?"

Well, I have spent the last few days digesting the material in the tutorials, and I'll tell you WTF after the jump. Plus, there is a sneak preview of a full, 10-minute video segment of the Protest the Hero shoot, which is when he made the photo above.


The first thing I want to dispense with is the price. At $299 ($249 through Oct 21st) it is easy to look at this and compare it to the cost of a commercially produced DVD of whatever was playing 6 months ago in the theaters. If you are looking to watch this once and be entertained for two hours for X dollars, just save your money and buy "Superbad" for $20 when it comes out. Then get you laugh on, McLovin. Better yet, rent it for even less.

(Superbad may well be the funniest movie I have ever seen. But it is definitely a guy thing and most decidedly not for the kiddies.)

We are in a culture where you can get access to an almost unlimited amount of infotainment for very little money. This is based on the idea that you create this very expensive thing and millions of people share the cost load to make it work for everyone. Which is cool, really, but it also warps our perception of the value of information.

This blog, for instance, is free. But the information (hopefully) still has some value. But that doesn't mean I should expect to get, say, a degree in psychology for free.

So, before I get into the DVD itself, here is who definitely should be interested in it:

• People who shoot musicians for income. No brainer.
• Fine art types who want to learn how to take their photos into more alternative visions.
• Sports shooters -- seriously, this is Gatorade/Nike ad stuff.
• Senior portrait photographers: One could make a killing shooting 18-year-olds from rich families who want to look alternative and epic. You'll have some work in front of you to study and learn the shooting/post techniques, but wow.
• People who shoot for -- or aspire to shoot for -- progressive and/or alternative publications or websites. Duh.
• Doctors, lawyers, professionals and otherwise rich hobbyists who have more money than they know what to do with. But then, they get to buy everything.


What You Get

To avoid any confusion, you should know that the package is not and standard DVD designed to be dropped into your player and seen on TV. It is a package of files (1.5 gigs) that can be either downloaded or shipped on a DVD ROM. This enables the inclusion of texture images. (They are hi-res jpegs, and you'll never look at a concrete wall the same way again.) They would not otherwise be accessible on a TV DVD format. I bring this up because someone left a comment on Monday's IM interview in which they seemed pretty upset that they did not get a traditional DVD, and had problems playing Quicktime on their PC.

The info is navigated using your browser -- as if you were on the web -- but the content is all stored locally. So you can view it offline, and there is no waiting for movies to load.

The package is divided into two sections, videos and tutorials. The videos are shot on location during a few shoots, with some how-to vignettes thrown in. While the real meat of the presentation is in the tutorials, I found the videos very interesting. There is a full video segment embedded below.


Learning Like a Teenager

Lawrence is one of a breed of new shooters who have grown up with digital and Photoshop. He studies shooting and post techniques the way one of his friends might learn how to beat Halo 3. There is no downside to making mistakes - you just mess up, learn and advance.

His shoots show this, too. He is working with studio lights in some shoots and speedlights in others, but the ethic is the same: Assume there is a way to do anything you need to do. Need blood? Make it. Need new textures for your grunge-look photos? Bake some in mom's oven.

The way he choreographs his subjects, interacts with them, collaborates with them -- it all serves to show you how a 17-year old thinks differently than you probably do. For me, the biggest takeaway was how little there truly was standing between what I am doing and moving into his level. I love this kind of stuff, so I am certainly biased in this review. But being exposed to a new way of thinking is, for me, far more valuable than adding another piece of gear to the bag.

Check out the following video from the "Protest the Hero" shoot, which Lawrence uploaded to YouTube:

The guy is frugal, creative and simply does not acknowledge limits. I love that. I should think that way more often.

But for Lawrence, the shoots are just the appetizer. The first phase of an image creation that gets him the platform to create his final product in Photoshop. You are gonna laugh, but the thing it reminded me of was the three-book series by Ansel Adams -- The Camera, The Negative and The Print. (I wore my copies out.)

Yeah, all except it is totally different in terms of tools, technology and a complete lack of anal-retentiveness.

The Photoshop tutorials were gold to me. As a long-time newspaper shooter with ethics always guiding what I do, these tutorials just exploded the way I think of post processing. I know lots of you out there are Photoshop jockeys, so you may be way ahead of me. But I am certainly going to be doing some different photos from here on out.

He is not holding back, going totally fishbowl on all of his techniques. That's awesome, and it speaks to the different way he views the craft as compared to many of his older colleagues. There is no one technique that rules -- they all are just tools to him. If you are the kind of person who obsesses with backward engineering Dave Hill's stuff (or Tim Tadder's) you'll go for this.

He moves fast, but explains everything. You'll be backing up to see stuff again until you understand it. This is not a begginer's Photoshop guide, either. But if you use PS with any regularity, you'll be able to understand it.

Is this thing totally comprehensive? Nope. Nothing is. But it is a total and honest info dump of all things Joey Lawrence, from soup to nuts, showing you everything he possibly could about his technique, style and approach to image creation.

Sure, people are ragging him for the price tag. But this guy is finding incredible success at a young age and is sharing his techniques with the industry at a time when they have real value. Good on him for spreading the word, and he deserves to sell a lot of copies.

So, will he bury his career with this project? Hardly. He is giving you what he has learned up to here, but he doesn't need to rely on these techniques to make a living going forward. He is a very creative, talented and driven young adult. And with this project, many people will be funding the next stage of his career.

And my guess is that senior portraits are gonna get a lot more interesting -- and expensive -- in the next few years.

Get a second opinion: Amercan Peyote review
IM Chat Interview here
Joey Lawrence Tutorial
Joey Lawrence Website


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Anonymous conpiece said...

The world really is small. I have lurked joey's photos forever, since I saw that he did band photos. And the fact that you, somehow, living way down in the states (haha) and have managed to connect shows me that the world is just a really tiny place! This is so cool that he is featured on here, I have always admired his work! Of course I also greatly admire this website. Cool beans!

October 17, 2007 11:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave, he should use you as his PR! I've read the discussions on the the flickr threads how people think it's too pricey and I'll admit too, right now I just don't have $249 to shell out for it. Neither do most of the people complaining about the price, but if I did I would buy it in a heartbeat just from you writing about it here. JL took the time to learn this stuff and people expect just because it's featured here on strobist it should be maybe under a hundred bucks? I'm all about saving money, but I'll pay for quality anyday! Heck, learning from you these past few months on how to light for free I should at least take my good looking(well almost)... well lit photos to the next level for JL's price.

October 18, 2007 12:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a pro photographer who makes a decent living and lurks here sometimes. I thought his style was interesting so I bought the DVD ($249 is a bargain for good knowledge, and photographers are normally very secretive...)

A few opinions of mine:
- It's a decent tutorial, but rushed at the later lessons. Don't look away or you'll miss something.

- His techniques are very painterly. If you are looking for a quick fix or don't have decent painting with light skills, these won't help you.

- He clearly has not worked with many fussy (or waffling) art directors - his techniques work directly on pixel layers (as opposed to adjustment layers), where undoing or minimizing an effect at a later time would be time consuming.

Today I have reworked several fashion images in very slight ways for a picky client, for the third time...

In any case, divulging this information probably won't generate a ton of 'joey-clones' if only because if you don't have the skills to "see the light" as it is, these techniques won't help you much.

Oh, you should also be pretty familiar with photoshop. The later tutorials go by fairly fast.

October 18, 2007 12:31 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Inspirational little video there. This Lawrence fellow knows his stuff, just lacks more of the mind-numbingly frustrating experience that more seasoned photogs deal with. But hey, time fixes everything.

I got so much information just from watching the preview that I'm completely inspired for my own studio work.

I just purchased three monolights plus modifiers and I'm ready to begin my pursuit to eventually do what Joey's doing. And I wouldn't have gotten this far had I not taken David's advice and gotten me a little SB-28 on eBay a year ago.

I'll see what the future holds, uh tomorrow since that's when the shipment arrives. Woo-hoo.

October 18, 2007 12:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(i'm the anonymous pro above)

I will say that by far the most difficult client in my opinion, is if the pictures must look ideal, and yet accurate, which can be a tough paradox sometimes.

ex:, a fashion catalog. Obviously it must be beautiful, glamorous etc. But the colors must be right, the fabric and character of the clothing must be true to form. Otherwise people will order and then return because it didnt look like the picture - and then you'll be looking for a new client. Check out the Neiman Marcus catalogs. I subscribe to them, they are quarterly and absolutely gorgeous and perfect in nearly every way.

Musicians are often the opposite - don't show them as they are, but as they want to be seen... its a whole different can of worms, but you can do whacky photoshop tricks to make it happen.

I find getting things accurate (yet beautiful) is a whole other level of photography. Everything must be controlled and deliberate. There are few "happy accidents".

October 18, 2007 1:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm cool with all this. I'm pretty good at reverse engineering myself. Joey has dropped some free hints about his Photoshop techniques. I have begun to look at the photos on his website to determine how to achieve similar results and integrate them into my evolving style. It appears that's how Joey did it, so the first lesson I've learned from Joey is to keep my $300 in my pocket. I am a quick learner.

October 18, 2007 1:35 AM  
Blogger James Pratt said...

I bought the videos and thing they are gold. I really like his style and energy and vision. I am 47 and work daily with my daughter who is 22. She has tattoo's galor, piercings, the whole ball of wax, but she is unbelievably creative. It gets me fired up to see these young people really take our craft to the next level. I am pretty decent at photoshop and lighting. Joey's video shows you just how easy and fast it is to create some really cool, modern and interesting images. I love learning from these young people!

October 18, 2007 1:51 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

I myself - am not wealthy... However I spend - relatively a LOT on all things "self-educational" towards my photography... This in comparison to a lot of DVD's is fairly priced... Should he be putting this at a lower pricing category cause he's only 17? No....

I bought this package - and apart from the 1.5gb download size in one hunk... which took a while... Awesome stuff... I've been using PS since I was 16 - so I'm down with it - but I learn something new ALL the time.

So if you can self justify the cost of education then - when ordering - READ the website when placing your order... Do so before Midnight October 21st, 2007 (midnight where I hear you asking... well Canada I guess... LOL)... Email Joey first... that's all my hints here...

Awesome stuff...

October 18, 2007 2:03 AM  
Anonymous APScribble said...


Excellent review, I think one of the true strengths of the tutorial is getting a sense for how Joey is thinking while doing his work on the set and in photoshop. It's easy to find the details of photoshop in different areas on the web but being able to learn and be exposed to the thinking process of a pro photographer while they're working is much more difficult to find.

I feel like the tutorial has helped open up new possibilities for approaching lighting and image making, and well worth the price I paid for the DVD.


October 18, 2007 2:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remain still on my opinion, as a working pro with some years under my belt, I know when this stuff works and when not, sure you can impress a rock band with lots of photoshop and stuff, but an art director of a world group advertising enterprise will rule you out if you do this kind of stuff on his photos.

There are countless photoshop tutorials -the ones made by Adobe as a complete package from noob to master- that will be likely more useful for those that work with advertising; art and precision is what they want, after all they have a basement full of photoshop monkeys with much, much more experience doing photo manipulation than anyone reading this article will have.

My recommendation? learn first how to use properly your artistic side with the camera, with your lights and with props, how to establish a good bond with your team -models, MUA, Stylist, client- take a couple of courses on business administration and market and most importantly how to get what you want without needing photoshop, and then when you have mastered them consider which route is more profitable and comfortable for you as a photographer, after all crappy composed photos, crappy expositions, bad communication with your team will not be saved by 250 bucks of a photoshop tutorial.

October 18, 2007 2:42 AM  
Anonymous Roger Madsen said...

You will get a promo code if you email Joey, as it says on his web page too and you will then get it for $229. Still a lot of money but I think it's worth it. Have gone though half of the tutorials now and I feel very inspired!

October 18, 2007 4:21 AM  
Anonymous Marco Togni said...

I am sorry to tell this, but I really don't like Joey's photos.
They are very good for advertising but I prefer less photoshopped pictures.
When I shooted some girls last summer I always tried to take pictures where girls were more natural as possible, because I think that everybody can make "fake" pictures with photoshop. I don't like pictures where people seems made by plastic, like in almost all Joey's pictures.

And...who is interested to buy a DVD for 299$ to watch some backstages?

October 18, 2007 6:00 AM  
Blogger chadw said...

I found the video very interesting. I noticed a couple of things.

1/ It appears that he spent a lot of time preparing for the shoot versus actually shooting. If you think his PS techniques will save quick snapshots or a poorly lit photo, I think you'd be disappointed.

2/ Where is his crew? Contrast this Joey Lawrence shoot against a "creative portrait" shoot by Michael Grecco or Chase Jarvis. He's doing the makeup (even made it himself), building the sets, and moving his own lights!!! How many people does it take to do that for a "star photographer" like Grecco (shooting Scorcese) or Jarvis (ninja photoshoot)?

I'd be willing to bet that JoeyL is the only person that did the PS processing on the photos too, no sending them out to a "good retoucher".

Good on ya Joey. I wonder if his youthful enthusiasm will dwindle as the years go by.

I also cringe to think of the time I wasted in my late teens, early twenties, when time was at a surplus. Who remembers MUDs? ;)

October 18, 2007 6:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bought the 'DVD' also, and got through the whole thing in about two hours. Maybe I am more advanced than I thought in terms of photoshop, but there was not one technique he talked about that I had not already used. Not one.

He is very creative in his approach to things photographic, no doubt. He is also incredibly sloppy. All of his editing suggestions are destructive, and a goof would require starting over on a particular layer if the file is opened again later. Using masks and adjustment layers to implement the same techniques is a great way to make your life a little easier when you open the file the next day and discover you went a little too far with a particular technique.

Here is one thing the download does not have: any written step-by-step documentation for the techniques he is showing you. If you want to use something that you have forgotten exactly how to use a few months later, then you will have to watch the movie again and watch the mouse fly over his screen and take the notes yourself.

I must admit to feeling ripped off a little. Kudos to him for being such a savvy marketer and photog. But as far as value goes, I think this falls woefully short. I think people's money would be much better spent on a subscription to Photoshop User and Layers magazine (Total tab: $120/year). I can almost guarantee that the techniques he uses will be in the magazine during a year-long period. Plus a lot of techniques he doesn't use. And you have some documentation to refer to later as well.

My take: save your money, and subscribe to some good magazines and do a little web surfing. It is all out there for you to discover, at a much lower cost.

October 18, 2007 7:12 AM  
Blogger Bubba said...

I don't (yet) have the DVD but it would be fantastic to start a thread for shots taken by Strobists with the DVD after having watched the DVD. In other words - some real samples from average people using Joey's techniques as outlined on the DVD. That would be a great selling point I think.... John

October 18, 2007 7:35 AM  
Blogger echomrg said...

looks like an interesting tutorial.
sure, shelling out 249$ for a dvd is something i'm afraid i won't do.
in part because i probably won't actually need that knowledge, in part because i'm absolutely convinced that knowledge should be free.

sure he's free to sell whatever he wants... but... well... shrugs.

the thing that i find a little embarassing is the 50$+shipment difference between the downloadable version and the dvd version (unless there's a complete color hardcopy of the whole tutorial).


October 18, 2007 7:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm considering offering senior portraits and I wonder if this look will be dated in a few years? I'm already getting kind of tired of it.

Bands are often trendy so no worries there -- but I feel like we have a responsibility to seniors to make sure they get photos they'll treasure for a lifetime, not cringe when they see them in 20 years and go "Oh that was so 2007!"

I understand the need to give clients what they want, but if I attempt work like this for somebody I'll be sure to try to sell them on a few more classic-looking shots.

I'm curious as to what others think...

October 18, 2007 8:12 AM  
Anonymous JKorn said...

I guarantee you that noone complaining about the price has seen what stock photography costs. A single, royalty free image will often cost $300-400. That's just for one. A rights managed image will easily run you $1500 for a 3-month liscence. He's including 50 in this package along with his videos and tutorials. Honestly, you guys are getting a bargian.

And, no, I don't know or have any connection with Joey. I'm just speaking from my experience as a graphic designer who frequently relies on the likes of Getty Images when I can't afford to hire a photographer.

I'll be buying a copy, and he deserves every penny.

October 18, 2007 9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave said: "But I am certainly going to be doing some different photos from here on out." Well, I hope the Strobist blog doesn't change the name (and purpose) into Photoshoppist. Cheers and keep up the good (no PS) work.

October 18, 2007 9:27 AM  
Blogger Alex Gilliard said...

Cool ideas (I agree with you Superbad is awesome!)

October 18, 2007 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Serge said...

At first sight this seems a very interesting DVD. I've read the announcement on Joey's site and must admit that he creates some very neat results in Photoshop.

October 18, 2007 9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Besides the stunning similarity between and
and between and (all COMMERCIAL work, not FlickR stuff) there are other things that "link" Joeyl to Dave Hill. They shoot the same clients, see
You can draw conclusions why, or is it OK to copy somebody else's work for your commercial gain. My biggest concern is what JoeyL calls photojournalism, and you can check that out on his webpage under the gallery with the same name (Personal Gallery->Portfolio->"Photojournalism"). For example, see and Now, check out and there are both, supposedly "photojournalist" pictures, shown with titles such are "Clone Rescue" and "Smooth Multiply Techniques". Stop and ponder here what's wrong. And BTW, in his FAQ he states that he uses only one lens and that is Canon 85mm f/1.8, but the picture to the left shows him with a 5D and Canon 70-200mm F/4L IS. Hmmmm... Please Dave, no more photoshop articles/people.

October 18, 2007 10:11 AM  
Blogger Double.D.Photography said...

WOW,Just a full day before reading the blog introducing Joey I was at the local Tower Records here in Osaka Japan and flipping through a mag that had one of my new fav bands in it (Every Time I Die:the guys in armour) and it happend that all the photos from that interview were his work of them in Knights Armour,an dI was like these guys a f'n nutty,but then it was Joey's Idea to do it and I though,wow thats some friggn' original sh** he's got goin' on,I'd though it'd been the bands idea seeing as how they are kinda nutty like that.Any way I was rather blown away by some of his work and it was cool to find out who he was AND how young he is,I for one am very interested in his DVD.......if only I had the dough to spend on it,even for over here it's a bit steep but just might be worth my while.

October 18, 2007 10:14 AM  
Anonymous Chad Banning said...

Good for you David. This kid has the entrepreneurial spirit and his information is valuable. He should be compensated nicely for figuring out techniques that work and being willing to share them. I have a 17 year old son who is an honor student and an accomplished guitarist. I am very proud of his talents but JL has exceeded his years by what he is producing and I am so glad that you have defended him in your blog.

October 18, 2007 10:33 AM  
Blogger Sean Cayton said...


This is more than the second plug for Joey and as much as I admire his work, I can't help but recall an answer in the interview about what he wants to do in the future. Namely: Photojournalism.

To me there's more than a little irony here. Photojournalism rules out the post-processing techniques he's become known for.

Editorial, advertising and commercial may all want to take advantage of his genius. But it appears to me that his genius isn't applicable to what he says he really wants to do.

You have a background in photojournalism.

Instead of a post about why we should all buy his DVD how about a post explaining how Joey might apply his skills to that world? Kind of like what you did for that kid shooting bugs.

October 18, 2007 10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find some of the objections to the price hard to understand.

First off - $200 is lots where I come from (in Mauritius it works out at more than quite a fair amount of peoples monthly salary). Okay, so not everybody can afford it.

But it's a compilation of whats inside someones mind. A peek behind what makes this guy tick, if you will.

Sure, the techniques are available to all (via magazines and the web) at less (perhaps even for free, if you don't count the time spent looking), but it's not the techniques themselves, but rather the way it's all put together: and that's worth it.

After all - why pay a pro to take a good portrait. Why employ a pro at the newspaper. Hell, every kid and their dog's got a phone cam or a point and shoot.

The difference is simple. Quality. And that comes largely from the mind set. Joey's breaking out of the box and that makes for added layers of interest. Perhaps his particular technique won't work well everywhere, but the refusal to take things at face value is important everywhere.

I'm and amateur who's got quite proud of the fact that he's arrived at a point now when he refuses to take a picture where he can't see a story. Joey's out there making the stories.

That's worth thinking about and digesting.

October 18, 2007 11:21 AM  
Blogger Patrick Smith said...

All very, very cool stuff. I like the reader interview. Keep them coming.

I am stealing that sweat/grease idea for basketball preview. Thanks!!!

October 18, 2007 1:04 PM  
Blogger amelius said...

The video seems to be unavailable right now. I wonder if Joey pulled it offline.

October 18, 2007 1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So it seems his photos are pretty obviously cadged from Dave Hill, his photoshop tricks are taken from magazines and books, and his dvd marketing idea is straight from late night religious television broadcasters.

I love this country.

October 18, 2007 4:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Dean Collins DVD set is less money, teaches timeless techniques, and some of the cash goes to cancer research. Got to give the kid his props for going for it, though.

October 18, 2007 5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel like I paid $250 to learn how to dodge and burn. What a rip!
Go to and save your money.

October 18, 2007 6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't really understand the complaints on price---simply don't buy it if you feel it's too expensive.. I think 100k is too much to spend on a car, but I'm not writing to Mercedes telling them they're wrong and not worth the price.. Hmmm. I think it's great that he is telling all--he should get paid well for it.

October 18, 2007 10:21 PM  
Anonymous David Redding said...

I keep hearing about the price of this DVD......$300 is cheap compared to the wedding photography DVDs out there....Mind you, you get a hour or so more stuff, but tutorial DVDs are never cheap....and you have to think, sure you can by the new DVD of Fantastic 4 for $20, but how many millions are they gonna sell? How much money did it make it the Theatre? This kid may sell a few thousand, I'm sure he will make a profit, but not as big as you think.

Also, I would put this down as business expense, he is a professional showing his professional processes....I don't hear people bitching about paying $1000 for an 8 hour seminar with a light guru or one of the top commercial shooters!

October 18, 2007 11:49 PM  
Anonymous Phil Weaver said...

I'm a wedding photographer, and I think some of the techniques used by JoeyL are also applicable to any wedding photographer who wants to produce images that are different from the 'run of the mill'.
I'n not saying that you would want to shoot/process an entire wedding like that, but why not use a HDR shot with a wide angle to shoe the detail in the dress and the sky etc.
Kudos to Joey, it makes me sick that he's so good so young! and as for the price of the tutorials, great value and he deserves to flog a load of them!

October 19, 2007 4:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ordered 14 hours download link :(

Can get a response from anybody :(

October 19, 2007 11:34 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

I ordered mine last night and got the download instantly. My guess is that the payment hasn't cleared yet.

Well So far the tutorial isn't ground breaking but it has really given me some new ideas and for that it's worth it.

October 19, 2007 2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I won't comment on whether or not I think the DVD is OVERPRICED. But...

The DVD is priced out of the hobbyist pricerange and into the serious-professional pricerange.

Hobbyists will not buy it at that price. I will not buy it at that price. Pros that are after the fresh look that JoeyL has here will shell out the cash without a second thought. But little Billy who loves the Canon Rebel he got for Christmas will never see this DVD.

By doing this, Joey to some extent protects his techniques. His look won't be as common because not every joe-blow is going to post up pictures that look just like this on Flickr. On the other hand, he might be pricing it high enough that he's missing out on a lot of dough.

I would have priced it such that it would be an expensive splurge for a home photo nut. $75-100. Or even smarter would have been to get some sponsorship and sell tutorials online ala-carte.

October 19, 2007 4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Learn to make your OWN images that showcase your own voice and vision. Digital makes it so easy to play, experiment, create, try, wonder, wander...

I was done the minute I saw him lighting paint thinner on fire in an enclosed space to help make that "cool" shot. Not to mention the liquids slopping around what looked like an old school Speedo 2400 ws pack.

Layering textures? Please. Mark Tucker has been doing it masterfully for a long time. He's even beyond doing it just in PS.

October 19, 2007 5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Joey guy is a joke! WHO does he think he is charging $299 for a DVD, i have heard he doesnt cover anything all that new. To be it comes across as a kid thinking he is smart, over charging to buy video games lol. Wouldnt waste my money on the dvd, although i do like some of his work, hes very talented.

October 20, 2007 5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

im sure this person will/does have lots of photos published in glossy magazines and makes lots of money...zzzzz

the essence of the human spirit is what sustains a portrait photograph...take away all the goop here and what u have are a few kodak moments.

its telling when u look back, even recently, on the images that will survive trends and tricks, and realize the simplicity involved. the simple connection between subject and photographer.

I'm probably the wrong audience for this type of stuff...but if one is interested in the art of simple aesthetics and composition and not the art of covering it up with a bunch of toy store filters I would settle for a book on this guy


xoxo tinsley

October 21, 2007 1:10 AM  
Anonymous Richard said...

1,000 downloads times $249.000 = basically a quarter million dollars [$249,000]

500 = approx. $125,000

100 = approx. $25,000

I was about to pull the trigger, still might, but was seriously bothered by complaints of video/image quality and no documentation so one has to peer at the screen very closely or repeatedly to see what is doing.

I think that for the potential money that Joey stands to make, it's quite fair to want some accountability in the quality of the production.

It get's pretty tiresome to hear the "you should be privilege the boy genius lets you peer into his world" rationalizations for the lack of effect on a quality production and package.

I would hope that Joey, if he hits at least 100 downloads would take some of the money and get the production redone and notes added [and of course let previous purchases get the updated version].

October 21, 2007 2:34 AM  
Blogger Rob and Lauren said...

I purchased Joey's tutorial last night and have to say that I'm quite disappointed with the tutorial he's put together.

My first problem is with the content of the tutorial. I believe Joey somewhat misrepresents what the tutorial includes. On the tutorial page ( it indicates the following:

"Behind the scenes footage from many unique photo shoots covering an array of concepts and lighting situations, including detailed diagrams of the light set ups and props. Both studio lighting and simple techniques using standard reflectors are used"

The tutorial contained only four "behind the scenes" videos and only one lighting diagram that I recall. There was no meat to the videos and seemed more like he was just showing off that he made fake blood and lit things on fire. (The previous comment about lighting paint thinner on fire is right on the money.)

His narrated screen capture describing his techniques is also a bit frustrating. I feel like I really didn't learn anything new. In fact I wouldn't recommend this tutorial to anyone just beginning to learn photoshop. While Joey acknowledges that you could use masks and adjustment layers he consistently makes changes on the background layer, uses the eraser tool (anyone who uses photoshop with regularity probably shouldn't even know where the eraser tool is, they should be using masks in order to control opacity of the changes you make!), and while he has an understanding of what certain things do (like blending modes for instance) he doesn't really know why they do the things they do. Having an understanding of why things do the things they do is requisite in the formula of repeatability.

I think another problem I had with the narrated videos is that for the most part he was already starting with great pictures. His technique is largely in how he sets up the shots with lighting (and all his set ups seem fantastic, they just aren't really shown in much detail). He's a creative guy, no doubt about it, but he's using the same tools that you probably use everyday. Again if you use photoshop with any sort of regularity you probably won't learn too much you didn't already know watching his narrated videos. There are 10 narrated videos in total.

As far as the textures go there are quite a few, but they seem pretty similar for the most part. It is cool that he shows you how to bake textures in one video!

His package also includes an action set, about 10 or so. They seem cool for the most part, but the way he's set them up seem a bit frustrating and will need to be completely reverse engineered to be at all useful (because he doesn't create new layers, allowing you to easily delete actions or control opacity, he also loves to flatten argh!)

For textures I suggest Jesh de Rox ( pretty much the master at textures, and for actions I suggest the boutwells ( The boutwells have a fantastic set of very useable actions. Kubota also has a useable if not somewhat dated selection of actions.

I'm also very disappointed with Dave for posting such a favorable review of the tutorial. I think it was fairly biased and even a bit misleading. Dave said:

"The Photoshop tutorials were gold to me. As a long-time newspaper shooter with ethics always guiding what I do, these tutorials just exploded the way I think of post processing. I know lots of you out there are Photoshop jockeys, so you may be way ahead of me. But I am certainly going to be doing some different photos from here on out."

I think you should check out other great resources like, the boutwell actions and kubota, to see how other people have worked with photoshop to achieve some amazing results. (particularly check out the boutwells). I think if more reviews for photoshop tools/tutorials will be on this site then more homework needs to go into what sort of product is being featured. Not all strobists can write this sort of thing off as a business expense and while this purchase wasn’t such a big deal to me I know it could be for a lot of the frugal strobists on this site.

This review is way too long, but I had to describe my disappointment in detail. I read disappointing comments on this blogpost and bought the tutorial anyways, but most of the disappointing comments on this post are right in line with how this tutorial really is.

Rob (

October 21, 2007 2:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boom, bought.
Thanks Dave for posting.
I'm going to shoot rugby pics and i needed some tips on this looks.

October 21, 2007 11:51 AM  
Blogger pjbarford said...

This tutorial is disappointing. It shows really poor PS methods, and while his workflow for post processing has worked well for him (kudos), it doesn't show the best practices you should use when working in PS.

He states you can use layer masks, but all his examples shows him using destructive methods that anyone who uses PS would tell you NOT to do.
In one example he shows the level's and because of this methods you can see loads of banding in the graph which basically means he has lost details.

In saying that - I like the guy and he is having loads of success, and that is great. Fair play to him for getting himself out there and just rolling with it. This one point where I agree with David, but that's probably the only point.

If you are giving a tutorial then you have to understand the tools you are tutoring on. It's not right to charge for expertise and then say I don't know what this blending does, but I dig it....... The WHY is an important factor for people to learn.

The behind the scene video's are pretty lame too (the one that is linked here is one the tutorial and that's as good as it gets). Go over to David Hill's site to his behind the scenes videos (as David mentioned in one of his posts). I think they are better and they're FREE. You also get a better goo at his lighting setup's........

Anyone out there would be better off going over to the CRAZY Dr Brown and subscribing to his insane podcast. Also the NAPP guys with their really bad jokes have a great podcast that would point you in the right direction on using PS....... cause Joey L's tutorial fails in this area.

The rant is over - Apologies

October 21, 2007 6:22 PM  
Anonymous stephan holgund said...

where teh hell is the free tutorial? i will trade Jewlery for you rDVD!?

October 21, 2007 9:48 PM  
Anonymous stephan hoglund said...

where is the tutorial? I cannot find it? I will trade you jewlery for the tuorial? Seriously!

October 21, 2007 9:52 PM  
Anonymous Adam Bartas said...

I dont find much unique style in Joeys work. In fact such postprocessing flooded the internet photo community like a tsunami, there are many names for it and dozens of hi-end retouchers using it, but the apporach is more or less the same, its just so easy to make your pictures pop using dodging and selective coloring etc, actually much easier than hi-end fashion retouching as seen in work of Mert and Marcus or Troyt Coburn, which gains less public attention. And this particular instance of this illustrated look doesnt seem very smart or original to me, all the light setups are quite simple, only involving softboxes and a strong contra, which is a modern music booklet cliché. My opinion is that you can see this and even far more "exotic" retouching performed by 15 year olds at DeviantArt these days, which is a bit frustrating :), but its better to know it and dont overestimate any fake clone of the original artists such as jim fiscus or jill greenberg.

best regards,
Adam Bartas

November 19, 2007 8:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i also bought this shit Tutorial !
I am so angry about Joey.
If i live in Canada, i will cath him to give my money back.
thx you for that !!!

January 30, 2008 6:35 AM  
Anonymous Lensman said...

I have briefly watched the main parts of Joey L’s lessons and heard him say things like “Bah Blah, Bah Blah, Bah Blah, you know what I mean” and “I don’t know what that button really does to the image, but it looks really cool” enough to realize he is not really the PS expert her portrays himself to be.

Before I get started here, I just want to say I am a professional photographer, an advanced Photoshop user, and I have taught photography at university. I also have respect for young people that are ambitious about trying to master the art form so I am not here to bash him.

Joey also has a lot of enthusiasm and tenacity for his early age and the willingness to experiment and try and create something of his own, which is what is always so nice to see about young, budding new photographers.

But since he is selling something commercially to the masses, for what I consider to be a lot of money for the type of limited information he is offering, I thought I would share some of my views on it.

What the video does not teach, amongst a few other key things, are proper, nondestructive PS workflows, as another person already mentioned. His key missing link in his instructional videos are the use of layer masks and adjustment layers. By using these elements in your workflow you won’t double or triple your file sizes unnecessarily, which is something Joey does by adding multiple copies of the background in a number of his lessons. The bigger problem with that that type of a workflow is that it also does not allow you to later partially reverse your steps and re-work an image if you want to. Had he included one short video about workflow, layer masks, and adjustment layers, then he could have given all his lessons in a non-destructive Photoshop way instead of teaching new users bad workflow habits right from the start.

As for his techniques, he does offer some interesting ways of manipulating blend mode layers, but they are not new to experienced Photoshop users as many people have noted and are techniques that have been seen around the web for time already. But why do those techniques then look like something different/new/unique on his images? I will get to that in 2 more paragraphs.

For someone who really wants to learn something about Photoshop, and the proper ways to execute the looks Joey is creating in Photoshop, one could spend a lot less money, learn a lot more, and develop good Photoshop workflow habits from the start by starting with say the Deke McClelland “Total Training for Abobe Photoshop” video series instead, which, by the way, also includes sample images of the ones used in his instructional videos so that you can practice as you go along with him.

Most importantly though is that I think most people won’t be able to achieve the same looking results in Photoshop of what he refers to as the “Joey L Look”, no matter what. That is unless they shoot using the Joey L style of lighting for photography. Lighting is the key element in most of his shots. Although I won’t talk too much about his lighting style here, it is something that would need to be learned first if you are ever going to achieve similar looking results to Joey L in your post processing workflow. And since Joey does not really want to take the time to teach Photoshop in the right way in my opinion, he might be better off putting out a video which explains more about the way he lights things and the look he is going for with his lighting in relation to his post processing workflow than anything else.

February 06, 2008 8:30 PM  
Blogger nate said...

Save your money. Anyone but those with the most basic of photoshop skills can replicate his "look". This DVD is highway robbery and I am at a loss as to why people think he is so groundbreaking. Please explain this to me…

January 05, 2010 11:20 AM  
Blogger BENJIEFIED said...

im not a strobist... but since i saw the video tutorial of joey L..... damn i went crazy. i did some shots and fell in love with the result. hmmmpfff i guess ill be a big fan from now on. :)

August 29, 2011 6:36 AM  
Blogger BENJIEFIED said...

im not a strobist..... but when i finish watching the video of Joey L.... i went crazy. i did some text shots and fell in love with the outcome. Well, i can say, im a fan now.... :)

August 29, 2011 6:39 AM  

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