Young Blood: A Chat with Photographer Joey Lawrence

Canadian Photographer Joey Lawrence is kicking butt. He is doing killer still photography, shooting music videos and traveling the world. He has an agent in New York and another one in London. Pretty cool for a guy who shoots with a Canon EOS 5D and is as likely to be lighting with his speedlights as with Profotos.

Oh yeah, and he is only 17 years old.

As a 42-year-old, that last tidbit is the kind of thing that tends to really piss me off. But rather than get mad at the guy, I thought I would interview him and see what makes him tick.

Our archived chat, more of his photos, links and info on his new DVD after the jump.


Beers Milk with Joey Lawrence

Strobist: So, first things first: Where are you based, how old are you really, and is your calendar really that full or is that algebra class?

JoeyL: I'm based nowhere, because most times I live in hotel rooms across the world going from job to job, or eating out of a can of noodles. Yup, my calendar is that full and I'm 17 years old .

Strobist: Noodles, huh? You aren't supposed to have to live on those until college. (10 for a dollar...) When did you start shooting seriously, like with a DSLR, for instance?

JoeyL: Nah, I just eat noodles because they are healthy. I started using a DSLR about 18 months ago. A lot of the stuff you see on my website was done with just a standard Minolta Dimage.

Strobist: Yeah, on Strobist we are pretty big on it being what's between the ears and not how expensive your gear is. You shoot Canon now, right? 5D, I am thinking, with those wide shots.

JoeyL: Yes, right now I use a Canon 5D and mainly prime lenses.

Strobist: When did you realize that you had an eye that was very different from that of most people your age (or any age, actually?)

JoeyL: I don't think what I do is really that complicated, it's more of a conscious thought as to making what is already there work. And that only takes a lot of messing up to develop, so I guess when I made enough mistakes.

Strobist: Mistakes are cool. They lead to more interesting successes. You have a lot going on in your photos -- moment. environment, light, action -- what is your creative process? Where do you start when you are building an idea of a photo in your head?

JoeyL: Are you talking about my commercial pictures?

Strobist: Any pictures...

JoeyL: Well, for the more photojournalistic photographs I have, such as pictures from India, it's usually finding a unique spot and waiting for the right person to appear. Or finding the right person to appear and get to know them enough that they will make a picture with you.

You have to pay attention to the wave of the environment and go with the flow. It's different for the more setup things I do, where I may pitch an absolutley ridiculous idea to a magazine or record label and see if they trust me enough to make it work. Then I have to figure out how to make it work myself.

Strobist: So, you'll throw something out there that you have yet to figure out how to do? Ballsy. Do you worry when they accept it?

JoeyL: Hahaha -- exactly, but it's the best way to force yourself to do new and creative things and get unique shots. I'm sick of pictures of bands standing in an alleyway with tough looks on their faces. I'd much rather dress them up as knights and have them scale a wall or something, it's kind of interesting.

Strobist: You do not realize just how far ahead of the pack an attitude like that puts you. Most guys are like, "If it makes money, let's keep doing it until it stops making money." End result: The death of creativity.

You also have a unique position as a pro shooter in that you are on the leading edge of the 18-34 demo that most companies covet. Do you think that gives you a perspective that many professionals lack?

JoeyL: I think it keeps me sane, more than anything.

Strobist: Let's talk about your light for a minute. You mention you use a lot of speedlights -- bare and hard, it looks like -- do you prefer them over the bigger strobes?

JoeyL: Well, I prefer bringing them through an airport! It's true I usually use them bare and hard. But I also make a lot of devices for them myself like soft boxes made of cardboard, tin foil, and a bed sheet I cut up and stole from a hotel room. I do rent strobes from time to time, but usually I want to mix up what I'm doing and change things.

Strobist: That's a great way to go. Far more liberating than $15k worth of studio lights and hi-power cords running everywhere. When you are approaching a shot, say a commercial concept, do you design the light early in the process? You photos have a definite "look," so I would imagine that people are coming to you in part because of that signature style you can create.

JoeyL: Yes, and also because I have a tendency to break a lot of stuff! If I am planning a commercial shoot the light is usually figured out in advance, yes. But if it's not working I usually mix it up and do something completely different on the fly.

Strobist: Your stuff looks effortless and natural, but you did not get to that point by accident. It takes a lot of work and honing of your skills and craft. What photographers have you used as compass points and mentors? Have you assisted for anyone?

JoeyL: I'm more inspired by movie lighting and a cinematic look, where you put lights where the sun or light sources would actually be, and light for the whole set.

Strobist: Tough to do with speedlights sometimes. But agreed, the movie guys are the best lighting folks in the world. What is your favorite movie, light-wise?

JoeyL: My favourite movie is Baraka, but it doesn't really have any setup lighting at all. So I'd have to go with modern music videos and things like that.

Strobist: Baraka rocks. I have it quicktimed on my Macbook. Amazing movie, almost no words. Does that make you wanna go all Ron Fricke and do stuff like time-lapse still photo video?

JoeyL: It makes me want to go chill in India again. Which I'm doing this October for a month -- India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Strobist: Is it tied to any project, or are you just paying yourself back a little?

JoeyL: The only project for this is to build my photojournalism portfolio, so I can get more jobs doing that. I really like dangerous places and war photography. I was supposed to go to Afghanistan this year but it got cancelled because of the new Taliban threats against foreign nationals.

Strobist: Yeah, and plus if you die before age 20, just think how famous you'd be THEN...

JoeyL: I'd be pretty content with my life either way. But what I really want to do is to be able to afford about 100 cameras and put them all in a circle, take one exposure at the same time, and make an animation of the camera motion.

Strobist: Looking ahead 10 years, what would you want to be doing? More of the stuff you are doing now? A book? Films? I mean you probably have friends that work at the mall -- your head must explode just thinking about your path sometimes.

JoeyL: Well I am doing music videos now, (I've done two.) So I want to slowly ooze more into film and feature film. It would be cool to come out with a book of stuff but I don't think I'm ready yet. I'm not really at the level I want to be at yet.

Strobist: Could you let go and let a cinematographer do his or her thing, or would you be tough to shoot for?

JoeyL: I have great trust in people and would want to be a director instead of a cinematographer.

Strobist: There is a lot of life in your photos. How do you coax that out of your subjects? (I love the yelling stuff in the behind the scenes video on your site.) Do you think your age is an advantage or a disadvantage in a situation like that? Do people try harder with you, or do thay make you prove yourself to them?

JoeyL: Well, on a shoot I like to interact with the people as best I can, such as showing them pictures as the shoot progresses, sketches of what is going to happen. It's hard to convince people because I look like some young sketch so I request that bands see my website before the shoot, for example.

For photographs from the streets, such as the homeless series, I know all those guys and all their stories, so the pictures come after when there is more of a connection. I don't think the pictures would turn out any good unless I was interested in their life.

Strobist: Some of your stuff looks incredibly realistic, and yet highly stylized. The fight photos you have in your website could almost be a snuff film. Is that real blood?

JoeyL: I made it out of food coloring, water, corn syrup and sugar. It tasted delicious!

Strobist: Low-budget SFX rocks. Was that your idea, or a commercial concept?

JoeyL: That was my idea. The pictures are for the band Protest the Hero to advertise a tour they did in Japan.

Strobist: They must have eaten that up in Japan.

JoeyL: They had a different sound in earlier albums and broke into something new, so I thought what better way to show this than beating the shit out of each other.

Strobist: What did they think of the photos?

JoeyL: They loved them, and they are the type of guys that don't really care for photoshoots. and their manager has them on his wall.

Strobist: I loved a recent "fan letter of the week" on your blog, where someone called you basically a product of "matrix metering + Photohop." I laughed out loud. Do people seriously not get that PS is such a part of the process now? Do you do a lot of your own post work in Photoshop, or do you have minions for that?

JoeyL: Haha yeah, it's kind of bad of me to only post the bad 'fan mails' because I get so many good ones. But I think it's also important to show people these because a lot of photographers read that and get similar e-mails. And yes, I do all my own post work. So instead of hiding it and being scared of these e-mails it's kind of hilarious to post them and see how ridiculous they are.

Strobist: It helps to be comfy with who you are and what you are doing. You and Dave Hill (out of Nashville) are working the post process in a really cool way. Ever see his stuff?

JoeyL: Yeah, he shoots for the same magazine that I do sometimes. (Alternative Press) He had the cover last month and I got it this month. He does really cool stuff!

Strobist: All over the world, digital cameras and cheap computers are opening up the process to millions of young, hyper-creative photogs. If you could talk to a roomful of a thousand 14-year-old shooters who want to reach a high level of shooting, what would you tell them?

JoeyL: I get e-mails from a lot of people even younger than me and it's always nice to see that because I used to do the same thing to cool photographers I found. My best advice would be to use the internet as a tool and post as much stuff as possible for feedback. But don't become discouraged -- try to develop something fresh and new. I have tons of really really old horrible pictures that are still around the internet but it's important to start somewhere, it doesn't bother me.

Strobist: Yeah, Flickr is a fantastic thing to happen to photography. There is no distance between shooters any more.

JoeyL: Or people who buy my editing dvds/tutorials e-mail me for more info on something specific. It's cool and there's no way I'm going to neglect those e-mails, I like to help people learn because I was, and still am, in the same boat. If I knew everything than there would be no point at being creative and forcing myself to learn new stuff?

Strobist: Hmm... Be careful what you wish for. Strobist has about 150,000 photographers reading it. And I think you just left your front door unlocked because many of them are going to want to see your DVDs.

JoeyL: That's great! I need money, haha! By the by, I have a brand new one coming out in a few days.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: It is out -- more info here.)

Strobist: What's the subject matter?

JoeyL: My whole workflow, from shooting (behind the scenes footage, light diagrams) to editing (on-screen Photoshop capture with narrration.) It's got some actions and textures to use yourself, even how to cook your own textures in the oven to use! I think it's going to have about 2 hours of material when I'm done. Oh, and it's even got a karaoke sing along intro... (haha)

Strobist: Holy crap, you have no idea how many people are gonna jump on that from here. Heck, I am, too. We'll happily fund your trip to India/etc.

JoeyL: Thanks, I hope it goes over well because I was suggested to break lessons up and sell them individually. But I don't think that's such a great idea because my workflow is just one big thing, you know?

Strobist: Absolutely. IMO, people get hung up on one part of the process (the "How to get the Dave Hill Look" thread in our Flickr group has over 300 posts) and then they lose sight of the more holistic view of the process. You are doing a cool thing by keeping them together.

JoeyL: Yeah, and I think people will learn more this way towards something bigger for themselves. For instance, most people might just jump on the grunge lesson and not on the other ones that make the grunge look good. I've had a friend come around and videotape photoshoots so there's a lot of fire, blood and knights!

Strobist: I really cannot wait to see it. Thanks much for taking the time to chat with us. I can't wait to see what else you have in store, picture-wise.

JoeyL: Thanks, feel free to e-mail me about anything but no "Joey Lawrence: 'woaaah!!!'" quotes from the show Blossom

Strobist: Cool, I'll pass that along....


:: Joey Lawrence Photography ::
:: Blog ::
:: Tutorial DVD :: (Soundtrack Content: 100% Cheese)


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

fwah! $305USD for his tutorial DVD. Gotta be good or it's plain expensive? Anyone with experience? Download version is $299USD...

October 15, 2007 12:33 AM  
Blogger David said...

It's good. I am watching it for about the 5th time and I have a full review planned for Friday. If you shoot in this genre, it is very strong stuff.

If you have been racking your brains trying to do PS things in the Dave Hill ilk, he pretty much lays that stuff bare.

(And it is $249 DL til the 21st, FWIW)

October 15, 2007 12:39 AM  
Anonymous infxualbydesign said...

if joey is shooting and processing like this at 17 the world better watch out by the time his thirty,, awesome stuff, makes me wish i got my ass in gear about ten years ago!!

October 15, 2007 12:42 AM  
Blogger Max said...

Yeah, he is cool! :)

October 15, 2007 1:25 AM  
Anonymous Thiago said...

So...will that be the expected price of the Strobist DVD? (gasp!)

October 15, 2007 2:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 17 too...but, differences end there though. For example, he travels the world and I just got my drivers license last week. He also has some really (really, really, really, really, really) amazing photographs in his gallery.

He's both inspirational and depressing at the same time. :)

October 15, 2007 2:52 AM  
Anonymous Marco Togni said...

Obviously I like his photos but I think that some of them are too much photoshopped and fake.

October 15, 2007 3:29 AM  
Anonymous Christopher of Definitive Images said...

I am floored! I first saw this young man's work in American Photo mag and having spent the entire night perusing his site I am a fan most definitely. Its commendable, not because of age but the self assured sense of style and I truly admire his ability to "know" his photograph. I struggle with defining a singular vision for my work, its all over the place. Thanks David for a great interview with a magnificent photographer.

October 15, 2007 3:51 AM  
Anonymous Crewe said...

His work is just incredible, and processing skills are up there for sure. Gotta love an out of the box thinker.

October 15, 2007 4:14 AM  
Blogger Bruko said...

he is AMAZING.

October 15, 2007 4:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That price is a little ridiculous. If you have $250 to spend on a dvd you are probably not looking at making your own snoot softbox etc out of paper.

I say Boo!

October 15, 2007 4:45 AM  
Blogger timbo72 said...

i have a copy of JL's original DVD and it was AWSOME (should probably save for a dictionary), It's a bit of a stretch but i'll be shelling out for this bad boy in a heartbeat...after payday...and i gotta pay my phone bill.

October 15, 2007 5:20 AM  
Anonymous Alex said...

I picked up his last DVD and to be honest for $30~ was really pushing it. I hope that this DVD has alot more content to warrant the extra money as that's getting a little steep.

But off that subject! Joey is incredible and is always killing it over at

October 15, 2007 6:02 AM  
Anonymous Nemez said...

Uh, just 18 months of photographic experience... wow. I have to move on I've almost wasted half that time yet and I'm far (far, far...far....) from having half his success! hehe

Anyway, I don't think I'll buy that DVD (sure it is good!), I think I can find almost everything for free on the internet instead, then it is only matter of experimenting, mixing techniques and see what comes out. Just avoid to get stuck with someone's style.

October 15, 2007 6:12 AM  
Anonymous Ralph said...

Mmmh... another photographer with a wanted vignetting effect in his pictures. Can someone explain this to me? It is obviously some digital photomanipulation which definitely looks nice. Is there a real reason for this effect? Do I have to do the same with my pics now? Is there any magic involved? Or just an added layer with some dark corners?

October 15, 2007 7:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very cool interview ! That guy rocks ! No questions left open (for me at least). Looking forward to the DVD review. Must be cool stuff, although not in my price range.


October 15, 2007 8:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been watching JoeyL for the last 6 months. He is incredible!! Thank you for doing this interview.

October 15, 2007 9:15 AM  
Blogger vunzvraga said...

hi there.
By reading this post I would also like to introduce a Slovenian fella' that is quite as good as Joey. See 4yourself:

he is slightly above 18 :)

October 15, 2007 9:17 AM  
Anonymous Emile Bremmer said...

Incredible especially at 17! I was wasting my time playing computer games at 17. On the plus side nobody beats me at a racing sim game ...

I'm secretly still hoping our legs are being pulled and that this turns out to be a 40 year old veteran commercial shooter :-P ... or maybe i just need to come to terms with the fact that some people are just gifted from birth (and take some inspiration from his photos :-P)

October 15, 2007 10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The $250 price point is a bit high...seems like it'd be a better price for the Strobist Community. I'm not trying to be cheap...I just have to pay for my Student loan this month.

October 15, 2007 10:19 AM  
Blogger matt moran said...

Yeah, $250 is crazy. What's going to make my pictures better, watching a DVD or buying a new flash w/ slave, stand, umbrella, gels, spare batteries....?

I don't even own photoshop. Call me low budget, or just call me old, but I'd kind of like to make good pictures without a lot of post-processing.

October 15, 2007 10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That price is INSANE! I loved the interview that David did, and I really do like JL's work, but to charge people who want to learn about photography that much money for a disc is CRAZY! And it goes against the strobist philosophy, and that of JL himself ("I like to help people learn because I was, and still am, in the same boat"). I guess you just believe in helping people who can shell out 10+ times the cost of your average DVD disc. are a talented photographer, but a major punk for screwing people who want to learn out of big bucks for a simple DVD disc. I am up for helping most people, and I certainly don't mind charging a reasonable fee for a service, but if you ever come my way and need a little help, you better bring you wallet!!!!!

October 15, 2007 10:47 AM  
Anonymous Eric said...

If you can benefit knowing how to do what he obviously knows how to do very well, $250 is *****very***** cheap IMHO. I think we get spoiled around here with it being all free but knowledge has more value than equipment does.

Chistopher of Definitive Images said he is still struggling to find a singlular vision. Getting a new kit to have another light will not give you that. Nor will this disc IMHO but I bet it would help you more than buying another piece of gear if this is the kind of stuff you want to do.

October 15, 2007 11:10 AM  
Blogger Arch said...

$250 is not a ridiculous price for laying bare information that has taken him countless hours to hone.

There is a lot that goes into something like a tutorial DVD, beyond the obvious like production and pressing expenses. If you don't want it, don't buy it - but don't call Joey a punk for it.

For example, a lot of clients call a $500 session stupidly expensive, but if you come about your price logically and fairly, including your CODB, it's not bad. Maybe even cheap, depending on the circumstances.

Props to Joey for amazing work. I've been following him for a few months. It helps that he shoots amazing bands like Protest the Hero.

October 15, 2007 11:50 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I have to say $250 is a lot cheaper than a lot of clinics would be. You get to keep it forever, and probably would absorb the material better than sitting in a classroom. Good on him for recognizing the value of his talents, and time.

October 15, 2007 12:29 PM  
Blogger ExNihilo said...

Totally freaking awesome. I love JL. Go young photographers. David, this is exactly the kind of article I love - keep it coming.

October 15, 2007 1:37 PM  
Blogger LERtastic said...

I have been following JoeyL's progress for the past couple years on (with much jealousy I might add), I just want to make a note that he was cranking out AMAZING photos long before he had access to a DSLR. Knowing how to use photoshop like he does is invaluable. My friend got the dvd, and I gotta say, it's incredible. Small things that I will be using now to tweak my editing process. Some may not like the "super-processed" look, but it's making him killer money and allowing him to travel the world, that's gotta count for something.

October 15, 2007 2:43 PM  
Blogger jim said...

Ive been watchin this fellas ste for an age and remember emailing a link for his site to a lot of my colleagues with the subject line "we're all fucked"
Awesome stuff, and you have to respect the fact that even without the obvious post work, he has eyes that see differently from most and a head full of great ideas that his agents (!) sell on his behalf.
Any griping about his use of PS is just jealousy. If you've a style that you can sell then you're working for a living doing what you love, which is always always cool.
Many thanks david - nice interview.

October 15, 2007 3:00 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

He made it to this years Eddie Adams Workshop, 1 of the 100 chosen out of thousands all over the world. And that was just on the strength of his journalsim work, which is minimally processed. He's a force.

October 15, 2007 3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just try asking Dave Hill or Jill Greenberg for their workflow and hear the laugh bellowing across the nation. They won't help you one bit. Lighting, yes Dave did that, Photoshop tips, no way!
I do not think $250 is too much for a start to finish tutorial on that style of amazing work.
Kudos to JoeyL


October 15, 2007 5:25 PM  
Blogger AJ said...

Maybe in the "professional tutorial material" category, $300 is a fair asking price.

But when I hear "DVD" I think less than $30. Speaking as a hobbyist, I can find better things to put $300 towards, like a new lens or more lighting gear.

October 15, 2007 5:29 PM  
Blogger Misha said...

One thing i have to say, is I'm not surprised hes doing so good at his age. Heres the reason: he hasn't seen (i'm assuming) higher ed. I'm in second year into getting my BFA & they have been trying to get every one to confirm to the school & its ways. It makes me thing where are my $20K going? i haven't done anything new yet, and my time it taken up so i have less time ti experiment. Maybe this is where Joey has an upper hand, freedom of though & freedom of activity. Like i would love to shoot with strobes for a week with nothing but my idea that i have to follow, but my B&W teacher says he wants nothing but available light.

Finally in the words of some guy, "Go big or go home."

October 15, 2007 5:32 PM  
Blogger JT said...

I would assume $250 is exactly the price point smart business minds have determined will make for the most profitable venture. I sure like his work and would love to learn what he has to say. At that price lots of people will buy it. I won't.

October 15, 2007 5:34 PM  
Blogger Matt Greer said...

Just got back from the magazine store. Saw a cover photo that looked familiar. Sure enough, it was Mr. Lawrence's. Cover of Alternative Press Magazine of the band "Every Time I Die". Cool stuff.

I love these coincidences: learn about a photog one night, see his stuff published the next day.

October 15, 2007 5:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just downloading his tutorial now. It has taken nearly 7 hourts to download but hey who cares!

It is embarrassing (in a good way) that I as a 36 year old latecomer admire/envy this 17 year old.

Great Stuff!


October 15, 2007 6:40 PM  
Anonymous Ben said...

Someone just needs to get the SmartFlix guys to carry this DVD. Then you can rent it for $9.99.

They've got the full Dean Collins lighting set already.

October 15, 2007 10:00 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

I saw his photo on the cover of Alternative Press (I had a photo in there as well this month so I was checking out the issue) and tried looking up info on him on google to no avail. Then today I see this posted and a story on A Photo Editor ( about him as well. Talk about a coincidence!

October 15, 2007 10:30 PM  
Blogger JD Anderson said...

I've been watching him at dpchallenge for several years. He is truly talented. I teach Photoshop in Colorado Springs and it takes a great deal of effort just to put one lesson together for one night's presentation/discussion. $250 is cheap...

JD Anderson

October 15, 2007 10:54 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I downloaded his tutorial and watched most of it. It's really really straight forward stuff. I feel dumb for not being able to figure it out on my own. The secret: layers.

October 15, 2007 11:11 PM  
Blogger aimee / greeblemonkey said...

Insanely impressed with this young lad. And I call him a young lad because he has more talent and creativity in his pinky than my whole 37 year old body so it makes me feel better to call him that. Thanks for the interview!

October 15, 2007 11:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What ever happened to a site that we where hear to learn. spending $250 dollars on a DVD is sad!

I loved the fact that I could come to Strobist and learn without costing me my next week check.

October 15, 2007 11:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for posting the interview. i thought it was a good read. this kid is really making some waves and this is just the beginning. scary...

i do think $250 for a DVD is insane. on the other hand, i would pay that for one of his classes.

October 16, 2007 12:05 AM  
Blogger Deer Old Dad said...

Economics, guys! If for every 1 person finding the DVD worth $300 there are who 9 won't pay more than $30 he comes out ahead than if he priced it at $30. If he sells a few 100 at $300, he's bought himself a few bowls of noodles.

The guy not only has a fine grasp of his craft (which I have to admit regardless of whether I like his style), he's working the business side well, too.

October 16, 2007 12:06 AM  
Blogger partybag said...

Wayyyyyyyyyy too much photoshop and not enough photo.

These are art pieces, not photos.

October 16, 2007 2:31 AM  
Blogger David Vickers said...

$300 for a DVD may seem expensive, but if you are a professional that money is an investment in your potential future earnings - it's not the same as paying $20 for a movie to entertain you.

Sure, if you are a hobbyist, then that's a whole lot of money which may not recoup. But, you should still consider all the costs associated with the production of the DVD - the time spent in preparing, editing, etc.

Give the lad a break - go for it Joey!

October 16, 2007 3:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great interview, nice pics...

could do with more nudity

October 16, 2007 4:09 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

David... Amazing post! You always open my eyes more so and more so each day, and this day was definitely no exception to that rule there... Great interview!

October 16, 2007 5:09 AM  
Blogger Velu said...

Great stuff ! And only 17 ... :-)

250 for the dvd ... is cheap when he reveals ALL !!!
Expensive when he "hides" the essential stuff ...

Any buyers who wants to comment bout the level of "revealness" :)

October 16, 2007 5:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 24 and after viewing his portfolio was ready to sell everything I own on eBay and never pick up a camera again.

Joey is very good at what he does. Maybe it comes naturally, maybe hes a quick learner. Whatever it is, he is still human, and he has shared what he has with the world and for that I'm greatful and now inspired (albeit sad that I am not at his level of creativity).

I now want to look at what I do, and how I can bring myself to a point where I love what I do, and so do others.

Good on you Joey- I think your DVD is a good price. I accept that some think its expensive, but lets face it- David Copperfield isnt about to give up everything he knows for $250...

October 16, 2007 7:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Truly, by definition Avant Guard. I love the fact that he shares. However, him just sharing his photoshop bling rescue for mediocre images, doesn't address much with the other side of the equation, namely Vision. When will someone articulate relationships, references and emotional nuances in a package that I can just apply to my images? Octabanks, ring flashes and layers don't make great images, great visual thinkers do. I can only recommend one book that helps tremendously with getting a handle on where we are and are going creatively. try this, it is a text book, he teaches at Washington University in St. Louis, "Explaining Creativity", by R. Keith Sawyer. Just the chapter on busting myths about creative people is worth it. So think about what we can share to make us think how we See First and then maybe consider that the PS stuff effects are really just visual laxatives. More Visual mojo not PS bling.

October 16, 2007 7:47 AM  
Blogger David said...

I got robbed... I bought what I thought, and was stated on his web site as a DVD. It's just a bunch of
Quicktime movies. The audio codec he uses doses not play on my PC, and can only watch it on my MAC. The audio is off as well, stereo on one clip, mono on the other. Some loud some low.

David the internet and Social Communities are about "Radical Trust" and I trust what strobist brings to the table, but I feel you didn't do your readers of your site justice on this one. I emailed Joey about this issue, still no response back. Now where on his website does it state these are quicktime movies, until you receive your order confirmation. He even says it's a DVD. I guess a DVD to him is something you burn in NERO.

So to David Vickers, and the rest of the bunch who posted comments like "you should still consider all the costs associated with the production of the DVD - the time spent in preparing, editing, etc." well, the cost of these tutorial were not spent in the production of it.

I'll keep everyone posted on this issue and tell you how it was handled.

October 16, 2007 11:30 AM  
Blogger David said...

David, I am sorry that you feel as though you were "robbed" (a rather strong word) because the information was designed to be stored on a DVD (1.5 gigs) as opposed to a DVD TV format.

DVD stands for "digital versatile disc," and many different formats are used on DVDs.

As for the Quicktime/web browser format, Quicktime is a universal video codec, and I would expect that the audio problem might be on your end. Mine played perfectly on my Mac.

As for your "radical trust" comment, I have been studying the material for several days now and find it to be of high value. I have offered nothing but my honest opinion, and I have absolutely no financial ties to the tutorials.

The interface may be a little unusual to you, but the idea of a browser-based multimedia presentation did not surprise me at all.

And, for what it is worth, the "cost" of producing something like this is all of the ime ti takes you to learn it on your own before you even start producing the content.

And he value of the information is depends entirely on who receives it and what they do with it.

I have a detailed review running later this week, and I will note the issue you brought up.

-David Hobby

October 16, 2007 11:51 AM  
Blogger David said...

Thanks David for the reply.

But the term "DVD" is loosely thrown around here. This is not a DVD in any sense, so why say it's a DVD? these are quicktime files, true? Also, Quicktime is not a universal codec, maybe you are thinking of the new H.264 Advanced Video Codec. These tutorials were not encoded in that format.

My gripe is, it was implyed this was a DVD you were purchasing. People commented that the price is reasonable due to the high overhead in producing, and mastering DVD movie. If you knew this was not a true DVD, you should have posted a comment stating so. I belive in supporting an artist and help pay some of the overhead costs in producing a DVD, but this was not what was advertised.

Did anyone, who has a PC, able to play these with the default audio codecs?

October 16, 2007 1:12 PM  
Blogger David said...

And just to point this out. You are correct the information Joey shares might be be worth the money you save in time learning these techniques. But that is not what i bought it for. I'm an Adobe Certified Expert in Photoshop and teach kids photography. I thought this would be a good DVD for them to view and inspire them. The schools media room in not equipped with a MAC to view this on. And installing codecs is out of the question.

You commented "The interface may be a little unusual to you, but the idea of a browser-based multimedia presentation did not surprise me at all." Yes but i bet you would be surprised if you thought you were getting a DVD movie.

Joey should state that this is a " browser-based multimedia presentation, compressed in QuickTime" not hide the fact in his websites sales copy, only to find out this tidbit of information in the order confirmation email. David, you don't see my point on this? Can you show us where on his website it states this information, maybe i missed it, but i doubt it.

As for the robbed comment, the definition of robbed is "to deprive of something due, expected, or desired", and that is what has happened. So sorry for the selection of harsh words, but I stand by them.

October 16, 2007 1:47 PM  
Blogger RootyB said...

If the delivered files normally come on a DVD, I don't think he's done anything wrong.

You assumed that DVD meant you could pop it into your set-top player, and watch from your couch. That's a reasonable assumption for the general public, but let's face it: photographers buying a $300 DVD aren't exactly the general public, and can be expected to be fairly tech-savvy.

That having been said, there should probably be some mention of "system requirements" on the page, before you buy.

October 16, 2007 4:30 PM  
Blogger scottnichol said...

As for the Quicktime/web browser format, Quicktime is a universal video codec, and I would expect that the audio problem might be on your end. Mine played perfectly on my Mac.

when david said that QuickTime is a universal codec, technically this is incorrect. Quicktime is a container file format and inside that file there may be tracks encoded with many different types of video and audio codecs. it is possible that the reader who posted problems hearing the audio just might not have the most up-to-date installation of Quicktime on his PC. this problem could probably be aleviated by running the built-in updater within the QuickTime Player application or visiting the QuickTime Site and getting the latest version.


October 16, 2007 4:39 PM  
Anonymous Damien said...

for the person who stated that he doesn't say it's quicktime...

he has samples of the material on the disc on the site, and it's in quicktime...there you go.

October 16, 2007 4:40 PM  
Blogger Gert Wohlgemuth said...

I honestly have to say I like his pictures and thought 50 - 80$ would be ok for the dvd, but 299$ for a download version is really a little bit to much. It just doesn't fit the strobist approach here, to do lots for cheap.

I'm sure it is good and worth the money for some people, but sadly not for me. But I'm also just an amateur.

October 16, 2007 4:45 PM  
Anonymous David said...

I am very impressed with this young mans work....he has taught himself so much in so little of time.

But what REALLY impresses me is his ability to handle the business of a successful commercial photographer. I would say the hard thing about being a pro is the business....the photography is easy compared the all the marketing, accounting, legal stuff of running a business.

October 16, 2007 9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am all for investing my money in self-education, but I have to agree with the others that at $249.00 it is a "mmmmmm no...", If Joe Mcnally and David Hobby can pull a sub 50 bucks instructional DVD about lighting on location photography -which requires a large crew of assistants, gear, cars and travel, cameras, sound, director,etc- then you easily see in perspective how expensive is a photoshop instructional DVD.

I have to disagree a lot with David when he talks about photoshop as an essential tool, proper lighting, artistic vision, great technical and artistic skills are needed, many photographers on the strobist stream do photos that are impressive -and I would dare to say in the same level of Joey- without the need of photoshop or with 3 minutes post processing in their photos, after all before photoshop there were a great lot number of photographers who ranked to the celestial grade of masters of photography without photoshop... of course this is IMHO.

In all I think Joey is a great photographer and he has a great artistic insight and I wish him the very best!, my only advice is rely less on photoshop and more in technique and artistic vision in the camera, lights, props, physical special FX -fog machines, fake blood, props, that kind of stuff-.

October 16, 2007 9:21 PM  
Blogger lisajulia said...

I am 42 years old, and I am completely blown away by JL's talent. He's also very sweet and extremely humble. Many months ago I emailed him...probably sounding more like a concerned mother than anything else...worrying about how he is handling his fame and all the 'dark' things he sees in his travels. I was quite shocked to receive a very kind me crazy but I still have the email. I hope and pray he's able to keep up with the continued success and fame so that we can enjoy watching him grow and evolve for many, many years to come. His parents must be quite open minded. Kudos to them as well.
I enjoyed the interview very much.
Thank you!

October 16, 2007 10:27 PM  
Blogger tmcman said...

$300 for instructional video is too too much. And this on Strobist where they teach you how to make gobos from cereal boxes and straws you steal from Panera.
John Shaw will tell you tons about PS for $30...
Total Training sells 16 hours of video on 4 DVD's for under $300...

October 16, 2007 11:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't agree. This kid is trying to emulate Dave Hill. He's pretty good at that, though. For example see and (also shown on this page) Hmmmm, too similar? You bet! And as a photo editor I have some concerns about his pictures he calls "photojournalism". I wouldn't hire him, simply because PJ and cloning, dodging, burning, filtering,... do not mix.

October 17, 2007 4:00 AM  
Blogger Doyle said...

I just purchased the tutorial and cant open it. I have a PC and no Mac at my disposal.

Grrrr...I am emailing JL now.

October 17, 2007 9:55 AM  
Blogger Karl said...

Anon - is there something wrong with doing the same type of photo as another photographer? It is not as if Dave Hill has copyrighted the fight club genre of photos. Artists are always taking someone else's idea and putting their spin on it.

That said, I agree that this type of magazine cover photography has no place in photojournalism. Photojournalism ethics are really important to maintain the public's trust in news photography.

IMHO, this kid is a photoshop expert and a good photographer, and he has a great success story that many could learn from.

If you want to buy the DVDs, go for it. But if you want to be a DIY guy, google the heck out of free tutorials on the web, check out the photowalkthrough podcast, and spend hours playing with your image editing software on your own. It will take time, but most DIY stuff does.

October 17, 2007 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll second the comment above about the business acumen. Either JL is a natural or he's got good advisors.

Millions of really good photographers making no money whatsoever (take a look on FlickR).

He's got the marketing nous though and that's what you need in today's business.

October 17, 2007 2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How would you feel if somebody recreates your pictures and got worldwide blog fame for that? Do we celebrate all those photographers who try to recreate Ansel Adam's photographs (with or without a "twist")? The problem in this example is that both pictures are commercial work, Dave's (Hill) for Ghostface Killah, and Joey's for a band called Protest the Hero. Now, imagine if you saw this in a public place next to each other..... But resemblance doesn't end here. Look at the overall "look and feel" thingy when comparing other pictures. Well, the kid's not a modern Mozart of photography. He has to learn to walk before he flies. And there's one little thing called ethics. There's no need to spend $300 on any of Joel's DVDs. You can give $20 or a Corona to Dave Hill and get (almost) all his "secrets" (well, that's how he jokes about his style). But, this whole thing ($300 for a DVD, photoChopping expertise, secrets) simply doesn't fit the Great Strobist Philosophy. Dave Hill or not.

October 17, 2007 5:26 PM  
Blogger Viridian said...

$300 may be good value, but I can't afford it. I'll learn slower but oh well.

He won't be around in 10 years as a photographer. He'll move on. He's already doing music videos, etc. I have seen other photogs with this talent at editing finally feel that simple still photography is too confining.

my .02

October 17, 2007 6:32 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Sorry I haven't purchased the DVD so I can't speak from experience. But those struggling to run the dvd, have you tried using VLC player? It's a free-ware program and seems to work nicely with alot of different formats so maybe give that a try?

October 17, 2007 7:44 PM  
Anonymous Serge said...

This interview is so interesting it makes me curious to find out more about this DVD. I'll certainly have a look at his site to find out more!

October 18, 2007 7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ordered the DVD 12 hours ago, and still have not been sent a link. I'm assuming something is wrong. I've called, and emailed, and nothing.


October 19, 2007 10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's the MTV of photography. All shiny but full of shit.

Chill on the sharpen filter homeboy.

October 19, 2007 10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I really like dangerous places and war photography. I was supposed to go to Afghanistan this year..."

Come on! 17 years old and his parents let him go to "dangerous places" and warzones?
Twice that age is probably more truthful.

October 20, 2007 5:41 AM  
Blogger Shannon said...

Good movie, I am 19. I like it very much.
You have really nice information here. Very informative and useful for viewer

Chat Place

October 21, 2007 1:51 AM  
Blogger Jason Carnes said...

I think 300 dollars is reasonable. In fact, I might call that cheap for what knowledge you are getting access too. He is teaching you how he post-processes images, it is HIS style. It is this same style that gets him all those "noodles". It is the same style that lets him travel around the world and get so many gigs.

People who complain about too much post processing, usually can't do it that well to begin with. If his clients like that look and he can do it, more power to him.

Typical Photography Class: 180+
Typical Photography Workshop: 1200+
Master "Successful" Photographer sharing his style, and showing you HOW do reproduce it: Priceless

October 24, 2007 12:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I refuse to chime in on the hate that has already been spouted, quite frankly my hat is off to anyone this bad at photography and making a living. I am 10x the photographer after 1.4 million images of digital and published in everything from Conde Nast to the NY Post, wireimage and WSJ and I bet I don't make 1% of what this guy makes off his DVD's.

Nobody has even offered me afghanistan.

Kudos to him.

October 24, 2007 9:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i great magician never gives his secrets away - so either he hasent or hes just killed himself off. feel for dave....

October 25, 2007 5:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't see this link in the comments above, so thought I would share. JoeyL has been on DPReview for a while and has many of his images posted:
If you, like me, want to see his birth as a photog, his images are a clue. No doubt that his "early" shows he has both a good eye for composition and light, even way back:)

October 30, 2007 4:37 PM  
Anonymous dansig said...

I had the pleasure of meeting Joey at a photography workshop in Germany a year ago when he was barely 16 years old, he was very talented then and just got his 5D as did I.
I learned more from watching him work than I did from the workshop, when we went out on the town I left my camera at the hotel because I'd rather spend my time watching Joey work than wasting it trying to shoot pictures.
the way Joey aproached people and got them to pose was hilarious, he got a preast to pose in a bar, he got a couple of teenage girls to follow him in to a dark alley and pose on top of a dumpster and many other things that would be impossible for us older photographers...
what sane 15 year old girl would follow a 35 year old man into a dark alley ? but it´s ok to follow a 16 year old boy ;)

all I can say is good work Joey and it's been a pleasure knowing you.

December 17, 2007 7:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So many people are complaining about the price of the dvd, it's not the dvd or production costs you're paying for, it's his intellectual property. I'm in university right now and I have textbooks that hit the $200 mark.

He sold himself well, people are obviously impressed with his work and people are buying his dvd at $300, why would he lower it? That's just good business.

January 09, 2008 6:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey all...he's good, but he's not 17...he's actually 87 therefore he's had quite a bit of time to develop his eye. Just check his wikipedia page.

February 11, 2008 12:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i've searched and searched to see could I prove this guy was not 17. this is just insane, i'm 23 i've been photographing since i was 17 and am no way as together as this guy....god im know he's somewhat of an inspiration, but i don't fancy tackling the world with that guy out there..:)

May 18, 2008 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think his portraits look great. i don't really understand the hate, it just sound like a lot of insecure/bitter photographers.

either way, "copying" is done by everyone. hell, the majority of the strobist community on flickr are second rate copies of Mr. David Hobby. And the exceptional few - first rate copies of David Hobby. (I'm being sarcastic, and I'm sure Mr. Hobby took a little bit from other photogs along the way - it's just how things work, it's how people learn and evolve.)

July 21, 2008 7:48 AM  
Blogger Jakob said...

I checked out the DVD and I think it has some good inspirational value (at least for me). I don´t really see it as a tutorial and I think people would be disappointed if they expect some secrets revealed about photographing or post processing. As far as I can see this kid is a creative guy with a good eye for developing ideas in composition, lighting and post processing. So as a documentary I find this quite interesting (I would have liked to see more on-the-shoot-videos though), but as a tutorial I think it has relatively little to offer in the sense that the techniques used are actually very simple and probably used already by most photographer who use photoshop to some extend.

The DVD shows that it's all about being creative, experiment and try out your ideas. So is he giving aways his secrets to allow any average photographer to rise to the stars? - surely not. But what he is showing is how he works which might inspire other photographers.

September 14, 2008 6:00 AM  
Blogger Harold said...

The challenge is often to separate the style from the creativity. Each person has a unique viewpoint and it's better to develop that than to concentrate on derivative works. If you end up with a similar look, fine, but at least you aren't just saying "me too"

October 18, 2008 11:45 AM  

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