A Studio Portrait with Lensbaby’s Edge 80 Optic

You want to know the secret to creating a great image? Being able to pre-visualize the image in your head before you ever begin. You begin at the end, then open yourself to the creative process as you work towards that vision.

Many photographers struggle with creativity in the studio. It’s difficult to find the organic inspiration you find working on location. Working in a studio with professional lighting gear can be intimidating and challenging. Lensbaby optics are a wonderful way to infuse a creative spark.

Before my Edge 80 arrived, I had already decided to create a turn of the century, vintage inspired portrait. My friend Alain from Oblique Foto, suggested model Rio Vance, who has a Parisian look reminding me of Audrey Tautou from the movie Amelie. I could already see the image in my head.

The Edge 80 is unique in the Lesnbaby lineup because it’s been optically corrected across the lens— a flat field optic with a plane of focus that mimics a view camera or tilt shift lens. Traditional Lensbaby optics feature a sweet spot of sharp focus with blurred edges.

lensbaby-edge-80-portrait-series

One of my favorite quotes by Alfred Stieglitz is “Technically perfect, pictorially rotten”. Meaning an image can be technically perfect, but it lacks that special something. For storytellers it’s about an authentic mood and feel. And what better way than with the unique smeary blur of a Lensbaby! Really, you ask? Are you afraid of the blur? Don’t be!

Embrace the blur! Close your eyes and think of a favorite memory. Is it in perfect focus? There’s a reason dream sequences in movies are always blurry. It’s important to capture a feeling, a mood. And Lensbaby optics are unique in their ability to render this elusive and creative quality to an image. But how would this translate to a portrait shot in the studio? Continue Reading →

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Living the Dream – Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp

Who hasn’t dreamed of being a rock star? The dream where you’re the cool guy with long hair, tight leather pants, traveling the world, playing sold-out arenas. In-your-face rock, as thousands of fans lift their hands in the universal sign of rock, screaming at the top of their lungs. Distorted guitars, thunderous bass, monster drums and soaring solos that summon raw, visceral emotion. Taking all the things in life that people love or hate and turning it into something creative and inspiring. Music that inspires love, makes you cry, vent your rage and perhaps even change the world. That’s the dream of rock and roll. Well, that and the girls.

In this dream, you and your friends start a rock band, except your friends are legendary rock stars. Jamming all day and rocking all night. Actually living your rock star dream. Playing alongside musicians who’ve inspired you is a dream come true and the experience of a lifetime. An experience that could only happen at Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy Camp in Las Vegas.

“Some people have a hard time explaining rock ‘n’ roll. I don’t think anyone can really explain rock ‘n’ roll. Maybe Pete Townshend, but that’s okay. Rock ‘n’ roll is a lifestyle and a way of thinking… and it’s not about money and popularity. Although, some money would be nice. But it’s a voice that says, “Here I am… and fuck you if you can’t understand me.” And one of these people is gonna save the world. And that means that rock ‘n’ roll can save the world… all of us together. And the chicks are great. But what it all comes down to is that thing. The indefinable thing when people catch something in your music.” (Almost Famous)

Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy Camp is the love child of David Fishof, every bit as legendary as the rockstars headlining Rock Camp. Why Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy Camp? Because Sex, Drugs, Rock ‘N’ Roll Camp would be illegal! It’s the rock star experience (without the illegal stuff). You hang out, practice, eat, learn, share and perform together. It’s a family, complete with the best roadies and sound crew in the business.  Continue Reading →

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  • Thank you for sharing this with me Randy! What an incredible journey.

    It’s kind of funny to me that you went from one high risk career to another. That truly is rock and roll man. Keep up the great work and keep on with posts like this. I was impressed and really felt like I was there!ReplyCancel

  • Kind of funny or clinically insane! I’m not sure which! Thanks for dropping by Tommy and leaving a comment. Greatly appreciated brother! :) ReplyCancel

  • Tim Taylor

    Great stuff Randy! I wish we could do that again so much fun and THANK YOU! So glad you made that comment on facebook.ReplyCancel

  • You’re very welcome Tim, but the bulk of the thanks go to you my friend! None of this would of happened without your passion and friendship. And the Facebook comment? Yes, ask anyone at Rock Camp who had more fun, me or you and everyone will say Tim! Did I get to play on stage with Sammy Hagar? NO! Did I play with Steve Vai, or Billy Sheehan or Vic Johnson or Joe Vitale or David “Bro” Lauser or any of the other legendary musicians there? NO! So, you mister, had the most fun of all! So glad I was there to document the week and live vicariously through you! :) ReplyCancel

  • Jamie Bosworth

    Epic, Randy… heart and soul poured out all over the world here… nicely done!ReplyCancel

Behind the Scenes of Rylander Law’s Courtroom Battle

“One does not think during creative work, any more than one thinks when driving a car. But one has a background of years — learning, unlearning, success, failure, dreaming, thinking, experience, all this – then the moment of creation, the focusing of all into the moment” – Edward Weston

Close your eyes and imagine the website for a law firm. Not just any law firm, but one that specializes in intellectual property, copyright and patent law. You’re probably imagining a lot of leather-bound books behind a guy in an Armani suit, sitting on the edge of his desk, arms crossed and looking very serious. Exactly what Kurt Rylander did NOT want for his website. Well, except maybe the serious looking part.

Business owners rely on creative professionals to give them a competitive edge. To create visual elements that convey their identity, corporate culture or simply tell their story. Kurt turned to the talents of web designer Don Elliott and his team of creative professionals. They reached out to see if I was interested in bringing my talents to the project.

We tossed out everything and started from ground zero. Kurt challenged us to do something completely different. He knew what he wanted, but wasn’t sure it was possible. He wanted a full on courtroom brawl, caught mid-action, with each team member engaged in an activity that reflected their real-life extracurricular disciplines. Ju-Jitsu, boxing and rock climbing. Oh, and there had to be a bar in the scene. The literal and symbolic bar seperating the spectators in a courtroom from the lawyers, judge and jury, that all lawyers must pass before they are allowed to practice law.

Creativity is a process. It’s not something you can conjure by willing it to happen. We had no idea how difficult it was going to be, what would happen along the way or that it would take nearly a year to complete. But we knew it was something we were uniquely qualified to do and never looked back.

The first thing we had to figure out was the look and feel of the image. The only way to really pull this off was to use a technique called compositing. Photograph the courtroom without anyone in it, then photograph all the elements that would appear in the image and combine them in such a way to give the illusion it was all captured as a single image.

Joel Grimes is one of the most widely recognized masters of photographic composites. I spent a lot of time researching how he creates his amazing illusions and came away inspired that we could pull this off. Kurt threw out another name and I laughed. Dave Hill.

Dave’s an icon in the industry. A trend-setting photographer who’s style is highly sought after and often debated. Everyone wants to create images that look like his. Do a search for his name and you’ll see countless forums debating what software or post production technique he uses to achieve his look. No one knows but Dave himself. What I do know is that regardless of his post production techniques, his images are impeccably lit and masterfully created. Dave Hill’s Adventure Series Exposed clearly shows the amount of post-production that goes into every composite series.

Rather than try and figure out how to be Dave Hill, I decided to be inspired and create my own look. And I must have succeeded because I was recently asked by a photographer what plug-in I used to create the look in this image. I laughed. Not to be mean, but simply because it was a variety of things. Ultimately, as in Dave Hill’s work, it’s the lighting that really makes it work, as well as a good story. It’s got to pull you in and engage you or you’ll never stop to notice. And it’s simply a lot of work, utilizing every incantation, chant and trick I’ve learned over the past 20 years of being a professional photographer.

How much work is involved in creating composite images like this? Dave’s Adventure Series should give you some insight, but here is a great look into the creative process behind Caleb Kuhl’s Wild West Shoot. It’s exhausting. And totally inspiring!

Initially, our team drew inspiration from Italian Renaissance artist Raphael’s famous fresco, School of Athens. Kurt suggested that we consider the Federal Courtroom in Tacoma Washington. It’s a round, showcase courtroom with marble walls and a perfect setting for our composite.

School of Athens by RaphaelContinue Reading →

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  • Wonderful, well written article about the process to bring your vision to life. Most people have no idea how many hours of work is involved in creating something like this. Did you happen to track your total time? I imagine the time involved far outweighs the compensation.ReplyCancel

  • Thanks Colleen! Yes, that is why it took me so long to write up this post. Honestly, I could have written an article twice as long, but had to focus on being concise. I was tracking my time, but once the months started flying by, I gave up. It became something all of us were doing for street cred. My hope was that it would inspire similar work.ReplyCancel

  • Great article Randy! This was a really fun and challenging project. You were amazing to work with (as usual) and the result was everything we could have hoped for. Cheers!ReplyCancel

  • Thanks Don! You, more than anyone, know how much time, effort and thought went into pulling this one off successfully. Great team effort!ReplyCancel

Website Defender – Taking Care of Business

Cyber security issues are a growing threat for small business and large companies. Ask anyone who does this professionally and they’ll tell you it’s not a matter of if you’ll be be attacked, but when. That’s a pretty sobering thought.

My first post was titled “The Blank Canvas” in 2005. So much has happened in 7 years and this blog reflects that journey. I’d hate to see it destroyed overnight by malicious hackers. There’s been quite a few times over the years I’ve nearly done that myself.

In 2005, the biggest decision was whether to use WordPress or Movable Type. At the time, blogs weren’t as robust as they are today. People used them for personal online diaries or on websites as a way to keep customers engaged about company news. Websites were slow to change and everyone was scrambling for a way to deliver fresh content. WordPress fit that niche perfectly.

WordPress is free— supported, built and transformed by an army of passionate, dedicated volunteers. Today, over 60 million people are using WordPress. It’s amazing that WordPress has become so powerful and easy to use it’s blurred the line between blogs and websites. And that is what this post is all about. Protecting your WordPress blog and website.

What can you do to protect your site? Wouldn’t it be great to stay focused on creating great content and engaging clients in an increasingly competitive marketplace? Fortunately for you, I’ve got some great tips and resources to help.

Randy’s Top 5 Tips to Protect Your WordPress Site

Continue Reading →

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  • This is EXCELLENT info Randy. Thanks so much for your effort in putting all of this together and sharing it. I’ve already put some of it to use.ReplyCancel

Professional Portrait and Headshot Promotion

Remember the old Vidal Sassoon ads from the 80′s? “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good!” Nothing could be more true when it comes to a professional portrait. Also called headshots, although this term seems to be used more by actors and models.

In March, I became a studio owner for the first time in over a decade. The time was right to have a creative space where I could put my lighting skills to work regardless of the weather. Don’t get me wrong, outdoor portraits are still my favorite, but there will always be a place for studio portraits, especially for business.

If your portrait doesn’t project the image you want, now is the perfect time to do it right. A new professional portrait is perfect for Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, brochures, newsletters, annual reports, displays, trade shows, email signatures and your website.

Photo by Randy Kepple Photographs

Here are the details (also known as the fine print):
• Sessions last 30-40 minutes.
• Sessions take place at your location.
• Up to 10 images in an online gallery. You select your favorite.
• Includes (1) high resolution retouched image in color and black and white.
• Additional, retouched images can be purchased for $50.
• Print license for marketing and web.
• Limited to availability

Take advantage of this timely offer for a professional portrait by reserving your session today.

Contact RANDY KEPPLE PHOTOGRAPHS using the contact link at the top of the page.

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