If you have not heard about the work of Joey Lawrence, I know that you have seen it. Whether it is from his personal still photography, his commercial still photography, or his music videos, his work and distinctive style is growing in popularity, and rightly so, is being seen everywhere.
At twenty years old he has been shooting professionally for around four years. He is a pioneer in the realm of hyper-realistic photography, lighting, and manipulation. He is completely self-taught and all of the techniques he uses are the result of experimentation, analysis, a lot of hard work, as well as the ability to continuously challenge himself on a regular basis.
While he has a successful commercial side of his business that includes the likes of the Jonas Brothers, 50 Cent and G-Unit, doing shoots for television shows like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and for posters for movies like Twilight, he also has a wide range of personal work that has taken him to places like India and Ethiopia where he spends time living with and capturing the essence of the native people in the region.
Sessions With Joey L is a DVD that is part training video, part one-on-one workshop, and part fireside chat with Joey Lawrence. The purpose of this training is to give you the insight in to the mind and work ethic of a successful 21st Century photographer. The video is around four hours in length and it is broken down into five functional areas.
Lighting Theory is broken down into five parts. In "The Vision," you will see how Joey looks at lighting, and what you can take from his techniques and apply it to your own vision and style. "Lighting Theory – Basic" is focused on fundamental lighting techniques and will help you build a base of understanding for how he does lighting. "Lighting Theory – Advanced" now takes you further into adding more sophisticated techniques adding more professional touches to your images.
"The Necessary Tools" steps back a bit and will show you the different types and brands of equipment that he uses as well as explaining why he made these specific choices which are well thought out and defined. "Modifiers" finishes off this section by examining some of the other equipment that he uses and how they add to his look.
Photo Shoots takes you on location with Joey L. Here you are at the shoot with the author experiencing the interaction with the clientele as it happens. The first is a "Forbes Assignment" where he is shooting a plastic surgeon for Forbes Magazine. This is a great assignment as you watch how the surgeon and his office staff are made comfortable with the process. You will see how things are ad-libbed and how the progression of taking some amazing shots develops.
"Monty Are I CD Artwork" is the shoot for the inner back-cover for the musical group's album Break Through The Silence CD. Later you will see how the work is put together. "Thrillogy Advertisement shoot" shows the behind the scenes poster shoot in Amsterdam for an electronic music party that takes place there every year.
"Model Test Shoot" takes on a job that is not a commercial, but a personal job where he hires a model so that he can add to his portfolio. Here you will see that by providing more depth to your portfolio, you can provide more dimension when presenting your body of work to future clients. This is something that any professional should strive to do. "Strange Familiar" is a shoot of another rock band. This time it is done outdoors in Malibu California where you are taken through a shoot on the beach with the band and you will see how to deal with shooting outdoors in the daylight.
Business Lectures now takes on how he works the business side of photography. When you consider the fact that he spends more time trying to get jobs than he does actually shooting them, you will understand the importance of these lectures. Some of this one-on-one goes back in to how he got into this business and has some really cool footage of him being eaten by a dinosaur when he very young. It takes you all the way to producing professional portfolios by laying them out to give the best impression to your clients.
This section shows how his business started when he was in high school, how he met his first agent, and how things began and continue to grow. Throughout, even though he is becoming more famous, he still works at personal growth and tries to take smaller jobs so as to not get stale. He talks about his lack of formal education, how it affects his ability to get jobs and many other things that really make this feel like personal time with Joey Lawrence.
He also discusses how he builds trust with both those that he is shooting as well as with those who are paying him to shoot. Here you will see techniques on how to make great first impressions, so that right off those who you are shooting will have the confidence to respect what you do, and will follow your lead no matter what the level of their star power. This is especially important if you are just starting out and are twenty years old, but I thing is just as important for anyone who is growing a business. Finally there is a section on various questions that he has been asked about over the years.
Travel begins with a travel section that examines travel in general with an emphasis on his Ethiopia trip. There is a lot to think about when traveling and even more when traveling to a foreign country. Between the hauling of equipment, language differences, variances in customs, and hostilities there is a lot to have to prepare for. This section looks at the complications of keeping things charged, working with lighting, convincing people to let you photograph them, and all of the other things that complicate foreign travel.
The second part is a behind-the-scenes in Ethiopia where you get to actually see film made from the trip. Here you see the conditions that Joey L and his assistant had to deal with, the interactions with the people that they encountered, and the different forms of travel. You also see some of the setups for the shots.
Photoshop finishes off the DVD by examining how he processes the images that you have become familiar with in the prior sections. "Compositing" looks at how he puts together the Monty Am I CD inner cover. "Using Color Curves" finishes up the CD with additional assets the band and management requested for the case and how they were done.
"Strange Familiar – Swapping Skies" takes the shoot from the band and shows how to effectively change out a dull sky with a much more dynamic one. "Experimenting with Blending Modes" again works with the band Monty Am I and compositing a sky from a grey studio shoot background.
"Custom Black and White Conversion" looks at images from the Ethiopia trip to convert the images to black and white using a color image. "Tonal Colorizing" continues the techniques from the prior video to get the best of both color and Black and White. "Fixing Blown Highlights" looks at how to fix a problem of over exposure of an area within an image.
I think that Sessions With Joey L is a phenomenal video with a rare insight into the mind of a working photographer. It takes you from end to end on how he works and how he handles his business, from how he lights to how he shoots, how he runs his business, his personal projects, and how he finishes the product.
Sessions With Joey L is for the person who is looking to take the next step in their professional career and is looking for information on how others handle situations especially working with more famous personalities. It is perfect for someone who does not have that mentor available, but wants to learn more about the business of photography.
What Sessions With Joey L is not is a step-by-step instructional video on how to create the Twilight movie poster, or, for that matter, step-by-step instruction on anything. Nor is it about fancy equipment. It is about taking the tools that you have and seeing how to make better, more informed decisions about your own business and give you ideas on how you can make it grow.
Sessions With Joey L is $299.00 and is available at Sessions With Joey L. Does this price seem expensive? Let's break it down. For around four hours of video, that comes out to $75 per hour. Now, if you were to attend a seminar with Joey Lawrence or just about any professional in a small setting, you would be paying about this same amount or more and you don't get the ability to replay it over and over.
On top of that just ask yourself how much money will you lose if you do get a chance for a lucrative shoot and you mess it up because of your lack of experience in setup, professionalism, and the ability to gain the trust of those who pay the bills? That's not to mention what you can do to learn about securing those jobs. The DVD is available for both Windows and the Mac, and can be downloaded or shipped on physical disk.
If you want to see more on the work of Joey L, you can check out the Sessions site or his personal site Joey Lawrence Fine Art. I have also included a sample below of some of the video that you will see.
If you are willing to invest in yourself and want to gain valuable insight into working in the professional photography business, then I highly recommend Sessions With Joey L.