photo of the day

How did he light this picture?

This January I'm devoting much of my time to teaching photographers the art of photographic lighting.


If you'd like to learn how this advertising image for Wells Fargo was created and much more, sign up now at and you'll be added to our list and be among the first to learn how to use photographic lighting to make incredible images.

Happy New Year!

Always dream big

Seven Photo Tips: The Step-by-Step Way To Create Amazing Pictures

Sometimes, the first step is the most difficult one to take when it comes to getting started in photography. Here are seven steps to help guide you through your journey in creating amazing pictures.

Step 1: The Idea

Everything starts with a big idea. As soon as the idea comes write it down right away. Computers and other devices are great, but I prefer putting pen to paper. Maybe I'm old fashion but this seems to work the best for me. Give it a try and see how it works for you. Start with the idea and define it by writing it down. 

Step 2: Research

Today, it's easier than ever before to do research. I used to keep countless books of tear sheets from old magazines as research material, but today, we have Pinterest to make our lives easier Use Pinterest to make inspirations boards and do conduct your research.  After you write down your idea, dive into research. 

Step 3: The Sketch

I'm no Picasso, but I am a visual person. Sketching out my ideas after doing the research has always helped me in visualizing how I will bring my vision to life. In advertising assignments, one of the first things clients send sketches or some type of visual board. The sketch helps you see things in a clear way and visualize the image for the first time in a tangible manner. It also helps me when you need to share your idea with your team. I can share an idea with my team but they may have a different visual in their mind. When I show and tell it helps my team come together as a unit to bring the vision to life.

Step 4:  Pre-Production

Pre-production is probably the most important aspects of any photo shoot, and the bigger the shoot, the more important pre-production is. Whenever I mention this in a seminar or workshop someone always says "what is pre-production?" Pre-production is the process of producing your photo shoot or putting the shot together. You have your idea, you've done your research, you have a sketch and now it's time to figure out all the elements come together to make your shoot a success. The big elements are easy to see, but it's the small details that can often become overlooked and make or break a photo shoot. Pre-production is the key to having a fantastic shoot, so make sure you go over every element and mentally walk through the steps to bring your vision to life. The more time you spend producing, the better things will be on your shoot day. If you're shooting a model, what color will her nails be? If you're shooting on a beach, how will you change lenses if it's windy? Try to think of every small detail you can and plan for your success. A key element to always have is a call sheet. No matter how big or small this will keep you from going crazy when you move to the next step.

Step 5: Taking Your Picture

This is the fun part, which is why so many people want to start here, but if you skip the steps before this and jump into taking a picture you will find yourself in the same place year after year. Great pictures are rarely a mistake. Yes, there are those times when something amazing takes place right in front of your camera, but it happens more often to the photographer who is trained to create great images.

To create amazing pictures, you must think like a movie director because great pictures often tell a story and have a hero. Sometimes the hero is very obvious, like in the image of the Japanese woman in the middle of the bamboo forest. The woman is the hero of the image but the bamboo forest is the supporting cast. In the image of the Washington Monument, the monument is the hero, but the sunrise sets the mood.

Both images were planned. For the model image, I scouted a model from a Japanese agency in Osaka, Japan and had her come to Kyoto, Japan for the shoot. I talked to the makeup artist while I was still in America so we were all clear about the concept before the shoot

. For the image of the monument, I looked up the time for sunrise, went to the location the day before to find my angle and then got up and 4:00 a.m. to take my place and wait for the perfect moment. 

Step 6: Image Selection

I rarely hear people talk about how to select your images these days, but it is a very important step for the photographer looking to advance his or her career. You can take a thousand images, but it takes a trained eye to be able to select the perfect shot to show the world. Here's the tricky part. Sometimes the best image to show is not the best image from your shoot. I know, this sounds confusing, but you only want to show images to fit your brand. This took a long time for me to grasp, but it made the most significant difference in my work.

Step 7: Post Production

Another question I am asked all the time is, "do you retouch your own images?" There are a lot of great photographers who love doing their own retouching, but I am not one of them. The less time in front of a computer means the more time I can spend with a camera in my hands. Knowing when to delegate is an important part of making a great image. Like a great director, you need a great team. The best retouchers are those who spend every waking moment retouching. I send my images to a retoucher with instructions on how I'd like to make adjustments and we go back and forth until I have exactly what I want.

If you'd like to see how these seven steps relates to a shooting a fashion & beauty story, you can get the FREE VIDEO by clicking the link below. Have fun shooting, and always dream big.

The Secret Program That Turns $1 Into $50

In the early 90's I worked as a photo assistant to a big fashion photographer. His studio was in New York City directly across the street from Central Park on 57th street. One day, he informed me that he'd be out for the week taking a photography workshop. I was shocked because this photographer was at the top of his game and shooting for big advertising clients, amazing fashion magazines, and powerful private clients. I asked him why he was taking a course, and I'll never forget what he told me, he said, "Matthew, you should never stop learning. The moment you think you know it all you are done!"

Years later I was interviewing Gregory Hines, the famous tap dancer, and he told me while making the movie White Knights with Mikhail Baryshnikov, that Mikhail would take classes every day to keep sharp and improve your craft. Gregory said, if one of the top dancers in the world is doing this, then I should too, and he started doing the same. 

Today is the last day to take advantage of an incredible photography coaching program, Master Your Lens Course. Registration for this six-week online course ends at midnight tonight and is priced for only $497.00.  After tonight, the master course won't be offered at this price again so take advantage of this incredible deal while you still can.

The six-week course starts tomorrow online at 4:00 pm PST and will help you turn 1 dollar into 50 by learning these photography secrets that will skyrocket your success. ! I look forward to seeing you in class to help you Master Your Lens. To learn more click here.

To register


Always dream big!