Nick Campbell is the founder of an iPhone App company called BananaCameraCo, he runs a motion design education site called Greyscalegorilla, talks about the business of creativity on Nickvegas.tv, and speaks to students and creatives about how to be creative and get paid to do what you love. ...And all this came about AFTER he already had his "dream job" as an animator and a photographer making title sequences and TV commercials.
His business(es), all started as complementing side projects to his work as a motion designer under the the simple ideas to "help creatives and creators make cool sh$@" and “as I learn it, so do you.” From this he has developed a number of products and mobile apps all stemming from his core focuses. Everything from fun apps like ShakeItPhoto and CrossProcess that reach a general audience, to Photoshop for Photographers and Vintage Films for Looks reaching amateur and professional photographers, to even more technical industry focused products like HDRI Light Kit Pro and HDRI Studio made specific for the program Cinema 4D used by motion designers.
I had a chance to ask Nick a few questions about how, out of his client and agency work, he developed his own products, started spreading the know-how through blogs and podcasts, and created an effective business model out of it all.
1) You'll never regret working for yourself but you might hate yourself if you never try.
2) Put yourself and your knowledge out there (blogging, podcasts, educating), if people trust you they'll trust your products.
3) Use those interactions to help fuel new ideas and product development
4) Start by branching out from what you're already doing. A successful idea is one that is already working for you.
5) Offering education and functional products not only expands your business it expands the business community, indirectly creating more opportunities for everyone.
Interview With Nick Campbell
A quick rundown of the progression of your work, please.
I graduated from Illinois Institute or Arts in 2005 with one of those degrees that don't mean anything. "Digital Media" or something like that, I didn't take enough design classes. I worked around town a bit and ended up at my dream job at Digital Kitchen animating title sequences and awesome TV commercials with some of the most talented people in the city (world?). I was clearly the worst designer there, but luckily they were willing to take me under their wing and teach me how to be awesome like them.
Meanwhile, in "internet land", I started a photoblog called Greyscalegorilla where I posted a photo per day for about three years. I also started posting Photoshop tutorials to the site for people asking me how I processed my photos. Of course, word got around that I also knew After Effects and Cinema 4D, so I posted tutorials of that, too. Well, it seemed as if there were PLENTY of Photoshop and After Effects tutorials floating around the web, but when it came to Cinema 4D, I was one of only a few. Especially when it came to showing how to use 3D for Motion Graphics and Logo Design instead of flying spaceships and crap like that. The site took off like crazy.
During all this, I also started dabbling in making iPhone apps. At the time, the iPhone app store was new and I wanted in. I made a Polaroid simulator called ShakeItPhoto and it was starting to do pretty well, that was really exciting.
I had a blog that people liked, an iPhone App people liked and a full time job that I liked. Lucky me! But, there was a problem. I didn't have enough time. I decided to leave the full time job and focus full time on the blog and the iPhone apps. It was hard decision, but I had to try it or I would hate myself later.
It seemed as if there were PLENTY of Photoshop and After Effects tutorials floating around the web, but when it came to Cinema 4D, I was one of only a few. Especially when it came to showing how to use 3D for Motion Graphics and Logo Design instead of flying spaceships and crap like that. The site took off like crazy.
What percentage of your work is for clients and what percentage is for personal business and other non-business or more artistic projects?
After I left Digital Kitchen, I have had no clients. All my income has been from my own projects and products. Sometimes I do work for my friends if they need a quick logo animation or something like that. But it's never for money. Always for favors or beer. It's quite liberating actually. I didn't get into this stuff for clients, I got into it to make cool stuff.
Educating others has become a big part of your business model, and you're not just educating people about your own products but offering useful tutorials, open forums with feedback to others learning, etc... Has this helped your business grow? Does this interaction help you come up with new ideas for teaching topics and new product development?
The speaking and educating part has been an exciting part of this year. I get to talk to students and try to help them though this crazy design stuff. There are so many things that I wish people would have told me when I got started in all this. Now, I get to be that guy. It's weird, but fun. As far as being good for business. I think there is an aspect of that. People get to know me though the live show, podcast and speaking gigs. They trust me or at least like what I am saying. Then, when I have something to sell that people think is useful, like an iPhone app or a plugin, they trust me that it's not a peice of crap. Really though, the education thing is fun enough to do separately from selling a bunch of stuff.
People get to know me though the live show, podcast and speaking gigs. They trust me or at least like what I am saying. Then, when I have something to sell that people think is useful, like an iPhone app or a plugin, they trust me that it's not a peice of crap.
With some of your products in mind... Why can slight color variations make such a huge difference visually and emotively?
Color is hugely important in the work I do. When using most software, lights and colors usually default to 100% black or white and most people tend to leave things there. Even in Photoshop, the defaults are 100% black and 100% white. When people make things "Black" or "White" they tend to use these defaults. It almost always makes for a boring and unrealistic design. One thing I talk a lot about is the idea that nothing in real life is 100% black or white. You should always add color and variation to everything you design. Adding slight variations in blacks and whites go a long way to making things more realistic and interesting. This took me a long time to figure out, but it's one of those things that makes a huge difference.
What's coming next for you?
What's next? I hope to continue posting fun or interesting stuff to my blog and to continue making more Photo based iPhone apps. I am also playing around with the idea of brining some of my iPhone Apps to the new Apple App store for use on desktops and laptops. Our CrossProcess app will probably be first out. It will allow you to take any of your digital photos and turn them into photos that look like they were shot on film and processed in the wrong chemicals. It gives them a really cool color and adds a TON of contrast. I'm really excited about that one.
Normal Colors Are For Babies
Pulled from the tag for his product, CrossProcess, the phrase "Normal Colors are For Babies" sums up quite well Nick's career path, i'd say. While many could never think of leaving a dream job, Nick choose to, and ended up supporting himself and a greater community of creatives in process.
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When I found out that one of the photographers that I stalk, I mean uh, follow on twitter wrote a book on the subject of wedding photography, I had to buy it. I really didn’t even think about it. I saw the post that Fine Art Wedding Photography was released, immediately went to amazon on my phone and Jose Villa’s book arrived 48 hours later.
So was it all I expected?
What I expected was a book of some of his favorite images, how he goes about his day and then maybe some pointers. It is a comprehensive book about his whole career. He goes through all of the types of photos he takes during the wedding day, the technical aspects of it (down to his camera settings and film choices), his business practices, marketing, and how to move your business up to the next level. It is much more detailed than I anticipated… to the point that in some instances I thought, “I can’t believe he’s sharing all of this with everyone.”
One thing that I’ve always had a hard time doing is marrying my fine art background to wedding and portrait photography. Jose does just that, and does it beautifully. He taught me to not be afraid of grain or blur… that it can sometimes give life and energy to the images.
i.e. – this shot of the bride and groom dancing (on left). The groom has a bit of motion blur to him, but it shows the energy of what’s really happening.
For this shot, I upped the ISO and lowered the aperture for the low light. I love that the bride and groom have a little motion blur to them but you can still see the great expressions on their faces.
For reception shots he really focuses on capturing emotion. One of my favorite things is to capture those moments that nobody thinks anyone is watching.
The black and white image on the left page is an example of this with the focus on the emotions and reactions to the couple dancing. My take on emotion photography is similar.
Far Left // These ladies have such a different reaction to the dancing going on that it is one of my favorite images and makes me smile every time I see it.
Top Right // With the bride and groom dancing in the foreground, the parents of the bride look on. The mother wipes her tears away.
Bottom Right // The mother of the bride dancing with her new granddaughter-in-law.
I love the sweetness in this image. It takes a simple hug and turns it into a palpable moment between the bride and flower girl.
If you could only have one word to describe Jose Villa’s work I would say it would be elegance. There’s a beauty and sophistication to his images that comes with time and hard work.
One of the little nuggets of information that he gives is sections called “Lessons Learned” where he shares times that he’s made a mistake or two and what he’s learned from it. This gets a big “Hallelujah” in my book that even great photographers like Jose Villa can be real enough to share their mistakes. I applaud him for these little sections and make notes for myself.
During the marketing section he talks about getting featured on blogs and magazines. Most of the publications like to see lots of detail pictures. These are some of my favorite things to photograph because it brings individuality to each wedding. It also shows the bride that you’ve noticed all of her hard work in the small details of her day.
Far Left // Guests grab a glass of champagne after the ceremony
Top Right // Bride putting on her shoes
Bottom Right // Grooms shoes
Some of the other topics that he discusses are the importance of the bridal portrait, bride and groom portraits & family portraits. Here are a few of my favorites from recent weddings.
I think that the book says without actually saying, that there are lots of photographers out there that will create images that are very “now”… but will they stand the test of time? Fine art photography will always be beautiful and will always "wow". No need for gimmicky editing or post effects. No need for quirky props or backdrops. Even though those can still be fun at times, creating your business or selecting a photographer for your wedding that does high-end fine art portraiture will always stand the test of time. You’ll never look back at your photographs and think, “what were we thinking?”
His book is an instant classic for me and a definite “go-to” for inspiration. I will definitely be flipping though it again and again as a refresher and bout of encouragement before all of my weddings.
True wedding photography is a fine art. And Jose Villa is a fabulous artist.
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Want a Copy Signed by Jose Villa? We have three!
Basic rules to be a contestant in a random drawing from the comments:
- - You must leave a comment with either your photography website/blog OR a photographer's site you adore.
- - We'd also like to hear why you think you deserve/want this book.
Contest will run from today, Thursday, May 12th through Thursday, May 19th, 2011. You must be a COLOURlover to be entered (to be able to leave a comment) so register if you need to!
Jose Villa is one of today's most in-demand wedding photographers with his cutting edge style of fine art wedding photography. Fine Art Wedding Photography shows you how to produce the lush, stylized images modern brides love. Complete with lessons learned and camera detail settings, a must have book for every wedding photographer.
Istanbul is in the middle of everything. A symbol of how exchange, migration, condivision and connections are the base of evolution. Blurring the flag-colors of all the countries that have had long relations in Istanbul, The Flags of Istanbul is a project about globalization, nationality, geopolitics, borders and connections, and celebrates the diversity and reflects on the history of one of the greatest cities in the world. The performance and documentation of the project coincided with the celebration of the Turkish Independence day, October 29th, 2010.
Sparse contrasting colors add depth to these stunning yet stark and bleak winter scenes. Stark and bleak are not words many associate with things of beauty but when they describe a certain emptiness and stillness, such as the photos in 'Snow Blind' do, one's mind can wander to the potential such emptiness holds.
Matthias Heiderich is a Berlin based photographer whose work often explores the complexities of color. He is represented be Spot Galerie Berlin, and also works with WeirdAndWired a "netlabel for weird electronic music." His work (recommended: White Noise' & 'Color Berlin') can also be seen on Behance & Flickr.
The Last Range of Colours by Miles Aldridge was shot for Vogue Italia back in 2007. These playful, ultra saturated photos are quite fun despite the confused, uninterested, insensate, comatose, insensible looks of the models--all great adjectives, and pretty much the complete opposite of any that would be used to describe these colors.
Click on any of the images to create your own palette.
Staged photography can place undue importance on subject but simple, ordinary subjects make it easier to step back and consider the color palette.
Eliad Lassry is Tel Aviv based photographer whose work can currently be seen at Luhring Augustine Gallery.
At first his clean, direct shots look like generic commercial photography from the '70s and '80s. But the artist's use of blurs, double exposure, harsh colors often emphasized by loud matching frames-even strange arrangements or the unnerving matter-of-factness of the subject-instantly makes the hackneyed formula appear new and formalistically riveting. - Christopher Bollen
Wandering the streets with her camera Jitka Kopejtkova captures the graphic decay of Prague's event, product and political posters. The fragmented and juxtaposed images in her work reveal not only unexpected color combinations but the age rings of visual communication and the consumer market itself. The indiscriminate combinations of color, shape and form raise curiosities of each individual designer's original intent, and the event(s) which lead to the current state of these ever-evolving public canvases.
I loved how this couple incorporated RED in to this wedding without trying too hard or going overkill. They used it in the cutest of areas down to using tu-tu's and tootsie rolls. The average wedding already incorporates the white of the brides dress and black for the man's tuxedo, so their colour scheme involved all of red, black and white as a whole.
My friend and feature photographer, Jolyn Hutsell at Davee Blu Photography was nice enough to put together this adorable collage with all the adorable details this couple used. I thought that the tu-tu's for the flower girls was an adorable and abstract touch.
This week we're taking a look at a new installation from Jen Stark at the Carol Jazzar Gallery; a collection of inspiring of patterns and textures randomly emailed to the editors of notcot.org by Alessandro Loschiavo Design; we find the answer to getting color back on iTunes 1; and we look into a thread on fluther.com which ask the question, "Is there still color when it's completely 100% dark?
Andalusia by Alessandro Loschiavo Design
'Sunken Sediment' by Jen Stark
How to Get the Color back in iTunes 10
When iTunes 10 was released, it came with a very new look. The buttons to minimize, close and maximize windows were now vertical instead of horizontal, and they were grey. What happened to the color? - Continue Reading
Is there still color when it's completely 100% dark?
"At first thought, I would think everything still has a color, but if you take the scientific point of view, color is really a color because of light reflecting off your eyes. Another thing, I’ve read that bees can see 7 colors that people can’t. How can the scientists know that for sure if they can’t see the colors in the first place?" - Check the thread to see the answers