When I decided I wanted to be a photographer and got serious about it, I grabbed whatever I could to learn about the art, craft and business of it. 

I think one of the best, and worst, things about learning about photography in this day and age is Youtube. It's great because of the amount of information you can gain from it. The not so great thing is the amount of bad information. The number of people 'faking' their credentials is just absurd. People with awards and accomplishments that are really half-truths. 

Sure they won an award. It was an award for best image from a credit union contest. I've seen that. Seriously.

But as a professional and investigative mindset, I'll research people and find out how credible they really are. But, most people aren't like me. They'll take things at face value....

There is some really great information and some channels are much better than others. And when you are watching their videos with a microscope, you can really learn a tremendous amount. I've collected a few that I learned from. That I enjoyed. Hope you do to!

Phase One with David Thompson

This my first and favorite video for many reasons. This is a camera commercial from Phase One to showcase their medium format cameras. Phase One just has the best videos for photography. Just love their videos especially when it's about fashion.

David Thompson: I am doing just about anything short of killing someone for a career like his. He's a full blown and busy fashion photographer doing plenty of editorials and commercial work. Many fashion photographers don't get nearly as much as the latter as they want you to believe. It's where all the money is. It's a brutal playing field.

There is a book full of technical information to learn from this video. Especially regarding the lighting. Huge! The size of his main light. The wind machine. The focal length of his lenses. How to lead a team and direct model.

A teacher can spend a week or more teaching the specifics from this video.

For the Garage

Really, you can do the first two shoots in your garage. Seriously. There is no expensive gear necessary. Again, it's all about talent, experience and skill. Sure David Thompson is using an expensive medium format camera. But Peter Lindbergh is not.

Vogue with Peter Lindbergh

The Legend. This is Vogue showing Peter Lindbergh doing a shoot of the Victoria's Secret models doing a Vogue-styled shoot. In terms of education, there is, and isn't, much to learn. But that's partly why this video is so cool.


It looks incredibly fancy and involved with all the people working on the shoot. The main reason for all the people is because of building a studio on the beach. That probably took a half-dozen people. You could do the exact same thing in a studio faster and cheaper. Peter just likes shooting on the beach. It's his thing. He does it all the time.

The Models

You have 5 models. Which is huge. It's all about the makeup artist and I would think they would have at least 3 of them. The hairstyling is incredibly simple. Look at it. All their hair is simply pulled back. That's it. Just about any mother could do the same.

But these are the best models in the world. Adriana Lima, Miranda Kerr,  Doutzen Kroes, Chanel Iman, and Alessandra Ambrosio. Modeling is not easy. You have to emote. You have to know what positions you look best in. And in this case, how to work with the other models. It's all about talent here. And direction from Peter.

The Camera

And maybe the coolest thing: the camera. He's using a Nikon. A D800 I believe. Not sure about the exact model but I know it's not their typical professional model. You can buy the camera he's using at Best Buy. Seriously. He's not even tethering his camera. To have it connected to a computer so you can display the image taken on a larger screen. There is a brief scene where you see the models huddled around him. Looking at the tiny screen on the camera.

So no. You don't need an expensive camera to get amazing results. It's all about talent, experience and skill. Totally.

And I love the soundtracks of this video!

Phase One with Jason Bell

Here is another Phase One commercial this time with photographer Jason Bell. Another, real and honest to goodness fashion photographer. Here they are doing a British Vogue shoot and Phase One is having David use their new XF 100MP medium format camera. 

The Art

This video is more about the art of photography. He talks about using a particular focal length in lens to achieve a mood for the image. You don't always know what focal length you will use on a shoot. You'll certainly know whether you'll need a 50mm vs a 200mm. But the difference between a 35mm and 50mm would be more interesting.

He also talks about how he creates his lighting. Starting with natural light and building on top of that. Pretty typical. But many people, especially beginners, just throw lights at a subject and remove. It's much tougher to figure out lighting. I'm a one-light kinda guy and possibly using a second. I'm a minimalist.

The Camera

He's using a $50,000 camera system. Many top fashion photographers tend to use medium format. I want to go that route sooner or later. But really, it's just a preference. You might not get the upper 5% quality difference than you would with a camera like Peter Lindbergh is using. But it's so close, 99% of people really wouldn't notice. I'm that 1%. Like a person who can tell different years of wine. I can't.

And damn. I love the actors, clothing and location. Gorgeous!

Phase One with Yulia Gorbachenko

Yulia Gorbachenko does a ton of editorial photography. I see it all the time especially in Vogue - Mexico. A definite style. I can tell when I'm looking at an image of hers.

The Art

It's a pretty simple shoot. Natural light and some reflectors. She might be using some external lighting but it's not visible in the video. Of course, she's talented and using a team of talented people. The model. The makeup artist and hairstylist. Assistants. They all know what to do.

The Camera

She's using a $50,000 camera and lens combination. Like Peter Bell was using. If you want the best color from a camera, this is what you buy. The thing is: most people won't notice it. Again, it's a preference thing. It could also be a status, symbol as well: You're making enough money in the work to afford it.

Panasonic Lumix with Ray Martin

What a great guy. He's a writer first. It shows. Incredibly articulate. He cares about his subjects. It shows in the pictures. When a photographer is enjoying the work, it always shows in the pics.

The Art

It doesn't get any simpler than this. He's running around Bhutan, Nepal with his camera. Not even using an external flash it looks like. Using only natural light. Positioning his subjects just right. It looks overcast most of the time so his lighting is fantastic. No harsh shadows. 

The Camera

He's also using the Panasonic S1R camera which has excellent dynamic range and low-light performance. So even if he's shooting in a bit of a dark location, he can brighten things up on a computer just fine. I guess the camera is on the expensive side but not out of the realm of other cameras with the number of pixels on the sensor and such. It's not any more expensive than the camera Peter Lindbergh is using.

Vogue with Peter Lindbergh

The Legend at work again. Peter Lindbergh photographing Natalie Portman for an editorial with Vogue magazine. It's sort of a culmination of all the other videos.

The Art

Probably the biggest deal with this video is his use of external lighting and reflectors. You see them all over the set. You're most like a painter when using all this equipment. Painting the set and subject with light and shadows.

It's much more involved than any of the other photo shoots in these videos with the lights and reflectors. But he doesn't need several makeup artists. He doesn't need half-dozen people building a studio on a beach.

Untitled photo

Ricardo Gomez for Ricardo Gomez

Haha, I thought I would have some fun here. But also drive home a point if I hadn't already done it.

The Camera

The picture above I did in 2017 with a Panasonic GX8 and Leica Nocticron lens. The cost of the whole system is probably less than a lens on Peter Lindberg's camera. Possibly. So, it's relatively cheap. One external light with natural light. In a studio. Pretty simple. But I think the quality is superb. Great color and sharpness. I love the lighting.

The Art

I met Sarah while doing some street photography. Not a model. I just liked what she was wearing. We did a shoot once and she was super. A winter-themed shoot. So I asked her to do this shoot. Again, she was absolutely super. The makeup artist and hairstylist, Vivian Hu, was absolutely super. I couldn't ask for better.

Youtube University

So, how much did Youtube help me here? In the beginning, a bit. For me, it wasn't so much about the art, but the business and how to lead a shoot. How to do one professionally. The best way to learn and become better in photography is to keep doing it. Try new techniques. Learn how light shapes an object and person.

You can only learn so much in front of a computer and a book. The rest you learn by doing.

Ricardo Gomez Photography

Originally from San Francisco, Ricardo is now a New York-based photographer specializing in editorial and commercial photography.
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