Category Archives: Photography

Should you join a photography instructional site? Camera Work 62

John Ricard discusses the value of joining an educational site.  Also, more on navigating the new Instagram.


Photographing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu - Camera Work 54

Hywell Teague of FloGrappling joins John Ricard to discuss photographing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  


Camera Work 50

John Ricard discusses Nikon D800, D810, D800e, Sony a6000, Sony a6300 and tips for shooting on White Seamless.


Camera Work 48

Soul Brother joins John Ricard


Camera Work 47

Camera Work Podcast 47



Marshetta worked with me very briefly on Black Girls Rock last year.  When she saw an opportunity to work with me for this year’s BGR shoot, she quickly volunteered to assist me.  I had asked BET to provide an assist of the shoot.  As Marshettahetta describes it, the assignment was for me to photograph attendees in high energy expressions.  We were also photographing curvy women at the event.  We were set up in the area where the performances and awards were being held.  We were positioned near the entrance to grab women as soon as they entered the venue.  We wanted them while they were fresh and blamed up.    The challenge was to photograph the women quickly -maybe 20 or 30 seconds.

For me one good thing about this shoot is that we had BET staffers bring in the women and take care of the model release.  I was able to focus 100% on capturing the right moments.  It is mentally draining to talk to so many people in this high entry manner.  I’m not really even aware of what I’m saying. I’m in a zone and I’m saying anything that will generate the reaction that I am looking for.  

I put myself “in state”.  In my mind, the women are all going to pose like rockstars.  I don’t even entertain the idea that they might be nervous or uncomfortable.  My “reality” is that they will shine in fromt of my camera, and I allow MY reality to overpower their own.  


Granted, the women have chosen to do this session, so  it is like that they will cooperate and I am also catching them at at  time when they are dressed to the 9’s and that also makes them want to be photographed.  I pointed out that Marshettahetta was a good assistant because it is easy for anyone on set to make one comment that makes the person uncomfortable and Marshettahettahetta seemed to instinctively understand that and she never said anything inappropriate.

Instagram:  Personally, I don’t use it view content.  I create content there.  After Marshetta took a photo of me at BGR, i looked for her IG to tag her.  I discovered her profile is private.  Marchetti said she was willing listen to why her IG should be public, but she has had conversations with people in the past about it, and she has her own reasons as to why she likes the account private.  

I explained to Marshetta, the following: Imagine I am an art director for Complex magazine, and you get on my radar.  I might want to check out your work regularly, without you knowing that I am doing so. I don’t want you contacting me with, “Oh, I see you are following me.  Can I shoot something for you?”  

Also, a male art director, or any given male may not be able to follow a “private” female without it causing problems in his personal relationships.  He may not be able to explain to his significant other, why he wants to follow this female.  Instagram is a public platform, there is no reason to make it private.

Marshetta asks if a person should have a personal and a business account.  For me, IG is so much work.  You need to post every day, at the same time every day and the content needs to be good in both imagery and captions.  It is so much work, that it is virtually impossible to maintain 2 accounts.  Also, a good IG account can showcase both the personal and the professional work.  It doesn’t have to be one or the other.  Marshetta follows my IG and as a result she knows some of my professional work like my street photography, and she also is aware of my relationship with my daughter.  Also, if the vision is consistent between the personal and the private, then its a beautiful thing to have both in the same account.  Jeremy Cowart is a photographer who does an excellent job of combining both the  personal and the professional on his IG account.  Furthermore, he takes great photographs consistently, even when it is just a picture of his daughter.

I asked what Marshetta  photographs.  Recently she photographed some yoga poses.  Marshetta is still learning the technical photography aspects.  She isn’t comfortable yet with what she is doing.  She often second guesses herself. She might ask herself, “What would John do?”  It isn’t seamless to her, yet.

For me, the second guessing never stops.  Even on the BGR gig last week, I used my Leica.  There are many disadvantages to using this camera, but I chose to do it anyway.  I love the camera and I chose to use it.  However, I did second guess myself about whether that was a wise decision or not.  Also recently, I photographed Miss Mulatto.  I chose to use my Nikon for the full length images and my Leica on the beauty shots.  At home processing the files was a nightmare because the 2 cameras record colors so differently.  I was thinking, “Shouldn’t you have this figured out already?  After 10 years, how do you not know that it isn’t a good idea to mix the 2 cameras like this.”  The point being, the second guessing never stops.  At least for me it doesn’t.

I asked what is the most important thing for Marshetta to learn in order to be a good photographer.  She answered, “What speaks to me, personally.”   Marshetta is trying to find her niche.  

Marshetta answer was insanely great.  Ultimately, what you need to photograph how you see the world.  It took me a long time to understand that.  For much of my career, my work was assigned.  I only took pictures when someone paid me and I only took images that I thought might be published. I  wasn’t really photographing things that were of interest to me.  Once you have the vision, you can transfer it to other areas.  If you can shoot yoga sexy, for example,  you may be able to shoot perfume bottles sexy as well.

I point out that you also have to understand the business part of photography.  You need to look at your career the same way a person who owns a Dunkin Donuts does.  It’s not about the passion. It’s about the business sometimes.

If I were starting off today -particularly as a female, I would become a boudoir photographer.  Women have a built in marketing method for this type of shooting.  They market that you will be comfortable being sexy in the pre scene of another female and there won’t be any sleazy aspects to the shoot.  Unlike say, wedding photography, shooting budiior is “easy”.  You don’t have to deal with dozens of people and different venues each week.  Some boudoir shooters use only natural light and they work in the homes of their clients.  It doesn’t take a lot of gear.  And, you can sell books or prints to your clients for $1,000 or more.  The key however, is to pursue it as a business.

I asked Marshetta if she has a morning routine.  She avoids her phone in the morning.  I’ve been trying to develop a morning routine.  I find it difficult to not just check email and visit the web.  A lot of successful people have morning routines.  I’ve tried to make it so that I do something creative first thing in the morning, but often I can’t bring myself to do it, and instead I’m just looking World Star Hip Hop or Facebook.

Marshetta is currently reading, “Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs” by Henry Carroll. I recommended she try books by David Duchem.  His books are only $5 most of the time. Some of the books are technical and give concrete information about how to take better photographs.  Other books, particularly the ones with “vision” in the title are more mental and are well worth reading.


Camera Work 42

Things That Inspire Us pt2.  Stephen Gomez and Ray Tamarra join John Ricard.


Camera Work 39

"Branding Like a Boss" podcast host, Aaron Pierson and filmmaker Aiden Fishbein join John Ricard to discuss Branding and Marketing.