"If you unfamiliar with Jeremy Cowart he is a commercial photographer based out of Nashville who has shot some of the most famous musicians in the world. His images have been featured in most major magazines such as Rolling Stone, ESPN, People Magazine, Fortune Magazine, USA Today, New York Times, LA Times, TIME and Details just to name a few. He is also the founder of Help Portrait and Voices of Haiti. While not shooting famous celebrities, bringing awareness to the destruction in Haiti and saving the world one portrait at a time, Jeremy was developing a DVD to teach Pro Photographers how to innovate and create. Jeremy has just released his first DVD entitled "Lifefinder" It is an in depth look at his work, his creative process and the tools he uses to get the job done.
The DVD starts off with a candid interview with lighting guru Zach Arias that serves as a basis to gain a better understanding of who Jeremy is in case you have been living in a cave and are un-familiar with him. He then rolls into an Audio Visual tour of his portfolio; to me this is one of the most interesting parts of the DVD. It is simple in its design of being a narrated slideshow but offers a lot of great tips of you are listening carefully. So listen carefully!
Cowart then goes on to talk about, what he describes as his vision tool kit; it is an interesting concept to help you begin to think conceptually before you even leave to shoot. If you are already a seasoned pro this may not be relevant info but if you are just starting out it will help you a lot. It is chock full of interesting tips and techniques to help you get acquainted with what goes on at commercial shoots if you have never been on set before.
Jeremy is very open and candid and shares images straight out of camera so you realize that these shots are obtainable by mere mortals. You will see first hand how some of these shots are transformed from “straight out of camera” to the final image. A good percentage of Jeremy’s work is composite so you start to understand what makes a great final image and how it wound up that way. Most Pro’s drop in a better set of clouds for example. Keep that in mind when you look at work so you don’t get discouraged. It takes many elements to make a truly stunning photograph and Jeremy shows you how to get there. It will inspire
you keep pushing the boundaries in your own work.
The one place I feel that DVD lacks a bit is the depth at which he shows you his post processing work and how he gets his signature look. He does walk you through the journey but the actual hardcore Photoshop work is not there. Maybe omitted purposefully as commercial photographers are quite secretive about this…or maybe a Part II coming soon, we’ll have to wait and see.
As the DVD continues, Cowart goes deeper into lighting a bad room to make it interesting. He seems to have a knack for taking any crappy location
he is given and transforming it into something amazing. This is a great skill to have if you are in his line of work. You often have 15 minutes with a client and not ideal situations. You need to think fast and still walk away with a cover shot. He is extremely creative with colored gels and mixing light and is heard through out the DVD saying...”don't be afraid to experiment!” This is core to his way of seeing and he trains you to do the same.
In terms of JC’s theories on image making the most compelling is his people skills and helping the subject release their personality on camera. There is lots of raw emotion at the heart of his work and when you watch him shoot you see how he captures that. Sometimes his work gets polished in post-production but at the heart of it, you can still see the raw emotion pouring through.
Next Cowart goes into his raw workflow. This one is tricky because like most commercial photographers, he uses capture one, but as a wedding and portrait professional you are most likely using Lightroom or Photoshop. Don’t try to figure out capture one, instead listen to the concepts of how and why he is making his processing choices and those will carry over into your own workflow.
Disk 2 takes you on 8 different shoots so you can watch Jeremy in action. You see his creative choices and his lighting set-ups first hand. That alone is worth the price of Lifefinder. As you watch his rapport with his subjects, the simplicity with which he tackles problems and the fact that he shoots with the same equipment you have and usually only one light and you have pure inspiration. The kind that makes you jump and say, “I can do this.”
To sum up, this first DVD by Jeremy Cowart is a great start if you are new to the commercial world however seasoned pro’s might find the information slightly less useful. However, what that pro might find is inspiration to see differently, to experiment and to think in new ways to keep from getting stale. Jeremy has done a fantastic job of putting something for everyone in this DVD, it’s rich in information, has great production and no matter what you shoot you will walk away feeling that you more than got your money’s worth."