His creativity is completely beyond ordinary and his knowledge of various editing techniques most definitely inspire the masses. But what amazes me the most about this artist is his openness and dedication to share his many techniques to his loyal community in a tutorial video every day since 2011. Meet Chicago-based conceptual photographer, show host and educator, Mr. Aaron Nace.
When I first met Aaron, his lovable personality was utterly infectious. And if you look at his portfolio, you’ll see that his concepts and photo manipulation ideas are just as inspiring as his persona. For over five years, Nace has been teaching photography and photo manipulation to millions of users across the world at every skill level. Initially a hobbyist while earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Industrial Design from North Carolina State University, Aaron’s expertise in Photoshop developed rapidly. His creative portfolio of retouching, compositing, and conceptual work grew quickly, and he soon became a globally recognized Photoshop master.
His images have been published on MSNBC.com, AOL.com, and The Huffington Post. Ever since, he has been committed to sharing his methods of creative conceptual photography both online and in-person. In 2011, after three years of teaching online seminars to small groups of students, Aaron launched Phlearn.com, a photography and Photoshop tutorial website different from many. Aaron has single-handedly created hundreds of in-depth, high energy tutorial videos that have reached a community of millions of students worldwide.
Aaron’s Favorite Gear:
“I have always had so much fun manipulating light, and flashes are an essential part of my toolkit. I have been using strobes by Paul C. Buff for years and have been very happy with the strobes as well as the customer service they provide. I never show up to a photo shoot without a few Paul C. Buff Einstiens, they are an essential part of how I work. Recently I have started using Profoto strobes, and I really like the D1 series, the 300W modeling lights make it really easy to see what you are going to get when the strobe fires.
I am shooting with a Canon 5d Mkiii and prime lenses like the 35 1.4, 50 1.2, and my trusty 24-105 4.0. I have always felt like gear doesn’t make the photographer, but having nice equipment can make it easier to do your job well.”
Advice to Emerging Photographers
Follow your heart, shoot what you want to shoot.
“We all get started in photography because there is something we love about it. Everyone loves something different about photography, whether it is gear, people, post processing, or creating art. Never lose sight of what made you fall in love with photography and your images will mirror that love.”
“It is easy to compare your work to other photographers but this process can hurt your development. It is good to appreciate other photos, but don’t compare your images to them. You are a different person and you have unique skills that other people don’t have. In order to develop those skills, it is important to shoot what you want to shoot, not what you feel you should shoot. You will have more fun in the process and your inner self will show through resulting in unique and beautiful images.”
Don’t get too caught up in gear
“It is easy to think that getting better gear will make you a better photographer. In my experience it won’t. I have gone from shooting with a point-and-shoot to running my own studio, equipped with anything a photographer could want. Some of my favorite images were taken when I had little gear and even less of an idea what I was doing. Passion is what separates mediocre photos from great ones.”
“A passionate photographer produces more meaningful images than a person who doesn’t careno matter what the equipment.”
Pay more attention to what is in front of your camera
“An experienced photographer pays attention to their subject, rather than their camera. A beginner pays more attention to their camera than their subject. Spend some time getting comfortable with your gear so you can focus on other things during a photo shoot.”
Don’t let money motivate you
“If you are getting into photography to make money, you are choosing the wrong field. That is not to say that you can’t make money as a photographer, but there are easier ways to make more. Money never works as a motivator when creating art, the desire has to come from the depths of your soul.”