Quavondo’s Lighting Book is Best Seller on PhotoWhoa


I am truly flattered, PhotoWhoa recently did a review on my lighting book and had good things to say about it. They liked it so much that they are now carrying it. Good news for you if you’ve wanted to get a hold of my lighting book but haven’t gone around to it. It’s currently available in PDF format at PhotoWhoa for $5! I’m also proud to say that it’s one of their best sellers! It’s available until Oct. 25th. Don’t miss out!

Signed paperbacks are also available for purchase through me.



#1 Best Seller?! Thank you!

WOW! Thank you so much! I just saw on Amazon that my eBook is the #1 Best Seller in Photography Lighting category. Words can’t even begin to describe the emotions that I’m feeling.

Best Seller

Best Seller

When I decided to write this book, I was a bit hesitant. I knew that it was going to take a lot of time and effort but would it all be for nothing? I didn’t want to write a book just to say, “I wrote a book.” I honestly wanted to write the book that I’ve been searching for. It could be the BEST book ever written, if no one knows about it, it’s useless. My other fear is having a book that no one knows about. I have no marketing budget.

So today I want to thank you for all of you who’ve made this possible by blogging about it, sharing it on your Facebook wall, telling a friend, or even just buying it as a gift. It feels so rewarding to know that this book will not just die on the “shelf.”

Please continue to help spread the word. I truly truly truly appreciate it. If you could review/rate it for me on Amazon that would be wonderful too.

PS. The paperback looks much better than the eBook, but I’ll take the eBook being the #1 Best Seller. Is it wishful thinking to want the paperback to get on the Best Seller list too? =)

Quavondo’s Photography Lighting Techniques Book with Images and Light Set-ups

There are so many how to books out there on photography lighting, why is mine any different?

When I started photography, I reached out to many photographers in my community for help and guidance, most were standoffish and secretive about their techniques. One said that I could come on set and assist but that I would also have to pay him. To this day, I wish I would have kept that email so I could remember the photographer’s name. There were a few who welcomed me with open arms and let me come on their shoots, but our styles were very different, I ended up going on my own after a shoot or two. I would like to take this time to thank those photographers: Steve Bloch, Joni Kabana, Dan Tyrpak, Pete Springer, and Manny Minjarez who’s style was close to what I wanted. Even though I had just started and had no “style,” I knew in my mind what I wanted to create, I just didn’t know how to execute it. So I resorted to searching for books on fashion photography and lighting. It was a long road to find that golden goose. Most of the book that I came across, the author had a good grasp on the technical side but for some reason it didn’t translate over to their photography, what I found were books with awful sample images and I would think to myself, “Why would I spend $40 to try and replicate how to make these ugly photos?” Just like we all know how a free throw is made in basketball. You have to have the right motion of the arm, the right flick of the wrist, right amount of power and arch in the throw to get the ball into the basket, and we can sit there and explain it to someone over and over, but if you can’t do it yourself why would they listen to you? I never did find that golden goose. I ended up just learning through trial and error. I bought three strobes and locked myself into my spare bedroom and shot with models for 30 days straight. I made sure that the lighting was different for each shoot. In that month, I started to develop my own style.

Through that process, I developed a sense of protection on what I learned and maybe this was the case with the photographers who didn’t want to help me. They too, learned their craft through much blood and sweat. A year after starting photography I landed an interview for an internship in New York City with a high profile photography team. I flew out there, stayed in a hostel, went to the interview, they offered me the internship 15 minutes later. I had 3 pairs of underwear and no place to live, regardless I said YES! I thought this was going to be my big break, a chance of a life time to learn from one of the best. I called my wife of just a year to tell her the news, she cried. She was very happy for me but it meant that we would be on opposite coasts for at least 3 months. We talked and felt like it was the best thing for my photography.

Three months went by. I was nothing more than a personal assistant. We had only two photoshoots. I wasn’t taught a thing. Scratch that, I didn’t learn a thing related to photography, what I did learn during this period in NYC would later change my life for the better (and I also made two awesome friends for life!). After my internship I was offered a position to run their studio, I declined. I didn’t want the shackles, I would have been at their beck and call 24/7. I’m not joking. I had a hard decision to make, should I move back to Portland after three months of not getting anywhere? Or should I stay in New York and see what I could do on my own? After deliberating with the wife, I stayed. It was a long year but I grew as a person.

After moving back to Portland I had a shift in my mentality. I saw what my life could end up like as a high profile celebrity photographer, to be self absorb, selfish, and how depressing my life could be if I lived for myself. I started accepting interns and teaching other photographers what I knew, and making sure that I actually helped them and not use them as personal errand staff. I started creating BTS, how to videos and teaching workshops. This is where I started being selfish, in a good way. Teaching others was very rewarding, the joy and gratitude that they express makes fulfills my soul. This is when it occurred to me that I was in a good spot in my career to write a book on photography lighting. I have a big enough collection of images in different genres to be able to create a book that I’ve been searching for since I first started photography. The golden goose.

At its core, this is an easy-to-use technical handbook with lighting set-ups and simple tips you can implement right now to improve your lighting. Each chapter focuses on a type of lighting (e.g. one-strobe, four-strobes, camera flash, natural light, hot lights). At its heart, this book and its images are meant to inspire you, with a candid look into the background and thought behind each creative concept, and the amusing realities of bringing an idea to life.

There is a wide variety of imagery in this book, 50 to be exact shot both indoors and out, ranging from lifestyle, to beauty, to sports, to fashion, to portraits, to commercial work, so all photographers can benefit from the demonstrated techniques. Anyone looking to make the move from amateur to professional will find this an invaluable resource. Professionals looking to kick-start the creative juices will find inspiration and perhaps new lighting techniques to improve and simplify their process. Novice photographers may wish to familiarize themselves with the glossary terms first, but rest assured, this book minimizes jargon and maximizes utility.

I want to thank Zemotion (Jingna Zhang) and Solstice Retouch (Pratik Naik) for taking the time to review my book and writing a foreword in it. Both of your talents are amazing and to have your respect is truly humbling. Thank you for your support. Here’s what they both had to say about the book (click on the image to get a better resolution).

Zemotion's Foreword

Pratik's Foreword

I also want to thank Corey Michaud for putting together the elements for the lighting diagrams, without those I wouldn’t have any way to share my lighting set-ups. And most of all, thank you Lindsay Michelet for your endless editing of the book and content direction, you make me sound smarter than I really am, and less of a smart ass than I really am.

You can find Quavondo’s Photography Lighting Techniques on Amazon. Here’s a preview of the book:

  • 132 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1466463844
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 x 0.3
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces

Book CoverInner SpreadTable of ContentsIntroductionZemotion's ForewordPratik's ForewordInner Spread 1Inner Spread 2Inner Spread 3

Here are 25 of the 50 images that are dissected within this book:

Some of the Images From the Book

This book is also available as an eBook for the Kindle, Kindle Fire, iPad, etc.

Here’s what it looks like on the iPad:

iPad Book CoveriPad Inner PagesiPad Inner Diagram

For the Kindle Fire:

Screen Shot 2012-12-02 at 11.38.26 PMScreen Shot 2012-12-02 at 11.41.25 PMScreen Shot 2012-12-02 at 11.41.01 PM

For the Kindle:

Screen Shot 2012-12-02 at 11.42.40 PMScreen Shot 2012-12-02 at 11.43.15 PM

Screen Shot 2012-12-02 at 11.47.43 PM

Signed book with a personalized note is available for a limited time. Price is $50. Please send inquiries to q@quavondo.com. Only 25 signed books are available for the Christmas rush. First come first served. I need to know who to make the book out to and also a link to their photography if they are a photographer. I handle and ship all personalized book orders.

If you’re not a photographer, get it for the photographer in your life. Trust me, they will thank you. They will love it. Please remember to rate my book as well. Thank you for your love and support.

Also an oversight on my part, the photo of me in my book is one of my favorites to date and I forgot to give credit to Bryce Lewis for taking the shot. Great job buddy!

2 Day Photography Lighting and Retouching Workshop

Hey guys, as you know I’m moving to LA this fall, before I go I’m going to put on my last workshop here in Portland Oregon. It’s a two day workshop on lighting and retouching. I’m teaming up with one of the best retoucher in the business, Pratik of Solstice Retouch. He is also a dear friend of mine. He has some secrets from the industry that no one else knows besides the people whom he taught. I consider myself an expert in photoshop and I was still blown away from Pratik’s techniques. His way of teaching is very easy to follow and to understand.

I’m also trying to finish my photography lighting book by then too or at least before I go. If you’ve taken our workshop before, a testimony would be great. Please spread the word. Space is also limited. First come first served. We may decline your registration should the class is over capacity. Don’t wait.

Don’t forget to follow Solstice’s blog as well! Good stuff on there daily.

Photoshoot with Three Dolls

Karen Wu of Three Dolls Boutique found me through Madeline Roosevelt. About 3 years ago, Karen started her own design label. Before designing, she was a boutique owner in Sherman Oaks, Ca carrying contemporary brands. Now with Three Dolls Boutique, she’s carrying the brands online. Her website will be launched soon. She said that she needed editorial images for her front page of the website as well as some pages which features/showcase some key pieces.

At first it didn’t look like the shoot was going to happen, because Karen needed the photos ASAP but my schedule couldn’t accommodate. I was booked the entire month of September, but as luck would have it, a few things got moved and Karen came down from Seattle for the last minute photoshoot.

The challenge for this shoot was shooting in mid day with no clouds. Oh how I miss the sunshine already. Damn you Portland. Check out the behind the scenes video for a little tip on how to shoot in broad daylight using strobes. Oh and did you get your tickets?

I can’t thank Darren Utt enough for his great behind the scenes video captures. If you’re a photographer and need behind the scenes videos to promote yourself, Darren is your guy!

Scott Kelby’s Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It Live! Review

For the past four months I’ve been brainstorming and putting together a photography lighting and retouching workshop with Pratik of Solstice Retouch. We wanted to create something special, something that will help the emerging photographer take that next leap to become a full time professional. There are many seminars out there, but how do you know which is the right one?

Scott Kelby’s Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It Live! Review
When I heard that Scott Kelby’s Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It Live! seminar was coming to Portland, I decided to attend to compare the difference between ours and see if there’s anything we could do to improve upon. Going into this, I wondered who Kelby’s seminar was catering to and was excited to see who was going to show up. Right off the bat, I noticed that the majority of the attendees were on the mature side, probably 50 years +, although I did expected to see a lot more young photographers just starting out. This wasn’t the case.

The seminar’s outline goes like this:
10-11:15 am —Lighting and Retouching for Headshots
11:30-12:30 pm — Dramatic Lighting and Retouching Techniques
12:30-1:30 pm — Lunch
1:30-2:30 pm — Edgy Light and High Contrast Post Processing
2:45-3:45 pm — Lighting and Retouching for Fashion and Glamour
4-5 pm — Compositing: Lighting and Photoshop Techniques

I felt the course was good for a beginner, someone who’s never used strobes before, especially for the price point of $100. For an intermediate to advanced person however, the seminar is too basic and I don’t recommend it. I found myself sitting there bored most of the time, but at least Kelby kept me entertained with his jokes.

Retouching Review
The retouching is also very basic. I was shocked to see that Kelby actually uses skin blurring in one of his techniques. His defense was that it takes “4-5 hours for good skin retouching, and as a photographer you don’t get paid for that much retouching, so skin blurring will save you that much time and the image will be passable.” Well I’m here to tell you that you no longer need to make this sacrifice. My partner Pratik, came up with his own secret methods of high end skin retouching. From start to finish, I mean literally finished as in magazine print ready and I can jump in there and do my finishing touches to it, it takes only an hour. Imagine how much time and money you just saved. You can still charge the regular rates of high end retouching, without taking the same amount of time and no sacrificing of quality!

Here’s our workshop results if you missed it.

The Difference Between Scott Kelby’s Workshop And Ours
Kelby’s: 1-3 basic lighting set-ups
Quavondo’s: 1-7 light basic to advance lighting set-ups

Kelby’s: He shoots the entire time, you get no hands on
Quavondo’s: You get hands on training. You get to bring your camera and shoot the models

Kelby’s: Retouching techniques are basic
Quavondo’s: Advanced retouching techniques that will even blow the most advanced retoucher’s minds

Kelby’s: About 500 attendees
Quavondo’s: Small intimate group, 10-15 attendees, you get one on one help

Kelby’s: You walk away with brochures
Quavondo’s: You walk away with images that you can use for your portfolio

Kelby’s: The seminar is geared towards beginners
Quavondo’s: Our seminar is designed to cater to every photographer, regardless of experience, everyone walks away amazed at the amount they learn. We listened to feedback from attendees about what they wish they could have learned from other workshops, and built ours around what the public wants out of a photography workshop

Kelby’s: You watch Kelby on stage
Quavondo’s: Ours’ is a synergy of talent coming together, to share and learn collectively

Kelby’s: one day workshop
Quavondo’s: two days packed with goodies

For those who have been to both workshops, I would love to hear your take on the difference between Scott Kelby’s and ours. I really don’t think I’m being bias, so I would love to hear from you below.

Popina Swimwear Photoshoot

Popina Swimwear
The first time I saw a Popina Swimwear, I fell in love. Not the kind of love where I needed one for myself, because that would just be ridiculous. Love as in “wow, those are amazing pieces that I get to photograph!” That was over a year ago on the Aveda summer campaign shoot. After the photos were released, Popina contacted me a couple of times to shoot some of their swimsuits, but we could just never get our timing down, until today.

One of the benefits of being the photographer is that you can arrive a little later than the am for hair and make-up, their call time was 730am, the rest of the crew was 830am. Believe me, I needed that extra rest after putting on the 2 day photography lighting and retouching workshop.

The Main Challenge of Popina Swimwear Shoot
Going into this shoot, the main thing that I was concern with was the BIG hot light in the sky, the Sun! We were shooting on the rooftop in the middle of Summer. Popina needed images for their catalog, which meant that I needed the images to look consistent. To be able to do that, I needed a butterfly scrim.

Assistants setting up the butterfly scrim, except Linzy is making the guys do it.

Places to Rent Grip and Lighting Gear
If you don’t have one, there are two places in town that rents them. One is Gearhead in SE Portland and the other is Pacific Grip and Lighting Inc in NE Portland. Both of these places are great! I did find that the pricing for Pacific Grip was a little easier on the wallet. If you go with Pacific Grip, ask for Denis and tell him I sent you.

Our Model from Option Model Management
Popina let me cast for this shoot. Without hesitation, I knew exactly who I wanted, Natalie Morris of Option Model Management. This girl is going places! Her face is stunning, her figure is beautiful, her awareness of her body and angles is stellar, and to top it all off, her personality is adorable! Whenever Natalie and I collaborate together, we always seem to make magic. This time was no different. Even though we only used 15 minutes at the end of the shoot to get the editorial shots, it was all the time we needed.

Natalie hiding from the sun

My Beloved Assistant
I love my assistant. I really do. I’ve been around other photographers and have seen how they treat their assistants and it sickens me. These people are here to support you, they are your lifeline. Darren Utt has been with me for almost a year now. He started out as an intern and we’ve become more like brothers now. I’ve thrown many things at him, not literally, more like giving him things to do that are not in his comfort zone. For instance when I decided that I was going to start video blogging more, I gave Darren the task of filming, but he actually went above and beyond and took it upon himself to learn video editing. So be on the lookout for a behind the scenes video of this shoot, the video will cover what’s in my camera bag, lighting tips, and some fun goofin’ around.

Play it again Darren!

Darren Uttsack (that sounds wrong), I mean Darren Cusack.