By Laura | 01st November 2017

Inspired by: Joey L

Canadian portrait photographer, Joey L, is in the process of forging a remarkable career for one so young, proving that a self-taught photographer with dedication and talent can be a success.

Raised in Lindsay, Ontario, Joey created his first educational DVD set in his teens! Clearly influenced by people like Greg Heisler and Joe McNally, Joey's environmental portraits soon attracted the attention of top agencies, prompting his relocation to New York.

The Joey L style

Joey describes his work as "stylised environmental portraiture", which, although a bit of a mouthful, is the perfect description for his photography. Take a look through his portfolio at www.joeyl.com, and you'll see a variety of projects that have a couple of common themes: beautiful lighting and intensely haunting expressions.  

Using a mixture of DSLRs and, more commonly, digital medium format cameras, Joey's work has a depth and painterly feel reminiscent of the great masters.

What you can learn

Learning from Joey L is easier than most photographers because he spends as much time producing excellent teaching content as taking fantastic photographs! From a technical point of view, his work is very similar to that of David Hobby and Greg Heisler – two photographers we've already covered in this series – but there are some things we think are key to take away from Joey:  

  • Atmosphere is important – From his environmental portraits to his studio work, there's always an emphasis on creating an atmospheric feel through the subtle use of light and environment.
  • A smile rarely makes an interesting image – Smiles are great for family snaps, but when it comes to a moody image that evokes a sense of drama, avoid them.
  • A project will improve you – From an early age, Joey recognised the value of dedicating oneself to a personal project. Look at his portfolio and you'll see that he's travelled the world to photograph interesting people for his personal projects... and every single one has improved his art.
  • Photoshop is an art – Joey's early educational DVD was based on his excellent use of Photoshop – a tool he quickly realised could take his images to the next level, and the same is true of you! 

Joey L is a fine role-model for young aspiring portrait photographers and is regularly recognised as one of the most influential photographers working today, so take on board some of our suggestions here and you'll soon be producing great work too. You may never reach his dizzy heights, but you could make some great images to print onto canvas and hang on your wall.


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