Episode 2: Interview with Philip Ebiner

Philip Ebiner: Video Maker, Photographer, World Explorer, Creator of  VideoSchoolOnline.com


Phil’s ecircle_phil-300x300ntire life has been involved in education as either a student, tutor, or online instructor. Half of his life has been entranced in photography and video. He prides himself on being on top of all the new trends in the video world.

A graduate of Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television, he recently worked for Participant Media’s TakePart.com and at Stanbridge College. At these placements he produced over 250 videos for a variety of large and small clients. He is now living in Berkeley, CA where he does freelance video work and continues to teach online.

I want to give a huge thank you to Phil for taking the time to chat with us! I consider myself as much a student as the listening audience, and appreciate him sharing his extensive knowledge.

Resources & Links

»Vimeo.com: for artistic inspiration.

Phil’s Websites

»www.VideoSchoolOnline.com: His online courses, which include photo and video courses.

»www.PhilipEbiner.com: His personal website.

A Sampling of Phil’s Courses

»The Art of Travel Photography (affiliate)

»Adobe Lightroom 5 Master Training – Complete Crash Course (affiliate)

»Photoshop Tools Crash Course – Complete Photoshop Tool Guide

Read The Full Interview Transcript Here

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Chamira Young: Hi everybody! This is Chamira Young from Zenjoyable.com. And I have another awesome interview for you today for our Pro Photographer Interview Series, Episode no. 2. Today we talked to Philip Ebiner, he’s 24 year old dynamo and basically his entire life has been involved in education as either, a student, a tutor or an online instructor. Half of his life has been entranced to photography and video. And he pride himself on being on top of all the neutrals in the video world. And just to let you know, any resources and links that we discussed in the interview, I will include those in the show notes. So let’s get to it.
Chamira Young: Hi everybody! I’m hanging with Philip Ebiner and I’m so excited to just chill and chat with him. I wanna thank you Phil for just taking time out of your busy schedule to share some of your photography expertise with us.
Philip Ebiner: Thank you for having me, I’m so happy to be here and looking for to our chat.
Chamira Young: Awesome. Awesome. Well, first of all, I just want everybody to learn a bit about you… your past, your history. Give us an overview of yourself and your background. How did you end up where you are now as a Photographer?
Philip Ebiner: Yeah. So, let’s go back (few years), I’m 24 now, so am recently out… I’ve college. And I’m working professional now.
Chamira Young: Very good.
Philip Ebiner: But where I started as a photographer was just, you know, being a kid, taking pictures with my old little gun camera. And really, I got into it more when my grandpa gave me his black and white camera – an old Minolta. And I started taking photos about in High School. I took a Black and White photography class. Now, I was in the lab, building my own photos which was the greatest experience. It’s something that a lot of photographers my age are older now have experienced. But, you know, photographers in the future are not going to experience that at all. So, that was like a really process to have seen the how photos were actually developed and prints out in paper. And really, in those years, I was thinking college; it’s like cool to be wanna be like to be a Sports Photographer or Action Sports Photographer. I loved, you know, going down to skis part, you’re going down to the beach and taking photos like Surfers and Skate Boarders and I thought that would be cool, a cool career. Through High School, I got more and more instant video and so I switched from photography to video and I ended up going to school at Loyola Marymount University School for Film Production. They’ve got great film school there in Los Angeles. And so, I really switched from doing photography to basically doing video full time. That was my passion that was I was learning. In school, I got to travel; I was blessed to travel around the world setting abroad and on some volunteering trips. And I got to make some documentaries in Europe, in India and I went to Mexico.
Chamira Young: Oh my goodness.
Philip Ebiner: And yeah, it was an amazing experience, I feel so blessed, you know, I have been a part of that. And now, you know the pain of paying out my student’s load, but it was worth it. And you know, I always have the most little experiences in those memories of being you know just open, opening my eyes to the world. And of course, when I was traveling, I’ve taken picture left and right. And that’s again, when I start doing more back into photography. And so after school, I landed some jobs at doing more production, video editing. But recently I have a position for a year at a school, at Oxford College in Orange County, California where it was split; it was half video and half photography. So, the thing about me is, I’ve never, aside from, you know, when in High School class I was just playing around with my camera, I have never had really a professional experience or schooling experience at higher level of photography. And so I got this job and I was a little nervous coz I knew that my photography skill were not high as my video skills. So that was last year. That was all 2012, I was at this position and it was probably one of the best experiences I ever had because I was thrown into this photography thing and I was taking, you know, it was event photography, it was marketing photography which is something that I have never really dealt with so, I was dealing with higher models, shooting models in a less fashion setting. I really, you know, learned the inside out of editing the photographs with the help of a design teams so, coming from a graphic design respective. Like turning what photos will work, what photos won’t work and how, you know, before going to a shoot basically having an exact photo that I need or one for this particularly advertisement or program or whatever it is. So, that year, that was all 2012, and into early 2013, it was a great experience. That’s where I got a lot of my professional photography experience. And now, I just, I’m doing more freelance video stuff now. But I also love taking photos, I love traveling, I’m doing travel photography. And so, yeah, that’s my background.
Chamira Young: You know, there’s nothing like learning on the job, on-the-job experience. One thing that I’ve always said is that, and this was true, this is true for many of my peers. I went to an Art school where we studied photography. Among many other things, but really, I always said that the real education starts after you graduate and you’re put into a real world situations where there are certain expectations that are placed on you or you’re working with a team, and you’re just soaked up and you’ve absorbed so much. Also…
Philip Ebiner: Exactly.
Chamira Young: Yeah. And you’re in travel photography; I wanted to touch on that. That’s actually something I’ve noticed in the online courses that you create, you have a course on travel photography. And those traveling experiences are just priceless, all around the world that you travel just taking photo and video. And I may have to pick your brain on that a little bit later or maybe that’s a whole another conversation… haha.
Philip Ebiner: Oh yeah. I was just going out with what you were saying about you know, learning on-the-job. All throughout the film school and toward the end of it I was working in the studio. I learned 95% of what I’ve learned from film school actually doing the projects and working on this student films at. In class, I’ve learned a few of the basics but you really have to get out there and try the stuff to really learn and grow as a photographer.
Chamira Young: Absolutely, absolutely. So, how would you describe your current style right now?
Philip Ebiner: So, I guess, my current style would be a more photojournalistic documentary in style. And I think that’s it… It comes from my video – professionalism. So I do a lot of documentary work. What I’m passionate is about like finding that story that people haven’t heard and capturing it through video and telling it through a documentary. Instead of… that’s where my photography goes as well. So, I’ve always trying to capture stories that I haven’t been told through a photo and or capturing things in a new light. Because I noticed with camera phones and photo escape, they’ve taken of everything, everything is being over program.
Chamira Young: Yes. I agree.
Philip Ebiner: And also, even if you’re traveling, you go see like a famous monument or whatever… There’s a Brazilian photo online, and probably the same photo that you took or whatever… So I’m always find ways to, oh yes, photograph something in a new light or find the photos that haven’t been taken yet. So, yeah, my style I guess is more photojournalistic. And right now, I’m not actively seeking new photography clients. You know some things come up like you know someone needs family portraits for their Christmas card or whatever and I’ll take that on. I’ll do a couple of those and it will take a couple of weeks. But I’ve just been so busy with videos stuff and teaching online courses that I haven’t have time take on more photos stuff right now.
Chamira Young: Okay. And that’s photojournalistic style, that’s becoming big in a wedding photography. I’m seeing that all over the place and it’s really just beautiful style photography.
Philip Ebiner: Yeah. Exactly, It’s… I mean, gone are the days of having you know, a standard… Photographer’s standard video of your… Even with the video for a wedding, it’s all about that documentary style and you know capturing those small moments close up… having these all different artistic angles. I look at you know, my parents’ photo album and it’s so different then about the way the photographers shoot weddings nowadays.
Chamira Young: Absolutely. And what you’re saying about everybody having a camera on their phone. That is so so true. Even at weddings. I was talking about this in another interview with another photographer. How you can be there you’re trying to get the shots, everybody around you has their phone up in the air and they’re standing next to you so they’re getting a very similar angle to you. And before the night is over, there are so many photos up in Facebook that the other people have taken.
Philip Ebiner: Yeah. I mean, that’s a thing now at weddings, you just have like an Instagram hashtag and all the way up, all the photos up online by the end of the night… It’s crazy.
Chamira Young: Yes, yes. It drives me a little bit crazy. But that’s… you know how the things are… They changed. I’m curious to see where things would be even 10 years from now with photography.
Philip Ebiner: Yeah. Yeah.
Chamira Young: So, how do you get yourself inspired for a photo shoot?
Philip Ebiner: Yeah. So, I guess this brings me back to my, you know, my old position and prepping and planning for… you know, the biggest photo shoots that I have done where we have models coming in and posting as students on. You know, I’ve spent a lot of time looking online at other similar or photography work. If there’s like a marketing material where… for example, we had a nursing program. So, we wanna take photos of our students or our models in our nursing lab and their scrubs and actually working with the equipment… And so, we spent a lot of time searching online for photographs that will work in our marketing materials. And then we were transferred to, you know, Do-It-Ourselves. And so, a lot of, like looking online, trying to find a photograph that inspire me, finding photographs that you know, are interesting angle, of respective that I wouldn’t think of. So, yeah, I’m getting inspired by just looking at other people’s art.
Chamira Young: Awesome. Awesome. Yeah. I think that something that a lot of us do. I certainly do that myself when getting ready for a particular shoot. There are so many creative ways to do things that it really helps to see what other photographers have done. Now, next I wanna ask you about your Tool-of-the-Trade as far as your photography gear. What is your go-to-gear for your typical shoot today? So let’s say, you’re going to take Christmas photos for your friends or family, what would you take with you to that shoot?
Philip Ebiner: Yeah. So, I’m a Canon guy. I… have 5D…
Chamira Young: Yes!
Philip Ebiner: Yeah… And I still don’t own too many appliances of my own but you know I have a nice 15mm prime, 24mm prime. I use the 24x70mm a lot in video and so I’d like taking that out and I feel that has a good lens especially, not just for, you know, photo shots. I would probably use another lens for photo shots, but when I’m travelling, that’s a great lens. It can get a lot of shots that I need and I don’t have to carry around too many of lenses. And then, I love this (San—200) when I’m, have, like in sports event or something like that in view… a little bit more close up shot. So, I got my Canon camera. I definitely, well I think this is a question that you can ask, but one piece, one accessory that I love to bring is my monopod. And again, this comes with my video background. A lot of photographers I don’t see using you know, monopods or tripods and maybe it’s because they have more experience, they can’t say it’s a little bit more of safe. But I love bringing my monopod to shoots just because I can, I don’t have to worry about you know, opening up the desk top, and you know, breaking down the shutter speed. And I know that I’ll still have a picture that’s weird. And I try to use a lot of natural lights, I’m not too big into, you know, bringing flashes or bringing a lot of lightning gear. So yeah, I run on free pair of marathon shoe outside.
Chamira Young: Yeah. And when you’re traveling that definitely becomes a necessity. Just curious, are you shooting video with your 5D?
Philip Ebiner: Yeah. So I used…Yeah, it does a lot of work video as well.
Chamira Young: Nice. Very nice. And yes, you did beat me to my next question perfectly fine about your favorite photography accessory that you have. I’ve seen, you know, I don’t use monopod myself but I’ve seen people used it that as much as a tri-pod. At my old place, they had one. And I kinda looked at it sitting in the corner but I never actually grabbed it. But I do see now that they can be handy.
Philip Ebiner: Yeah. I mean I think, for my video prospective, it’s just, that’s a lot easier to run around with it than I try to hang and set it up. And you know, try about it free… You’ll gonna need those long exposures or you just don’t wanna be holding the camera when you’re taking the photos sometimes. But the monopod has allows me to kinda run around, you know, snap photos and have that extra stability.
Chamira Young: Definitely. Definitely. Next, I wanna ask you about your post production workflow. Can you describe to us what your work flow is like after you’ve taken photos at the photo shoot? What kind of software your photos like to use?
Philip Ebiner: Yeah. So, I love the (software). That’s what I use to do most of my photo editing. So, after I take photos I dig on organization as well coz I have lots and lots and lots of folders on my computer on date equivalent and everything. So it’s easy for me to find my photos after I take them. And so… Yeah, I’ll just bring my photos in the light room, do the basic touch ups, make sure that exposure is right, always shooting in RAWs that I can play with. You know, all the pictures that the darks are bright enough, highlights are too bright, you know, make sure that the color bounces is right. And if I want to add a little warm to it or make a little bit cooler. One thing I tend to do a lot is, especially for my landscape photography is cropping my images to a wider format.
Chamira Young: Okay. Yeah.
Philip Ebiner: And yeah, so, light room is my favorite and I just do 2 basic edits, nothing too intense with it though.
Chamira Young: Okay. And I like what you’re saying about organization as well. Because when you come from a photo shoot you’ve taken like a thousand of photos or 1500 photos, organization really does become a big part of your workflow after that point and even trying to find a particular photo in the future, just having it organized can make your life a whole lot easier… a whole lot easier. And I’ve learned that the hard way. Haha. So next, I’d like to talk about lessons learned. I really like to pick your brain for the most common mistake that you have seen professional photographers make and also that can include yourself if you so choose it’s up to you.
Philip Ebiner: That’s great. Yeah. I think that a big mistake that I see young photographers make, just people that are trying to break into the business is just the fact that they don’t have a website or portfolio. I know so many people that you know, trying to be photographers but when you asked them, okay, where can I see your stuff? They don’t even have a website or a nice portfolio to see their work on.
Chamira Young: Yeah.
Philip Ebiner: And so, it takes a lot of time to you know, sit down and come up with a nice theme. Find a place to host your photography but you know it just surprised me like when people… and this goes for videos too… A lot of people, you know, want to break into the business but they don’t have work to show for their or they just don’t have anything to show and stuff. And so, from a very young age, you know I’ve always tried to put stuff online, put my videos online, put my photos online. And it’s really helped me because I’ve gone a countless of clients, countless of jobs just from people seeing my work online. And just like in video, I have to have a demo reel where I show you the best shots, the best practice that I can do in video. In photography, it’s the same. You have to have the website that shows your work. Another mistake that I see more and more amateurs taking is… Because I get a lot of people asking me, you know, what my tips are from people that aren’t photographers or just starting out; especially the classes that I’m teaching online and is just to shoot with a RAW settings. I know that, I know that’s huge file and its gonna take a lot of room but… People just don’t know what they are… and when they are starting out; they don’t know how to use them properly. And so, shooting in RAW settings will give you so much more room to edit your photos afterwards. And it is just amazing. You know, I’m sure a lot of you would say NO about that stuff and I don’t like it too much detail. But you know, when you’re shooting in your RAW setting and you have something you’re taking a photo when it’s dark outside or there’s dark areas in a photo, you can actually bring that stuff up and make it brighter enough to see in your photo. It’s amazing what cameras can do. So always shoot with your RAW settings.
Chamira Young: Yes. I’m so glad that you bring that up because many people don’t know. So, I’m sure whoever is listening right now and didn’t realize that I’m sure they’re taking notes. And also, having a website, yeah, many people expect you to have one. And I’ve encountered people not just photographers, but even graphic designers who are trying to break in to the industry. And you want to see their work and when they say “Oh, I don’t have a website” that really, at least on my part, it makes me wonder how much they, how much they really want it, how hard are they trying if they don’t have a web presence. It’s an absolutely a must.
Philip Ebiner: Yes. It’s all about the web presence. Now, it’s the first thing someone’s gonna do when, if they wanna hire you but they’ll gonna search for you in the google. So..
Chamira Young: Yes. It’s all about the web presence. Now, it’s the first thing someone’s gonna do when, if they wanna hire you but they’ll gonna search for you in the google. So..
Philip Ebiner: Yeah, so… I was thinking about this question a lot. And I was kinda think and it was like… Well, you know, when it comes down to a composition, is it lightning or…
Chamira Young: It’s a tricky question…
Philip Ebiner: Yeah. Is it what you’re taking on the picture… But really, I think when it comes down to what a story is behind a photo. Because you can take a photo that looks terrible but if there’s a story behind it, then, I think that’s what makes it the great photo and not an average photo. You know looking back the photos from; you know my parents’ old photos from when they were kids. You know what; none of them were great photographers and the photography equipment were so different back then, you know. Looking at my composition or lightning sampling, the photos would be trash but because it tells such a great story, that’s what makes it stand out. And so that’s what I try to do when I go out, when I’m traveling, you know. It’s more than… I’m always trying to like see what’s going on, see how the people are interacting, the culture that I am in. I’m trying to capture that story in the photo.
Chamira Young: That’s an awesome answer. I really liked that. And I can see how your video experience really ties in it because you’re trying to catch the story in nearly behind. And that’s awesome!
Philip Ebiner: Yeah. Glad you like it.
Chamira Young: Now what’s the one thing you wish you knew when you first started, I guess tipping your toes into photography and this can be for videography as well?
Philip Ebiner: Yeah, I think that goes for both. So I think 2 things. One is that you have to be prepared to market yourself and you have to learn how to market yourself. You know, you’re not gonna get clients just sitting back and even if you do have a great website and you have an awesome photos up on your website that show your skills. You’re not gonna get work unless you’re marketing yourself, unless you’re meeting people, unless you know going out and e-mailing and recounting out to people. And I’m bad at that and still bad at that and I think that I’m not a good example to such this like going out to advance meeting people. But I think that’s a skill that you have to have when you’re in this kind of field where it’s kinda of freelance world and you have to find work for yourself. So you have to learn how to market yourself. The other thing is that you just have to be okay with the freelance lifestyle. I mean, of course if you get into photography gig, a lot of companies, you know have a full time photographers…
Chamira Young: Ahuh.
Philip Ebiner: But most of photography is going to be the more of freelance gigs. And so, you have to be okay with that lifestyle. And it’s tough coz for video and photo I did that for a while coming out of college. And it was stressful, because you get a job and it would be great but then, it would end in a couple of weeks or in a day or whatever. And so, then you will have to go back and look for your next jobs.
Chamira Young: Exactly.
Philip Ebiner: It was, it was really tough to like live in that kind of mindset of “Oh, I always have to be working to find jobs” even if I’m not, even when you have jobs, you always going to be looking for more work. And so, that’s kinda why I’ve switched over to doing more of full time work for 2 years and you know, that lifestyle is completely different. It’s completely different going to a 9-5 job, having that you know, steady paycheck and that’s great for some people. And I really like that actually for that time in my life. And now, I’m kinda back in the free-stuff freelance mode and I think because I’ve had a couple of years under my belt, I have more contacts and more clients, you know it’s easier for me to find jobs. And so it’s a little less stressful for me now. I’m enjoying the freelance lifestyle you know, being able to work when I want or really when I can, because I try to work as much as I can. But there’s also a freedom that comes with it not having to worry about having enough vacation that I go with for my family during the holidays or whatever.
Chamira Young: Exactly, exactly. And such a good point. Also, we’re coming up in the end of this interview, one of the final questions, second to the last final question. We’ll see: Is there a particular photography resource, tool, book or software that you would recommend to our listeners today?
Philip Ebiner: Yeah, well. I’d probably selling a book of record at this point but because I come from the video background I would say a big resource for me and a source of inspiration is watching great videos. And so, I watch vimeo, V-I-M-E-O .com. They have a ton of great of artistic pieces that they constantly update. So if you check out their homepage, they always have interesting documentaries or music videos or just you know, artistic videos that are really inspiring for photographers coz you can learn different angles, different touch of shots. And yeah, now, it’s all like cameras, DSLRs camera and even the more high-end cameras that we shoot video with like the red and the left set, we’re using about the same lenses that we use for taking photos. So, you know the blend between photo and video and the barrier between photo and video is getting smaller. Even though, it’s a completely different mindset but you can still learn from that.
Chamira Young: That’s a good point. That’s a good point. And I will definitely check out the artistic videos on Vimeo. I will include a link to that in the show notes, I’m sure people have heard of it but still definitely good to know. So next, that brings us to end of the interview. But I wanted to make sure people know where to find you, your website, your online courses we kind of touches on your courses a little bit earlier in this interview but I do want people to know that you have quite a few online courses out covering photography, covering the video, covering a wide range. So, tell us where we can find you.
Philip Ebiner: Yeah. So the easiest would be on my website for my business which is videoschoolonline.com and that’s where you will find all my online courses. And yeah, like you said I have courses, a lot of courses in video but specifically for photographers I have Art and Craft and Travel Photography course; I have Introduction to Light Room course, Adobe Light Room Course, The Basic Photoshop Tools course. So there’s a lot of courses for photography as well so if you go to videoschoolonline.com, you’ll find all these courses. But I also blogs, podcast, I post tons of videos on my youtube channel and all can be view from videoschoolonline.com.
Chamira Young: Awesome. I didn’t realize that you have a podcast though. I’m a podcast junkie; can I have a name of it?
Philip Ebiner: Yeah. It’s just a Video School Online podcast and I, you know, I’ve been doing one every couple of months. It’s really I haven’t have enough time to really do it out there and do it regularly. But I’ve got some podcast out there now and yeah…
Chamira Young: Oh, very good. Very good. I think you have found a new subscriber today and I will have to check that out.
Philip Ebiner: Great!
Chamira Young: Well thank you so much for just being with us. We really really appreciate it and yeah… You’re awesome, you’re creative productive and you just have a super bright future of you. Thank you so much, Phil!
Philip Ebiner: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me and have a great time on podcast if ever you want me back I’d love to be back. I wish you all the best.
Chamira Young: Awesome!
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