New Book, Doc from Joey L are Both Pretty Awesome

I was just planning to write about Joey's new book today, when he and Cale Glendening up and dropped a free, high-def 43-minute documentary onto Vimeo. Both are inside.

Long story short, cancel any remaining cubicle productivity for the afternoon. Your work can wait.

Photographing Shadow and Light

First off, I'll admit to being a little close to the new book, as I wrote the forward. But in doing so, I was forced to take a close look at the entire body of work of a ridiculously young photographer and what that means for the industry as it exists today.

Joey Lawrence (more commonly disambiguated from the '80's TV heartthrob as Joey L) represents a new genre of photographer in the digital/internet age. We are now in a time where talent and persistence trump age and seniority. Where work succeeds based on merit, not on access to a traditional printing press.

Long-time readers of this site are familiar with Joey, dating back to this early interview. The series was entitled Beers With [Name of Photog}. But seeing as he was only 17, I decided to tweak him by recasting it as Milk With Joey Lawrence.

The joke was on me. The person I met by phone conversation that day was already well on his way to being an accomplished photographer, and the arc of his success was accelerating from there.

You may roll your eyes at the thought of a teenager shooting major movie posters and international ad campaigns and ambitious personal projects but to get to know Joey is to realize that long term vision and perseverance are not necessarily related to age.

Put differently, if you are waiting until you are old enough to be a successful [anything], you are doing it wrong. All of the photos in his book were created when he was 21 or younger. It's as impressive as it is sickening.

Joey's new book is a comprehensive manual into what he does, how he does it and why. Readers of this site will not be disappointed in the amount of behind the scenes info with respect to lighting, logistics, post production and just about anything else you would want.

The overarching theme is one of a person not willing to quit. The body of work—and explanations into how it was done—quickly dispel the sour grapes "must be dumb luck" reaction that I suspect many people have to his hyper success at such a young age. As such, it is a pretty good roadmap for anyone willing to beat their head against the wall hard and long enough to achieve creative success of any kind.

Is it a template for success? Nope. That takes more than a book—something that will be abundantly clear after reading Photographing Shadow and LIght.

But it is, I think, an up-to-the-minute textbook on how the system works for up-and-coming photographers—and what it demands of them.

And here's the thing. I don't think he has really found himself yet. Which is, like, scary exciting to me. Right now, he exists in two worlds. The commercial shoots drive the personal projects, which in turn bring in more commercial shoots. And as successful as he is, he is still somewhat dependent on the commercial photography ecosystem.

I think it is only a matter of time before he figures out how to extract himself from the demands of the commercial work, and devote himself to self-generated work full-time. And to me, that's when things are going to get really interesting.

But for now, PS&L is equal parts inspiration and roadmap for those of you looking to decode the art/commerce environment as it exists today. Especially, especially if you are a young, digital-native photographer exploring your options.

For under $20, [Amazon] Joey L's trail of breadcrumbs is a no-brainer.


And as a very cool bonus, here is the just-released full-length doc that actually features the production of some of the images in the book. It's by Cale Glendening, Joey's frequent partner in crime. It's 43 minutes long, and will leave you with a good sense of who these guys are and what they are seeking to accomplish.


(Note: Vimeo, which is hosting the video, seems to be having some issues. If it is not displaying, you may have to check back in a bit. -DH)


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Blogger Edward Carlile Photography said...

That was beautifully shot,edited and presented. The photographs were beautiful and the backstories and words of the people interviewed were profound in their simplicity and truth.
I haven't enjoyed watching a piece of film like this in years.

December 10, 2012 6:54 PM  
Blogger Kyle said...

My long-awaited copy arrived today and I've been reading it all night. It's well-printed and well-written. A great complement to his DVD and his blog, if you've been following along. Love it. Good stuff.

December 10, 2012 9:57 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I received the book last week and it's really damn good. I actually enjoy it better than his tutorials, and I don't mean that to be a back-handed compliment. The book is serious value.

December 10, 2012 10:57 PM  
Blogger Jonh Hernández said...

I been a fan of joey L since i heard of him, 3 years or so, and to me he is the most talented individual I know.

Not just as a photographer, but i think he is one of this people that would be good at anything he does because of the passion he puts into it.

The video is just perfect, really well done.

I been in India for quite a long time, and the only thing i don't like of this is how it only shows one side of the story, because want to accept it or not India is not just a peacefull spiritual place, its also the black hole of humanity, where the worse of our nature can be found.

The best and the worse of humanity seem to meet in India, and specially in Varanasi.

December 11, 2012 5:14 AM  
Blogger Mark Hoy said...

The link for the video on Vimeo is

December 11, 2012 1:45 PM  
Blogger Wing Tang Wong said...

Just purchased on Amazon. Can't wait to read it.

December 11, 2012 2:09 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


As someone who worked as a journalist for 20+ years, I can tell you that true balance and objectivity are a pipe dream. Not to mention highly overrated.

If you want to try to tell the entire story of Varanasi in one piece, good luck with that. But I agree with the camp that says find a compelling story and tell it.

If you think the black hole of humanity story is the one that needs telling, tell that.

December 11, 2012 2:17 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


I am sure there is a point to your comment, but for the life of me...

December 11, 2012 2:18 PM  
Blogger Southern Skies Coffee Roasters said...

Wow. Just when you start to feel somewhat competent, along comes someone that makes your stock fall through the floor.

Again, Joey L shows that narrative truly is what matters. If you're not telling a story, you're just making pretty pictures.

December 11, 2012 3:02 PM  
Blogger pswann said...

@David, I'll bet @Mark was giving the link to the Vimeo page itself in case people wanted to go there to read the comments viewers who watched it there might've left. Also, for some reason I find that my viewer hangs up less if I watch directly from the Vimeo page rather than inline (though I know they're both coming from the same place) so I appreciated it.

December 11, 2012 5:29 PM  
Blogger Larry said...

Incredible insight from a group of 'youngsters'. Thanks to all three for 'Beyond'. I wish I had the knowledge that these the have when I was 20 something.

December 11, 2012 5:36 PM  
Blogger RexGRP said...

Thanks for the feature. I enjoyed the video.
And, David, your forward to start the book is thoughtful and well written.

December 11, 2012 5:40 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


Thanks. And watching him create his own ecosystem is as fascinating as it is educational.


Maybe he doesn't know all you have to do is to click on the viewer to be taken to the page? Who knows...

December 11, 2012 6:20 PM  
Blogger Bob Foscue said...

Simply Awesome. I bought the book. Thanks for sharing - it made my day & week...maybe longer.

December 11, 2012 8:52 PM  
Blogger jlmoriarty said...

The work of those three gifted young men reflects a level of maturity and profound dedication to craft; a level of insight beyond what they could possibly understand; and a level of humanity that will only explode with time.

I commend them and you also David for recognizing it and bring it to our attention.

Thank you.

December 11, 2012 9:29 PM  
Blogger shmazo said...

Great. Much to be learned from this piece about a lot of things - not just photography. I am amazed at the look of the shots after seeing the simple setup - guess I will need to check out the book! Thanks.

December 12, 2012 2:03 AM  
Blogger Sunita Thyagarajan said...

Loved the post and the video! You pretty much summed it up for me. Truly inspirational and motivating!

Being from India, I must say that, creating these pics. must not have been easy. Yes, he had already been there 3 years prior to this, but India esp. Varanasi is a place that can overwhelm your senses and most 19 year olds don't want to deal with this kind of stimulation. The fact that he chose to embrace the culture and chaos and accept and respect it for what it is shows a level of maturity and passion that's rarely seen.

Thank you for sharing this! Can't wait to read his book and see more BTS from him.

December 12, 2012 5:50 AM  
Blogger fatboyslim said...

Heads up for those not in the US

You can get the book from

free shipping! I've ordered my copy!

December 12, 2012 10:49 PM  
Blogger Jaleel King said...

This is sweet now do I get the e-book or the hard copy! Decisions! :)

December 13, 2012 3:42 PM  
Blogger Michael McMullen said...

Maybe @Mark put the link there because sometimes the viewer doesn't show up in the browser, like for me right now, and an outside link is helpful. Honestly, did you approve his comment just to tear into him?

December 17, 2012 5:19 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


No, I didn't. Vimeo is completely down right now.

December 17, 2012 5:27 PM  
Blogger Mark Hoy said...

I posted the link because I couldn't see the embedded Vimeo (I can now) or a link to it so was just trying to be helpful :-(

December 20, 2012 4:22 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

Sorry Mark. Could have well been Vimeo starting to go down and I was not seeing it yet. Please accept my apologies.

I screen a lot—A LOT—of troll/asshole/bigoted/etc. comments (that you guys never see) here and sometimes it makes me pre-disposed to react misjudge valid ones.


December 20, 2012 4:54 PM  
Blogger Southern Skies Coffee Roasters said...

And thanks for doing that David. People need to learn to be kinder to one another.

December 20, 2012 4:56 PM  
Blogger Grisanti said...


January 08, 2013 11:55 AM  
Blogger Roberto Falck said...

Looks amazing. All the best in this project!

February 27, 2013 7:20 PM  

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