When you make a portrait, your aim should be for maximum impact. Emotion, lighting, and movement all lend impact to a picture, but the way you frame the photo also makes a huge difference. the closer you get to your subject, the more intimate and impactful the picture will be. Off With Their Heads! Considering that most headshots are viewed on very small screens and business cards, the more impact the better. By cropping off the top of the heads you give more room in the frame for the eyes, which are the most important thing in every … [Read more...] about Portrait Tips: Crop the Top
Tokyo is to Japan as New York City is the US: modern, frenetic, a mélange of sub-cultures; in short, a blast! You can’t do it all, don't even try, there’s just too much going on. But it’s great fun to explore and most corners are interesting. We covered aspects of the transportation system two posts ago: it is comprehensive and user-friendly, clean and safe. (If you missed it, here's a link). Should you find yourself lost, no worries: it’s doubtful you could find yourself in an unsavory situation. Most Japanese will go out of their way to … [Read more...] about Japan for the Traveling Photographer: Part 4: Tackling Tokyo
About 80% of my workload has to do with photographing corporate events. These can range from a speaking event to a social, happy hour event, but one thing is clear — there are five "must-take" photographs for every event I shoot. 1) The Speaker One of the most important shots is that of the main speaker. Usually, an event always has at least one speaker, either formally or informally. Be sure to capture this from multiple angles to give a unique perspective. If there are multiple speakers, be sure to repeat this process. 2) … [Read more...] about Five “Must-Take” Photographs for Corporate Events
It's important to keep a shoot moving along, keep your subjects engaged, and keep up appearances that you know what you're doing, right? We all want to appear to be in confident control. However, it's also important to pay attention and make adjustments so that you don't waste time making pictures that are going to cost you more work to finish than they may be worth. Let me give you some examples. Lint & Pet Hair You will spend decades of your life retouching lint and hair off suits and jackets if you don't catch it before you start … [Read more...] about Portrait Tips: Fix It Now, Not In Photoshop
Back in January, I joined Vanelli as a co-instructor on the “Vanelli and Friends Model Workshop” on a Royal Caribbean cruise to the Bahamas. A group of photographers and several models set sail for several days at sea. The ship became our floating studio. Golden Hour and Blue Hour My favorite time to shoot is at dusk, just as the sun is hitting the horizon and the sky is exploding with colors. As golden hour ends, blue hour begins. Golden hour is the time right before the sun sets. Blue hour is that time after sunset when the sky turns a … [Read more...] about Photography in The Floating Studio
Editor's Note: This is a Guest Post by pet photographer, Darcy Evans. See more of his photography here. As a working professional photographer, one thing I can say for sure is that photoshoots rarely go exactly as planned. If something can go wrong, it likely will. The focus of my photography business is pets, so you can guess that when live animals are involved, this is even more true. I find that it is super important to remain adaptable during shoots and to always keep an open mind to new ideas. Bring the Outdoors In Recently I was … [Read more...] about Inspiration Can Strike Anywhere (Or How I Made the Most Viewed Photos of My Career)
Here's a quick tip that will help you be more creative while shooting and manage details. You need to know your software tools at least as well as you know your camera and lights. This has been on my mind, lately, behind I've been demonstrating Luminar for lots of folks and it's amazed me how quickly I've been able to integrate it into my workflow and understand how it can affect my pictures. Photoshop isn't New "Getting it right in the camera" is often invoked as the hallmark of a good photographer, but it's a big misconception. Ever since … [Read more...] about Portrait Tips: Know Your Software
When it comes to the micro four-thirds system, one of the biggest complaints I hear is that you're limited by the sensor. And while you can certainly make that argument, for me it's more about my needs and usage. But for the times when you do need a larger photograph, both Olympus and Panasonic now offer high-resolution shooting modes in their top-of-the-line cameras, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 MkII, E-M5 MkII and the Lumix DC-G9, which create an 80-megapixel photo. How it Works Both cameras work the same way in terms of how high-resolution photos … [Read more...] about Mirrorless Camera Maniac: How To Make Super-High-Res Photos with MFT Cameras
I should have followed this rule the other day. I photographed 50 people in a row and I need to finish all of those pictures for delivery. It’d be a lot easier to get a great starting point if I had shot a white balance target to begin with. Why Not Use Auto White Balance? Auto white balance reads the colors in the scene and makes a judgment about how to compensate for those colors. It’s supposed to make the color of light look great, but there are a couple of problems when shooting a lot of portraits with a flash. First, if you’re not … [Read more...] about Portrait Tips: Why You Shouldn’t Use Auto White Balance
Guitarist, singer, and photographer Ken Susi of the band, "Unearth", dropped by the Photographic Test Kitchen, for a portrait session. Our goal is how to create a different look by using colors. Creating the First Image In the first image, I used 2 Dynalite Baja B6 strobes, one on either side and slightly behind Ken, giving him the light on his face. Both strobes had a Dynalite 20 degree, 7” grid. The ends of both of the grids were wrapped in Rosco Cinefoil, black tin foil, that controls how the light is spread. On the left side I used a … [Read more...] about Coloring a Rockstar
When using studio strobes or a hot shoe flash, you might come across a black gradient at the bottom of your images. This happens when you have too fast of a shutter speed, blocking part of the frame lit by your speedlight or strobe. There's an easy way to avoid this. Check your camera's manual for the "sync" shutter speed for flash. Then, keep your shutter speed set at that speed or slower when using speedlight or electronic flash. A shutter set at "sync" or slower ensures the light can fully illuminate the scene your camera captures. … [Read more...] about Quick Tip: How to Get Rid of the Black Gradient at the Bottom of My Photo
Sports is an exciting yet intricate field of photography. CrossFit is perhaps one of the most exciting of all. I've been specializing in this amazing sport for over two years. I finally decided to gather my thoughts on the subject. Here is some of my top advice to get incredible athlete portraits on your next WOD-Workout Of the Day. Three essential components To me, a great action shot combines three essential elements: light, movement, and expression. A good action shot gets two of them. But a real jaw-dropping great picture hits all three. … [Read more...] about How to Step Up Your CrossFit Photography Game
I spent yesterday making portraits at a corporate event, and several people tried to insist that they wanted to remove their eyeglasses for their portraits. This happens a lot, and it's usually because your subject has had a bad experience wearing glasses in portraits before. Here are a few good reasons your subject should wear their glasses in portraits. Recognition There's a picture of my family at my parents' house, and there's a guy I just don't recognize in that photo: it's my dad. But my dad has worn glasses every day since he was in … [Read more...] about Portrait Tips: 3 Good Reasons You Should Wear Your Glasses
(Editor's note: The following article is part of a class Photofocus authors will be teaching--sponsored by Skylum, makers of Luminar--at ShutterFest April 3-4, 2018. Each day we will post helpful tips and tricks plus share some of our behind the scenes videos. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter or check back here. Remember to also follow Skylum!) Creating a photo series isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Norman Rockwell—an American author, painter, and illustrator—is famous for creating a series of paintings reflecting American … [Read more...] about How to Create a Photo Series: Learn How Live at ShutterFest 2018
One of the things I'm asked to photograph often are speakers at corporate events. These can be boring and uninspiring if not photographed right. So remember this — look at the background and position yourself so there's some texture and depth present behind your subject. In the photo above, the picture frames to the left created a geometrical interest that draws the viewer into the subject's face. Whereas with the photo below, the cross-section of metal helps to frame the subject. If you can, play around with the positioning of your camera, … [Read more...] about Quick Tip: What Makes a Great Photo of a Speaker?
A comment on one of my recent articles got me to thinking that I need to write some tips on how to make good looking photos on a grey day. This is the second in a series of challenges to get out and shoot even when the weather isn’t cooperating. Think In Black and White Even on the best of days, it can be difficult to find the time or motivation to get out and shoot, compound that feeling with grey skies and the gloom can seem palpable. So, here’s my next assignment for you: The next grey day, go out thinking in black and white. You … [Read more...] about Quick Tip: Shooting On A Grey Day – Black and White
You can double the unique pictures you make during every shoot by utilizing the No-Look portrait. Most portraits include the subjects looking at the camera smiling. But every pose you set up and each location should also include shots with the subject looking someplace other than into the camera. Don't Look Ahead One key to the No-Look portrait is that the subject should rarely be looking right where their body is facing. When the subject is looking downward in-line with the rest of their body it looks a little depressed or like they're … [Read more...] about Portrait Tips: Include the No-Look Look
The other morning I was in the mountains waiting for the sun to rise and looking for the right composition. The moon was helping me because it was indicating exactly where the sun would be rising, which was great because the layers of hills made it hard to see the center of the sun's glow. Anytime the moon is not full, the thickest part is pointing toward the sun, and you can use this to know where the sun will be. … [Read more...] about Quick Tip: Use the Moon to Find the Sun
A comment on one of my recent articles got me to thinking that I need to write some tips on how to make good looking photos on a grey day. This is the first in a series of challenges to get out and shoot even when the weather isn’t cooperating. Think In Color Assignment number 1 - On the next grey day, when you think there couldn’t possibly be anything pretty or compelling to make photographs of, go out and find color in your world. Muted colors can be nice, but I’m thinking big, bold and beautiful colors like Calder Red, Blue Bridge Blue … [Read more...] about Quick Tip: Shooting On A Grey Day – Color
When packing for trips, I find myself seesawing between my Fuji X system and Nikon DSLRs. We do underwater, street, nature and landscape photography. Do I pack the Fuji X-Pro2, the crop sensor Nikon D500 and my old D800 or complicate things and buy the new Nikon D850? Earlier this winter, we were packing for street and winter nature and landscape photography in Japan. My wife and partner in Aperture Photo Arts is a die-hard Fuji shooter and between us, we have most of the Fuji X lenses and spare camera bodies. This was the logical … [Read more...] about Rediscovering a lens that I already owned
As photographers, depth of field is something that's important to take into account with every image we produce. While it can create some cool creative effects like bokeh, it can also be used in professional ways to create a more appealing photograph. What is Depth of Field? Simply put, depth of field is the "distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appears acceptably sharp in an image" (Wikipedia). A large, or broad, depth of field (small opening large number i.e. f/16) has more of the image sharp and in-focus, … [Read more...] about Mastering Depth of Field
(Vanelli's note: Michèle Grenier, a talented sports photographer based out of Quebec City, Canada, needed 75 hours of mentoring before she could complete her degree in photography. After meeting her at Photoshop World a year earlier, she called to ask me if I could be her mentor—I’m based out of the East Coast of Florida. Honored, I said yes and, when she arrived, we dove into a 13-hour day of learning and shooting. Her first shoot was at a high school track-and-field event. To help reinforce her learning, I asked her to gather her thoughts and … [Read more...] about How I Got the Shot: The High Jump
(Editor's Note: This is a guest post from our partner mpb.com a great place to use your old gear to acquire newer gear.) For many, the thought of revisiting an old location may seem like a step back rather than the potential for a step forward in terms of honing your skills. However, as you grow as a photographer and as your personal perceptions change, a location can develop a new meaning or open new opportunities. Locations don’t wait for you to photograph them, nor do they give you a heads up when conditions are ideal for you to realize … [Read more...] about Do You Revisit Old Locations?
I look at a lot of portraits and I can confidently offer a general critique of 99% of them. I see work from photographers who make very good portraits with great lighting and terrific wardrobe and beautiful people, but they lack this one thing that would turn an otherwise well-made portrait into an intriguing piece of art. The problem with most portraits is that they lack engagement. What the Heck Is Engagement? By this, I mean that the subject of the photo looks a little blank. Looks like they don't care, or like they don't have any opinion … [Read more...] about Portrait Tips: You Gotta Make ‘Em Engage!
Every lens manufacturer wants their potential customers and users to know how wonderfully sharp their lenses are. Great pains are taken to tweak all aspects of things technical to correct any that need be tamed to make wonderfully crisp images; spherical and color aberrations, coma, astigmatism, etc. So, if we crave the ultra sharp, why wouldn’t we simply want every image to be really “sharp”? To be or not to be--sharp Some subjects are sharpness dependent, for without detail the image is lost. Macro photos of things like insects, big … [Read more...] about Tech Corner: Soft Effect Lenses and Filters-Still Relevant After All These Years…
Love that blurred background look, but don't have a lens with a wide open aperture? Even if you're limited to something like a kit lens, you can still achieve the same effect. Both of the above photos were shot with my Olympus 40-150 f/2.8 lens at the same 40mm focal length, with an aperture of f/4. The only difference was that I physically moved closer for the photo on the right, which helped to shrink the area of focus. This in turn helped to blur the background more than it was. The same trick can work for any type of shot — try it at your … [Read more...] about Quick Tip: Get Close to Achieve a Shallow Depth of Field
Photographers love symmetry. We like things neat and we like horizons straight. That's great for landscapes and products, but when you photograph groups of people you need to rein in your symmetry bug and set things a little off-kilter. If you line up faces side by side with eyes and mouths at the same level it looks static and the people don't look cozy or comfortable. Sometimes you can solve this simply by tilting the camera a little bit, which will misalign their eyes and mouths and it gives the image more energy. A rule of thumb is that … [Read more...] about Portrait Tips: Avoid Symmetry In Groups
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Cathy Seaver, a commercial photographer in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She works primarily for Cull Group shooting product, corporate headshots, and other client needs. In her off time, Cathy enjoys getting out into nature to shoot what she sees around her. She is also an avid horseback rider, enjoying her time in the saddle on trails and playing around with a bit of dressage. Check out her work on Instagram. Shooting commercially, a photographer doesn’t necessarily get to choose what they are shooting, … [Read more...] about Turning a Boring Shoot Into an Inspired Photo Session
When you make a picture--any kind of picture--you should think, "What word would I use to describe this picture?" From what I've seen on the interwebs, lately, the word most people seem to choose for their portraits is simply "sexy." If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then surely we should expand our vocabularies to include more words and elicit more expressions and moods. Even if sexy is the word you're going for, look it up in a thesaurus and use other words to get there. If you talk with your subject about this and discuss various words … [Read more...] about Portrait Tips: Expand Your Vocabulary
In today's digital cameras, there are a plethora of options in terms of setting your white balance. And many photographers I talk to just set it on the Auto setting and never think twice about it. But there are major benefits to not only setting your white balance but using a specific setting called the Kelvin scale. Why Worry About White Balance? I've found that, in most situations, Auto White Balance (often noted as "AWB" on cameras) does a pretty good job. The colors are well-represented, and I rarely get a weird cast when shooting. But … [Read more...] about What is Kelvin White Balance, and How Do I Use It?