Its exciting getting your very first digital camera. Whether you have a DSLR, Mirrorless or even a point and shoot, learning it can be overwhelming. At times, its okay to put it in auto mode. As long as you are taking pictures, you are going to keep getting better. In fact, as I was learning my camera, I would set it to auto mode and see what settings the camera picked. Then I would switch to manual and set those exact settings and eventually learned to adjust what I felt was better. Heres a few tips on how you can learn more about taking … [Read more...] about New Camera? Now What?
A great way to challenge yourself and enhance your skills is to shoot some personal projects. Here is an opportunity to stretch your imagination. Building sets, buying props, coordinating wardrobe, scouting locations and casting talent are all part of the process of shooting your personal projects. When you apply all these things, your ideas will come to life. I'll get an idea visually, and then I need to make it happen. Like this 30's Hollywood glamour shot:Once I cast the beautiful actress, Sarah Deakins, I needed to get hair and make-up. … [Read more...] about Shooting Personal Projects
In part 1 of this post, I discussed growing your weak areas and developing a dream client communication plan. Here in part 2, were going to take a look at additional ways you can set goals in order to foster growth for your photography and your business. Lets start with the scary subject first: numbers. Creating Measurable Goals: The Step-By-Step Process Continued Understanding Your Numbers As a photographer, have you thought about how much money you want to make in a given year? Have you thought about how much you need to make in order to … [Read more...] about How To Create Measurable Photography Goals: Part 2
Setting Measurable Goals To Foster Growth: Part 1 Have you ever felt your passion for photography grow stagnant? I certainly have, and let me tell you, its not a pleasant feeling. You wonder what the purpose is of snapping photos; youre not completely satisfied with your interactions with your clients ; you sense a lack of growth with the quality of your photos, and your income begins to suffer. I have had to pick myself up from face-planting into this wall more often than I would like to admit. So much, in fact, that writing about it will … [Read more...] about How To Create Measurable Photography Goals: Part 1
A lot of us are just coming out of the fog of Christmas photography rush orders and holiday shipping deadlines for photo products. We finally have time to breathe, and browse, and shop! I've put together a list of gifts that I'd personally recommend that hopefully, a little bit different than other lists you've seen. Of course, some are super fun repeats, but I'd be delighted to hear if one of these items tickles you. Let me know in the comments. Lets start with some fun Because we all need fun! Fun PolaRoll This retro camera toilet paper … [Read more...] about 2015 Holiday Gift Guide
It's that time of the year when photographers should look back on the year that was and look forward on the year that can be. Here are a few practical and inspirational tips to grow photographically. 1. Spend more time working with the gear that you have rather than thinking about the gear that you want to have next. Seriously, today's cameras and lenses are so powerful and capable that they will most likely be able to do the job 99% of the time. And the more you concentrate on what you have, the better you'll get at finding ways to make it … [Read more...] about 8 New Year’s resolutions to improve your photography!
The other day, I was watching a family take photos in front of a Christmas tree. They were standing directly in front of it. I realized that with a bit of practice, and knowledge, we can really use the lights in the tree to our advantage, and set the stage for a fantastic background for our holiday portraits. Set Up Ive started with a Christmas tree, of course. I placed a seat about 4 feet in front of the tree, and placed a cushion and blanket on top of it. It provided a great place to put the baby where the lights would be behind her. Using … [Read more...] about Christmas Bokeh and Compression
This upcoming podcast, Richard and I will sit down to go over several reader's questions. Anything regarding gear, business questions, recent photography news, lighting and more. If there's something you want explained, post your question in the comments below. We will take a handful of questions and mention your name in the podcast. … [Read more...] about Q and A Podcast: What questions do you want answered?
In a recent Skype chat with photographer Joey Jones, we were casually discussing how he runs his successful portrait photography business. At one point, he casually stated, The camera is just a tool. Its what you do with it that counts. Needless to say, Joey was spot on. It was something I myself had only realized in recent years. Where were those wise words when I was going through my lengthy "equipment insecurity phase? For many of us trying to make money off of our photography talent, there can be constant pressure to collect expensive, … [Read more...] about Your Camera Is Just A Tool: YOU Are The Secret Sauce
One of the most common posts I see in photography forums and groups are those upset about the prices other photographers are charging. While this may be a bit of a controversial post, I'd like to offer another way to view this oft argued subject. It never fails, after a year or two of charging for your services, you start running into the novice shoot-and-burn photogs. They sprout up out of nowhere and seem to multiply like rabbits. You see post after post of sessions for $50-$100 with a CD full of images. Immediately, your hackles rise and … [Read more...] about Every Photographer Has a Place
As photographers, we often pride ourselves in our ability to see the inspiration and creative potential in any scene. This is a skill that comes through practice and the development of your artistic eye over time. This may seem to come naturally, especially for seasoned photographers, but there is never a bad time to refresh your skills. I find this is best accomplished in the form of a good challenge. For this article, that is precisely what I sought: an exercise in inspiration. I invite you to follow along. The Challenge: Taking a Scene from … [Read more...] about An Exercise In Inspiration
I am sitting here this morning, after waking up at 4:15 am to help a friend with a photography project on the beach, thinking about our friendship. We met a few years ago when our kids were starting swim team together. We started talking about things beyond family and kids, and got into what we really do. What, at the heart of it, is our life, or skills, and our passion. She's one of the top graphic and textile designers in the world. Her talent and her skills are top notch. Not a humble brag, this friend has the pedigree and resume to back it … [Read more...] about Finding A Mentor
Recently, I stumbled upon a simple flower photo I took years ago on vacation. It was snapped just for fun as I was walking along a path at a Michigan ski resort in the summer. At the time, I was happy with it - in fact, I thought Id done a great job. Since that time, my retouching skills and editing curiosity have grown significantly, so I thought Id take another crack at it. Actually, I decided to take several cracks at it to see how different styles worked across the same photo. Re-Working a Past Photo The way that a photographer styles a … [Read more...] about How Many Ways Can You Style a Photo?
What kind of story are you telling as a photographer? Please watch the above video and share your thoughts below in the comments. This experiment was recently posted and I wanted to create some dialogue and discuss how we can grow and learn. The pictures we create have the opportunity to share with the world amazing stories. This video had several photographers shoot one subject. Each photographer was given 10 minutes and a story about who their subject was. Their goal was to create a portrait of the man they were taking a picture of. What … [Read more...] about The Power You Have As A Photographer
Welcome to the third of six posts focused on topics found in my newest book, The Visual Palette. Each of these posts will include a free sample download from my book for you to download and enjoy. You can also check out Part 2 in case you missed it. You can learn more about my first published book by clicking on the button at the bottom of this post! The word "Distortion" is usually synonymous with being an aberrationsomething you correct for and go to great lengths to avoid. And sure, depending on the nature of your photography, that very … [Read more...] about The Visual Palette – A Friend in Distortion
Welcome to the second of six posts focused on topics found in my newest book, The Visual Palette. Each of these posts will include a free sample download from my book for you to download and enjoy. You can also check out Part 1 in case you missed it. You can learn more about my first published book by clicking on the button at the bottom of this post! Often times, the term, Depth of Field (DoF), is mentioned as it relates to the quality of fast lenses. We associate fast lenses are large apertures with creating a shallow DoF, and that is very … [Read more...] about The Visual Palette – Depth of Field
Welcome to the first of six posts focused on topics found in my newest book, The Visual Palette. Each of these posts will include a free sample download from my book for you to download and enjoy. You can learn more about my first published book by clicking on the button at the bottom of this post! When I first set out to write The Visual Palette, my hope was that it would serve as a guide for all of the photographers out there who strive to identify what their unique visual style looks like. One of the most important steps in this journey is … [Read more...] about The Visual Palette – Allies in Perspective and Distortion
Newborn photography has become very popular in recent years, and in that genre, there have been many trends. Styles range from simple and minimalistic, to highly stylized with props and backdrops. Most recently, I have noticed a trend with flags being used to wrap up or hold newborns. This is very popular with families in the Armed Forces and those wanting to show pride in their country. As photographers, it is our responsibility to provide our clients with the images they desire while being responsible in the process. This not only means … [Read more...] about Using Flag Scarves for Newborn Portraits
Renee Robyn is a pretty freakin awesome and inspiring person that is out to show how beautiful the world can be-- I'm pretty sure that's what you just learned in the video, that is if you weren't distracted by SmugMug's gorgeous cinematic display of her and her work. But besides being awesome at what she does, which is compositing multiple images to make an awesome image, she's a really cool person. First off, she's got a blue streak of hair. Secondly, she rides a motorcycle. Thirdly, she's pretty freakin deep and down to earth. But seriously, … [Read more...] about Renee Robyn – A dose of creative inspiration
I suspect a lot of photographers can relate to the scenario of arriving on location with your camera but without much certainty about what to do with it. This happens to me a lot. Its not like we always have the luxury of having every frame mapped out before we even arrive. Sometimes, there is a foggy vagueness that you need to contend with before things begin falling into place. When this happens, it helps to have something to pull out of your bag o trickssome go-to thing that you can do to at least engage the creative portion of your brain. … [Read more...] about Quick Photo Tip: Have doubts? Just pan!
Photographers are a very fickle bunch. In many ways, we can be supportive, kind, and well-intentioned towards other photographers. I like to think that we all want to help others succeed and enjoy themselves, but unfortunately, not everyone has the same approach. Photographers are competitive. I totally get it. And very few will say what they really are thinking to your face. Have you ever become discouraged after seeing something amazing posted by another photographer? I know I have. It's tough to feel accomplished when you see your … [Read more...] about Photographers: Don’t Let Them Crush You
As we progress as photographic artists, one of the most difficult things to master is the editing process. By "editing" I am not referring to post-processing, but rather the selection process of what photos we like and will print, add to our portfolio, or share online. Being a good editor means we recognize the good from the bad, which is more difficult when it is our own work. We have sentiment attached to the photographs that we take, and there's just no way around that. It could be from the subject in the photograph, or maybe just because we … [Read more...] about Discovering Your Old Photos with a Fresh Set of Eyes
Feature image metadata: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens, 6 sec at f/16, ISO 100 (6-stop ND filter used for long-exposure) The simple act of creating art is oftentimes all that I need to get through the day. Even with the other crafty things I do, such as ceramics, the pure motion of forming the clay into something that is beautiful is enough make me happy. I also knit, and the reason I knit is to watch what I am making slowly become something usable, beautiful, and soft. The moment of creation is what I live for. Sure, it's … [Read more...] about Reliving the Photographic Moment
Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph. -Matt Hardy … [Read more...] about “ Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph. – Matt Hardy
Ive been an assistant to some of the most talented people, working on cool projects and helping at awesome workshops. I feel absolutely blessed. The key theme I heard from many that I was helping was that it was so hard to find a great assistant. And once they find a great assistant they hold on and create a stronger team and better pictures. Heres are some key points to be a great assistant: 1. Anticipate Do NOT wait around and wait for someone to tell you want to do but anticipate and be fast. For example, if you are assisting a wedding … [Read more...] about Five Keys to Being a Great Assistant
Everyone has a story about how they came to love photography. It seems some were practically born with a camera in their hands, some discovered their passion in their teen years as a way to express themselves, while others did not discover photography until later in life. I am one of those that fall into the latter category. When I was 26, I made the decision to go back to college and get a degree in Sociology. While signing up for electives, I thought it would be brilliant to take a beginners photography class, and what excited me most was … [Read more...] about Finding Your Niche
To the complaint, 'There are no people in these photographs,' I respond, There are always two people: the photographer and the viewer. ? Ansel Adams … [Read more...] about “To the complaint, ‘There are no people in these photographs,’ I respond, There are always two people: the photographer and the viewer.” ― Ansel Adams
You don't make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved. ? Ansel Adams … [Read more...] about “You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” ― Ansel Adams
It's Friday, and that means a little bit of reminiscing. Which camera did you get first? A look back at the start of the Phototofocus team and their photography careers. Hear from some of our writers which camera they used first in their lives. https://youtu.be/IUaYXpvN_sM __________________ … [Read more...] about Which Camera Was Your First?
A wedding photographer colleague of mine came to me the other day bummed out. She had gotten a less than stellar review on one of the bridal industry's most used websites for brides to find vendors. She was frustrated and I was surprised. I know her work well and she's exceptional. She's cultivated a style that is uniquely hers and I can recognize her images in an instant. She tells me that this client claimed to dislike her photos because they weren't the style she was expecting and she wanted more "candids". I asked my friend to show me her … [Read more...] about How Client Meetings Change Everything