what_is_aperture_everything_you_need_to_know_about_exposure

Exposure – Everything You Need to Know About it

Today, I will tell you everything you need to know about exposure. The three most important pillars of photography – aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Whether you are a beginner or one who has been into cameras for a while now, but have not been able to get a hang of manual mode yet, I am hoping this post will make it easier for you to comprehend all that.

What exactly is exposure? When you take a picture, you allow light to enter your camera, and that exposes your camera’s sensor to light. Now, if more light enters than is required, the photograph will become too bright, or overexposed. And if less light enters than is required, then the photograph will be too dark and underexposed. So, we have to make sure that the right amount of light enters the camera, and results in a correctly exposed photograph.

The Camera's Viewfinder - You can see Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO at the bottom.
The Camera’s Viewfinder – You can see the Exposure Meter at the bottom.

The light meter you see in the viewfinder of your camera, helps you determine the correct exposure for every photo you want to take. If your meter is on the plus side, then that means that you are getting more light than required and your photograph will be overexposed and if on the negative side, that means that you are not getting as much light as is required and the photo will be underexposed. Now, how exactly is this measured? How we measure this light is in “stops”. So, if your meter is at +1, then that means that your photograph is overexposed by 1 stop. If it’s at -2, that means your photograph is under exposed by two stops. How much is a stop? Well, to put it simply, if you take a given amount of light and double it, you are moving up one stop. If you cut the light in half, you are going down one stop. So, if we go from 0 to +1, we are doubling the light. If we then go to +2, we now have 4 times the light we had at 0. Similarly, if we go from 0 to -1, we cut the amount of light in half. If we then go to -2, then we now have 1/4th the amount of light.

To settle the meter on this 0 point, or in other words, to achieve the correct exposure, the correct combination of aperture, shutter speed and ISO is required.

The Exposure Triangle - ISO, Shutter Speed, Aperture
The Exposure Triangle – ISO, Shutter Speed, Aperture

No matter how excellent of an approach a person has with the artistic stuff in photography, not having good knowledge about some of the essential mechanics will always prove to be a barrier for him. So, what exactly are these mechanics of the camera that we need to understand? Let’s take a look:

 

Aperture:

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Aperture diaphragm blades – Diaphragm refers to the blades in the lens which control the diameter of the aperture.

Simply put, aperture is the size of the opening found inside each lens through which light enters into the camera and reaches the sensor.

The amount of light that reaches the sensor is dependent on the span of this opening which is our aperture. Hence, The wider the opening / aperture, the greater flood of light passes through to the sensor, whereas the smaller this opening is, it leaves lesser physical room for light to get in.

This way, with the aperture as wide as it can go, you get a lot of light reaching the sensor, so it naturally results in a brighter exposure and as you can now expect with a small aperture, the exposure is darker.

Aperture is also referred to as the “f-stop” and is denoted as “f/1.4”. You would notice that these numbers are inversely proportional to the size of the aperture. What that means is that the smaller number means a bigger opening. And a bigger number means a smaller opening. It can get a little confusing, but as you’ll practice more and more, you’ll get the hang of it.

Every f-stop opens double the amount of area of the aperture / hole than its previous f-stop, which means that each f-stop lets in twice as much light as the previous one.

Aperture’s Role in Depth of Field

Aperture plays an extremely important role in bringing dimension to any image. When you increase or decrease your aperture, it affects the depth of field of your photograph. What exactly is depth of field? Depth of Field (DOF) is that amount or area in your shot that will be in focus. Large depth of field means that most of your image will be in focus, while shallow depth of field means that only part of the image will be in focus and the rest will be blurred.

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Relation of aperture with depth of field.

With a small aperture or a small opening, the rays of light that enter, are greatly collimated. Which is a term used for light when the rays are smoothly parallel to each other and are accurately aligned. This gives you a sharp focus. The more you constrict the diaphragm of the aperture, the more crisp focus you get.

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Aperture F/13

Similarly, with a wider aperture, the light rays tend to disperse and spread all around, except, only the rays that go closely with the focus point are collimated. This results in the point of focus to be sharp only and the rest of the area around it will become blurry.

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Aperture F/5.6

Hence, a wide aperture, that is: low f-number will give you a shallow depth of field. While a small aperture, that is: high f-number will give you a greater depth of field.

Relation With Other Two Pillars of Exposure

As the light coming in and reaching the sensor depends on the diameter of the aperture, and how blurry or focused you want your photograph to be depends on aperture also, varying it according to your need will require for you to balance the exposure by adjusting the shutter speed or ISO or ambient light or a combination of them.

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Since when the aperture is very large and wide open, a lot of light reaches the sensor, this allows you to set a faster shutter speed. Which means you will be able to capture images faster. When your aperture is small, the amount of light will be lesser too, so this will require slower shutter speed.

While buying a lens, make sure to check what maximum aperture it offers. As the bigger the aperture opens, the better it is considering all the things we went through in this post.

A lens with a good small number / wider opening ability is known as a fast lens. Minimum aperture is not that important to worry about as almost all lenses come with at least f-16 as their minimum aperture and that is more than enough in most situations.

Shutter Speed:

Shutter is a screen that opens and closes over the sensor of the camera in a fraction of a second that allows the sensor to see the light. As the aperture controls the amount of light entering the camera, shutter speed controls how long the light enters the camera – the duration for which the shutter remains open.

Shutter speeds are usually expressed as: 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60 and so on. Each one in this series is approximately the half of its previous one and are a fraction of a second.

Just as aperture plays a part in the depth of field, shutter speed has some really useful qualities too, besides its main job. It has a strong connection with movement.

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Displaying the “haze” with slower shutter speed.

If you want to show speed and motion in your moving subject, you use a slower shutter speed (for example, 1/10). It blurs the action and displays it as a haze, usually used in shooting waterfalls and car light trails. Shooting at slower shutter speeds require a strong stance and a steady hand as the shutter will be open for a longer time and will take in every single movement, even as slight as a jerk of a hand, and this usually can ruin any picture.

If you’re holding the camera in your hand while shooting at slow shutter speeds, camera shake is inevitable. So, upto what shutter speed is it that you can hold the camera in your hand? Some people say that 1/60th of a second is that point, but the correct value is actually 1/focal length of your lens. So, if you’re shooting on a wide angle lens at 10mm, you can take your shutter speed up to 1/10th of a second. If you’re shooting a telephoto lens of 200mm, it’d mean that you can’t hand hold the camera and go slower than 1/200th of a second as that might result in camera shake. Because at those focal lengths, even the camera shake is multiplied. If you go below this, the best option would be to use a tripod or take a firm support with something to steady your arms.

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“Frozen” action

In order to freeze the motion as it is, a general rule of thumb is to keep the shutter speed as fast as you can. The higher the number, the faster the shutter speed and the faster the shutter speed the sharper the image, that is: no motion blur.

Shutter speed depends on a number of things such as the source of light and it’s direction, the amount of light, how fast your subject is moving, distance between the subject and your lens, the position and angle you went for, etc.

Slower shutter speeds allow the camera to take in more light, therefore it can help to brighten up an image if it is dark otherwise. Similarly, fast shutter speed will quickly roll over the sensor and close, as a result it won’t let the sensor register the light for long enough so if an image is too bright you can balance the exposure by shooting up your shutter speed.

ISO:                  

Whenever you’re shooting, the first thing you check in your camera should be your ISO. In traditional (film) photography ISO was the indication of how sensitive a film was to light. It was measured in numbers (you’ve probably seen them on films – 100, 200, 400, 800 etc). The lower the number, the lower will be the sensitivity of the film.

A high ISO results in a brighter photo in comparison to a low ISO. However, each of the elements in the exposure triangle has a side-effect, that affects the photograph in another way as well. When you increase the ISO, you end up getting small grain or noise, on your photographs. So, the higher the ISO value, the more noise you would have in your photographs. Here, we see two photographs shot on different ISOs and you can see that the one with 1600 ISO has a lot of noise on it.

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Left: ISO 100 and Right: ISO 1600 – Photo by © HuttyMcphoo

As every camera is different, it is best to take a few test shots with your camera to see in what conditions and at what levels your ISO begins to produce these grains. The point at which this noise comes in the photo will be different for every camera, and that’s also one of the important considerations before buying a camera.

Things to determine what your ISO should be:

Light: How much light is available to you from your surroundings. If you have a lot of light available to you, you can make do with a fast shutter speed and an open aperture, and hence would not be needing to increase the ISO in order to get the correct exposure. But on the contrary, if there’s low-light, then you would be needing to compensate for it by increasing the ISO, as your aperture and shutter speed might reach their limits and you would still have an underexposed image.

Grain: Many a people like to get a vintage old-school look, which has grains on their photographs. So if you would like for grain to appear on your photograph, a higher ISO will help you achieve a grainy outcome, while with a low ISO you get a smooth even image.

Tripod: If you have a tripod handy, you wouldn’t need to increase the ISO as you can always balance the light with a slower shutter speed. As slower shutter speeds mean that there is a chance of camera-shake, it is vital that there be a tripod in those situations so that the camera is placed on a steady surface.

Moving Subject: If you have a moving subject, then even a tripod would not be able to stop the motion blur. Because while the camera might have a steady grip, the moving subject will appear to have a motion blur. In order to avoid that, I would need to bump up my ISO, so I can get a faster shutter speed.

Reciprocals

Now that we have seen ISO, aperture and shutter speed individually; let’s take a look at how they are related to each other.

As we understood, the primary function of all these settings is to control the amount of light the picture gets. Or in other words, it controls the exposure. Changing any of these settings by one stop would result in our exposure moving one stop. So, now let’s take a look at a situation. Let’s say that you are getting the correct exposure (exposure meter at 0) at f2.8 and 1/500th of a second. Now, f2.8 means that the depth of field would be shallow and 1/500th of a second means that there will not be any motion blur. Now, let’s say that the picture you want to take requires that the depth of field not be shallow, but more things be in focus. Can I close down my aperture? Sure I can. So, let’s say, I close down my aperture one stop, taking it from f2.8 to f4. While that will affect the depth of field, it will also affect my exposure, making it underexposed by one stop. The change in aperture is taking my exposure meter to minus 1. Now, how can I get the correct exposure without altering the aperture? By changing the shutter speed to 1/250th. If my aperture caused the meter to go down one stop, I can use my shutter speed to bring my meter up by one stop. So, you will get the exact same exposure in both these settings.

Reciprocals - You can achieve the same exposure at different settings
Reciprocals – You can achieve the same exposure at different settings

The same exposure actually can be achieved on various different settings. If you close down the aperture by one more stop bringing it to f5.6, you’ll have to slow your shutter speed to 1/125th to get the same exposure. Similarly, if aperture goes to f/8, shutter speed will have to go to 1/60th of a second in order to get the same exposure.

This is dictated particularly by the result that you are trying to achieve. If you are trying to achieve a shallow depth of field, then you will first decide on your aperture that will help you achieve that and then set a shutter speed that brings the meter down to 0. If you are trying to get motion blur, then you will have to set your shutter speed first at a value which allows you to get motion blur and then set your aperture to a value that brings the meter down to 0.

This can sound confusing in the beginning, but you have to keep practicing it in order to get the hang of it.

If you are feeling confused, then Canon has an amazing tool to help you practice it. Just go to this link: Canon Explains Exposure and play with this tool until you get the hang of how exposure works and how the three elements in the exposure triangle are related to each other.

This is the very foundation of photography and if you are able to master this, then you will be able to take your photography to new heights.

How To Name Your Photography Business

We  went through the road map of setting up your own photography business, a while ago, today we will discuss something equally important, directly related with starting your business in this field, without which it is impossible for you to shine in the market, and get as many clients and work as any entrepreneur would love to. It is the NAME for your photography business.

Not JUST a Name:

You see, naming a business is not a matter that should be left for the last or given less importance, because it is actually the first thing which will make you known to people. Which will let the market acknowledge you and your work. It becomes your identity.

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Photo by © Sherman Geronimo-Tan

This is why a brand and a product are never treated as something equal. A product is what you provide for the clients – or you may call it service, in this case – but, a brand, it is what is in the mind of the clients. It is something for which they will be ready to pay extra. And this extra money, will never be for the product or the service itself, but for the perception and class they find in your product / service, which makes it a brand, and makes your identity prominent.

So, while naming your photography business, or any business for that matter, keep in mind that you need to give it a Brand Name and not just a name, if you want it to become promising, lasting and most importantly a brand. A brand name can be based on a single term, symbol or design, or it can be a combination of them all, which must signify the services you offer and differentiate you from your competitors. Should be iconic, simple and independent.

Have You Done Your Homework?

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Have you solved this yet?

What I call homework here has a lot to do with all that we went through in the photography business post. At least the basic research, fulfillment of the essentials, mandatory requirements and all that, are required for naming. Yes, I did write above that you should not leave the name game for last, but there are some things and facts you do need to get straight before you begin with finding the most suitable name for your business. Knowing these things will make the process less confusing and brainstorming will be much easier too.

Some of the things can be:

What do you offer with this business?

What is it that the clients get while working with you which they could not have gotten anywhere else?

What is your unique selling proposition? USP in other words. Anything which differentiates you from others out there in the same market as you?

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Who do you plan to serve?

Are you following any particular way of segmentation? That is, if you are a fashion photographer for example, are you focusing on aspiring models, designers or is it the fashion magazines you are interested in the most? Or did you go deeper into considering the following thoroughly?

  • Age factor
  • Income
  • Family Status
  • Residence Location
  • Work Location
  • Likes / Dislikes
  • Preferences
  • Values and so on.

What are your competitors doing? What approach have they taken with their names? Are they following the same pattern as most people do with their names or have they gone for something unique and catchy? If they have done this, how can you come up with something even better and totally different to stand out among them all is what you should think about.

Your target audience and the genre you have chosen for yourself are equally important to consider. For they are the ones who will be your prime concern.

Your pricing and positioning matters too. Would you like to go for an “exclusive” kind of brand personality or would you like to stay more on the average side?

All these things that I mentioned are some of those essentials I was talking about that you must know prior to your name search. If you have time then you should definitely read our post on business of photography also, to get a better idea of all this in detail.

Your Own Name

This is one of the most common ways to give your business a name. And it definitely has a few drawbacks also. When you go Google your own name, it is always very likely that you will find several other people owning businesses with that or a similar name. Unless of course if you have a unique name you do not need to pay attention to what I just said, but for people who have a very common name, you are in for some work.

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An example of a photographer’s own unique name

You sort of lose the aspect of distinctiveness and in today’s world your individuality is what gets you more recognition. I am not saying that you should completely refrain from going with your name but if you are looking for something more creative, keep reading!

Explore Other Languages

This is a pretty cool idea to try. You can think of a word that means something to you and search for the same in other languages. This can make your brand appear cultured and foreign, and they’ll definitely land you with a unique brand image.

Where You Live

This might sound really boring, but it has some benefits attached. You would want for your brand to show up easily and at the top of all search engines. And the name of towns and places are so common that it actually becomes an advantage when it comes to keywords and search engine results and more business. Although, you will have to make sure no one else in the town already owns something in the same category with the same name.

Go Random

This is more on the creative and fun side. It allows your mind to wander freely in wider boundaries and you can do so much here. There is a brainstorming trick I am sharing next that works really well with this one and which actually makes sure your random does not end up being exactly that – random – in fact no, it is so fool proof that even the random things come out polished and loaded with a meaning when it goes through all the process that trick is based on.

Now let’s head on to the tricks that will help you come up with unique names.

Brainstorming Tools:

Using Mind Maps Effectively

Once you understand how to take notes in Mind Map format, you can develop your own principles for taking them further. The subsequent suggestions can help you draw impactful Mind Maps.

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A quick guide to learn how to organize all those thoughts!

Use Single Words or Simple Phrases. Many words in normal writing are padding, as they ensure that facts are conveyed in the correct context, and in a format that is pleasant to read. In Mind Maps, single strong words and short, meaningful phrases can convey the same meaning more potently. Excess words just clutter the Mind Map.

The 40 Box Rule

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Here is a printable sheet of 40 boxes to save you the work. Go ahead, print it, fill it, pick one and live it!

This is a very valuable way to reach good decisions. It is a bit lengthy but works really well when your mind is block and you feel like you can’t come up with anything good, try this trick and you will be amazed by its ability to get a whole stock of ideas out of you.

Make a grid of 40 boxes on a sheet. Start writing / drawing one idea in one box. For this part focus only on quantity. Right now, you only have to fill up the 40 boxes with whatever name that comes to you, regardless of it being nice or making sense. Take inspiration from things you see around you, things you like, stuff that matters to you the most, things that are relevant to your photography genre, related to photography in general and so on. Just let the randomness flow without hesitation.

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A little sample to elaborate what I said about letting your randomness flow – Just get it out. You will catch the proper vibes along the way.

Once you are done with filling up all the boxes, try and merge these ideas and names with each other and see if there are any two words you wrote that sound brilliant when put together. Or they can inspire you to form another better name. Judge the ideas and shortlist them to 20, this time focusing on quality.

When you have the 20 best or favorite names separated, keep short listing them further and finally select the 1 that defeats all. Or repeat the process until you get something to your satisfaction.

Remember To Consider:

The thoughts and emotions someone feels when they see your logo. Does it actually appeal to your target audience? Is it delivering the right message?

Be sure to double check if the name is readable in terms of linguistic difficulty / technical language. Is everyone able to pronounce it easily or it causes trouble when someone tries to say it too fast? Try to make it as short and crisp as possible, for such names are easier to remember.

TIPS:

  • Keep it simple stupid

When you are selecting the name, keep in mind that you will be making a logo out of it – a memorable one at that. So stick to the one which will be most legible when you incorporate it into the logo design and simple enough so that it has a good recall value – easy to decipher and easy to remember.

  • Know what it means

Do YOU know what your brand name means? Or what your whole logo means for that matter? Even your random should have a logic going behind it. If there is a dot in your logo, you must have a concrete reason behind that mere dot, which will not exactly be “mere” anymore and that is the point. Show people how serious you are that you even took time to put so much thought behind just your brand identity / logo – “think of how serious and good this person might be with his work!”

Do not over do it though. Your name and the collective logo should have a meaning but that does not mean you overdose it with a handful of concepts that it loses the essence and whatever that you really wanted to represent, just diminishes underneath all that weight of other things on top. Remember, keep it simple stupid!

  • Get the tone right

Okay, this is important fellas. Many a times It happens that even when you have tried your hardest to give your logo a meaning and a proper logical explanation to go with it, it still does not convey the same thing to the audience as you had thought. For example, you meant for it to sound sweet but instead it got rather too cutesy for most of the audience’s taste and they made an image of you – the owner – being an immature or say unprofessional in their heads.

So, focus on getting the tone right as well. If it is supposed to be sweet then that is exactly how it should sound to me. If it is supposed to sound posh then not in anyway should your audience feel like you got a bit too arrogant there.

  • Make it future-proof

You want your business to flourish and prosper and all that, but just think for a second, how would – let’s say – Cutie Pie Photography sound a few years from now, when you have grown in your line of services, you have become the BOSS and have people running under you and all the works that come with fame? Er… yeah, not so classy!

This is why you must pick out a name that is FUTURE PROOF, note the emphasis people, it is just so important to keep in mind while you are at it, because although no one can stop you from changing the name later, but that comes with a lot of things kept at stake, identity recognition from scratch for instance. The previous name had made its place in people’s minds all over who-knows-till-where-you-had-reached! Therefore it is always better to keep a check on such things during the first time rather than getting disturbed by them at a later stage.

  • Plan your logo redesign

It means to have your logo designed in a few different ways, like planning what shape, size, look or feel it can be transformed into somewhere in the future, if need be, while still remaining close to the origin it was born with, embracing the same meaning it held the first time. It is like planning the evolution of your brand identity and checking if it does have that potential to be changed without having to change the soul beneath it, something like what Coca Cola and Pepsi did. Have you seen the evolution of their logos from the beginning till now? If not then be sure to get a look at that!

  • Double meaning

Try giving your name a double meaning. Have you come across such brand names and taglines that when you read them at first, they tell you one thing, but a while later you realize… oh wait, did they mean, this other thing that I think they meant? And the answer is yes! They did mean that other thing as well as the first plain meaning. But this time, this was deliberate and a well thought calculated approach.

It is a bit tricky but if you think you can pull it off nicely, go ahead and give it a shot. Before finalizing though, run it through a test of asking as many people as you can to make sure they do get it.

  • Domain available?

The name you are choosing should be something that is easy to find a website domain for. Think of the horror when you find out that the name you went through so much for is not available to you as a domain. But, fear not friends, this was exactly the reason I have suggested to you these brainstorming tools, which will make sure you end up with something totally unique, that which no one already owns anything with!

 

So, these were some tips I could offer to help you with creating and choosing a cool name for your photography  business. But, all of this does not in any way mean it is mandatory that only people who go through these steps will get loads of clients and work. Nope, this is just a way to set yourself off on the right track for future prosperity.

It is always possible that people who never did anything like this and started off just like that will be earning bags full of money and fame because they were great at personal skills and networking. These two things can get you to more places than a name. Hence, as you choose that one perfect name for your business, do not forget that it works best when you combine it with great P.R skills – get them polished too!

Photography Portfolio by Joey Lawrence

Building a Great Photography Portfolio

Are you all set to build your very own photography portfolio? But, let me guess, you are confused as to what you should put in there, which piece of art should you choose to display and which ones would be better kept unseen? Need some help? We have got you covered!

Building a photography portfolio is not an easy task – I hear you, people. If you are anything like me, you end up liking a load of photographs, when you only have the option of choosing a few. Being able to take great photographs is one thing, while choosing between them is considered an entirely different but equally important matter. Everything depends on what we show.  I have come to terms with the fact that learning photography is not as hard as selecting the best shots out of the many photos you take.

And then comes the designing and  the presenting part. Nowadays, with technology rising to greater heights, your option is not just limited to a printed, hard copy, booklet form of portfolio anymore. There is the option of personalized websites and blogs, social media, forums designed particularly for showcasing people’s work and so on. But, as you must have noticed, most of the places are digital.

This has kind of evoked a silent war in the minds of the people in the photography industry. For, some believe that Print is still a better choice, whereas the others are in favor of opting for Digital. Honestly, as is the case in marketing and business, so, in photography, I personally feel, it all depends on who your target audience is.

And here we have our first and the main point to begin this short lesson with.

  1. Identify the Audience:

It can make a world of difference when you identify and focus on the people you really need to connect with, whom you want to provoke with your work or who you want to advertise your art to. If your targeted spectators demand print, you give them print, if they prefer digital, you go with what they want. Simple as that.

Only, you will have to do some prior research for it of course, you might need to look up on the set of audience you will be presenting your work to in the near future – God bless you – gain a bit of information about them and you will need to be aware of their preferences and everything. Not really a big deal, it only sounds daunting – think positive!

Then the most crucial thing to keep in mind is that you only show your clients the images which are relevant to their demand. For example, let’s say you handle weddings as well as food photography quite nicely. Both are different genres with different set of people with their own unique wants and demands. If some clients come to you for wedding, you will only focus on getting them to admire your wedding photography portfolio first.

Later, when they are about to leave after sealing the deal with you, you can probably mention that you do food photography as well and if they are interested, you can then have them look at your food photography also, for any future appointments if they ever need a food photographer or anything like that. But, this is only for when things go smoothly with respect to the actual, real matter they are there for.

  1. Weigh The Worth

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Every photo will have its own story

And here we are again! The selection. I am sorry, we cannot do anything about this annoying matter, one just needs to go through this step. You need to tell a viewer  in the first few photos only that you are worth it! No one has so much time now to go through a ton of pictures to finally land on a decision of whether they want to hire you or not. Besides, it is impossible to include all your favorites, which who knows, might be a thousand if you take photographs religiously.

If this really is the case, then you can make two portfolios and let one of them hold 15 – 20 best of the best-est photographs you have ever taken! And let the other one have  100 best of the best photos. This second one will be for when your clients want to see more of your work. Plus, it will give you that satisfaction also, of being able to include more of your work in there.

In order to make this step less painful, have someone who’s opinions and suggestions you trust, have a look at your photos and let them help you decide. It can be one person or a group of people also. But, it is a good idea to follow, as us photographers, we tend to get bias sometimes with some photos because we know how much work and effort went into such and such photo. And, this way we sometimes ignore an image that did not take as much work, but has something really amazing going on in it that we are unable to see after going through so many of our hard work of photographs.

  1. In Case of Printing

Photography-Portfolio-Print-book-folder-size-style
Photo by © SplitShire

If you decide to go with print, you will need to think upon how big or small you want your photos to be. It is necessary that you do it before buying yourself a portfolio folder, so that when you begin your hunt for it you will know exactly what to look for.

Secondly, for print, the quality of paper you choose to display your work on, should be excellent, because this will matter a lot. It can literally change the appearance of your image. Not too much, but still to some extent. Like for instance, Matt finish paper comes with tiny grains on it, and it looks great with a certain type of photos such as a rugged scene, a shot from an old dirty alley, etc. whereas glossy paper is a super smooth sheet and it also goes best with many images which would not look better on any other paper than this one

So, a good way to find out which paper suits your photography the best, is to have a single image from your collection printed out on the short listed papers you like a lot and are of great quality too. It will make it easier for you to decide the finest of them all.

You can also decide to go with a photo book. These are a great way of displaying your work. There are services like Blurb that make the job really easy, and you get a great looking photo book to show off your work. The bonus here is that you can even sell your portfolio book on Blurb or Amazon through their service, which would mean more recognition and an extra income on the side for you.

  1. When Going Digital

Photography-Portfolio-Digital-Web
Photo by © Sarah Zucca

Your requirement is digital? You got it. Knowing your target audience and your genre solves everything! A children photographer’s website will have to go with the look that the field calls for and similarly, a wildlife photographer’s web page will be telling a different story. The wildlife one can simply not have a bow and candy background. Thus, just go with what your genre and clients will agree with.

Make sure that your images are set to enlarge when clicked upon, as anyone who visits sites that have images, like to see them as big as their screens would allow.

  1. Presentation Counts

A general tip for both print and digital. Try to keep high contrast between the background and your photographs, so it makes your images pop out and they are able to hold their own aura and leave a firm impression. Your presentation will count too. Consider giving the photos a border, or try arranging the order of the pictures in a way so as to indicate a particular emotion, feel or to make a point that instantly catches the attention of anyone seeing them. Have the most impactful photos appear first.

  1. A Trick to Engage Them

Consider giving your photos a caption or a short description. They help engage the people looking at photos because humans have this natural inclination to know more about something they like. If you have made sure that they like what they see in your portfolio, then they will definitely want to know the story behind all that you have displayed.

Building-a-photography-portfolio
For instance, I would love to know the story behind this image.
  1. Up to Date

Keep updating your portfolio. It will be easy with the web but might end up being a bit costly in print – but who would care when you will be getting a great deal of clients and opportunities? Also, do not make the mistake of replacing all the old ones with newer ones (this goes especially for the print people out there), just add and replace with the ones that have broken records in your history of preserving time in photos.

And that is about it! You have successfully created your own portfolio! Thumbs up for you! Oh but, always remember, the more personalized your stuff is, the more it will have YOU in it. Be as original as you can, while of course staying within the essential boundaries. Originality is always appreciated, at least now it is a common observation that people have began showing respect and give value to anything and anyone who stands out because of their uniqueness.

Like always, best wishes for all our readers and hope this post will help you in creating a stunning portfolio and bagging more clients with your photography work.

Tips to Tackle Night Photography

A Quick Guide to Master Night Photography

As much as I love the natural golden light, I cannot get over the beauty that night photography possesses in itself. The extravagant dazzle of flamboyant lights from the buildings, sign boards, car light trails or the splendor of a starry sky, all have such a soul to them which attracts and makes you want to visit that place or at least gets you out those doors to experience the thrill and mystery, “night” has to offer. In the case of zealous photographers, this fact is especially true, and If you are looking to learn some handy tips and techniques on night photography, then you must be one of them too!

Well, then let’s quickly go over the core things that not only get you on track with a super finish in your photographs from the beginning but will also help you improve further in this genre.

1. Importance of a tripod

When you plan to shoot at night, bringing a tripod along is a must. Capturing images at night requires for you to shoot on slow shutter speeds – how slow, will depend on how low the light is – to make up for the lack of light or the darkness spread over the canvas you want to reflect through your camera. This is why you might often get to hear night photography being termed as low-light photography as well.

Slow and steady
Slow and steady

 

Shooting on a slow shutter speed results in blurry, soft images if you do not support your camera with something as sturdy as a tripod. But sometimes even with a tripod you can end up with an unwanted blur in your photos, the reason can be one of these:

You did not take your hands off of the camera. When you have mounted the camera on tripod, be sure not to touch it, because a movement as slight as a mere touch can also ruin your shot that might have come out perfect otherwise. So it is best to release the shutter with the help of your camera’s self timer and in case you have a scene that cannot wait for a self timer to go off, you may use a remote.

Secondly, your tripod itself might not have held a strong balanced position. Do remember to check twice if your camera and tripod, paired up, are accurately balanced wherever you have placed them, to minimize the chances of it becoming wobbly in the middle of your shot.

If you do not own a tripod as of yet, you can still shoot at night with only a few limitations though. You can find anything around the space that is sturdy and firm in its place and put your camera over it, e.g. a bench, rock or a low brick wall. The limitation will be that you may not find such a thing every time for the best possible angles. But then again, that is where a photographer ‘s skills are best revealed – by producing something spectacular out of only the things that were naturally available.

2. Forecast and preparation

Want to enhance your skills? It will do you great if you begin to plan ahead. This means going out to the streets and places you feel like photographing, to closely observe every single thing that a good photograph involves, before you get there loaded with all your equipment.

A walk down the street to uncover the secrets of night
A walk down the street to uncover the secrets of night

It also works well when you take random strolls around your town to see if anything catches your eye. Look for interesting lights, buildings, crowds, roads where you may get a good angle of car light trails, some lonely roads have a serenity of their own and so on. There are many things to be found out there in the night. Whatever catches your attention and you get a feeling like there is something about this place, this is where you stop and scrutinize the elements that ask to be photographed.

It basically saves you a lot of time and helps you with staying safe, for you will already know till where you can go, what are your limitations, what time will be best to shoot your particular choice of scene and the best angle options.

3. Tackling the composition

Once you have decided what you want to photograph now you work on composing a stunning frame out of what you see. There are so many rules of composition that you can follow but something you must always remember is that people who are going to see your photo will always know what anything looks like, from eye level. So, in order to make your image more appealing, you might want to give people something new, something from another perspective, from a position nobody usually opts for while looking at things. For instance, shooting from a much lower angle, like it was an insect looking through the eyepiece.

Creating balance
Creating balance

Then be sure to obtain a balance in the photo. Also, if you photograph a crowded place, look out for weirdly cut people. You either bring them in the frame or you let them out completely, rather than having them on the edge of your image in awkward positions with one arm cut off for example – out of the frame to be exact, but that is how it actually feels like when you look at photos composed with such errors.

4. The amazing blue hour

Just writing about it, is making me excited! What is night photography without the blue hour? I agree that you can still take beautiful photos against a completely dark sky, but blue hours allow you to take extra stunning photos actually. To make you aware of what blue hour really is: it is the time before sunrise and after sunset, when the Sun is really close and below the horizon, and it colors the sky a really deep blue. Usually it is preferred to take night photographs – other than the stars – during the blue hour because of the contrast it creates with the rest of the elements included in the image.

Utilize the options Nature provides - Photo by © Brigitte Werner
Utilize the options Nature provides – Photo by © Brigitte Werner

Once, when I showed up with my night photography assignment to class, my teacher said, “You are late.” I got confused and asked, “How so?” He replied, “You missed the Blue hour.” and that is when I realized the importance of the blue hour, if it is not the stars you want to photograph – which has a whole new world of possibilities we will discuss in another post – you must remember to always try to shoot within the blue hour whatever night photograph you want to capture.

5. Let’s get technical

So you have composed your frame and focused on to your main subject, now comes the more technical part. Just as I mentioned above, for night photography you need to keep your shutter speed slow. This is necessary to get high quality results, for this way you wouldn’t have to increase the ISO, which when increased, gives you a grainy photo with lots of noise. So first of all, switch to manual mode to be able to adjust everything exactly the way you want to. Set the ISO as low as your camera allows you to go, in order to avoid noise in your photograph. Memorize it: Lesser the ISO, lesser the noise.

Some things just effortlessly attract the focus
Some things just effortlessly attract the focus

Now comes the aperture. Set it to a higher f number, like f/11 or f/16, and in other words, you keep your aperture window small in most cases during night photography. Small/narrow aperture brings both the foreground as well as the background into sharp focus which is usually what you want when photographing landscapes, cityscapes etc at night.

At this point, with the ISO set this low and aperture only slightly open, you need to do something to have more light reach the sensor. Time to fix the shutter speed!

When you have both the ISO and the aperture set in the way mentioned above, your shutter speed will have to be made slow, if you are to get the correct exposure. Take some photos with the shutter speed your camera suggests and see if it really does work in the best way. If you feel that your camera has got it slightly wrong maybe, and the image still needs to be a tad darker or brighter, then feel free to change the shutter speed by one or two stops, click away and check again.

There is no fixed shutter speed that works in all sorts of conditions, it may vary depending on different things, but you can try another trick to set the perfect shutter speed for your particular situation by taking a shot at 10 seconds, then one at 20 seconds and then another at 30 seconds. Now review these images, to judge which one of them is closest to what you would like, this will make it easier for you to determine the best shutter speed.

6. Go for best quality

Always shoot in RAW. The difference you get from shooting in RAW from that of the Normal or even High Quality JPEG is remarkable. RAW enables you to edit and enhance the beauty of your photograph to a much greater extent than what Photoshop generally allows you to do with a JPEG image.

Build a strong friendship with camera RAW
Build a strong friendship with camera RAW

So whether you capture the night or photograph anything else, RAW will turn into your best friend once you become familiar with it. You will see what it can do to even the images you otherwise would have transferred into the “waste” folder

7. Practice makes perfect?

Lastly, a tip for bringing consistency in your growth – keep studying other people’s photographs. Sure it is said that practice makes you perfect, which is indeed true, but do you not think something is missing here? How about “perfect” practice makes you “perfect“? For, if one keeps practicing the wrong thing, it will only make them perfect in their flaws.

So, It truly helps looking at what other great photographers have done in the same category you want to excel in, and try to find out what was it that made it so special? Why the photograph you have in front of you, works? In order to become perfect in the right direction, one should be aware of what exactly the right thing looks like.

I have told you the things that will set you on the right track, now it is upon you that how you practice and how much you practice to reach your target. I wish all my readers the best of luck, I sincerely hope my posts help you. Cheers!

P.S, a bonus!

Sparkling stars
Sparkling stars

A small aperture will also make the street lights in your photo glimmer like a star!

Action Photography

11 Tips to Make Action Photography Easy!

Shooting motion is admittedly not a piece of cake, it requires some great deal of practice, knowledge, techniques and more practice, some essential gear, and again, mostly practice! As far as my observation goes, even a limited choice of gear cannot restrict you from taking awe-inspiring photos, if you have got the expertise!

In this article, you will find all that is a must to know before you step into the field of action photography, so that unlike me and many others, you go fully prepared.

1. Know your Gear

I still remember, my first ever assignment as a photography student was to freeze action. I was fairly new to all of it and I could barely handle my camera as I stepped into the field without properly becoming familiar with all the settings my camera had to offer. My lack of knowledge with regard to my camera proved to be a huge hindrance in shooting good quality photos. Every now and then, I would stop to look for some switch, flip through my manual to see from where such and such settings were possible, while the action in front of me kept changing course or ended altogether – cutting the long, sad story short, both I and the shoot were a mess.

Spinning lit steel wool sparks on the beach at high speed - Photo by © Evan
Spinning lit steel wool sparks on the beach at high speed – Photo by © Evan

Therefore, I would strongly advise anyone who is up for some action photography, that you should first become friends with your camera. This is a prerequisite to be able to photograph action, with the kind of concentration and speed that it calls for.

2. Understand your Subject

The second important thing is to have good knowledge about your subject matter. You need to be able to understand it at least so much that you would know what to expect in the next minute. This will make it easier for you  to prepare yourself and the camera to anticipate the move you desire to capture.

Observe your subject to anticipate the moves - Photo by © Brigitte Werner
Observe your subject to anticipate the moves – Photo by © Brigitte Werner

If you were planning to photograph a subject on which you have no prior information, you should consider observing it closely first, whether it be live, on TV or on the internet, keeping your camera and the subsequent points in mind.

3. Work on your Composition

Now, you need to find yourself a good location to shoot from. Look for a position from where you can get good access of the area, where the major action is likely to take place. Plan in advance a little with regard to selecting your vantage point, in order to stay ahead of things, for, with shooting actions, if you did your research properly beforehand, it is very probable that you would know where to expect what.

Let your subject move in the photo - Photo by © Skeeze
Let your subject move in the photo – Photo by © Skeeze

Secondly, leave some space for your subject to move in the frame, if you are shooting from a side. For example, if your subject is moving from left to right, then you should consider leaving more space at the right side of the frame, while composing. This looks more pleasing to the eye and enables for the viewers to know where the subject was headed. Unless, you shoot the subject from straight on, facing you – which is also a wonderful way to capture action!

Capture the expression and add some drama! - Photo by © Skeeze
Capture the expression and add some drama! – Photo by © Skeeze

Shooting from where you can capture the expression on your subject’s face, is very likely to get you some brilliant images. People love looking at other people’s expressions, features and all that, so having this will increase the amount of extravaganza in your photos.

Shoot from below - Photo by © Skeeze
Shoot from below – Photo by © Skeeze

Try taking photos from a lower angle, this makes your subject look more potent. However, avoid getting in anybody’s way and make sure to keep yourself and the folks around you safe.

4. About the Shutter

When shooting action, you have two options, whether to freeze the subject matter with the help of a very fast shutter speed, or to show the action as a haze using a slower shutter speed. The later one is usually used in waterfalls and car light trails, but with most things, you want to freeze the action in time. There is also a case of freezing a subject while letting its edges to blur slightly at the same time, using a shutter speed somewhere in the middle of too fast and too slow.

Shutter speed varies with respect to the subject - Photo by © Skeeze
Shutter speed varies with respect to the subject – Photo by © Skeeze

In order to freeze the motion as it is, a general rule of thumb is to keep the shutter speed as fast as you can. The higher the number, the faster the shutter speed. Knowing exactly how fast you should go with each different subject, comes with practice, as there are a number of things your shutter speed will depend on, for instance, the source of light and it’s direction, the amount of light, how fast your subject is moving, distance between the subject and your lens, the position and angle you went for, etc.

So, there is not any particular constant number that you should always set, for all sorts of actions. For, 1/4000 may be well suited for a racing car, where as you may need only  1/500 to capture a mere walk. Just try and avoid going below 1/500 though.

If you find that you are not getting enough light in the photo, then increase the ISO and go as wide with the aperture as you possibly can, but let your shutter speed stay where you are getting good “frozen” action.

5. Which Lens is a Good Lens?

Generally, it depends on the focal length required by the view you want to capture, for example, if it is sports that is in question, you may require at least a 200 mm lens to bring the far-away action closer to you.

Bringing the distant action closer - Photo by © David Mark
Bringing the distant action closer – Photo by © David Mark

Faster shutter speed means lesser light, for which you need to open the aperture as wide as you can, to allow more light to reach the sensor. Hence, a good lens for this type of photography can be a fast lens that has aperture level from f/1.8 to f/2.8.

Typically, super fast telephoto lenses such as the 300mm with f/2.8, 400mm with f/2.8 and 600mm with f/4 are among the lenses many of the pro action photographers opt for. But alas, the problem with these is that they are rather expensive for everyone to own. So, for people who are not able to meet the expense of such a lens, there is still a variety of good lenses to choose from. You may go for a 300mm f/4 or 400mm f/5.6 in super telephoto lenses, and 75-300mm, 100-400mm or 200-400mm in the range of zoom lenses.

If you already own a lens having a shorter focal length, then worry not, your photos can still turn out great, as shorter focal lengths have their own benefits. While they require for you to get physically closer to the subject,  a wide angle lens, upon moving closer, allows you to bring more of the environment into the frame and expands the spectrum of view for the audience to take pleasure from. Makes them feel like a part of the action going on, in the photo.

Bring in the surrounding
Bring in the surrounding

All in all, always remember that it is your talent that matters at the end of the day. It is not necessary that someone with a longer lens will produce better photos than you, if you have the skills, you will definitely figure out ways to capture extra stunning shots with whatever gear you already possess.

6. The Pre-focus Phenomenon

Anticipate the next move - Photo by © skeeze
Anticipate the next move – Photo by © skeeze

With a certain type of action activities, you already know where the next move will take place, like, in a cricket match, you know where the batsman will run to or where the bowler will stop to throw the ball – that is the crease, in such cases, you can take a bit of advantage and pre-focus on that area where you know the subject will approach in a few seconds, and as soon as it enters your frame, you click away!

7. Shift to Continuous Focus

With subjects that are moving rapidly or unpredictably, you need to shoot very fast, click after click. But how to get your camera to focus again and again after each click without wasting even a second? For that, you use the “continuous focus” mode in your camera. For people having Canon this mode is known as AI-SERVO and for the ones with Nikon, it is known as AF-C. It enables your camera to re-focus swiftly back onto the subject after each click, as your subject moves.

Shoot the unpredictable subjects quikcly to capture the right moment - Photo by © Skeeze
Shoot the unpredictable subjects quickly to capture the right moment – Photo by © Skeeze

This mode has an ability to calculate the direction of the subject and the speed that its moving in. Hence,  press the shutter release halfway down as you follow your subject’s movement, then when you have your subject in focus, press the button all the way down. It helps you a lot in capturing the action with a sharp crisp focus.

8. Understanding Continuous Shooting Mode

In continuous shooting mode you press and hold the shutter release down while the camera takes a number of images per second, until you lift your finger. This technique works really well with repetitive actions and with rapidly moving subjects.

Photo by © Robert Balog
Photo by © Robert Balog

It is not always a good choice though. With the sort of actions where the time frame in which your action takes place, becomes shorter – such as a tennis ball hitting the racket – you may end up losing the “one” perfect moment, as it could have come somewhere between the continuous shots from being in this mode.

So, select this mode, depending on the nature of action as explained above.

Also, if you plan to shoot in this mode, make sure to have extra memory cards handy. As, it will fill up the space in your cards as rapidly as it allows to take photos!

9. No Chimping Allowed!

Keep your eyes on the action
Keep your eyes on the action

Chimping is a term used in the photography language for when someone keeps looking back into the LCD screen after every few photos. Please, do not do that! You can take plenty of time to go through each photo when you get home, but it will only distract you and cost you the perfect moments if you do this when the action is taking place right in front of you and you let it pass by just like that. Therefore, keep away from chimping!

10. Panning

Frozen in time - Photo by © Moyan Brenn
Frozen in time – Photo by © Moyan Brenn

Panning is a beautiful trick to achieve a strong sense of motion while still having your subject frozen in time. To pan, you balance your camera, held in your hands, by sticking your elbows and arms close to your sides and chest, then moving your waist along with the camera, in the direction of the action, all the while letting your feet stay stationary. It is not an easy trick, I admit, but only needs lots of practice to master it.

11. Inspire and Motivate Yourself

I cannot emphasize enough on the need to keep practicing with this, but another thing you must do to make yourself an expert in this field is to keep looking, observing and scrutinizing over the photographs taken by some of the renowned action photographers of all times.

This will help you determine what they did to stand out, what was unique about their style that made them so famous and eventually you will see how much information you will be able to extract out of it and the motivation it bequeaths to keep striving and practicing more and more until you finally reach a point close to them.

Like always, I hope this post was helpful! Until next time, cheers and good luck!

Jewelry Photography - Photo by © TVZ Design

Jewelry Photography – 9 Amazing Tips for Best Results

As simple as it may sound – “Jewelry Photography? Oh, how hard can it be?”  – it can be very intimidating when an “Okay” shot is not an option, and getting every single thing perfect in this particular field of photography requires some real deal of concentration, an eye for delicacy and some spot on techniques – not to forget, a good set of gear too.

With the evolution of online buying and selling, there is no denying the fact that it all comes down to the photo of the product at the end of the day. The better a photo looks, superior the chances of attracting customers. This led to an evolution in the jewelry photography world as well. It is not a matter of  the photographer or the designer’s own preference and choice anymore, you need to show what and how the customers like it to be.

As the prospect customers can not actually touch and feel the product with their hands, their decision of buying completely depends on your photo. So technically, all those sales rely on you and so does your future in this field.

In this post, I have compiled some vital stuff that you should know and look out for, if you want to improve your skills at it and capture pro-level photographs of Jewelry.

Let’s get started!

1. CLEAN UP IMPERFECTIONS

It's like getting ready before your shoot
It’s like getting ready before your shoot

Trust me when I say it will be a gigantic bummer if you catch a speck of dust, staring back at you, once you open the image on Photoshop for post processing and there it is… sigh.

Nicely buffed up jewelry very easily attracts fingerprints and dust particles and our digital cameras nowadays capture even the tiniest of dust particles without you even wanting them to!

While retouching your Jewelry Photography, you must avoid using the clone tool and all such tools as far as you can, as, for one: It will take up more time of yours – you could be doing any other productive work at this time, two: Would you not want for your photos, right from the camera, to have an absolute polished look? We are after all talking about pro-level photography. Plus, cloning in super finished quality asks for super skills too.

Hence, it is for your own benefit if you deal with the piece of jewelry with added care and tidy it up inside out, prior to the shoot, so that you save yourself from any extra effort later.

Also, inspect it thoroughly for any other imperfections or if any part requires repair, for often, jewelry pieces with tiny stones embellished onto them loose one or two without the defect being too noticeable, until looked upon closely.

Things To Use:

Gloves: You should consider wearing gloves to steer clear of fingerprints for every time you need to touch the jewelry.

Gem Brush: You may want to get yourself a pair of these, quite a practical thing to own by jewelry photographers.

Jewelry cleaning liquid: There are specialized jewelry cleaning products available that can make this process a lot quicker and easier. Go ahead and try them.

 

2. ILLUMINATE

Enclosed Lighting System:

In simple words, a light box. It can be termed as the best thing you can own if you love to photograph jewelry, because there are a number of definitive perks you get with it. It evenly distributes light and gently wraps it around your product in a balanced manner – so that you do not end up with too little illumination at one point nor too much at another, as usually happens with a “contrasty” lighting that gives you harsh shadows and under-illuminated spots, or as the flash does with leaving your product washed out.

A lightbox keeps the reflections away.
If you want to keep the reflections away, use a lightbox.

The other thing that it does is to make your product stay clear of any reflection of your equipment or camera. Since you’re photographing shiny metallic jewelry, there’s a high chance that the might end up reflecting your light stands and your camera tripod back in them. So, a light box ensures that no such thing is reflected back in the piece of jewelry.

It helps to diffuse the glare coming from the lights and gives you smooth soft shadows.

Constant Fluorescent Daylight Lighting:

We have already discussed the need for a piece of jewelry to be extremely polished, but such polished jewelry tends to reflect a great part of the light that is thrown its way, so controlling the light can be quite tricky with this.

The most recommended light for jewelry photography by pros, is the daylight balanced compact fluorescent bulbs. They have a natural looking touch to them and do best to enhance the beauty of the small embellishments. An additional advantage is that they can be left turned on for hours without heating up too quickly.

It is best to use continuous light instead of flash for a number of benefits. It’ll allow you to go to shutter speeds higher than your sync speed, which will allow you to avoid camera shake, you can open up your aperture really wide and get really shallow depth of fields and they would be enhanced even further if you’re using a macro lens (highly recommended) and well, the major advantage is that, what you see is what you’ll get!

Diffused Light:

Diffused light is the soft light you get when you pass the light through any type of light diffuser, for instance, the light box. When you expose your jewelry to light, keep in mind that direct light reflects on the jewelry leaving you with hot spots and undesirable shadows – again, just as the on-camera flash does. That is why, direct light should be avoided and instead, you use diffused light. It spreads the light evenly and eradicates the problem spots.

Soft light gives you soft shadows
Soft light gives you soft shadows

Another way to attain soft light is to position the light very close to the subject. When light source is brought closer, it expands in size with regard to the subject and becomes soft, but if you’re doing that, you’ll have to steer clear of any reflections in the jewelry, particularly, if you’re not using a lightbox.

Aperture & Focus:

By choosing the manual mode, take benefit of the maximum F number your camera allows you to set – that is going for the smallest aperture – to achieve crisp and clear results.

By doing this you can bring the entire piece of jewelry into focus and not just a part of it. Usually, F8.0 to F16.0 has been observed to work well, but for those close up shots where you want only a small gemstone or any other detail to stand out, you can open up your aperture wider and keep everything out of focus except the thing you want emphasized.

To have full command over the focus, select spot focus mode in your camera. The normal focus mode of most digital cameras take in a broader spectrum and focus according to that, but spot focus allows you to control exactly where the camera focuses at.

Auto focus is generally a good option, but sometimes, even while in spot focus mode, it is not able to confine small shiny embellishments like tiny gemstones into sharp focus, so it’s best that you get a hold of a camera that has a preferable ability to focus manually to capture high-quality close up shots of jewelry.

White Balance:

It is highly recommended that you leave your camera’s white balance settings to auto. It is a typical observation by photographers that, generally, the white balance set to auto works well enough with shots taken on white backgrounds. And when it is changed to some other settings, it results in a greenish tint appearing over the image.

Try this on your own and discover the difference.

Shutter Speed or Exposure Time:

Since it has been recommended above to use continuous light rather than flash, shutter speed would become vital. The thing to remember while setting shutter speed is to keep the light balanced, neither too dark nor too light, all the while ensuring that you are at a point where there is no camera shake. Keep in mind that for sharp images, stay at or above at least 1/focal length, which means that if you’re shooting with a 105mm camera, you would want your shutter speed to stay faster than 1/105  of a second, when your camera is hand-held, the lower the number gets from here, the more you’ll have to deal with blurry shots. And that is why you use a tripod!

Stable Camera:

This is very crucial! For photographing jewelry, you must use a tripod or find any other suitable resource to mount your camera, but avoid trusting your hands with the job, as no matter how hard you try, there always remains a chance that your hands might shake, and even the slightest of shakes can interfere with the sharpness of focus you are after. If you’re extra finicky about it, you may also use a cable release with your camera, in order to avoid touching the camera when pressing the button.

Brightness and Contrast:

Very often it happens that despite everything else being perfect, when shooting on seamless white, your background still appears a little gray rather than the stark white you tried to achieve. It would be ideal to have this fixed during the shoot, by lighting the background separately and the product separately. An alternate solution to this in the post-process phase, is to adjust the brightness and the contrast of your image later. Bringing the levels up a notch on each, will get you the desired white.

Macro Lenses and Macro Extension Tubes:

Enticing close-up shots of jewelry pieces are extremely vital. Unfortunately, many a times the normal camera lenses do not allow to get in as close as one would like to go, because almost all lenses are restricted to keep a certain amount of minimum distance between them and the subject before they start to lose the sharpness of focus. On such occasions, you may want to consider the following options:

  1. It is ideal to use a macro lens for this kind of shoots. It allows you to get extra-close-up shots of the object, without losing the sharpness. Which is something that normal lenses do not allow. True macro photography is at the scale of 1:1 or greater — this means that the object you’re photographing should be the same size or larger on the sensor. Most macro lenses have a focal length between 50mm and 200mm, and they usually have a large maximum aperture (low f-number) that gives them both the ability to be fast as well as totally isolate the subject, making them ideal for jewelry photography. But, a word of caution, the shallow depth-of-field is a very important aspect of working with macro lenses and can take quite a lot of time to master.
  2. If you can’t afford a macro lens as yet, get yourself a macro extension tube, it comes in quite handy. It enables you to go further close to the object physically by a great measure, while also maintaining a crisp focus. These extension tubes go between the camera body and the lens and are compatible with most lenses. In simple words, these extension tubes end up making any lens, a macro lens.

 

3. MAKE IT GLIMMER

We have gone over the qualities of soft light and the pleasant appearance it bestows all over your photography and how bad direct light is. But there is something in a particular type of jewelry that actually demands to be hit with direct light in order to reveal its true beauty.

Gemstones and Diamonds.

A flicker of light
A flicker of light

Such jewelry requires direct light, ideally coming from the same distance and position where the camera is placed, to have the stones shining in their truest form. But this direct light can still not be from just any other light, as you do not want to end up getting hot spots and glares. Only a subtle fire and some small shiny flares glowing here and there is what you should be aiming for, and there is a lighting solution, namely Daylight colored LED light, that is designed specially to serve this purpose while leaving the tag-along hotspots and glares elsewhere!

Photo by © Aleksey Gnilenkov
Photo by © Aleksey Gnilenkov

Daylight colored LED light sheds the right amount of direct hard light on the focused area only, without creating problems for the other areas of the photo. This useful device easily fits into a sparkler light’s 5″ reflector.

At any rate, avoid using light bulbs in different colors and do not try to mix match them. Have consistent lighting throughout or else you will find yourself in the middle of a major condition of color correction!

How To Use:

Turn the LED light on and the fluorescent lights off. Place and direct it towards your jewelry in such a way that it shines straight into the gemstone and the stones twinkle. Switch your fluorescent lights back on.

As the LED lights are hitting directly onto the subject – unlike the other lights which are diffused coming through the light box – the intensity of these LEDs must be carefully adjusted to merely shed the right amount of light. This is why you should go for the LED lights that come with a regulator which enables you to have control over the light (the Mini Lite 350-2, for instance) as you may also find the kinds which do not support such a feature. You should only set the intensity to the point where your stones begin to sparkle, no more, no less.

Keep shooting some trial photos all along to see how your settings fare with camera’s eye.

 

4. CONTROLLING REFLECTIONS

 

How to Get a Reflective Base

An all time favorite for both photographers as well as the viewers, is the mirror like reflection they see of anything on the plain that thing is positioned on, creating a sense of depth down below and letting you go deeper into the photo. A nice reflection has an ability to double the impact of appeal you plan to deliver to the audience.

Reflections bestow profundity
Reflections bestow profundity

Generally, a piece of glass is used by expert photographers as their reflective base, and although glass is a more sturdy option, “High Gloss Acrylic” sheet is also a great and safe alternative. You can find it easily on Amazon in black, white and many different colors. Acrylic tends to bear scratches if you are not careful with handling it, hence it is advised to move your ornaments and other supplies very deftly over and around it for a long lasting finish. It comes with a protective screen on either sides and it’s better to let the side which you don’t use yet, stay protected with it, till you decide to use it too.

When you are going for an all black environment, you can use a panel of black velvet fabric as your background with the acrylic being your base for a rich velvety darkness all around. If not this, then black plastic or card sheets will work fine too. When you don’t add anything black at the background and leave it white – in case of using a light box – your acrylic base reflects that white from the walls and appears gray in the photos. Black velvet can be used as the base as well, when you do not want a reflective black surface.

Place your ornament at the heart of the base when you are getting a top-view shot, in order to get rid of any undesirable things or edges that find their way into the picture, using crop tool later. Similarly, place it close to the border, where the background and the base meet, to achieve the full black look easily.

In case you plan to shoot with acrylic or glass outside a light box, you may have to put in a little more time into setting everything up, so that nothing from the surroundings sneak into the image in the form of reflections.

How to Deal with Reflective Jewelry

As much as we love them and their remarkable luster, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Pearls and other mirror like jewelry can be sometimes tricky to handle, with them reflecting a little too much, which doesn’t look remarkable at all while photographing these beauties.

Jewelry that acts like a mirror - Photo by © Aleksey Gnilenkov
Jewelry that acts like a mirror – Photo by © Aleksey Gnilenkov

When you talk about Silver and Platinum in particular, you might want to photograph them against an all black or a dark metallic background, to allow them to shine at their fullest. The best lighting for any reflective jewelry is diffused light and it is best if you use a light box in this case, as not only it will give you diffused light, but it will also minimize the surrounding objects your jewelry sees and reflects. The lesser things it is exposed to, the better. Then sometimes, you might also find your camera reflecting in it, and for that you can always move the piece of jewelry a bit, so that even this is not an issue anymore.

With pearls, you want dimension. To make it appear as 3-dimensional as possible. In many photos of pearls, if you notice, you will find that they have been shot with too much light, than necessary. You can judge this by their flat finish, as for a ball like structure, a lone light transmitted straight from above it or from any one side, will shed a beautiful single highlight over it that immediately makes it appear more round, more 3 dimensional and provides depth. You can follow this advice, then shoot some photos with extra lighting also, and see for yourself what a difference this simple trick creates.

5. FLOATING JEWELS

Don’t like the idea of always having to place your jewelry over some sort of platform where often things like rings and charms are unable to sit upright? Would you just love to have them standing straight without the support of anything at all? or at least without anything that is visible?

Have your jewelry float in mid air using prop wax! In other words, you may call it the position holding wax. It has to be one of the most convenient things invented for jewelry photographers.

Prop Wax is a must have! - Photo by © Aleksey Gnilenkov
Prop Wax is a must have! – Photo by © Aleksey Gnilenkov

All You Need To Do:

Separate a tiny piece from any of the corners of the wax. Roll it between your index finger and thumb – or whichever way you like – until you have it shaped into a ball. Place it where you want your jewelry piece to be and gently press the jewelry piece over it. And that’s it! You now have a pendant/ring standing erect with the source of help unknown and concealed for the viewers.

 

6. STYLING & COMPOSITION

A good composition makes a great difference
A good composition makes a great difference

It’s not all about how to take a good photo, it is also about how to style that photo to bring out the best attributes of that piece of jewelry. There are some basic props that are commonly used by jewelry photographers such as:

  • Pyramid Ring Stand
  • Watch Stand
  • Pendant Stand
  • Earring Stand

But some photographers also tend to go for less common things like vintage lace and books, candles and flowers etc. What is important to understand here is that you should only opt for the latter option if you are a hundred percent sure that your prop is not going to become a distraction in any sort.

Such props are known for their attempts to come between the viewer and the main product when not shot carefully by the photographer. They get in the way of the precise, professional look you want to achieve. So, when you feel like introducing a prop in your photo, make sure you stylize the whole set in a way that your jewelry alone catches every eye at once. The prop should be set to help with adding a context to the image and highlight the jewelry even more.

MODEL OR NO MODEL?

So you have taken all the appropriate shots you could think of, but still… still you feel like something’s missing – a model maybe?

To have a model display the jewelry pieces for photography shoots has been a topic for a never ending argument. Some photographers side with it being thoroughly redundant while some are of the opinion that it has its own benefits too.

Two major benefits being, it gives an immediate sense of scale to the targeted audience and people can actually get to know what the ornament would truly look like when they wear it, instead of just imagining it in their heads. This now contradicts with another hypothesis that people don’t need to know any of that, they only need to know it’s pretty. And a pro photographer’s job is to make even the not-so-pretty-things look pretty!

Anyhow, this was just to enlighten you with what the argument is about, but if you know you can pull something off and quite effectively at that, then you should totally go for it. Just make certain that you keep the outfit for the model extremely simple to evade distractions and do not have the model look into the camera, as eyes then become a greater source of attraction and you don’t want that. The photo might also need a bit more retouching than usual because of the model. You will need to conceal all the blemishes and other flaws.

BONUS TIP:

Do you strongly feel that you should include a model but can’t afford to? This trick is for you! Get a free image of a model off the internet or pay what is much less compared to hiring a model to the stock photos people and get one from there, then all you do is shoot photographs of your jewelry in a way that you can easily Photoshop it on your model’s image!

7. BACKDROP

Backgrounds have a tendency to grant character to anything. It brings an added soul to a story. And photography is mostly about telling a story, conveying a message or delivering a point across, even when it is a simple piece of jewelry that is shown in the picture.

If you generalize, the most commonly used backgrounds can be: Basic stark white, Basic black, plain yet colored backgrounds, gradients and then you have patterned and textured backgrounds, whether in monochrome or colorful.

A basic white background works as an all rounder, almost all sorts of jewelry can be shot against it. Although it is best to shoot silver, white gold and platinum against dark colored or black backdrops, with flattering angles, the rightly balanced light and maybe using a subtle prop alongside the subject, you can still manage great photos of silver against white. White can also be termed as the most no-fuss background, whereas any other background requires some great deal of contemplation.

With the help of a good, well thought background, you can add a variety of moods to the ambiance where you have placed your jewelry, swaying people away to another world. Colorful, textured or patterned backgrounds can be brought into use at many places for this purpose but just as with props, watch out for distracting backgrounds also. You don’t want anything else to steal the show, you simply want to accentuate the beauty of your main subject. The “limelight” must always remain on your jewelry only.

Too much happening at the background creates tension
Too much happening at the background, creates tension

While deciding on a background, you should also take into consideration the image and perception of the brand in the target audience’s minds. The audience, whom these photos are going to be targeted at, should be able to relate to them.

8. PHOTO ESSAY

If you are a photographer learning to photograph your own jewelry to sell online, here is a tip on how to present your work. With people entirely relying on your photos before ordering, they need to know what the product looks like from each angle, what would it feel like, how big in size it is when worn and so on.

And if you are a photographer working for a client or just escalating your portfolio, this tip goes equally for you, as in your case your client would want to have a look at a good set of different angles too, displaying a piece of jewelry in all sorts of  gratifying ways.

Display the jewelry from various angles - Photo by © First Last
Display the jewelry from various angles – Photo by © First Last

It is just like producing any other photo essay – telling a story through pictures. Presenting a certain matter from various positions for the audience to think and act upon. Only in this case that “matter” is the jewelry. A straight-on image from the front, an angled image, a close-up , a shot of the whole set and a top view are just a few examples of what can be included in it.

9. TAKE NOTES:

Take lots of pictures while experimenting with all these tips and techniques. It is only natural to go through a trial and error phase before you turn into an awe-inspiring professional. But something that will make this progression quicker is your habit to make note of everything you feel you should remember for the next time, for a particular occasion or forever. For instance, points related to lighting, camera settings according to different lighting set ups, things you discover on your own, etc. Jot everything down into a notebook and this way even if you don’t practice for a while, you won’t have to go through the whole process again, you’ll still have your discoveries, good points and bad points, all of it preserved with you!

Wish you the best of luck for all your ventures. Hope you learnt some useful stuff from this post. Cheers!

                           

The Art of Headshot Photography

The Art of Headshot Photography

If you are a photographer in search of  valuable ways to do well in headshot photography, we have covered everything in this post that will help you reach your goal and beyond!

A great looking professional portrait has become an essential for more people than can be counted, with a growing number of people becoming more and more career oriented. Hence, the demand for a headshot has also increased in the past years.

What clients look for in a headshot photographer is his ability to make them appear polished, good looking, easily approachable and an enthusiastic professional. There are photographers who exclusively specialize in this field of photography, because it encompasses a whole separate world in itself!

The basic things you need to get right, first and foremost are the light. The background and the poses your clients assume is the next very important thing, to showcase the kind of aura your clients expect you to capture about them in those simple and powerful head-and-shoulder portraits and trust you entirely that you will guide them around it. So you sort of have a responsibility to live up to their expectations.

All you need to do, is to dedicate yourself into excelling in these and you will be producing consistent spectacular head shots in no time!

Let’s take a look further into the details of each aspect and explore their fullest capacity for improvement.

Interacting with the client

Is Your Client Comfortable Enough?

Like with any other field of photography involving people, you need for your clients to loosen up once they are in front of the camera. You must understand that for the client it is not easy to be standing there alone, posing, having all the attention directed at them, so it naturally makes them feel awkward – unless they are actors and models by profession. But if you want to make the most of this opportunity to keep getting better at what you love to do and attain “consistency” in producing brilliant shots, you might want to work on prompting your folks to come out of their shell first.

Therefore, it is important for you to interact with them like you would do with your best pal. That is, be open, be cool and be silly. Give them time to relax to the core and make the hidden star in them emerge and SHINE! Some pep talk prior to the shoot is always encouraging. What you can do is, ask them what kind of portrait they have in mind?

Everyone has something or the other already imagined in the back of their heads. Discussing it out with them will help them know that you care. You can sit down with them and go over the different types of headshots already known to work with their particular genre of occupation and guide them as to what will suit best with their overall look and everything.

Moreover, if they set an appointment with you on call, ask them to come over to the studio and meet with you personally someday before the shoot, so that both of you can get an idea of what the other person is like, know what to expect from each other on the day of shoot and discuss the above mentioned details, rather than having them show up right on the shooting day.

If the client's comfortable, you get amazing shots!
If the client’s comfortable, you get amazing shots!

During the shoot you must keep on guiding them and encourage them every now and then by dropping praises, and whenever you get a good shot, let them have a look too to offer confidence. You can also have some music playing in the background depending on the kind of mood you are trying to achieve in the photos, as music is known to have its effect on the mind.

Just remember that a healthy affiliation between the client and the photographer leads to a better photo shoot.

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The Ambiance

Typically, you will find most people picking plain backgrounds, however, to bring in more variety it has also become common now to choose an office like setting, an outdoor rugged wall, having greenery at the back and so on. But to understand the nature of this matter manifestly, let’s just put it this way:

The setting where a head shot is taken, depends entirely on the client’s branding (Whether they are businessmen/women, artist, actor, into real estate or any other).

1. Although a plain white or dark background works well for all professions, it is not set in stone and therefore, you may find your client going for any other appropriate option. In such cases, make certain that the focus stays strictly on the person in question only and everything else must be blurred – for that you use a wide aperture.

The head should be in a clean spot. No tree branches sticking out of the head, a door line angled right across it or anything like that. These as you can imagine, create juxtaposition and also become a strong distraction. Simply, the face must pop off the page and nothing else.

Outdoor headshots can turn out great too! - Photo by © Kenneth Lim
Outdoor headshots can turn out great too! – Photo by © Kenneth Lim

Also, try to compose your other-than-studio-portraits having a symmetry in them, like if you have your person standing in a corridor, frame them right in the middle of it to get a balanced neat look.

When You Choose Outdoors, in order to get the best light, make sure to:

  • Take photos an hour after sunrise.
  • Take photos an hour before sunset.
  • Avoid having the light source directly behind your subject.

2. When the background has been decided to be a plain white one, you can either have them pose in front of a white wall, use a roll of paper or a large reflector. The light angled towards the background can help you achieve a few varied appearances. For a blown out background, turn the light on full power, whereas grey-ish color can be achieved with a lower power.

3. It will not be a good prospect to have your frames cropped too tight, some negative space left around the subject adds context to a photograph. Having said that, if your subject is looking towards the right for instance, then you should bring in more space from the right into the frame and less from the left.

 

Lights, camera, head shot!
Lights, camera, head shot!

The Mechanism

1. An uncomplicated setup option would be to have two lights, one of them positioned towards the background while the other, the main light, in front of and directed towards your subject, slightly off center and to the side and a tad higher.

Place a reflector in the against direction of the main light. This will help eliminate harsh shadows and soften any hard edges, acting as a third source of light. The light you get from a flash or a speedlight is hard and highly unfavorable if you use it without any diffuser.

One way to make the light soft, is to bounce it off by letting it hit a wall and reflecting back to the face, while another way is to use a softbox or umbrellas. If you place an umbrella on your main light, it will help to feather the light a little and instead of hitting directly with all its brightness straight at the subject’s face, the light will smoothly embrace the contour of the face.

2. To avoid lens distortion, avoid using wide angle lenses. Use a lens with a wide aperture, which means having a small f-number. It is a better option for shooting close up shots or head shots, because, If you take a few steps back and zoom in on the face, it blurs and smooths the background out as well as making the edges soft around the face. 85 mm and above, generally fairs well with close up shots of faces.

If you are unable to get hold of a lens with large aperture then an in-camera filter can be an alternate option.

DIY TIP

Use a giant white card (for example the back or plain white side of an oversize birthday card), get your client to hold it like a tray, lower enough so it doesn’t appear in the frame and angle your light in such a way that it bounces off the card and onto the subject’s face.

Attitude and Stance

We discussed above on how to get your subject to relax, now we will contemplate on how to get them to pose in a manner that accentuates their personality to the fullest and get them to look how a professional portrait necessitates.

Pose to accentuate the personality - Photo by © Nick Gregan (Mel Michael Actors Headshot © Nick Gregan)
Pose that accentuates the personality – Photo by © Nick Gregan

1. First things first – Shoulders back! You might need to repeat this phrase over and over again, but it is best to keep reminding them of it, as in today’s world where everything has digitized, hunched backs are becoming a prevalent habit and people tend to do it unconsciously now, so you better beware that there’s no hunch back action going around.

2. Deal with the jaw line! A jaw line is a lot of things. From being a beautiful curve that accentuates ones features; something everybody loves and wants, it is also that which can make one look old and – since we are talking about head shots specifically – BAD if one has bulkiness around it aka double chin.

To capture a smooth, neat jaw line and a slim neck, Peter Hurley, a famous head shot photographer from New York, explains some great techniques in this video.

The basic trick is to ask your subject to bring their forehead slightly forward, stand at 45 degrees angle, drop the shoulder that is facing the camera down a bit – and not to drop the back shoulder down as that fairs poorly with the jaw line – tilt their neck sideways or back a little while still looking into the camera.

3. Now let’s come to the eyes. Eyes play a major part in portraits. In head shots, eyes become the focal point that MUST catch the viewer’s attention as soon as they take a look at a photo. Now the key to remember here is that you must never let your clients just stare at the lens looking like – as many accomplished photographers say – a deer caught in the headlight.

You want them to deliver through their eyes as if they posses all the confidence of the world. You don’t want them to look uncomfortable, shocked, scared or stressed, so make them practice smiling with their eyes! Tell them to think about all the good things in their life that make them happy and to imagine them with open eyes. All the while, carry on with cracking jokes, asking questions, giving directions through it all to make it easier for them!

Peter Hurley also introduced a super cool trick for eyes and named it a “squinch” which is a combination of squint and pinch. Doing this automatically makes a person look like they have something clever going around in their heads and a knowing “smiling” expression erupts in the eyes. To know more about it, watch his video here.

Having the camera slightly above and shooting down on them makes the eyes appear bigger and also assists in avoiding the dreaded double chin.

4. A head shot doesn’t necessarily mean only the head is to appear in the photo, you can also sometimes include their hands in the frame. So when you meet up with a client and if they happen to like nail polish, ask them not to wear any other color than neutral or clear for the shoot as colored polish will turn into a distraction.

Hands can be a part of the headshot
Just because it’s a headshot, doesn’t mean there can’t be hands in it.

Operation Buff Up

1. Phew! It’s done. The shoot is over. Now comes the processing part. A little tweaking here, some polishing there. It’s nothing too hard. All you do is pick the best shots, open them with your Camera Raw plug-in, modify the white balance, adjust the exposure and correct the contrast.

2. Your clients will vary in all kind of ways. Shape, size, posture, looks, some will have spotless skin while some might posses wrinkles, some will have a fresh look whereas some might look tired. Their eyes will say different things acquiring different manners and so will their smiles – you may get straight, flawless teeth and then some crooked ones also.

Retouching makes your headshots flawless!
A little retouching goes a long way!

As your job is to make them all look shipshape, a little re-touching on Photoshop, where required, hurts none. Things that generally call for attention can be as follows:

  • Blemishes. As discussed, you may get a case of bad skin and acne sometimes, revealing even from under the layer of makeup, and where perhaps diffused light failed to conceal much too. Bring Doctor Photoshop to the rescue! You can easily even out the skin and relieve it of all spots and blemishes with its help.
  • Wrinkles. Harmonize the wrinkles and under-eye-bags a tad and your client will be sure to thank you enough for that!
  • The Mighty Eyes. Adjust the levels and curves over the eyes in a way so as to make them appear crystal-like. Brighter, sharper and clear!
  • Pearly Whites. Even out the rows of teeth and make them whiter for a bright captivating smile.

Play around with all this while still adhering close to reality. Make sure not to go over board during this process, your aim is to only re-touch slightly and not make the person look like someone they are not when you meet them in person!

3. Prepare a contact sheet. It is a grid that holds all the best elected photos to compare and choose from. Makes it easier for the client to decide which one they like best to display wherever they want.

Bonus Tip

Watch out for meddlesome reflections if your subject is wearing spectacles! To steer clear of any such thing, when you set the main light slightly off center and somewhat directed from a side, ask your subject to move their head a bit in the opposite direction of the light, this will help minimize the reflection and if the glass is still stealing some reflections then this will direct them away from the camera’s eye.

So these were the essentials to carry out while shooting headshots, hope this helped, now the more you practice the finer you become. All the best to you. Cheers!

Engagement Photography

Engagement Photography – What Works and What doesn’t!

Engagement Photography has become quite a trend now. Typically, couples go for it after the engagement and before the wedding, hence some photographers make it their way to include it within their wedding photography package, whereas some offer it separately.

Whichever way you decide to do it, here are some techniques that will help you comprehend how to organize as well as harmonize a shoot that involves couples and emotions.

With this ring... Photo by © dag-mah0
With this ring… Photo by © dag-mah0

THE TRUST FACTOR:

As majority of the couples have never had a professional photographer – usually a stranger – shoot them before, they are naturally uncomfortable and confused when you point your camera at them. They do not know what to do, how to pose, where to look and with shy people, it is more often than not that you see all of their intimacy getting lost as well because they have a stranger keeping an eye on every single move of theirs! So it is very crucial that you first try to get them settled and relaxed in front of you and the camera and win their trust!

An important thing to keep in mind is that such photo sessions are meant to preserve the couple’s relationship, their love for each other, their “rainbow bubble of bliss” on becoming one. It’s actually a matter of fact that these times give birth to such phrases, but that is exactly what they want you to capture except most of them don’t trust you to open up in front of you, so in order to save their bubble from popping (as good experience gives you happy clients which leads to more referrals!) get them to like you first!

THE MEETING:

When you meet with the couple, you find out about them and their plans for the future and take note of the details of their life and interests – both individual and shared. Another thing you do is, apart from your portfolio, you explain to them your style and the way you work.

Here, you must make sure that you don’t give them some false hopes. As in, you must not agree when they ask you to give them a Leibovitz inspired photo shoot, when you neither have the crew nor the equipment to fulfill this desire of theirs. Be honest and let them know of all that YOU can do.

Secondly, you should have your own USP “unique selling proposition”, that makes you different from others out there in the first place, you don’t want to copy someone else’s style, you want your personal style to be famous like that of the other renowned photographers. So, if a client wants something other than you from you, then it’s time for you to let them go.

Though do not be anything but polite and humble, for this is one of the strictest rules of marketing!

 

THE SITE:

Going for a location that the couple can relate to is the best option, It is after all about them. When I say this, then keep in mind that, the place that he proposed at, is not the only option. There can be a place where they share a lovely memory, a place that will always remind them of their love for each other, it might turn out to be a beautiful field of flowers where they rode bikes together, had a life changing chat by a rocky sea shore or went crazy at an amusement park… you never know, so it is best to ask them about all the places they made cherishing memories at and then decide on the one you feel will go with your personal photography style as well.

Engagement Photography looks great at great locations
Look for locations that offer a great view!

Still, often it happens that your clients won’t know where they would like for their shoot to take place. For such times, it’s great to have a list of your own, to suggest to them, for places which you know are beautiful, offer great/ dramatic lighting options, textures and a diverse range of shots – plus, are safe. You should also keep in sight the spots where you do not need any permission to hang around with all your gear and purpose.

Many places have rules and restrictions and they do not allow such activities without proper authorizations. Which in many cases might be paid. These payments are also made by the client and are included in the total amount of money you take from them.

CLOSE SCRUTINY:

Everyone has agreed upon a place and now you have some time on hand before the day of the shoot. There are various ways to utilize this time but this one will earn you gold points! Visit the place once or twice and don’t leave a single spot non-scrutinized! Even if you have been there before, go again this time with a decisive mind and look for anything and everything that can work with your desired theme, inspect the light, the weather, the textures and the several angles you can pull off, when is the area less crowded, will you need to get authorization or anything like that if you bring the equipment and all…etc. To fully familiarize yourself with the place, take your camera along and click some photos, you’ll know what type of exposure settings will be best for this place beforehand.

TOO MANY TOOLS

If you are alone and do not have an assistant with you, your best bet is to keep your gear light. It will not only be easy to carry around but also be favorable for you at places where a crowd and inquisitive guards are present, such as parks – the least attention you draw, the better. Your couple won’t have to feel prying eyes on them either the whole time.

If you are a new comer to this field and do not own a ton of equipment, worry not! Learn by heart that too much or expensive gear won’t help you attain fantastic results, but it is your skills that will get you to that level ultimately.

Engagement photography is rather flexible in terms of location, lighting and all the rest. If you know how to work with natural or available light, your digital SLR and one or two of your favorite lenses will work great too. To get crisp and sharp photographs, keep your ISO low and your shutter speed high.

GUIDELINES IN ADVANCE

As said before, the couple would be unaware of what this session is going to be like, thus it will be better if you help them decide on the attire they choose, maybe the kind of shoes you want them to wear etc, as very often such little details play quite a momentous role – for example the headband the bride to be was wearing or anything else that will count as a mark of that wonderful day when they first met each other!

You can also ask them to bring along as a prop something they both love from the place and the day he proposed. This will add an affectionate touch to the photos.

SOMETHING EXTRA:

A compact kit (face powder), some bobby pins, tissues, a small comb and mirror will be rather helpful to have when things get sticky! You can ask your client to bring them along too – but that doesn’t sound very appealing. That is why it will be nice if you buy these small weightless things put away in one of your bag’s many pockets, they will prove to come in quite handy. Also, these little things make you seem even more focused and professional because it gives off the sign that you care for them to look good all through the shoot!

PLAIN AND EARLY

Reach at the decided venue early and ask the couple to follow the same. Getting there early and spending some time leisurely, drinking fresh juice, discussing the possibilities and going over some basic do’s and don’ts will help everybody become comfortable around each other.

Let them relax and you'll get amazing shots.
Let them relax and you’ll get amazing shots.

Simple portraits are a good way to begin the session. This will not only help your clients adjust to the camera but it will also help you become aware of the things that you will need to look out for in the rest of the session such as posture problems, double chin etc – you can easily guide them through it by giving cheery directions.

DIRECT AS YOU GO

Your direction will help them to loosen up as they will finally know what they need to do. Discussing a few poses and letting them have a look at some of the good photos you take of them in your camera along the way, will make them even more confident. Show your delight when they do good, remind them of their blissful bubble, get them to talk about each other – this will eventually make them enter the bubble again, shyness forgotten.

Every couple is unique, some are sweet, some are cool, then you have the romantic types and there are those serious corporate ones also and so on. It’s your job to find out which type your couple fits in and then translate that along with their emotions into your images by composing them into frames worth a second glance!

Details make great photos - Photo by © Cristi Yor
An engagement photography shoot doesn’t mean they all have to be portraits – Photo by © Cristi Yor

You can even break the rules sometimes if it still means getting an outstanding picture! Bring in a variety of shots. You don’t want your client and their relatives and friends to skim through the photographs and see the same kind of stuff appearing again and again – that’s quite a common mistake I’ve noticed while going through many wedding albums myself.

Posing will be taken care of once your clients have opened up. That doesn’t mean you stop guiding them, but it will get easier and smoother by the minute. What you do need to carry on earnestly is clicking from several different angles before you let them change to another pose. Fill the frame, go wide, wide and low, low in long and so on.

This is something that cannot be reiterated more, to shoot a lot and then pick the best ones out of them. It is in fact such a good thing to make a habit of, as you don’t just end up with lots and lots of photos but you end up with lots of great photos, whereas the chance of missing that awesome shot every photographer is after, becomes quite less.

MAKING IT ALL FUN!

Nobody will have fun if you all keep going around the same kind of static “posed” poses and soon everybody will want the session to end A-sap! The couple will naturally be self conscious because of your camera’s presence even if they have loosened up in front of you – the camera is still in the way. They’ll be holding back their true selves while not knowing it and the only one to blame if the photos don’t turn out amazing will be you. So clearly you need to do something about them. To get them to have fun, be who they really are freely and also to wipe that “cheese” smile off their faces – something we all have been taught to do since childhood – while replacing them with genuine, on the “spur-of-the-moment” laughter!

An effective way to achieve this goal is to prepare a list of fun things you can ask them to do! Definition of fun may vary for everyone but the end product is usually the same – release of tension!

Letting them have fun results in great photos!
Letting them have fun results in great photos!

Here are a few things to get you started, take these as inspiration and discover a lot more ways!

  • If the location happens to be an amusement park, you hardly need to do much, take them on crazy fun rides and do silly things yourself – clicking all along! They are bound to scream, laugh and exchange views and comments while on such rides. Then you find the element of protectiveness taking over the groom now and then which will get you some really good expressive shots!
  • You can have them take selfies together and snap photos of each other – while capturing their moves in your own camera. Every couple has done this before and this will help them remind that what they are doing now is no different – only better!
  • Ask the couple to share each other’s embarrassing moments. They will blush, laugh, smile where one of them will probably try to shut the other person up once they begin while the other will be busy teasing and there you have it – plenty of playful poses right in that moment!
  • Get them to dance! Put on some music on your phone and get to it! They might not agree at once, but you can start on your own, some serious steps mixed with the goofy ones and persuading them all the while, sing along a bit – preferably off key to make them laugh – It doesn’t matter what steps they go for, you only need for them to feel the beat, let it reach their heart and minds and have them sail higher on the clouds! (You can also ask them about their favorite piece of music, prior to the shoot, so you bring it along.)
  • A fool-proof and effortless way? Making faces! Go ahead and make silly faces with them and once they pick it up you drop it from there and get back to work!
  • Another effortless way? Tickling! Ask one of them secretly to tickle their partner and catch them by surprise! The spontaneous squeal and expressions you get, will be priceless.
  • As weird as it may sound, playing the chase game is yet another easy way to get them to reveal their natural selves.
  • Recalling good memories. Have them go through their own photo gallery in their phones and discuss each picture swap after swap. It will give them something to indulge in, you have a conversational pose plus it’ll make sure for you to get a good set of varying expressions and emotions.
  • Ask them questions about their future plans together. You may end up catching some profound, thoughtful exchange of looks this way!
  • Have them use the props you asked them to bring along. Or use things you find in your surroundings as props and see where they take all of you. Let them do their own thing with them first then bring in your suggestions.
  • Water fight! If you think the above ways aren’t enough to make this session full of fun, then here’s your ultimate option! This devil of all games gives you tons of genuine hearty laughs, squeals, playful natural poses and what not.
  • Lastly, get the groom to propose once again! But this time using whatever that is available in the surroundings. A mere leaf, a piece of pollen or if the place has absolutely nothing natural on itself… then even a bobby pin! Oh the possibility of expressions here is endless!

All of these are not the only options, there are so many things you can do to make this whole session a memory of its own kind for the couple! Keep exploring!

THE BLESSED GOLDEN HOUR

If you plan to rely entirely upon natural light, then the golden hour is your most excellent option. You get the best natural light an hour after Sunrise and an hour before Sunset! This renowned hour works wonders for the people as well as for the environment in the photograph.

ORGANIZING AND PROCESSING

So the shoot is done and now you have a gigantic folder full of all sorts of photos you collected. Start with clearing out the images you know you will never use. Then separate the mediocre ones from the stupendous ones. This will make your life easier and much organized.

Be careful about the time you have promised to deliver the photos. Remember that you have taken a deposit and got that contract signed so that the clients would stay firm on their words, now it’s your turn to do the same. Do not wait until too long to start editing the images and also give yourself a margin for unforeseen events that may take place (as they usually tend to, whenever you are doing something crucially important!). You will have to get them printed and have a personalized album made (optional – depending on your style of work and the contract), so that will take some time too.

“Time management” has to be the toughest thing probably, but it gets better “with time” – the irony – and eventually you fall into a habit of getting things done “on time”.

REASSURE THE NEW OWNERS

Whilst your trying to manage your time and getting things done to hand them over to their future owners, it is a good idea to ring them a couple of times and reassure them of the work in progress. Post some of the pictures as a sneak peak on your fan page to let them see that you are working on their project as a confirmation with respect to your phone calls.

MARK YOUR STYLE

Instead of just handing over the photographs in the simplest, most ordinary way there is, put some consideration into designing your albums and CD covers as to personalize them for your couple. Presentation counts in everything! No matter what kind of photographs you have in there, the album and CD cover will leave the first impression! Don’t let it be your last.

Personalize the album for your clients
Personalize the album for your clients

Many couples these days are becoming more and more inclined toward DIY projects for their wedding. You can ask them what they plan to do, the theme colors for the wedding, the kind of flowers they will opt for and other details – if all that is underway – and have your Packaging customized to go with that! If this is not the case then another way can be to take their personalities into consideration, their likes and dislikes and all that you got to discover about them during your time with them to personalize the packaging while still adding something as your trademark to them.

You can always have them designed completely pertaining to your own style and stationary, but clients would just love it when they see you’ve put so much thought into their affairs – if you follow the above said way, they will most likely remember you always, like when they want their kids to be photographed in the future or anything else comes up in their family worth being photographed. So basically you will be securing some future appointments too for yourself this way. Rest is up to you!

THE END

So these were some guidelines to help you improve your future sessions! Hope this post was useful.

Cheers and Good luck to you.

10 Interior Photography Tips

The need for good interior photography is rising by the day, as people get more and more interested in designing and decorating their homes. Interior designers, Interior design magazines, blogs and websites, all require that great looking photos be featured as a portrayal of their work. Not only these, but real estate agents, hotels, restaurants and offices are also looking to get their spaces professionally photographed so that they don’t get lost in the crowd. So, if interior photography is something you’re looking to expand your skills in, we have some tips for you to get yourself started.

Something for Beginners

  1. If you have your camera set to Auto mode, You must change it to Manual, as you may need to keep playing with the aperture during this shoot. How important it is, you will find out as we progress through this post.
  2. It usually happens to all of us that as a beginner we tend to set our camera at “Medium-Resolution-JPEGs” or sometimes High Resolution as well, UNTIL we find out the benefits of shooting in the RAW format.
  3. Even high-resolution doesn’t allow you to retouch the photos as far as you may like to, many a times, but shooting in RAW certainly has some amazing advantages like tweaking the exposure to a great extent, makes modifying the white balance a lot easier and much more.
  4. No need to thrust the ISO above 100 if you want grain free photos, and with the help of a tripod, you can have your shutter speed slow without having to worry about camera shake.

1. SAUNTER AND OBSERVE

Leading lines - Photo by © Ahmed Shajee Aijazi
Everything in this image leads to something – Photo by © Ahmed Shajee Aijazi

It is always a good idea to know the place you are about to shoot inside and out before you begin. Saunter around and closely observe every single detail you would like to shoot and all the different compositions that can be tried, how the natural light falls on things and where it comes from. Where would you place the artificial lights, if required.

2. STAGING, TRIAL AND ERROR

Find the right angle of view - Photo by © Gregory Butler
Find the right angle of view – Photo by © Gregory Butler

One thing you should try is to examine the space and everything by taking test shots without your tripod and see what composition and which angle works best for you, this will help you a lot in deciding if the placement of the objects in the frame is to your satisfaction or not before setting the rest of the equipment in position. Saves much of your time, as you won’t need to go about adjusting things again and again while coming back to the camera and repeating this step if you dislike what you get on the LCD or the monitor … save yourself from this fatigue!

3. LIGHT

Lighting in the case of interiors can be quite complex! Especially when you have huge windows and doors, that usually end up looking like giant white boards if you don’t deal with the exposure in the right manner! If you set the exposure in accordance with the interior part of the room you end up with those white boards, if you set it according to the exterior part exposed by the windows and doors, you get a cave like image with everything dark except the bright light spilling from the opening of it. Frustrating really!

You have to balance the exposure - Photograph by © Sue Son
You have to balance the exposure – Photograph by © Sue Son

But it is not like there isn’t anything that cannot be done about it, there are ways to deal with this and you can choose the one you like best to your taste or of the client’s.

One way is to make use of your lighting kit and reflectors. Give good time into adjusting it in a way that you set the exposure level according to the light from the windows  and use reflectors to bounce that light off onto the ceiling, the floor and all that is in between while using the artificial lights to illuminate any part that is still deprived of light and is casting dark hideous shadows.

Your aim should be natural looking aura, you want everything to be clear and noticeable, without overdoing it, and of course under exposure is not an option to discuss.

Photo by © Ahmed Shajee Aijazi
Photo by © Ahmed Shajee Aijazi

Another option is that you capture the scene with different exposure levels, changing the shutter speed, and then combine them to make an HDR photo of it. This requires good skills, otherwise it may sometimes make an image look like a video game’s photo rather than the natural real estate stuff.

Third option would be to wait for the time when the exterior lighting matches with that of the interior and the windows and doors no longer blasts the light in. “Dusk” would be a good example of such a time. *Gives you a beautiful deep blue colored sky too*

Photoshop and your Camera Raw plug-in can be a big help too. If you are good at it, you can lighten and darken any space that you feel needs attention. But a draw back with completely relying on this technique is that if you do a lot here then you might end up with white halos around the areas that were darker and you tried to make them better on the software.

Therefore, it is better to take care of the lighting on set in the first place, so that when you post process the image, you still get natural looking, attractive photos.

4. LET’S HEAD TO THE CORNER

Even if this may seem like an obvious trick that you go as far in the corner as you can to allow maximum range of the space you are photographing to appear in the frame, I felt it necessary to mention for the beginners reading this post!

The serenity though! - Photo by © Ahmed Shajee Aijazi
The serenity though! – Photo by © Ahmed Shajee Aijazi

Do try all the corners, for some can give you an okay-ish shot, while one of them will be a super cool one. This definitely does not mean to restrict yourself to corners only, you should try whatever other angle you think will look great, as sometimes even standing in the middle of the room will give you a spectacular photo, it highly depends on the size, formation and the overall setting of the place.

Photo by © Ahmed Shajee Aijazi
Photo by © Ahmed Shajee Aijazi

5. LOOK OUT FOR MIRRORS AND REFLECTIVE OBJECTS

While mirrors and other reflective objects are extremely pretty anywhere they are, you would not like to see your reflection in anyone of them or your gear peering out from them either for that matter! So it is not every time  that you get too many compositional options. It may be rather limited to only one also sometimes, If you have shiny glass walls, huge mirrors and so on surrounding you.

Mirror mirror on the wall... Photo by © Ahmed Shajee Aijazi
Mirror mirror on the wall… Photo by © Ahmed Shajee Aijazi

These objects will also often give you reflections of other things around the room – but that is what it’s supposed to do, what is so bad about it? The bad thing is those reflections will sometimes be distracting! Not cooperating with the flow everything else makes. That is where you use your brains and set your angle as well as aperture in a clever way to blur them out.

6. DETAILS THAT SAY A LOT!

Small things that make the space special. Things that tell you something related to that place. While photographing them, it is recommended that you add a kind of luxury to them, if it is already not present there.

Mesmerizing chandelier - Photo by © Ahmed Shajee Aijazi
Mesmerizing chandelier – Photo by © Ahmed Shajee Aijazi

For instance, candles decorated with velvet, glitter and tassels rather than just a plain candle staring back at you would always be more appealing! Such luxurious details can make anything more attractive, even a mere photo!

Textures, artistic lines and shapes also act as a magnet. They help you to lead the viewer’s eyes into the photo and flow in a pattern. You can use and rearrange such elements to draw the attention whichever way looks pleasing.

A very wide aperture gives a shallow depth of field and it goes for closing up on details pretty nicely.

7. THE APERTURE’S ROLE

As I mentioned way in the beginning of this post, that being able to fiddle around with the aperture plays quite an important role in interior photography, which is why manual mode is best here, let us see what levels generally work well.

Emphasizing the depth of field - Photo by © Ahmed Shajee Aijazi
Emphasizing the depth of field – Photo by © Ahmed Shajee Aijazi

f/2.8 will blur everything else for you except that one detail you want the people to focus at.

f/5.6 leaves most of the area you want to show, in focus, while blurring the background.

f/8.0 only softens the background

8. LOWER YOURSELF OR GET ON HIGH

Defining heights - Photo by © Ahmed Shajee Aijazi
Defining heights – Photo by © Ahmed Shajee Aijazi

While the usual camera height is kept at eye level, we all know what a room looks like from there. Shooting from a lower perspective will give you a more interesting view of the room and same goes for highs. It also mostly depends on the kind of space you have to shoot, so keep this point in mind and see if it’s possible there and how does it fare.

Photo by © Ahmed Shajee Aijazi
Photo by © Ahmed Shajee Aijazi

Another important thing to remember is to get most of the lines in the image to be straight, whether horizontal or vertical.

9. AVOID OVERLAPPING

Clutter free - Photo by © Ahmed Shajee Aijazi
Clutter free – Photo by © Ahmed Shajee Aijazi

When you are framing, keep in mind that pictures turn up 2 Dimensional. Too much overlapping of objects results in a cluttered look. The lesser the overlapping the neater it looks. Simple as that!

This is why feel free to move some furniture a bit, if you feel the need.

10. INCORPORATE YOUR ORIGINALITY

Makes me want to slide down the banister! - Photo by © Ahmed Shajee Aijazi
Makes me want to slide down the banister! – Photo by © Ahmed Shajee Aijazi

While I hope these tips help as the key pointers for you, I highly advise you to let your creative sense get to work and find out more and more impressive styles and angles in accordance with the place you shoot at!

9 Valuable Tips for Children’s Photography

Let’s face it, photographing children and preserving their cute activities into well thought frames that will make you smile and have them delighted when they are older, has never been effortless.

Thank God for smartphones and selfies though, for they have made this task a lot easier, as many kids I observe nowadays feel much at ease with a camera pointed at them. Even so, they can still be a challenge if you would want them to act upon “your” wish or sit in one place and give you a “posed” natural smile, long enough to get the perfect shot. First, that is plain boring for them AND to look at. Second, that is so not the idea of preserving childhood, right?

Below are a number of awesome tips from some great children photographers to end your perplexity and to share with you a few of their tricks to spend less and earn more – in terms of quality.

  1. STYLIZED PHOTO SHOOT

You can do it all yourself - Photo by © Ruslan Gilmanshin
You can do it all yourself – Photo by © Ruslan Gilmanshin

In our post “Cheap Photography Hacks to Save Money” we discussed about the exciting ways you can make replicas of the high end equipment you find in proper studios. If you have gone through it already, you will know how efficiently you can use that knowledge here and create studio like photographs within your home without spending tons!

Find a space in your house where you can set up props and the diy-ed equipment. It does not necessarily have to be huge, you can still get wonderful photos while working in a compact area. You should be able to know your camera settings well, catch the best light from the windows, and most importantly, you don’t even need to buy the props, you can totally build them out of the regular things you find laying around your house.

The art of DIY - Photo by © Ruslan Gilmanshin
The art of DIY – Photo by © Ruslan Gilmanshin
  1. WINDOWS TO THE SOUL

Peering deep - Photo by © Bess Hamiti
Peering deep – Photo by © Bess Hamiti

People often fuss over getting the kids to smile in the pictures. While a smile can make someone’s day and a foolproof option it is, EYES are the most prominent part of our being which is why we call them the windows into a person’s soul, if you concentrate on capturing them in the right way, you will surely have a collection of extra stunning photos – smile or no smile.

Photo by © Anna Bricova
Photo by © Anna Bricova

Heather Swanner, a photographer who has mastered this art – you can see some of the crystal like eyes she has captured, on “It’s all about the eyes” – has some words of wisdom to share with us all.

“...I put my subject in the shade (like under an overhang or a tree) while I stand outside of the shaded area and take the picture (meaning that I am often standing in the sun while I take the picture).  The area behind me is well-lit and provides a lot of light that bounces back and is reflected in the subjects’ eyes.  A big mistake I see photographers make is going too far into the shade to take pictures.  If your subject is shaded and you (the photographer) are shaded, then there may not be enough light to be reflected in your subject’s eyes (if you are shooting with natural light).  So take a step back, put on your SPF 30, and get out of the shade to take the picture… Keep in mind that you don’t want your subject to face the sun in this set up, it’s better for your light source to be behind your subject…”

-says Heather 

  1. LET IT BE MOMENTOUS

Let them be kids - Photo by © Robyn Jones
Let them be kids – Photo by © Robyn Jones

“Say Cheese!” DON’T. Most hateful it is in the sight of accomplished photographers to hear people utter this downright dreaded phrase. Reason is, no one particularly enjoys looking at a picture that has little people smiling feebly and appear as if they would rather be doing something else if you hadn’t bribed them, or worse, had commanded them sternly to do so. What’s the use of such pictures?

Capture the fun - Photo by © Ben Kerckx
Capture the fun – Photo by © Ben Kerckx

So to make these photo shoots memorable for the children as well as yourself, be fun and silly around them, let them do what they want to and capture them in their natural self. Make certain the kids have a good time. Moments full of enjoyment and excitement will ensure that you steal those precious shots you had planned.

  1. ALL ABOUT PORTRAITS… *NOT!*

Some alone time - Photo by © Ulrike Mai
Some alone time – Photo by © Ulrike Mai

It’s not ALL about portraits, smiles, eyes and all that. “Details” about the child’s lifestyle can lead to a bunch of very interesting images as well. Merely the things that the kid does during the day. In this case you even have full liberty to experiment from various positions and not be in the child’s way. Also, you won’t have to worry about them running away from you, because now you won’t be in any way asking them to look here and there. All you have to do is stay quiet, observe from a distance and be patient, and you’ll get a moment that is worth capturing.

The profound conversations - Photo by © Cheryl Holt
The profound conversations – Photo by © Cheryl Holt
  1. TODDLERS AT REST

Toddlers become restless if you try to make them sit at one place for even 5 whole minutes. It’s natural for them to want to roll, run, touch here, go there and they have a thing for constantly looking around.

In this regard, Autumn from itsalwaysautumn.com shares some charming ways to get those adorable eyes to concentrate earnestly on you!

Little miss in a hurry - Photo by © ekseaborn0
Little miss in a hurry – Photo by © ekseaborn0

“…Grab a bunny ear headband from the dollar store at Easter (or a Shamrock one at St Patty’s, etc) and pop it on your head when the child’s not looking. Then keep asking them what’s on your head and how it got there. They’ll stare right at you, and probably laugh. I’ve even tied bells to my wrist and jingled them up by my camera to get a little one to look.

Also, move around a bit while you talk to the child, stand up, sit down, lean to the left or right. Your motion will naturally draw her eyes toward you, and you’ll be able to get photos from a variety of angles…”

– As said by Autumn

  1. TIME AND SPACE

Give the kid time and space to open up to you. Practice patience, these sessions demand bonding and working together.

Win their trust - Photo by © Lisa Runnels
Win their trust – Photo by © Lisa Runnels

Sing songs and poems in front of them, ask them if they know some too or invite them to sing along, play with them for a while and let them run the show. Discuss their friends, ask them about their favorite teacher, what do they like to do in recess.

Rewarding Smiles - Photo by © rmt
Rewarding Smiles – Photo by © rmt

Talking about their favorite movies and characters (such as Elsa, Anna and Olaf – hot favorite for all, these days) does really good to open them up. Have them show off their acting skills while pretending they are Elsa, in the girls case, but the same method applies for boys too. Do some silly acting yourself, that usually wins some genuine giggles! But, don’t miss out on the shot!

  1. IT GOES TWO WAYS

"But it's my favourite bag" - Photo by © Bess Hamiti
“But it’s my favourite bag” – Photo by © Bess Hamiti

You definitely do most preparations on your own, if you have a certain theme in mind you want to carry out, but you must give the child some liberty of choosing too. Props, themes, outfit and location are the common things to be considered prior to the shoot. If the kids are old enough, it will be best to consult with them about how they want this experience to be. If you follow this step, you will not have to worry about getting them at ease later, as you already made them feel like it’s THEIR day. Also take note of the time when they are their most cheerful self. This way, you have made this whole thing a piece of cake!

  1. ASSISTANCE

The squirm game - Photo by © Amanda McConnell
The squirm game – Photo by © Amanda McConnell

If your props are anything like the one in this picture, you will definitely need an assistant. They will prove to be very helpful when the “prop” tries to wiggle out of the kid’s hands, or you can imagine what else such props are capable of doing. No elaboration needed!

  1. BREAK TIME!

Did you say break?! - Photo by © Ben Scherjon
Did you say break?! – Photo by © Ben Scherjon

Take small breaks every now and then so that the kids don’t get bored with the same thing going on for hours, which can make anything utterly dull. Have it either for quick snacks or just whatever they want to do. This can also serve as an advantage, for you can have those small talks and playful stuff we discussed about earlier in the post. Or you can get away and click photos of them with your zoom lens from a hidden place!

But you know what’s BEST you can do in breaks? Leave them alone.

BONUS TIP 1:

GOT A LITTLE ONE AROUND?

Tiny hands, Loads of work!
Tiny hands, Loads of work!

Who doesn’t enjoy teaching kids – even when they seem to be getting bored with all the “tedious lectures”, as they usually appear to them – we all love dropping some of those “lessons” on them from time to time. Being an aunt of adorable nieces, I am writing with experience that kids want FUN elements included in just about everything they do!

Therefore to transfer your photography skills to the little ones in a totally entertaining and enjoyable manner Courtney Slazinik has come up with the idea of turning “training” into “playful activities” that they can perform and learn from.

She has sectioned them in two categories,

  1. Photography for kids, ages 3-5, where the activities include, Learn their colors, Starts with… and Their name.
  2. Photography for kids, ages 6-10, comprises of Skill building, Story time, Scavenger Hunt and ABC’s, along with an introduction to some of the basic rules.

To find out more about this cool way of teaching photography to your kids, visit clickitupanotch.com!

BONUS TIP 2:

ONE TOO MANY DRAWINGS?

Use your Photoshop skills and layer those drawings over their photos!

Image by © Chetan Kotadiya
Image by © Chetan Kotadiya

For the step by step tutorial visit: http://elementaryartfun.blogspot.com

That’s all folks! Hope this post proved to be helpful.

Photographing children is one surefire way to spend a day full of bliss. That is if you manage to pull all these tricks off!