Rule Of Thirds

Perhaps the most well know principle of photographic composition is the ‘Rule of Thirds‘.

The “Rule of Thirds” one of the first things that budding digital photographers learn about in classes on photography and rightly so as it is the basis for well balanced and interesting shots.

I will say right up front however that rules are meant to be broken and ignoring this one doesn’t mean your images are necessarily unbalanced or uninteresting. However a wise person once told me that if you intend to break a rule you should always learn it first to make sure your breaking of it is all the more effective!

What is the Rule of Thirds?

The basic principle behind the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 parts. As follows.

rule-of-thirds

As you’re taking an image you would have done this in your mind through your viewfinder or in the LCD display that you use to frame your shot.

With this grid in mind the ‘rule of thirds’ now identifies four important parts of the image that you should consider placing points of interest in as you frame your image.

Not only this – but it also gives you four ‘lines’ that are also useful positions for elements in your photo.

rule-of-thirds

The theory is that if you place points of interest in the intersections or along the lines that your photo becomes more balanced and will enable a viewer of the image to interact with it more naturally. Studies have shown that when viewing images that people’s eyes usually go to one of the intersection points most naturally rather than the center of the shot – using the rule of thirds works with this natural way of viewing an image rather than working against it.

In addition to the above picture of the bee where the bee’s eye becomes the point of focus here are some of examples:

rule-of-thirds

Another Rule of Thirds Example

In this image I’ve purposely placed the head of my subject on one of the intersecting points – especially his eyes which are a natural point of focus for a portrait. His tie and flower also take up a secondary point of interest.
rule-of-thirds

In this shot I’ve placed the subject along a whole line which means she is considerably off center and therefore creating an additional point of interest. Placing her right in the center of the frame could have resulted in an ‘awkward’ shot.

In a similar way a good technique for landscape shots is to position horizons along one of the horizontal lines also as I’ve done with the following shot (I’ll let you imagine the lines).

rule-of-thirds
Using the Rule of Thirds comes naturally to some photographers but for many of us takes a little time and practice for it to become second nature.

In learning how to use the rule of thirds (and then to break it) the most important questions to be asking of yourself are:

  • What are the points of interest in this shot?
  • Where am I intentionally placing them?

Once again – remember that breaking the rule can result in some striking shots – so once you’ve learnt it experiment with purposely breaking it to see what you discover.

Lastly – keep the rule of thirds in mind as you edit your photos later on. Post production editing tools today have good tools for cropping and reframing images so that they fit within the rules. Experiment with some of your old shots to see what impact it might have on your photos.

 

Contributed: DPS

Do You Understand Histogram?

Histograms are a topic that we could (and probably should) spend a lot of time talking about but let me give you a very brief answer to get you through in the short term.

Histograms are a very useful tool that many cameras offer their users to help them get a quick summary of the tonal range present in any given image. It graphs the tones in your image from black (on the left) to white (on the right). The higher the graph at any given point the more pixels of that tone that are present in an image. So a histogram with lots of dark pixels will be skewed to the left and one with lots of lighter tones will be skewed to the right.

The beauty of a histogram is that the small LCD display on your camera is not really big enough to give you an great review of a picture and you can often get home to find that you’ve over or under exposed an image. Checking the histogram can tell you this while you’re in a position to be able to adjust your settings and take another shot.

 

So now you know what a histogram is – grab your digital camera’s manual and work out how to switch it on in playback mode. This will enable you to see both the picture and the histogram when reviewing shots after taking them.

Keep an eye out for histograms with dramatic spikes to the extreme ends of either side of the spectrum. This indicates that you have a lot of pixels that are either pure black or pure white. While this might be what you’re after remember that those sections of the image probably have very little detail – this is a hint that your image could be either over or under exposed.

The histogram is really just a tool to give you more information about an image and to help you get the effect that you want. Having your camera set to show you histograms during the view process will tell you how your image is exposed. Learning to read them will help you to work out whether you’re exposing a shot as you had hoped.

 

 

8 Tips For Perfect Prints

Mpix, MpixPro, and Miller’s Professional Imaging, all part of the same family-owned company based in Kansas, offer different levels of products and services to different types of clients. Above, a poster-sized image comes out of the printer. Photo: Steve Herbert

Printing at home can be a good thing, but sometimes it’s best to let someone else do it. Maybe you want to make a whole bunch of 4×6 prints, or you need a print larger than your home printer can produce. Or maybe you have an image you love, but you can’t seem to make a print that matches your vision of it. A lab, whether accessed online or in person, can even obviate the need for a printer of your own; if you don’t print much, it can be more economical to have your prints made for you.

There are lots of labs to choose from, ranging from consumer-friendly, automated online systems all the way up to high-end labs where you can work one-on-one with in-house master printers. The higher up the scale you go, the more control and, most likely, the more printing options you will have. And, of course, the more you will spend.

1. Find the right lab for you. 
Before you print, decide which kind of lab you will need. You may even want to work with several, depending on your requirements at the time: It could be that you’ll use a consumer-friendly lab, such as Mpix, for quick, small prints; order your bigger prints from a site like AdoramaPix that will allow you to download profiles; and save your big, serious prints for a master printer such as the Icon lab in Los Angeles. Or you might stick with a do-it-all site such as Kodak Gallery, which takes care of color management for you, makes prints from small to large (including posters), and also offers the typical mugs and mousepads you’d expect from an online lab.

If all you need is big, an online lab might do it. But if you choose to work in person with a high-end lab (most major cities have one), you’ll get hands-on guidance the likes of which you could never match working remotely. Says Bonny Diadhiou of the Icon, “It takes about five people to make one beautiful print. There’s no just pressing a button—it’s even hand-trimmed. There’s so much love and labor that goes into making a single print.”

A custom lab like this will make an appointment with you to sit in a gray-walled room with optimized lighting while a seasoned printer works on your image on a color-correct monitor; the printer may even rework your RAW file if need be.

If you plan to begin a long-term relationship with a given lab, try calling customer service and see how long it takes to get a human on the phone. Ask for its policy on unsatisfactory print quality. Find out if the lab takes rush orders. Consider its output sizes: Is there enough variety? How big do they go? And finally, of course, consider the cost. Is the lab a good value for the money? Bear in mind, though, that some pro-level print services such as MpixPro require that its clients make at least some portion of their income from photography to access the professional site.

2. Calibrate and profile your display. 
We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again: A good-quality, calibrated, and profiled display is essential for making great prints, particularly if you plan to do any image editing at home. When you standardize your monitor’s color and contrast using a calibration device, such as X-Rite’s i1DisplayPro or Datacolor’s Spyder3Pro, you can have more confidence that the edits you make to your images will reproduce in prints the way you expect them to.

Labs that cater to more digitally adept photographers, such as AdoramaPix, will often allow you to download profiles for the printer/paper combinations they offer. If your at-home setup is color-managed, and you are comfortable using those profiles to soft-proof and preview your result in Adobe Photoshop, you can take on the job of color correcting your images yourself. You may even be able to take your setup for a hard-proof trial run: MpixPro’s service, for instance, will use your images to make five test prints for you to see how well the systems match.

3. If you can’t calibrate, let the lab do the color correcting. 
Most labs catering to enthusiasts, advanced amateurs, and even pros will fix the color for you, so you don’t have to worry about it. This is a good option if you don’t have a calibration device, or if you are simply not so great at making color corrections. The benefit of letting the lab handle it is that its technicians are intimately familiar with the vagaries of its printers and papers.

Consider a service like Kodak Gallery’s Professional Prints option. When we asked Mark Cook, vice president of products for Kodak Gallery, about color management, he replied, “There’s a setting where you can turn it on or off. Color management is done by a human.” In other words, this is not the service for those who want to manage their color with soft-proofing and profiles. If you want your color or exposure corrected before your prints get made, a Kodak technician at the lab will make the call for you.

4. Set the right color space. 
Can your lab accept Adobe RGB or Pro Photo RGB, or must you submit your files in the smaller-gamut sRGB color space? Similarly, consider file type and size. Some labs have file-size limits, and some accept only JPEGs, not TIFFs.

5. Pick your medium. 
Unless you go for a high-end lab, your prints probably won’t be made on inkjet printers. Instead, you’ll get what’s commonly called digital c-prints. These are made using a chemical process in which your images are projected onto photo paper using a series of lasers. This affords different paper options: Lots of labs offer Kodak’s papers such as Endura, a matte surface that works best for portraits, or Metallic, which works well when your shot includes metal, water, or sky.

However, high-end labs often print with inkjet machines as well and can help choose the best method and medium for output. The Icon, like many such professional printers, offers more than 25 kinds of paper, and can print using a wide variety of methods. They can also print extremely large—Icon recently had a job making prints nearly 60 inches wide by 15 feet long. Try ordering a print that big online. Finally, consider archivability. How long do you want your prints to last? According to Diadhiou, black-and-white pigment-based inkjet prints can last as long as 200–300 years, and color 100–200, depending on how they’re stored and displayed. A digital c-print, however, probably won’t last more than about 60 years.

6. Order your own test strips. 
If you’re planning to have a bunch of images printed, but you’re not sure of the best paper type to suit the pictures, order test strips. Use your editing software to gang a bunch of them up on a single big print, and then have it made on various papers to compare how the same set of images look on each. Or, if you’re not sure how much contrast or brightness will work best on the paper you’ve chosen, send out a similar big print with five or six variations of the image on a single piece of paper. Once you figure out what works best, order away.

7. Find out about black-and- white. 
If you’re working with a lab that can make inkjet prints, you’ll have more paper options than you would with digital c-prints. For instance, you’ll likely be able to print on fiber-based papers in a range of finishes from matte to glossy, which can give you a more traditional darkroom look. You’ll also be able to send RGB files that contain some tone.

Labs that make digital c-prints sometimes offer printing on true b&w resin-coated paper; both Kodak Gallery and Mpix are two examples. But it is essential that you find out what kind of b&w file your lab recommends.Some labs prefer to do the conversion for you using their own software, others request you send a grayscale (rather than an RGB) image. If you don’t give the printer what it expects, you could end up with strange color casts you don’t want, or a neutral image when what you were expecting was a nicely toned one.

8. Consider your image’s aspect ratio. 
If your photo doesn’t fit the same dimensions as a lab’s print size, its technicians—or automated program—may do the cropping for you. To control this yourself, you can crop your own image before uploading. Or, to get the aspect ratio you want at the largest size, open the image in your image editor, then make a white border around your shot so that the total image area, including the border, matches the print size you’re ordering. If you want to display your print without the border, you would then need to trim it yourself or frame it using a mat that covers the border.

No Pro Gear Needed

So some may be wondering whats the logic behind this post. Simple, no pro gear needed. These pictures were taken with an Olympus point and shoot camera various places over the world by my big brother Daine. He is not a professional photographer either and has just started to dable in this side of things and i must say he has the eye now go get yourself a DSLR (Canon) and take it up another notch.

Aim: Stop blaming your equipment, BLAME YOURSELF!!!

 

 

 

What clothing models should bring to commercial photo shoots

I know it took a while but i am making my first post for the year 2012. I have been super busy but now that i have the time here goes and Happy New Year.

Good commercial models have invested in a commercial wardrobe. Models are often requested to bring a wardrobe to the shoot.This is especially true of stock shoots. I have made lists of wardrobe items most stylists would like to see you bring.

Women

  • a few business suits
  • a little black dress
  • a few skirts (Current style is best, not too short.)
  • scarves and accessories (Cheap costume jewelry is fine—the more the better. A ring to look like a wedding ring often comes in handy.)
  • nice black slacks and tan pants
  • 5 or 6 tops (Colors are fine, but no black, no crazy colors or prints, and no logos.)
  • a turtleneck
  • jeans (no holes, not too worn-looking)
  • black and tan low-heeled shoes
  • tennis shoes without prominent logos (obvious branding)
  • black high heels (not too stripper-looking)
  • sandals
  • shorts (not too short)
  • ball cap with no logo
  • strapless bra, nude
  • nude undergarments
  • tube top
  • socks
  • a one-piece bathing suit and a two-piece if you have the figure for it
  • a jean jacket
  • a blazer, current style
  • push-up bra and cutlets if you are small on top

Men

  • a nice suit (not cheap—This is a good investment in your career.)
  • jeans (not too worn-looking)
  • black shoes
  • tan shoes
  • tennis shoes (no obvious branding)
  • socks—black, tan, and white
  • dress shirts for suits (4 or 5 in different colors)
  • 2 or 3 ties to coordinate with shirts
  • polo-style shirts (3 or 4 in different colors)
  • Dockers-type pants in navy and khaki
  • belts (dress and casual)
  • swim shorts
  • shorts, cargo in tan or khaki and one dark color
  • T-shirts (white, black, a few colors, no logos)
  • dress slacks, dark and light (no white)
  • turtleneck
  • pullover sweaters in a few colors
  • dress and sports watches
  • ball cap with no logo

My biggest pet peeves are worn-looking clothing. Take clothes to the dry cleaner to avoid fading and wrinkled clothing. I like to see models arrive with clothing on hangers in a garment bag. I hate seeing a wardrobe wadded up in duffel bags.

Obvious branding should be avoided on all clothing. If you can recognize a brand, we probably cannot use it on the shoot. Small logos on polo-style shirts normally will not show up, but anything larger may.

21 Tips For Amateur Wedding Photographers

So its the season when people are getting married. If you are a photographer then you know that exactly how busy this time of year gets. Here are some tips for you up and coming photographers when shooting wedding photography.

1. Create a ‘Shot List’

One of the most helpful tips I’ve been given about Wedding Photography is to get the couple to think ahead about the shots that they’d like you to capture on the day and compile a list so that you can check them off. This is particularly helpful in the family shots. There’s nothing worse than getting the photos back and realizing you didn’t photograph the happy couple with grandma!

2. Wedding Photography Family Photo Coordinator

I find the family photo part of the day can be quite stressful. People are going everywhere, you’re unaware of the different family dynamics at play and people are in a ‘festive spirit’ (and have often been drinking a few spirits) to the point where it can be quite chaotic. Get the couple to nominate a family member (or one for each side of the family) who can be the ‘director’ of the shoot. They can round everyone up, help get them in the shot and keep things moving so that the couple can get back to the party.

3. Scout the Location

Visit the locations of the different places that you’ll be shooting before the big day. While I’m sure most Pros don’t do this – I find it really helpful to know where we’re going, have an idea of a few positions for shots and to know how the light might come into play. On one or two weddings I even visited locations with the couples and took a few test shots (these made nice ‘engagement photos’).

4. In Wedding Photography Preparation is Key

So much can go wrong on the day – so you need to be well prepared. Have a backup plan (in case of bad weather), have batteries charged, memory cards blank, think about routes and time to get to places and get an itinerary of the full day so you know what’s happening next. If you can, attend the rehearsal of the ceremony where you’ll gather a lot of great information about possible positions to shoot from, the lighting, the order of the ceremony etc

5. Set expectations with the Couple

Show them your work/style. Find out what they are wanting to achieve, how many shots they want, what key things they want to be recorded, how the shots will be used (print etc). If you’re charging them for the event, make sure you have the agreement of price in place up front.

6. Turn off the sound on your Camera

Beeps during speeches, the kiss and vows don’t add to the event. Switch off sound before hand and keep it off.

7. Shoot the small details

Photograph rings, backs of dresses, shoes, flowers, table settings, menus etc – these help give the end album an extra dimension. Flick through a wedding magazine in a news stand for a little inspiration.

8. Use Two Cameras

Beg, borrow, hire or steal an extra camera for the day – set it up with a different lens. I try to shoot with one wide angle lens (great for candid shots and in tight spaces (particularly before the ceremony in the preparation stage of the day) and one longer lens (it can be handy to have something as large as 200mm if you can get your hands on one – I use a 70-200mm).

9. Consider a Second Wedding Photographer

Having a second backup photographer can be a great strategy. It means less moving around during ceremony and speeches, allows for one to capture the formal shots and the other to get candid shots. It also takes a little pressure off you being ‘the one’ to have to get every shot!

10. Be Bold but Not Obtrusive

Timidity won’t get you ‘the shot’ – sometimes you need to be bold to capture a moment. However timing is everything and thinking ahead to get in the right position for key moments are important so as not to disrupt the event. In a ceremony I try to move around at least 4-5 times but try to time this to coincide with songs, sermons or longer readings. During the formal shots be bold, know what you want and ask for it from the couple and their party. You’re driving the show at this point of the day and need to keep things moving.

11. Learn how to Use Diffused Light

The ability to bounce a flash or to diffuse it is key. You’ll find that in many churches that light is very low. If you’re allowed to use a flash (and some churches don’t allow it) think about whether bouncing the flash will work (remember if you bounce off a colored surface it will add a colored cast to the picture) or whether you might want to buy a flash diffuser to soften the light. If you can’t use a flash you’ll need to either use a fast lens at wide apertures and/or bump up the ISO. A lens with image stabilization might also help. Learn more about using flash diffusers and reflectors.

12. Shoot in RAW

I know that many readers feel that they don’t have the time for shooting in RAW (due to extra processing) but a wedding is one time that it can be particularly useful as it gives so much more flexibility to manipulate shots after taking them. Weddings can present photographers with tricky lighting which result in the need to manipulate exposure and white balance after the fact – RAW will help with this considerably.

13. Display Your Shots at the Reception

One of the great things about digital photography is the immediacy of it as a medium. One of the fun things I’ve seen more and more photographers doing recently is taking a computer to the reception, uploading shots taken earlier in the day and letting them rotate as a slideshow during the evening. This adds a fun element to the night.

14. Consider Your Backgrounds

One of the challenges of weddings is that there are often people going everywhere – including the backgrounds of your shots. Particularly with the formal shots scope out the area where they’ll be taken ahead of time looking for good backgrounds. Ideally you’ll be wanting uncluttered areas and shaded spots out of direct sunlight where there’s unlikely to be a wandering great aunt wander into the back of the shot.

15. Don’t Discard Your ‘Mistakes’

The temptation with digital is to check images as you go and to delete those that don’t work immediately. The problem with this is that you might just be getting rid of some of the more interesting and useable images. Keep in mind that images can be cropped or manipulated later to give you some more arty/abstract looking shots that can add real interest to the end album.

16. Change Your Perspective

Get a little creative with your shots. While the majority of the images in the end album will probably be fairly ‘normal’ or formal poses – make sure you mix things up a little by taking shots from down low, up high, at wide angles etc.

17. Wedding Group Shots

One thing that I’ve done at every wedding that I’ve photographed is attempt to photograph everyone who is in attendance in the one shot. The way I’ve done this is to arrange for a place that I can get up high above everyone straight after the ceremony. This might mean getting tall ladder, using a balcony or even climbing on a roof. The beauty of getting up high is that you get everyone’s face in it and can fit a lot of people in the one shot. The key is to be able to get everyone to the place you want them to stand quickly and to be ready to get the shot without having everyone stand around for too long. I found the best way to get everyone to the spot is to get the bride and groom there and to have a couple of helpers to herd everyone in that direction. Read more on how to take Group Photos.

18. Fill Flash

When shooting outside after a ceremony or during the posed shots you’ll probably want to keep your flash attached to give a little fill in flash. I tend to dial it back a little (a stop or two) so that shots are not blown out – but particularly in backlit or midday shooting conditions where there can be a lot of shadow, fill in flash is a must. Read more about using Fill Flash.

19. Continuous Shooting Mode

Having the ability to shoot a lot of images fast is very handy on a wedding day so switch your camera to continuous shooting mode and use it. Sometimes it’s the shot you take a second after the formal or posed shot when everyone is relaxing that really captures the moment!

20. Expect the Unexpected

One more piece of advice that someone gave me on my own wedding day. ‘Things will Go Wrong – But They Can be the Best Parts of the Day’. In every wedding that I’ve participated in something tends to go wrong with the day. The best man can’t find the ring, the rain pours down just as the ceremony ends, the groom forgets to do up his fly, the flower girl decides to sit down in the middle of the aisle or the bride can’t remember her vows….

These moments can feel a little panicky at the time – but it’s these moments that can actually make a day and give the bride and groom memories. Attempt to capture them and you could end up with some fun images that sum up the day really well.

20. Expect the Unexpected

One more piece of advice that someone gave me on my own wedding day. ‘Things will Go Wrong – But They Can be the Best Parts of the Day’. In every wedding that I’ve participated in something tends to go wrong with the day. The best man can’t find the ring, the rain pours down just as the ceremony ends, the groom forgets to do up his fly, the flower girl decides to sit down in the middle of the aisle or the bride can’t remember her vows….

These moments can feel a little panicky at the time – but it’s these moments that can actually make a day and give the bride and groom memories. Attempt to capture them and you could end up with some fun images that sum up the day really well.

I still remember the first wedding I photographed where the bride and grooms car crashed into a Tram on the way to the park where we were going to take photos. The bride was in tears, the groom stressed out – but after we’d all calmed down people began to see some of the funny side of the moment and we even took a couple of shots before driving on to the park. They were among everyone’s favorites.

21. Have Fun

Weddings are about celebrating – they should be fun. The more fun you have as the photographer the more relaxed those you are photographing will be. Perhaps the best way to loosen people up is to smile as the photographer (warning: I always come home from photographing weddings with sore jaws and cheeks because of of my smiling strategy).

Have Fun

10 Things Every Photographer Must Learn

Here is a list of 10 things I’ve learned the hard way that every photographer, designer, creative–hell, every creative person–should know.

1. Experts aren’t the answer.
The blogs, the teachers, the mentors, the seminars aren’t the answer. They’re not there to tell you exactly what you need to know. If they’re good, then they are there to give you some ideas, some guidelines, or some rules to learn and subsequently break. This isn’t about the expert, it’s about you. In creative pursuits especially…what’s going on inside you is where the answers can be found. Hear what experts say, but don’t always listen to them.

2. Clients cannot tell you what they need.
Clients hire you because they have a problem. They need a great visual representation of something, a solution. They think they know the best way to photograph something, but they don’t really. That’s why they hire you. Take their suggestions to heart, because they definitely know their brand, product, their vision–perhaps even shoot a few versions of the images they THINK they want to see first–but then go nuts with own vision. Add value. Show them something they didn’t expect. Don’t be a monkey with a finger. Remember why you got hired…that YOU are the badass image maker. If you are good enough to get selected for the job, you should be good enough to drive the photographic vision.

3. Don’t aim for ‘better’, aim for ‘different’.
It’s funny how related “better” and “different” are. If you aim for ‘better’ that usually means you’re walking in the footsteps of someone else. There will often be someone better than you, someone making those footsteps you’re following… But if you target being different–thinking in new ways, creating new things–then you are blazing your own trail. And in blazing your own trail, making your own footprints, you are far more likely to find yourself being ‘better’ without even trying. Better becomes easy because it’s really just different. You can’t stand out from the crowd by just being better. You have to be different.

4. Big challenges create the best work.
If you get assignments that are pushing your vision, your skills, then awesome. Kudos to you, keep getting those assignments. If you’re not getting those assignments, then you need to be self-assigning that challenging work. Give yourself tough deadlines and tougher creative challenges. You do your best work where there is a challenge that is clearly present and 10 feet taller than you think you can handle.

5. Aesthetic sensibilities actually matter.
Go figure on this one… I’m constantly surprised as how much this is overlooked. Read this and believe it: You must develop a keen understanding of design, color, light, and composition. To just say “I know a picture when I like it” isn’t going to get you anywhere. You need to know –for your own sake as well as the sake of your clients who will ask you– WHY a photo is a great photo. WHY is this one better than that one. If you don’t have any visual vocabulary, opinion, or aesthetic sensibility you won’t be able to explain these things. You won’t get the job. Or if you do get the job, you won’t be able to explain why your photos are worth getting hired again by the same client for the next campaign, story, or video. Trust me on this. Develop a sense of visual taste.

6. Simple is good.
Almost every photo that is bad has too much information. Outside of technical basics, the number one reason that most photos fail is because there is no clear subject. Often this is the case with design, film, fashion, you name it. Remove clutter, remove distraction. Tell one story, and tell it well.

7. Make mistakes, learn quickly.
Simply put, you need to be able to learn from your mistakes. Avoiding failure is not the goal. The goal is recovering from mistakes quickly. That goes for ever element of your photography–creative, business, vision…you name it. If you’re not willing to make mistakes, you’ll be paralyzed with inaction. That is the devil. Get out there and do stuff. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn’t work, change it. Quickly.

8. “Value” is different from “price.”
Don’t compete on price alone. That is certain death in any creative field. Focus on delivering value and price yourself accordingly. If you deliver great value with your images — better than expected, and better than your competition– and you can illustrate that through any means, then you should be more expensive. And remember that value comes in many forms.

9. A-Gamers work with A-Gamers.
If you are good at what you do, then you work–or seek to work–with other people who kick ass too. If you suck, then you put yourself around sucky people to feel better about yourself. If you want to be the best, seek to be around awesome people–be it other artists, assistants, producers, clients, partners, whatever. Shoot high. Shoot for better than yourself.

10. Real artists create.
Do you just sit around and think of stuff you could create, photograph, build, ship, or design, but never output anything? Then you’re a poser. Take a new approach and make stuff. Maybe what comes out of your studio isn’t perfect, but there should always stuff leaving the door and hitting the web, the page, the billboard, the gallery, or the street. If you are for real, you’ll be pumping out work on the regular.

There you go. Now don’t just read this list, KNOW this list.

Thanks to Chase Jarvis for this one.

 

The iPhone Fashion Shoot

So many of you blame your equipment for your lousy shots when in fact you should blame yourself for not knowing ow to use your equipment.

Take a look at the guys from fstoppers.com as the do an entire photoshoot with the worst possible camera…an iPhone 3GS. If you still blame your equipment after watching then….

Thanks to Lee Morris for this one.

How To Work With Models

So you’ve decided you want to do portrait, and finally manage to get a friend or a model to pose for you. Now what?

First things first. In this article I am not going to tell you the technical aspect of doing portraits, but how to work with the models you are collaborating with. To keep things simple I’m assuming the model is a female (I am writing this for Kai) but a lot of the advices here apply equally well to a guy. I am also going to use the term ‘model’ even if your model isn’t a professional, because for the purpose of your photos, she is the model regardless of her level of experience.

The most important thing I’d point out is that you have to remember you are trying to get some photography done. This is not a date. You are not bringing out this pretty girl for a movie, or a picnic, or whatever interesting activity you have in your mind. Make no mistake: this is a portrait session and you have to focus on that. This sounds obvious, but this is very important. You need to get into the mindset of being a photographer.

For a portrait to work, a certain level of trust between the photographer and the model is essential. If your model is a friend you’ve known for some time and she agrees to pose for you, I believe the trust is already there. But even so she may only trust you as a friend but not as a photographer. If the model is someone you’ve never met before (as in the case if you paid for one), establishing that trust is even more important.

I suggest talking to her about your photography, even if you have never shot portrait before. Let her know what you are trying to achieve for this set of photos, and what the most obvious challenges are. Blame the weather if need be. If you are shooting outdoors, explain why you have chosen the location. Ask her about what kind of portrait she has done before, or what kind of fashion shots she adores.

When you start shooting, let the model know what you want. Do you want her to smile, to look cool, or moody? Do you want the model to look into the camera, or away? Pay particular attention to how the light is showering on your model, especially in her eyes. From your position you may not notice but the sun could be shining right into her eyes and making her blind. Unless you are going for that kind of look, it’s best to shift your position so she is not looking directly into the sun. If it’s not possible, try having the model close her eyes and on a count to three, press the shutter while she opens her eyes. Pay the same attention to your reflectors too. Flash actually fares better in this regard as they are not constantly on. (Unless, of course, you are shooting at an alarmingly rapid rate — something I do not recommend.)

I always let the model know from which direction I will be shooting her, and if I am doing full body shot, or just over the shoulder. When I have to correct a model’s pose and spoken language just won’t do the job, I will try to show her how to do it myself, even if that makes me looking like some kind of weirdo. Unless you have explicit permission to do so, do not touch the model.

Last but not least, try using the magic words: “Please” and “Thank you.” Be Polite and always, always respect your model. Do not treat her like she is some kind of foreground interest, or just a object on your golden-rule composition. Remember that portrait photography, even more so than any other photography work, is collaboration between multiple parties. At the minimum it is between you and the model, but depending on the subject matter, there will be inputs from art director, makeup artist, and fashion designers, just to name a few.

If these sound too much for you, there’s always self-portrait. That however represents a different kind of challenge and another article.

10 Fashion Photography Tips

1. Fashion photography should convey an essence of authority, so your direction of the model(s) needs to be confident and self-assured.  Showing signs of anxiety, stress or lack of direction will invariably be reflected in the performance of your model so make the subject feel comfortable and involved.  Organise a shot list before the shoot and rehearse technique and composition for each shot in your mind. Prepare the location, props and clothes ahead of time and for a truly effective shoot be sure to communicate your agenda, objective and posing directions coherently and calmly.

2. Fashion photography is all about clothes and beauty, so pull all the elements of the scene and the model together to reflect this. For example if the shoot focuses on the clothes– use make-up and hair styling to compliment the garment – and vice versa.  If you desire a provocative or seductive look opt for dark, heavy make-up and over styled hair; alternatively for an innocent or natural feel choose subdued pastel tones, gentle make up and soft flowing hair styles.  Unusual looking folk bring interest and personality to the piece, whereas female models with large almond eyes, big lips, small chins and symmetrical faces are deemed “more commercial”.

3.Posing can be a tricky point to master but browse through the latest men’s and women’s magazines to target a few inspired suggestions as well as getting a grip on what is currently fashionable. Using ‘broken down’ poses or poses that require angular body shapes can add interest and edginess to the piece – as well as help to elongate body length.

4. A studio is an ideal place to perform a fashion shoot because photographers can easily control lighting and stabilise conditions. If you are shooting in a studio environment remember to meter all areas of the scene to avoid unwanted shadows and the use of a separate light meter rather than the one in your camera, will offer a more accurate reading.

5. If you can’t afford to hire a professional studio and all the pricey equipment there is a way you can cheat at home. Clear a space in a room that benefits from large windows and peg a white sheet, net or fabric across the window. On a bright sunny day you’ll have yourself a homemade soft box – ideal for flattering even light.

6. When shooting in low light or into the sun, you may require an extra light source. If all you have is flash then rather than shoot straight on, set it to bounce of a nearby reflector, wall or ceiling. Experiment with angles to create an array of effects and discover what works best for you and the scene you are shooting. Be careful to pay attention to unwanted shadows that may fall across the face and body.

7.  Props are fantastic for telling a narrative within a fashion shot, but one of the best props to use is a mirror. A mirror can be a used to tell a story and act as an effective tool that allows the photographer to display the front and back of your model. Take a spate reading for the mirror and you may need to bracket your exposures here. Be careful to position yourself, lighting equipment and anything not to do with the shoot out of the reflection.

8. Location, location, location! Getting the right location is important if you want to convey a narrative within your shot.  For example if the clothing and beauty styling are edgy, hard or provocative you may want to consider an urban setting , alternatively for spring/summer and natural fashions find a rural environment like; a field, meadow, beach, woodland or river bank.

9. Influence the image by moving around the scene and exploring which angles work best to full expose the garment. This could mean climbing a ladder, crouching low, working a slanted angle or moving closer to the subject. Think about what the message is here and create a composition to reinforce it.

10.  Fashion photography is achievable alone, but to step it up a gear rope in a friend, family member or photography student as an assistant. Often photographers need an extra pair of hands to position reflectors, angle and reset lighting equipment, tweak the positioning of garments and clear the scene.

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