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10 Nude Photography Tips

10 nude photography tips

Photo by PeopleImages via iStock

Nude imagery is not everyone’s cup of tea - that goes for models in front of the camera and photographers behind it. 

Though it makes some people uncomfortable, it’s a genre that’s been explored for millennia in one art form or another, and if done right, you can produce some truly incredible images.

With these tips, you’ll learn how to approach a nude photo shoot the right way so that your model is as comfortable as possible, and so you get the best photographs you can. And if you're photographing male models specifically, be sure to consult our nude photography tips! As a photographer, it never hurts to be too prepared, right?

 

Editor’s Note: Please be aware that there are images of unclothed and clothed models in this article. Continue reading at your own discretion. 

 

Nude Photography Tip #1: Turn Up the Heat

Nude Photography Tip 1

photo by inarik via iStock 

Let’s kick this off with a very practical tip…

If the model hasn’t got any clothes on, they’re likely to get cold, fast. 

nude photography tip make them comfortable

Photo by efenzi via iStock

Help them out by turning up the heat in the room well before the shoot is scheduled to begin. It doesn’t need to be a sauna by any means, but crank it up to the mid to high 70s to ensure the model is as comfortable as possible.

Nude Photography Tip 2

 photo byChristopherBernard via iStock

Remember - the more comfortable the model is, the more relaxed they will be and the better the images you will take. They'll have a better time in front of the lens, too! It's your job as the photographer to make that happen.

Check out more nude photography in the PhotographyTalk member gallery. The nude photographs in the gallery have been shared by members of our community.

Nude Photography Tip #2: Keep It Relaxed

Nude Photography Tip 4

photo by MilosStankovic via iStock 

The chances are that if you’re photographing a nude model that the model is at least somewhat comfortable being nude in front of a stranger.

But that doesn’t mean that everyone that wants a nude photoshoot is an expert at nude modeling.

Nude Photography Tip 5

photo by ozgurdonmaz via iStock

Do your best to make the situation as relaxed as possible. In addition to keeping the model warm, simply engaging in light conversation can do wonders for relaxing both of you. This, in turn, will help you create better nude photographs.

Talk about pets, kids, occupations, TV shows you like - you name it. Small talk can work wonders for getting you through the awkwardness of the initial “okay, get naked” stage and carry you both through to the end of the shoot.

nude photography tip keep it relaxed

Photo by oleg66 via iStock

Quick Tip: Always, always have model release forms when you take on this type of photography. This is a means to protect you and the model both. Even if you know the model well and have an established relationship, you must have a model release form on file. Learn more about model releases and view a sample release form.

Nude Photography Tip #3: Keep It Simple 

nude photography

Photo by 101dalmatians via iStock

Unless you’re doing something like fine art nude photography or nude couple photography, it’s typically best to keep the posing as simple as possible. Simplicity is often the key with nude photographs.

Again, most of the models you’ll work with will be normal, everyday people doing something special for a loved one. They have enough on their minds being nude in front of the camera, so having them do complex poses usually doesn’t work that well. 

nude male photography

Photo by baytunc via iStock

Instead, have the model lay down, sit, or even stand in ways that are comfortable and relaxing.

how to take nude photos

Photo by visual7 via iStock

Rather than having the female or male model constantly move around, try moving yourself around the model to capture different angles of each pose. This will help with the relaxation element discussed above, and will also minimize how many times the model has to get up and move around over the course of the shoot. It will also save you time in the long-run by not having to reposition the model over and over again.

For additional details on how to get started, check out the video above by DigitalRev TV. They offer some excellent tips for budding artists.

 

View our nude and boudoir photography gallery

 

Nude Photography Tip #4: Focus on the Details

black and white nude photography

photo by Goja1 via iStock 

Along the lines of keeping it simple, one thing you can do to help relax your model is focus on the smaller details of their body.

Cleavage, a well-placed hand on the stomach, and the curvature of the back are all prime candidates for detail-rich, yet still captivating subjects for a nude photoshoot.

Nude Photography Tip 10

photo by PeopleImages via iStock 

In fact, if you study classical nude photography, it’s not at all about the nakedness of the model, but the beauty, shape, and form of their body. You can celebrate those shapes and forms by composing these types of detailed photos.

Quick Tip: When taking part in nude photography, it’s helpful to approach composing your photographs almost like you would with a landscape. Take the time to examine how the light falls across the model’s body and zero in on highlighting how the light accentuates the body’s curves, as was done in the image just above. The result will be more beautiful portraits.

Nude Photography Tip #5: It Doesn’t Have to Be Totally Nude 

nude male photography 1

photo by richjem via iStock 

A misnomer about nude photography, and particularly nude art photography, is that it involves a full-frontal view of the human body at all times.

Instead, a lot of female nude photography and nude male photography involve the model covering themselves up at various points in various manners. In other words, not all photos in this genre are considered erotic nude photography. This is nothing new!

female nude photography

photo by Fitzer via iStock 

For example, a female model can use her arms to mask her torso. A male model can use his hands to hide his groin. You can use sheets or props to hide some skin while revealing other as well. In either case, the result can be quite beautiful examples of nude photography.

Often, viewers find these types of images even more appealing because of the mystery that comes with having certain areas of the body covered up. It can make the photo a better representation of art, too. There is beauty in what's hidden!

Nude Photography Tip #6: You Still Need a Shot List

nude couple photography

photo by miljko via iStock 

Just like any type of photo shoot, you need to prepare for nude photography beforehand by sitting down with the female or male model (or models if you’re doing nude couple photography) and discussing the types of photos that need to be taken. This is true whether you'll be in a studio, outdoors, or somewhere in between.

After all, your idea of the photos that should or shouldn’t be taken might vary greatly from what the model wants, so discussing thoughts on the direction of the shoot before the shoot begins is always a good idea. Get other tips for planning a portrait photo shoot. 

Quick Tip: If possible, have the client look at nude boudoir photography, black and white nude photography, fine art nude photography, and artistic nude photography in your studio to get a better idea of what they might want for their photos. Additionally, discuss different poses, lighting, and props that you might want to use, that way you have all the items you need ahead of time. The last thing you want is to have your nude subject awkwardly waiting while you search for something you need! Besides, this exercise could lead to new ideas for your photos.

Nude Photography Tip #7: Add Props 

black and white nude photography 2

photo byswetta via iStock

Props are one of the best things you can give a model to help them relax.

Not only that, but a well-placed prop can add color, texture, and visual interest to the shot. What’s more, if it’s something the subject can hold, you have a ready-made solution for keeping awkward hands at bay.

When using props, be careful not to go overboard. Again, simplicity is the key here, so add a curtain in the background for some flowing movement, have the model pose on a piece of furniture with an interesting form, or give the model something to hold. The human body should be the focus...not the props.

If you search "portrait props" online, you'll find a million options you might be able to use.

Read More...


Nude Photography Tip #8: Use a Longer Lens

female nude photography 2

photo by AleksandarNakic via iStock 

Using a longer focal length lens accomplishes a couple of things. 

First, longer focal lengths mean you have to be further away from the model, and they will likely appreciate that extra bit of personal space during their session. See nude photography - main page here.

Second, longer focal lengths compress the scene, which is often quite flattering for portraits. So, instead of using a 35mm or 50mm prime, give an 85mm or 135mm lens a shot. It could help you create something that looks more like fine art.

Quick Tip: Another lens option to consider for nude photography is a 70-200mm zoom. Though prime lenses rein supreme for portraiture, a 70-200mm zoom gives you excellent focal length variability while offering sharp results throughout. Do a search online of your model of camera to see what types of lenses you might be able to buy.

Nude Photography Tip #9: Omit the Model’s Face

nude male photography 2

photo by Milkos via iStock 

If you’ve seen much boudoir photography or artistic nude photography, you know that often the model’s face doesn’t appear in the shot.

Instead, as mentioned earlier, nude imagery often concentrates on the form of the human body.

Don’t be afraid to capture photographs of the model from behind or the side, or to crop images in post to omit the model’s face. Faceless portraits can often be equally, if not more powerful, than those that show the model’s face! Nudes like this have a mystery about them that can be very compelling. Do a search online for these kinds of shots and you'll see!

Nude Photography Tip #10: Try Black and White 

nude couple photography 2

photo bymiljko via iStock

Like I mentioned earlier, nude photography is more about the shape and form of the body and its interaction with light than it is about the fact that the model is nude. In this way, it is a pursuit of creating fine art. This is true whether you're working with women or men.

When you consider things like shapes, forms, and textures, your mind should immediately go to black and white images, as those elements are perfect for a photo without color.

Just like stripping down and being nude simplifies how a body is presented, removing color from an image simplifies the photo.

The trick, of course, is to focus your attention on those elements that make black and white photos stand out. Find ways to increase contrast. Experiment with different lighting setups and type of lighting, for that matter (which you can learn how to do in the video above by Michael's Photo Tips). See what other artists have done. Doing so will help you create nude compositions that have a classic, artistic look. These kind of nudes will impress the model and viewers alike as well.

Bonus Nude Photography Tip #1: Never Touch the Model

bonus nude photography tip 1Photo by PeopleImages via iStock

This should go without saying, but let's say it anyway: don't touch the model.

This is good advice for any kind of portraiture, but especially nude portraiture of women or men.

It's easy to get lost in the moment and simply reach out to position the model's leg, arm, or hand. Doing so is a violation of their space, unless you've asked them and they've give you the go-ahead to touch them.

Instead of feeling like you need to help the model pose by physically moving them, communicate with them what you want them to do. It's a much more respectful and safer approach!

 

See more examples of nude and boudoir photography

 

Bonus Nude Photography Tip #2: Get Outside

bonus nude photography tip 2Photo by Kharchenko_irina7 via iStock

Not all nude imagery should take place in the dark recesses of your studio.

Instead, find a location outdoors where you can capture some au naturel photographs amongst the beauty of the world around us. It can really increase the value of your photographs as fine art!

Obviously, nude outdoor photography requires a whole other set of precautions, like ensuring it's a private location where passersby won't get an eyeful of your models.

But, as you can see above, in the right setting, this type of nude photography can be quite breathtaking! Nudes like this have wonderful depth, visual interest, and appeal.

Quick Tip: Find outdoor locations with lots of texture, like a forest where the bark of the trees and the shape of the leaves provide interesting contrast with the smooth skin of the model. Likewise, avoid shooting at midday so the photograph isn't overrun with harsh shadows. Find a shady spot, wait for some cloud cover, or shoot at golden hour to get the best results.

Bonus Nude Photography Tip #3: Don't Be a Copycat

bonus nude photography tip 3Photo by Casarsa via iStock

As with any kind of photograph, it's important for you to find inspiration in what others have done before you.

But taking inspiration from someone is a totally different animal than simply copying what they do.

nude photo tips

Photo by proxyminder via iStock

Below, I've listed some nude photography recommended reading to help get your creative ideas flowing for shots of women and men. Discover what prominent nude photographers have done, identify what you like and don't like about their examples of nudes, learn a few more tips and tricks, and utilize that knowledge to create nude images of your own.

Often, finding your unique creative voice is the hardest part of being a photographer. The same applies to fine art nude photography, too. But developing your personal style is also supremely satisfying because you create art unlike anyone else has created before. How cool is that?!

Nude Photography Recommended Reading

These excellent books will help you step up the quality of your portraits:

 



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11 Nude Photography Techniques (With Photos)

Nude Photography Guide 11 Nude Photography Techniques

Nude photography isn’t exactly something that you just jump right into…

Since it can be a sensitive undertaking, it’s important that photographers take the time to learn how to properly plan and execute a photo session.

From building rapport with the model to exploring different angles of view to encouraging the model to tap into their own creativity, there are a lot of things to be done to make the session a success. With the 11 tips in this guide, you’ll find that success!

 

Editor’s Note: Please be aware that there are images of unclothed and clothed models in this article. Continue reading at your own discretion. 

 

Nude Photography Guide Tip #1: Build Rapport With Your Model

Nude Photography 1

As a photographer and an artist, you need to have a game plan - and that plan should involve getting to know the model before the shoot.

Not everyone is comfortable taking off their clothes and posing for the camera, so taking a few minutes to build a professional relationship with the model will go a long way in making the shoot more comfortable for you both. 

Whether you're working with a female or male model, they need to know your creative vision for the shoot. If you leave your model in the dark about the types of shots you want to get, then you will likely leave them feeling and looking lost. This is not how you get the best nude photography results!

Nude Photography Techniques

Go into each nude photography session by pulling your model aside and running through the purpose of the shoot for a few moments. Give them some broad expectations so that they feel comfortable working with you and know how to approach the shoot in much the same way as you do. This will keep the mood light during the shoot.

Quick Tip: Make sure to ask straightaway what types of images the model is and is not comfortable with. No matter what you’d like to accomplish with the time you have during the shoot, the model’s comfort level is more important. A healthy working relationship for starts with you! They need to quickly get used to you and the way you work.

Nude Photography Guide Tip #2: Previsualization is Key

Nude Photography 3

Previsualization is multi-faceted. 

Firstly, your photoshoot is not going to go well if you don’t begin with a shot list. You need to pre-visualize the entire shoot to create your shot list, asking yourself the following:

  • How do you want the shoot to unfold?
  • What is your creative vision for the shoot?
  • What would you be happy having done at the end of the day?
  • What images are must-haves in the time you've got? 

Secondly, you need to allow your model to previsualize their movements. 

A good way to do this is to find example poses similar to the ones you want to capture. As you’re discussing what you’d like to accomplish and what they’re comfortable doing, have a look at the sample poses together so they knows what you’ve envisioned for the shoot. Doing so also allows them an opportunity to offer some creative input. This will improve the beauty of the results you get.

Nude Photography Guide Tip #3: Keep it Professional

Nude Photography Techniques 2

This should go without saying, but then another story breaks in the news about a photographer or another artist accused of unprofessionalism...

Don’t touch your model during photo shoots unless you have explicit permission to do so. 

A good example of this is to ask, “May I lay your hair over your shoulder, or would you like to do it?”

Phrasing questions in this way allows your model the autonomy to fix the problem themselves so that you don’t need to make them uncomfortable by touching them when they don’t want to be touched.

nude photography techniques

If you simply asked, “May I lay your hair over your shoulder?” And your model isn’t very outspoken, or they want to please you, they may feel like they need to say yes due to the power you have over them, even if they aren’t comfortable with it.

Quick Tip: Always give the subject the time to fix a problem with a shot before you do and never approach them without explicit consent. This is one of the most important rules to live by in this guide.

Nude Photography Guide Tip #4: Allow Your Model to Move Naturally

Nude Photography Guide 1

Yes, it’s hard to get used to working with people sometimes because they can’t remain entirely still while you work around them and get the same shot from 20 different angles.  

But, this isn’t realistic.  

Don’t make the subject hold a pose for longer than two or three images from different angles. Otherwise, these shots will end up looking either stoic or static. This is not how to capture beauty in nude photos! 

Instead, make sure your model knows that they can always move from a pose if the pose starts to feel uncomfortable. Then, work around them. You'll get better nudes of the human body doing it this way!

Learn More:

Nude Photography Guide Tip #5: Channel Your Model’s Creativity

Nude Photography 7

Sometimes, photographers forget that models are an equal part of the creative process when it comes to photo shoots. This faulty line of thinking oftentimes is doubled when the photo shoot is of an erotic nature. 

One small way to include your models in the creative process is by simply remembering to show them sample shots, particularly examples of naked images you feel are especially great. Show them your work. Showing them work from other photographers is fine too.

Nude Photography Guide 2

This will do two things. First, it can boost their confidence in your work and your ability to make them look great in your photos. Second, it may lead them to realize something they could be doing to improve the shot that much more. You never know when a spark of inspiration will strike, and this will free you and the subject up for creating art that is something of beauty.

Quick Tip: Another way to include your model’s creativity is by asking ahead of the shoot if there are any particular nudes they would really love to get. You can include your model in the previsualization process by simply asking them about any must-have shots they want to add to your shot list. By working together, you can create photos that are fine art.

Nude Photography Guide Tip #6: Try Anonymity Through a Silhouette

Nude Photography 9

Depending upon the type of boudoir or nude photos you are doing, your model may not feel comfortable with their identity being known in the light of day. 

If this is the case, you can provide anonymity to them by replicating shots like the one above in which their form is black and unidentifiable. It can free them up to be more relaxed. Shooting their silhouette is both sexy and photographically appealing. Shots like this elevate a nude photo shoot to a fine art nude example. 

Nude silhouettes also allow you to cover genitalia, which gives your photo an aura of mystery, while still keeping some of those PG-13 elements. 

Nude Photography Guide Tip #7: Be Picky About Your Location

Nude Photography Guide 3

This one also follows the same line of thought as being sure to include your model in the entire creative process. 

If your model is going to be nude, are they okay being nude in public? More to the point, are you in a part of the world where public nudity is illegal? Even if yu're creating fine art, the law could prevent you from outdoor photoshoots.

Nude Photography 11

You want a location with good natural lighting that gives you nice blacks in the shadows and whites in the highlights. But you also want somewhere your model will feel most comfortable because their comfort level is what will allow you to get the best shots and create gorgeous art.

Quick Tip: This type of imagery already requires a certain level of exhibitionism; don’t push the model to their limits or you might lose them altogether. Get their input and be respectful of their wishes at all times. You both want to look back on the experience and marvel at what you created...not have regrets!

Nude Photography Guide Tip #8: Rent a Studio, Not a Hotel

Nude Photography 12

Not every photographer agrees on this front, but for our purposes, studios seem to work best for this niche. 

If you haven’t worked with a specific model before, rent a studio. Do not rent a hotel room.

While some hotel room shoots can be beautiful, there’s just something about meeting in a hotel that could make your model think twice about their safety. This will not help them relax in front of the camera, to be sure! Sham photographers work out of hotel rooms because it allows them the privacy to be creepy, and you certainly don’t want to fall into that category!

By contrast, renting a studio, if you don’t already have one, gives you a much more professional and legitimate space in which to work, and that will likely go a long way in making the model feel much more comfortable working with you.

Nude Photography Guide Tip #9: Try Different Angles

Nude Photography Guide 4

A lot of nude shots are the same thing replicated over and over again. 

Break this boring trend by finding specific parts of your model’s body you want to capture. If you want to highlight a female model’s breasts, make sure you are keeping this in mind when you’re trying to figure out which angle from which to photograph her.

Nude Photography 14

Make sure you have a chair and a ladder, as well as a few pillows laying around your studio so you are comfortable getting as high or as low as you need too. Then make yourself use each position throughout the shoot. This will help you get a nice variety of photos.  

Quick Tip: It’s hard to continually reimagine the angles from which you shoot, so ensuring you use all of the tools you’ve provided yourself will help you to keep the magic alive and create images that are unique, more visually appealing, and great examples of art. Maintaining a focus on fine details like this will get you better results, particularly if your aim is to create fine art.

Nude Photography Guide Tip #10: Don’t Forget About Diagonal Composition

Nude Photography Guide 5

Positioning your female or male model at a diagonal adds depth and drama to your photos.  

But, your model’s positioning is not the only way to create a diagonal composition within your photos. 

For example, you can incorporate props that lead the viewer’s eyes in a diagonal direction. Likewise, using diagonal light to highlight parts of your model’s body give the shot that drama and depth you want. 

Nude Photography Guide Tip #11: Don’t Take Any Rules too Seriously 

Nude Photography Guide 6

Except the rule about professionalism, that one must always be taken seriously.

But, If there’s something a little out of the box that you want to see and your model wants to do, then go for it! 

These types of shots, the ones where you throw conventional wisdom aside, will often be your best work. 

nude photography guide

This tip goes hand in hand with encouraging your model to be creative and move around. Just roll with it, see what they do, and keep your finger on the shutter button to capture the magic. 

It’s easy to tell if a female or male model didn’t have fun during a session because it’s written all over their face. Don’t be the photographer that makes it an uncomfortable experience by not being prepared or by being unprofessional!

Use these tips to improve the quality of your imagery, and you’ll find that not only are your images better, but that the model has a better experience as well.

Learn More:

Nude Photography Recommended Reading

 



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3 Tips on How to Use a Circular Polarizer

3 Tips on How to Use a Circular Polarizer

For those of you that have been paying attention, you know I just wrote this seriously in-depth article about how to use a circular polarizer.  

It goes into the science behind circular polarizers and is pretty technical. 

This article, on the other hand, is simply a short list of practical tips for using a polarizer and skips all the technical stuff. 

Here are my top 3 tips on how to use a circular polarizer. 

Get the Angle Right

circular polarizer tips 2

photo by nexusimage via iStock 

If you’re trying to use your circular polarizer to shoot sunsets or sunrises, it’s not going to work.

That’s because circular polarizers work best when the sun is at a 90-degree angle.

circular polarizer tips

photo bylaflor via iStock

A good way to find that sweet spot while using a circular polarizer is to turn your fingers into an L shape. 

Point your forefinger directly at the sun, then pivot your wrist. Wherever your thumb is pointing is the best direction to aim your camera. 

Avoid Using Polarizers for Panoramas

circular polarizer tips 3

photo byHaizhanZheng via iStock

This is another one of those problems with polarizers that people rarely think about.

It’s really difficult to take a panorama with a circular polarizer because you are going to be pointing your camera at varying angles to the sun throughout the one photo.

As discussed above, this presents a problem because you’ll have some shots in the pano in which the polarizer is working like a charm, and others in which it isn’t.

So, your final product will end up looking really unnatural without a ton of post-processing.

Alternatively, you can adjust the polarization of the filter as you move the camera for each image in the panorama - increasing its strength for each frame that’s closer to the sun - but this can be extremely difficult to pull off. 

Learn More:

Invest in a Quality Circular Polarizer 

how to use a circular polarizer

I ended up in a weird part of the internet yesterday, and stumbled across a hilarious video on how to DIY a circular polarizer.

While a DIY circular polarizer would be a fun project to do with your kiddos, it’s not exactly realistic to DIY your own polarizer out of a cut-up pair of 3D glasses.

I mean, it’s not going to make a very durable filter, right? Nonetheless, ellis3d makes it look simple:

Likewise, I see photographers buying $10 circular polarizers off Amazon.

These circular polarizers are often flimsy, poorly made, and can create a color cast in your images. So, not a good investment!

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

I use Kenko for all of my polarizer needs, and particularly enjoy their slim circular polarizing filter. 

For $43, it’s the cheapest version of a circular polarizer that will last you forever.

circular polarizer

Kenko is the number one selling polarizer in Japan, and for good reason - they’ve managed to create a polarizer that performs well, is durable, and doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg.

It’s anti-reflective ring works better than any other polarizer filter I’ve tried and I don’t have to worry about flare in my photos. 

On top of that, it comes with an anti-stain coating so it’s easy to clean after every use. Not bad, right?!

If you want to improve your landscape photos (who doesn’t?), using a polarizer is one of the best ways to do so. And as you’ve learned here, it’s one of the simplest things you can do as well!

Learn More:

 



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4 Easy Landscape Photography Tips You Need to Know

4 Easy Landscape Photography Tips You Need to Know

 photo bySean Pavone via iStock

When I started in photography, I thought landscapes would be the easiest subject. 

After all, I just needed to pull over on the side of the road, point my camera at something pretty, and press the shutter button to get a great shot. At least that’s what I thought…

Obviously, I was very wrong - good landscape photos require every bit as much hard work and planning than any other kind of photo.

In this tutorial, I want to share four easy beginner landscape photography tips that you might not have heard of.

Combined with more traditional landscape photography tips, these pointers will help you get the best-quality images with the most impact.

Table of Contents

Use a Polarizer - But Not All the Time

kenko smart slim cpl

One of the most common pieces of advice for landscape photographers is to use a polarizing filter.

These filters, like theKenko Smart Slim Circular Polarizer shown above, offer many benefits to landscape images, including:

  •  Reduced glare off non-metallic surfaces, like water or wet plants and rocks
  • Reduced atmospheric haze, so distant elements in the landscape appear more defined
  • Boosted contrast in the sky, with a bluer atmosphere and whiter clouds

 In fact, ask most landscape photographers and they’ll tell you that a polarizer is the most important filter to have in your bag.

However, what some folks neglect to mention is that polarizers are only useful in certain situations.

easy landscape photography tips 1

  photo byferrantraite via iStock

For example, a polarizer has no effect when you’re shooting toward the sun, so they’re useless if you’re photographing the sunrise or sunset and the sun is in the frame. They have their greatest effect when shooting at a 90-degree angle from the sun. 

As another example, polarizers aren’t well-suited for low-light landscape photography. This is because they slightly reduce the amount of light entering the lens. 

So, if you’re in a thick forest or shooting at dusk, ditch the polarizer so your camera can collect the light it needs to get a good exposure.

Knowing when you should and shouldn’t use a polarizer will certainly help you get improved photos.

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP

You Don’t Need to Shoot at f/22

landscape photography tips 1

photo by tomch via iStock 

When you first learn how aperture works and how it impacts depth of field, it’s common to want to slam the aperture down to f/22. After all, the smaller the aperture opening, the bigger the depth of field.

However, shooting at f/22 isn’t going to do your photos any favors…

No lens - not even a high-end professional lens - is its sharpest at f/22. That means that by shooting at f/22, you’re making the image softer. Having a huge depth of field doesn’t matter if the image isn’t sharp!

Instead, strive for a larger aperture opening. Even f/16 will give you noticeably sharper results.

landscape photography tips 2

 photo by raung via iStock

If possible, open the aperture up even further to f/8 or f/11, as these apertures are often the sharpest for most lenses. 

What about depth of field, you ask?

Even at f/8, you can still get everything in the shot from foreground to background nice and sharp, as shown in the image above. Just ensure the nearest element in the photo is six or eight feet away, and you should be just fine.

So, not only will you have a solid depth of field, but you’ll also have a sharper photo. It’s a win-win!

Learn More:

Add Drama With Artificial Lighting

lighting for landscape photography 1

photo by shaunl via iStock

I know what you’re thinking...artificial lighting for landscape photography??

But trust me when I say that adding a splash of light in low-light landscape photos can have a significant, positive impact on the overall appeal of the image.

Take the image above as a perfect example of this concept.

This scene is beautiful with the starry sky above the rocky shore. But by adding illumination from a small light, the details of the shore and the water come through. Those details give this shot an added layer of interest that pairs well with the blanket of stars above.

lighting for landscape photography 2

photo by eal444 via iStock

In this example, adding artificial light to the scene reveals all the cracks in the ice below the man’s feet. 

Not only is this an interesting detail, but it also gives this photo a much greater sense of drama - is the ice in danger of cracking? Will the man get off the ice safely?

These days, adding artificial light to a landscape scene is easier than ever before, too.

I use the tiny LitraPro shown above. It’s supremely portable, rechargeable, and durable, so it is the perfect companion for landscape photography. 

Litra managed to stuff 60 LEDs into this light, which is no small feat considering it weighs just 6 ounces and measures 2.75 x 2 x 1.2 inches.

With 1200 lumens of light, you can really illuminate the foreground of your landscapes or add interesting beams of soft light - whatever your pleasure!

The LitraPro is bi-color and has an adjustable color temperature of 3,000-6,000K, so again, you can customize the light output to your needs.

Additionally, you get crisp, clean, even, and flicker-free light to add to the gorgeous landscape around you.

Top that all off with MIL-SPEC 810 durability, waterproofness up to 90 feet, Bluetooth control, and a 10-hour battery life on low output, and you have the makings of the perfect light for adding interest to your landscape photos!

Invite Viewers Into the Scene

landscape photography gear

photo by Oleh_Slobodeniuk via iStock 

A common piece of advice for landscape photographers is to have a strong subject in your photo to help draw viewers into the shot. 

But it isn’t just a strong subject that helps this happen - you need foreground interest to do that as well.

Even though the foreground is likely not the highlight of the shot, you can still use it as a compositional tool that helps the entire image be more successful. 

Having an interesting rock, some leaves floating in a pool of water, or colorful plants (as shown above) in the foreground of your landscape photos serves as a stepping stone to the midground and background of the image.

landscape photography gear 2

photo by ErmakovaElena via iStock  

In other words, think of the foreground of your shots like the introduction to a story - you need a hook, something of interest there to bring people in and direct them toward the body and the conclusion of your visual story, which are in the midground and background, respectively. 

It also helps if you lower the eye level of the shot. Get closer to the ground, and the foreground will take on more prominence, and just might help you lure viewers into the photo.

With these simple landscape photography tips, you’ve got some new tools to use to improve the quality of your photos. Now all that’s left is to grab your camera and go practice!

Learn More:

 



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4 Things New Photography Business Owners Need to Do

4 Things New Photography Business Owners Need to Do

photo byAleksandarNakic via iStock

There are approximately one million things you need to do as a new photography business owner. It’s a stressful and exciting time.

Most of these things are pretty straightforward. You need to establish an online presence, start networking, and file for an LLC.

But, there are a few photography business tips I see people constantly put off until their photography business is more established. Let me tell you why this is a mistake. 

When your photography business is more established, you’re going to be busy… really busy (hopefully, anyway!). The last thing you’re going to want to do a year down the road is to be back at your computer Googling photography business tips. 

So, save yourself the trouble and figure out how to start a photography business with no experience now. If you follow all of the photography business tips on this list, a year from now you’ll be out shooting for clients, not establishing your insurance. 

Get Insured 

new photography business owner 1 

photo by defun via iStock 

I think anyone that has lived through their first few years of true adulthood understands the importance of insurance.

Things never go to plan, and they especially don’t go to plan when you can’t afford for them not to. When it rains it pours. 

So, establish insurance for your photography business now. 

get insured

Full Frame Insurance has cost-effective plans for you as a new photography business owner. You have the option to insure your camera gear, but you can also include liability insurance and event coverage. 

Plus, if you are looking to expand your photography business at some point, then you can easily add other covered people on your plan down the road.

fullframe

I started using Full Frame because there wasn’t a quote process; I just looked through their prices on their website and immediately purchased what I needed.

But, I continue to use Full Frame because their prices are inexpensive, their customer service is quick to respond, and it’s great having peace of mind about my business! 

Write Your Standard Contract

photography business tips 2

photo by AndreyPopov via iStock 

As a new photography business owner, you may not be thinking about writing contracts just yet. After all, don’t you need clients to send contracts to? Shouldn’t you be worried about that first?  

No. One of the best photography business tips I received as a newcomer was to outline exactly what I wanted my relationship with my clients to look like and to do so through the process of writing my first contract.

I still use a template based on this first ever contract today. It allowed me to establish the way I wanted my business to work, and it has also saved me a lot of nights where I would have been working instead of spending time with my family. 

Taylor Jackson is a great resource for those learning how to start a photography business, and this video on contracts is especially useful. 

Take these photography business tips to heart and sit down sooner rather than later to craft your first contract. 

Learn More:

Start Your Mailing List

how to start a photography business 3

 photo by cnythzl via iStock 

This may sound really boring and tedious at first, but if you allow yourself to enjoy the process of figuring out who in your life would like to hear about your new business then it can be fun. 

Starting a mailing list literally means getting the names and email addresses of people who like your work.

Togs in Business walks you through how to use a mailing list for your photography business.  

Mailing lists are a great networking resource, and one that many new photography business owners forget about. You can send out deals, blog posts and random updates through your mailing list.  

Plus, once you have a good sized mailing list, you’ll start getting a lot of business out of it. 

fullframe

Start a Blog

I use Wordpress for my photography business because it’s simple for beginners. This video by Wordpress Tutorials shows you how simple it can be.  

Photography blogs allow you to reach a wider audience than just your close network of friends and family. In fact, you may even start hearing from people in different states.

how to start a photography business

 photo by anyaberkut via iStock 

One of my favorite photographers is Jen Dz, an adventure wedding photographer. Jen uses her blog to reach audiences all around the world, so although she is based in Colorado, she frequently flies to Iceland and beyond all thanks to her incredible marketing strategies. 

The most important thing to remember about blogging as a photographer is to be as genuine as possible. People can tell if you’re not being yourself! 

And that’s what it’s all about when you go into business. Be yourself. Plan ahead. Work hard. If you can do these things, success will be a much more likely scenario. 

Learn More:

 



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4 Tips for Taking Better Travel Photos

4 Tips for Taking Better Travel Photos

Photo by Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash

I love traveling and I love hearing stories of my friends traveling, but as soon as someone pulls out their phone to show me their travel photos, I typically check out. 

I know what the Eiffel Tower looks like and I know for certain you aren’t doing it any justice, which is a shame because travel photos can be such an incredible tool for telling the story of the vacation you just had. 

I’m convinced that if we all took better travel photos, more people would get out into the world and expand their worldview. 

I’m also sure that better travel photos would make me much more interested to hear about your Honeymoon. So, here’s a beginner’s list on how to take better travel photos.

Better Travel Photos: Keep Patterns in Mind

better travel photos 1

Photo by Junhan Foong on Unsplash

While my number one travel photography tip could just have easily focused on composition, I think I’ve effectively covered composition already. 

So, I’m focusing on patterns. The human mind is hardwired to search for patterns in everything. Patterns are what keep us safe. Patterns are also aesthetically beautiful and can convey the sense of a place, like in the photograph above. From that one photo, it becomes clear that the building the photographer is in is incredibly ornate. 

I’d argue even if the photographer had captured just one of the patterns, like the bottom of the pool or the long columns, this sense could still be conveyed. 

better travel photos 2

Photo by David Siglin on Unsplash

Plus, it’s always easy to find patterns while traveling because they are everywhere in nature, from pine trees to prairies full of flowers, and people love to recreate these natural patterns in architecture, like in the church above.  

Whenever you’re traveling, watch out for patterns, and you could very well have a much-improved set of photos on your hands.

Better Travel Photos: Leading Lines Are Your Friend

tips for better travel photos 1

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash 

Travel bloggers have recently rediscovered leading lines, which is why Instagram is filled with photos of people walking down streets, but this trend is a trend for a reason.  

Leading lines help the photographer to redirect the viewer’s eyes, but they also convey a sense of adventure.

tips for better travel photos 2

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash 

And leading lines are almost as easy to find as patterns. You can use roadways, bridges, buildings, windows and just about any object known to mankind to bring redirection to your travel photos. 

Keep in mind: most travel photography tips are just beginner photography tips in disguise, so take a beginning photography class if you haven’t already. 

Learn More:

Better Travel Photos: Add Depth 

travel photography tips 1

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash 

When taking a photograph of someone, try to add depth by placing an object both in front of them and behind them. Every photograph, unless it is an extreme close-up or a hero shot, should have at least three layers to it.

Look to your foreground, midground and background in every photo to stop taking bland two-dimensional images. 

travel photography tips 2

Photo by Tobias Tullius on Unsplash 

If you want your viewer to really feel like they travelled with you, then you need to bring them into the shot with depth.

In the photo above, the photographer’s legs and feet and the beautiful lichen-covered boulder in the foreground create lots of interest in the shot. 

But these elements also create depth by adding a layer of interest in front of the rocky shoreline in the midground and the water in the background.

Better Travel Photos: Photos Are For Storytelling

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Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash 

The number one reason why travel photographs are usually so boring is that they are just what I mentioned above: a photo of something you’ve seen before, with no added story.

I’ve seen hundreds of images of the Eiffel Tower, why would I want to see yours?  

Try to get your viewer to feel what you felt while you were taking the photograph. In the shot above, that could easily have been just another photo of a waterfall, but by including the gentleman in the photo, staring up at the waterfall, you can tell how small the photographer might have felt while taking it. 

Think about how the camera placement aided in this endeavor.

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Photo by Tim Trad on Unsplash 

I think storytelling is one of the main reasons why the photography trend of taking photos out of your tent or van started.  

By taking a picture like the one above, the photographer is saying look at how big the world is and look at how small we are. It invites you to come along on a journey with the photographer to explore the world around them.

Bonus Tip: Get Paid to Take Better Travel Photos

how to make money while traveling 2

Photo by Nicole Geri on Unsplash 

If you’ve ever wondered how you can travel the world full time, or even part of the time, and get paid to do so then Travel School is exactly what you need.  

It’s difficult to travel for long periods of time without earning any income, and unless you’re part of the global nomad community, then you may pick up part-time positions working in hostels or bars or basically anything else that can keep you traveling. 

But, Travel School gives you the tools to start affiliate marketing, which is basically a way for you to make money through advertising. 

travelschool.info

It’s simple to get started, and once you become proficient, you can actually travel full time with the income you bring in. 

TravelSchool.info gives you all the tools and resources you need to get started and build a successful affiliate marketing business with multiple income streams. There isn’t an easier and more productive way to earn money as you travel the globe!

Visit their website to get more details about how you can find your way to freedom!

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4 Ways to Improve Your Photography Without Taking More Photos

4 Ways to Improve Your Photography Without Taking More Photos

Photo by Emma Dau on Unsplash

Something I rarely talk about here is defeat. But, oftentimes I feel defeated in my career. It can be difficult to try and make something and love something at the same time. 

It’s also difficult to not overly criticize yourself. I’ve been caught in the loop of looking at my photos, thinking they weren’t good enough, and then immediately going out to take new, better photos. The problem with that method is that it is self-defeating and really doesn’t get me anywhere.

Sometimes when you’re feeling defeated with your photography, you need to take a new approach other than immediately hitting the streets in search of your next perfect shot. 

If you’re looking to improve your photography, try taking less photos and instead focusing on these ideas. 

Do Your Research

improve your photography 1

Photo by lalo Hernandez on Unsplash

Sometimes there is nothing more fun than Google. Do you remember when everyone first started learning about Google and would sit down for hours to try and find the answers to their most wondered questions? 

Channel that sort of late 90s enthusiasm back into researching your industry. 

Figure out where your next photoshoot is going to be held, and find out everything there is to know about that area. The locals always know best and blogs are a great resource for finding out insider information.

improve your photography 2

Photo by Einar H. Reynis on Unsplash

Then, when you’ve found out all the information you can from Google, go scout the location.  

Photography exercises can only do so much, sometimes you simply need to observe the place you’re going to be photographing. 

 

Recommended Photography Reading

 

Focus on Your Editing Skills 

how to take better photos 3

Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash 

We all understand that editing is a necessary part of photography and doesn’t make your photography any less noteworthy just because it’s been altered. 

But, not enough of us sit down and take the time to examine what parts of the editing process we really need help with. 

There’s no way to improve your photography without also improving your post-processing. 

A general mistake most beginners make is to overdo their editing, so think about finding a photographer’s work that you like and asking them about their process.

Practice makes perfect, so the more time you spend working on editing your photos, the faster you’ll be and the better your photos will look. It’s a win-win! 

Learn More:

Practice Using Your Artist’s Eye

photography tips 4

Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash 

We all have the ability to get out of our comfort zones and examine our surroundings as if we have never done so before.

One trick I use is to flip my world upside down by lying down on my back and looking up at my environment. Our brain is used to processing information around us in a specific way and the goal of this tip is to take everything your brain thinks it knows and throw it out the window. 

Once you start practicing viewing your surroundings differently than everyone else, it will be hard to stop. Use this to your advantage. Focus on the things nobody else does, and improved photos will be the result 

Print Your Photos

photography exercises 5

Photo by bady qb on Unsplash 

I think disposable cameras are making a comeback with the younger generation because they realize how valuable having photos in front of you are.  

If you’re really looking to improve your photography, then start printing your photos.

I’m a big fan of canvas prints specifically because they give you the ability to constantly critique your work while simultaneously acting as a family heirloom. 

canvashq

And if you’re looking for a great deal on your canvas prints, then use CanvasHQ. They have high-quality canvases at affordable prices so you don’t have to sacrifice the longevity of your photos or your budget. 

CanvasHQ crafts their products using the finest materials - archival-grade canvas, professional inks, and hand-made frames. These canvases are made with love and care, and it shows!

This isn’t just lip-service, either. I have dozens of canvases in my home, and they are all from CanvasHQ.

These guys know what they’re doing, they do it fast, and if there’s a problem, they fix it immediately. What’s not to like about that?! 

Learn More:

 



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5 Killer LinkedIn Photo Tips to Get You Noticed

linkedin profile picture tipsPhoto by SanneBerg via iStock

I sometimes wonder in amazement how people found jobs before the age of the internet.

In our world, you can hop online and search job listings for gigs the world over. Likewise, companies can explore potential candidates on sites like LinkedIn. It all seems so much easier!

But with everyone on LinkedIn these days, you have to find ways to stand out from the crowd. And one of the best ways of doing so is having the right LinkedIn profile picture.

Not sure how to proceed with that? Consider the following tips as your critical guide.

Table of Contents

LinkedIn Profile Picture Tip: DIY Your Photo

linked in profile picture tip

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

If you're reading this, there's a pretty good chance you're a photographer. And even if you aren't, you can take a pretty awesome LinkedIn profile picture yourself. So why go through the hassle of hiring somebody to do the job you can do? 

Hiring someone to take your LinkedIn profile means one of two things: either you're going to a mass LinkedIn profile picture photoshoot with 25 other job seekers and putting down $10-$20 for a photo you only have one chance at getting right or you're paying a professional portrait photographer hundreds of dollars for what is essentially just one photo.

Besides, even if you're taking it with your smartphone, you will likely be happier with the outcome you get!

Plus, it's easy!

great linkedin photo

Photo by Philipp Berndt on Unsplash

Find a plain white wall somewhere in your house that is facing a window, and figure out what time of day the sun is shining through said window. Look at all the beautiful, natural light in the room above, strive for that.

You don't want direct light on the wall where you'll be seated or standing - reflected light like above is exactly what you want. It's soft and even, so there won't be harsh shadows or highlights on your face.

Next, set up a tripod to hold your phone or camera. Use your device's self-timer to give yourself a few seconds to get into place before the shutter is released.

As far as setup goes, that's it! Good light, a plain background, and your phone or camera on a tripod with the self-timer engaged is all you need. 

Next, follow the following four steps for figuring out how to pose for your photo.

Learn More:

LinkedIn Profile Picture Tip: Learn to Pose Like a Model for the Day

While Tyra Banks is famous for "smizing," or smiling with your eyes, Peter Hurley is famous for squinching, or squinting and pinching your lower eyelid. 

"Confidence comes from the eyes, and so does fear," Hurley says in the introduction to his video above. That means that potential employers are able to tell when you don't exude confidence before reading a single word of your LinkedIn profile.

So, one of the best-kept secrets for a good LinkedIn photo is to squinch. You can see how this works in the LinkedIn profile picture examples below:

linkedin profile picture examplesScreenshot from Peter Hurley's YouTube video

Above, the model is demonstrating what people normally do when they have their portrait taken - their eyes widen for a deer-in-the-headlights sort of look.

Notice in this shot how there is an abundance of the whites of the model's eyes showing. He looks more surprised than anything!

Now compare that to the squinching example below:

linkedin profile picture examples 2Screenshot from Peter Hurley's YouTube video

As you can see, the man's entire persona has changed. He appears more relaxed - not just in his eyes but throughout his face.

With his muscles relaxed, he exudes much more confidence - confidence that is immediately picked up on. While the shift is small, it's definitely noticeable.

The goal, Hurley says, is to no longer be able to see the bottom whites of your eyes (anything under the pupil).

Use this technique, and you'll have a much better chance of creating the best LinkedIn profile photos that get people interested in who you are and what you do.

LinkedIn Profile Photo Tip: Edit Your Photos Using LinkedIn 

If you don't have a post-processing program like Photoshop available to edit your portrait, LinkedIn has a solution.

They dropped new LinkedIn filters a couple of years back that were pretty poorly publicized.

If you download the LinkedIn app on your phone, you can choose from a few different filters that add class to your LinkedIn profile picture.

Sure, it isn't nearly as powerful as what you get with something like Photoshop, but it's at least a start!

Learn More:

LinkedIn Profile Picture Tip: Smile Like This

linkedin photo tipsPhoto by Tempuravia iStock

This one should seem pretty obvious, but while scrolling through LinkedIn to find inspiration for this article earlier today, I realized that some folks just don't know how to smile.

One study of over 800 LinkedIn profile pictures found something extremely specific about what your face says about you to others.

If you take your photo like the one above, smiling with your teeth showing, people perceive you as more competent, more likable, and more knowledgeable than if you play it serious in your LinkedIn profile picture.

If, however, you take a LinkedIn profile photo like this one...

linkedin profile picture secrets

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

... your likeability rating will skyrocket, and your competence and intelligence scores will plummet. 

In other words, make sure you show your teeth when you smile, but don't laugh, and certainly don't close your eyes!

LinkedIn Profile Picture Tips 2019: Face Forward Or Left

best linkedin photosPhoto by scyther5 via iStock

This one takes a bit of thought, and I haven't seen it anywhere else but in this Forbes article on secrets LinkedIn won't tell you.

If you are subtly leaning towards your left shoulder, like the man above, you are facing your name, your introduction, and your experience on your LinkedIn page. It allows the viewer of your profile an easy line of sight, jumping from your face to your information. The fact that his shoulders are turned to the left also helps.

good linkedin photoPhoto by Giulio Fornasar via iStock

If, however, you're facing your right shoulder (or your shoulders are facing to the right, as above), you could be sending a subconscious message that you don't believe what you say about yourself on your LinkedIn profile.

I know it sounds kind of crazy, but when you're on the hunt for a job and you're trying to beat out the competition, every little bit helps, right?

Take these LinkedIn photo tips to heart as you create your profile and see the difference it makes in terms of how you look and how potential employers perceive you. Based on the research, it could mean the difference between getting that dream job or not!

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5 Mistakes Photographers Make With Long Exposures

5 Mistakes Photographers Make With Long Exposures

 photo bymiroslav_1 via iStock

Long exposure photographs like the one above are unmistakably beautiful. But they can be a challenge to do well.

Capturing a gorgeous long exposure image takes time, planning, and preparation, as well as the right gear. If all these things are done well, you can expect to create a compelling image.

You’ll need to minimize your mistakes, though. With that in mind, here are five common long exposure mistakes you need to avoid.

Leaving Image Stabilization On

long exposure mistakes 1

 photo byFocusEye via iStock

Though not all cameras and lenses have stabilization systems, many do. These systems are hugely beneficial for shooting handheld and in low-light situations, but when used when your camera is mounted on a tripod, they can actually be a detriment. 

Camera and lens makers call their stabilization systems by all kinds of different names, but they all essentially work the same - they detect movement and try to counteract it by moving the sensor in the camera or moving a group of elements in the lens.

long exposure mistake 2

 photo bydchadwick via iStock

But when your camera is mounted on a tripod (as it must be for long exposures), there shouldn’t be much - if any - vibration. The problem is, the camera or lens might still try to compensate for movement. The result is that movement is introduced to the camera or lens, thereby causing blur in the image.

So, before you take a long exposure, be sure that any image stabilization systems are in the off position to avoid this very common long exposure mistake.

 

 

Using the Wrong Aperture

mistakes photographers make with long exposures 3

 photo bykyoshino via iStock

A mistake that many landscape photographers make is slamming the aperture down to its smallest opening - usually f/22 - with the thought that it will maximize depth of field and help prevent long exposures from being overexposed.

The problem is that the smaller the aperture opening, the greater the likelihood of diffraction, which, as Tony & Chelsea Northrup discuss in the video below, results in a loss of image sharpness. So while smaller apertures do contribute to a larger depth of field, it doesn’t do you much good if the image isn’t optimally sharp.

Likewise, there’s no need to close down the aperture to avoid overexposure. Shooting long exposures in the daytime necessitates having the right filters for the job, like neutral density filters, which block much of the light coming into the lens to prevent an overexposed image.

A better course of action is to select a larger aperture to avoid diffraction and use high-quality neutral density filters to avoid overexposure. 

By and large, most lenses are their sharpest at around f/8 or f/11. And assuming the nearest object in the foreground is several feet away, you’ll still get a good depth of field that gives you sharpness from front to back.

Learn More:

Using Cheap Filters

filters for long exposure photography 4

 photo by Koldunova_Anna via iStock 

Cheap and poorly made filters often leave a color cast in your shots. They can also soften the image, so all the work you did finding the sweet spot of your lens is for naught.

Instead, it’s worth your time, effort, and money to research high-quality filters and invest in something that gets you the best image quality possible.

For my money, H&Y Filters offer the best bang for the buck. I’ve come to that conclusion after more than a decade of testing countless filters. 

There are tons of filters available from many different manufacturers, and some are really quite good, but just as many are quite bad.

H&Y represents the cream of the crop for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being how innovative their filters and filter holder systems are. 

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I have the K-series filter holder, which I use in conjunction with three different drop-in neutral density filters: a 5-stop ND and polarizer hybrid, a 10-stop ND, and a 12-stop ND

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I love the drop-in design because it allows me to compose the shot and then add the filter to the filter holder without disturbing my camera. In other words, there’s no messing around with screwing filters onto the lens and unscrewing them each time I need to compose and focus the next picture (composing, then focusing, and then adding the filter is a must, as it is impossible to focus with these super dark filters in place). From a convenience standpoint, these drop-in filters are tough to beat for long exposure photography.

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Likewise, H&Y takes durability to the next level with these filters.

These particular filters have anti-smear, anti-scratch, and anti-reflective coatings. They’re water repellant, oil repellent, and offer neutral light transmission so you don’t have to worry about those pesky color casts I mentioned earlier. 

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Truly, these filters have risen to the occasion each and every time I’ve used them for long exposure photography. They will do the same for you!

Learn more about H&Y filters by visiting their website.

 

 

Not Using Mirror Lock-Up

filters for long exposure photography 5

 photo by nicky39 via iStock 

Obviously, if you shoot with a mirrorless camera, this doesn’t apply to you...

But if you’re a DSLR user, not using mirror lock-up is one of the primary mistakes photographers make with long exposures.

When you take a photo with a DSLR, the mirror flips up and out of the way of the sensor. The shutter activates, the shot is taken, the image is recorded, and the mirror flips back down.

As Scott Wyden Kivowitz explains in the video above, the action of the mirror flipping up and down can create enough vibration in the camera to cause image blur. By engaging mirror lock-up, you negate this problem.

Not all DSLRs have a mirror lock-up feature, so you’ll need to consult your camera’s owner’s manual to determine if the feature is available and how to turn it on. Your images will be better for it!

Not Covering the Viewfinder

long exposure mistake 6

Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash 

Even though light is only supposed to enter your camera through the hole created by the aperture blades in the lens, this isn’t the only access point for light to get in.

In long exposure photography, light often finds its way into DSLRs through the viewfinder. When this occurs, your photos usually have a purple blob in the image that ruins the shot.

Some cameras have a built-in cover for the viewfinder that you can switch on. Again, check your camera’s owner’s manual to see if your camera has this feature.

If it doesn’t, once you’ve composed the shot, simply cover the viewfinder with gaffer tape, painter’s tape, or any other dark, non-sticky material to prevent light leaks from occurring.

These are all simple mistakes, but each one can have huge negative consequences for your long exposure images. The next time you head out to take photos, be sure to avoid these mistakes, and the images you get will be far, far better.

Learn More:

 



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5 Must-Have Tips for Growing a Photography Business

Must Have Tips for Growing a Photography Business

Photo by Szabo Viktor on Unsplash

I find that some photographers are trying to build their businesses like it’s still the early 2000s. 

Building a photography business in 2019 is so different than it’s ever been before, and clients are looking for authenticity in a way they never have before.

So, how do you exhibit authenticity in your photography business? These 5 photography business tips might help. 

Websites Are Out, Instagram Is In

photography business tips

Photo by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash

I saw an article the other day questioning whether you even need a website for a photography business.  

Growing a photography business requires an online presence, for sure, but being online is different than it used to be. 

I have plenty of photographer friends who primarily market themselves on Instagram, and just have a photography website that serves as a portfolio should a potential client ask for one. 

They are spending 90% of their time on their Instagram presence, and 10% of their time on their website.

And their reasoning makes sense. When was the last time you stumbled across someone’s website by accident? More to the point, when was the last time you purposefully searched for someone and their Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram wasn’t the top result?

Instagram and other social sites serve as a platform of discovery, whereas your individual website usually does not, which is why it might make sense to dedicate more time to your social media presence than your website.

I’m not going as far as to say that you don’t need a photography website, because I have one, and some photographers still get a lot of traffic from their websites. 

However, things are certainly changing, and your valuable time might be better spent curating your Instagram feed than working on your website. If someone is on your website, the deal is almost sealed and your lead is already warm. Work harder on cold leads and smarter on warm leads, and you’ll likely find that you get more clients. 

Get more details on the “do photographers need a website” debate in the video above by Ed Verosky.

Learn More:

Practice Makes Perfect 

growing a photography business 1

Photo by Chermiti Mohamed on Unsplash

My significant other used to become upset when I would bring my camera out on dates during the first few years of my photography career. 

I carried it with me everywhere because I read an article from one of my photography idols who said she did the same thing. I got tired of Googling, “how to start a photography business,” and switched tactics. I started Googling, “how to become a successful photographer,” instead.

I figured the talent would come first and the business would follow.

growing a photography business 2

 photo by Pekic via iStock 

Practice, like in any industry, is essential to photography. No matter where you’re at in your photography career, don’t forget to take yourself out of your comfort zone sometimes and try something you never have before. It’s hard to do that if you don’t always have your camera with you!

Even after more than a decade behind the lens, I still watch YouTube videos about photography tips, tricks, and techniques. There is always something to learn, something to read, something to watch that can help you improve your skills as a photographer and as a businessperson.

As soon as you stop learning how to be a better photographer, you’ll find that your photography business likely becomes stagnant.

Learn More:

In Photography, There Are No Secrets 

how to grow a photography business 1

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash 

I’ve never understood why the photography community is not more like the restaurant industry. 

Back in the day, I used to work as a waitress, as some young people trying to build a photography business do. Restaurant industry folks get together and share huge meals and make each other craft cocktails and talk shop.

They do this on a regular basis. In this way, they are simultaneously showing each other that they care for each other both as individuals and as coworkers or industry professionals, as well as learning from each other.

how to grow a photography business 2

 photo by Geber86 via iStock 

Photography can be such a cutthroat industry sometimes, and that’s a shame. While I have many pals in this industry, there’s also been times in which other photographers have shunned the opportunity to get together and talk shop. 

If you share your secrets with others, you’ll receive secrets in turn. Likewise, if you help out your photography compatriots (say, serving as a second shooter for a colleague) you’ll more often than not get the same courtesy in return.

Growing a photography business is mostly an individual effort on your part, but don’t miss out on the opportunities to help - and to be helped by - other photographers.

Market Yourself at Every Turn 

how to grow a successful photography business

 photo by M_a_y_a via iStock 

My number one tip on how to grow a successful photography business is to never stop marketing yourself.

Typically, creative types like photographers hear the word “marketing” and the color drains out of their faces.

But, marketing can be much more natural than you may think.  

  • I market my photography business in the following ways:
  • I always have my business cards on me. If I forget them at home, I turn the car around.
  • I send thank you cards to each client within 1 week of the delivery of my final shots. 
  • I offer referral bonuses to past clients.
  • I attend small business networking groups. 

And these are only a few suggestions for growing a photography business naturally. 

Marketing is not a bad word - but it does require time and effort on your part.

Sure, marketing might not come as naturally to you as taking awesome photos, but it’s just as important to the success of your business as the quality of the images you take. 

Get a few more marketing tips for photographers in the video above by Togs in Business.

Provide Top-Quality Products 

Hopefully you’re providing your clients with top-quality photos. But, you need to offer your clients other top-quality products too. 

One way I do this is by offering add-ons like canvas prints and photo books. 

I’ve been using Costco photo center for years to create my photo books, because I love Costco and because they offer really cheap products that don’t skimp on quality. 

But, I had some issues on my quest for a good canvas printing company until I stumbled across CanvasHQ a few years back. 

grow a photography business canvashq1

CanvasHQ, much like Costco, is known for their quality products and customer service. One of the first times I used CanvasHQ, one of the customer service reps reached out to me because the photo I sent in was about a half inch off center.

I have never found customer service reps like this in the canvas industry before!

On top of superb customer service, each one of their canvases are handcrafted and hand stretched. They use top-quality ink that ensures your canvases will last for years, even if they’re hanging in an area that gets a lot of natural light and UV rays. Plus, they are almost always running a new client deal of up to 30% off.

Your clients will appreciate having your photos up on their wall, and it might just remind them to refer their friends when they are also looking for a photographer in a few months.

grow a photography business canvashq 3

In that regard, investing in quality products for your clients is a double gift - your clients are happy and they have excellent referral potential when people inquire, “Where did you get that beautiful canvas print?!”

See what CanvasHQ has to offer today.

Bonus Tip: Get Reliable Hosting

Photo by PeopleImages via iStock

This is a very personal tip for me because when I started PhotographyTalk, I most certainly did not have reliable hosting.

It's hard to grow a photography business without a website that, you know, works. And hosting is obviously an integral component of that.

About four years ago, I made the switch to OVH for my hosting, and since then, PhotographyTalk has been up and running reliably for the first time.

And by reliable, I mean 99.9 percent uptime!

Truly, in 20 years in this industry, OVH is by far the best hosting I've had, and our working relationship will last another 20 years and beyond, I'm sure.

ovh banner

It's not just the reliability that makes OVH such a great partner; it's their impeccable customer service.

Often, you feel like just a number when dealing with large, global companies like OVH. Yet, that's simply not the case with these guys.

If you have a problem or issue, they make it their mission to help you in a timely fashion and do so in a way that makes you feel like the only customer that matters. It's a nice change of pace from all those terrible hosting experiences I had years ago!

They're affordable to boot, so OVH has the trifecta of awesomeness going - reliability, excellent customer service, and affordable prices.

What more could you want from a hosting provider?!

 



We Recommend


5 Photography Tips That Will Make You a Better Photographer

5 Photography Tips That Will Make You a Better Photographer

  photo by Lyndon Stratford via iStock

Let’s face it… 

The road to mastering photography is a long one. In fact, it’s a journey that never ends! There is always something new to learn and existing skills that can be improved.

If you ask me, the most difficult part of learning photography isn’t getting started, but transitioning from being a beginner to a more advanced photographer.

The tips I’ve outlined below address this very period in your development and will help you get over the hump to become more skilled.

Let’s begin!

Table of Contents

Get Out of Full Auto

photography tips 1

  photo by Photographer and videographer via iStock

I’ve said before that using full auto mode when you’re a beginner can actually be a good thing. After all, without having to worry about exposure settings, you can concentrate more fully on things like composition and framing.

But now that you’re ready to become more of an enthusiast photographer, it’s time to leave full auto behind. 

I think everyone should learn manual mode, but you don’t have to jump right to the big, scary M on your camera’s dial just yet.

photography tips 2

 photo by eROMAZe via iStock 

A great way to exert more control over the camera settings is to shoot in aperture priority, shutter priority, or program mode:

  • Aperture priority mode (A or Av on the camera dial, shown above) gives you control over the aperture and ISO while the camera controls shutter speed. This is a great mode to shoot in for things like portraiture or other scenes in which you want to control depth of field.
  • Shutter priority mode(S or Tv on the camera dial) gives you control over the shutter speed and ISO while the camera controls the aperture. Use this setting if you want to control how motion appears in the shot.
  • Program mode (P on the camera dial) allows you to set the ISO and the camera sets the aperture and shutter speed for you. This is advantageous in challenging light conditions in which you want a high ISO (in low light) or a low ISO (in bright light).

Getting familiar with these semi-automatic modes is a great way to take baby steps away from full auto without being overwhelmed by having to control all the exposure settings yourself.

Learn to Use the Camera’s Histogram 

When I was a beginner photographer, I relied on the camera’s LCD to determine if the shot I just took was well-exposed. 

The problem with doing that is that the LCD is not at all an accurate representation of the lightness or darkness of the photos you take.

Instead, if you want to become a better photographer with images that are better-exposed, you need to learn how to use the camera’s histogram.

Looking at the graph above, you can see why the histogram is so beneficial - it gives you a graphical representation of how many pixels are shadows, midtones, and highlights.

If the histogram is skewed to the left, you know that the image is too dark and that you need to brighten it up. If it’s skewed to the right, the opposite problem is at hand - the image is too bright and it needs to be darkened. 

Take a deep-dive into how to read a histogram to get all the details on this very handy tool.

Learn How to Use Artificial Light

hakutatz 0

There are tons of natural light photographers out there that make masterful images. But there are also quite a few photographers that only use natural light because they don’t know how to harness the power of artificial lights.

Light is obviously the most critical aspect of photography, so understanding how to manipulate light is a critical skill you need to learn if you’re going to become a better photographer.

Unfortunately, when many beginners think of artificial light, they think of the pop-up flash on their camera.

The problem with the light emitted from pop-up flashes is that it’s intensely bright, which creates harsh shadows behind a very bright subject. That’s just not a flattering look.

hakutatz 2

A better option is to use an off-camera light to shape the light in a way that adds interest to the shot. You can see this concept in action in the image above.

The different colors of light add visual punch to the photo while also helping separate the subject from his surroundings. 

And you don’t have to invest in expensive speedlights, light stands, and modifiers to do it, either. 

A perfect light for photographers that wish to advance their skills is the little guy shown below, the Hakutatz Pocket Size RGB+AW LED Light.

hakutatz 1

Editor's Note: The Hakutatz Kickstarter campaign was a huge success! Their Amazon store will be open and ready for orders in early December.

Being such a small light, it’s easily portable and maneuverable, so you can experiment with light placement to get different effects in your photos.

What’s more, this light offers RGB light, which allows you to produce all the colors of the spectrum. There are also separate LEDs that produce white light and amber light, which can help you achieve the precise white balance you want in your images.

hakutataz 2

As shown above, you can manipulate the color emitted by the light using the companion smartphone app. How easy is that?!

Another aspect of mastering artificial light is learning how to use multiple lights at the same time.

Hakutatz makes this task super easy because you can use two, three, or more of these lights together to combine different kinds of light and different effects, allowing you to create an intricate lighting scheme without all the fuss.

hakutatz 3

Best of all, since this light has adjustable brightness, saturation, and color temperature, you don’t need light modifiers like softboxes or diffusers. Instead, you have all the tools you need wrapped up in this one awesome little light.

Learn more about the Hakutatz Pocket Size RGB+AW LED Light and see how it can help you elevate the quality of your photos.

Streamline Your Post-Processing Workflow

advanced photography tips

 photo by photoguns via iStock 

When I look back on how I edited photos when I was a beginner, I can’t help but shutter. It was bad. Really bad. 

But back in the day, processing images was a much more complex and laborious task than it is today. There are all kinds of tools that help you tap into your creativity while at the same time making it an easier, less time-consuming task. 

One of the best ways to make photo editing an easier process is to use presets that allow you to change the look and feel of your photos with a click of your mouse.

exposure 1

In Exposure, for example, there are over 500 presets from which to choose, including beautiful film presets that harken back to the days of film photography.

But these presets aren’t just applied in one way - you can customize how each one looks and save it for use on future images for a consistent look.

exposure 2

Another way to make editing your photos easier is to use non-destructive layers.

What this means is that you add effects and make adjustments to layers on top of the original image, so the original is left unchanged.

You can add presets, make adjustments to color and saturation, manipulate the exposure, and make many other changes quickly and easily to get the precise look you want in the photo.

And if you’re a bit of a disorganized mess like I am, you’ll appreciate editing programs that also offer tools for organizing your photos. 

As shown in the video above, Exposure ticks that box as well, with the ability to create smart collections of photos based on specific criteria like image ratings, flags, or color labels. You can also organize images based on the camera use, when the photo was taken, when it was edited, and even the camera settings that were used.

And if you’re a bit of a disorganized mess like I am, you’ll appreciate editing programs that also offer tools for organizing your photos. 

As shown in the video above, Exposure ticks that box as well, with the ability to create smart collections of photos based on specific criteria like image ratings, flags, or color labels. You can also organize images based on the camera use, when the photo was taken, when it was edited, and even the camera settings that were used.

Learning how to edit your photos and do so in a way that enhances their beauty is a crucial part of advancing from being a beginner to an enthusiast photographer. And with editing programs like Exposure, you can do that in a much more efficient manner.

See Exposure in action in the video above. To get your free trial, click here.

Use a Circular Polarizer

marumi cpl

One of the best - and easiest - things you can do to improve your photos is to start using a circular polarizing filter.

These filters offer too many benefits to not have one in your camera bag. Take a look at what a polarizer can do:

  • It reduces glare off non-metallic surfaces like water, wet plants and rocks, and even skin.
  • It boosts contrast and saturation in the sky, making the blue atmosphere deeper and richer and the clouds a brighter white.
  • It minimizes atmospheric haze, so distant features appear crisper.

marumi m100 holder

And the best part is that Marumi makes a magnetic filter system that makes using filters a veritable breeze.

Just attach the M100 filter holder (shown above) to your lens, pop the circular polarizer in place, and you're ready to rock!

And since the system is magnetic, it makes it super quick and easy to swap out filters when needed.

Part of becoming a better photographer is knowing what gear to use and when, and having a circular polarizer in your kit is certainly a piece of gear you should have if landscape photography is your vibe!

 



We Recommend


5 Simple Tips to Jump-Start Your Photography Business

5 simple tips to jump start your photography businessPhoto by Szabo Viktor on Unsplash

Opening a photography business can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be as stressful because there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel.

Thousands of people have done this before you, so all you need to do is take a deep breath and follow these simple photography business tips that have helped other photographers build a successful business.

Let’s get to it! 

Table of Contents

Know How Much to Charge

photography businessPhoto by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Money can be a difficult subject for us creatives…

I was stuck working with a tiny budget with a small photography business for years because I didn’t know how to grow it into something more profitable. 

What’s more, I was afraid to ask how much other photographers made with their photography business. I was afraid to ask clients to pay me more money. Because of that, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep my photography business afloat for another month.

It’s exhausting not making enough money to live off of.

So, don’t settle for charging an amount that barely gets you by. Develop a sensible pricing structure that allows you to be compensated fairly while also giving your clients a good value for their money.

Chris Hau, a famous YouTube photographer, gives some solid advice in the video above for figuring out a pricing structure for your new photography business.

Hau was even nice enough to create a budget template on his YouTube, for those of us who aren’t great with numbers.  

Give the video a watch, and you’ll learn some actionable steps you need to take to start charging more for your work.

Remain Organized, At All Costs

photography business tipsPhoto by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Again, most photography marketing ideas work hand in hand with each other. So, remaining organized might be one of those areas where you need to spend some money to make more money.

Everyone that reads PhotographyTalk knows I love Holdfast Gear products, particularly their leather camera bags.

While you don’t necessarily need to spend a few hundred dollars on a camera bag, you do need to ensure you have a good bag that is weather-proof, comfortable to carry, and most importantly, has a ton of pockets to keep all your camera accessories protected and neatly organized. 

If you have different smaller bags that you take on different shoots, I guarantee you you are going to leave pertinent gear in the wrong bag at some point - at least I did!

Remaining organized in your photography business doesn’t just mean keeping your photography equipment organized. It also means keeping your photos organized (and in multiple places).

For me, I follow a simple system to organize all of my photos:

  • Ensure your camera’s date and time are correct, and if possible set a custom file name before you even begin shooting
  • Use the same naming structure across the board (i.e. Date-Shoot-Client Name)
  • Put keywords on all of your photos after the shoot (I do this in Lightroom)
  • Keep your edits with the originalsBack them all up (preferably with hard copies and in the cloud)

Is organizing your gear or your image files as fun as taking photos? Not at all. But is it crucially important to your success? Absolutely!

Learn More:

Invest in Your Business

invest in your businessPhoto by Alexander Mils on Unsplash

For the first three years of my photography business, I put about 70% of what I was making back into my photography business.

Granted, most people are not this lucky. I didn’t have student loans, and I didn’t have a family to support at this time so I was able to afford this luxury.

But, any photography business tips that tell you that you don’t need to invest back into your photography business is missing an important piece of advice.

You may need to grow your photography business at a slower pace, but even 10% of your profits being reinvested into your business will make huge changes in the long run.

After all, you can’t make money if you don’t have the appropriate gear, if you don’t spend money on marketing, if you can’t compensate second shooters, or pay for gas to drive from one art show to the next.

It’s cliche to say it, but you really do have to spend money to make money!

Now, this isn’t a license to go out and drop tens of thousands of dollars on frivolous gear you don’t need…

Be smart about how you invest money into your business, and it will help you grow it into something that has long-term financial stability.

ovh

For example, you need to invest in the tools that allow you to stay in business, like a reliable web host.

I've had the unfortunate experience of suffering through bad hosting, and trust me, it's hard to make money when your website is constantly down...

After years of struggling to find a quality host, I finally found OVH about four years ago. Since I switched to them, uptime for this website has truly been 99.9 percent, just like OVH promises!

OVH has provided me with the best hosting I've ever had, and it's really not a competition at all.

On top of that, OVH has excellent customer service that makes you feel as though you are the only customer that matters.

That's saying something in today's world when even small companies outsource their customer service.

Yet, OVH is a global company and they treat you with the respect you deserve as a valued client. They're timely, informed, and they go the extra mile.

OVH is actually affordable, too, unlike many other hosting companies. So they really are the best of many different worlds!

Likewise, investing in your business means investing in the infrastructure that's necessary to protect your work.

Backing up your images (and all your files, really), is of critical importance for sustaining growth over the long-term. Just like a thief could rob you of your cameras, and therefore your ability to take photos, a fire, flood, or another unexpected disaster could cripple your business if you don't have your files backed up in multiple places.

Personally, I follow the 3-2-1 backup rule and have at least three copies of all my files on at least two types of media with one of those being an off-site cloud storage account.

My onsite backup is the Synology Diskstation 1019+, which gives me ample room to store images, videos, and other important files.

I got the DiskStation 1019+ for several reasons, but primary among them is because it's such a small unit.

I wanted something that could be on my desk but without taking up half the desktop - and the 1019+ certainly delivers.

I also invested in this rig because of Synology's reputation for packing their NAS systems to the gills with features.

It has five hot-swappable bays, each of which can accommodate a 2.5-inch or a 3.5-inch drive.

The combination of the Intel Celeron J3455 1.5GHz quad-core processor and 8GB of DDR3L 1866 SO-DIMM RAM gives me read/write speeds of up to 225MB per second. That speed can be achieved even with data encryption enabled, giving you both fast and secure data transfer.

I wanted a NAS that was easy to set up and maintain, too.

The 1019+ has Synology's easy-to-use operating system that's simple, clean, and intuitive. Even if you've never used a NAS before, with this operating system, you'll find your way very quickly.

Speaking of quickly, you can set this thing up in a matter of minutes, which for busy photographers is a huge bonus.

Of course, you want a backup system that's reliable and has a track record of durability, and Synology's products definitely tick those boxes.

Though the DiskStation 1019+ isn't the cheapest NAS out there, for my money, you just can't get anything better for your buck!

Do Some Soul Searching

how to grow a photography businessPhoto by Mae Mu on Unsplash

I love pancakes as much as the next person, but if I had to spend an 8 hour day doing nothing but taking pictures of them in 500 different ways, I would go crazy and I would not still be running a photography business.

But for some people, photographing food is their passion and they make it work and work well.

In order to begin a photography business, you need to do some soul searching before you figure out what kind of photographer you want to be.

photography marketing ideasPhoto by Alif Ngoylung on Unsplash

I love the outdoors and I love to travel, which is why I tend to focus my photography business on landscape photography. 

But, I also spend too much of my profits on the act of traveling (I’m not going to go to India and not spent 4 days traveling out of my way to visit the Taj Mahal!). I also spend a ton of time away from my family, and both of those things are deal breakers to a lot of my photography friends. 

simple photography business tipsPhoto by Igor Reno via iStock

One of my closest friends is a boudoir photographer because she enjoys making women feel good about themselves, but boudoir photographers often don’t have a steady income because they are constantly needing to find new clients (recurring clients in this industry are hard to come by).

My point is that there are too many photography niches to name, and they all have their pros and cons. So get out there, start shooting, and find out what you love. 

If you love what you do, the rest of these business-building tips will be SO much easier to implement!

Wow Your Clients With Quality Prints

The most important tip I learned about how to expand a photography business is to deliver your clients photos in a timely way.

The second way I began to really grow my photography business was to deliver my clients photos in a beautiful way. I do that through canvas prints.

After years of trying to find a business that has products that really wow, I found CanvasHQ

They use quality inks on their canvases, the kind that don’t fade over the years and are water-resistant.

They also hand craft every single one of their frames, then hand stretch the canvas over that frame for a taut, beautiful canvas with no waviness or bubbles.

Their craftsmen and customer service reps have hands on your project from the moment you send it to them until the moment you receive the print. There is no outsourcing, and as is true with most small businesses, they care that you love what you receive.

If you don’t, you get your money back quickly and without any hassle! 

The first time I saw one of my prints as a CanvasHQ print, I was dumbfounded. It simply blew me away with the quality of craftsmanship and attention to detail.

I’ve been a loyal customer ever since, and I’d be willing to bet that if you had a print or two made by these folks that you’d be hooked too!

See what your photos look like as a fine art canvas print. 

Learn More:



We Recommend


5 Things to Research Before Starting a Photography Business

5 things to research before starting a photography business

Photo by Rawpixel via iStock

If you haven't figured it out already, starting a photography business is a little more involved than buying a camera and telling people you're a photographer.

To build a photography business that has long-lasting success, you have to start off on the right foot, and that involves doing your due diligence when it comes to everything from building a website to buying photography insurance to ensuring your images and other files are backed up correctly.

In this quick photography business tutorial, you'll learn about some of the most critical - yet often overlooked - aspects of photography businesses that you need to research BEFORE you start your own.

Research Your Startup Costs

photo by Geber86 via iStock

Even if you already have all the photography gear you need, and even if you're going to work from home in a space you've already established for work, you will have other startup costs to get your business off the ground.

You'll need a website, photography business insurance, accounting software (or an accountant!), you'll need to hire an attorney to make everything legal, and you'll have marketing expenses for things like business cards and targeted ads on Facebook.

And that's just the start.

photo by scyther5 via iStock

The point is that you need to spend some time evaluating the true financial cost of starting your business before you ever think about opening your doors.

The better you understand the financial implications of building a business, the better prepared you will be to price your services appropriately, that way you can pay for overhead and other expenses, and still have room left to make a profit.

Get more details about the planning phase of building a photography business in this tutorial.

Decide on a Website Architecture

decide on a website architecture 1

Photo by Urupong via iStock 

Sure, your photography friend in another town might just use Facebook as their "website," but that doesn't mean you should...

Having a website for your business is critical for presenting your work in a professional manner. Think about it - would you rather hire the photographer that has a sleek, professional-looking website with a portfolio or someone that has a gallery on their Facebook page?

Don't get me wrong - Facebook can be a vitally important asset for marketing your business.

But, for me, having a professional URL on your business card is MUCH better than putting a long Facebook URL string.

photography business tipsPhoto by Aramyan via iStock

When considering your website, you have to research what platform is best for your particular needs.

Do you have the skills to make something of your own out of a Wordpress template? Does it make more sense to customize a template from someplace like Sqaurespace? Do you have the funds (and the need?) to hire a professional to make you a bespoke website?

Each of these options have their pros and cons, and part of your job at this juncture is to research which of these will work best for you.

Find the Right Web Host

find the right web host

Trust me when I say that one of the most critical things you need to research when starting a photography business is the web host you use.

Back in the day when I started PhotographyTalk, I did some cursory investigations, but after just a few months with my initial web host, I realized that I did not do enough research.

We had all kinds of problems keeping PhotographyTalk online, and when those problems arose, we had even more problems just trying to get the customer service reps from that hosting company to help us out.

I tried a couple of other hosts after that, but not until I found OVH did I finally find a host that gives me the reliable uptime they advertise.

Since switching to OVH, we've had true 99.9 percent uptime, and that has enabled PhotographyTalk to grow by leaps and bounds.

But it isn't just their reliable hosting that has me singing OVH's praises...

Their customer service has proven to be among the best in the industry. Not that I've had many occasions to contact them, but when I have, I've been treated like I'm their only customer and their only concern at that moment. For a global company, that's hard to pull off, yet OVH does it masterfully.

Of course, you need to do your own research and find the right host for your needs. Personally, I can't give OVH a big enough shoutout, but it's important that you see what's out there so you can make an informed decision.

Investigate Back-Up Solutions

Another photography business topic that you need to spend some serious time researching is the appropriate back-up solution for your data.

All too often you hear about memory cards getting fried or a computer's hard drive melting down, and a photographer losing all the data on those devices.

But if you take the time to research back-up storage solutions, you can avoid that same fate and rest assured that your data is safe and secure.

I personally use the Synology DS419 Slim as my back-up device because it's affordable, reliable, and portable.

This compact, 4-bay NAS offers tons of storage in a device that's small enough to sit on top of my desk without taking it over.

In fact, this rig is just 4.72(H) x 4.13(W) x 5.59(D) inches and weighs just 1.46 pounds, so not only will it be a simple addition to your desk, but you can take it with you when you head out for out-of-town gigs.

This unit runs Synology's DiskStation Manager (DSM) just like Synology's bigger storage devices, has RAID protection, file-sharing capabilities, a dual-core CPU, and read-write speed in excess of 220 MB/s and 94 MB/s, respectively.

On top of all that, you can access this device from anywhere using your smartphone and Synology's QuickConnect offers a fast connection via a secure and customizable address.

You can sync files across platforms in moments, use Cloud Sync to keep the device in sync with Dropbox, Google Drive, and other services, and the web assistant makes for ultra-easy setup.

For my money, you simply won't find a better NAS for the money than this. But, again, do your due diligence, get the right back-up for your needs, and protect your images, videos, and other files as they should be protected!

Find the Best Insurance Coverage

find the best insurance

Photo by skynesher via iStock

Last but not least, you need to take some time to figure out what kind of photography insurance you need.

What you need in terms of coverages as a portrait photographer who works from home is going to be different from what I might need as a landscape photographer that travels a lot.

And since insurance can be a little confusing for laypersons, getting guidance from the pros is a great first step to take when building your photography business.

I've worked with Full Frame Insurance for a good, long while now, and I have to say that I have been pleasantly surprised with their insurance offerings, their knowledge and professionalism, and their commitment to customer care.

FFL banner

And since no two photographers' needs are alike, Full Frame Insurance offers a variety of policy options that are scalable to meet your specific needs.

The have flexible options, too. For example, you can opt for one-time insurance for an event that covers you for up to three days of work, or if you already have more consistent clients, you can get an annual insurance policy with general and product liability coverage.

Whatever the case may be, you'll find that Full Frame Insurance offers highly affordable plans. Short-term policies start at just $59 and annual policies start at $99.

That's a very small price to pay for peace of mind that if something goes awry, you'll be covered!

You can check prices and buy your policy online 24/7, so don't hesitate to tick this box off your to-do list. Research insurance options, select the right coverage for you, and protect your investment!



We Recommend


6 Tips for Improving Your Photography

5 Tips for Improving Your Photography

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

With the end of the decade closing in on us everyday, I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways I’ve improved in the 2010s, and the way the photography industry as a whole has improved. 

An incredible amount of technology came out this decade, and we saw the rise of the flat lay, i.e. that layout food bloggers on Instagram love, the double exposure, and the selfie.

But, I’ve also been thinking about the ways we haven’t improved, or to look at it more positively, the ways we can improve in the next decade.

One way we can do this is to stop relying entirely on our technology to do our job for us. 

Here are tips for improving your photography without needing to buy any new camera gear.  

Forget About What You Can’t Photograph

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Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

This is an especially difficult challenge for me because I adore travel photography. I’m constantly thinking about my next photography trip, sifting through Google Flights in search of a good deal, and basically living vicariously through travel photographers I follow. 

But, this gets in my way. If I’m focused too much on what I’m going to be doing next, then I’m not focusing on what I can be doing now

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Photo by Gentrit Sylejmani on Unsplash

The same thing can be said of people who let their equipment hold them back. For example, in order to be an incredible sports photographer, you need a camera that can keep up with you (and the subjects you’re trying to photograph). 

But, many of my friends who are just breaking into sports photography will oftentimes refuse to shoot a game because they become frustrated with what their camera technology can’t do, instead of focusing on what it can do and being more creative with their shots.  

Use High-Quality Filters

polarpro summit 3

One of the worst mistakes you can make is to use bargain-basement, no-name filters for your photos.

After all, what's the point of investing in a good lens (which you should definitely do...) and then putting a junk filter in front of it?

Good filter systems can be spendy, but they're certainly worth it, just like your upgraded lens.

The PolarPro Summit series is a particular favorite of mine because it shows a dedication to innovation and build quality that many lesser filter systems lack.

summit

To begin, the Summit landscape filter kit has everything you need to get started:

  • Filter holder
  • Circular polarizer
  • An ND64 solid ND filter
  • An ND4 soft-edge grad filter
  • Lens hood
  • Thread plates
  • Carry case

polarpro summit 1

Additionally, you'll find that the included filters are super high quality.

For example, the circular polarizer is made of fused Quartz glass with 16 layers of coatings that reduce glare while improving clarity and color.

Likewise, the ND filters have the same Quartz construction and coatings, but also have aluminum frames that help protect the filter while minimizing fingerprints too.

These filters have been field tested by some of the top landscape photographers in the world, and the consensus is that they are rock-solid, easy to use, and help you produce much-improved images.

What's not to like about that?!

Check out the PolarPro Summit filter system today to see how it can improve your workflow.

Learn New Photography Skills

learn new photography skills

photo by PeopleImages via iStock

When I taught myself photography 20 years ago, I read a ton of books and learned on the fly out in the field.

It was hard, to say the least. But as we've advanced into the digital age, it's easier than ever to pick up new photography skills.

And I don't necessarily mean watching YouTube videos, either...

There are tons of excellent photography schools that offer online courses you can do at your own pace.

Not only does this make learning new photography skills much easier, but these online photography schools give you a tremendous amount of breadth and depth of knowledge you simply can't get from a YouTube video.

Take, for example, Real Estate Photographer Pro.

I featured this online photography school in an article just a couple of weeks ago that focused on some of the best online schools for photographers at the moment.

What's so great about Real Estate Photographer Pro is that it is so comprehensive - there are more than 80 video tutorials on all manner of real estate photography topics, so you get instruction on everything from camera settings to marketing your business.

Better still, the tips and tricks outlined in this course are based on real-world experience in real estate photography, so you know that the advice you're getting is stuff that's actually worked!

You get lifetime access to course materials, downloadable assets, access to a private support community, and even direct access to the school's founder, Eli Jones.

This illustrates the benefit of living in the digital age - you can learn a lot, learn it faster, and have a robust set of materials right at your fingertips that will help you learn the skills you need to succeed.

Photography Projects Give You Focus

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Photo by Terry Vlisidis on Unsplash 

My first photography project happened when I was in the tenth grade. I was in a photography class in high school, it was almost Valentine’s Day, and our photography teacher tasked us with photographing 20 red photos over a 2 week period.

how to take better photos 2

Photo by Joshua K. Jackson on Unsplash

At the time, it seemed like a waste. I didn’t truly understand the point of themed projects. But now, I love them.

Try and explore different photography projects, like taking one photo every day for a year like I mentioned, or theme your photos with a color, emotion, or location. 

While this doesn’t necessarily teach you how to get better at photography, it does teach you to think outside societal norms.  

Learn More:

Use a Tiny Memory Card

how to take better photos 3

Photo by César Abner Martínez Aguilar on Unsplash

Technology has given us so much as an industry, but one thing it has taken is our precision. Instead of knowing we only have a certain amount of shots to get it right, we now can take as many shots as our hearts desire - which can lead to sloppy skills. 

In order to combat this, I’ll try and find the smallest memory card I can (or, shoot on a mostly full memory card). By limiting myself to, say, 24 exposures, I find that I’m much more focused on getting things right in-camera and getting better photos overall.

how to take better photos 4

Photo by Tom Pumford on Unsplash

I understand most of these tips for improving your photography are unconventional, especially this one since photographers adore their large memory space, but this isn’t a life or death photoshoot. It’s practice! 

Print Your Best Photos

how to get better at photography

Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash

I recently wrote an article on the societal importance of printed photos, but here’s a recap: printed photos are nostalgic and they allow you to reminisce not only on a specific time in your life but your photography career. 

There’s nothing like walking into my living room during the holidays and thinking about the canvas print hanging over my couch that I took on Christmas five years ago. It gets me thinking about how much better I am at my craft and about where I want to be in another five years.

beginner photography tips

Photo by sarandy westfall on Unsplash

Plus, it’s always fun to show off something you’re proud of.

I print my photos on CanvasHQ. If I’m being honest with you, I started doing so because they nearly always have a coupon for anywhere from 20-30% off their products. 

canvashq

But, I keep going back to them because their customer service is incredible, and their products (even the ones I’ve shoved in a dark crevice in my garage) remain pristine no matter how many years have gone by.

I encourage you to check out their website and treat yourself, and the future you, to the gift of an awesome print. You won’t be disappointed!  

Learn More:

Bonus: Take Photos Every Single Day

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Photo by Christian Bolt on Unsplash

The only way to learn how to take better photos is by taking a lot of photos. It only takes a month to build a habit, so if you can take at least one photograph every day for one month then you could feasibly take one photograph every day for a year, which is a huge accomplishment. 

This repetition allows you to hone your craft by learning everything there is to know about your camera, but it also teaches you discipline.

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Photo by Saksham Gangwar on Unsplash

I know I don’t necessarily want to go out and photograph in the freezing cold, but exercises I’ve done in the past where I made myself weather less-than-ideal conditions allowed me to be much better when good opportunities sprang up later on in the same conditions.

 



We Recommend


6 Tips on How to Keep Photography Clients Happy

6 Tips on How to Keep Photography Clients Happy

Photo by Ross Sneddon on Unsplash 

Photography clients are evasive. As a photographer you are a contractor and a freelancer and as any contractor will tell you, sometimes expectations between you and your client are less than clear.

If you’ve gone through the difficult part of finding a client, then the follow-through with that client is so important to the health of your photography business.

A recent Forbes articleoutlined a serious problem with businesses. Between 60-80% of clients who are satisfied by the work a company did never use that company again.

So, how can you retain your photography clients in a way nobody else can? Following these six steps is a good place to start!

Table of Contents

Connect With Your Photography Clients

photography clients

Photo by William Moreland on Unsplash 

The age old question of how to keep photography clients happy is more prevalent in today’s high-tech world than ever before.

People are inundated with offers for absolutely everything, and this includes photography. Potential photography clients can easily find a photographer who will be willing to work for cheaper than you, or who offers more individualized services, so how do you stand out?

Randy Garn, someone who specializes in customer connection, suggests one of the many reasons those 60-80% of people who are satisfied with a company never use that company again is because they can’t remember what company it was.

photography clients 2

 photo by fizkes via iStock 

Think about the last time you went to a shoe repair place. It was probably a few years ago. Do you remember the name of the owner? Of the cashier? Could you find the place again if you needed to?

In order to not fall into this hole of “what was that person’s name again,” you need to be more personalized with your marketing. 

photography clients 3

 photo by apichon_tee via iStock 

For example, instead of simply relying on an email list, ensure you have the phone number of each client. 

Then, reach out to them. Send a text asking how their summer was. Take them out for a cup of coffee. And follow up by asking if they will be needing any photography services anytime soon, or if they know somebody that does (insert referral bonus here). 

You need to put your face in front of your photography clients as often as possible if you’re hoping to retain them in the long term. 

Don’t Lash Out When Things Go Wrong

how to keep photography clients happy 1

 photo by PeopleImages via iStock 

Depending upon your photography niche, different things will go wrong. 

If you’re in product photography or fashion photography, you will probably run into a photography client who doesn’t even understand basic copyright laws. 

If you’re in wedding photography, you will run into photography clients who bother you so often and so annoyingly weeks before you said you would have their photos to them. 

If you’re in real estate photography, there will be times you show up to take photos of a house and find out it’s currently being painted.

how to keep photography clients happy 2

 photo by vadimguzhva via iStock 

In order to prepare for this and other difficulties, you may want to take up meditation. If meditation isn’t your thing, then you need to at least be prepared for the worst case scenario at all times. 

I found my first court case for unpaid work actually helped me to become a better contractor. I learned I couldn’t rely on any one paycheck or any one photography client to do what they said they would. 

I also learned how to properly communicate professionally without lashing out. It’s a necessary evil to learn how to deal with difficult, and sometimes cruel, photography clients. 

Stick to a Contract

You can view the above video by Jessica Kobeissi for a more in-depth take on how to create a contract for your photography client.

Or, you can follow this outline:

Give a synopsis of what you think is expected of you.

  • Tell them how many photos they can expect and when.
  • Reiterate the date of the shoot.
  • Specify your fees, and what happens if the photography client cancels.
  • Specify your fees if the shoot date needs to be changed (I usually include a little wiggle room with this one and won’t charge them if the date changes a month out).
  • Finally, ensure they know they cannot resell your photos. Do this by outlining how they may legally use your photos.  

Learn More:

Be a Master of Words 

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photo by lechatnoir via iStock 

Photography clients 9 times out of 10 do not understand what you do. 

This can be used to your advantage or it can be a huge detriment. 

My number one tip on how to keep photography clients happy is to begin each correspondence with a new client by outlining what you do and how you do it, almost like you’re telling an inquisitive child what photographers do every day.

photography business tips 2

photo by Maryviolet via iStock 

One way to do this is by sending them to your portfolio where you have a “before and after” page, with an unedited photo and an edited one.  

One photographer recommended I create a PDF that explains exactly what I do, so that way when I get a derogatory comment about how I need better equipment to cover a specific topic, I can shoot it over to the client to remind them exactly what I told them they could expect. 

Photography business tips don’t mean anything if you can’t accurately and beautifully explain what you do for a living. You want your photography clients to want to pay you more. The best way to do this is with a flourish!

Assume Your Client Never Works With Photographers

how to get more photography clients

Photo by Banter Snaps on Unsplash 

I can’t count the amount of times I receive an email asking me how to get more photography clients every month. 

And while this is a serious issue for many photographers, I think a more pressing issue is keeping photography clients.

I keep my photography clients by assuming they have never worked with a photographer before.

how to get more photography clients 1

photo by Rawpixel via iStock 

You very well may need to explain copyright law and licensing to a mom and pop cookie shop. You also may need to explain why a particularly cheap photography client should spring for a new headshot because the one on their LinkedIn page is so pixelated it hurts you physically.

A small business owner contracting with another small business owner could be the grounds for a major disaster if you don’t do your part and educate. And many times, that educational component is so appreciated by your client that they see even more value in what you do for them. That’s how a long-term relationship with a client begins! 

Deliver a Quality Product on Time

how to find photography clients

 photo by Serhii Sobolevskyi via iStock

Once everyone’s expectations have been set, it’s your job to follow through on what you promised.

This starts by delivering your product on time and communicating about where you are in the process the whole time to quell any of your client’s fears, but it doesn’t end there.

You also need to give your clients the option for upgrades on their products. This helps you to upsell your work, while also ensuring your clients needs are met.

My favorite way to upgrade your photography is by selling canvas prints to your clients. Canvas prints are not too expensive for a client on a budget, but they also last a lifetime.

CanvasHQ, my favorite canvas company, is almost always running a discount of up to 30% for new clients, which means your overhead is lower and your revenue is higher.

Plus, CanvasHQ is great for a beginner canvas company because their customer service reps will call you if they find any issues with your photo.  

They basically don’t send anything to print that they wouldn’t want hanging on their wall for a decade. 

As a small business owner, I really enjoy giving my money to other small businesses, especially ones like CanvasHQ who care as much about my finished product as I do. 

With that kind of partnership, you’re able to grow your business, help another small business out, all the while delivering top-quality products to your clients. It’s a win-win-win!

Learn More:

 



We Recommend


A Beginner's Guide to Studio Portraits

A Beginners Guide to Studio Portraits

Photo by Jimmy Fermin on Unsplash

At some point in our photographic careers, we toyed with the idea of setting up for studio portraits. By careers, I’m not specifying making money, but how we approach photography. We have all gone from a person who takes pictures to a craftsperson creating art.  

That’s us, that’s you, we are Photographers, capital P. This is true regardless of experience level, in my opinion. Beginner photographers are definitely a photographer, having grown from merely liking to take pictures to wanting to improve.

So, we thought about setting up our own studio, maybe for portraits, possibly for small product advertising. Well, let’s move beyond the thinking stage and actually start something. We’ll focus for now on getting geared up for studio portraits.

Table of Contents:

How to Take Studio Portraits: Setup and Gear

studio portraits 1

Photo by curtis powell on Unsplash

First we start looking at the basics of getting a portrait studio going with what we may already have or with gear we can pick up for lower cost. Here are some beginner studio portrait tips. 

Where To Set Up

beginner studio portrait tips 2

 photo bysdominick via iStock

The first thing to consider is a spot for our portrait studio. 

Many have started in what we could call a home studio. Some ideas are a spare bedroom in our home or apartment, rearranging our living room or dining room to use a corner or wall, space in our garage, a porch, a backyard shed, a wall of our workplace office, or an unused room in that office.

Truly, you don’t need a huge space to set up a makeshift portrait studio - just room enough for the model, your gear, and you!

 

Recommended Portrait Reading:

 

What Gear to Use

beginner studio portrait tips 3

 photo by AleksandarNakic via iStock 

Many studio items can be found in the home or office already, other items are specific photographic and lighting gear that’s needed. 

Some of the more basic items I use in my home studio include barstools and chairs, tables and nightstands, potted plants, and other things that can either be a prop or part of making the subject comfortable while posing. 

Cameras and lenses are probably already covered by what we already have. An entry-level DSLR or mirrorless camera with the kit lens can take a fantastic portrait image when used properly. More on that in a bit.

Other gear that is really helpful include tripods or other mounts, and lighting equipment. Some of the most useful lighting equipment are the wonderful LED compact lights that can be mounted on camera or on stands or mounts. 

A fantastic couple of items I’ve found extremely useful in a home or office studio are the Hakutatz portable LED light and the Octopad camera and accessory mount.

Using the Hakutatz LED light shown above, we can make use of various studio lighting techniques such as the Rembrandt lighting, low key portrait lighting, and other configurations.

What’s more, these lights offer a high-degree of customization, including an adjustable color temperature, brightness, and saturation.

Best of all, the light can be controlled via a smartphone app. In fact, you can operate multiple lights at the same time to create more complex lighting effects.

If using two or more lights for our studio lighting techniques, the Octopad mount comes in handy to place the light wherever we need it in our possibly tight home studio.

octca001er 5

What’s nice about the Octopad is that it’s so small and portable. Whether you’re in your home, your backyard, or the local park, it’s easy to bring with you to support a light.

Depending on the camera you use, you can utilize the Octopad to stabilize it. Compact cameras, smartphones, and some mirrorless systems are ideal for use with this mount.

octca001er 6 

I also like that the Octopad has a non-slip surface on the bottom. I’ve put this thing on my dashboard and used it with my GoPro Hero 8 Black as a dashcam setup. 

Even when I took my Volvo off-road, the Octopad held firmly in place. Just imagine how stable it’ll be for your studio lights! 

Learn More:

Taking the Portrait: Camera Settings and Lighting

how to take studio portraits 4

 photo by CoffeeAndMilk via iStock 

To actually make the images, Here are some beginner studio portrait tips and beginner portrait techniques. 

Camera Settings

how to take studio portraits 5

Photo by ShareGrid on Unsplash 

One of the most important camera settings for portraits is to capture your images in RAW format instead of JPEG. The reasons for using RAW when you can is that RAW files contain a lot more exposure information than a partially compressed file such as a JPEG. 

This extra information allows for a whole lot of leeway in post processing the portraits for the best look possible. I like to use a program such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to take care of all the adjustments necessary for a showable or saleable portrait image. 

We talked earlier about using the kit lens on our entry-level DSLRs and mirrorless cameras for portraits. Yes, you can use a kit lens for portraits. You could even sell a portrait made with a kit lens and entry level camera.

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A different lens such as prime - like this Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L shown above - or a fast zoom - like the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L - may give you more options for changing exposure settings to make use of selective focus techniques or bokeh. But if you haven’t picked up your next lens yet, your kit lens is likely to be very sharp and relatively distortion free.

The trick will be making use of the capabilities you actually have. A kit lens zoomed to short telephoto and with the aperture as wide as possible will still give you good options for selective focus and their bokeh is often quite nice. And if you record in RAW, you can really maximize your post processing program features.

Studio Lighting Techniques

studio lighting techniques

 photo by alvarez via iStock 

Outside of all other options you have in front of you, your use of studio lighting techniques will be where you show the difference from merely snapping a pic to creating a portrait as a photographer.  

Some lighting configurations can be made with one light, one light and a reflector, or two lights. Check the learn more links in this article for details on lighting setups. 

In addition to the lighting, you can improve the portraits you’re creating by encouraging good, relaxed posing. 

A big part of making the portrait subject comfortable enough to fall into natural looking poses is to have a good rapport with the subject. Especially when shooting in the smaller space of a home portrait studio do you need to be sure to have your portrait subject at ease with you and the photographic process. 

As a beginner, you make the subject comfortable by being in charge of the session. Not over controlling, but giving the subject confidence in you and your art. You can do this! For practice, work on taking portraits of a friend or a family member. 

Keep Taking Pics, But Make Them Better

We often speak about the difference between merely taking pictures and creating photographic images. Truth be told, there is nothing wrong with taking pictures, it’s fun! As photographers, we never really stop.  

What happens is that we want to improve and then we make the improvements. Your studio portraits show off your growing talent and  give your subjects images they can enjoy.  

In the video above, get a thorough tour of studio portraiture by Academy of Photography.

Learn More:

 



We Recommend


Advanced Drone Flying School

Advanced Drone Flying School

Photo by Roman Koval from Pexels

I love digital photography and videography with a drone. Although I was already an advanced and experienced filmmaker and photographer, I had to go to my own personal drone flying school before I felt expert enough as a drone operator and pilot.

Thankfully, the learning curve is not steep, and anyone who is already used to learning new technology for digital photography can step up from beginner level with just a little instruction and practice. 

So, if you upgraded from posting JPEGs to using Lightroom plugins, or upgraded from the built-in flash to an advanced speedlight, you can do this. Here are some useful drone flying tips to help you get past the beginner stages. 

Practice Flying

DJI drones 1

Arthur Dent (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) learned how to fly accidentally. We, however, will need to make a conscious effort to become a good drone pilot. The newest drones, such as the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, make this step easier than earlier generations of drones.

DJI Mavic 2 Pro has an amazingly high quality Hasselblad camera and advanced flying controls. To get the most benefit from those features and high quality, taking some time to practice is as important as becoming familiar with your other high quality photographic gear.

Many drone makers have helpful drone flying tips on their own websites. I still haven’t finished all that DJI has on theirs.

 

Recommended Drone Photography Reading:

 

Storyboard Your Drone Videos 

drone flying school 2 

Storyboard template by Happy_vector

An essential advanced video tip doubles as one of our advanced drone tips. Storyboards are used by videographers to plan out shots for an efficient workflow and to tell a good story. 

Here’s how it works. You come up with an outline of the video footage you want. It could be all drone footage or you could be using your drone to add B-Roll to another video. Using that outline, I like to actually draw out a series of shots. 

This helps get your ideas from your mind to the screen. You can simply fly and film by the seat of your pants, but planning will result in less wasted footage during editing.

Learn More:

Take It Slow

drone flying school 1

Photo by Ahe from Pexels 

By taking it slow, I’m not simply speaking metaphorically. I mean this literally. Though advanced drones such as the DJI Mavic 2 Pro can fly at speeds approaching 50 MPH, there are very few times during filming that we will need to use that capability. 

An advanced drone tip I learned is to quickly fly to where you will begin shooting, but then slow down for the taping itself. While the motion effect filming can be used judiciously, indiscriminate motion shots can detract from the video.

Unless you’re aiming for a specific, that is. It’s just like videography with your mirrorless or DSLR. If you zoom in and out quickly, or pan rapidly across the field of view, that looks jarring and is often uncomfortable to view.

Use Flight Modes

drone flying school 5

photo by urbazon via iStock 

The DJI Mavic 2 Pro and other DJI drones have a set of features labeled Intelligent Flight Modes. Similar functions are also found in the various drone brands in the field. Learning these flight modes will allow you to concentrate on the camera work, while letting the drone fly itself.

Once I figured out this advanced drone flying tip, it helped smooth my filming a great deal. Picture it as having an assistant as a dolly mover or a focus puller on a ground based cinemagraphic set.

Some of the flight modes will automatically do for you what you already put on your storyboard. DJI Mavic 2 Pro has some great modes that will enhance your videos.

drone flying tips 3

photo by SimonSkafar via iStock 

Dronie mode is a basic mode that slowly flies the drone upward and backing away from the subject. You can reverse it in flight or editing to also be an approach shot.

Circle and Helix modes circle or spiral around your subject, keeping the subject centered in the field of view. By the way, one of my own advanced drone tips is that you can be relatively close to ground level for these drone flying tips, it doesn't always have to be an obviously overhead view.

Boomerang mode is super useful. In this mode, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro flies around your subject in an oval pattern, slowly rising and backing away, then it smoothly reverses to descend and approach the subject. See Boomerang mode and other intelligent flight modes in action in the video below by Drone Supremacy

Perhaps the Intelligent Mode I appreciate the most is the Dolly Zoom mode. In videography and cinematography, dolly zoom is used to change the apparent perspective while keeping the subject the same size in the field of view.

The dolly zoom effect changes the background appearance significantly, though the subject remains the same. You zoom in or out while changing camera position from closer to further away or vice versa. 

A difficult trick when filming on the ground, I’m extremely grateful for having this intelligent mode available to me in the air. Again, don’t get stuck in the thought that all drone shots need to be from way overhead. Set this up near ground level for amazing footage to add to your video project.

Use That Gimbal

DJI drones 2 

The 3-Axis gimbal is another extremely useful tool for drone videography. Practice ahead of time to move beyond the intelligent modes. Adjusting the camera position while flying adds interest to your shots while allowing you to increase your average shot time and scene time.

Using your storyboard as a guide, you will decide that some shots are going to look great from directly overhead. It’s a drone, it flies, might as well use that feature to good affect when it fits your creative vision.

Use Photographic and Cinematographic Techniques

advanced drone tips 4

 photo by kurmyshov via iStock 

In the beginning stages, we were thrilled to have our drone because it let us fly. That thrill never really goes away, but we do learn to view our drones as a real camera after a while. Drones are one of the most useful cameras for videography yet invented.

All of the advanced techniques and methods you learned for creating outstanding still images and video footage also apply to your drone use. Use your drone as a real camera, you will be amazed by what you can accomplish.

Learn More:

 



We Recommend


Advanced Drone Photography Tips: Planning and Strategy

Advanced Drone Photography Tips Planning and Strategy

Photo by Tom Fisk from Pexels

The best results often come about due to good planning. Same is true in photography, videography, and drone photography. Strategy and planning are essential steps for how to plan a drone photo shoot. 

For our examination of landscape photography with a drone, we’ll consider overall strategy and how to plan to reach the goal of your strategy.

Table of Contents

Choose Strategy First

how to plan a drone photo shoot 1

Photo by Retha Ferguson from Pexels

Every stage of planning will depend on deciding on a basic strategy. Early on in our planning stage, we will choose if we are shooting video, still images, or a combination of both. If we are shooting video only, that will cause us to choose smoother flight modes. If we are shooting still images, we can fly quickly to get into position then stabilize for the shots. 

We can also decide ahead of time if we are shooting A-Roll or B-Roll for video, or what type of landscape still image we are wishing to capture. Do we want a high level scenic view? A point of view closer to ground level and the subject? Or something in between?

Once the basic overall strategy is determined, then we can start working on how to plan a drone photo shoot. The planning is where the details are.

Planning Details - The Beginning Stage

A good place to start with drone photography planning tips is to remind yourself of the capabilities and limitations of your drone photography gear. Thankfully, the newest drones have a lot of capabilities that we can incorporate into our overall strategy.

As a good example of this, if we look at the DJI Mavic line of drones, it’s more a matter of certain models adding extra features and capabilities than anything else.

how to plan a drone photo shoot 2 

The DJI Mavic Miniis a modest budget option drone that is also below the weight limit for certain restrictions and regulations concerning drone photography and flying. Yet, within its extremely light weight, it boasts features and capabilities that can capture high resolution still images and high quality video. 

It also has advanced flight modes for specialty images and video, plus a 30 minute battery range. Controlled from your own iPhone, this is a powerful choice either as your first drone or as a nice lower cost upgrade from an earlier generation drone.

how to plan a drone photo shoot 3 

Their mid-range option, the DJI Mavic Air 2, upgrades your capabilities with a larger sensor camera for even more resolution and higher quality video recording. It adds a faster top flight speed and slightly longer battery life, as well as even more sophisticated flight modes to give you more shooting or filming options.

how to plan a drone photo shoot 4

For professionals or anyone else requiring the highest quality imaging and video, it’s hard to beat the DJI Mavic 2 Prowith the best in class 20MP Hasselblad L1D-20c gimbal camera, improved flight performance, and live video remote feed from over 5 miles away. Just think of all you could do with that.

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Plan Your Flight Around the Shots 

advanced drone photography tips 5

Photo by Max Ravier from Pexels 

When shooting landscape photography with a drone, the primary goal is to come back with great images or video footage. 

Some variables will need to be factored in. You can take these advanced drone photography tips in any order you desire, find a method or routine that works for you.

Storyboard Your Shots

advanced drone photography tips 6

 photo by Erdark via iStock 

Whether still imaging or shooting video, an important step is the storyboard. You could label it as a flight plan or a mapping out of your drone photography trek. It’s very close to our standard photo and video methodology of visualizing the results ahead of time and then finding a way to get to that desired end. 

In landscape photography with a drone, sometimes the mapping out is quite literal. You need to know where you’re going, what flight issues change and where that might happen, and what will show from your position at certain times of the day.

Check and Monitor Weather Conditions

drone photography planning tips 6

 photo by Ralph W. lambrecht via Pexels

Weather forecasts are a good resource. Another option is to monitor in real time with a smartphone app. If you’re going to rely on a phone app, you should check coverage in the shooting area. 

Some beautiful areas for drone photography are out of range of some networks. Besides the drone flight conditions, this is also a safety tip, especially if inclement weather may be  a possibility.

 

 

Pre-Flight Check 

drone photography planning tips 7

Photo by Kyle Loftus from Pexels 

You should have all of your gear clean, charged up, with imaging cards ready before you get to the location for your landscape drone photography. Before powering up to start flying and shooting, check it all again. 

Few things are more disappointing than coming back with bad images or nothing at all. A pre-flight check as part of your regular routine will help minimise the danger of that happening.

A pre-flight checklist is also part of the regulations for certain categories of drones, which you already know because of passing the certification for those drones.

Fly Through / Shoot Through

landscape photography with a drone 8

Photo by Nick Kwan from Pexels 

Especially if your landscape drone photography includes video footage, you will benefit from this tip. Begin filming before your storyboard start point and keep filming after your scene. This gives you some extra video to work with in editing. 

It can make the transitions go smoothly and you don’t accidentally miss anything you planned on capturing. “Lights, Camera, Action” is in that order for good reason. Set exposure and flight mode, start recording, and then fly your drone through the shoot.

Shoot Extra and Edit

drone photography 9

 photo byHuseyin Bostanci via iStock

Another of the advanced drone photography tips that doubles as a drone video tip is to shoot more and edit it down. This is not a Spray and Pray style of shooting, where you just keep filming and hope you get to capture something good. 

Each of your drone photography shots or video scenes can have the potential of being the game winner. Giving ourselves more to work with allows for a possibly more discerning editing session.

Having good editing habits will increase our capabilities and consistency a lot more than most equipment upgrades will give us. We have a lot of options for tutorials and training, plus experience will teach us as well. 

Make It Fun

drone photography 10

 photo by DisobeyArt via iStock 

Even pro baseball players tell me they have fun doing their job. Drone photography is very enjoyable. Just look at all the articles we write about it. 

Learn what you need, then get out and shoot. Develop a strategy, plan it out, and enjoy the ride.

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An Easy Way to Correct Lens Distortion and Vignetting

An Easy Way to Correct Lens Distortion and Vignetting

photo by AndreyPopov via iStock

All lenses - even professional ones that cost thousands of dollars - can create defects in photos that diminish their overall quality and visual appeal. 

This includes distortion, in which lines that are straight appear to have a curve to them, and vignetting, in which the corners of the image appear to be darkened.

In this quick tutorial, you’ll learn how to correct lens distortion and vignetting quick and easily.

For demonstration purposes, Exposure X5 is used to show how to make these corrections in post-processing.

If you don’t already have Exposure, you can download a free 30-day trial.

Let’s get started! 

How to Correct Lens Distortion

how to correct lens distortion

YouTube Screenshot/Exposure Software

What makes the process of correcting lens distortion so easy with Exposure is that it has a vast library of lens profiles specifically designed to remove any distortion in the image.

Using the Amount slider, you can adjust how much or how little the profile for your image influences how the image looks.

how to correct lens distortion 2

YouTube Screenshot/Exposure Software

To get the most control, adjust the Amount manually, that way you can keep an eye on lines in the image (like those highlighted in red above) and make the fine adjustments to make them appear exactly straight.

However, in most situations, the Barrel Slider is the only tool you need to use.

how to correct lens distortion 3

YouTube Screenshot/Exposure Software

The Barrel Slider (highlighted in red above) adjusts for pincushion distortion, which results in straight lines bending inward, or barrel distortion, in which lines bend outward.

This single slider can correct either of these issues in a matter of seconds.

You can also use the Midpoint Slider to change the shape of the correction. That is, it controls how much of the effect is added to the middle of the shot versus the corners of the shot.

how to correct lens distortion 4

YouTube Screenshot/Exposure Software

Just be aware that using this slider at extreme levels can cause wrapping effects to occur, so using it judiciously is recommended.

Lastly, you can make adjustments to the Asymmetry slider to gain finer control over distortion in the corners of the photo.

Note in the screenshot above how the Barrel, Midpoint, and Asymmetry sliders have been adjusted very little, yet the difference in this shot and the first one in this section is quite extreme. A little goes a long way!

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How to Correct Vignetting 

how to correct vignetting

YouTube Screenshot/Exposure Software 

Though vignetting can sometimes be used to add artistic flair to a photograph, vignetting is typically an unwanted consequence of the lens used to take the photo. 

Using Exposure, you can quickly remove vignetting for a cleaner shot.

The Vignette Correction balances out the darkening in the corners by using the Lens Profile of the lens that was used.

Then, simply adjust the Strength Slider as needed for each image in which vignetting appears.

how to correct vignetting 2

YouTube Screenshot/Exposure Software

Again, using Manual controls gives you an added layer of precision when removing vignetting. As you can see above, manipulating the manual controls has significantly brightened the edges of this shot.

Once you’ve made the needed corrections, you might need to adjust the image exposure to ensure the photo is well-exposed.

how to correct vignetting 3

YouTube Screenshot/Exposure Software

A handy feature of Exposure is that you can turn a vignette correction for a specific lens into a custom preset. 

This enables you to apply the same corrections to any images taken with that lens, thereby speeding up the process of removing vignetting even further.

Just click the gear icon at the top of the editing panel (shown above) to create a custom preset. You can also create a custom preset for distortion adjustments and for chromatic aberration adjustments too.

With that, you have a quick and easy way of removing lens distortion and vignetting. 

Check out the video above by Exposure to review the process, and be sure to get your 30-day free trial if you don’t already have Exposure!

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Avoid These Common Circular Polarizer Mistakes

Avoid These Common Circular Polarizer Mistakes

 photo by0804Creative via iStock

Using a circular polarizer when shooting landscape photos has become a de-facto standard.  

But, here’s the truth.

Not all landscape shots need or should use a circular polarizer.

Sometimes, using a circular polarizer can actually ruin your otherwise great outdoor shots.

So, when should you use one? And what common circular polarizer mistakes should you avoid? Let’s find out.

What Does a Circular Polarizer Do?

Let’s first understand the benefits of using a circular polarizer. As the video above by Brain Matiash explains, there are mainly three reasons to use a circular polarizer.

Using the filter:

  • Helps reduce any glare on water or glass surfaces
  • Accentuates certain colors to add some contrast to your scene
  • Helps reduce the intensity of light and colors, much like an ND filter.

circular polarizer mistakes

photo by ithinksky via iStock 

If you think you can do all that in post, think again. First of all, you cannot remove surface reflections with Photoshop. Plus, the warm effects a good-quality polarizer filter like the Kenko Nyumon (shown below) brings to your photos are almost impossible to replicate in post.

Kenko 1

However, if you don’t know how and when to use a circular polarizer, using it could do more harm than good to your landscape photos. So, here are some common circular polarizer mistakes you must avoid.

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Polarizer Mistake #1: Ignoring the 90 Degree Rule

common circular polarizer mistakes

 photo by Capuski via iStock 

There are just some rules that you need to follow. When shooting with a polarizing filter, you should point your camera at 90 degrees to the sun. In other words, you should avoid shooting with the sun directly in front or behind you.

Point your camera either to the left or to the right of the sun. That way, you can get the best polarizing effect in your photos. The further you get from 90 degrees the less effective the filter is.

Polarizer Mistake #2: Shooting the Sky with a Wide-Angle Lens

how to use a circular polarizer 2

  photo by adempercem via iStock

This is another common mistake you should avoid when you’re using a polarizing filter. If, for instance, you shoot the blue sky with a wide-angle lens, the wide field of view of your lens means that it would cover a long stretch of the blue sky.

The result could be an image darker on the outer edges and brighter in the center or vice versa. This happens because when you are covering a wide area of the sky, the sunlight doesn’t come to your camera from the same angle. This is commonly known as vignetting or light fall-off.  

Most LCD monitors cannot properly display the vignetting in the corners of an image. So when you’ll finally notice this problem, it would be too late to fix the problem.

This is exactly why you should use a circular polarizer with a wide-angle lens. Consider using a lens with a focal length of 35mm and longer.

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

Polarizer Mistake #3: Over-Polarizing 

when to use a circular polarizer

 photo by romansl via iStock 

While a polarizer helps reduce surface reflections or glare, you may not want to remove reflections altogether from your composition. Also, you don’t necessarily need to use a polarizer every time you’re shooting wet rocks or wet leaves.

Even when you are using one, make sure not to overdo it. You can turn a nice blue sky to almost black by over-polarizing it.

When it comes to photographing a rainbow, a polarizing filter can actually make it look more vibrant in your photos. But if you overdo the polarization, you can completely remove the rainbow from your image. So always rotate the circular polarizer to control the amount of reflections or glare you want to keep in your photos.

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Polarizer Mistake #4: Selecting a Wide Aperture 

how to use a circular polarizer

 photo by Kesu01 via iStock 

When shooting a landscape photo with a polarizer, consider avoiding a wide aperture.

One rule of thumb is to select an aperture of f/8 or smaller with a polarizer. Otherwise, you may end up with some image corner vignetting.

Another thing to keep in mind is this: a circular polarizer can underexpose your photos by as much as two stops. So, keep that in mind when setting the exposure for your shots.

Polarizer Mistake #5: Not Using a Thin Polarizer With a Wide-Angle Lens

kenko 2

A polarizer is typically quite thick. When you combine a thick polarizer with a wide-angle lens, it may result in some amount of image corner vignetting.

So, if you are planning to use a polarizer with a wide-angle lens, consider buying a thin polarizer. 

The Kenko Nyumon circular polarizer I mentioned earlier (and which is shown above) has a slim mounting ring that helps prevent vignetting.

Additionally, this polarizer’s mounting ring has a black, anti-reflective coating which helps prevent flare and reflection off of the mounting ring.

While a thin polarizer could cost you a few bucks more, it helps create visually pleasing images with no corner vignetting.

Luckily, Kenko’s slim polarizers are very budget-friendly, so you get the pleasing effects of a slim polarizer without busting your budget!

 



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Basic Business Tips for Real Estate Photographers

real estate photography tips

Photo by Brian Babb on Unsplash

Real estate photography tips flood the internet, but I’ve found that most focus on tips for taking better photos. While those are certainly important, tips for the business side of things are critical as well.

Over the years, I have explored this topic in-depth, given that I have a background in real estate and I live in Southern California where the real estate market is typically bonkers.

That being the case, I thought I would share four real estate photography business tips that most real estate photographers overlook during their first few years in business.

Build a Standard Contract, Then Adjust As Needed

real estate photography business tips

Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

You need to create a contract that outlines:

  • Your flat rate per hour of shooting/editing/traveling to and from the site
  • Exactly what you should be expected to accomplish (i.e., don't stage a house if you aren't being paid to do so!)
  • What your client can expect regarding the finished product
  • When they can expect the finished product
  • Your method of accepted pay
  • The date by which your invoice must be paid 
  • How much additional pay you will bill if the payment is late

Then, after you've built your standard contract, you need to adjust it for each job.

For example, I save my standard contract with each section I frequently change highlighted. This way, when I need to adjust an invoicing date, I know exactly where to do so and can find it in mere seconds.

Alternatively, you can use Excel or a program like Quickbooks to automate some aspects of your invoicing to speed up your billing workflow that much more.

Quick Tip: You might also explore photography-specific invoicing programs, like Shootproof. You can create templates to use over and over again, set up autopay with clients, set up payment plans, and all sorts of other time-saving tasks that help you spend less time billing and more time actually taking photos.

Buy Insurance

starting a real estate photography business

Photo by rupixen on Unsplash

This is one of those things that is often forgotten about until it's too late. I understand you may not feel like you can afford to buy insurance so early on in your real estate photography career, but you definitely cannot afford to have a camera go down and need repairs or have all of your equipment stolen without having insurance.

Furthermore, you need to purchase liability insurance (particularly if you are shooting homes with a lot of expensive artwork, glassware, etc.).

Things can and will go wrong - it's just a fact of life. So be prepared by having yourself, your gear, and your business as a whole covered with the appropriate insurance policies.

Learn More:

Always Put Two Shooting Dates In Your Calendar

tips for real estate photographers

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

I find this is the best way to prepare for eventualities like bad weather or simply needing to return to the property at different times of the day to get the best light for each shot.

Likewise, there will be occasions when you show up to photograph a property and find that it hasn't been staged yet - or even cleaned.

Flexibility is the key with real estate photography because you have a lot of partners in the process - Mother Nature, the real estate agent, the homeowner, stagers, and so forth. With so many people involved in the process, and you being the last one in line, there will be delays. It's best to plan for that upfront!

Be Speedy

real estate photography

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

This one goes without saying, but it's also one of the tips for real estate photographers.

The longer it takes you to get the photos processed and back in the hands of the real estate agent or the homeowner, the longer it will take them to complete the tasks they need to in order to get the home sold.

Likewise, if you take too long working on photos for one property, you'll have difficulty staying on schedule for the other properties on your list.

This isn't to say that you should speed through taking photos and processing them, but developing a workflow that streamlines the process will certainly help.

In my experience, there are two key areas in which you can save a lot of time (and money, for that matter).

First, don't bother with artificial lighting gear for interior photos.

Not only is lighting gear expensive, but it's also cumbersome to transport and set up, and will require a good deal of time to learn how to use it. Furthermore, you don't need it!

By bracketing your exposures (as shown in the video above) and merging them together, you can create well-exposed photos of interior spaces

This brings me to my next point...

real estate photography tipsPhoto by Deagreez via iStock

Using software specifically designed for merging bracketed exposures will speed up your post-processing workflow and allow you to get the final images to your clients much faster.

As you can see here, it's a process that requires just a few simple steps to complete. There's even a batch feature you can utilize to speed up the process that much more.

The old cliche "time is money" is true, folks! But with these tips, you'll be able to produce the images you need faster, but without sacrificing quality.

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Basic Landscape Photography Composition Tips

Basic Landscape Photography Composition Tips

Photo by 🧔 Michal Kmeť on Unsplash

It took me quite a few years as a beginner photographer to understand the importance of landscape photography composition tips.

I made a ton of mistakes as a beginning landscape photographer: I tried to cram too much into each photo, I relied too heavily on the “perfect” lighting, and I didn’t understand how to compose a landscape photo at all.

Then I decided to get serious about improving my compositions, and the following tips helped me achieve that goal.

Table of Contents

Landscape Photography Composition Tips: Use Your Foreground to Your Advantage

NatureTTL is one of my favorite landscape photography YouTubers because they focus on basic composition tips for landscapes that others ignore, like using your foreground to your advantage. 

Foregrounds are present in every good landscape photograph, but sometimes they become a forgotten aspect of the shot. But, I’m of the belief that as a photographer you need to learn to pay attention to the white noise in your photographs. 

Plus, focusing on the marginalized aspects of your landscape photography is one of many easy landscape photography composition tips because it teaches you to look where others aren’t. 

landscape photography tips

Photo by Matteo Minelli on Unsplash 

Take, for example, this photograph of a lake. It reminds me of summer camp as a child and the reason why it does this is the centralized aspect of the photo: the dock. 

I spent endless summers kayaking from and jumping off docks with my friends. But, the dock is a relatively small part of this photo, so why are your eyes immediately drawn to it?

The foreground leads you there. Nearly half of the photo is taken up by the long grass in the foreground, but the vertical lines of the grass automatically lead your eyes deeper into the photo, straight to the dock. 

I doubt this photo would feel so sentimental to me without the action of the foreground elements driving my eyes deeper into the shot.

 

Editor's Tip: One of the best ways to highlight the foreground of a landscape photo taken at sunrise or sunset is to use a light to illuminate it. I carry the Litra Pro for this purpose because it's compact and easy to transport, yet has 60 LEDs that put out 1200 lumens of light. This bi-color light has an adjustable color temperature, a 10-hour battery life, and is waterproof and rugged to stand up to the most challenging landscape photography conditions. Grab one today, and see how easy it is to create more dynamic landscape photos!

 

Landscape Photography Composition Tips: Composition and Light Work Together

In the above video, Joshua Cripps Photography focuses on 4 elements that play into each landscape photograph, but I want to talk specifically about two of them: composition and light.

 Look how the light spills across the landscape in the image below. Striking, isn’t it?

 There are a couple of elements to the light that make it so eye-catching - its color and is direction.

photography composition tips

Photo by Simon Matzinger on Unsplash 

Shooting during golden hour is one of the most recommended landscape photography tips there is, and for good reason.

 Light near sunrise and sunset is soft, warm, and falls gently on the landscape to give it a warm glow.

 Additionally, since the sun is so low in the sky, it creates opportunities to use sidelighting to highlight features like the mountain ridges in the image above while also allowing you to incorporate beautifully long, soft shadows into the shot.

 The manner in which this image is composed helps accentuate that light, too. Shifting the horizon lower in the frame gives more area to show off that beautiful golden hour lighting.

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Landscape Photography Composition Tips: Don’t Be Afraid to Cut Elements Out 

how to compose a landscape photo 1

Photo by David Wirzba on Unsplash 

Sometimes landscape photographs that are simple are the best. 

Never be afraid to cut clutter out of your photographs. You don’t need an ultra-wide angle lens to cram every single detail into every single shot to get pleasing results. 

Take the photo above as a great example.

The scene is quite pretty, but there is just too much clutter in the shot, namely the dead tree occupying the middle of the foreground. There is simply no reason to feature that tree when you have soaring, snow-covered peaks to serve as the focal point of the shot.

Had the photographer moved a few feet to the right, there would have been an unobstructed view of the mountains, and it might’ve been a much more powerful shot.

how to compose a landscape photo 2

 photo by Pilat666 via iStock 

The image above is a better example of how a simpler composition can result in a better photo.

Notice that in this case there are no distracting elements in the middle of the frame or in the foreground.

Instead, our eyes are able to move freely from the foreground to the midground, where the trees closing in on either side of the shot direct our eyes further back to the mountains in the background.

 Everything in your landscape photo should add to the artistic integrity of the piece, which is advice that doesn’t necessarily go beyond most basic composition tips for landscapes.

So, before you frame up your shots, think purposefully for a few moments about whether or not each element in the composition should be there.

Landscape Photography Composition Tips: Use Man Made Objects to Show the Scale of the Scene

basic composition tips for landscapes 1

 Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

Feel free to use people, or man made objects, in your landscape photography as often as you’d like. 

There is no bad time to help the viewer understand just how grand the landscape is, especially when you’re photographing something extremely large like a mountain or lake.

basic composition tips for landscapes 2

  photo by Oleh_Slobodeniuk via iStock

All of the objects you use should be relatively simple for the viewer to understand, and it should be an object that the viewer knows is a certain size.  

I understand that you’re usually working to keep people out of your photographs when you’re shooting landscape photography, but this compositional trick can result in much more captivating photos. 

In the image above, for example, the presence of the woman in the foreground serves as a visual anchor for the shot while also informing us as to the size and scale of the scene before her.

basic composition tips for landscapes 3

 photo by Mumemories via iStock 

But adding human elements to landscape photos doesn’t mean those elements have to be large in the shot.

Take the image above as a prime example of this - the hiker is minute compared to their surroundings, yet our eyes are immediately drawn to him.

This is due to the fact that our eyes are naturally drawn to the human form - no matter how little space it might occupy in the shot. Additionally, the footprints in the snow serve as a leading line (another trick you can employ!) to draw our attention even further to the human figure.

The result is a shot with more visual interest and depth, just as you want!

Landscape Photography Composition Tips: Showcase Motion

easy landscape photography composition tips 1

Photo by Cosmic Timetraveler on Unsplash 

Water is the easiest thing to show moving in your landscape photography, but it isn’t the only thing. Use flying birds, swaying grass or trees, and clouds to showcase the natural beauty of a scene.

You’ll definitely need a tripod in order to showcase motion in your landscape photography. You’ll also need an ND filter if you’re planning on photographing moving water.

easy landscape photography composition tips 2

Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash 

Additionally, you’ll need to outfit your camera with a good neutral density filter.

The operative word here is “good.”

Cheap neutral density filters aren’t neutral at all. Instead, they might have a color cast that turns your photo blue or brown.

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

Quality neutral density filters, like the Kenko Variable NDX shown below, offer the best of both worlds - you get the light-stopping power you need to extend the shutter speed to blur motion while avoiding those nasty color casts of cheaper ND filters.

kenko

Better still, this is a variable ND filter, so you get the functionality of multiple NDs in one easy-to-use filter. 

Just mount it on your lens like you would a circular polarizer, and then to adjust the strength of the filter, simply turn the filter in its housing. 

It doesn’t get any easier than that!

kenko 2

With a density range of 1.5-10 stops, you can very gently blur movement or you can induce dreamy, ethereal movement with mintues-long exposures, even in the daytime.

This filer is crafted of fine Japanese Asahi Optical Glass and has match polarization foils that create virtually no color shift.

The result? Clean, crisp, and beautiful landscape photos!

Get more details on the Kenko Variable NDX filter.

Learn More: 

 



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Basic Landscape Photography Tips for Beginners

Basic Landscape Photography Tips for Beginners

Landscape photography is one of the more enjoyable forms of photography for beginners to engage in, and one that can be simple to get into provided you have the right techniques and methods.  Basic landscape photography tips can point us in the right direction to  capture outstanding images.

To bring it down to the fundamentals of photography, basic landscape photography is capturing a view of the outside world in a way that shows it to others in a meaningful way. We can all take snapshots to share and show friends where we were or to hold on to our own memories.

Landscape photography goes beyond the mere act of recording an image. We create an image. These beginner landscape photography tips will assist you to transition from snapshots to crafted landscape photography. 

Along the way, if you also want to take some snapshots, please do. I certainly do myself, as does almost every professional or other advanced photographer I know does. We constantly snap pictures, with our fancy cameras, with basic cameras, and with our smartphone cameras. It’s fun to share pictures and it’s nice to hold on to cherished memories.

Tip 1: Stop. Look Around

landscape photography tips 1

Photo by Archie Binamira from Pexels

In order to create an outstanding landscape image, we should put ourselves into a photographic state of mind, a mood. One of the ways we can accomplish that is to slow down and really observe where we are and what’s going on around us.

As far as beginner landscape photography tips go, this is an important one. Sometimes all it takes is for us to pause before even setting up our camera gear and really take in the scene where we are. Sure, we see that giant mountain or sprawling sea shore, but what else is there?

basic landscape photography 2

 photo bymammuth via iStock

The sky often holds a lot of detail that could be interesting, we can think about how to include it, how to compose and expose. Besides the large main subject, we might notice a smaller aspect that can become the focus of an image. If we turn around and look to the sides or behind us, we might find a fresh view of the beautiful scene in which we are immersed.

All the fancy camera gear in the world won’t capture the scene we’re not looking at. Slowing down and carefully observing the scene leads us to the next of our valuable basic landscape photography tips.

Tip 2: Develop A Plan

basic landscape photography tips 3

To me, here’s where landscape photography really starts to get fun. This where we actually craft a photographic image instead of merely snapping a picture. 

As we’re looking around our scene, noticing what we want to   shoot and highlight, what we want to de-emphasize, we should start thinking about the actual image making process. This is the step where we visualize the final image and work backwards to find the settings and techniques to use in order to end up with that result.

Are we going to include or emphasize the sky? If so, are we going to use a polarizer filter or possibly a graduated neutral density filter? What exposure will give us detail in either highlights or shadow?

basic landscape photography tips 4

 photo byFilippoBacci via iStock

Maybe we found a nice view of a foreground subject in our scene. Are we going to focus on that exclusively or as part of the entire image? That decision will tell us to use selective focus techniques or deep depth of field, or something in between. That, in turn, will affect our exposure, since lens aperture is involved and that aperture or f-stop is part of the Exposure Triangle.

What type of lens do we want to use? A wide angle to gather a larger field of view or a telephoto to limit the field of view? Do we want to amplify the apparent perspective of our lens choice or minimize it?  

We can also decide on any post processing methods or techniques in this step, such as HDR photography or making a panorama. And that naturally leads to tip number 3 in our list.

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Tip 3 : Shoot In Raw

landscape photography gear 5

More so than shooting in manual mode, capturing files in RAW format is a vital step in being able to craft outstanding images.  

I’ve noticed that a lot of beginner to intermediate photographers are under the impression that using manual exposure mode is essential to good photography. While this is true to a certain extent, out file choice can often give us more control over the final than camera setting adjustments

A lot of professional and advanced photographers appreciate the automatic modes of our advanced cameras. Especially when using complicated flash photography set ups. And even when we do adjust the camera controls manually, we often base our initial exposure considerations on a meter reading.

beginner landscape photography tips 6

 photo byarisara1978 via iStock

While the exposure meters of our modern cameras are excellent and the automated modes are useful, I consistently urge everyone to get out of the Green Dot fully automatic camera setting. That Green Dot setting doesn’t afford you any control over exposure or focus setting at all. Personally, I don’t even use it when I’m taking snapshots. 

So, manual mode, semi automatic, programmed automation, flash automation, all can be used effectively for advanced photography. The RAW file format setting however, is more akin to our film choice than an exposure setting.

basic landscape photography 7

 photo byAnchiy via iStock

JPEG is a standard file format that can be used or viewed across a wide variety of devices from cameras to computers to digital photo frames and is all over the internet. It’s a great format for sharing and viewing. But there is a better choice for shooting, and that’s RAW. 

The RAW file format holds much more information about our scene exposure than JPEG. With this extra exposure information, we can use our post processing program to fine tune the image. It’s like the darkroom of our digital photographic process, where we handled film and printing. Which segues to my number 4 of basic landscape photography tips.

Tip 4: Learn Basic Post Processing

basic landscape photography 9

Photo by Jiarong Deng from Pexels

This step freaks out more photographers than the thought of going all manual. Post processing is seen by some photographers as either difficult or boring. It doesn’t have to be either. In fact it can be a simple and enjoyable part of our landscape photography.  

Admittedly, some post processing can be difficult and some programs seem to put you through a whole lot of steps to give you an end result. For instance, whenever I have to do something that only a very powerful program like Adobe Photoshop can do, I use my cheat sheets and review tutorials on the subject (even some I’ve produced myself). 

landscape photography tips 8

 photo byMaksym Azovtsev via iStock

However, many of the newer programs, such as Lightroom, ACDSee, or Photoshop Elements have made post processing less complicated, more intuitive as a photographer instead of feeling like a computer programmer.  

If you’re shooting in RAW file format, you will need to get familiar with at least one simple post processing program. Check out our article on the subject to find one you can be comfortable using.

Tip 5: Protect Your Landscape Photography Gear

basic landscape photography tips 10

Photo by Asad Photo Maldives from Pexels

This is an important step for various styles of photography, landscape photography introduces hazards of the great outdoors which can negatively impact our camera equipment.

Impact is one of the major concerns. Banging around our cameras, lenses, and other items isn’t going to help out our photographic imaging. Even the more rugged, weather resistant cameras and lenses benefit from being protected. 

The right type of camera strap and a good bag can keep our gear safe and allow us to not miss out on making good landscape images. The bag and strap that came with your camera can be improved on without spending a lot. I look for things that are comfortable, well made, durable, as well as functional in the field.

plan and prepare your outings 1

A nice bag I’ve been using for day trips is from Hazard4®, manufacturer of tactical and protective photographic gear. It’s the Plan-B Hard™ sling pack. I like the sling pack style for outdoor photography since I can carry it comfortably and then rapidly swing into position to access my gear.

plan and prepare your outings 2

Some beneficial features of the Plan-B Hard™ in addition to the sleeping pack styling are YKK® zippers and real Cordura® 1000D nylon that won’t be affected by changing conditions outdoors, hot or cold. It has a molded hard shell, lots of interior room and adjustment, plus patent pending strap and hardware for safety plus rapid access to our camera and lenses.

Other ways we protect our camera gear are in some of our product reviews available on this website.

Tip 6: Try Out What You’ve Learned

basic landscape photography tips 11

Photo by James Wheeler from Pexels

All of these landscape photography tips are mere words until we start putting them to use. The process of making outstanding landscape images is enjoyable and accessible to any level of photographer. 

Start using those exposure techniques, special photographic processes, filters, and anything else physically or mentally you’ve picked up. Get into the right frame of mind and start shooting. Show us your results, too, that’s a huge part of the fun for all of us.

Learn More:

 



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Basic Portrait Lighting Principles

Basic Portrait Lighting Principles

photo bysilverkblack via iStock

One of the most important skills to have as a photographer of any kind is the ability to understand the different attributes of light.

From the direction of light to the quality of its tone, the color of light to its luminosity, there are many factors to consider when framing up your shots.

These factors are especially important when creating portraits, as they can quite literally make or break the shot.

With that in mind, let's have a look at a few basic portrait lighting principles you need to understand in order to make better portraits.

Learn to Work With Harsh Lighting

portrait lighting 1

photo by skyNext via iStock

One look at outdoor portraits on Instagram or Flickr will reveal millions of portraits taken at golden hour. 

Golden hour is a great time for portraits because light is soft, warm, and falls evenly across the scene, which gives portraits an elegant look.

But it’s not always possible to shoot portraits during golden hour, so learning to work with harsh lighting that you find throughout the day is a must.

portrait lighting 2

photo by skyNext via iStock

The difference between soft and harsh lighting is simple - soft light has soft shadows and a gentle transition from shadowed areas to highlighted areas, like in the first image above. Harsh lighting, however, has an abrupt transition with very hard lines of shadow, as shown in the image immediately above. 

You don’t have to be outside to make use of harsh lighting, either. 

portrait lighting 4

Photo by Simon Wijers on Unsplash 

In this example, a single, bright light is used to create extremes of brightness and shadow to create a more compelling black and white portrait.

Since black and white images rely on things like contrast for visual interest in the absence of color, using harsh light to create black and white images is a great option.

Learn More:

Learn How to Use Artificial Lighting  

When some people read the term “artificial lighting,” they might shudder with thoughts of buying expensive lights, light stands, diffusers, softboxes, and other bulky photography lighting gear. 

And while that’s certainly an option, if you aren’t a professional portrait photographer, you don’t need all that gear, nor do you need to spend that much money. 

There are a ton of small, easy-to-use lights for photography that allow you to sculpt and shape light for portraits.

Take the Hakutatz RGB+AW LED Light shown above and below as a great example.

Editor's Note: The Hakutatz Kickstarter campaign was a huge success! Their Amazon store will be open and ready for orders in early December.

This light is small enough to fit in your pocket, yet allows you to get ultra creative with the way you light portraits.

For example, you can add colored light to the portrait using the light’s array of RGB LEDs.

If you want to warm up a portrait, you can use the amber LEDs to wash the subject is beautiful amber-toned light. There’s even white LEDs if you want that harder, edgier feel discussed earlier.

What’s more, lights like this can be used as a fill light (to soften shadows in the presence of harsh lighting), as a backlight to help separate the subject from the background, or even as a key light, which is the primary light used to illuminate the subject and highlight their form. 

There are many ways you can use a single light to create a compelling portrait, too.

 

But the advantage of having a light like the Hakutatz RGB+AW LED is that you can use multiple lights at the same time to create more complex lighting scenarios.

With the accompanying smartphone app, you can control one or more lights and dial in the precise color temperature, RGB color, and even special effects you might like to use.

In other words, learning how to use smart lights like this enables you to craft the precise look you want in your portraits and unleash your full creativity at the same time. 

What’s not to like about that?! 

See the possibilities you can create for portrait lighting with the Hakutatz RGB+AW LED Light.

Learn Common Lighting Setups

portrait photography tips

 photo by FilippoBacci via iStock 

If you really want to step up your portrait photography game, it’s important that you learn the basic lighting setups used in portrait photography.

These setups go beyond simply having a single key light or using an LED light like the Hakutatz discussed above to separate the subject from the background.

Instead, the lighting setups shown above (and outlined below) enable you to create different looks in your portraits by manipulating how the light interacts with the model’s face.

  • Short lighting involves casting a delicate shadow on the side of the model’s face nearest the camera by having the model look toward the light source.
  • Broad lighting involves casting a delicate shadow on the side of the model’s face away from the camera by having the model look away from the light source.
  • Butterfly lighting is created when the light source is in front of the model and above their eye level, which creates a butterfly-shaped shadow under their nose.
  • Split lighting divides the model’s face into two equal sides - one that’s illuminated and one that’s in shadow - by placing the light source 90-degrees to one side of the model.
  • Loop lighting creates gentle shadows while keeping most of their face in light by positioning the light source just above eye level at about a 45-degree angle from the camera.
  • Rembrandt lighting results in a similar pattern as split lighting, with one side of the model’s face in light and the other in shadow. However, this lighting pattern creates a triangle-shaped area of light on the shadowed side of the face by positioning the light above eye level and casting the nose’s shadow onto the far cheek.

You can learn more about common lighting setups in this detailed tutorial.

how to use artificial lighting

 photo by utkamandarinka via iStock 

Whether you adapt your portraits to harsh lighting, learn to use artificial lighting, or incorporate classic lighting setups, you’ll find that your ability to create beautiful portraits will be much-improved.

Give each of these methods a try and see what works best for your workflow. Even better, practice each one and then incorporate them all into how you take portraits. I think you’ll be pleased with the results!

Learn More

 



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Basic Real Estate Photography Tips for Absolute Beginners

Basic Real Estate Photography Tips for Absolute Beginners

 photo by Eder Maioli via iStock 

Real estate photography is an interesting animal because on the one hand, you will generally be capturing similar types of shots from one property to the next.

There’s the typical shot of the front of the property, images that highlight living spaces and bedrooms, photos that reveal what the backyard looks like, and so forth.

Yet, just like people, each property you photograph is very different and requires you to approach photographing it with a keen eye.

Here are some beginner real estate photography tips to get you started if you’ve never photographed real estate before. 

Beginner Real Estate Photography Tips: Invest in The Right Equipment

beginner real estate photography tips 1

Photo by Nikolai Chernichenko on Unsplash 

This one goes without saying, but you’ll need to buy the right equipment if you’re going to do a good job. Primarily, you will need a good tripod, a wide-angle lens, and a solid image editing program. 

On the lens front, a good wide-angle zoom is advantageous because it gives you the option of adjusting the focal length with a simple twist of the lens barrel.

Lenses in the 15-50mm range are good choices as they offer wide-angle views for smaller rooms but also allow you to zoom in to compose more tightly framed shots when needed. 

Note that you don’t need to opt for a lens with a huge maximum aperture, like f/1.2, either.

beginner real estate photography tips 2

  photo by Pollyana Ventura via iStock

On the one hand, these lenses are quite expensive. On the other hand, they simply aren’t needed for real estate photography.

To maximize depth of field and sharpness, its recommended to shoot with an aperture of around f/8. That being the case, a lens with an aperture of f/4 or f/3.5-5.6 will work just fine.

In our detailed tutorial on lenses for real estate photography, we enumerate a variety of lenses that are well-suited for photographing properties.

beginner real estate photography tips 3

  photo by NoSystem images via iStock

As for your tripod, I’m generally of the belief that any cheap tripod will do for beginners.

A lot of other beginner real estate photography tips lists try to sell you on equipment you don’t need just to get started. You can always invest in a good quality tripod later on, after your business is making income.

As long as your tripod offers a solid base for your camera, it’ll do just fine.

beginner real estate photography tips 4

  photo by jacoblund via iStock

Lastly, you need the right editing program to bring your images to life.

Many photographers use Lightroom or Photoshop, and both are solid choices. I would add to that the need for HDR software as well. 

Creating HDR images of properties means you can avoid having to use (or buy) artificial lighting equipment. Besides, you get more natural-looking results anyway!

By bracketing your exposures and then merging them in HDR software, you ensure the images are perfectly aligned, sharp, straight, and have good color and contrast. What’s not to like about that?

Learn More:

Beginner Real Estate Photography Tips: Don’t Rely on Post-Processing to Fix Mistakes 

basic real estate photography tips

Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash

I’ll be the first to say that post-processing programs are invaluable to photographers for creating the most impactful images. 

But to think of Photoshop or similar programs as being a failsafe that will enable you to fix any and all errors is a big mistake.

Instead, strive to get your images right in-camera.  

Take your time to compose the shot. Ensure the camera is level so you don’t have to straighten every image in post-processing. Use the bracket and merge technique mentioned earlier so you have good shadows, midtones, and highlights with details throughout.

Yes, you’ll need to use post-processing to perfect colors, get the white balance just right, crop, and so forth, but try your best to get things right when you take the images, and you’ll spend much less time trying to correct mistakes after the fact.

Beginner Real Estate Photography Tips: Include the Real Estate Agent

how to take real estate photos 1

 photo by kate_sept2004 via iStock 

Please, communicate with the real estate agent! You’ll never learn how to take real estate photos if you get fired from your first job for not understanding the types and amounts of photos the agent wanted.  

The Realtor is also one of your best resources. They know the property well and can help you devise a shot list so you highlight all the special details of the property.

In many cases, Realtors are also charged with ensuring the house is clean, staged, and ready for photos.

Articles on real estate photography tips for beginners rarely touch on this point, so be sure you reach out to the real estate agent and make them an integral component of your workflow. Your images will be the better for it!

Beginner Real Estate Photography Tips: Know What Is Expected of You

real estate photography tips for beginners

 photo byBombaert via iStock

Know your deliverables. Do you need 25 RAW files? Or is your client expecting JPG files? How large should the photos be? Are they high-res because they are being sent directly to prospective home buyers, or do they need to be smaller for a website?

What about videos? Do they want walk-through videos of the home? 

Did you capture every feature of the home the client asked you to?

Before you head out on your first real estate photography job, make sure you have a list of exactly what you need, and then keep that list in front of you every time you’re working on that project.  

Just like you need to do a walkthrough of the property before you photograph it, you need to be sure you understand precisely what’s expected of you when the process is all said and done.

Learn More:

 



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Beginner Black and White Photography Tips

Beginner Black and White Photography Tips

 photo byIanChrisGraham via iStock

Call me old fashioned, but there’s just something about a good black and white photo.

Don’t get me wrong - color photography has its merits, but a monochrome image can sometimes elevate the quality of the shot while also helping you tell a more compelling story with the photo.

That’s because color can sometimes be a distraction; by removing it, you’re left with an image that often draws the attention of the viewer more effectively and brings focus on the mood and emotion of the shot in a way that a color image can’t match.

That being the case, let’s take a look at a few beginner black and white photography tips so you can experience the rush of creating an epic black and white photograph. 

Look at the Light

landscape photography tips 1

photo byLana2011 via iStock

Some people believe that black and white photography is well-suited for poor lighting. This simply isn’t the case.

Whether you shoot in color or convert the image to black and white, you need to have good lighting to get a good result.

It’s true that black and white images are more forgiving of bad light (i.e., high-contrast light that washes out colors or flat light that minimizes contrast), but ultimately, you still need a quality of light that gives you good dynamic range (the range of whites to blacks) that gives the shot the contrast it needs.

landscape photography tips 2

 photo by nikamata via iStock

Look at the portrait above, and compare the quality of light in it with the image above it. 

Notice how in the portrait of the older man, there’s really beautiful light that reveals the texture of the man’s skin while also brightening it to separate it from the background.

In the previous image, however, the quality of light isn’t quite the same - it’s very flat and doesn’t offer much in the way of defining the features of the young man’s face.

So, don’t assume that because the light isn’t ideal that a black and white photo will rescue you. You still need good light, and good natural light is often found in the early morning or early evening.

Learn More

Use a Filter to Enhance the Shot 

kenko polarizer 1

One of the simplest things you can do to improve the quality of your black and white images is to use a circular polarizing filter. 

These filters serve a multitude of purposes, including reducing glare off non-metallic objects (like water), minimizing atmospheric haze, and boosting the contrast of the sky.

When you convert an image to black and white that was shot with a circular polarizer, you can get dramatic effects, particularly in the sky. This is because the contrast the polarizer adds to the sky makes the skies appear darker, and therefore more dramatic.

kenko polarizer 3 

Using a polarizing filter is a lot easier than you might think, so don’t let it scare you off!

Really, you just screw the filter on the end of your lens, position the sun as close to a 90-degree angle from your camera as you can, and adjust the filter in its housing to increase or decrease its polarizing strength.

kenko polarizer 2 

Another component of this is to use a quality filter. After all, if you buy a bargain filter that’s made with subpar glass, it will reduce the image quality by making the image soft, or blurry.

Kenko’s Slim Circular Polarizer is an excellent option for beginner black and white photographers because it’s affordable, yet made using the finest-quality materials for top-notch results.

The precision optical Asahi glass used to create the filter is specifically designed to maximize image quality. Not only does this help keep images sharp, but the multi-coatings on the filter glass resist water, dust, and smudges, so you can worry less about whether the filter is dirty and more about taking gorgeous shots.

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

Look for Patterns, Shapes, and Textures 

black and white photography tips1

 photo by RelaxFoto.de via iStock 

In the absence of color, patterns, shapes, and textures take on added importance in a black and white photo because they add to the visual appeal of the image. 

The human eye is naturally drawn to patterns, so their ordered repetition can be a great addition to a black and white photo. In fact, as shown above, the pattern itself can become the primary subject!

black and white photography tips 2

  photo by baona via iStock

Likewise, emphasizing shapes in a black and white image can garner some interesting results.

As shown above, the spiral form of the staircase is immediately eye-catching and draws your eye downward “into” the shot. As a result, the strength of that shape in this image gives the photo much more perceived depth.

black and white photography tips 3

  photo by teddybearpicnic via iStock

Textures are yet another feature to look for when composing your black and white shots. 

Like patterns, textures can often repeat, giving our eyes something eye-catching and pleasing to view.

In the case of the image above, the pattern of the dry, cracked earth is on full display, providing much visual appeal to this image.

Learn More:

Choose the Subject Carefully

beginner black and white photography tips 1

 photo by ImagineGolf via iStock 

Some subjects are great for color, but terrible for black and white photos. Sunrises and sunsets come immediately to mind as not being the best candidates for black and white conversions. 

This is because the drama of a sunrise or sunset is largely in the colors of the sky. If you remove that, a lot of the drama is gone. 

Instead, as I mentioned above, look for shapes, textures, and patterns. Rustic elements like broken down cars or fences are perfectly suited for a black and white shot.

beginner black and white photography tips 2

  photo by Jetrel via iStock

 High contrast scenes are also a good candidate for a black and white conversion. 

Finding high-quality black and white subjects requires a lot of practice. You really have to train your eye to see beyond the color in the world around you and pick up on the elements that will grab people’s attention in a black and white photo.

 

 



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Beginner Video Lighting Tutorial

Beginner Video Lighting Tutorial

Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

For those of you that are just beginning as a vlogger, YouTuber, or other type of videographer, here are helpful video lighting tips and recommendations of how to set up video lights.

A video lighting tutorial will help for any kind of camera, too. Videographers using smartphones, point and shoot (P&S) cameras, or entry level DSLRs and mirrorless cameras can all benefit from a video lighting tutorial.

Basic Video Lighting

video lighting 1

Photo by Rodolfo Clix from Pexels

Video can be recorded under many different lighting conditions including sunlight and ambient indoor lighting. Creative camera and subject placement can make up for many issues encountered with natural light. 

In order to have greater control over your video lighting, you will need to either supplement or replace the available light. This is accomplished with reflectors, screens, backgrounds, and video lights. Since it’s video, any artificial lights used should be continuous lights. 

In my continuous light kits, I prefer the LED and CFL options over quartz or incandescent bulbs. They emit color-balanced light without producing too much heat. LEDs and CFLs also tend to be more energy efficient and are generally budget-friendly. 

One, Two, or Three Lights

video lighting 2

Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

Depending on the specific style of video or vlog you are filming, you can use just one light or a combination of lights. When using 2 or more lights, it’s usually best to set one of the lights as the main light or key light.  

The key light is what provides the majority of illumination for the scene. A second light at lower power or a reflector can be used as a fill light. Fill light fills in the shadows caused by the key light. You can choose how much contrast to have in the video lighting by raising or lowering the power of the fill light.

Most of the special lighting techniques can be done with two lights. A third light can be added as a background light, a hair light, or a rim light. This third light is sometimes filtered to a different color than the primary lights for added interest. 

The video lighting tutorial from Primal Video is a good primer. Check it out above. 

Let's discuss some ideas for continuous lights to use as video lighting for several different styles of videography.

 

Recommended Videography Books:

 

On Location / On Camera 

video lighting tutorial 3

A small, battery powered LED light is perfect for when you’re shooting video on location. If it’s small enough, you can actually mount it on the camera itself. The LitraPro LED light from Litra is just such a light. 

The battery life of this small lamp is good for up to 90 minutes, and it has variable power plus adjustable color temperature to help you blend the light with ambient lighting. The CRI of ths tiny light is 95, meaning it has a very natural appearance in finished videos. 

Mounting this light on your camera is a valid option when shooting on location with a single light. Other options for light placement are light stands or an action mount such as the OctoPad. You could put one light on camera and another off to a side for creating portrait lighting effects.

Learn More:

Small Studio Video Lighting

video lighting tutorial 4

If you have access to AC power outlets, a two light kit with CFL bulbs is a very versatile and budget friendly choice. An example of this type of video lighting kit is the RPS Studio 2 Light Octagonal Softbox Kit.

This kit can be used in your home, office, studio, or on location provided you can plug in to power. The soft boxes provide an excellent diffused quality to the light. Using up to four CFL bulbs per lamp, you can get a ton of light out of this kit.  

It’s portable enough to go on location as needed. The soft boxes fold up like umbrellas and the entire kit fits in the supplied carrying case. Having two equal lights with power adjustment, you can use several of the lighting methods for portraits and products. The CFLs are daylight balanced and cool operating.

Vlogging or YouTubing

video lighting tutorial 5

One of the best types of video lighting for vlogging such as instructional videos, product demonstrations, or close up interviews is a ring light.  

video lighting tips 6

Photo by Ali Pazani from Pexels 

A ring light is just what it sounds like. A circle of light is shown on the subject and the camera lens shoots through the open hole in the middle. What this does is make the video lighting virtually shadowless since the light falls on the subject from all angles and directions at once. It especially has the shadowless quality when used for close up filming.

One of the better models of ring lights is the Godox LR180 LED 18” ring light. The inside hole is 14 inches and the light is powered by AC power. It’s small, light, and rugged, so you can transport to any location where you can plug in the light.

The subject matter that benefits the most with this type of video lighting are close-ups of faces, head and shoulders, and small items that need to show a lot of detail. Mounted on a light stand or a multi use mount, you can shoot selfie style videos for vlogging, even if using a smartphone. 

A full-featured camera store like Samy’s Camera is a great source for quality products, good advice, and even tutorials and courses. If you feel as though you’re lacking the know-how to improve the quality of your videos, Samy’s can help!

Video Lighting Made Simple

how to set up video lights 7

Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels 

Using continuous video lighting, you can keep your camera on automatic exposure and autofocus, letting you concentrate on being creative and producing good videos. 

Many of the special lighting configurations are very simple to set up, becoming second nature to you after a while of using them. Have fun with it all and watch your video viewings grow as you get better and better. 

Learn More:

 

 



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Beginner’s Advice for Using a Gimbal

Beginners Advice for Using a Gimbal

 photo bykrblokhin via iStock

If you’re inspired by your favorite YouTubers to produce better video content of your own, one of the best investments you can make is a gimbal. 

Gimbals can assist you in getting beautifully smooth, cinematic footage, but they aren’t foolproof. They have their limitations, and as with everything, they require a good deal of practice before you start to reap the benefits of using one. 

In this beginner’s guide for using a gimbal, you’ll learn a few quick tidbits for getting the most out of your gimbal. 

You Don’t Need a Gimbal for EVERY Shot

how to use a gimbal 1

 photo bykrblokhinvia iStock

One of the most basic pieces of advice for filmmakers is to avoid panning and zooming too much.

The same can be said for using a gimbal…

Just because you have a gimbal doesn’t mean you need to use it for filming every single sequence. Sometimes, a still shot from a tripod is exactly what you need!

For example, if you’re interviewing someone for a film, don’t do it while you hold a gimbal in your hand. An interview doesn’t need smooth footage of you circling around the interviewee - that’s just distracting. 

So, one of your first tasks as a gimbal user is to understand when and when not to use it.

Learn More:

Make Sure Using the Gimbal Adds to the Story

how to use a gimbal 2

 photo byVershinin via iStock

Adding on to the previous point, not only do you need to be aware of when and when not to use a gimbal, but you also need to be aware when using one does and does not add to the story. 

If, for example, you need to shoot a point of view sequence that gives the audience a view of what a dog might see as it runs through a park, a gimbal might be a great choice.

You can invert the gimbal, get it at a dog’s height, and get smooth footage as you run with the camera. Doing so will help the audience to put themselves in the perspective of the dog, which obviously adds to the depth of the story.

But, if you’re doing an instructional video on how to build a table, it might be distracting (to you and the audience) to circle around the carpenter as they work at their woodworking table. 

Much like the interview example above, sometimes the footage you need calls for a simple fixed camera setup on a tripod. In this case, keeping the video sequence simple allows the story of how to build to table take center stage.

Invest in a Quality Gimbal

advice for using a gimbal 1

photo bymolchanovdmitry via iStock

You often hear photographers talk about how you should prioritize your budget for lenses rather than a camera body. 

In videography, the same principle applies - some accessories are simply more important than others.

I’m not saying that a gimbal is the most important videography accessory for every shooter, but for me, having a quality gimbal has made all the difference in the world.

how to use a gimbal 3

 photo by ozgurdonmaz via iStock

There are some accessories you can skimp on and get away with it. But if you’re going to go all-in on using a gimbal, why not get one that has the features to help you get the shots you need while giving you long-lasting and durable performance in the long-term?

For my money, it doesn’t get much better than the E-Image Horizon One Gimbal.

horizon one 1

This three-axis gimbal can handle up to eight pounds of gear, so even if you use a full frame DSLR with a light, a mic, and other accessories, this gimbal can take the load.

It has brushless motors to give you precise stabilization while the five built-in operational modes give you quick access to creative video sequences like 360-degree spin on the roll axis for a dream-like shot.

horizon one 2 

It has a 12-hour runtime, too, so you can shoot for hours on end without worry that the gimbal is going to run out of juice.

This thing is just a well-built, functional, and versatile gimbal that will help you get the job done!

Learn More:

Plan Your Shots in Advance 

beginners guide for using a gimbal

photo byVicheslav via iStock

When you see footage that’s filmed while using a gimbal, it looks so seamless and effortless. But that doesn’t mean that it’s effortless to use a gimbal. 

By the time you add your camera, a lens, a microphone, lights, and other accessories, you’ll have several pounds of gear on the gimbal. And that might not sound like much, but after hours of shooting, it can start to feel like a lot!

That’s why it’s so important to plan your shots in advance. Doing so allows you to prioritize getting the sequences you need with the gimbal first, and then you can shoot other sequences later on.

By saving your energy for the gimbal shots, you’ll keep fatigue at bay and be able to maximize the gimbal’s positive effects on your video. 

Planning never hurt anyone when taking photos or making videos, anyway! 

Get a few more tips for using a gimbal in the video above by Ikan International.

 



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Best Photography Poses for Men

best photo poses for menPhoto by Hirurg via iStock

So, you've got a male model for a portrait and you're not sure how to pose them?

This is the guide for you...and anyone who is looking to do male photography.

There are all kinds of photo poses for men that you can use to create an eye-catching portrait of men of all ages, shapes, and sizes.

From sitting to standing, arms crossed to legs crossed, and many points in between, the following poses for men will make them look their best.

Table of Contents

Male Portrait Photography Tips: Watch the Hands!

male portrait photography tipPhoto by CarlosDavid.org via iStock

Though the hands might seem like a minor detail, if a male model doesn't know where to put them, the portrait can quickly look awkward.

To avoid this, give the model specific direction regarding what to do with his hands.

For example, you might have him cross his arms or put his hands in his pocket. You might also incorporate some sort of prop for him to hold.

Get more insights into how to pose men for portraits in the video above by Sorelle Amore.

Below, I've listed some of the best photography poses for men. Let's get to it!

Photo Poses for Men: Arms Crossed

photo poses for men arms crossedPhoto by FXQuadro via iStock

Perhaps the simplest poses for photography males subjects is to have him cross his arms.

Not only is this a masculine look, but it also gives him something to do with his hands, which as we discussed above, is hugely important.

Note how in this pose, the shot is fairly tight and includes just the model's upper body. This isn't the only way to incorporate folded arms, though.

Quick Tip: Ensure the model's shoulders are back and their core muscles are engaged. This will help them stand up straight and avoid a slouched look.

Photo Poses for Men: Arms Crossed, Full-Body Portrait

poses for men arms crossed full bodyPhoto by Morsa Images via iStock

In this example, the arms crossed pose is implemented in a full-body portrait.

In addition to crossing the arms, ask the model to also cross his legs, ensuring that the bulk of his weight is on one leg.

Mirroring the crossed look in the legs gives the portrait cohesion while also helping relax his lower body. That is, if the model stands with legs straight, he might be inclined to lock his knees, which will result in a stiff-looking portrait.

Learn More:

Photo Poses for Men: The Side Lean

poses for photography male subjectsPhoto by PeopleImages via iStock

If you ask me, this is one of the best photography poses for men because it forces the model to relax his body.

Just like I noted above, the legs can become quite stiff and wooden if there isn't some kind of shift of weight.

So, by asking the model to lean against or on something as shown above, it shifts his weight to one side to help create a relaxed look.

An alternative to the pose above would be to have the model lean his shoulder against something, like a wall. It has the same effect of creating something that looks nice and relaxed.

Photo Poses for Men: The Back Lean

poses for men back leanPhoto by m-imagephotography via iStock

This is one of the best photography poses for men because it's so easy to pull off.

Just have him lean back, rest against a wall, put his hands in his pockets (or cross his arms), and you've got a great pose for a male model!

Quick Tip: Having the model look off-camera is a trick to make him a little more relaxed. Additionally, looking off-camera is a great way to create a more informal portrait.

Photo Poses for Men: Standing Tall

poses for men standing tallPhoto by martin-dm via iStock

Of course, poses for men don't require that they have their arms crossed or that they're leaning against something.

Instead, you can simply have the model stand tall!

When using this pose, have the model shift his weight to one leg. As you can see above, the man's weight is slightly on his left leg, and with his feet open, this pose looks masculine while still making the model seem approachable.

Learn More:

Photo Poses for Men: Stand & Shift Weight

best photography poses for men shift weightPhoto by g-stockstudio via iStock

As an alternative to standing tall, you can have the model stand and shift his weight significantly to one side.

As you can see above, this gives the shot a casual appearance, with the model looking as though he's in movement to our right.

Again, you can see how having the model put his hands in his pockets has helped avoid awkward hands.

Quick Tip: Using sidelighting, as was done above, can add a dynamic look to male portraits. The long shadows created by sidelighting add visual interest and contrast beautifully with the brighter areas of the photo.

Photo Poses for Men: Add a Prop

poses for photography male propPhoto by JGalione via iStock

As noted earlier, having the model hold something - even if it's just in one hand - can have a relaxing effect that helps the model have a more natural look.

When using props, be sure they make sense in the shot. You want the prop to be secondary to the model, not something that takes attention away from him.

Above, notice how the skateboard is integrated into the shot. It's not flashy or attention-grabbing, but it adds an element of authenticity to the portrait of this young man.

Photo Poses for Men: Seated

photo poses for men seatedPhoto by PeopleImages via iStock

If it's something casual you're after, it's hard to beat the old standard seated pose.

Whether he's on a barstool, like above, a step, a couch, or something in between, a seated pose gives the model an opportunity to truly relax.

Just remember that when he's seated to drop the level of your camera - you want the barrel of the lens to be at or slightly above his eye level rather than shooting at a steep downward angle.

Learn More:

Photo Poses for Men: Lean In

poses for men leaning inPhoto by Tinpixels via iStock

One of the more powerful poses for men is to have him lean in toward the camera.

Typically done in a seated pose like above, this pose often looks best when the camera is slightly below the model's eye level.

By shooting slightly upward towards the model, it increases their powerful vibe in the shot.

Quick Tip: In seeking to achieve a powerful vibe, try using a dark background as was done above. Deep, saturated tones like blacks and blues provide a masculine look to the shot.

Photo Poses for Men: Put Him in His Element

photo poses for men in his elementPhoto by dusanpetkovic via iStock

Not all portraits have to take place in a studio. In fact, putting the male model in his element can really help him relax so you can get a more natural-looking portrait.

Above, we see the leaning pose in action. It's a casual pose by itself, but paired with the context of being on this man's farm, you get a portrait that has that authentic vibe to it that's often so desirable.

You don't have to use the leaning pose, either. Instead, you can use any of the poses discussed thus far when putting the model in his element.

Photo Poses for Men: Action Shot

poses for men actionPhoto by mladenbalinovac via iStock

I think one of the best photography poses for men is an action shot.

I'm not a huge fan of stuffy, heavily posed portraits, so male portraits like the one above, in which there's even the slightest notion of some movement are much more visually appealing.

So, you don't have to put your male model on a basketball court or photograph him lifting weights or something of the sort. Instead, find ways to give the viewer a sense that the model is being active in some way, and you'll find that the resulting image can be quite pleasing.

With that, you have 11 surefire poses for men you can utilize to create eye-catching portraits.

For some ideas for how to pose men that aren't models, check out the video above by Julia Trotti.



We Recommend


Boudoir Photography Tips

boudoir photography tipsPhoto by MaxFrost via iStock

So, you want to break into boudoir photography?

Unfortunately, it's a little more complex than just making sure your models can pose in a sexy manner all the while wearing little clothing.

You need to think about everything from the gear you use to the purpose of the photoshoot to the manner in which the model is posed. It's a lot to digest!

Additional Resources: Our list of nude photography tips will give you more ideas for boudoir poses and composition. If you're working with a model that doesn't have much experience, try these portrait posing tips for people that don't know how to pose.

To help you out, we've put together the following comprehensive list of boudoir photography tips.

Table of Contents

Boudoir Photography Defined

boudoir photography definedPhoto by pvstory via iStock

Boudoir photography is a type of photography that has been around ages, but it has grown to be extremely popular in the last few years.

While many times you will find yourself shooting boudoir for a woman's partner (say around her wedding day), many women are also reclaiming the art of seduction through boudoir photography and having sessions done for themselves.

Some women believe that feeling sensual for nobody but themselves is empowering and that boudoir photography helps them to love their bodies more.

boudoir photography essentialsPhoto by avi_indy via iStock

Typically, boudoir photography is about looking candid and laid back (unposed), and you will usually begin a boudoir shoot with the model completely dressed and work your way down to implied nude shots. 

Boudoir photography is provocative but in a PG-13 way. Models should feel at home during the shoot because boudoir photography is about getting the model to be as playful as possible.

When it comes to boudoir photography essentials, this pursuit is all about the model's body and celebrating it!

Boudoir Photography Camera Equipment

boudoir photography gearPhoto by Thomas AE on Unsplash

Unless you are starting a full-fledged boudoir photography company, there's no reason to go out and buy yourself an entirely new camera for one boudoir shoot.

Using a camera you are comfortable with is more than half the battle, anyway.

Besides, you can take beautiful boudoir photos with any type of camera - a smartphone, an entry-level DSLR, a full frame mirrorless...you name it.

It's not what camera you have that makes a difference, it's what you do with the camera that does.

boudoir studioPhoto by recep-bg via iStock

Ultimately, what will likely determine the camera you use for boudoir photoshoots is your budget.

Naturally, something like a Sony a7R III will cost far more than a Nikon D3500. Sure, the Sony is a much better camera, but as noted above, that doesn't mean that excellent shots can't be had with a cheaper, entry-level rig.

Additional Resources: Check out our article on the best Sony Cameras for portraits to get a few insights on possible cameras to use and features to look for in a boudoir photography camera.

 

View our nude and boudoir photography gallery

 

Lens Recommendations for Boudoir Photography

boudoir photography lightingPhoto by Jen We on Unsplash

Honestly, the most important boudoir photography gear is the lenses you use.

When I'm trying to learn about a new type of photography, I'm trying to learn from the best in the biz, and that's how I stumbled across Rachel Stephens.

Stephens is a boudoir photographer who makes over $350,000 per year on individual client sales. She books around 500 boudoir shoots per year.

Stephens did a tell-all where she examined everything she brings with her on a boudoir shoot... her boudoir photography essentials.

Stephens recommends three types of lenses: 

The 50mm is for traditional portrait shots, while the macro lens captures intimate details like a woman's lips and tongue, her eyes or the way her bra lifts her breast. 

The wide-angle lens is for incredible shots like this one:

boudoir photography gear 2Photo by nemchinowa via iStock

Though using a wide-angle lens for portraits is not terribly common, as you can see above, a wide-angle view gives the shot tons of depth. I personally like the bit of wide-angle distortion, too.

High fashion photographers oftentimes use a wide-angle lens to get that depth and to highlight the model's surroundings, and a wide-angle lens in boudoir should be used for the same reasons.

Boudoir photography oftentimes uses accessories like a chair, bed or mirror, to make the model seem larger than life while still looking relaxed.

Wide-angle lenses add depth to boudoir shoots that your competitors probably won't have, because as I mentioned before, Stephens is at the top of the boudoir photography gear game.

Additional Resources:If you're on the hunt for the perfect portrait lens, let us help you figure it out. Naturally, lighting is an important aspect of boudoir photography as well. Check out these tips for the best boudoir lighting to make your client's booty look like a million bucks.

Boudoir Photography Accessories

boudoir photography tipsPhoto by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash

After you're done reading about essential boudoir poses and boudoir photography lighting, you've booked your first client and they're on their way in a half hour.

Here's a boudoir photography gear checklist to make sure you don't need to interrupt the shoot for anything:

  • Your camera, a backup camera and charged batteries
  • Memory cards and backup memory cards
  • Options for lenses
  • Makeup kit and accessories (more on this later)
  • Water/snacks/maybe a little liquor!
  • Shot list
  • Step stool for high shots

boudoir makeupPhoto by ChristopherBernard via iStock

While some of this boudoir checklist is self-explanatory, like the need for a camera and a backup camera or multiple memory cards, some of these items are unique to boudoir shoots.

Boudoir photography gear is unique because you're trying to make your client feel very comfortable in an extremely uncomfortable setting.

More often than not, this will be your client's first time posing semi-nude or nude and if they aren't a professional model (or even if they are) they might have body image issues. 

In order to quell the model's fears, you'll want to be prepared with backup makeup and accessories in case anything goes wrong.

Here's a boudoir photography makeup checklist:

  • Setting spray
  • Lash adhesive
  • Brown and black false eyelashes
  • Powder
  • A high-definition super palette (so no skin tones are left out)
  • Double-sided fashion tape
  • Baby wipes

You'll also want to remind your client to bring any of the makeup she put on earlier in the day in case she needs a touch-up.

As for accessories you should have around your studio, make sure you have disposable slippers to ensure your client's feet don't get dirty before and between shots or during costume changes. 

Also, despite the fact that you reminded them not to, you will definitely come across a model who fasted before the shoot and starts to feel faint during it. Make sure you have snacks for this person so you don't have a situation on your hands.

You'll also have the person who needs to loosen up a bit (well, this will be almost everyone but sometimes they need a little liquid courage). I recommend keeping champagne in the studio because it's a fun way to remind your client that you're here for their enjoyment. Turn on some music, too. In fact, encourage your clients to bring their favorite tunes. There's nothing like a favorite song blasting on the speakers to get you do loosen up, right?!

Essential Boudoir Poses and Composition Tips

essential boudoir posesPhoto by boggy22 via iStock

You can't cover a boudoir photography essentials article without discussing essential boudoir poses.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of particular poses, know that you need to practice these shots yourself long before you have an actual model in your studio.

You need to be able to tell each model what a pose will do to specific parts of their body, so they can be as excited about it as you are. You also need to be able to redirect them into the proper pose, too, and be able to do so without touching the model (unless they give you permission, of course).

Bent legs

boudoir photography lightingPhoto by Iampixels via iStock

The bent legs shot is one you've definitely seen before; it shows a model's sexual pleasure. Plus, it's a great way to hide a tummy role your model is uncomfortable with. 

During this pose, instruct your model to put one or both of her arms up behind her head. This way her breasts even out and look perky. 

This shot is explicitly sexual, though, so don't lead with it. You'll also need to show her exactly what you are looking for, so lead by example or have photos pulled up on a laptop to direct her. 

Legs in the air

boudoir photography examplePhoto by vadimguzhva via iStock

The legs in the air shot is a variation on the bent legs shot. Every woman's legs look great stretched out like this, particularly because you can see her toned legs in all their glory.

You can also move around during this shot and get it from a ton of different angles, so play around with your positioning so you can get multiple images without having the model move at all.

Shy Poses

boudoir photography posing guidePhoto by AmeliaFoxvia iStock

If your model is uncomfortable in front of the camera, instruct her to giggle. This gives off an innocent vibe that probably matches her personality better than any overtly sexual pose does.

Another great pose for a shy model is to inform her not to look at the camera and to instead look down and out of the shot. Sometimes lessening eye contact is just what the model needs to feel a little more confident and comfortable.

Finally, shy models work really well with implied nudity so long as they are comfortable with it. Have her strip down and cover up with a sheet, a shirt or a pillow. A timid face matches implied nude shots very well, so it won't feel at all unnatural. 

Take Your Bra Off

posing tips for boudoir photographyPhoto by razyph via iStock

This is something women do every day anyway. It's another "pose, but not a pose" that will make even the most uncomfortable of models look good.

Not only is it sexy, but you can also add a mirror - like in the shot above - to direct the viewer's eye to the front of her breasts. It will almost feel like the viewer is there with the model!

Camera Settings for Boudoir Photography

boudoir photography essentials

Photo by ShareGrid on Unsplash

Most boudoir photographers choose to shoot in aperture priority mode.

If you're unfamiliar with this shooting mode, it allows you to control the aperture, and thus the depth of field of the shot. The camera then selects an appropriate shutter speed to get a good exposure.

The advantage of this is that you really only have to worry about one setting - the aperture - because you can set the ISO at the outset and forget it, assuming the boudoir photography lighting situation doesn't change.

Additional Resource: Give our comprehensive guide to the best camera settings for portrait photography a look to get more details on critical camera settings for portraits.

White Balance

There's so much going into each shot, I recommend using auto white balance whenever possible. Sure, it isn't ideal, but you can easily correct white balance issues in post-processing. 

The only time you should not use automatic white balance is if your model is wearing white, blue or green and sitting on a white, blue or green background. These colors will show on the model's face and throw off the picture.

Additional Resource: Learn all about white balance in this in-depth article.

Metering

camera settings boudoirPhoto by ozgurdonmaz via iStock

Again, your camera knows what it is doing. Use multi-segment metering whenever possible. The only time I use spot metering is when my client is backlit.

Additional Resource: Learn about different metering modes and when to use them.

Focusing

Autofocus for portrait shots; always autofocus for portrait shots.

Select a single autofocus point (most frequently the model's eyes in boudoir, but sometimes a body part if her face isn't in the shot). Then, use center or off-center settings to bring the shot into sharp focus.

Additional Resource: In this article, we explain the differences between various camera autofocus modes.

Make the Model Feel Comfortable

boudoir photography tips 2Photo by deniskomarov via iStock

Boudoir photography is playful, but the shots will come off creepy if your model is visibly uncomfortable...

 

See more examples of nude and boudoir photography

 

Don't Touch Without Asking

The first way to make a model comfortable is to ensure all of her needs are met. Send an email before your client gets to the studio asking where and if she is comfortable being touched during the shoot.

Never touch the model without express consent beforehand. If you need her to move her shoulder back, get her to do so by asking. If the shot still isn't right and you need to adjust her posing, ask if you may.

Every model has had an uncomfortable encounter with a creepy photographer who won't stop staring. This is a surefire way to ensure your model never comes back or recommends you to anyone.

Use Her Perspective

boudoir photography

Photo by Junior Moran on Unsplash 

Now that those extreme basics are out of the way, make sure you are shooting shots from the model's perspective. 

Are there parts of her body she doesn't particularly like and wouldn't want you to focus on? Probably! So ask.

What parts of her body make her feel sexy? Boudoir photography tips can only go so far if you're refusing to listen to the reasons your model is there.

Capture Her Essence

boudoir photography poses

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

You'll probably be able to gauge what your model is like while corresponding with her leading up to the shoot and while making small talk with her before the shoot begins.

If she is shy, capture this in the photos. If she is blatantly sexual, use this to your advantage in the shots. 

One way to capture a model's essence is by using real movements in your shots instead of just using "essential boudoir poses." 

Tell the model to wink at the camera, or put on a comedy special that will get her truly laughing out loud. 

How to Pose Hands

how to pose handsPhoto by Dmitry Belyaev via iStock

Hands can get in the way of most boudoir photography, but that's only because photographers haven't studied them enough.

Hands can convey a playfulness, or a sensualness, that most other body parts can't.

If It Bends, Bend It

While this is a good rule for all parts of your model's body during a boudoir shoot, it is especially helpful for the hands.

Bend her wrists, elbows, and fingers in each shot. Artists will tell you that nobody naturally stands or sits with their arms and hands completely still. Since boudoir is all about conveying a natural pose, make sure your shots emulate this motion.

Pretend You're a Baby

posing tips boudoir photoPhoto by Tverdohlib via iStock

Okay, this one may seem insane at first, but it works. Tell your model to touch themselves like they are an infant they are trying not to rouse. 

Such soft touches convey sensuality, and this move also ensures a model's hands never fall limp during a shot.

It's All About Intent

Your model's hands should be placed intentionally. 

Have her place them lightly on her breasts, or have her playfully tuck her hair behind her ear. Simulate real-life flirting strategies that women do subconsciously. I actually looked into subconscious flirting techniques when I first started shooting boudoir and began mimicking some of these hand motions in my shots. It works great!

With that, you have a host of boudoir photography tips to help you get things started.

As with any kind of photography, practice makes perfect, so study these tips, get a model, and start shooting!



We Recommend


Commercial Real Estate Photography 101

Commercial Real Estate Photography 101

Photo by Valeriia Bugaiova on Unsplash

I worked in the real estate photography space for years before I got my first commercial real estate photography gig, and I was nervous. 

I wrongly imagined that commercial real estate photography would be similar to other real estate photography, just with a bigger paycheck. 

Unfortunately, I had to create a new contract, buy a new lens, and finally contact a lawyer friend to make sure I hadn’t messed anything up along the way. 

Here’s everything I wish I knew when I started my commercial real estate photography career. 

Table of Contents

Types of Commercial Properties

commercial real estate photography 1

Photo by Orlova Maria on Unsplash

First things first. You need to understand the different types of commercial real estate photography properties, like:

  • Restaurants
  • Hotels
  • Spas or salons
  • Office spaces
  • Shops or malls 
  • Public spaces

commercial real estate photography 2

Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

While there are a lot of physical differences between these types of properties, there isn’t very much you need to change in your routine to shoot them, so long as you keep these two things in mind: showcase the amenities and the entrance.

Potential buyers want to know what this space offers them, and their clients, that other spaces don’t, hence the amenities. They also want to get a feel for the space as quickly as possible, which is where the entrance shot comes in. 

 

Recommended Real Estate Photography Books:

 

Commercial Real Estate Photography Paperwork 

real estate photography tips 3

 photo by Cytonn Photography via Pexels 

This is the part of the process that nobody wants to talk about but is most important. 

You are going to need a new contract, a commercial model release, a license for use, and a formal quote.

Let’s start with the formal quote, which will be the first document you use in the commercial real estate photography process. 

You will have already negotiated your pricing before you get to the formal quote because the formal quote will be what your client will show to his or her boss when trying to decide if they want to go with your business. So, it needs to look professional and be worded professionally. 

If you aren’t great with programs like Adobe InDesign, you may want to hire someone to create this contract template for you.

real estate photography tips 4

 Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

You will also need a commercial model release form, which allows your client to share your images with different members of the press for public relations purposes and should be factored into your overall formal quote since your photos very well may end up being used in national publications. 

Finally, you will need a license for use, which outlines the ways your client may use your photos, and a contract, which should include information about all of these documents combined in one easy to read document.  

Learn More:

How to Market a Commercial Real Estate Photography Business

drones for real estate photography 5

Photo by Christian Lambert on Unsplash 

Just like with our real estate photography tips list we made, the number one best way to market yourself as a commercial real estate photographer is to make sure your portfolio is perfect.

However, creating the perfect portfolio should never be an endeavor you face alone because it’s important to get second and third opinions from friends and strangers alike.

Who is your target audience for your portfolio? Do you have enough photographs to break your portfolio down into a few separate portfolios, like a portfolio for hotels and a portfolio for office spaces?

Your portfolio should highlight the ways your photography is unique.

drones for real estate photography 6

Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash 

Additionally, if you’re serious about commercial real estate photography you will want to start investing your time online.  

You will need a simple, intuitive website that showcases your portfolio and allows clients to contact you, hopefully from multiple pages on the website. You should also include a page where you explain your business and another page where you give some background about yourself.

Your blog should also be housed on your website so that you can draw more people to your website, but in order for this marketing tactic to work, you must be writing a new blog around three times every week to build a readership base. 

drones for real estate photography 7

 Photo by Evangeline Shaw on Unsplash

Finally, you will want to start networking with professionals in your area, and if you don’t already happen to know anyone in the commercial real estate space then you can join one of the tens of thousands of real estate networking groups in the world.  

Bonus tip: If you’re serious about learning how to market your commercial real estate photography business, you need to do more than read a few articles about it. Real Estate Photographer Pro is an online group of professional photographers who have already learned all of these tips before and can walk you through it.  

There’s no point in reinventing the wheel, and nobody understands that like Real Estate Photographer Pro. They have easy to understand videos on all types of marketing, videos on editing, and a Facebook group where you can ask any question you have! 

You can also take part in weekly Q&A sessions and learn even more tips and tricks for honing your real estate photography skills. It’s simply a great way to connect, learn, and network !

Commercial Real Estate Photography With a Drone

types of commercial real estate photography 8

Photo by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash 

If you’re just entering the commercial real estate photography industry, and I’m assuming you are since you’re reading a 100-level article about the industry, get yourself a drone and learn how to use it.

No other subsection of photography has embraced drone photography like commercial real estate photography has. 

Let’s face it, most commercial buildings are just too small to capture from the ground.

types of commercial real estate photography 9

Photo by Caleb Semeri on Unsplash 

You’ll need to do a few things before you set out for your first drone shoot, though. First, you’ll need to ensure you can make it out to the property on a day and time where the weather will be clear because it would suck to get there and be unable to send up your drone. 

You’ll also want to plan the exact shots you want, since camera drones have very limited flight times. 

If you’re looking for a recommendation of a great drone that will last you the course of your career, DJI’s Mavic 2 Pro Drone is perfect for you.

This drone features a 20MP Hasselblad camera that shoots 4K video, can handle low light shooting, and can be up in the air for up to 31 minutes at a time, which will give you plenty of time to capture all the footage your clients need.  

It’s an investment at $1,729, but what would you expect of a camera drone that can transmit full HD video at distances of up to 5 miles? It’s an impressive price for an impressive camera that is sure to impress your clients. 

Learn More:

Processing Real Estate Images

types of commercial real estate photography 10

Photo by Zakaria Zayane on Unsplash 

Whether you take photos of commercial properties from the ground or the air, you’ll need to process those images for maximum impact.

One of my favorite real estate-specific processing programs is Photomatix.

It works as a standalone program or as a plugin for Lightroom (or Capture One, if that’s your program of choice).

It comes with 6 HDR styles, over 70 HDR settings, and 40 HDR presets, all of which enable you to create beautifully exposed images of commercial properties inside and out.

There’s even a batch processing feature to speed up the process and a variety of tools - like advanced ghost removal - that help you clean up your images and put the best foot forward for each commercial property you photograph.

Processing your images is not an option here - it’s a must if you want to impress potential buyers!

Learn More:

 



We Recommend


Common Questions About Circular Polarizers

Common Questions About Circular Polarizers

photo byKoldunova_Anna via iStock

Circular polarizers allow your lens to take sharper images by lessening junk light and haze that enters the camera. They may seem old school with the advent of photo editing software but are still used by many professional photographers to reduce reflective light and improve image quality. 

They are very popular among landscape photographers, and many swear by them and have them in their camera bags at all times. 

Do you have questions about circular polarizers? We have the answers.

How Does a Circular Polarizer Work?

questions about circular polarizers

photo byhappylemon via iStock

Circular polarizers are filters that you screw onto the front of your lens to reduce glare, haze, and reflections. Once attached, you will be able to twist the front part of the filter to choose the amount of polarization you need and adjust it to your conditions. 

These filters, when used properly, increase the depth and contrasts in your images. Colors are more vivid and vibrant when a circular polarizer is used. Skies are bright blue, clouds pop, and water is less reflective.

To use a circular polarizer correctly, you can’t be pointing your camera directly at the sun. You have to be perpendicular to the sun in order for the filter to do its magic.

Do I Really Need a Circular Polarizer? (Why Can't I just Photoshop it?)

how does a circular polarizer work 1

photo by nd3000 via iStock 

Yes, photo editing software can fix some of the problems encountered when shooting without a circular polarizer, but not all. And frankly, if you can get the shot right at the get-go, it’s a more gratifying sensation. Also, you can see the effect instantly when using a polarizing filter — no need to wait to get to your computer to “fix” it. 

Photo editing is time-consuming and can get tedious. Sometimes it is absolutely necessary, and other times it can be avoided by getting the shot right, straight from the camera. 

Another benefit of using a circular polarizer is that it will get you thinking and being more conscious about light. And we all know how light is important in photography. When you understand light better, you become a better photographer. It’s that simple!

how does a circular polarizer work 2

 photo by max-kegfire via iStock

Editors Tip: Did you know? Some portrait photographers use polarizers when photographing someone with glasses. A circular polarizer can reduce the reflections in the lenses and can also help matte shiny skin. 

Can I Leave a Circular Polarizer on all the Time?

haida 1

It’s not recommended that you leave a polarizing filter on all the time. It’s intended for specific purposes and will not be helpful (and actually bad) for some types of photography.  

A circular polarizer filter removes about 1.5 stops of light from the shot. This is not something that you want in low light conditions, for example.

How Do I Choose a Circular Polarizer?

haida 2

Quality and prices vary for polarizers, like in many other gear categories in the photography industry. The old adage “you get what you pay for” applies here too.  

We like the Haida M10 Filter Kit for its quality, durability, and versatility. The filter kit is designed to allow the use of up to three separate 100mm wide, 2mm thick filters. It can be fitted on a lens with 82mm front filter threads and comes with an included circular polarizer.

 



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Common Videography Mistakes You Need to Avoid

Common Videography Mistakes You Need to Avoid

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

I have made my fair share of filmmaking mistakes, and I’m not going to pretend like I’ll never make any more video mistakes in the future.

Videography is a journey, and it’d be a pretty boring one if you didn’t need to learn anything the whole time.

But, a bunch of these are common videography mistakes that you don’t need to make because people already have and those people can save you. So, you can read this article like a personal journal of videography mistakes I’ve made so you don’t need to! 

Using Poor Sound Quality

common videography mistakes 1

Photo by Denisse Leon on Unsplash

Poor audio quality in videography is almost as bad as poor audio quality in podcasts. Of course, it’s something you’re willing to live with if your favorite podcaster gets way better audio quality and they don’t post enough episodes so you have to go back and start the podcast from the beginning.

But, poor audio quality turns off so many viewers (or listeners) and it’s totally preventable.

DSLRGuide gives a few easy-to-follow tips for fixing poor audio quality that you can try this week.  

Not Investing in High-Quality Lighting

ikan onyx 1

Lighting is essential for video as much as it is for still photography. If you want to create videos that have lasting, positive impact, invest in quality lighting gear! 

Using an on-camera light will do wonders for eliminating unwanted shadows and brightening up the scene. Lights like the Ikan Onyx shown above and below provide bi-color light that’s adjustable from 3200K to 5600K so you can customize the color temperature to your needs.

ikan onyx 3 light setup

What’s more, these lights have a CRI of 95 and TLCI of 96 in both Tungsten and Daylight, so you know the quality of the light is top-notch. 

Simple lighting setups with one light are available, but you can expand your lighting capabilities with a two-light setup or even a three-light setup if need be. 

Don’t let poorly lit scenes ruin your video production. Invest in good lighting, and you’ll be one step closer to realizing your creative vision!

Not Focusing on Your Shot Composition

common videography mistakes 2

Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash 

I don’t know why people get in the habit of only focusing on shot composition when they’re shooting pictures because shot composition is so important in video as well.

The use of dead space, or wasted space as you should start to think of it, is one of many common videography mistakes I see, which is so sad since you can fix this problem just by remembering your rule of thirds.

Another issue with videography shot composition is flat video. Stop filming yourself against walls and in corners. It makes your video look boring. Create depth in your videos by placing your subject in the context of a scene with interesting elements in the foreground, midground and background.

ikan saga 

Quick Tip: Compose better shot sequences with the aid of an on-camera monitor like the Ikan Saga shown above. This unit features tons of tools that help you capture better footage, including a histogram, false color, peaking, clip guides, audio meters, guides, crosshairs, and grids. The bright, detailed, seven-inch screen offers a much more robust view of the scene than your camera’s LCD as well!

Lingering

video mistakes 1

Photo by Paul Dufour on Unsplash 

I’m going to make an educated guess and say 90% of your shots that include people walking should have been edited out of your final project. 

Lingering, or improper editing, is when you are showing uninteresting shots. These shots could be shots where no action is taking place. These shots could also be shots that you think you need for spatial consistency, which is where the long shots of people walking around comes from.

Give your viewers some credit. If your script could plausibly lead the viewer to understand where you’re headed next, you probably don’t need shots of the actors walking to that place.

Learn More:

Bad Quality Scripts

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Photo by Gianandrea Villa on Unsplash 

I understand the old saying, “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” However, sometimes it really is what you say.

Have you ever opened up a YouTube video and the vlogger is either talking in the most disinterested monotonous voice, or is talking themselves in circles?

How long did you stay on that video? Statistics say that most viewers give a video 10 seconds to decide whether they want to continue watching that video.

Plus, this number is only getting shorter with younger generations who barely have the patience to wait out a 5 second ad before receiving their content. 

As such, make sure you spend as much time on your script as you do on your editing. Also, think about taking a college class on script writing if you’ve never worked in the writing medium before. The tools and skills you gain from a little bit of script-writing education can make all the difference in the quality of your final product.

Boring Music

filmmaking mistakes 1

 Photo by Alphacolor on Unsplash

In the same way as I won’t watch your video if the script sucks, I also won’t watch your video if you have awful fair use jazz music blaring. 

We are almost in 2020, which means we are entering an era where there is so much free music you can use on the web. You just need to know where to find it. 

Think Media gives three incredible resources for fun music in the video above. Save your viewers, and use music that doesn’t contradict the theme you are trying to convey in your video. 

Learn More:

 



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Composition Tips for Shooting Video

Composition Tips for Shooting Video

Photo by Sam McGhee on Unsplash

I was a still photographer for years before transitioning to videography, so I never figured I’d need to learn how to shoot video. I suspected it would come naturally. In some respects I was correct. In others, I was incorrect. 

Sure, some tried-and-true photography tips apply to video just as well. But I didn’t realize how different some composition tips for video are from composition tips for still photography and it made me grow an entirely new respect for the niche.

Here are five composition tips for video I think are most important for beginners to hear. 

Composition Tips for Video: Rule of Thirds

composition tips for video 1

Photo by Sonnie Hiles on Unsplash 

The rule of thirds applies to film in much the same way as still photos. Most DSLRs have guided settings that will split your screen into nine sections to help you learn to shoot video with the rule of thirds. 

Basically, you want to make sure you are filling up all nine sections of the screen with some action to help you balance your shots.

Learn Online Video gives a great breakdown of the rule of thirds in videography and they also pull scenes from some of the biggest box office hits to show you how it works in practice.  

ikan saga s7p

Quick Tip: Using a field monitor can help you compose better video sequences and expands your creative possibilities at the same time. Rigs like the Ikan Saga S7P shown above offer a super-bright 7-inch screen for framing up your shots while also giving you the ability to preview LUTs in real time, inspect a histogram, and review clip guides. This unit also has waveform, RGB parade, vectorscope, false color, peaking, and audiometer capabilities, just to name a few. It 1:1 pixel mapping feature lets you move through the entire image and see each section of the shot at up to 4K quality. If you want to elevate the quality of your videos, using a monitor like this is an excellent step!

Composition Tips for Video: Create Proper Headroom

how to shoot video 1

Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash 

Okay, before you start quoting different movie scenes that are incredibly famous and don’t follow this rule, the headspace rule can be broken creatively on purpose, but generally should be followed.

Headspace is just the amount of room an actor has over their head in the shot. It’s especially important for documentary makers to focus on headspace, because otherwise the shot looks cramped and uncomfortable. 

Lights Film School walks you through how to properly use headspace in this video, as well as how to remember to focus on it while trying to focus on other rules as well.

Learn More:

Composition Tips for Video: Keep the 180 Degree Line in Mind 

You never want to cross the 180 degree line in a video, because if you do then the continuity of the shot will be ruined because the actors will suddenly be facing the incorrect way.

This can be difficult to understand, so I’ll let Studio Binder show you what the 180 degree line is and how disorienting it can be for the viewer if it gets crossed by a videographer.  

e image ES50 slider 

Quick Tip: One of the most useful tools in a videographer’s toolkit for creating interesting video compositions is a camera slider. Sliders like the E-Image ES50 shown above offer the capability of getting smooth tracking sequences that add visual interest to your final video. This slider has 29 inches of range, which is perfect for videographers that want to incorporate tracking motion without lugging around a big, heavy slider. The 16-layer carbon fiber frame and CNC machined components cut down weight without sacrificing durability, so this is a slider that will work for you for years and years to come. It can accommodate up to 22 pounds of gear, too, so as your videography kit grows, this slider can grow with you!

Composition Tips for Video: The Foreground and Background are Important Too

how to shoot video 2

Photo by Ole Witt on Unsplash 

In much the same way as with still photography, there are simple composition tips for video that will make your shot immensely more interesting immediately.

One of these rules is paying attention to the entire shot, which includes the objects in front of the actor and the background they’re acting in front of.

Jonathan Hughes has an incredible archive of filmmaking tips, but his video on depth of field is especially insightful. 

Composition Tips for Video: Break the Rules

simple composition tips for video 1

Photo by Jack Sloop on Unsplash 

My favorite part of photography is learning how to break the rules. Life is incredibly boring if you follow all of the rules all of the time and the same can be said of videography.

In fact, I would argue the directors behind most movies that win awards and are generally considered some of humanity’s best work broke many rules in those movies.

CineFix pretty much proves my point in this video. You need to learn how to find a balance in rule breaking, because if you break too many rules your film will feel chaotic and disorganized, but if you don’t break any, your film could feel like a low-budget film.

Learn More:

Bonus Tip: Get Equipped With Proper Lighting

You can compose beautiful scenes all you want, but without the proper lighting, your video won't have the impact and visual appeal it should.

One of my favorite lights is the PilotFly AtomCube RX1 because it's small enough to fit in your pocket, but powerful enough and feature-rich to help you get that high-quality video you strive for.

It’s hard to believe how far photography lighting has come, even in just the last few years. Yet, here we are with lights like this one that slide into your pocket, yet provide you with studio-quality lighting on the fly.

You can use this as a key light for portraits, as a video light for capturing video footage, as an accent light in the background of your photos and videos, and more. With a CRI of 95+ and a TLCI of 97, you know you’re getting excellent quality lighting for your projects.

PilotFly has incorporated 12 common lighting options into the light. This gives you quick and easy access to lighting schemes and plenty of adjustments to get the lighting just right. With a three-hour battery life, you can tackle photoshoot after photoshoot, too.

This light is completely dimmable and you can adjust the color saturation, color temperature, and brightness, too. Wrapped in an all-aluminum frame, these lights are supremely light but incredibly durable for years and years of use.

pilotfly atomcube 6

But the most innovative feature of the PilotFly AtomCube is its ability to work with other lights.

Using Bluetooth, you can connect up to 255 of these lights together. With that many lights - which are calibrated for consistent results from one light to the next - there is virtually no end to what you can do lighting-wise.

You can also mount multiple lights together using Magic Cubes and control everything in real-time via the AtomCube smartphone app. That’s a huge bonus for when you’re multitasking during a photo or video shoot.

It really doesn’t get much easier to get high-quality lighting for your photography and video projects. With products like the AtomCube, photography and videography definitely got a little easier in 2019!

Learn more about the AtomCube RX1 RGBCW LED Video Light

 



We Recommend


Creative Composition: Natural Frames

1. Bajos Eden 1080x720x150

Bajas Eden - Hidden off a trail in Bajos del Toro, Costa Rica

Lately I've been thinking about composition and how important it is to create unique images. With landscape photography, so many times we arrive at a location that's super popular and overshot, and if we shoot like everyone else, from the same spots as everyone else, we end up with the same images as everyone else. To get around this, I encourage clients to get off the beaten path and look for different ways to create unique images.  

One thing I love to do is frame shots with natural elements like trees, rocks, and foliage to create a natural vignette. Sometimes it's subtle, sometimes it's pronounced, but using this technique adds depth and drama to your photographs. If you look at the featured image above of the three waterfalls in Bajos del Toro, Costa Rica, you will see how I used the tree branch overhead and rocks on each side, to create a natural vignette that draws your eye into the center of the image and showcases the falls.

Another example of this technique is shown below in the image of La Fortuna Waterfall in Costa Rica. Before I found this shot, I was struggling to find a great composition, and it was only after I made the decision to get in the middle of the waist-deep water that I was able to create this image. See how I used the trees on both sides of the rainforest waterfall to accentuate it? Notice the heart shape formed by the trees? That's what I'm talking about. Once I found this perspective, I knew it was the shot of the day, and in that moment a rush of excitement coursed through my body. Those are moments I live for.

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Catarata La Fortuna in Costa Rica

This incredibly colorful sunset at Lake Arenal in Costa Rica didn't need any help to be spectacular, but looking through the trees created a vignette, adding contrast and another dimension to the vibrant scene.

3. LakeArenalSunset Trees

Lake Arenal Sunset looking through the trees in Costa Rica

Llanos de Cortez is one of the best waterfalls in Costa Rica and stands as wide as it is tall. Most visitors are content with capturing the stunning straight on view of this cascade, but because I've been there numerous times, I always look for a new perspective. This time, I found a couple trees off to the side and lowered my viewpoint to use their trunks and a curved branch to vignette the falls.  

landscape photography tips

Llanos de Cortez in Costa Rica

On one of our Oregon photo tours, we hiked to Fairy Falls in the Columbia River Gorge. Along the pathway, there are opportunities to photograph the fast-moving stream below the waterfall. For this shot, I used the moss-covered tree branch overhead to push the focus down onto the rushing water below, and the bank on the right side to contain the stream through the center of the image.

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Stream below Fairy Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Catarata Bajos del Toro is one of the tallest waterfalls in Costa Rica and plunges 300' into an ancient volcano crater below. Having been to Bajos del Toro multiple times, I knew I needed to find a different perspective. On the trail to the bottom of the falls, there's a lookout where everyone stops to shoot. From that spot, there's very limited open space to see the tropical waterfall, as well as a fence in the foreground to guard against falling. So what did I do? I got as low as possible, only a few inches off the ground, and shot underneath the fence using the natural surroundings to create a tunnel effect that pulls your eye directly to the waterfall.  

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Catarata Bajos del Toro in Costa Rica

I hope these examples show how easy it can be to create natural frames using existing objects found in nature. It's often necessary to get further away from your subject matter to find natural vignettes, and doing so will frequently get you off the beaten path and force you to find a unique composition. This simple technique will add drama and depth to your photographs which is crucial for creating images that are different from everyone else.

If you're feeling inspired and want to try using natural frames in Costa Rica, registration deadlines for our exceptional, all-inclusive 2020 Costa Rica photography tours start expiring November 15, 2019. Click the link above, check out the different itineraries, and book your spots before they're all sold out!



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Critical Real Estate Photography Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

Critical Real Estate Photography Mistakes You Cant Afford to Make

photo by ucpage via iStock 

I’ve made my fair share of real estate photography mistakes in my career. We all have.  

While some of these mistakes are mistakes we all need to make in order to learn, there are a good number of real estate photography mistakes I see rookies make all the time that are so cringe-worthy. 

Below, I offer a quick list of some common real estate photography mistakes that you need to avoid at all costs. 

Mistake #1: Catching Flash Shadows in Your Photos

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photo by Studio Peck LLC via iStock 

Using a flash for interior real estate photography is a mistake, if you ask me. 

Why?

Well, aside from the expense of buying lighting gear and the time it requires to set it up for each shot, flashes can leave harsh shadows in your photos if you aren’t careful.

A better option is to use natural light, create bracketed exposures, and merge them together.

As you can see in the images above and below, this creates a seamless look without any ugly shadows from a flash.

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photo by HRAUN via iStock 

What’s more, merging bracketed exposures gets you a well-exposed image throughout - note how the room itself is beautifully bright and that the detail is retained in the window. 

Without bracketing and merging, you’ll often find that the interior space is dark and the window is well-exposed or the window is completely blown-out and the room is well-exposed.

So, by using this technique, you avoid all kinds of problems, not just ugly flash shadows! 

Mistake #2: Not Learning the Necessary Business Skills

not learning the skills you need

Photo by zeljkosantrac via iStock

It's one thing to understand how to take quality real estate photos.

It's another thing to understand how to run a photography business - and a successful one, at that.

Ideally, before you dip your toes into the world of real estate photography, you'll take the time to learn the requisite photography and business skills. And a great way to do that is by learning online from the best in the business!

I recently came upon Real Estate Photographer Pro, and was impressed from moment one by the sheer volume of materials from which you can learn how to be a successful real estate photographer.

As mentioned above, you need to learn photography and business skills, and that's precisely what you do in this course.

With more than 80 video lessons on everything from marketing to camera settings to post-processing, this is truly a one-stop-shop for learning all-things real estate photography.

And it isn't some kind of one-and-done learning experience, either - there are dozens of downloadable assets and you get full lifetime access to the course, too.

That means that you can learn at your own pace, reference course materials when you need a quick refresh, and learn new skills as you go for the duration of your career.

With Real Estate Photographer Pro at your side, there's nowhere to go but up!

Mistake #3: Giving Away Extras for Free

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Photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash 

There are a lot of photographers that give away work for free, myself included. 

But there’s a difference between giving away an add-on - say, sky replacement in the primary exterior photo - and giving away all of your work for free.

There are many photography tutorials that tell you that working for free is a great way to generate a client list. I have to disagree. 

If you start out working for free, you’re not only making zero money, but you’re also conditioning clients to expect your work to be cheap.

Then, as you gain experience and begin to raise your rates, even low rates will seem high compared to the free services you used to offer.

Working for free undervalues you and your work. Don’t do it!

In the video above, True Homes Photography discusses different real estate photography pricing structures.

It helped me out a lot when I found it. Hopefully it will do the same for you!

Learn More:

Mistake #4: Using All of Your Income to Buy New Gear 

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Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash 

Photographers are passionate about their careers. You need to be passionate in order to run your own business, but you also need to be passionate when you work in an industry that traditionally undervalues your work.

So, it can be difficult to not direct this passion into the latest and greatest photography equipment. 

I was discussing this article with a friend who is a graphic designer. We were primarily talking about gear acquisition syndrome, which is when you basically take your entire paycheck and put it back into new equipment for your business. It’s a dangerous game to play!

real estate photography mistakes 2

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash 

She gave me a good metaphor for this problem. Up until 2015, the university she works for required all of their employees to upgrade their computers every 2 years since equipment was just that much better with every new edition. 

The university ended their policy in 2016. The new policy is to use the equipment you have until it absolutely falls apart (or your skills outgrow the equipment).

Photography gear is not improving at the rate it has been for the past century. I still use a Canon 5D Mark II for goodness sakes! 

Unless you truly need new equipment because the equipment you have can’t do something you need it to do (like, shooting 4K video), then you should stick with what you have.  

Use the extra money to invest in marketing or to put in retirement instead. 

Mistake #5: Getting Cocky

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Photo by Marco Xu on Unsplash 

I had been working as a real estate photographer for two years before I was asked to photograph my first million dollar home.

It was a huge deal for me. I couldn’t stop talking about it for weeks and I didn’t sleep the night before at all.  

But I have to say the shoot went off without a hitch despite my nervous energy about photographing a very expensive home.

After that, I got a little to big for my britches. I actually turned down a few jobs for “lesser” properties because I was convinced other million-dollar homes were right around the corner.

It’s one thing to be confident in your abilities. It’s another to be cocky about it.

When you find success, don’t let it get in the way of continuing to learn and grow. Be confident, but be humble too. No one like a photographer that’s a jerk, so if you want to score more real estate photography jobs, keep yourself in check, put your head down, and work hard!

Learn More:

 



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Critical Tips for Interior Real Estate Photography

Critical Tips for Interior Real Estate Photography

photo byYinYang via iStock

Though the exterior photos of a property will likely be the first ones that prospective buyers see, it’s often the interior shots that compel them to request a showing or put in an offer. 

The interior of a home is where the story of the property is told - where they can envision themselves having family dinners, playing with their kids in the family room, and enjoying a soak in the bathtub in the master bath. 

But getting high-quality interior photos of properties is much more than just pointing your camera and pressing the shutter button.

Instead, to get the best-quality images, follow these interior real estate photography tips.

Beware of Using Ultra-Wide-Angle Lenses 

interior real estate photography 1

photo by gerenme via iStock 

First and foremost, you want to avoid using wide-angle lenses that are too wide.

Lenses in the 10-12mm range often offer a fisheye look - with distorted and warped lines (the example image above is a panorama, not a single wide-angle shot, but it demonstrates how lines can appear warped). This is not what we want when photographing interior spaces!

Instead, use a wide-angle lens that allows you to capture most of the room in a single shot, but has less distortion - say, in the range of 24mm (or around 14-16mm on a crop sensor camera).

There are some caveats to this, however.

First, distortion is an issue with any wide-angle lens, so some measure of lens correction in post-processing will be needed for barrel distortion and chromatic aberration, even if you shoot at the narrow end of the wide-angle range, like 24mm.

Secondly, there are a variety of rectilinear lenses that go as wide as 10mm. These lenses are specifically designed to minimize or even eliminate the barrel and pincushion distortion that make straight lines appear warped. In that case, you can go much wider than you could with a traditional lens and still get stick-straight lines.

It’s important to have a lens that’s quite wide in your bag so you can get whole-room images in a single photo. That’s difficult to do with a 24mm lens, so shop around for a wider one - particularly a rectilinear lens - to add to your bag.

interior real estate photography 2

photo by DenGuy via iStock 

Where ultra-wide lenses create images that are distracting with all that distortion, regular wide-angle lenses allow you to highlight the space in the room, include foreground interest, and capture a view that gives the room a feeling of more space and dimension, as shown above.

Learn More:

Interior Photography Composition Tips 

real estate photography tips 1

photo by Bulgac via iStock 

When composing interior photos, it’s helpful to get back to the basics of photography to find tricks that can help you capture the most pleasing shots. 

Leading lines, for example, give the image improved depth while also helping guide the viewer’s eye through the shot and around the room.

In the image above, the lines of the wood floors help move your eyes toward the back of the room, which gives the impression of greater depth.

real estate photography tips 3

Also rely on the rule of thirds to create photos that are well-balanced and have good proportion.

As shown above, primary features in this photo - the light fixtures and bar among them - adhere closely to the rule of thirds grid.

The resulting image is quite balanced. Notice how the large countertop area doesn’t overwhelm the shot, even though it takes up quite a bit of the frame.

real estate photography tips 2

 photo by alabn via iStock

When composing photos, think about whether the shot warrants more foreground space or more background space.

For example, if a room has beautiful flooring, you want to highlight that by dedicating more of the composition to the foreground. If, on the other hand, a room has an intricate ceiling, shift the eye level upward to give more space to viewing that detail. 

As shown in the image above, this change in eye level needn’t be severe - just a slight increase in the height of the camera allowed the photographer to include more of the coffered ceiling and range hood. 

Though these are simple tips, they can have a profound impact on the quality of interior photos!

Quick Tip: When altering the eye level of the camera, strive to maintain the camera at level. Tilting it up or down can cause straight lines like walls to appear as though they’re tilting.

Creating Depth in Interior Photos

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photo by hikesterson via iStock 

Homebuyers love space, and by creating depth in your images, you can give them the impression of space in your photos. 

As mentioned before, leading lines are an excellent tool to use to create depth and dimension in your interior photos.

But there are other tricks you can use as well.

real estate photography 2

photo by YinYang via iStock

For example, by incorporating a foreground element - like the couch in the image above - you create layers of interest for the viewer’s eye to inspect as they look around the image. 

In this case, the couch in the foreground, the ottoman behind it, the dining table in the midground, and the kitchen in the background give this shot incredible depth. The fact that the view out the doors and windows is on full display certainly helps as well.

It’s this kind of intention - with staging, furniture placement, and the perspective from which you shoot - that will result in the most pleasing photos of interior spaces. 

Learn More:

Maximize the Impact of Interior Spaces With a View Outside

how to photograph interior spaces 1

photo by asbe via iStock 

As explained earlier, creating images with depth will give buyers a better impression of the size of the rooms they’re looking at in your photos. 

One of the best ways to do that is to ensure that the viewer’s eyes can travel beyond the room.

One of the most common difficulties you’ll encounter when photographing interior spaces is that windows tend to be blown out, as shown above. Naturally, this overexposed box does nothing for creating depth in the shot or showcasing what the view from this room might be.

how to photograph interior spaces 2

photo by hikestersonvia iStock  

Fortunately, the fix for this issue is quite straightforward.

By bracketing the exposures and merging them together, you can create a photograph that’s well-exposed for the shadows, midtones, and highlights in a room.

The result, as you can see above, has far greater visual appeal than the previous image.

In this case, the view out of the window is crystal clear, and allows our eyes to travel further into the photograph.

With that said, this technique, paired with the other interior real estate photography tips outlined earlier, allows you to tell a better story about the property, one that highlights space, depth, and the view!

 



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Don’t Make These Silly Photography Business Mistakes

Dont Make These Silly Photography Business Mistakes

Photo by Seth Doyle on Unsplash

Starting a photography business should be listed on those “biggest stressors in a person’s life” lists, right up there with divorce and marriage.  

That’s because there is no shortage of errors photographers make when they open a business for the first time. 

So, in order for you to learn from the mistakes of others, here is a list of photography business mistakes you should avoid in your first few years of business.  

Undercharging Your Clients

photography business mistakes 1

photo bygpointstudio via iStock

I get it; money is never fun to talk about. It’s also not fun to think about, so when you’re trying to set prices for your business, you may need a little help.  

The issue is, even the professionals disagree. Should you give away your services for free while you begin to build a portfolio? Should you offer your services for cheap prices and then slowly build them up?

While both of these routes can seem tempting, particularly when everyone else is doing it, you’re only undervaluing yourself when you give away your services at anything less than full price. 

photography business mistakes 2

photo byAndreyPopov via iStock

Plus, when you give away your services for cheap, you’re costing your business money. Have you thought about all the money you put into your equipment? Into rent? Into insurance?

Did you think about the gas and car maintenance required when you drive to and from shoots that are up to a few hours away?

Have you stopped to figure out how much your time is worth to you? 

These are all important questions to ask yourself so you don’t make one of the most fatal photography business mistakes and undervalue your services.

While I agree that your prices will need to be lower when you’re just starting out, they shouldn’t be so low that you can’t pay your bills (and yourself!).

Add up all your expenses and overhead, factor in a salary for yourself, and then determine what you need to charge. Again, your markup might be less when you first start out, but at least you’ll have all your bases covered with the prices you set up. 

Learn More:

Not Protecting Your Images & Other Files

not protecting your images and other files

Photo by Geber86 via iStock

I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer here, but there are too many things that can go wrong in your life as a photographer to not have the proper backups in place for your images and other files.

Obviously, the best protection for your files is to follow the tried-and-true 3-2-1 backup rule:

  • Have three copies of every file
  • Store backups on two different kinds of media
  • Have one backup stored offsite

Every photographer is a little different in terms of workflow and preferences for backups. For some, having a fireproof safe full of thumb drives might be a good option. Not for me, though.

My onsite backup is a Synology Diskstation DS1019+.

Having a network attached storage (NAS) was a must for me because I need a ton of space to store files.

But just because this unit has five hot-swappable bays doesn't mean it's a big rig that takes up tons of room.

In fact, it sits on the corner of my desk, out of sight, and out of mind.

It can accommodate 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch drives and has an Intel Celeron J3455 1.5GHz quad-core processor that can run at a burst speed of 2.3GHz.

With all that space and power, this NAS gives me lightning-quick read/write speeds of up to 225MB per second, not to mention a ton of space to backup my files.

The Synology Diskstation 1019+ is also incredibly easy to use. The Synology DSM operating system is simple to navigate and intuitive to use, even if you've never used a NAS before.

In fact, setup takes just minutes, again, even if you have no experience in using a NAS.

In other words, Synology has created the ideal backup for photographers - this thing has all the space you need, the speed you want, and it's simple to use.

Leaving your files without a backup is just asking for trouble. Before it's too late, get a backup plan in place!

Learn more about this network attached storage device in my Synology DiskStation 1019+ review.

Not Working With Your Competition

photography business tips 1

photo by AntonioGuillem via iStock 

I don’t understand photographers who view their competition as competition all the time. Sure, you may be technically vying for the same business, but there’s often enough work to go around, even in smaller towns.

All you’re doing by refusing to work with your competition is hurting yourself. Your competition probably has great advice for problems you’re currently encountering. Your competition is also going to be one of the most brutal ways you can get good constructive criticism.

Is your husband or wife really giving you the best constructive criticism? Probably not, and it isn’t their fault; their not in the photography business. 

Do you want to know who is? The woman who grabbed the wedding you thought you were going to get to shoot last month. 

photography business tips 2

photo by RossHelen via iStock 

Plus, other photographers can also be a great resource in terms of getting jobs. I recommend fellow photographers for jobs I can’t take or don’t want all of the time. I also work as a production assistant for some of my photographer friends on large photoshoots and they do the same for me. 

If you view your competition as your friends, you’re much more likely to work more often and with better clients. 

Learn More:

Being a Poor Communicator 

errors photographers make 1

photo by Adene Sanchez via iStock 

My Gmail account sends push notifications to my cell phone. Yes, this can get annoying when I’m getting spam mail all day, but I want to be able to respond within a half hour to potential clients when possible.

Chances are, if you get an email from a potential new client, you are not the only photographer in the area that received that email. And if you respond faster than you have better chances of getting the job. 

errors photographers make 2

photo by andresr via iStock 

Photography business mistakes in communication also don’t just apply to responding to potential clients quickly. Being able to define what you do in an eloquent fashion is key.

Some potential clients have never worked with a photographer before, so they don’t really understand what they’re getting themselves into. Maintaining your brand, via Facebook, Instagram, your portfolio and email lists, is absolutely essential to starting a photography business.

You need to be able to sound authoritative about your craft, while still sounding humble. You should also approach all of your writing at around an 8th grade level, the same thing newspapers do. This ensures that most people can read and understand what it is you do. 

You basically want someone that has never even had a photographer as a friend to be able to understand exactly what you’re talking about when you explain your products and services. 

Not Partnering With the Best Vendors

I think this photography business mistake follows the same line as the rest of these photography business mistakes. Why don’t photographers work on finding the best people in their industry to work with? 

To be honest, I didn’t understand the necessity of working with good partners until I came across my first great vendor, CanvasHQ.  

CanvasHQ is a canvas printing company, which means they sell products I can upsell to my clients, but more importantly than this, they have some of the best customer service agents I have ever come across in this industry.

It’s a small business, which I like because I know my money is going to the people handcrafting my products. 

And handcrafting is exactly what they are doing. Every single canvas frame is handcrafted, and every single canvas print is hand-stretched.

Plus, since they are a relatively small business, their products are relatively inexpensive. In fact, they usually have a banner across the top of their website for up to 35% off your first order!  

Take it from me...it’s important to partner with vendors you respect, because it’s easier to sell products you believe in. And when you believe in a product like CanvasHQ, your clients will believe in it too!

Learn More:

 



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Don’t Wait for Disaster to Strike

Dont Wait for Disaster to Strike

 photo byOliver Knight via iStock

I don’t know about you, but as I go about my daily routine, I’m not overcome with thoughts of what might go wrong.

And while our day-to-day activities as photographers typically don’t involve disaster, there is always the chance that something catastrophic could happen and derail our pursuit of building a solid business.

From simply dropping your camera to experiencing a natural disaster to not having a proper contract drawn up, there are many different ways that things can go wrong.

The important thing is that you take steps to protect yourself from occurrences such as this, that way when - not if - something goes wrong, your business can withstand it.

Table of Contents

How to Protect Your Photography Business: Get Insured

photography business tips 1

 photo byKameleon007 via iStock

It’s simply photography 101 to have insurance for your business. If you operate without it, you’re putting yourself at huge risk for disaster.

There are all kinds of insurance that you might get as a photographer, ranging from liability insurance to insurance for your gear to errors and omissions policies. As shown below, each of these types of policies have significant benefits: 

  • Liability insurance covers you in the event you cause damage to a client, their property, or a third party entity. For example, if one of the light stands you set up in the reception hall of a wedding falls over and damages the marble floor, liability insurance will cover the expense of repairing the damage.
  • Equipment insurance is a must-have to protect you against accidents (i.e., dropping your camera and damaging the lens), theft, and fire or water damage. Many of these policies offer replacement cost coverage, which means it provides you with the funds to replace the broken gear at today’s cost, not what you originally paid for it.
  • Errors & omissions insurance, also called “professional liability insurance,” protects you in the event that you commit some sort of error. For example, if you lose the memory cards from a family portrait shoot, this kind of policy will often foot the bill to do a re-shoot, and if the error or omission is significant enough that you’re sued, this kind of coverage will pay attorney’s fees and other legal expenses. 

photography business tips 2

 photo byBrianAJackson via iStock

None of us set out to drop our gear or get robbed or commit an error that can endanger our livelihoods. Yet, these things happen, so it’s best to be prepared ahead of time with the proper insurance coverage rather than waiting for disaster to strike!

How to Protect Your Photography Business: Backup Your Files

photography business advice

 photo by cnythzl via iStock 

It’s just good practice to have multiple copies of your photos, business documents, and other files.

But it’s important that you not only have multiple backups, but that those backups take different forms. As the 3-2-1 backup strategy states, you need to:

Have at least three backups

Use at least two different storage medias

Have one copy offsite

I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I get in a rush and just click save on the photos I’ve been editing for hours on end and that’s where the process ends until a few hours (or days) later I go back and properly back everything up.

That’s a dangerous game to play, though. One hard drive malfunction and all that work could be lost!

how to protect a photography business

  photo by MattGush via iStock

More serious issues can arise that put your data in danger if you don’t have it backed up.

It seems like every time I watch the news, there’s another kind of natural disaster happening somewhere in the world.

As a resident of California, earthquakes are always a possibility, and in recent years, wildfires have become an increasing problem, too.

Though you don’t like to think that you could find yourself in the middle of a disaster, they can and do happen.

I follow the 3-2-1 backup plan so if something does happen, I have all my images and other files at hand.

 A central component of that is my Synology Diskstation DS1019+.

This network attached storage (NAS) device is small enough to sit on top of my desk without taking up precious work space. It has five hot-swappable bays that can accommodate either 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch drives, so there is plenty of storage capacity for all my digital files.

It’s loaded with an Intel Celeron J3455 1.5GHz quad-core processor that’s capable of burst speed of 2.3Ghz.