If you're a portrait photographer like myself you know the importance of captivating eyes. We really want to make our clients eyes pop. Bring out the colors and details. There are many ways to do it but this is the process I use in Adobe Photoshop and it takes less than a minute. I hope this help. Just remember, Dodge, burn, sponge, sharpen.
Find more Photography Tips HERE and connect with me on Instagram HERE.
Step 1: Dodge Tool
Select the Dodge Tool. Set the Range to highlights & the exposure to 20% Dodge the entire iris.
Step 2: Burn Tool
Select the Burn tool. Set the range to shadows & the exposure to 15%. Burn the entire Iris.
Step 3: Sponge Tool
Select the sponge Tool. Set the mode to saturate & the flow to 10% Saturate the entire iris.
Step 4: Sharpen Tool
Select the sharpen Tool. Set the mode to normal & the strength to 25% Sharpen the entire iris.
You clicked on this article because you want more traffic to your website and I am here to tell you there is no better way to do that then Pinterest.
Besides TikTok I think Pinterest Has to be the most undervalued and misunderstood platform in 2020. Pinterest is one of those apps that we all use for inspiration but forget we can also use the platform to leverage our own business. Whether you’re an artist, photographer, hairstylist, MUA, designer, or brand you can without a doubt triple the traffic to your website using Pinterest for free. Think about that, how much do you think you would have to pay in ads on google, Facebook, or Instagram to triple the traffic to your website?
As you can see from the screenshot below Last month alone I had 1.1 million impressions on my Pinterest account with over 25,000 engagements and over the last three months I’ve had an average of 656,000 monthly viewers. Although these numbers are far greater than anything you will get organically with Instagram or Facebook they are not hard to achieve. According to my Google analytics 65% of my organic website traffic comes from Pinterest. That’s huge.
It’s very simple, If you are an artist, designer, brand, or business your end goal is sales and in order to make more sales you need more traffic to your website and to get more traffic to your website people need to find you and right now there is no better way to find you then on Pinterest. You need to understand, Pinterest is a search engine NOT a social media platform.
No one uses Pinterest to catch up or follow their friends, they use it for inspiration. Maybe it’s inspiration for a photo shoot, a recipe, a wedding, make up, hairstyle, or outfit. Whatever it is use your product, service, or skill to be that inspiration. Inspiration leads to curiosity and curiosity leads to sales. Just ask Sharee Davenport a wedding photographer who booked over $200,000 worth of weddings using Pinterest.
So now that I’ve shown you the value of using Pinterest for your business here are some tips on how to actually use Pinterest correctly.
Tip 1. Every pin on your page should link to your website.
Tip number one and probably the most important tip I will give you is this: If and only if you are using Pinterest for your business “in other words to drive traffic to your website”, delete every board and pin that is not linked to your website. This one change made the biggest impact on my account almost immediately. I repeat, delete every pin or board that is not linked to your website. No one visiting your Pinterest page gives a shit about what vegan recipes you’ve saved or at home workout plans you’ve pinned. Those things have nothing to do with your business. When using Pinterest for business every board and pin should be specifically related to what you have to offer. If it’s easier to start a separate account I would suggest doing that. This way you wont lose all the pins you've saved.
Tip 2. Use Board Titles and Descriptions
Board Titles and descriptions are important. Use them wisely. Whatever it is that you have to offer do some research and find out the most popular keywords people are using to search for your product or service. Take some time and think about what your perfect client would be searching for to find you. If you’re a wedding photographer in Portland Oregon you might want to title your board “Oregon wedding photographer” or “Portland wedding photographer.” or get more specific and have a different board for each Wedding Venue you've shot at like “Portland hotel wedding” or “The Nines hotel wedding” or “Gray Gables Estate Wedding”
Remember newly engaged couples are looking for wedding venues, wedding destinations, wedding photographers, or floral inspiration. No one gives a shit about Jack and Jill‘s wedding so lose the titles like “Jacob & Sarah’s Beach front wedding” and go with something like “Pacific City Beach front wedding” It’s okay to use names on your blog but no one’s searching Pinterest for Tom and Karen’s lake view wedding I promise you.
Use keywords in your description like Oregon wedding photographer, Oregon wedding venue, dream wedding, Oregon wedding ideas, Oregon wedding photography etc. If you’re a wedding photographer for example using keywords like the venue you shot a beautiful wedding at is crucial because the first thing soon to be brides look for when planning a wedding even before photographers are venues. So when a bride to be is searching Pinterest for local wedding venues you want your work to show up.
Tip 3. Use Pin Titles and Descriptions
Just like board titles and descriptions each pin will have a title and description as well. For example if I am adding a pin to my cosplay photography board I will keep the title and a lot of the keywords in the description the same as what are used for the board itself because they are related, the only difference I will make are some of the keywords in the description of that pin more specific to the photo itself. As you can see in the photo below I used keywords related to the photo like marvel cosplay and marvel universe and avengers endgame and female cosplay and female superhero. The keywords in your board description won’t be so specific they should be more broad.
Remember Pinterests algorithm crawls the app for keywords not photos. Pinterest can’t tell a photo is of a bride and groom reading vows, you have to tell Pinterest what the photo is via keywords and that’s how Pinterest matches your photo with someone’s search. This is where so many people go wrong.
Tip 4. Use Key Words on your Profile Page
Not only is your profile the first thing people see when they come to your page but the web crawls Pinterest for keywords you want to use not only in your board titles and descriptions and pin titles and descriptions but also your profile page. For example If you’re an Atlanta hairstylist or make up artist you should use the phrase Atlanta hairstylist on your profile page in your pins and on your boards. That makes it very clear to Pinterest that you are a hairstylist in Atlanta.
Tip 5. Keep it simple
Keep it simple, this isn’t as hard or as time consuming as it sounds. If you’re a photographer you have an extreme advantage because you already have a ton of content you can post. Try to stick with as few boards as you can so you don’t overwhelm anyone coming to your page. 20, 40, 80 boards is too much. Remember Pinterest is a search engine not social media so unlike Instagram you don’t need to come up with a witty description for every photo, I literally copy and paste most of my descriptions from previous posts. If you are a fashion designer and you make a board for a new fall line, most if not all of the keywords you use in each photo from that line will be the same.
Tip 6. Use Pinterest search to find popular Keywords
For instance the photo below is a photo I took for a local athletic apparel brand. So to find corresponding popular keywords I use Pinterest search for suggestions by typing in a word related to the photo like "athletic" and as you can see a list will pop down of other popular search terms related to athletic. Such as athletic women, athletic outfits, athletic wear, athletic hairstyles. And because all of those are related to the image I’m posting I use those keywords in my description as well as the more specific keywords for local search like Oregon portrait photographer or Portland fashion photographer.
Tip 7. Hire a Photographer to make you content
Now you may be sitting there thinking to yourself OK Lance this is all great but I am not a photographer, I’m not an artist, I’m not a designer, I’m not a model, how am I supposed to create all this content to post on Pinterest?
That’s where hiring a professional photographer comes in. As professional photographers we are content creators, our job is to create engaging and interesting content based around your product or service that you can use to promote yourself via Pinterest and other social media platforms.
Let’s say you’re a business owner and your business is dental work. First thing you want to do is create a website/blog, and then write interesting and engaging articles like how marijuana affects oral health or how the keto diet affects oral health or how often you should replace your toothbrush or what’s the connection between stroke and oral health.
Once you’ve done that take some photos yourself or hire a professional or hell you can even use free stock photography and use those photos to promote your articles on Pinterest. But the better those photos are the better your post will perform on the App.
Tip 8. Switch to a Business Account
Now that I’ve given you the knowledge how to utilize Pinterest for your advantage the only thing you can do now is take what you’ve learned and practice but the only way to practice and get better results is to track what’s working and what’s not so you can make the necessary changes moving forward and to do that you will need to track your analytics. In order to track your analytics you will need to go to your account settings and scroll down to account changes and switch to a business account instead of personal. Don’t worry this doesn’t cost anything.
Tip 9. Track your Analytics
Let’s take audience insights for example. Here you can see in the last 30 days how many people have engaged with your pins and what they are interested in as well as their age, gender, and location. You can choose between looking at your total audience or engaged audience but we want to specifically look at our engaged audience because these are the people who are actually clicking our pins and sharing our pins and viewing our website. We want to learn everything we can about the people who are the most interested in our pins because these are the type of people we want to target because they are more likely to click or share our image and view our website. As you can see which is as no surprise to me my engaged audience is most interested in art, women’s fashion, education, entertainment, and beauty.
Tip 10. Get Specific
Now that we have that information we can dig even deeper and get more specific. For example as shown in the image above 69% of my engaged audience is interested in women’s fashion and when I click that it then tells me of those interested in women’s fashion 61% is specifically interested in women’s fashion dress. So that tells me I should see higher engagement and thus better results when I share photos of a model in a dress and use the corresponding keywords like women’s fashion dress. I hope that makes sense. Now I can go even further by clicking dress and it will bring up a page of the most popular pins for women’s fashion dress and this tells me what kind of photos are doing well in that category. Great for inspiration :)
Furthermore you can view your impressions and engagements per pin through analytics. This will tell you what photos are doing well and what photos aren’t. As you can see in the photo below my most popular pins are all Cosplay. This tells me I should post more photos in that category. When I compare my pins in that category the analytics will tell me the difference between what performed well and what didn’t so I can improve moving forward. Might be the keywords used might be the photos itself.
I have tried the route of pinning straight from my Instagram to send people there hoping to gain more followers that way but I have found that the algorithm doesn’t like that very much so you’re going to get far better results linking to your website and not another social media.
In conclusion, to make this as simple and straightforward as possible this is my method: I’ll create a board such as Portland portrait photographer because I’m a photographer in Portland and I shoot a lot of portraits. Because of this I obviously already have a ton of content I can use on my phone. Once my board is created and I’ve chosen the right keywords for my title and description I will then add one or two sets per day. A set being all the photos I shared previously on social media from a shoot which usually ends up being around 10 photos.
Obviously if this board is for portraits all the photos from the set I’m sharing are going to be portraits. Each photo you add back to back will need a title and description and I literally just copy and paste because all the same keywords will be relevant for the most part. The only time this wouldn’t be the case is if let’s say you were adding a set of photos to a Lakeview wedding board and one photo was of a couple and another photo was of just the cake. Obviously you wouldn’t use the same keywords for the couple as you would the cake however you would still use some of the same keywords but some would need to change.
This is why when I’m adding sets of photos back to back I’ll choose one board so I can easily copy and paste and that saves me time. So how do you copy and paste? I always have my Pinterest app open as well as a web browser open with my Pinterest account that way I can copy the title and description from the web browser and paste into the Pinterest app.
Bonus Tip. Use Regrammer
Pro tip for photographers, for a fast and easy way to find sets you’ve done, on your phone go to your Instagram profile and scroll until you find a set you’ve shared that you would like to share on Pinterest. Click the three dots on the upper right corner and then click copy link. Then with the Regrammer app “if you don’t have it get it, it’s free” paste the link in the app and you can quickly save the photos from that post, and there you have it you can immediately share those photos to Pinterest one by one via the Pinterest app.
If you have any questions please ask them in the comments below and I will try my best to answer them. Also make sure to connect with me on Instagram HERE. Just remember, it’s very unlikely that someone sends you a message on Pinterest wanting to hire you or buy your product. Most likely they will click through to your website, check you out and probably follow you on social media. There they will see your work and personality. If they like what they see they might reach out to you and that is when your job begins, your job is to build a relationship with that person so they ultimately end up hire you.
As a photographer you know that smoke and fog can add a dramatic or even cinematic element to any photo but did you know there are numerous ways to add smoke or fog to your photos? In this article I will break down the various ways you can add smoke to your photography to get a more cinematic vibe. Most importantly keep in mind you should always have water and a mini fire extinguisher close by when using smoke. Safety is number one and never leave a trace. If you use a smoke grenade outside make sure to let it cool off and take it with you to throw away. Also keep in mind smoke pointed directly at the ground can stain the ground.
All the photos in this article were taken by me. If this article was useful make sure to connect with me on Instagram HERE and find more free resources for photography HERE
1. Smoke Grenades
What you need: Smoke Grenades from Enola Gaye®
Advantages: User friendly, thick smoke, multiple colors to choose from, no power required.
Disadvantages: Strong odor, can stain the ground and clothing, gets expensive, outdoors only.
Why save the best for last when I can start with the best? Smoke grenades are my favorite on the list because they don’t require power, have multiple color options and outputs of smoke to choose from. You can get a short small burst of smoke or a long thick steady stream of smoke. They do however spark at first so you do have to be careful where you use these and always have some water around just in case. I wouldn’t use one in a dry field. Also if you’re buying a lot of them it can get expensive but as far as smoke grenades go there is no better brand, infact Enola Gaye® is offering a 15% discount if you use my coupon at checkout! How cool is that!? Just use the coupon KICKASS15 at checkout.
2. Fog Machine
What you need: Fog Machine, Fog Fluid, Generator for outdoor use.
Advantages: User friendly, safe, thick smoke, no strong unpleasant odor, doesn't stain, inexpensive.
Disadvantages: Needs power, only comes in one color.
I love using a fog machine because it produces lots of thick smoke for an extended period of time however the biggest drawback is when using it outside where you don’t have a power source to plug it into you will need a mobile generator, something light weight enough to carry and yet powerful enough to power the fog machine. The fog machine itself and fog fluid aren’t that expensive but if you need a generator that will run you a couple hundred bucks.
3. Dry Ice
What you need: Dry Ice & Water
Advantages: User friendly, no power required, can be used indoors and outdoors with water.
Disadvantages: Won't work without water, stays low to the ground, hard to store.
Dry ice is really fun to shoot with for a really cool creepy effect as it stays low to the ground unlike a fog machine or smoke grenade as you can see below. However most people can’t just store dry ice so you need to buy it not only the day of the shoot but right before because a block of dry ice will dissipate within a few hours unless stored in the right container. Nobody is going to carry around a massive container of water so in order to use it outdoors you will need a puddle of water or low creek. Dry ice can burn your hands so always wear gloves when handling it. The only places I have found who sell dry ice are Fred Meyer and a few Baskin Robbins but not all of them.
4. Atmosphere Aerosol
What you need: A can of Atmosphere Aerosol
Advantages: Safe, user friendly, no power required, can be used indoors and outdoors, no odor, mobile.
Disadvantages: Gets expensive, low volume of smoke
Atmosphere Aerosol is my got to for toy photography and will linger in the air for minutes and creates a dreamy effect if you have some nice sunlight coming in from a window. Back lighting is required though to see haze or fog. Position and amount of light will determine the look of the fog or haze. I dig this stuff, it's easy to carry with you, non toxic, and a bottle of spray will last you a while.
Pro tip: Use a light wand to add a pop of color to the smoke.
5. Smoke Cakes
What you need: Smoke Cakes and Lighter.
Advantages: No power required, easy to take on the go, small, cheap.
Disadvantages: Low volume of smoke, fire hazard, not the best quality.
Smoke cakes will be your cheapest option but also the most unreliable. They don’t put out the most smoke and don’t last long but if you’re on a budget these can work. They aren’t super easy to control so a little practice goes along way. I do like the multiple color options though.
6. Propane Insect Fogger
What you need: a Propane Insect Fogger
Advantages: No power required, cheap, mobile, decent volume of smoke.
Disadvantages: Gas powered, depending on brand can be noisy.
Insect foggers are a great mobile alternative to fog machines. They are powered by butane gas cans which you can easily find at any supermarket. I shouldn’t have to say this but I will, make sure you use fog liquid not pesticide. Also where the smoke comes out of gets very hot so be careful when handling the fogger.
What you need: Adobe Photoshop or another photo editing app
Advantages: Complete control of how the smoke will look, nothing to cary or burn.
Disadvantages: Takes skill and alot of time to add in post.
Can’t get your hands on anything mentioned above? Well you’re still in luck because there’s always Photoshop. Photoshop is a great alternative if you can’t get real smoke, it just takes some time and skill. My favorite thing to do is combine the two, so I use the smoke during the shoot and add a little bit in Photoshop if I need to in Post. It’s not as hard as you think, all you really need is a good photo of smoke on a black background to overlay your image with. Freepik has many. If you need help I will show you how in the video below.
With all of us stuck at home practicing social distancing there is no better time than now to improve our skills as photographers and get inspired. In this article I will share some of my favorite free resources I use to improve my skills not only as a photographer but as a business owner. In this article I recommend videos, podcasts, books, websites and more. All free resources to help you improve your photography and business and maybe even get inspired.
Let's start with the best. My favorite photographer/videographer has to be Peter McKinnon and considering he has 4.5 million subscribers on youtube it's safe to say I'm not the only one. His videos are not only informative but funny and entertaining, plus his videos are full of movie quality cinematography. He's just that good. I follow him for inspiration and general knowledge on portraits, landscape, product photography, and video.
Evan Ranft is another great photographer with great video tutorials. I follow him for inspiration and general knowledge on Portraits and Street Photography. He's one of my favorite street photographers out of Atlanta, GA. His color grading is top notch and has a cinematic Neo-noir feeling to his work
Sorelle Amore is the Queen of self portraits. Her outgoing bubbly personality, amazing accent, beautiful locations, and skills in front and behind the camera always make for a great video. Sorelle is a must follow for photographers and models alike. Because she only takes photos of her self she has great insight on posing as well as photography. She's also constantly traveling to beautiful places so add her channel to your list of location scouting tools.
These next 2 guys I follow for 3 reasons. Portraits, Travel, and Cars. Chris Hau and Alen Palander have some of the best portrait photography, car photography, and travel photography you will find. These 2 guys are extremely talented and offer free advice on their channels as well as stunning video. Get inspired by these 2.
Sean Tucker is a legendary street photographer. Sean offers great information on his youtube channel on street photography, editing, and portraits. You wont want to miss his content.
Now this one is more of a marketing expert not so much photography. That being said everything I've learned about social media marketing I've learned from Gary Vaynerchuk. If you haven't heard of him you must be living under a rock because everyone I know follows him for marketing advice and day to day inspiration. I love his "I don't give a fuck what you think" attitude.
The Beginner Photography Podcast is a free weekly podcast hosted by wedding photographer Raymond Hatfield who interviews professional photographers of all genres who share what they wish they knew when they got started so you can grow your photography skills faster! I don't shoot weddings often but still take something away from every episode. Don't let the name fool you, this is no podcast just for beginners. Even seasoned photographers can gain insight from this podcast.
Level-up your photography with the Master Photography Podcast. No matter your needs or experience level, one of their shows on their network is going to feed your passion for photography and help you to master your craft. So much great information on their multiple shows.
Six Figure Photography is hosted by the award winning international wedding photographer Ben Hartley. Abundance comes from understanding your own self-worth and providing value to everyone you encounter. Six Figure Photography exists to inspire, empower & challenge photographers towards creating a life of abundance not just in profits, but in creativity and relationships. Ben does this through his weekly podcast, online training, and hands-on workshops. I've listened to almost everyone of his podcasts and learned something new with every episode.
Jenna Martin, from Billings, Montana hosts the podcast Creative Chaos. This podcast is perfect for the oddballs and misfits of the world trying to turn their creative passions into legitimate careers. They discuss everything about creative professions; both the artistic side AND the business side. You'll learn how to produce your very best work on a consistent basis, how to grow your social media following, how to create passive income streams, and how to streamline you're dream business. Also checkout their DD ("Deep Dive") episodes where their guests go far more in-depth into various artistic careers.
I listen to this one for marketing and daily inspiration not photography although the tips and tactics I learned from this podcast has improved my photography business. On his global top 100 iTunes podcast The GaryVee Audio Experience, you’ll hear episodes of Garys favorite series called the #AskGaryVee Show, a mix of his best highlights from his DAILYVEE documentary video series, keynote speeches on marketing and business, interviews, fireside chats, and any of his new and current thoughts that he records specifically for this audio experience!
Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss $14.88 - Tactics, Routines, & Habits from Billionaires
This book contains the tools, tactics, routines, and habits of billionaires, icons, and world-class performers you won’t find anywhere else.
What makes the book different from most is a relentless focus on actionable details. This is reflected in the questions. For example: What do these people do in the first sixty minutes of each morning? What do their workout routines look like, and why? What books have they gifted most to other people? What are the biggest wastes of time for novices in their field? What supplements do they take on a daily basis? You get the idea. What most photographers don't understand is that you can learn life and business altering tactics from world-class performers in a range of industries outside our own.
#AskGaryVee by Gary Vaynerchuk $14.95 - Social Media Tactics
Look, if you're a photographer trying to make money with photography you need this book. End of story. I own all of Gary Vees books and they are all great but this one has the most applicable information for you to consume and use right away. 95% of my clients come from Facebook and Instagram (without adds) and that's because I use the information I learned in this book to slay the social media game.
#AskGaryVee features the most useful and interesting questions Gary has addressed on his popular Youtube channel. Gary presents practical, timely, and timeless advice on marketing, social media, entrepreneurship, and everything else you've been afraid to ask but are dying to know. Gary gives you the insights and information you need on everything from effectively using Twitter to launching a small business, hiring superstars to creating a personal brand, launching products effectively to staying healthy-and even buying wine. Buy this book, then buy his others.
For more book recommendations checkout my article 9 Books Every photographer needs to be more successful. Of course books aren't free but you can find these at the library to rent for free :)
15 Free Lightroom Presets
Are you struggling to find a way to edit your photographs with a professional touch? Are you having a difficult time choosing between Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom to edit your photographs?
In order to make it easier, PhotoWhoa is giving you various options to enhance your photographs. There is no need to choose between the two as they offer creative and professional presets for Lightroom and various actions for Photoshop.
These presets are compatible with both Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop and are used by many photographers across the globe as they help to make the workflow easy while ensuring that the editing process is enjoyable as well.
They are an excellent tool used by not only professional photographers but also amateur ones.
In these, Lightroom presets offered by BeArt-Presets, various photo editing tools have been combined to create high-quality pictures. When it comes to adjusting the tone of photographs along with setting the appropriate exposure of a picture. These offer various combinations of editing features to create high-quality photographs that have a professional touch.
Free (Royalty free) Images on Unsplash
Unsplash is a platform powered by an amazing community that has gifted hundreds of thousands of their own photos to fuel creativity around the world. So sign up for free, or don’t. Either way, you’ve got access to over a million photos under the Unsplash license—which makes them free to do-whatever-you-want with. This site is great because the photos are so much better quality than boring standard stock photos. And they are all free to use however you like! :)
Build a Free Website with Weebly
When I built my first website I had no money so I did it for free with Weebly. With Weebly you get access to customizable webpage designs and useful tools to build your website and grow your photography business. Easily build a free website to help you get discovered and grow your customer base in style. It's never been easier to start your own website with no knowledge of webdesign. This is a great way to start that blog you've been talking about.
Free Photoshop Alternative
Gimp is a free, open-source alternative to Photoshop that's been around for many years, GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. Today it's available in versions for Linux, Windows and Mac.
GIMP offers a wide toolset, similar to Photoshop in many ways, and is a great option if you're looking for a no-cost image editor. The interface differs somewhat from Photoshop, but a version of GIMP is available that mimics Adobe's look and feel, making it easier to migrate over if you're ditching Photoshop.
The full suite of tools is everything you're accustomed to, including painting tools, colour correction, cloning, selection, and enhancement. The team that oversees development has worked hard to ensure compatibility too, so you'll be able to work with all the popular file formats without any trouble at all. You'll also find a very capable file manager built in, along similar lines to Adobe's Bridge.
Overall, this is a great option whether you've either got a limited budget, or want to move away from Photoshop for other reasons.
Free Overlays & PNGS with DeviantArt
DeviantArt is the world's largest online social community for artists and art enthusiasts, allowing people to connect through the creation and sharing of art. This site is great for any digital artists who use Photoshop alot. Need an object with a transparent background or an overlay of smoke, fire, magic, rain, snow, etc? You can find it all on DeviantArt for free.
The point is, we’ve never lived in a time where we have so many free resources at our fingertips to help us elevate our skills and business. I hope these resources helped and if you have anything to add please do so in the comments below.
In this article I cover shooting portraits in low light situations. I love shooting in the dark because it forces me to be creative and use the light I have available to me but also creates a lot of obstacles to overcome. Getting a sharp image completely in focus with little to no noise is difficult when shooting in low light with no flash but I hope with these tips it will be a little easier next time you go and shoot in the dark. Photographing in low light situations presents many obstacles but if you use the tips in this article you can easily overcome them with confidence on your next shoot. All the photos below were taken by me. Make sure to connect with me on Instagram HERE Let me know if this article helped in the comments below.
Find a light source
Let's start with your light source. Low light photography doesn’t mean no light photography, you will always need some source of light. The biggest mistake I see photographers make in low light situations is having their subject turn their back to the light source with nothing to light their face which is great if you want a fun silhouette but otherwise you will want your light source as close to your subject as possible. whether your light source is a street lamp, Hotel lamp, arcade, neon sign, or flame from a lighter position the light source either to one side of your subjects face or directly in front of them behind the camera so it lights their face.
whether you're using neon bar lights or an arcade try placing your model to the side of the light and have them look towards the light or straight at the camera. Play around and notice how the light effects their face. Keep an eye on those harsh shadows. Make sure your subject is as close as possible to the light source. Adjust colors as needed in post.
The key to shooting with neon is having your model as close to the neon as you can get. If you have the Neon behind them and nothing to light their face it will be too dark. For the example below I had my model stand as close as she could to the arcade screen because it was producing a good amount of light. Settings used were: 1/200Sec /// ISO 640 /// F3.2
Mix it up. Sunglasses can make for some fun reflections with neon lights.
If you're shooting in the city at night there are a few options you can use to light your subject. You can use a lighter or street lamp for dramatic lighting or a neon bar sign in a window as we did below.
If there's a lamp, use it.
The example below was shot in a hotel room at night using the standing lamp next to the sofa. If a lamp is all you have just point it towards the model and make sure it's as close as possible. Have your model look towards the light to reduce harsh shadows.
Try having the light source behind your subject with no light in the front to create a fun silhouette like we did below.
Fun effects with a Prism
On Amazon you can find a variety of glass and prisms to hold up to your lens when shooting with neon lights around. The reflections make for some fun effects as shown below but definitely takes practice.
Shoot in RAW
Why you should be shooting in RAW VS JPEG: I am blown away by the amount of photographers that don’t shoot in RAW or even know what it means. If you’re a professional photographer you are doing your self and your clients a massive disservice by shooting in JPEG.
When shooting in a format like JPEG image information is compressed and lost. Because no information is compressed with RAW you’re able to produce higher quality images, as well as correct your shadows and highlights that would be unrecoverable if shot in the JPEG format. Recovering shadows is absolutely vital when shooting in low light. Cameras will vary but a trick you can use to pump up shadows dramatically without getting grain is keeping your ISO below 1,000. More on that below.
On the flip side you have your brightness. Levels of brightness are the number of steps from black to white in an image. It’s very simple, the more you have, the smoother the transitions of tones in your photos will be. You want smooth transitions. For example JPEG records 256 levels of brightness, and RAW records between 4,096 to 16,384 levels! 😳 The effect this will have on your images is MASSIVE.
Just remember shooting in RAW format lets you make more adjustments like exposure, blacks, fill light, recovery, detail, contrast, & brightness to your image in post (with a program like Adobe Lightroom) without a significant reduction of quality, because there’s more levels to work with that you don’t get when shooting in JPEG. Most importantly as Professionals we should be providing our clients with the highest quality possible. That means shooting in RAW.
All you need to know about ISO is the Higher the number the more light your camera will bring in. But there's a caveat to ISO you need to know. The higher you go the more grain you will get. However grain isn't necessarily bad. Some photographers want that grainy look. That's their style. But if that's not the look you want it's best to keep your ISO lower than 1,000.
That being said every camera is different and new cameras can go much higher with less grain than the older ones. For instance my SonyA7iii can shoot with ISO at 1,000 with no noise but my older SonyA6000 could only shoot at ISO 500 with no noise. It's best to play around with your camera in a dark location and find the sweet spot for your specific camera. Open the photos in light room and check the histogram to see what settings you used for each photo. Find the photo with the highest ISO but still has little to no grain. Remember that number and try your best to avoid going over it Last thing you want is to find out you just did a shoot for a client and all your photos are too grainy.
Keep your shutter speed low
Without getting technical all you need to know is the lower your shutter speed the more light is let into the sensor and thus the brighter your image will be. The caveat for shutter speed is this: The lower you go the more sensitive your camera gets to movement and thus the blurrier your photo will be if any movement is involved. This means movement of the camera itself and the subject you're photographing.
I highly suggest if you go under 1/100th of a second you use a tripod because anything below that and your camera will detect movement and the photo wont be sharp. Just remember your shutter speed effects brightness, darkness, and blur. A tripod is a MUST for slower shutter speeds. So is keeping your model perfectly still. Any movement from your camera or model under 1/100th of a second and your picture wont be sharp.
Use a Tripod
As I mentioned above, when shooting in low light one option to bring in more light is slowing down your shutter speed. The lower you go the brighter your image will be but you'll need a tripod or flat surface to rest your camera on for a nice sharp image at lower shutter speeds. This is my go to Tripod.
Also keep in mind any micro movements from your finger on the clicker as you take the shot may impact the sharpness. To avoid any micro movements when using a tripod I will set the camera to a 2 second delay or use a wireless remote.
Keep your Aperture Low
Aperture is a set of small blades that create a hole that determines how much light is let into the camera. The wider the hole the more light that comes in. The size of this hole is measured by F-stops. A large F-stop like F-22 means the hole is very small, and a low F-stop like F/2.8 means the hole is wide open. So the higher your F-stop the darker it will be and the lower your F-stop the brighter it will be but keep in mind brightness and darkness aren't the only thing that changes when you adjust your aperture.
Aperture also controls depth of field. Depth of field determines how much of your photo is sharp and in focus and how much is blurry. A low F-stop like 2.8 is very narrow and will only focus on a specific part of the image while leaving everything else blurry. The closer you get to your subject with a small F-stop the more narrow the focus will be and thus the more blurry the background will be. A low F-stop is how you get that creamy background and beautiful bokeh effect with the lights in the background.
Just keep in mind if you're shooting portraits it's extremely hard to get the eyes both in focus and everything sharp at a low F-stop like F/1.4 or 2.8. I find F/4.5 is best to get everything on your subject sharp and in focus if you're close to your subject. If you're about 6 feet away or more from the subject F/2.8 will work and bring in more light. If your photographing a beautiful landscape or group of people however you will want a large F-stop like F-11 or F-22 to make sure everything and everyone is in focus.
Every lens is different and will determine how low you can go and how sharp an image looks at low aperture. My favorite lens in the Sony 85 MM 1.8 Prime
Get a Light Wand
I know, I said no flash. But I don't count a small portable light wand as flash. I prefer not to carry around a bulky flash. You can bring in a wand to a bar with no problem. Now that we discussed using available light sources every now and then you'll be in a situation where you just don't have any light available. For emergency situations like these I like to have a light wand in my car just in case. It's about $80 on amazon, it's light, compact, easy to carry and use. The photos below were taken in a bar with zero light to use so I used the Portable Wand Handheld LED photography Light wand to light the models.
What I love about this wand is that it has multiple color options to choose from so you can match the color to the lighting behind the model when shooting with neon as seen below. My settings: 1/160 sec /// ISO 320 /// F2.2
Photo Editing Software
Purchase a photo editing software such as Adobe Lightroom. Photo editing software will allow you to edit your photos in post and really make those crucial adjustments to your highlights, shadows, exposure, saturation, and contrast.
In the end you just have to practice practice practice. Let me know any issues you're running into. I'm happy to help.
In this article I will be breaking down ways you can survive this downtime that we have all suddenly been hit with as entrepreneurs. Although I will be focusing on photography many of these tips on leveraging downtime can be applied to any industry.
I don’t know about my fellow photographers and business owners but I for one have had all my clients over the next two months cancel thanks to this virus going around. So now what? No money coming in, what do we do? How in the world do we turn this nightmare into a positive? How can we come out of this off time more valuable than we were before.
Times are tough and they are likely to get tougher. Let’s be honest with ourselves, the reason we have found ourselves without work currently is out of our control so let’s focus on what is in our control. Make sure to connect with me on Instagram HERE
Learn something new
What better time than now to learn something new. Maybe something you’ve wanted to learn but never had the time to, like landscape photography, street photography, or wildlife photography. Maybe learn a new language, or how to meditate, or how to cook, or how to play an instrument.
Learning a new skill can make a dramatic impact on your business. By learning how to be a better writer I’ve been able to write these articles that has not only helped my audience but made a dramatic increase in traffic to my website.
I’ve always wanted to learn street photography so now that I have all this free time I can go learn and still keep a good distance from people.
These days you can learn almost anything at the tip of a finger via YouTube for free without ever leaving your house. We all have things that we would love to learn but never make a priority due to lack of time so why not now?
Work on Improvement
Much like learning a new skill, improving on the skills we already have tends to get pushed aside because we are so busy. Work on improving your posing skills, or your lighting skills, or hell just the basics of photography. Maybe brush up on your cosplay photography skills or editing.
For example, I am a portrait photographer but I also love wildlife photography, I just never get to do it. Unfortunately because taking photos of birds doesn’t bring in the bacon I never take the time to improve my wildlife photography. Now with all this talk of social distancing, now is the perfect time to shoot the birds.
Fine Tune Your Website
It’s not sexy, it’s not fun, but making sure your website is up-to-date, user-friendly, and eye-catching makes a world of difference. If you don’t already have a website it’s never been easier to make one with sites like square space or Weebly.
If you already have a website, when is the last time you updated your portfolio or your homepage or your Seo? I recently took a hard look at my website that I hadn’t touched in many months and found it was in need of a huge facelift.
As photographers it is so easy for us to just upload all of our work on social media and forget about a website but having a website is crucial if you want to look professional and reach those higher paying clients.
Update Your Logo
I can’t tell you how many photographers I know who don’t even have a logo. Without a logo you have no brand identity. Think of your favorite brand right now and I guarantee you their logo is the first thing you think of. Brand identity starts with a logo and you might already have one but when is the last time it was updated? could it use a facelift? Is it in line with your current brand? If not now is the perfect time. If you want to save money you can always use Adobe illustrator to create one yourself for free or ask your cousin who's in college for graphic design otherwise I suggest using a professional service like Kickass Designs but hey I could be biased ;)
Work on Marketing
What’s the point of having a website if no one can find it? How are you driving traffic to your website? That’s where marketing comes in, this can be done via social media or SEO or paid ads.
My favorite method of marketing my brand is with social media. Of course I like it because it’s free but also because it gives me the opportunity to really get to know my audience.
If you aren’t leveraging platforms like Instagram or Facebook or YouTube you are missing out on massive amounts of opportunity. Unless you’re selling tombstones this is where all your potential clients are so why not take advantage of these free platforms and get in front of those people.
In an age where we day trade attention you should be posting fresh content every day to drive traffic to your site or social media platforms. If you have been slacking on the content creation now is the perfect time to make enough content to last you the rest of the year.
Go Location Scouting
As I’ve mentioned in past articles, location scouting is imperative if you want to stand out among the sea of photographers in your town. Offer your clients epic locations that other photographers don’t know about. Location scouting is the best way to do this but it is time consuming and often last on the list of things to do. So now is the perfect time to walk around your neighborhood and find some great spots or drive around town or out in the country with no destination in mind. Just pin the spots you want to come back to you on Google maps and you're all set.
In this day and age if you’re not offering video you will start losing clients to those that do. Plain and simple. Everyone wants video these days. This might just be one of the most beneficial skills you can learn while on this time off to make yourself more valuable when all of this blows over.
I learned this the hard way. I had a photo shoot go viral and articles about it were shared on numerous news outlets. However I was contacted by numerous brands that had the potential to take that shoot to a whole other level but were uninterested when they found out I had no video of the photo shoot. The accounts that wanted to share my work until they found out I didn’t have video had massive audiences. I missed a huge opportunity on that one.
I know a lot of photographers outsource their retouching because many photographers hate the editing process. However, taking this time to really master the skill of retouching Will make you a far more valuable photographer when all of this blows over and it will save you money in the long term if you’re not paying to outsource the work.
As photographers we all have a list of personal projects that we’ve been meaning to shoot. Maybe it’s collaborating with a local designer or makeup artist or model. Our personal projects are so important for us to really show our creativity and passion. So contact that friend you’ve been meaning to collaborate with and set a date. It will be a great opportunity for both of you to take your mind off this nightmare. With no paid clients coming in now is the time for all those free projects with friends.
Accounting and Bookkeeping
Oh hey my least favorite thing to do. Blech.. Taxes and bookkeeping are always the last thing on my list but making sure you stay on top of your taxes is absolutely crucial. Have you been putting it off this year? If so, now is the perfect time to sit down and get organized with either Quick books or with an accountant. I am awful at taxes so I leave that up to my accountant at Serenity Tax & Accounting.
Define your perfect Client
If you haven’t done this by now you really should take the time to define your perfect client, what is their age range, are they male or female, are they married or single, what does their income look like, where are they located, what are they interested in, do they have children, what social media platforms are they using etc.
Once you have defined your perfect client see if that’s in line with your current clientele, if not make the necessary adjustments. You can use your Google analytics from your website or Instagram analytics to find your current client demographic.
Look, if you’re an entrepreneur then I know you work your ass off. So take this time to rest and get inspired. Re-ignite that flame. Take it easy and watch some movies, search Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration. As business owners we never take the time to rest so take this opportunity to relax and reflect on why you chose to do what you do in the first place. If you have anything to add to this list I'd love to hear it in the comments below. We can all use more ideas right now.
Some of the most common questions asked by my clients before a shoot are: How do you prepare your makeup for pictures? Should I wear makeup to a photo shoot? How do you prepare for a photo shoot the night before? How should I do my makeup for an outdoor photo shoot? What makeup looks best on camera? How do you prepare your skin for a photo shoot? What foundation is best for photo shoots? How do I style my hair for a photo shoot?
So I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to bring in my talented friend and Makeup artist Renee Jacobson for some insight on the topic of pre shoot makeup and skin care. Renee and I have worked together on multiple projects and she is one of the most popular makeup artists in Portland. I'm honored she took the time to be my guest author for today's blog. We hope these tips help. Make sure to connect with Renee on Instagram HERE
Let's keep it simple
You’re beautiful. You’re perfect. You’re fabulous. Don’t feel pressured to stray too far (or at all) from your typical beauty/grooming routine. A gentle exfoliation for your face and lips the night before your shoot, followed by your favorite moisturizer will go a long way in helping your skin look it’s best.
Check that your hair, skin, brows, and nails are all clean, tidy, and groomed to your liking, and Voilá! You’re photo shoot ready!
Book ALL the Things (with a buffer)
Giving yourself that buffer allows your skin time to normalize and recuperate. It also provides a ‘woopsie’ window in case one of said services doesn’t quite turn out how you expected.
Any of the above mentioned services can be done at home. If you’re a DIYer and/or on a budget, I see you. You’re a champion.
Two bits of advice:
1. Give yourself a buffer. Plan your self care and grooming into your schedule at least a couple days before your shoot. Procrastination can lead to a late night pre-shoot, and the power of beauty sleep should not be underestimated.
2. Stick to what you know. If you’ve never waxed your own eyebrows, the night before your photo shoot is not the time to try.
And remember- it’ll be tempting...you’ll find little things that beckon for it... but RESIST the urge to pick. Leave it alone.
Leave it be.
Practice in the mirror
If the very thought stresses you out, skip it. You’ve booked a photographer who will direct your movements and help you feel comfortable and look fabulous in front of the camera.
However, bringing your own poses to the table can be a great way to ensure that your photos capture your authenticity and most flattering form. If you want to get some practice in, spend some time with yourself in the mirror. Find the poses and shapes that flatter your form and take note of how they feel in your body, and how you moved into them, so you can recreate that sensation when the mirror is a camera. But again, don’t stress! Your photographer will guide you.
No, really. Being in front of the camera can be surprisingly physical. You may be asked to bend, stretch, twist, lift, sit, stand, climb, leap... This will not be a passive experience so do your body the favor of a few down dogs the night before and/or morning of.
Cameras see differently than our eyes do. The inconsistencies in skin tone and texture become more exaggerated and apparent through a lens. Basic cosmetics can brighten dark under eye areas and smooth away tonal inconsistencies, saving your photographer hours of editing.
Anyone and everyone who professionally exists in front of a camera wears makeup. In the world of photography, it’s a must. Even if makeup isn’t a part of your daily life, it should be included in the schedule and budget for shoot day.
Hire a professional! Hair and makeup artists exist to help you look and feel your best for your big day. Freelance hair and makeup artists will meet you at the photo studio, or even at your home, with all of the tools, products, and expertise to create the look you want, that the camera understands, and that will keep your photographer behind the lens (their happy place) instead of stuck editing in front of the computer (significantly less happy place).
If you’re confident with your own cosmetic skills, you may still want to consider hiring a pro as the products and techniques for photography makeup do differ from day to day makeup. But if you’re going to DIY, here are some things to keep in mind:
The goal is to create an even “canvas” and accentuate the features that you’d like to be seen- typically brows, eyes, cheeks/contours, lips.
There are thousands of tips and tricks to consider when planning out your makeup look. Here are a few:
-Foundation doesn’t need to be a mask. Well-chosen and well-blended concealers are often enough. Allowing your natural skin to show through keeps you looking like you, and also helps prevent the dreaded mismatched jaw “line.”
-Which brings us to blending. Use less product and build slowly. Buff, blend, blend, and blend some more. Harsh lines, mismatched tones, and uneven application can lead to even more hours of editing than no makeup at all. Blend it out, boo.
Don’t be scared.
Choose a color that’s just a couple of shades deeper than your skin.
Start at the top of your ear and bring it down no lower than the bottom of your nose, following your cheek bone. Not in the hollows of your cheeks, but juuuust above that, and still below the crest of your cheek bone.
Add a kiss to both temples, a dusting to your hairline and under your jaw line, and to the sides of your nose. Blend it out. Boom. Now the camera can see the natural contours of your face, and they won’t get lost or “blown out” in bright light.
Go a bit bolder with your blush than you would on the daily. Much of the color gets lost in light and editing so make sure to include it in your look.
But above all, remember that you are art. You are beautiful and worthy of existing in photos.
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Someone asked me the other day how I avoid burning out when I photograph people almost daily. I should start by saying I'm an introvert and I'm pretty vocal about that on social media. For all you extroverts out there FYI, Introverts, by definition, expend energy when they’re around other people. We recharge our energy by being alone, doing solitary activities like reading, watching Netflix, meditating, spending time in nature, and in my case editing photos at home.
You could say I run a higher risk of burnout from too much social interaction as I am an introverted photographer and I work with a lot of people. In this article I'll explain how I shoot almost every day and don’t burnout. Make sure to connect with me on Instagram HERE
I Guard my schedule fiercely
Anything that involves interaction with people, like client meetings, photo sessions, and networking events all drain my energy. Don't get me wrong, I love photography and everything that comes with it but I can feel very low on energy at the end of these social activities.
I’m very careful that I don’t force myself into a schedule with too many social activities and not enough recharge time. I like to alternate photo sessions or meetings with plenty of down time. This is where time blocking really comes in handy and I learned this strategy in the Book The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.
I find it necessary to give myself permission to rest and recharge even though it can be hard sometimes.
I Prepare Mentally & Physically
By preparing in advance for photo sessions and meetings etc, I allow myself time to become mentally engaged in what I’m doing. I have to be ready and prepared to shoot so I don’t feel put on the spot or unprepared.
I also find it helpful to prepare physically. For example, by cleaning my gear, charging my batteries, and packing my bags the day before a shoot, to keep myself from scrambling at the last minute, and having to worry that I forgot something.
Another way I like to prepare is finding photos on Pinterest or Instagram the day before that I can show my client on the day of shooting for posing ideas based on what we are photographing, Fashion, lifestyle, portraits, etc.
Practice, Practice, Practice
In order for me to instruct my models confidently, I need to practice my favorite poses until I’ve mastered them.
My clients take their cues from me. Not all my clients are professional models working for an agency, so by practicing ahead of time I’m able to feel confident and secure in my directions which allows for less anxiety during a shoot. You don't have to be a high energy outgoing extrovert to be a successful photographer. If you’re a soft spoken introvert like myself I would suggest using pictures like I mentioned above as examples to have your clients mimic the pose.
I Rest and Recharge
As I mentioned above, as an introvert I have to set aside time for rest and relaxation. This could be meditation, reading, Netflix, Location Scouting, walking outside, hiking, playing with my dog, a good workout, or going to a movie.
I know how hard it is to stop working when there’s a mountain more that could be done. It’s so easy to say, “I can read when I’m done. I’ll just edit one more picture.” Which turns into 2 then 4 then 10 and before you know it hours have passed. So I HAVE to time block to get it in.
The truth is there will ALWAYS be something else you could do. If you don’t take time out for yourself, you’ll burn out, resent your business, and quit. And if you don’t quit you sure as hell won’t thrive in your business so give yourself permission to rest and recharge, so that you can continue to serve your clients and serve your business like a Rockstar.
If you’re an introvert like me, chances are you’re even more prone to burnout than others. It’s just a fact of life. Especially at the end of a long, intensely busy day or week or month of shooting. But take it from me, you CAN avoid the burn!
Hope these tips help. And if you have any to add please do in the comments below 🙏😀
Digital Stylized photography, other wise known as Composite Photography is one of the most compelling and visually stunning forms of photography and digital art you'll ever see and a personal favorite of mine. A Digital Stylized photographer will create what's known as a composite image. These are made up of two or more photographs, which are combined to create one image. And while this definition makes compositing sound quick and easy, it's anything but, often times it requires several hours of photography and Photoshop work to complete a final piece. Believe it or not you've seen composite images in ads, on websites, in the news, even on your friend’s Instagram.
As a Cosplay Photographer myself naturally I'm friends with other Cosplay photographers and I'm often envious of their composite skills. Photoshop is my weakness so I take more of a cinematic or editorial approach that requires less Photoshop but I look up to my fellow artists who can take out the background, put their subject anywhere and add effects like light, background, particles, explosions and other images. One of these talented artists is my friend Anthony with Soul Studios in Seattle. I'm constantly in awe of his work so I asked him if he'd like to be my guest author for today's article and he obliged. Below you will find some of his work and his take on Digital Stylized photography. We hope this inspires you.
Painting with Light
Photography has been around for a long long time, but the way it has been done has shifted greatly since it began. Painting with light, that is what photography means, and these days photography is everywhere. With high resolution cameras at most people's fingertips with the technology of cell phones, everyone is a photographer.
Instagram is a popular tool used for capturing and editing photos, and with today's influx of selfies, landscapes, and random cell phone photos, it has become increasingly difficult to stand out. What makes a photo unique? Is it the subject matter? The lighting? The costume? Or maybe the Photoshop effects? To be honest, it is all of the above. In this digital age, photography is as immersive as any other form of digital media.
Define your Style
Finding the right balance of traditional photography vs. added digital effects is tough and one of the keys to making your photos stand out. Digital Stylized photography is something that can consist of any digital image. It does not have to be some crazy Photoshop composite to be a stylized photo, in fact I would say most are not. But effects can bring a photo to life and make a photo that one could see as dull stand out. There is not any one subject matter that is exclusive to this style of photography as any photo can be enhanced to a point. But there are subject matters that are made for this stylized approach to photography.
One of the most important things to find in doing stylized photography is your style. A style that defines you and how you want your images to look. This is 100% up to you, whether it is a high contrast look with low saturation, or adding film grain to give it that gritty feel. Finding what fits you and makes you happy is the most important. For example, something I add to all of my images is particles and atmospherics. I want my viewers to feel like they are looking at a real image, something that was taken in camera. So I try my best to make my images as camera accurate as possible, with some added pop of course.
Find your Process
Finding your process is also important. While it is very easy to see someone else’s gear and lighting set-up and try to copy every aspect of that to a T. But does it work for you? Or are you just doing what you think is the best way? Who said it was the best? What works for you? You are the artist and this is your vision. I often fight off the urge to compare my images to that of the amazing digital artists that I admire, wishing my images could look like theirs, and feeling like my work is no good once I look at both. But there is something to always remember. While having inspiration is so important, do not let that inspiration turn into doubt. Looking at someone's amazing work should never hold you back from creating something.
You are probably wondering how someone creates a digitally stylized photo. Well that is where your creative mind comes in. When I am shooting, I often try and have what I want the end result to be in my own mind, striving to make the subject look as close to that as I can in camera. This has many elements to it. Is the pose right? How about the angle? Does the horizon line match up? What is glowing? Do I need to adjust my lights to match how the light is going to be hitting them? What color is the light?
These are all things I think about when I am shooting my images. For example, if I know my subject is going to have an explosion behind them in my final image, I am going to want to put a orange light behind them to have that same glow of light that would come from the explosion. But that is my style of shooting, that is what works for me. And that works knowing my limits in my editing skills.
Break the Rules
Can you still do digital stylized photography if you are not a Photoshop wizard? Of course you can. Get creative and ask yourself, how can this photo stand out more? Should you get low and shoot up to make it look more dynamic? Should you try and get them mid-air so there is action in the photo? Try new things and think outside of the box.
Break the rules of photography and see what you can and can't do. It might not work, but that does not mean you have failed, that just means that you can try something else that might work. Whether you have the skill set to take your photo into Photoshop and add an epic explosion or someone holding a fireball. Or you love to do things in camera and you have your subject hold your flash to make them appear to be holding an energy ball. There is no right way to do photography. Be bold, be creative, and try new things.
Location Scouting. One of the most undervalued aspects of photography. Whether you're a landscape photographer, wedding photographer, portrait photographer, or fashion photographer, the more locations you have at your disposal the more valuable you become. In fact I'm often told by my clients one of the reasons they hired me was because they love the locations I use.
I Always try my best to find new and unique locations that most people don't know about. I have spent countless hours researching locations and driving around scouting locations. Because of this I'm not always quick to giveaway my favorite locations to anyone who asks. In this article I wont be giving away my locations but rather teaching you how you can find the perfect location for your next shoot all on your own. Connect with me on Instagram HERE and let me know the most helpful tip in the comments below.
Location Scouting Tip 1: Just Drive
Let's start with the best way to find a new location. Literally drive around and look with your eyes. As I'll mention below the problem with scouting online is you can't always be guaranteed a location will still be around or that it's in the same condition as in the photos you saw or if it's on private property or if there are obstacles to get there.
For example if you need a field or even abandoned house for a shoot you probably want to try driving out in the country. That's where you'll find fields and abandoned dilapidated houses. You may have to drive down random roads with no destination in mind until you come across the perfect spot you're looking for.
When you find one open Google maps.
- Look for the blue dot indicating where you are.
- Tap and hold next to the blue dot until a red pin appears. At the top of the App it will say "Dropped Pin."
- At the bottom of the App click "Label"
- Name the label something that you'll remember like "Abandoned 2 story house in Field" Then save.
- You now have that secret spot Saved in google maps so you can GPS to it in the future. Check out what my google maps looks like after all the locations I've saved.
Now for your final step. After you've Pinned the location take a photo or 2 for reference when you forget in the future and trust me, you will. Open the photo in your Instagram story, add corresponding text to the photo as shown below.
The text should match what you labeled it in google maps. For example I have a folder in my phone for abandoned places. So when I find an abandoned location that I'd love to come back to I'll pin it and label it something like "Apocalypse 1." I'll then take a photo and add corresponding text that says "Apocalypse 1."
That way if I open my maps and can't remember what the pinned location was or I want to share location ideas with a client I can find it in my folder on my phone. Organization is king. You can use other apps to add text to a photo but Instagram is easy so I'll use it to add the text and save the photo but not post it. Then I'll save the photo to the corresponding folder on my phone. Boom!
Location Scouting Tip 2: Instagram
Instagram is a great tool to find locations. Just think about it. Everyone uses Instagram to post where they are and what they're doing so more often than not a photo will be tagged with the location. So get on Instagram and go to the search bar and click places. Let's say I need a coffee shop for my location or I just wanna explore the area to see if anything jumps out at me.
Search the general area you're looking for like "Portland Oregon" Make sure you're under the places tab. Once you type in "Portland Oregon" it will come up as an option as well as popular locations in the area. This is the perfect place to explore nearby locations. When you click one, like "Oregon Zoo" it will take you to a feed of photos where people have tagged that location and you can get ideas of what you can expect. Let's say you click "Oregon Zoo" and it doesn't look like a good location. Go back and try the next location like "Portland Cars & Coffee" Do this until you see a location you like.
An even better option for searching Instagram and my go to is searching with tags instead of places. So You might search Oregon under the tags tab. Then you'll see a feed of photos anyone has posted with the #oregon. When you see a location that looks good click the photo and hopefully they tagged the location. If they tagged the location it shows at the top under their user name as shown below. Click the location that's tagged and it will take you to a feed of photos all tagged with that location as I mentioned above. This way you know they tagged the right location (Sometimes they don't) Once you have your general location you can start your research via google.
Location Scouting Tip 3: Evaluate the area
Do your best to evaluate and prepare. Especially when shooting with a client. It's always a good idea to visit the area before meeting a client there. Be aware of any obstacles. Be aware of the weather and temperature. A desert location, mountain location, or beach location will all have different weather and temps. Is your subject posing in water? How cold is the water? Could be a hot day but the water might be freezing. Prepare for that. What will the lighting be like? This will make a huge difference. Where will the sun be rising, where will the sun be setting. I use an app called PhotoPills to know ahead of time the direction of the sun at a specific location.
How popular is the location? Know the up and down times. Lets say you need a coffee shop or dinner. Find out when the slow times are so you can shoot without disrupting customers or getting people in your photo. Maybe you're shooting at a popular landmark. Unless you want a tone of people in the background behind your subject you might want to get there at sunrise.
Is the location on private property? This is a big one I run into all the time. When it comes to trespassing I can't tell you it's a good idea. That being said I do it all the time. However my caveat is this: I would never trespass on property that is currently occupied. That's just dangerous and extremely rude. But if I come across somewhere that's clearly abandoned I'll usually take my chances. Just don't forget it is against the law and I've been caught trespassing more than once. It's never fun. Any chance you get to ask for permission you should.
Location Scouting Tip 4: Flickr
Much like Instagram, Flickr is a photo sharing app where photographer share beautiful photos from all around the world and more often than not they will share the exact location. Try searching an area your interested in and see what you find :)
Location Scouting Tip 5: Loaded Landscape
Loaded Landscapes is one of my favorite tools when traveling. What they do is simple, they help photographers find the best locations to photograph, and provide helpful information that you can use to plan your own trips. I love that they constantly add more destinations. This site is made for Landscape photographers but is a huge tool for portrait photographers and lifestyle photographers. Just click the link and click the state your interested in. You're guaranteed to find something new :)
Location Scouting Tip 6: ShotHotspot
So, ShotHotspot is my favorite website for finding abandoned locations. They use sites like Flickr and Panoramio to build up an idea of which areas of the world are the best for photography. I use them to scout locations for photo shoots all the time, abandoned places, beautiful landscapes, and more. Urban exploration is huge right now but if you're exploring an abandoned location it's best not to go alone and if you do please be careful.
Location Scouting Tip 7: Leave no Trace
This is the most important tip of all. As photographers we all know how important it is to keep our favorite locations exactly the way we found them. It's imperative that we never leave anything behind and always respect the location.
GEAR 👏🏻DOESN'T 👏🏻 MATTER (When you start out)
Honestly, you do not need an expensive camera, fancy lighting, or an outrageous lens to get started. The key is just starting. Everyone has a cellphone with a camera on it. You have the tools you need right in your pocket.
Some of the best creators on Instagram right now only use their iPhones. And as they say “The best camera you have is the one you have on you” I once had to use my cell phone for a real estate gig because my camera lens wasn’t wide enough for some shots and the client didn’t even notice.
Don’t believe me? Checkout these 5 random Mobile Photographers who are killing it right now.
The gear you use doesn’t matter when you start out. It's about the story, the creativity, the composition, and the emotions behind the photo. What’s most important is just start. I shot with a cellphone for years before I got my first camera.
Plus, if you don't teach yourself the principles and techniques of photography, it won't matter if you have a nice camera, because your photos will look like garbage. One of my most popular photos (The Pittock Mansion) was taken on my cell phone because that’s the only camera I had on me at the time.
Professional photographer Sephi Bergerson shot an entire wedding on his iPhone 6s Plus and were the results as good as they would have been with a camera? No. But were the bride and groom happy? Yes. Did he get paid? Yes. and that's all that matters. Making your clients happy
Same can be said for video. In fact did you know the Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh made his latest film Unsane using an iPhone 7 Plus, and the accolades the film has received suggest it was worth the risk. Did you know Lady Gaga‘s music video Stupid Love was shot on an iPhone 11 pro as well as Selena Gomez's Lose you to Love me video? And check out this epic snowball fight filmed by the great John Wick Director David Leitch on an iPhone 11 pro.
Now before you show this to a gear head and they lose their mind over the thought of someone using a cellphone for business keep in mind I'm only suggesting starting with a cell phone and upgrading when you're ready. There is no dispute, a camera lens will always take Higher Quality images than a cellphone. i.e. more pixels. and a cellphone will never give you that great depth of field you can get with a camera.
Say it with me:
Do you agree?
With over 1 billion monthly users you would be a fool not to leverage Instagram to promote your brand in 2020. Unfortunately it’s a lot harder to grow a following than it used to be and it’s far more competitive but with the strategies and tips I give you in this article you will see growth in no time.
In this article I lay out the blueprint to gaining new followers organically without spending money in 10 steps. These are easy actionable steps anyone can take to grow their Instagram following.
Grow your Instagram Following Tip #1: Create Memes That Resonate with Your Audience
If there's one thing you can't go a day without seeing on social media it's a meme. Meme's are popular right now, like, really popular. Probably why Instagram accounts like fuckjerry & mytherapistsays built their brand around memes. They have both massed over 4 million followers thanks to memes. Brands are starting to realize the power of witty Instagram memes, especially when it comes to building brand identity, driving product interest, and gaining more Instagram followers.
Memes will typically have some kind of cultural relevance, they’re often clever or funny, and they typically feature a combination of text and imagery (this can be a photo, a GIF, or even a video).
Take for example my meme on models choosing what to wear. It got 49 shares, 25 saves with a reach of 6,146 and 57 profile visits. These are the insights that matter. and they are better than most of the photos I post. Don't worry about likes as Instagram is taking those away soon anyways. Likes and comments don't convert to new followers. Shares, Reach, and Profile visits do.
Like my meme above your goal should be to generate a meme that is relatable to you audience, funny, and on brand. For example, my audience is mainly models, photographers, cosplayers, and anyone who loves photography. So any meme related to those 4 things will be relatable and preform alot better than if I posted a random meme about car owners or video games. All you need is a meme generator to get started. The App I use is Meme generator shown below.
Grow your Instagram following tip #2: Collaborate With Kickass Brands
The power of collaborating with like-minded and complementary brands is undeniable and will introduce your brand to a completely new and hopefully engaged audience you may have never reached on your own.
When another Instagram user discovers you through a collaboration you’ve done they are more likely to crush that follow button because odds are if they found you from a collaboration they are the demographic you’re looking for.
Collaborations with complementary brands will double your organic reach and are 25 times less expensive than digital advertising! Just make sure that your collaboration is mutually beneficial and both your audiences will benefit from your collaboration.
On brand collaborations for example: Because I shoot alot of fashion it makes sense that I would collab with influencers, models, designers, and makeup artists because their audience will be similar to mine and thus mutually beneficial. 7 things I look for in a collaboration (meaning not paid). What's their following like? Whats their engagement like? Will their audience connect with my work? Will mine connect with theirs? Do we have similar values? What kind of connections do they have? How skilled are they? I try to find people and brands that have a similar or bigger following than me but will collab with someone with little to no following if they are incredibly talented. The 7 things I look for are important. If you're just collabing with anyone and everyone with no intention you will fail in your industry, miserably.
So how do you find people and brands to collab with? Do your research, join local facebook groups related to your industry like Portland Models. Search local hashtags like #portlandmodel or #portlanddesigner or portlandMUA
Grow your Instagram Following Tip #3: Promote Your Instagram Content on Other Platforms
This might be one of my favorite tips on the list. If you want to grow your Instagram following you should really promote your page outside of the Instagram app. I have gained a majority of my following this way. Promote your Instagram page on your website, email, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Tiktok.
My favorite platform to cross promote my Instagram content is Facebook groups. For example, I joined the Halloween 24/7 Facebook group because there is a big audience there who will most likely like my horror cosplay content. So when I post in that group I always link to my Instagram account to see more. I do this in multiple groups and every time I do I notice new followers who came from that post on Facebook.
Grow your Instagram Following Tip #4: Get in front of the Camera More
Don’t forget social media is still social and your followers want to see the person or people behind the brand. It’s extremely important to make your account as relatable and personable as possible not to mention photos with faces get 38% more likes on Instagram.
People want to know who is behind the brand just as much as your business and products. If you have a team why not have them post and share content about the business from their personal pages. You never know, your employees followers may have an interest in your brand and people love behind the scenes content.
Grow your Instagram Following Tip #5: Post more Videos
In 2014 the future of social media content was video well the future is now. Every brand is now creating video content for Tiktok, Youtube, IGTV and their feed to drive business because that’s what people want to see. Video has by far become the most popular form of content in 2020. IGTV is a great place to post your video content and behind the scenes. And if your video appears on the explorer page they appear four times larger than photos. Video content isn’t going anywhere so if you really want to start growing your audience you must start incorporating more video content into your social media strategy.
Grow your Instagram Following Tip #6: Use Instagram Stories
Instagram stories are a great place to interact with your audience. Post things that don't need to be in your feed like a new post, behind the scenes, polls, quiz's, shout outs, tips, funny memes, everyday life, and questions.
Give people a reason to follow you besides your work by posting more personal and fun daily content on your story. As far as photos go keep your feed business and your story personal. I'm also told that Instagram shows your feed to more people if people are interacting with your stories.
Grow your Instagram Following Tip #7: Post long captions or multiple photos at once.
The Instagram algorithm knows how long people are looking at your post. A post will be more successful the more time people spend on your post. If everyone is scrolling right past it you wont get much engagement or reach. Long meaningful or entertaining captions do better than short and sweet ones. And posts with multiple photos seem to preform better than one photo.
Grow your Instagram Following Tip #8: Check your Insights!
How do you expect to find out what's working and what's not without data? The only way to get that data is through insights and the only way to get insights is by making sure your Instagram profile is set to Business or Creator. To check and or switch your profile open Instagram and go to your profile, then click the top right 3 bars, then click settings, then click account, and at the bottom you'll see your options to switch your account to Business, Personal, or Creator. Once you see your insights you can see your followers age, gender, location, and most popular time of day your audience is online. Most importantly you can see what posts were shared, saved, and commented on the most as well as the reach of each post. This information will tell you what your audience is connecting with.
Grow your Instagram Following Tip #9: Use Hashtags!
Potential clients are using hashtags to search for what you have to offer. This is how they find you. For example someone might be looking for a local MUA for their wedding so they might search #OrlandoMUA. The key with hashtags is to use quality over quantity. Instagram allows 30 hashtags but I have been told posts preform better with 9. but however many you use make sure they aren't all too popular. When choosing a hashtag Instagram tells you how many people are using that tag. Try choosing 4 relevant hashtags below 100K and 4 between 100K-500K and 2 Super relevant hashtags like #PortlandWeddingPhotographer or #PDXphotographer. I've had multiple people find me and follow me from searching #Portlandphotographer.
2 Apps I use for every post is Focalmark to find relevant hashtags and IG LineBreak for clean spacing between paragraphs.
Grow your Instagram Following Tip #10: Always Comment Back
I’ll never understand why brands with under 20,000 followers don’t comment back. If you’re getting under 100 comments on a post you can make the time to comment back to your community. I understand if you have 1 million followers being overwhelmed and not being able to comment back but for most of you this won’t be the case. Your fans notice if you never comment back and before you know it they will stop commenting altogether.
Show your fans you appreciate them by at least saying thank you to each comment. Don’t forget you wouldn’t be anywhere without them. And go a step further by interacting with them on their posts. It is called social media for a reason, you can’t succeed without being social. If you have to time block 30 minutes each day just to make sure you are interacting with your community I promise in the end it will be worth it.
Grow your Instagram Following Tip #11: Bonus tip, Stop buying followers.
Buying followers and joining engagement groups and Instagram pods is the quickest way to be shadow band or even having your account disabled. All of these things are against Instagram rules and guidelines but more importantly they just don’t work.
It’s blatantly obvious when someone has purchased followers, I see it all the time. 100,000 followers with little to no engagement on each post makes your account worthless. You’re not fooling anyone and it’s not helping you gain clients. So stop it. Not to mention purchasing followers is a waste of money.
I know this all may seem like alot of work and it is but if you're trying to succeed in your industry you must grow your reach and these tips will help you do that. Let me know in the comments below what tip helped you the most or if you have any to add :) Connect with me on Instagram HERE
"I've booked my session and I'm excited for the shoot but have no idea what to wear." I hear this all the time. Whether this is your first shoot or your 5th, what you choose to wear to your photo session is just as important as the lighting, posing and location. Wardrobe may seem like a no brainer but If you show up under dressed or completely avoid the guidelines below you could take away from what could have been a great photo. The last thing you want is your clothing to be a distraction.
27 Posing Ideas for Women Who Aren't Models
The tips below are specifically for portraits, lifestyle and head shots. If you’re doing a fashion shoot these won’t apply to you as fashion is more about wardrobe and less about the model. Just remember there is an exception to every rule. If you decide not to read on just make sure to read this: The most important tip I can give you is wear what makes you feel comfortable and confident. Let me know in the comments below if this article helped you or if there is anything I should add to this list. All photos below were taken by me except for the memes. Make sure to connect with me on Instagram HERE
1. Wear what makes you feel Awesome.
As I mentioned above I will start with the most important tip of all. Wear what makes you feel confident because if you don’t feel confident it will always show on camera. Try your best to follow the rules below but at the end of the day what makes you feel comfortable and confident is the most important. I would rather you break the rules with an outfit that makes you feel amazing than the other way around.
2. Avoid bright colors.
Keep in mind that bright colors like orange, yellow, and red tend to make you look larger than you actually are and bright and fluorescent colors can be reflective and don’t photograph well. If you would like to wear lighter colors I would stick with pastels. Below is an example of great pastel colors to look for. These are great for dark locations like a forest. If the background will be dark than dark clothing should be avoided. This is why you should always discuss location with your photographer before choosing your outfit.
3. Avoid prints, patterns, and graphics.
Again, unless you’re modeling for a brand or making a statement, patterns, prints, and graphics are to be avoided. We don’t want anything that’s going to distract from your beautiful face.
4. Bring options. Lots of options.
It’s never a bad idea to bring more outfits than you need on the day of a shoot. Men: Bring different ties, different shirts, different suit jackets. For casual headshot sessions or actor headshot sessions, bring a basic soft tee and long sleeve shirt. Variety is king and hopefully your photographer offers multiple wardrobe changes. Your photographer should let you know how many outfits are included in your price and if they don’t make sure to ask.
5. Wear flattering clothes that fit well.
I know this one seems obvious but you would be surprised. Wear clothes that fit you well and flatter your figure. If you’re going to shop for an outfit for the shoot don’t wait till the day of to try them on. Ladies: make sure to bring at least one dress to your session. I recommend dresses with a thicker material that will fight off wrinkles better than thin material.
6. Choose clothes that cover your skin.
Arms and legs have a larger surface area than your face which means when they are showing they can take away from the face, to avoid this I suggest long sleeve shirts, long pants, or a skirt that goes below the knee. If your self conscious about your arms and or legs this is the best way to help draw attention away from them and onto your face. obviously this one won’t apply to you if do you want to show off your arms or legs.
7. Go with a narrow neck line.
It’s been said that a wide neckline can thicken the neck in a photograph. I'm not sure this is true but to avoid this I suggest wearing clothes that come close to your neck such as a turtle neck or V-neck top because they slim you down and frame your face and tend to be the most flattering neck lines. However if you have really nice collarbones I would suggest a wide neckline.
8. Wear muted, Jewel, or Earth tones.
I always suggest going with muted, jewel, or earth tones to my clients because they don’t draw attention. The more subtle the better however if wearing something really loud fits your personality better that’s okay too. Below are some examples of muted, jewel, and earth tones I'd look for when putting an outfit together.
9. Keep to solid colors.
As you can probably tell, our main objective when choosing what to wear is to pick clothes that don’t draw attention to itself. Choosing an outfit with solid colors is always a great choice because they’re not overbearing or distracting. I hate to beat a dead horse but I really want this to sink in. Yes black is okay as long as the location isn't dark. Keep in mind darker colors are more slimming than lighter colors.
10. Choose your outfit first.
This is specifically for family portraits so mom and dad it can be extremely helpful to choose what you want to wear first and then build the rest of the family’s wardrobe off of that. Make sure your outfits coordinate but don’t match.
11. Dress for location and season.
When choosing an outfit keep in mind where you will be shooting and what the weather will be like as I said before it’s extremely important that you are comfortable so you wouldn’t want to wear a sleeveless in the dead of winter and you probably wouldn’t want to wear a turtleneck in the middle of summer. Dress for the season. If it’s cool and crisp out make sure to layer up. Pinterest is a great place to look for examples.
12. Have a clothing option with movement.
This one’s really for the ladies. I recommend flowy dresses, skirts, or scarves. These are great for movement shots like dancing on the beach.
13. Jewelry is fine.
A beautiful necklace, set of earrings, bracelet or hat can go a long way as long as they aren't too distracting. And for the men a watch is always recommended. A nice hat works as well for an old 50's vibe.
Hair, makeup, and so much more.
It is perfectly normal to want a haircut right before a shoot you’re paying good money for. But try your best to have it done 2 weeks before the shoot. A fresh cut or fade generally looks better after a week or 2 has passed and you’ll know how to style it just right in case you changed your hairstyle. The day of your shoot is not the time to try a new hairstyle. Stick with a look that you know you like.
Try to cover up any blemishes the best you can but keep your make up simple and minimalistic. You don’t want your photos to look like 90s glamour shots. A small amount of eyeliner, mascara, foundation, powder, concealer, blush, little eye shadow and subtle lip color goes along way. If you'd rather leave hair and makeup to a professional I work with an amazing Hair and Makeup Artist Renée J. Beauty who you can contact HERE
27 Posing Ideas for Men Who Aren't Models
The last thing you want are dry chapped lips so bring lip gloss, lipstick or lip balm to keep those lips nice and soft.
Typically I have my clients remove glasses for photos but if no one will recognize you without your glasses I recommend wearing them. However a little trick I like to do is having my clients remove the lenses from the frame because reflections in a lens can ruin a photo. This is an old Hollywood trick ;)
Gentlemen, if you are going to show up freshly shaven make sure to use aftershave moisturizer to limit bumps and redness. If you have a beard make sure it’s trimmed and tight.
Keep your nails clean and tidy, this will make a huge difference in photos if your hands are showing. Go with a neutral color that won’t clash with your outfit.
If you take anything away from this article just remember to keep it simple, stick to solid colors so your outfit isn’t the first thing that’s noticed. Flatter your shape, wear something that fits and shows your figure well. Keep it relaxed and natural, your clothing, make up, and hair should be natural and have your hair frame your features. If shooting with a group make sure to coordinate not match, plan your color palette and the vibe you’re going for. It’s best to view the outfits together before hand.
The 10 best websites for Cosplay Costumes & Props
Don’t wear graphics or distracting patterns. Don’t dress too casual unless the session calls for it, typically a photo session is a special occasion, so wear your Sunday’s best. Coordinate your outfits a day or two before the shoot. It’s easy to think that wardrobe is a no brainer but you’ll be scrambling on the day of your shoot if you don’t coordinate your outfit and decide to wing it. certainly don’t wait until the day of your shoot to try a new outfit for the first time or style your hair and make up a new way for the first time.
Most importantly be yourself. The guidelines above are just that, guidelines. Ultimately wearing what makes you feel comfortable and confident is the most important guideline of all. If all of this is too overwhelming and you would rather just let someone else take care of wardrobe for you I always suggest a stylist. And my go to stylist in the area is The Luggage Cart. Alix is the best Wardrobe Stylist I know. Contact her for a free consultation HERE
Photography For Beginners (Shutter Speed, Aperture/F-stops, and ISO)
Perhaps the most important part of photography is exposure. And no I don't mean likes on Instagram or shares on facebook. We will talk about that kind of exposure in another article. I'm talking about how you expose your photos in camera before you ever click the button. It doesn't matter how good your camera is or how good the composition is if your exposure is off it can ruin a great photo. I would know because I've done it many times. Of course if you're shooting in RAW like you should be than you can recover a poorly exposed photo with software like Adobe Lightroom. But even Lightroom can only go so far. If your photo is too over exposed you can't save the highlights and if your photo is too underexposed you cant recover the shadows. It's best to expose your shot how you want it before you take the photo and to do so you'll need to know the 3 basic elements of exposure: Shutter, Aperture, and ISO.
For the sake of time I'll assume you've located the shutter, aperture, and ISO buttons on your camera, if not, the photo above might help locating them in the menu however every camera is different. This article is specifically for shooting in manual mode. I know for a new photographer manual can seem scary but if you just learn these 3 elements of photography you'll elevate your game ten fold. Below is a cheat sheet to help you but I'll explain each one in depth below.
I won't bore you with the mechanics of each element. My goal is to make this as short and easy to understand as possible. All you need to know about ISO is the Higher the number the more light your camera will bring in. But there's a caveat to ISO you need to know. The higher you go the more grain you will get. However grain isn't necessarily bad. Some photographers want that grainy look. That's their style. But if that's not the look you want it's best to keep your ISO lower than 1,000.
That being said every camera is different and new cameras can go much higher with less grain than the older ones. For instance my SonyA7iii can shoot with ISO at 1,000 with no noise but my older SonyA6000 could only shoot at ISO 500 with no noise. It's best to play around with your camera in a dark location and find the sweet spot for your specific camera. Open the photos in light room and check the histogram to see what settings you used for each photo. Find the photo with the highest ISO but still has little to no grain. Remember that number and try your best to avoid going over it Last thing you want is to find out you just did a shoot for a client and all your photos are too grainy.
Aperture is a set of small blades that create a hole that determines how much light is let into the camera. The wider the hole the more light that comes in. The size of this hole is measured by F-stops. A large F-stop like F-22 means the hole is very small, and a low F-stop like F/2.8 means the hole is wide open. So the higher your F-stop the darker it will be and the lower your F-stop the brighter it will be however brightness and darkness aren't the only thing the changes when you adjust your aperture.
Aperture also controls depth of field. Depth of field determines how much of your photo is sharp and in focus and how much is blurry. A low F-stop like 2.8 is very narrow and will only focus on a specific part of the image while leaving everything else blurry. The closer you get to your subject with a small F-stop the more narrow the focus will be and thus the more blurry the background will be. A low F-stop is how you get that creamy background and beautiful bokeh effect with the lights in the background. Just keep in mind if you're shooting portraits it's extremely hard to get the eyes both in focus and everything sharp at a low F-stop like F/1.4 or 2.8. I find F/4.5 is best to get everything on your subject sharp and in focus. If your photographing a beautiful landscape or group of people however you will want a large F-stop like F-11 or F-22 to make sure everything and everyone is in focus.
Every lens is different and will determine how low you can go and how sharp an image looks at low aperture. My favorite lens in the Sony 85 MM 1.8 Prime
Without getting technical all you need to know is the lower your shutter speed the more light is let into the sensor and thus the brighter your image will be. The caveat for shutter speed is this: The lower you go the more sensitive your camera gets to movement and thus the blurrier your photo will be if any movement is involved. This means movement of the camera itself and the subject you're photographing. I highly suggest if you go under 1/100th of a second you use a tripod because anything below that and your camera will detect movement and the photo wont be sharp. Just remember your shutter speed effects brightness, darkness, and blur. For example if you want to catch movement of a athlete or waterfall just as it is in real life with no blur you'd want to use a fast shutter speed like 1/500th of a second and up. If you want the creamy smooth blur effect on a waterfall or a light trail at night you'd want to use a slower shutter speed like 1,5, or 10 seconds. A tripod is a MUST for slower shutter speeds. This is my go to Tripod.
Now that you know how each of these elements effects your exposure it's important to remember each one plays off the other. If you change one you'll have to change the rest. Lets say you're photographing a sporting event. High action, lots of movement. You'll need to crank up your shutter speed so your subjects aren't blurry. Probably 1/1000 and up. However, by doing so that will make your images darker so to makeup for the shutter speed you'll have to bring up the ISO. Lets say you're photographing a beautiful landscape or group of people, you'll want a large F-stop so everything and everyone is in focus. That will however bring down the brightness so you'll have to bring up the ISO and slow down your shutter speed to something like 1/125 to makeup for it. It's a dance but the more you do it the easier it will get. Of course there are pre-set modes on every camera to make this easier but then you have less control. Practice is the only way you will truly master your camera so get out there and practice, practice, practice.
Shoot in RAW
The 4th Element I think every new photographer should know is the power of shooting in RAW instead of JPEG. RAW files are a format that captures all the image data from your camera. ... Because no information is compressed with RAW you're able to produce higher quality images, as well as correct problem images that would be unrecoverable if shot in the JPEG format. Of course you'll need a program like adobe Light room or Photoshop to edit the RAW file but you have so much more to work with. Shooting in RAW will elevate your photography tenfold. I hope these tips help. Let me know if they did in the comments below and make sure to connect with me on Instagram HERE
Lets face it, professional models can take a lot of the burden off us as photographers by bringing their posing expertise to the table. But unfortunately we don't always have the benefit of shooting with a professional model. As a high caliber photographer it is important to have the ability to pose normal people with little to no experience in front of the camera. Below I have put together a list of 27 posing ideas for men who are not models along with photos for reference. Every photo below was taken by me.
While certain genres of photography get to work with models, most genres involve shooting normal people who will have varying degrees of comfort in front of the camera and natural posing ability. Posing was the hardest thing to learn for me personally and it is something I still work on every day. While I am jealous of photographers who have a natural ability to pose people on the fly, I unfortunately have found that I work best by having a list of go-to poses that I know work well for me and can fall back on if I need to. Until now I have kept that list to myself. If you are a model or photographer who struggles with posing I hope this list helps. Make sure to bookmark this page so you can bring it up at any shoot and go down the list and nail every pose. You do that and you will be guaranteed to leave the shoot with tons of variety. Connect with me on Instagram HERE and let me know if this article helped in the comments below.
1. Both hands in pockets
This pose works just as well with both hands in your subjects pants pockets but if they are wearing a jacket have them place both hands in their jacket pockets. Try full hands in or just thumbs showing.
2. The profile Pose/Side View
Have your subject stand to the side so you can only see one side of their face. Ask your subject if they have a favorite side. Most people do. Make sure to try different angles and perspectives.
3. Side Lean While Looking Away
Have your subject lean against a wall with one shoulder against the wall. Have them look at the camera, up at the sky, turn their head and look down or off into the distance. Make sure they have good posture. Stand tall and straight. Add a prop like coffee for more of a lifestyle feel.
4. The Laugh
Any time you can get your subject to genuinely smile or laugh take the shot. These candid moments are gold. Something I like to do for a laugh is ask my subject their favorite comedian and play that comedian on Spotify for a few minutes until they laugh. Or dad jokes, Really bad dad jokes often do the trick.
5. Hand on Wrist
This one only works if your subject is wearing a watch or bracelet. I usually tell my male subjects to wear a watch before hand. This gives them just one more thing to do with their hands. They will appreciate it.
6. Hand to Face
Have your subject turn to the side, slightly turn their torso/head and rest their head into their hand. Loose fingers and not to much bend in the neck.
7. The Scowl
If your subject hasn't done a photo shoot before they most likely assume they should be smiling for every photo. But depending on how they plan on using the photos and what mood and message they are trying to achieve smiling may not be the right choice. Try a slight scowl to change things up.
8. Over the Shoulder
Have your subject stand or sit to the side and look over their shoulder either at the camera or slightly looking back over their shoulder. A more serious look works best for this pose.
9. The Sleeve Pull
This pose works great if your subject has on a long sleeve shirt or button up. Have them play with their sleeve by pulling it up.
10. The Inside Pocket
If your subject is wearing a blazer or jacket with an inside pocket have them go through the act of putting something in the inside pocket.
11. Play with Buttons
If your subject is wearing a button up have then go through the act of buttoning and unbuttoning their shirt. Have them place one hand over the other as if they are about to unbutton their shirt.
12. Fist in Hand
This is a great pose for a more muscular subject who wants to show off those arms. Have them face the camera, stand tall and place a fist in one hand and flex.
13. Hand to Chest Side View
This is another great one for a subject who wants to show those arms. Have your subject stand tall, to the side, slightly turning their torso to the camera with one hand up by their chest, flexing the bicep, and looking into the camera or into the distance.
14. Jacket Over One Shoulder
If your subject has a jacket or blazer have them throw it over one shoulder.
15. Hands on Waist
Have your subject stand tall and place both hands on their hips or waist and flex those arms. Shoot from slightly below at an upward angle for a stronger look.
16. Sit and Lean
Have your subject sit and lean placing an elbow on the knee and hand to face.
17. Hand to Neck
Have your subject bring a hand to their neck just below the chin. Keep the hand loose. They aren't choking themselves.
18. One Hand in Pocket
Have your subject place just one hand in a pant pocket.
Depending on the mood and message your subject wants to convey a book is an easy prop to bring with you that can be used in multiple ways shown below. Again your subject will appreciate you giving them something to do with their hands.
20. Back to the Wall
Have your subject put his back to the wall looking into the camera or off into the distance. Try different perspectives.
21. Hand behind the Head
Have your subject place one hand behind his head. Not too much bend in the neck.
22. Cover half the Face
Have your model cover half his face with one or both hands. This brings all the focus to one eye.
23. Sit one leg Under
Have your subject sit on the ground with one leg under the other. Resting one elbow on the knee and the forearm on the thigh.
24. Hands Behind the Back
Have your subject place both hands behind their back, hands in butt pockets.
25. Sitting Pose
When having your subject sit on steps try different perspectives and have one foot higher than the other rather than both feet on the same step.
26. Candid Walking Pose
Have your subject walk a straight line down the side walk. Make sure he is walking casually, naturally and not looking into the camera. Try shooting from the side and slightly up from a lower angle.
27. One hand on Shoulder.
Have your subject look into the camera while placing one hand on his shoulder.
For more tips on posing men click HERE for Smart Posing Tips to Capture Perfect Male Portraits
Lighting is one of the most crucial aspects of photography. Good or bad lighting can make or break a shoot. However I believe there is a misconception in our industry that you're a better photographer if you own a great light setup and a studio. That's simply not true. 90% of my photos are done with natural light as in only using the light that is available to me. This could be the sun, fire, street lamp, arcade, or desk lamp in a hotel. No flash, no reflector, no diffuser. I will always prefer natural light and I get asked about lighting constantly so I thought I would share my tips on how you can improve your natural light photography skills.
27 Posing Ideas for Women Who Aren't Models
Let's start with Studio lighting. This may seem counter-intuitive, but learning the fundamentals of studio lighting has vastly improved my natural light photography skills, specifically for portraiture. Knowing where to position the subject in relation to the light in order to achieve a specific result is key to making excellent portraits no matter what your light source may be.
I'll start with 5 examples of the most common studio lighting set-ups and how you can re-create them using natural light and I'll follow that up with some great examples of how I use natural light for different moods and scenarios. All the photos below were taken by me. Make sure to connect with me on Instagram HERE. How to Improve your photography with natural light:
1. Split lighting
Light is 90 degrees in relation to your model to the side at face-level. One side of the face is highlighted and the other is in shadow, half and half, for a dramatic effect.
Outdoors: Position your model so the sun is directly hitting one side of the face. It should be a sunny day, not too cloudy, and the sun will need to be relatively low in the sky.
Indoors: Using natural light coming through a window, make sure your model is positioned parallel to the window with bright, even light directly hitting one side of the face.
2. Rembrandt lighting
Light is 45 degrees in relation to your model slightly to the side coming down from an angle just above their head. One side of the face is highlighted with the other side in shadow, with the exception of a triangle-shaped highlight beneath the eye. This effect is a more dramatic version of loop lighting (see below) with the nose and cheek shadows merging.
Outdoors: Position your model so the sun is at a mid-to-high angle in the sky, with your model slightly facing towards the sun. For that dramatic and moody Rembrandt effect, a sunny or partially sunny day is best to create the deepest shadows.
Indoors: Position your model to turn towards a window with bright, even lighting coming down just above the head.
3. Butterfly lighting
Light is 0 degrees in relation to your model direct coming down from a high angle. A small butterfly shadow is created under the nose along with subtle shadows under the cheeks and chin for a very flattering effect.
Outdoors: Position your model so the sunlight is directly hitting the front of the face. The sun will need to be relatively high in the sky. You may want to have your model slightly tilt their head up towards the sun. A cloudy day will soften the shadows.
Indoors: Position your model below and directly facing a window, ideally a high one, with light hitting the front of the face. You may need to get creative for example, covering/blocking the bottom portion of a large window so sunlight only shines down through the top to produce the right effect.
4. Flat lighting
Light is soft, even, and diffused. There are no/minimal shadows on the face.
Outdoors: Ideally, it will be a completely overcast, cloudy day so you can position your model anywhere in the environment. However, if it is a sunny day, put your model in a shaded area for example, under a tree or beneath a building overhang.
Indoors: Use a window that does not receive direct sunlight for example, a north-facing window or use white curtains over the window to diffuse bright light before facing your model directly towards it. Additionally, turn the model away from the window altogether this way the hair is backlit while soft, ambient light evenly highlights the face.
5. Loop lighting
Light is 30 to 45 degrees in relation to your model slightly to the side coming down from an angle slightly above eye-level. A small loop shadow is created beneath and to the side of the nose along with a soft shadow on the cheek of that same side. However, these two shadows do NOT touch, otherwise that would be considered Rembrandt lighting (see above.)
Outdoors: Position your model so the sun is at a mid-to-high angle in the sky, with the model slightly facing towards the sun.
Indoors: Have your model turn a bit towards a window with diffused light coming in right above eye-level.
If you want to fill in shadows for a softer and less dramatic portrait a reflector can be a great asset when using only natural light. However a reflector takes up space and usually requires an assistant. Ever seen a senior portrait going on and the photographer will have a flash and someone holding a reflector. I just laugh every time I see it because it's just not necessary. You don't need all that to create a great photo.
Just remember when using natural light, you must continuously move, turn, and re-position your model to get the desired lighting effect. Never underestimate strong verbal communication skills. :)
In addition, the infamous Golden Hours before sunrise and after sunset produce warm, rich light that can't quite be re-created in a studio. Experimenting during these times, particularly with backlighting, will also improve your skills and most likely produce beautiful photographs. That being said I rarely shoot at golden hour because it just feels over done to me but golden hour is still beautiful lighting.
Now that I've shown you examples of the most common studio lighting set-ups and how you can re-create them using natural light I'll show you some examples of how I use natural light for different moods and scenarios.
First scenario: Let's say you have no choice but to shoot at noon out in the open when the harsh sun is right over head. Try having your model look up to avoid any harsh shadows. I'll show 3 examples below.
Now, same scenario except you have shade available to you. Any time you're shooting and the sun is harsh look for shade. This is crucial. You can almost always find some. For the example below we just used some shade from a few trees at the beach.
Let's say your shooting inside a bar with no flash. It's sure dark, what do you do? Use whats available. For the shot below we just used the light from above the pool table. Make sure your model is as close the the light as possible. My settings: 1/160 sec /// ISO 320 /// F2.2
Let's say your shooting in a coffee shop. Take a look at these 4 examples of how to use the light coming in from the window and how the position of your model changes the mood.
Now let's say you're shooting in an arcade. They are always dark but the neon makes for really fun photos. The key to shooting with neon is having your model as close to the neon as you can get. If you have the Neon behind them and nothing to light their face it will be too dark. For the example below I had my model stand as close as she could to the arcade screen because it was producing a good amount of light. Settings used were: 1/200Sec /// ISO 640 /// F3.2
The example below was shot in a hotel room at night using the standing lamp next to the sofa. Just point it towards the model and make sure it's as close as possible.
Always keep an eye out for fun shadows when the sun is harsh. Especially if your in an urban area. Below are some example of how I used shadows on a wall to create a dramatic image. The key is to have your exposure correct in camera. Make sure you bring the exposure down so you don't blow out the highlights and crush those darks. We want the detail in the highlights and we want to make those darks pitch black.
Use whatever light is available, below is an example of using fire to light your subject.
Try having the light source behind your model to create a fun silhouette like we did below.
If you're shooting somewhere urban at sunset keep an eye out for street lamps, neon, or lit door ways. The image below was at sunset so we used a lit doorway to add some dramatic lighting.
Maybe the sun has set so you're out of sunlight, use a lighter or street lamp for dramatic lighting as we did below.
Now that you've seen some examples of using natural light here's an example of using a Portable Wand Handheld LED photography Light.
Every now and then you'll be in a situation where you just don't have enough light. For emergency situations like these I like to have a light wand in my car just in case. It's about $80 on amazon, it's light, compact, easy to carry and use. These photos were taken in a bar with zero light to use so I used the wand to light the models.
All that being said. I'll leave you with this. As much as I love using natural light sometimes your clients requests will require a studio and a light setup. So do some research and become familiar with a studio you like best in your area. Some offer lighting some don't. Personally my favorite studio in Portland is Cobalt Studios. For only $75 an hour you get access to everything and that includes lighting! Not only that but the owners are amazing people and they take the time to help with lighting so its exactly how you want it. The staff is very knowledgeable and friendly.
If you found this article helpful I'd love to hear from you in the comments.
Lets face it, professional models can take a lot of the burden off us as photographers by bringing their posing expertise to the table. But unfortunately we don't always have the benefit of shooting with a professional model. As a high caliber photographer it is important to have the ability to pose normal people with little to no experience in front of the camera. Below I have put together a list of 27 posing ideas for women who are not models along with photos for reference. Every photo below was taken by me.
While certain genres of photography get to work with models, most genres involve shooting normal people who will have varying degrees of comfort in front of the camera and natural posing ability. Posing was the hardest thing to learn for me personally and it is something I still work on every day. While I am jealous of photographers who have a natural ability to pose people on the fly, I unfortunately have found that I work best by having a list of go-to poses that I know work well for me and can fall back on if I need to. Until now I have kept that list to myself. If you are a model or photographer who struggles with posing I hope this list helps. Make sure to bookmark this page so you can bring it up at any shoot and go down the list and nail every pose. You do that and you will be guaranteed to leave the shoot with tons of variety. Connect with me on Instagram HERE
1. The Profile Pose/Side View
If your model isn't blessed with perfect bone structure try different lighting, angles, chin movements, and hair placement to hide a double chin. Models: Don't worry, we all have one.
2. Movement Pose/Action Pose
Have the model do some kind of movement or action. This could be walking, running, jumping, or spinning. For action shots make sure your shutter speed is 1/250 and up so it's not blurry.
3. Seated Pose
Seated poses are great just keep an eye on posture and the tummy. Last thing you want is the tummy getting squished. If it's not flattering your model wont like it. Make sure your model engages her core at all times.
4. Chin in hand pose
If your model is seated this is a great go to. Try a variety of hand placements on the chin. Have your model look into the camera and off into the distance.
5. Look to the sky pose
Here's a tip to make your models eyes pop and lose those shadows when you're using natural light only. Have her look up. The light from the sky will make those babies pop and eliminate any unflattering shadows! This is very useful when shooting in a dark forest and your models face is super shaded.
6. Over the shoulder pose
To change things up try an over the shoulder pose where your model plays with her hair with the hand furthest from the camera. Have her open up and get some space between the elbow and her body making a triangle.
7. Hands on hips pose.
Play around with hands on both hips or just one hand on one hip. Try having your model slighting turn her body and popping that hip to show some side booty.
8. Lean on wall pose
Try photographing at different angles and have your model lean with her side to the wall and her back to the wall for variety.
9. Play with hair pose
This is what I meant above when I said have your model play with her hair with the hand furthest from the camera. Have her open up and get some space between the elbow and her body making a triangle. Models will always ask what to do with their hands so letting them play with their hair is natural, fun, and gives them something to do with their hands.
10. Legs crossed pose
Crossing the legs can give great shape to the body.
11. Surprised Expression
I call this the Macaulay Culkin pose. I find adding the hands is just a bit over the top but a surprised expression really open up the eyes and makes for a fun photo every time.
12. Hand in pocket pose
Try both hands or try just one. The choice is yours. Live a little. Also try a thumb in the belt loop instead of pocket or a thumb in the waist band.
13. Look into the distance
I call this the day dreaming pose. Have you model look into the distance like she's day dreaming about something she loves or like she's longing for something.
14. Funny Faces
Funny faces although not the most flattering are always the most popular in any photo set I post where there is a funny face. Catch those silly moments that happen between shots because people love seeing personality and it shows your model is more than just a pretty face. Have every model you work with give you at least one good ridiculous face.
Much like the photo above you should be having fun during a photo shoot so catch those candid moments. Everyone loves a genuine smile and the best smiles happen right before or right after a laugh.
16. Pouting Expression
Posing goes beyond just changing up body movements. Make sure to get a variety of expressions from your model as well. A good pout is a great start and almost always leads to a genuine smile.
17. Sitting laid back pose
Let your model lay back and relax. She's been working hard she deserves it.
18. Laying on the ground
Change up perspective. Have your model lay on the ground and shoot from above. Just make sure she leans her head back so we don't get double chins.
19. One leg down one knee up pose
If you want the booty poppin a great way to achieve this is keeping one leg down and bring a knee up on something like steps or a bench. Have your model pop the booty with the foot that's on the ground.
20. Arms crossed pose
This can be a great power pose or vulnerable pose depending on expression and posture. Have your model just slightly turn her torso away from the camera.
21. Back bend Pose
This is more of a high fashion type pose and not the easiest to do so leave this for your experienced models.
22. Seated one leg under one leg over pose
I just love this pose. Feels elegant but sexy to me. This is a great pose for any model with really nice legs. Try pointing the toes and lifting the heel off the ground of the front foot for a good flex.
23. The hair flip
Have your model stand still and move her head side to side getting some movement in just the hair. Turn your camera to rapid fire hope you get lucky. haha I have done this plenty of times where nothing turned out but when it does it's so fun!
24. The looking down pose
Remember the model does not have to be looking into the camera for every shot. Too often I'll look at a photographers portfolio and see nothing but photos of the model looking straight into camera. Change it up for a different mood.
25. Half profile pose
So this one isn't a full on profile/side view because you still see both eyes but I absolutely love this pose. Do not forget to get close up shots and shots from far away. Change up perspective.
26. Hand on elbow hand on shoulder pose
This is a great high fashion pose. Again make sure to have the model turn her body just slightly so you aren't photographing straight on.
27. Revealing eyes pose
You will see this one a lot in ads. Have your model reveal her eyes behind a nice pair of sunglasses. Pro tip: This is a great opportunity to tag the brand of sunglasses on Instagram and even send them the photo. They just might share it and you'll get free exposure. If you're considering modeling, you can explore the different areas of the fashion industry. Some models experiment with one specialized category, while others try out multiple types of modelling. Here is another great resource to read on types of models.
The 10 best websites for Cosplay Costumes & Props.
Hey guys and gals! As you know I photograph many different things but I'm most well known for my cinematic cosplay photography. I'm constantly asked where do I or my clients get their costumes and props. So I thought I would put together this list of the 10 best places to buy cosplay costumes and props for all ages year round.
Now selling NFTs of my work! Find a collection of all my latest NFTs for sale on OpenSea HERE
I really hate to say this but the most reliable websites for costumes and props are the huge retailers. Without question They have the biggest selections and best prices because of the massive volume they do. Just keep in mind Inexpensive costumes are made cheaply in mass numbers, regardless of whether the site brands itself as a Halloween store, a costume store, or a Cosplay store. Fact is better made costumes cost more money. Customized costumes and props made by costumers who sell their work through sites like Etsy, ebay, and Instagram are the highest quality, the most expensive, and you sure as F aint getting it in three days.
The Cosplayers I know understandably want costumes that are more durable because they plan to wear them to multiple events, where Halloween partiers are happy with something they will only wear once, not to say I haven't seen people spend nearly an entire year to create Halloween costumes to compete in Costume contest. Halloween retailers like Spirit Halloween tend to cater to cheaper costumes and Cosplay retailers tend towards more obscure characters and better costumes but that's not to say I haven't seen total crap for premium prices because they do much smaller volume of sales than the giants like Amazon. But the plus side of big retailers is they often offer cheap shipping or free shipping and returns or exchanges are often easy.
7 key elements to a viral Cosplay photo
In my opinion Etsy is probably the best place to go as far as getting that hand-crafted look for your cosplay costume. There are a ton of very talented prop makers and costume designers on the site. See: Cosplay Etsy below. You could piece together a very good and convincing cosplay costume just from Etsy vendors but you will pay premium dollars for this and you may have to wait months to receive your final costume or props but in my opinion it's worth it because quality is king in my book.
Last thing I want you to keep in mind when shopping online for costumes is not to be shy about buying from over seas. Some of the sites I've listed below are in China and the UK. They are still a great option but just keep in mind most importantly a size 10 in the US may be different than a size 10 in China or the UK. So pay close attention to sizing charts when ordering and be prepared to wait a little longer for shipping. Also don't forget to read reviews! I've listed my top 10 sites for costumes and props below with the most obvious such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy last. 2 of the 10 are local to Portland Oregon. Just click the image and it will take you to the website. Hope this article helps you on your next adventure into cosplay. Let me know in the comments below and connect with me on Instagram HERE
6. Costume Avenue - Beaverton
7. Avant Garden Vintage - Portland
Bonus! Mill End is the best option for custom fabrics in Portland. DIY
Comic Con is a great place to see and take photos of some of your favorite super heroes and villains. It's chalk full of great photo opportunities. Search Comic Con on google and you will find thousands of photos of the most amazing costumes you've ever seen. You will also find thousands of very poorly executed photos. My goal with this article is to make sure you don't fall into that category. Elevate your game at the next Con with these 8 tips. If you like the photos below make sure and check out more of my work on Instagram HERE
Tip 1. Always Ask for Permission
This is the biggest mistake photographers make at conventions. If you’re shooting at a convention or any other event where there are cosplayers, it’s always best to ask for the cosplayers permission before taking pictures of them. Your shots are guaranteed to be better if your model is fully aware of your camera pointed at them. They’ll be much more willing to strike different poses and maybe even allow you to direct the shot so you can have more control over the final image. The cosplayers I know hate it when someone gets a candid photo of them when they weren't ready. They don't want photos on the internet shoving food in their face while on a break half dressed and not in character. So do them and yourself a favor and ask for permission before you take their photo.
Tip 2. Cosplay is Not Consent
Okay this tip wont really help you take better photos but it needs to be said. Let's face it many costumes for female leads in Hollywood are revealing so you are bound to see many ladies of all ages in revealing outfits. This in no way gives you permission to touch them. Maybe just assume every cosplayer you meet doesn't want to be touched in any shape or form. That goes for males and females. If you need to touch the cosplayer to help with posing always ask first but usually this can be done verbally or visually. Having your photo taken with a cosplayer still isn't an excuse to touch them. Odds are you don't know this person so just go the Keanu Reeves route and hover a hand behind them or to the side.
Tip 3. Allow them to Get Ready before you take the photo.
Look, I get it, Comic Con is very exciting. As a photographer you want to take as many photos of your favorite characters as you can. However, just like photography in general, it helps to take the time to compose your shot and wait until your subject is ready before taking the photo. Allow them a few seconds to put on their masks, take off their hoodie, fix their costumes, touch up their makeup, and get into character for your shot. This also shows respect for the craft and for their hard work in putting their costumes together. They will appreciate it.
Tip 4. Create a Scene for the Character.
When you can, choose a background that complements your character. You probably wont have much time or freedom to move your subject around, but there are always better options than capturing them exactly where and how you found them. Unless you're really good at composites try to avoid shooting in the convention center at all costs. Your best option will always be to give the cosplayer your card and plan a shoot at a future date at a studio or on location.
If that's not an option familiarize yourself with your subject, and then quickly think of how you can make them connect with the available space. You should have done your research before hand and should know the area around the convention center well before you go. For example, if you’re shooting a Spider-Man cosplayer as seen above, you can simply ask them to pose like they are climbing the nearest wall out side or pose like they just landed from a high vantage point. In this case we used a dumpster in the alley behind the convention center. I dig the industrial urban feel of this photo.
Tip 5. Use Natural Lighting when you can.
For the love of god Avoid using your camera’s pop-up flash at all costs and stick to natural lighting. If shooting inside during the day shoot near doorways or windows that allow sunlight in to make your subjects look as natural as possible. For the Joker photo above we went outside the Convention center at sunset and shot in the alley. As you can see the natural light from above and the light from the building lit the subject perfectly. If it was dark I would have him stand in the door way and just use the available light from the building above the door for a more dramatic photo. Your subject doesn't always need to be lit perfectly. There is no need to bring anything more than one camera and lens to get banger photos at Con.
Tip 6. Shoot from Different Angles
Always experiment with different orientations and angles. I hate it when photographers only shoot straight on. Don’t be afraid to shoot up from below, especially for villains and other mysterious characters. This type of shot will work well for a character like the Darth Maul, as this perspective can highlight the makeup and the distorted angle will give viewers an unsettling feeling that matches his presence on screen. Shoot straight on, shoot downward, shoot from below, shoot close up, shoot from far away. Change it up and see what works.
Tip 7. Communication is key.
Don’t just snap away. Take time to communicate with your model and ask them about how they want their photos to be interpreted and shot. Depending on your skills and experience, this can open you up to more options that you previously may not have thought of. You can also help the cosplayer achieve their goals and attract their target viewers. Communication goes a long way. If you think a pose could be better with a minor adjustment make sure to speak up. The model can't see themselves.
Tip 8. Posing, Use Pinterest.
Now most of the time the cosplayer will know the popular poses of the character they are portraying but if they don't you should have the pinterest App. on your phone ready to go. Just type in the characters name and Boom! Tons of great ideas for posing. I can't stress this one enough.
and Don't forget!!
7 Tips for a viral Cosplay photo.
I wanted to put together a short list of what I find to be the most important elements in making a viral photo. This might surprise you but it's not an expensive camera, nor is it bulky expensive lighting equipment. Do you need access to a studio or years of experience with Photoshop? Nope. The 7 elements below are all you need for a viral photo. However going viral is never guaranteed, but if you hit all these points and a little bit of luck your odds will go WAY up. As seen below I've had multiple photo shoots go viral and my work has been featured on both local and international news outlets more than once. If you like what you see below find more of my work on Instagram HERE
I'm a huge advocate of shooting on location rather than doing composites. (cutting out the background and replacing it with something else in Photoshop) The more you can get in camera the less work you have to do in post. Just my personal preference. This will require location scouting. My favorite tool for this is hashtags on Instagram or searching by location. Choosing a location that fits the theme is crucial. As an example above I knew I'd be shooting a fairy theme so I knew a forest made more traditional sense than urban. So when location scouting for the perfect forest scene I found a park close by that had a huge mushroom big enough to walk inside. I knew this would save me a ton of Photoshop and with the right perspective would make my model seem smaller which is what you want for a fairy theme. Model: @Lexylovestruck
Obviously when shooting Cosplay the outfit will be the biggest factor in making a banger photo. When searching for cosplayers to collaborate with I always look for screen accurate costumes. You probably don't have the money to go buy an outfit for thousands of dollars for the right model to wear. So search Instagram & local cosplay groups on Facebook to find the perfect cosplayers in your area that already have the outfits. They put in a lot of money and time to make beautiful costumes for Comic-con. They just need YOU to help bring that costume to life. Model: @hoptownspidey
When it comes to cosplay, especially horror cosplay nothing can ruin a good photo faster than bad makeup. If you don't use a professional makeup artist especially when using prosthetics a terrifying horror cosplay can turn cheesy as hell real quick. The difference between Hollywood quality horror and a family friendly haunted house is the makeup so choose a cosplayer who is a skilled MUA or find a local SFX MUA to team up with. My MUA for the photo above is the very talented @taelorfx Model: @starbar_1
Props are a key element to any great cosplay. Usually the cosplayer will have props they've made to go with their costume but in the case they haven't you can search Instagram for a prop maker and have one made. That's what I did for the axe and helmet seen above. I was lucky enough to find a very talented local prop maker @dragonbornjedi and as you can see above if you took away the axe and helmet the photo wouldn't be as compelling. Makeup by @taelorfx Model: @ThePDXViking
If you want a photo to go viral cosplay or not there needs to be a compelling story. The story doesn't need to be obvious but there needs to be enough emotion and information in the photo for the viewer to make up their own story. In the photo above I have a beautiful mermaid who's conveying so much emotion in her face, that alone makes the viewer ask why. Why is she so sad? Now add some wind, rain, sparks, and a pirate ship in the distance and you've got a story. What's the story? That's up to the viewer. Whether it's sadness, happiness, or straight up horror make sure your viewer feels something. Model: @LittyLeRouge
6. Most importantly: Casting!
This is the most underrated key to a successful cosplay photo. If I'm searching for a model for a particular character I put out a casting call on social media and try to find a person that looks most like the character. When I wanted to recreate the Pulp Fiction movie poster I knew I wanted someone with the same build and facial structure as Uma Thurman. So look for certain characteristics in the character you'd like to shoot and find someone who matches for the best success. Model: @1wonderbug
7. Engage with your Audience
No matter how good the photo is you can't just post it and hope for the best. You need to actively engage with your audience. It's as simple as thanking everyone who comments and or shares your post. Not only does this show appreciation to your fans but also keeps your post at the top of the feed. I see photographers with smaller followings fail miserably at this and they wonder why they don't see engagement or growth. Not engaging with your fans shows them you only care about yourself. TAKE THE TIME to show them you appreciate them!
Author Lance A Reis
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