Photography Success Without School
What I learned from a mentor that enabled me to go from an amateur photographer to a professional portrait photographer in very specific steps is something I like to pass on. Rather than spending countless hours in classes learning every possible detail, I learned just the necessary specifics and now I work out of my home full time and have been in business for over 17 years, but I started out with practically nothing; just an interest in photography and the need to earn more money.
For one thing, my mentor taught me the Three Classic Elements to produce "salable portraits."
"Salable" is an industry term every photographer quickly becomes familiar with to distinguish between the everyday reality of making money versus creating those "artistic competition" or "award winning prints" which don't earn the money.
I've been in the business for over 17 years now and I'm still amazed that:
People don't buy the award winning prints that you see wearing many of the ribbons at professional photography conventions.
When my clients are faced with the choice of buying an artistic pose of their child being demure and not looking directly into the camera or buying a pose smiling close-up straight into the camera, they buy the smiling close-up every time.
Not very original, but I'm telling you now so take note:
Happy people whose faces you can readily see are the most salable prints.
They'll never tell you this at a photography workshop, seminar, Annual Convention or at a photography institute because their job is to create award winning photo artists rather than people whom simply make a living, but... if you haven't learned all the fancy lighting techniques, then you've saved time because the most important thing about light is having enough to keep the face out of the shadows.
People prefer any kind of light, as long as there is enough of it to light the face and eyes so you can get a good look at the person!
The quality of light people prefer for portraits is soft light, whether it be from an artificial source like a flash umbrella or a natural source from the sky at sunset, but other than a soft quality of light they want enough of it to SEE the face of the person you're photographing, even if it is a flat almost straight on technique.
You may not win any competitions or awards this way, but if you get plenty of light on the faces you'll create salable prints.
This leads me to talk about fill flash. There are times outdoors when you'll need a flash on your camera to fill in dark shadow areas mostly in the eye sockets. Just use one f stop less flash than the existing ambient light calls for. That's enough light to fill the shadows and don't worry about not lugging around a portable umbrella to get the perfect modeling technique.
My mentor is right again: there is no change in the sale. The customer pays for well lit faces, not perfect modeling. I've tried it both ways and the customer buys the same amount of pictures in the same sizes no matter what you do.
Element number Two: Body Positioning.
This is a little more detailed area, but it is important, believe me.
My basic education from my mentor began with the same advice I'll pass on to you:
You should rarely photograph anyone straight on.
The exception to this rule will be for family and large groups, which for reasons of body placement will often break this rule. But for individuals or smaller groups of people this rule applies.
Now, when you're not just photographing a head and shoulders close- up you'll have to understand other aspects of body positioning that makes people want to buy their pictures. Hands. They should always be turned slightly so they are seen from the edge with fingers together, or hide the hands altogether behind your subject or somebody else next to them. Never position hands straight on with open fingers.
Simply put, anything that minimizes how much hand you see works to make it a better portrait. This is always more flattering in a portrait and you'll see they are the ones people buy.
Crossing legs at the ankles refines the pose and minimizes this area of the body making it more appealing.
Look at it this way, what's less of a distraction: two legs leading to two ankles leading to two feet -- or two legs blending into one ankle section with blended feet? Surely it's the latter.
When standing, one cannot simply cross their ankles unless they have something to lean against, so I will have one foot in front of the other in such a way that they taper into one general unit. Have them place their weight on the back leg (remember, they are at a slight 3/4 angle) and bring the front leg forward and slightly tilt the foot to face out toward the camera.
Whenever I'd show my mentor my portraits that I was just unsure of, it was these recurring themes that he patiently pointed out to me.
As I began to look for these simple things during my portrait sessions, my pictures got better!
I can't stress enough how basic, but important, it is to watch for these details.
I have people come to me who went to the contract photographer for their High School Senior yearbook portrait and disliked their picture. They want me to take one that they can proudly give out to friends and family. Usually the problem with the pictures I've seen is that the photography school graduate "intern" who works for the contract photographer took the photo without paying attention to some minor detail. I get it right and my reputation grows from "fixing" the contract photographer's mistake.
The techniques for salable body positioning are what you look for in any pose you try whether close-up or full body.
When photographing people full body standing, seated or reclining on the ground, noticing body angle, hands and feet is the way to "fine tune" your portrait and distinguish it from just a "snapshot".
Lastly, I must share my favorite body positioning tool that makes it so easy to make a better portrait than someone who doesn't really know what they're doing: the head tilt.
A woman alone tilts her head just slightly in either direction to make a more stunning portrait. A man's head can stay straight up or tilt slightly away in the opposite direction from his most forward shoulder but never back towards his most forward shoulder.
Element number Three: Salable Composition
There are many compositional techniques in many books, but it doesn't take all that knowledge to make portrait compositions that are what the typical consumer considers good enough to call professional.
Once you know what the consumer considers salable, you will be able to reproduce it again and again for other clients. You also will thank me for saving you from thinking that in order to be good enough to sell portrait photography you have to create grand artistic images. You just have to know what works and be able to repeat it for the friends of your clients whom will be getting your business cards by way of referral.
When photographing one individual person, it's so simple I don't think you need too much input for that. In fact, I believe you know the naive simplicity with which you thought "hey, I can do this for a living" after taking some portraits of a friend or family member. Yet it truly gets challenging when there is more than one person involved.
I know of a local professional who has referred family portrait clients to me as she specializes in children outdoors. Do you know what that really means? It means she's intimidated by having to do groupings, but that's okay, most people are.
So here's the rule of salable composition:
Keep everybody's head at a different level.
Like I told you, I didn't have a fancy College degree so my mentor had to keep it simple enough for me. In some cases, you will recognize that it's not possible, but if you do your best to stagger head height from individual to individual, you will be creating professional looking images.
You will stand some people, seat some in chairs, seat some on the arms of chairs, seat some on the floor, kneel some, crouch some, lay some down, but you will achieve staggered head heights and salable compositions.
Tip heads inward toward one another for unity when photographing a family group.
Note that men are usually positioned higher than women.
No, I'm not aware of being a chauvinist pig, but I am aware that this is what usually sells. Not the images where mom's higher than dad but where dad (even if he's actually shorter!) is positioned just a head or so above mom.
Once you understand the rules, you can bend them where you need to in order to make a portrait work; but people will see that you know what you're doing as you position them for a good composition and especially when they see your finished work.
My mentor critiqued my work time and time again over several years as I brought images and questions to him. It almost always boiled down to my understanding these most simple aspects that I've shared with you.
I know it's not customary to learn photography on such simplistic terms, but trust me; I've had exposure over the years to many different photography educational venues such as classes, workshops, conventions, guest speakers, lectures, teaching videos and books but never have any of the teachers been willing to simply say "look, there are just a few rules to follow and people will be happy with their pictures". Never have I received more helpful advice than I received from my mentor.
I guess if I could sum up the philosophy he embodied in word form I'd say it was rather like this:
"Not everybody wants a masterpiece. Most people just want to remember their loved ones as happy. It's not hard to capture that with your camera, just don't stand them in hard sunlight, standing in a straight line facing straight toward the camera."
Tom Ray is a Certified Professional Photographer through the Professional Photographers of America. If you are interested in his full story please go to: Professional Photography: Success Without School
Is your Digital Camera Compatible With Your Computer?
So you recently bought a digital camera or perhaps your thinking about it. And perhaps you may be wondering how many pictures will your computer hold? First you need to answer a few questions to come to an accurate conclusion. First, how big is your hard drive and how much free space does it currently have? You can find the answer to that question by first left-clicking on "My Computer:" Right-click on "C drive." A menu should appear. Left-click on "Properties." A pie chart should be displayed that will show you the size of the hard drive and how much of the disk drive is free. Your next step is too know how many mega pixels does your camera have? A pixel is a light sensing cell on the image pickup device.
Digital Camera Macro Mode
The digital camera is a wonderful device that allows a diverse variety of applications with its even diverse spectral collection of utilities. As technology progresses it brings along with it those intense pleasures that human beings have only thought of. Now the digital camera has opened up the dimensions for the people and the photographers in providing with the liberty of capturing whatever they wish and of whatever type they prefer! Well the magic words are macro mode. Although the words might seem to be a bit deceiving they have really a great application in the field of digital photography and digital camera as a device. In general the digital camera macro mode allows a digital camera to photograph close-up pictures of petite objects like flowers, insects, coins, etc. Macro mode potentiality vary from camera to camera but almost all digital cameras offer this exclusive feature to enable the users to widen up their imaginations and their weirdest fantasies in creating art.
How to Buy Wholesale Disposable Cameras
Wholesale disposable cameras are disposable cameras bought in quantity. Bulk disposable cameras are the best single-use camera deal online. If you really want to save money, disposable digital and disposable film cameras can be bought wholesale, in quantity.
Review of the Photek Product Shooting Tent
Here's the challenge. You have to photograph small items for Ebay or for clients' brochures. Lighting them can be challenging. Small reflective items usually exhibit specular highlights that must be controlled. If you add a product/shooting tent to the equation, your job is made dramatically easier.
Photography Jobs: Do You Have a Future in Photography?
There is a wide world of photography. It touches each of us in our lives on a daily basis in some form or another. Photography is so much a part of our culture now that we hardly even notice all the places that it exists. When you watch television, look at a magazine or even view a billboard on the highway, this is all because of photography. There are so many ways that photography crosses our lives each day. There are a lot of opportunities for someone looking for photography jobs.
Terms Used The In The Stock Photography Business
So you are a small business person or web designer and you want to purchase some stock photography for your website. Great. Photography is a wonderful way to improve the emotional impact of your site. But there are a few terms unique to the stock photography business that you should know.
How To Make A Time-Lapse Video With Your Digital Video Camera
Getting the most out of your digital video camera can mean being able to create some really cool stuff. You just have to step outside the manual a bit and find the cool things you can do with your digital video camera and your editing software.
Canon Digital Camera - from Humble Beginnings to World Class Company
Started in a single-room by three Japanese men in the year 1933 under the name of Precision Optical Instruments Laboratory, Canon has come a long way today. It all began with the phantom prototype camera called the 'Kwanon'. At that time, Germany was considered to be the leader in camera production. German cameras were extremely expensive. So, Goro Yoshida, along with two others tried to produce a 35mm rangefinder camera at a cheaper price and came up with "Kwanon'.
Top of the Line Digital Cameras
If you think that digital cameras are for snapshots only, then you obviously haven't heard about SLR (Single Lens Reflex) digital cameras. SLR is a type of camera which has one lens for composing the frame and capturing the image. SLR cameras are also known as TTL (through-the-lens) cameras.
9 Tips For Taking Great Digital Photos
How to Buy a Digital Camera
Are you buying your first digital camera? Well, you must be confused by the bewildering range of models out there. How do you know which model will suit your needs? To make things worse, digital cameras do not come cheap. Choosing a bad camera will easily cost you a few hundred dollars.
Four Unique Ways for the Pet Portrait Artist to Stand Out
The warm feelings are flowing all around when the pet lover sees her commissioned portrait of her beloved dog or cat for the first time. Would you like the love to last even longer and reward you above the standard commission fee? If so, consider these ideas:
Photography Has No Gender
Women photographers are fortunate. Unlike other titles, photographer has no gender. Women photographers don't have to force stilted language like "flight attendant" instead of "stewardess," or "letter carrier" instead of "mailman." "Photographer" doesn't have the historical male/female titles such as "author" and "authoress," or "actor" vs. "actress." Women photographers may not even have to battle the associated gender that "doctors" or "nurses" do. Did you know that bank tellers always were men up until WWII because it was thought that women couldn't handle money?
Use A Tripod!
Using a tripod is essential when taking photos - and not just for night shots. To get ultra crisp and sharp pictures, your camera cannot move at all when the shutter is open. In some circumstances, even the tiny movements your hand makes are enough to make a slightly blurry image. The best way to ensure your camera does not move is to use a tripod or other camera stand.
Digital RAW Workflow for Beginners
Having an efficient work flow is essential for photographers. In the days of film, many of the tasks in the film work flow were handled by the lab. Now, more and more photographers are switching to digital and have to handle many of these tasks themselves. The purpose of this document is to provide a basic digital work flow for working with RAW images that is camera and system independent. Most modern digital SLR cameras, and some point and shoot models, have the ability to record the RAW data from an exposure, allowing the photographer to process the images as they see fit. This can be a daunting task, especially for those who don't have a work flow in place to handle the images from the camera. The following steps will take you through the process of setting up your own RAW digital work flow. Work flow Step 1: Compose and Expose Your digital work flow begins before you ever sit down at your computer. One of the best things you can do to make your work flow more efficient is to get as much of your image perfect in the camera as possible. Many digital photographers have fallen into the "I can fix it on the computer" trap. This costs you time and money. The more time you spend "fixing" a photo after you've tripped the shutter, the less time you are spending with clients. Here are a few tips to help reduce your workload from the time you make your exposure: Set your white-balance to match your scene. If you get the proper white-balance in the camera, you won't have to adjust it later on the computer. See your camera documentation for how to set a custom white-balance. Remember to set your white balance whenever you change lenses, or the quality of light. If you change modifiers, or lenses, change your white-balance as well. Expose for the highlights. Since digital acts similar to slide film, its easy to accidentally blow your highlights. By exposing for the hot parts of the image, you'll save yourself some time in the long run. Scan your frame. Get in the habit of doing a top-to-bottom scan of your frame before you trip the shutter. This will help you avoid stray hairs, lights in your frame, reflectors being visible, and anything that you might have to clone out of the image later. Work flow Step 2: Importing and Backing Up Your Images There are many ways to get your images from your camera to your computer. Some people use a card reader that will read the images off the memory card from the camera. Others connect the camera directly to the computer and import the images directly. No matter how you get the images to the computer, your first step is to setup an organizational structure for the images and create a backup copy of the RAW files for safety. First, create a folder to store your image files. In our studio, we use the folder name to organize our images. For instance, let's say we are importing images from a portrait session with Jane Doe that took place on January 1st, 2005. Our folder name for this session would be P_2005_DoeJane_0101. If we also did a portrait session with John Doe on the same date, our folder would be named P_2005_DoeJohn_0101. This allows us to keep our images organized in a way that we are familiar with. Use whatever folder structure you like, as long as it helps you keep things organized. Next, we will create the folders under our P_2005_DoeJane_0101 folder that we will use during the course of processing the images. We create the following folders: RAW, WORK, and JPEG. The final file structure looks like this: -+P_2005_DoeJane_0101 -|-RAW -|-WORK -|-JPEG The RAW folder holds our RAW image files, the WORK directory holds the processed TIFF files where we will do all of our editing, and the JPEG folder holds the completed files, ready to be uploaded to the lab. Copy the images from your camera to the RAW folder using whichever method you prefer. As soon as this initial copy is complete, make a backup copy of these images. Some photographers backup to writable CD-ROM or DVD discs. Other photographers backup to a separate backup hard drive. No matter what method you choose for your backups, they are CRITICAL. Make sure you can recover your images if something should happen to your memory card. Work flow Step 3: Verify Your Backup Your backup copy of the RAW images files is important. Take a moment to verify that you can read the images you copied to your backup medium. Once you have verified your backup medium, you may proceed with the work flow. Work flow Step 4: Culling the Herd Converting the images you never want the client to see wastes time and money. Use your preferred image browser to go through the RAW images and delete any that you know you won't use. Don't worry about deleting the wrong file, that is why we made a backup. If you delete a file you wanted, just bring it back from your backup. Once you have selected your "keepers" from the RAW images, it is time to move on to the next step. Work flow Step 5: File Conversion Most cameras come with software specifically designed to convert the RAW image data from its native format into TIFF files, JPEG files, or some other format that is compatible with the popular image editing software. At our studio, we convert the RAW images into 16-bit TIFF files, because we like to have the maximum amount of data available for editing and processing. Your needs may vary. There are many articles on the Internet that deal with the different file formats and the pros and cons of each. For the purpose of this tutorial, we are going to assume that the files are being converted to 16-bit TIFF files. We now open the software that came with our camera and set it to convert our RAW image data to 16-bit TIFF files, and save them in the TIFF folder we created in Work flow Step 2. This step can be time consuming, so we often go out to eat while the images from a session are converting. Once the conversion is finished, you will have a folder of 16-bit TIFF files to do editing and retouching on. We use TIFF at our studio because it is a loss less format. That is, we can save the file as many times as we like without degrading the image quality. JPEG is a lossy format, every time you save a JPEG file, you lose a little more data to compression. Work flow Step 6: Editing and Retouching This step of our work flow is where the real work is done. You will open each TIFF file in the image editor of your choice and make sure your colors and exposure are correct, the crop is the way you want it, and the image is ready for printing. At this point you will make any edits to the image, such as changing the crop, converting it to black and white, or doing any needed retouching. If you use the TIFF file format, you can save as many times as you need to during this process without having to worry about losing image quality. Once editing and retouching is done, save your work file and move on to the next step. Work flow Step 7: Saving the Production File One of the cons to working with 16-bit TIFF files is that they take up an incredible amount of disk space. Once we have reviewed the images with the client and ensured that no further edits/retouching need to be made, we convert the TIFF file to a JPEG production file for archive purposes and sending to the lab. Open the TIFF file in your preferred image editor and save your file as a Baseline Level 10 JPEG in the JPEG folder we created earlier. Why not save as a Level 12 JPEG, you might ask. When printing your image, there is no discernible difference between a level 10 JPEG and a level 12 JPEG. Try it for yourself and see. Once your files are saved as JPEGs, move on the the next step. Work flow Step 8: Backup Your Production Files This is a good time to make a backup (either to CD/DVD, or to another hard disk) of your JPEG production files. This ensures that you have a copy of all your hard work and if something should happen to the original files, you know you have a good backup. Work flow Step 9: Cleaning Up the RAW and Work Files Once we know we have a good backup of our production JPEGs, we delete the entire WORK folder and the entire RAW. This frees up the large amount of space that TIFF files require and leaves us with a manageable set of files from the job. However, we have already made backup copies of the RAW files and the JPEG files, so if we ever need to re-edit an image, we have the materials to do so. Work flow Step 10: Final Touches At this point our production JPEG images are ready to print or send to the lab. Make any final adjustments to the image size and print or upload your images. Final Thoughts With an efficient digital work flow, handling large amounts of digital images is easy and relatively stress free. I hope this tutorial has given you some ideas on how to best setup your own RAW digital work flow.
Make Your Digital Camera Batteries Last Longer
One technology that hasn't kept up with the rapid pace of new digital cameras is camera batteries. The more features a camera has, the quicker it seems to use up precious battery power. There are three features of digital cameras that chew up battery life the quickest:
How to Create a Family History Video Memoir with Photos and Interviews of Your Loved Ones
Here are examples of two basic videos you can create quickly on a great budget:
The Primer on Digital Camera Printers
Once you have clicked photos through your digital camera, then the next step is to turn these 'virtual' images into real photos. One way is to send the memory card to a digital photo laboratory and get the images developed there. But if you click digital photos on a regular basis, then it is better that you buy yourself a digital camera printer, or more commonly known as a digital photo printer.
Start Your Own Photography Business from Home
Anyone with the right camera equipment, and the necessary skills can set up a home business, marketing photography. You need only to convert a room of your house into an office, and then you can work immediately.
Nude Art Photography
Nude photography is the genre of art photography, whose subject is the representation of the naked (full nude) or partially naked (half nude) human body.
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