Travel People Photography – Tips and Pitfalls

Posted by on Apr 22, 2016 in canon, Featured, Photography Tips, portrait, sony

Travel People Photography – Tips and Pitfalls

“Oh the people you will meet!” goes one of Dr. Seuss’ famous lines, speaking to a particular joy of travel. We don’t just travel to see new places, we travel to experience new cultures full of new people – and as photographers, we’re intrigued to take their photo. Yet it’s not as easy as taking photos of foreign mountains or cityscapes. because, gasp!, those people are full of life and feelings and opinions. They might be speaking a language we don’t understand. We are left wondering what they are thinking as we start to bring our camera up to our eye. I’ve been photographing for 26 years, and traveling regularly for the last eight. I don’t know it all, but I have learned, through trial and error and research, what helps and what hinders travel portrait photography. The Tips Watch the light Photography is about light. You’ve likely heard it a hundred times before. Sometimes we forget that when out of our comfort zone, but it’s important to remember that great photos need great subjects, and great use of light. Before raising your camera, know your light. Know what light will be available, and how best to use it. This article: Understanding Natural Light Part 3: Direction of Light – has a wealth of knowledge to get you thinking about the natural light at your location. Of course, you can use a flash as well, but most of us rely on natural light for our travel portraits. Connect Hot Button Topic: To connect before or after you take a photo? This decades-old discussion will not be settled here, but I will give my opinion as fuel to the fire. I believe in give and take. If I’m always taking photos when I travel, I feel more the part of an interloper than a welcome guest. There are irresistible times when someone is doing something soooooo perfect, we have to have a photo, we think. Introducing ourselves will ruin the moment and break the magic we are witnessing. My advice is to take those photos, but give something back. Approach your subject after the fact and introduce yourself. Smile, make eye contact, promote goodwill, and be nice. If they are a vendor, buy something they are selling, or at least take a look. Canon, Sony and others now have portable printers you can bring with you, and what better way for give and take than to hand over a printed copy of the portrait you now treasure. It’s more work than just taking photos and continuing on your way, but it is also more rewarding. Get their feedback Building on the point above, show your subject their portrait. It’s part of giving back. Get their feedback on how they think they look. You might hear good things or bad, because everyone tends to be their own worst critic. Ask their...

Read More »

8 Must Have Photography Products for Mom Photographers + Aide de Camp Camera Bag Giveaway

Posted by on Apr 9, 2016 in Fashion, Featured, Photography Tips, portrait, sony

8 Must Have Photography Products for Mom Photographers + Aide de Camp Camera Bag Giveaway

I used to loathe the term “mom-tographer” (ok, I still think it’s annoying) but I’ve come to embrace the fact that yes, I’m a mom and a photographer and that comes with certain challenges and blessings. Are there diapers in my camera bag? On occasion, yes. Do I always have a cute model at hand? Yep. Are my kids always willing to be photographed? Nope. Do I have to call 10 babysitters before I can find someone available so I can go out and do a shoot? Yes. But I make it work and I love it. Here are 8 of my favorite & wish list photography products for mom photographers, plus a giveaway of #1, so make sure you read all the way through. 1. The Nadine Travel Tote from Aide de Camp Casual luxe meets functional utility with Aide de Camp’s new collection – the Nadine Travel Tote. Crafted from premium European canvas, this stylish, lightweight tote is designed to meet the carrying needs of busy, active women. Whether you are a traveler, mom, photographer or a creative-type, you’ll love its versatility and clever features. So what makes the Nadine different from the other myriad camera bags made specifically for women? Aide de Camp sent me the Nadine to try out and I’m totally in love with it. First of all, my favorite feature of all the ADC bags is that the customizable camera padding insert is removable, so you can use it as a “regular” bag if needed. It would be perfect for a gym bag, travel tote, diaper bag or shopping bag with or without the camera insert. Secondly, I love the fact that the padding in the laptop sleeve is removable and can double as a baby diaper changing pad (brilliant!). You could also use it to kneel on if you happen to be shooting down low on hard floors or use it as a seat cushion at a concert or baseball game. Seriously, so clever. I love the generous size and light-weight nature of the Nadine; Many large camera bags made for women are leather or faux leather and tend to weigh a ton on their own without any gear inside, and lighter weight nylon bags often feel too flimsy to carry a large load. The Nadine is made of a premium, lightweight, water resistant European canvas, and this durable canvas has an upscale, fashionable feel. It’s perfect. Hyper-organizers like myself will love the two zipper compartments and Aide de Camp’s signature flap pockets, which are handy for stowing away small items such as SD cards and accessories. By popular request from its customers, Aide de Camp has included a rear trolley sleeve for slipping onto the handles of your rolling suitcase. So you can say goodbye to fumbling with multiple bags as you navigate through airports! I recently took a weekend road...

Read More »

5 Important Things You Must-Have Before Starting A Photography Business

Posted by on Apr 6, 2016 in Featured, Photography Tips, photoshop, portrait, sony

5 Important Things You Must-Have Before Starting A Photography Business

You may be at a crossroads. Perhaps you’ve watched Photography 101 and Lighting 101 and 201 and have spent countless hours photographing your children and whoever you could get to pose for you. You are now wondering if you want to step foot in the small business arena and start that photography business everyone is telling you to start. DON’T DO IT! (Just kidding – sort of). Having people pay you to do something you love is an amazing thing, but the life of a small business owner can be a challenging and brutal place (especially on April 15th every year). That said, before I scare you off, owning your own photography business also has many rewards. Once you’ve made the decision to start a photography business, there are a few important things you need to have in place to legitimize it. Tempting as it may be, you can’t just create a logo in Photoshop Elements, print up some business cards from Vista Print and create a Wix website (though many do). If you want to be a legal and legitimate business, here are five things you need to do before you book that first client. 1. BUSINESS STRUCTURE When you set up your photography business, one thing you need to determine is your form of business. What you choose will have legal and tax implications, so be sure to do your research. Will you be classifying your business as a: Sole Proprietorship? A Partnership? A Corporation? An LLC (Limited Liability Corporation)? An S Corporation? The most basic, and the one most people choose, is the sole proprietor. This is when you and you alone own the business and are responsible for all the liabilities and assets. Depending on your type of business, find the one that works best for you. The U.S. Small Business Association is a good starting point and gives information on each structure to help you decide. Gene Wilburn Flickr Creative Commons 2. Business License You have to have a business license to operate a photography business, no matter what state/city you live in. In California and specifically the city I live in, require a business license which costs about $120 a year, even though it was much cheaper when I lived in a smaller city. If I operated out of a studio or physical building I’d need various permits for zoning, fire safety, etc; If I’m running my business under a name not my own (example: Awesome-Sauce Photography), I’ll need to get a Fictitious Business Name (FBN) or Doing Business As (DBA) statement; If you have employees, there will be more permits, and you get the idea. You can apply for all these permits at your local city hall. Each city/state may have different requirements, so be sure to do your due-diligence so you don’t miss anything. 3. Tax Permit/ Board of Equalization Once...

Read More »

What Gear Do You REALLY Need For Product Photography?

Posted by on Apr 1, 2016 in Fashion, Featured, Food, macro, nikon, Photography Tips, portrait, sony

What Gear Do You REALLY Need For Product Photography?

“What gear do you really need for…” articles have proven to be some of my most popular. We all like to read something which challenges the norm, and many of us love a good debate. I also enjoy the challenge of pushing the boundaries, thinking about what the bare minimum gear needed for different genres of photography. This will be my latest “what gear do you really need for…” article and I feel it’s going to be the most challenging. Product photography is potentially the most gear hungry form of photography that I have ventured into. By all means, feel free to rip apart my suggestions; I encourage you to do so. Important Considerations Before We Get Going It’s always important to think about the final product with anything we shoot. With product photography, are you attempting to fill a gigantic billboard and therefore, need a megapixel monster of a camera? Or will your images be used on a website and be no larger than 1000px? As well as the final output of your images, it’s essential with product photography to think about what you are shooting. More specifically, I am referring to the surface; is it reflective or matte? For example, if one was only to be shooting clothing, you could use a very different setup as opposed to someone who was constantly shooting jewelry. Before you spend your hard-earned cash on any piece of equipment, try and think about exactly what you will be photographing. If the answer to that question is potentially anything, then you will need a lot of stuff. If the answer is clothing for e-commerce on a pure white background, then you could get away with very little. I know large companies that use just one light to shoot all of their clothing in a conveyor belt style fashion. [REWIND: USE SPLASH PHOTOGRAPHY TO CREATE STUNNING IMAGES | PHOTIGY COURSE REVIEW] For our purposes today, we’ll focus on someone who wants to shoot a range of items. They’ll differ in size, from jewelry to kitchen appliances, and also have varying surfaces, reflective and matte. The Bread And Butter (AKA Camera Lenses And Tripod) As we all know, there are a ton of options here. I’m not going to take you through every option of camera/lenses and cover the positives and negatives of each. It would take far too long and is quite unnecessary. It boils down to this: for a camera you’ll need a decent number of megapixels (20ish is good) and an ability to trigger external flashes. That covers almost every camera on the market today. Unless you are shooting billboards, you don’t need a huge number of megapixels. Our subjects are generally stationary; therefore, you don’t need an amazing focusing system. As much as possible, you’ll be shooting at ISO 100 and thus do not need fantastic high ISO abilities. My...

Read More »

Sony Releases A 50mm 1.8 & 70-300mm Full-Frame Lenses & The RX10 III

Posted by on Mar 30, 2016 in Bokeh, canon, Featured, Photography Tips, portrait, sony, Wildlife

Sony Releases A 50mm 1.8 & 70-300mm Full-Frame Lenses & The RX10 III

This is one of those weeks that Sony users can and will be smirking and gloating after this news of new lenses, because first, Sigma announced their Sigma-to-Sony FE adapter series which would have Sigma lenses behave like native Sony lenses on Sony cameras like the vaunted A7RII, and that meant 15 Sigma lenses, including the much-adored Art series glass, would be able to be used on Alpha cams. Sony FE 50mm 1.8 I truly hesitate to say the term ‘game changer’ for fear of watering down its meaning, but I just did, because it is. If you wanted a high quality, fast 50mm for your A7, you’d likely have to go with the Sony Sonnar T* Zeiss 55mm 1.8, a great lens in its own right, but at around $1k, not inexpensive. Sigma’s release opened up new avenues, making it possible to use the beloved, and faster, 50mm 1.4 Art on your Sony for less than the Sonnar. Now, if even that’s a bit rich for your blood, or you want something smaller and perhaps more casual without the need of an adapter, Sony has finally released the FE 50mm 1.8, and they’ve priced it at a very competitive $250. It comes in at a weight of less than 7oz, even with a solid metal mount, with an aspherical element Sony suggests will rid the lens of aberration problems, and thus lending to sharp images and higher resolving power. It also has a 7-blade circular aperture for a soft and round bokeh and a DC AF motor. The lens will be available in May, and you can get B&H to notify you precisely when, which is recommended. Get yours here. This means that Sony is now offering well-priced fast prime natives to their system, only needing to be rounded out by an 85. Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS This Sony 70-300mm immediately becomes the longest focal length E-Mount lens yet, and it’s clearly being aimed at Canon’s EF 70-300 f/4-5.6L IS USM. The new Sony telephoto is a touch slower on the short end but the same racked out, and the Sony comes in a hair’s breadth cheaper at $1200 versus $1250 of the Canon. How it compares in the field will be interesting to see, but perhaps more interesting is how much desire there is for a lens like this to begin with. That said, the Sony comes with four aspherical glass elements, 2 Extra-Low Dispersion elements and Sony’s own Nano AR coating, which are all technical names given to feature that are meant to solve the issues of aberration that’s both spherical and chromatic, and distortion. At 300mm, it’s the first FE lens to reach that focal length, but it’s also surprisingly decent for close objects with a minimum focusing distance of around 3 feet. Find it here. [REWIND: SONY A7II | PROOF SIZE ISN’T EVERYTHING,...

Read More »

3 Reasons Why Mirrorless Cameras are Better than Digital SLRs for Focusing

Posted by on Mar 30, 2016 in canon, Featured, landscape, nikon, pentax, Photography Tips, portrait, sony, Wildlife

3 Reasons Why Mirrorless Cameras are Better than Digital SLRs for Focusing

A lot has been written about the drawbacks of autofocus performance from mirrorless cameras. Most of this focuses on the tracking of moving subjects – an area where the phase detection autofocus found in digital SLRs is still superior (although the gap is closing). But when it comes to focusing on still subjects, the mirrorless camera is a better tool. Surprised? If you’ve never used a mirrorless camera, you may be. Let’s take a look at the reasons why. 1. Phase detection versus contrast detect autofocus Mirrorless cameras have a different autofocus system than digital SLRs. In a digital SLR most of the light coming through the lens is reflected up by the mirror, into the pentaprism and through the viewfinder. A small part is deflected downwards to a dedicated autofocus sensor. It uses a system called phase detection autofocus to calculate the camera to subject distance, and tell the lens where to focus. The red lines in this diagram show the path that light takes through an SLR camera with the mirror in the down position. Most of the light is reflected into the pentaprism and the viewfinder. Part of it is reflected downwards towards the autofocus sensor. The advantage of phase detection autofocus is that it’s fast (generally speaking – but it also depends on which camera you have) and very good at tracking moving subjects. It’s the best system anyone has managed to come up with for an SLR camera. However, phase detection autofocus has a significant weakness – lack of accuracy. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that most digital SLRs have a combination of cross-type and single line autofocus points. Cross-type autofocus points are the most accurate, and should always be used when focus is critical (for example, when using a prime lens at its widest aperture), otherwise the camera may not focus where it is supposed to. Your camera’s manual will tell you which of its AF points are cross-type. Whenever you use a non cross-type autofocus point, you cannot rely on the camera to focus accurately. This is fine when using small apertures, which give you plenty of margin for error, but not when focus and accuracy is critical. The second reason is to do with camera and lens calibration. Even when you use a cross-type autofocus point your camera may not focus exactly where it is supposed to. For accurate focus, every part of your camera setup – from the autofocus sensor, to lens and autofocus motors that tell the lens where to focus – must be working in perfect harmony. It only takes a small degree of misalignment to throw the accuracy of the system out. Most of the time you won’t notice, because there is sufficient depth-of-field to make the focusing inaccuracies irrelevant. But if you use a wide aperture, especially with a telephoto lens,...

Read More »