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Pro Photography

What Photographers Need to Know About Copyright

Filed in Pro Photography, Tips by on April 6, 2017 1 Comment
What Photographers Need to Know About Copyright

Have you ever worried about theft? Now, when I ask this question, I don’t mean the tangible sort of theft that might happen if you leave your camera in an unlocked car or if you set your camera bag down next to your table while you have a cup of coffee. I mean that less tangible theft that can happen when you put your photography online, on a public forum like Flickr, Facebook or Instagram. Can someone take your photos and use them however they like? What sort of protection do you have from online theft, and what steps do you need to take to secure that protection? Keep reading for the information every photographer needs to have about copyright.
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Three ways to make your photographs look more professional

Filed in Pro Photography, Tips by on March 31, 2017 0 Comments
Three ways to make your photographs look more professional

Here is a question I often get from beginners and more advanced students alike: “How can I make my photos look more professional?” No matter what learning stage you’re at, it’s hard to resist the temptation to compare your photos to photos shot by pros—whether they are professional portrait photographers or professional magazine photographers who produce material for National Geographic and other photo-heavy publications.

Just about everyone would like to shoot photos that look like they belong in a magazine, but not all of us know exactly how to get that done. We may chalk it up to just not having the right equipment: “I need an expensive DSLR,” you might decide, or, “I need a really expensive lens.” But the truth is that equipment can only take you so far, and you can take truly professional quality images with something as simple as a smartphone. Read on to find out how.

One of the best ways to develop a sense for what makes a professional-quality image is to look at professional quality-images. I often recommend Flickr as a source for studying other people’s work, but perhaps an even better idea is to review the websites and portfolios of professional photographers, particularly people you admire. First, identify the genre in which you would like to achieve more professional-looking images. Then spend some time really studying the images of those photographers you admire. What do they all have in common? Are these things that you could apply easily enough to your own work? If not, what are some other ways that you could achieve professional-quality results? What is the photographer’s style and how could you develop your own style? These are all questions that you will need to answer before you can reasonably expect your images to start looking like the pros’.

##Fill the frame

One of the number one steps that professional photographers take to really create compelling images is filling the frame. This also happens to be one of the biggest mistakes that beginners make. We seem to have an inborn desire to include as much of a scene as possible whenever we take a picture, and that is a desire we need to fight against. Let’s take portraits as an example—how many times have you shot photos of your kids or other family members and just not been that happy with the results? If you look at some of the photos you thought were going be wonderful and just didn’t turn out that way I think you’ll find a common thread. In many cases it could just be that you didn’t fill the frame. For example, that picture of your child playing in the park is full of other distractions. There are other kids in the background, there’s a trashcan nearby, there are some parked cars in the distance. None of these extra elements is adding anything to the composition, and they are in fact distracting from your subject. That is one of the reasons why that photo may turn out to just not be very compelling—because your subject has been lost among all the visual clutter.

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-328676510/stock-photo-portrait-of-cute-beautiful-young-girl-with-freckles-close-up.html?src=GEIcxg88lC4JIdJgh4dm4A-1-2

The simple solution to this problem is to just zoom in. Remember if you’re using a smartphone or a camera with digital zoom, it’s better to zoom with your feet—that is, walk towards your subject and fill the frame without using the zoom capabilities of your camera. If you’re using a DSLR or another camera with optical zoom, it’s okay to use your zoom lens to get closer—aim for filling the entire frame with your subject’s face or head and shoulders, unless you have a very compelling reason to shoot the person from head to toe.

An exception to this rule is if you’re shooting an environmental portrait and you need to include some context. Context can be very important for environmental photos because the goal of an environmental photo is to show your viewer how your subject is interacting or existing within a certain context. So for that type of photo it’s always important to zoom out a little bit and show your viewer your subject’s surroundings, but the same rules do apply to the extent that you don’t want to include any clutter in the background or objects that are not a part of the story you’re trying to tell.

##Find beautiful light

One of the most obvious differences between professional quality photographs and snapshots is in the light. A lot of beginners fall into this trap for the very simple reason that people tend to take photographs at the wrong time of the day, or in the wrong lighting situations.

Now, you may be asking, “What is the right time of day?” Well, that has to do with the direction of the light. When the sun is directly overhead, it doesn’t have as much atmosphere to shine through, so it is much brighter. And bright sun creates blown out areas and shadows that are an impenetrable black. This can create the dreaded raccoon-eyed portrait subject, and can also have more subtle effects such as obscuring detail. To avoid this problem, try shooting photographs very early in the day (an hour after sunrise) or very late in the day (an hour before sunset). We call this “the golden hour” because of the quality of the light—it’s soft and even and literally has a golden quality to it. You’ll find that if you aim for taking most of your photographs at this time of day you will end up with much better photographs overall.

Now what if you’re out shooting photographs and it’s mid day, and there really isn’t any way you’d be able to capture the same images if you waited until sunset? Now you have to start thinking about ways that you can improve the lighting situation that you’re stuck with. For example, if you’re shooting portraits you can use fill flash to help fill in some of those impenetrable black shadows. You can also move your subjects into better light such as open shade (note, avoid dappled shade such as what you get underneath a tree because that can provide for uneven lighting). You can also use a reflector or a diffuser to bounce light into the shadows or to diffuse the sun before it even arrives at your subject. These are all very good and reliable ways that you can make even those midday photographs look more professional.

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-97696616/stock-photo-magic-pink-rhododendron-flowers-on-summer-mountain.html?src=IgzWFD-plf3xBEWIC-sDgw-2-49

Seeking out interesting light is another way that you can make your images look more professional—try backlighting your subject and taking advantage of lens flare and veiling glare, which is that low-contrast look that is so popular in portraiture today. You can also use dramatic lighting such as a single bright light on one side of a person’s face and darkness on the other. Anytime you use light that varies significantly from that standard, average midday lighting, you’re going to create an interesting photo.

##Develop a sense of style

This is actually one of the hardest things for beginning photographers to wrap their minds around. Professional photos look professional because they have a sense of style. A photographer who has a very strong style is someone whose work you can identify regardless of whether or not their name is attached to the image. Think for a moment about Ansel Adams, the famous landscape photographer of the 1900s. Most people who are familiar with Ansel Adams’ work can pick out one of his images from a selection of a similar photos, simply because his style was so well defined. I’m sure there are plenty of modern photographers and maybe even those you follow on Flickr who also have very distinguished styles. When you look at your Flickr feed and notice new images, do you have a pretty good idea of whose photo stream they belong to before you even click on them? If so, that’s because that photographer has a very well-developed sense of style.

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?irgwc=1&id=418635694&tpl=38919-111120&utm_campaign=Eezy%20Inc&utm_medium=Affiliate&utm_source=38919

So how do you define your own sense of style? Well, that is the $64,000 question. The actions that each individual photographer takes in order to create a sense of style can be quite subtle, and it could be as simple as always waiting for a certain type of light, having a strong sense of politics and shooting everything through that political veil, or even just applying certain stylistic changes to each photograph in post-processing. For example, you could shoot all of your photographs using a high ISO. You’ll get an image that has a lot of noise and looks gritty and photojournalistic, and if you convert all of your photos to black and white using the same desaturation procedure, then all of your photos are going to have the same basic style. You could also add a little saturation tweak to give your photos a sense of you, but remember that your goal is not to create a set of photos that look exactly the same, but rather a set of photos that appear to have been shot by the same person.

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-157910507/stock-photo-an-ansel-adams-inspired-view-of-sedona.html?src=-y7b9LgvnhkkHazKi1SjRg-1-5

##Conclusion

If you are still a beginner, remember that reaching this point in your photography takes a lot of time, skill and practice. Most of us are not going to achieve professional quality images right away—it’s a skill we develop over time and with lots of practice. So my final piece of advice for you is to spend a lot of time taking pictures. The more you practice, the more time you spend examining your work and asking yourself questions about how you might be able to make your photos better, the closer you will be to having a portfolio full of professional-quality images.

##Summary:

1. Study the work of pros you admire
2. Fill the frame
3. Find beautiful light
– Golden hour
– Use fill flash and reflectors
– Use backlighting
4. Develop a style

Choosing Photos for your Portfolio

Choosing Photos for your Portfolio

Professional You’ve been taking photos for a while now, right? You’ve got a lot of great shots of your kids, some beautiful landscapes, some macro images and a handful of photos that are pure art. Your brother wants you to photograph his wedding and now an acquaintance has just asked if you’ll take some shots of his newborn son. Photography is starting to look like it isn’t just a hobby any more–now it has some pocket-cash potential. What next?

You need a portfolio. If you’re considering taking photos for money, or if you’d like to display your work at a local gallery, or if you’d just like to take your photography to a more professional level, a portfolio is an absolute requirement.
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How to be a Second Photographer at a Wedding

How to be a Second Photographer at a Wedding

If you’re breaking into the wedding photography industry, one of the best ways to gain experience and to make connections is as a second photographer. This means finding an established photographer who is willing to hire you as their backup, second photographer. Keep in mind that there are diehard wedding photographers whose motto is, “I do it all alone.” That’s okay, plenty of others are willing and wanting to work with one or more assistants because they see the value in doing so.

While being a second shooter isn’t as glamorous as the main shooter, it actually allows you to learn a great deal under someone else’s wing, or in this case, lens. When you’re starting out, there are a bunch of things you simply can’t know yet about the industry until you’re in the thick of it. I want to be sure you get a good foot in the door by being armed with knowledge of what the main photographer will want from you, so read up on these tips on what to expect – and do – when second shooting.
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Landing Your First Gallery Exhibit

Landing Your First Gallery Exhibit

When you pool through the folders of photographs on your computer, there are probably hundreds or even thousands of images. Depending on how serious of a photographer you are or want to become, you likely have a website driven by a WordPress blog or SmugMug website or a custom designed one. You’ve selected a handful of favorites from each photo shoot and uploaded them for your fans to view on social media sites like Facebook or Flickr. If this is the extent that you want your photography career to go, that’s absolutely fine. It’s a personal choice. Many photographers are content with this level of display, feedback, and commitment. However, you might be a photographer who walks through exhibits in galleries and dreams of one day seeing your own prints on a large white wall. If that description screams you, read on…
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Licensing your Photographs

Licensing your Photographs

If you’ve ever considered turning your hobby into a profession, you’ve probably heard the term “licensing.” But if you aren’t completely sure what that means, don’t worry, you are not alone. Licensing is a many-faceted concept and it can be difficult to keep it all straight. Let’s clear it up.
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Tips for a Successful Portfolio Review

Tips for a Successful Portfolio Review

You’ve built up a collection of amazing prints. Your confidence and motivation are lifted when your friends rave about your work on Facebook. Your Flickr buddies all say your images are great. But, are you ready for a professional portfolio review? To receive unbiased feedback from experts in the field? I can tell you now that sharing your images online through social media, a blog and a website does not equate the same way. These tips will help you prepare for and go through a portfolio review.
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Displaying Your Photos

Displaying Your Photos

Today’s photographers take a lot more pictures than photographers did just a couple of decades ago. But on average, fewer of those images ever get seen. That’s because storing digital photos is easy, fast and requires virtually no extra space. We take photos, we offload them onto a hard drive and there they sit, waiting for us to make good on a vague promise to “have them printed” when time allows. So how can you break out of that rut and get your photos off that hard drive and out into the world?
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What Studio Photography Taught Me About Shooting On Location

What Studio Photography Taught Me About Shooting On Location

Studio photography and on-location photography. You would think the two have barely anything to do with one another. In the studio, everything is finely tuned and precisely controlled. Out there in the real world, all kinds of random events can turn a great photo shoot into a not-so-great one. With that said, my experience in the studio has done a lot to improve my on-location photography. Here are a few things you can learn.
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5 Tips To Get Your First Photography Client

5 Tips To Get Your First Photography Client

This is the second post in our ‘start your photography career’ series. Last time, we covered photographer’s compensation and pay rates. Now I want to take some time to discuss the real challenge: getting that first client. I got started in the photography business because a good friend of mine, a sponsored athlete at the time, needed a few good photos to show all those companies that kept sending him stuff. One thing led to another, and before you know it, all sorts of people were coming to me for my work. Here are a few tips to get your name out there.
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6 Negotiating Techniques That Will Get You More Money For Your Photos

6 Negotiating Techniques That Will Get You More Money For Your Photos

When I first started taking professional portraits and wedding photos, I had a difficult time getting the prices I wanted from my clients. Because I was new to the business, I thought people felt like they were taking a bigger risk working with me. As such, I set my prices a little lower to try and attract new clients. It backfired, and I learned a lot from the experience. If you’re wondering what you can do to get the best possible prices from your first photography gigs, I suggest you give these negotiating techniques a try.
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6 Household Items To Create A Home Photo Studio

6 Household Items To Create A Home Photo Studio

Did you know that you already have enough items in your house to build a small photography studio for yourself? Granted, it won’t be the best setup in the world. Your friends might laugh when they see how you’ve managed to rig it all together. But who’s laughing when you’re taking amazing studio portraits they could only dream of doing? If you’ve always wanted to get better at studio photography without paying extra money, look out for these six items.
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What To Do When Someone Steals Your Image

What To Do When Someone Steals Your Image

Nobody wants to be plagiarized or ripped off, but it’s often a fact of life when you taken pictures and post them to sites like Flickr, Instagram, or Facebook. Heck, it can even happen in otherwise professional business relationships where trust has eroded between you and your clients. As a photographer, there isn’t much you can do to stop others from taking your work and using it (although, you have some options), so what can you do once the deed has been done?
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Want Money For Your Photography? 3 Things To Watch Out For

Want Money For Your Photography? 3 Things To Watch Out For

Even if you haven’t been practicing photography for too long, you might start getting the itch to charge people money for your services. It’s not uncommon. Once somebody tells you how awesome your work looks, a little light bulb goes off in your head. Suddenly you think, “I could make a business out of this.” Right you are, but there are a few common roadblocks we inevitably hit before beginning a lucrative career as a professional photographer. Here’s what you need to watch out for.
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How to prepare for a photography exhibition

How to prepare for a photography exhibition

Ready to take your photography beyond your computer? A photography exhibition is a great place to start. Most photographers are more than a little scared of doing a photography exhibition, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t need to be a serious artsy type to show your work and get people interested in it. You just need a place, a time, and a theme. The rest is all details.
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