web analytics


Chris Gampat Lauren Englebert portraits Early winter 2015 first batch (3 of 8)ISO 1001-160 sec at f - 2.8

Want more Useful Photography Tips? Click here.


“Come on, smile.”

The problem with this is that your portrait subject can end up giving you some sort of really awkward expression that isn’t genuine and that clearly translates into that when you take their photo.

Meet Lauren: a fantastic woman I know here in NYC that wanted her portrait taken and that gave me the very same situation. So with this, I, as a photographer, faced the problem of not only making her deliver a genuine smile but also delivering an image that looked great in the end. So here’s how I did it and how you can, too:

– Pre-focus on an area of their face (in this case I chose her right eye that is camera left, closest to the light source and also closest to the camera.

– Politely ask for a slight sliver of a smile

– When the subject states that they hate their smile, try to figure out a way to make them genuinely elicit a feeling that will render a facial expression in the direction of what you’re going for.

– When Lauren gave me an awkward smile, I very seriously yet jokingly said, “A little less awkward and terrible please.” Because she knows me, it got a genuine giggle out of her. Because I had been pre-focused, I snapped the photo at that exact same time.

Yes, Lauren knows me, but even with other people that I’ve done this method with I’ve gotten it to work. The way that you get to this to work has to do with sitting down with the person first, getting comfortable with them, understanding where they’re coming from, having an actual conversation, and most importantly getting them comfortable with you.

So what’s the overall secret? Do something on the spot that makes them elicit a facial expression or body language that you want to capture. But first, have a personable conversation and relaxation time. Have a cup of coffee with the person first and chat a bit, it makes them realize that you’re a human and not just someone with a camera.

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 10.05.26 AM

Photographer Zack Arias is mostly a commercial and editorial photographer these days (while wanting to do personal portraits) and many of his most famous photos are on location. But he took the time to create two videos on Dedpixel to school you on using a white seamless background. The biggest rule of all is that you need more than one light typically. At least one light should hit your subject and at least one should hit the background, but the one hitting the background needs to be exposed one top more powerful than your main light.

He also shows things like how a scene can be lit light at a time. The videos are after the jump, and well worth your time to check out.

Via ISO 1200

[click to continue…]

logo upscaled the phoblographer

Hey everyone,

We’re doing another call for photographers to feature their images on the site. Right now we’re focusing on Strobist work–even better if you’ve got wedding and portrait photography. After that, we’re moving into landscape photography (we will do another call for that.)

So how do you pitch it us?

– Shoot us an email at editors[at]thephoblographer[dot]com. You’ll also probably notice the little call to feature you on the sidebar.

– Tell us about yourself as a photographer. We want to know the who, what, when, where, how and why.

– Show us websites

– Tell us why the readers want to see your work., or why your project is really cool.

Julius and I will review all of your submissions, talk it over, and get back to you based on the volume of emails. Don’t let this discourage you, we’re both very cool cats; just busy. And if you have a single photo that makes great use of lighting, submit it for our Creating the Photograph series.

Thanks folks (and Strobists)!


Chris Gampat

Editor in Chief

Nikon G series primes.

Nikon G series primes.

Your kit lens really isn’t that bad, but photographers who pick up a DSLR or mirrorless interchangeable lens camera and who want to become serious about the craft should stick to a bare minimum. This post isn’t really about gear more so than it is about what you gain from the minimal load out of your kit.

It’s been said many times, over and over again, but it has to be said from the perspective of what you gain from limiting yourself creatively. You open yourself and your imagery up to lots of possibilities.

[click to continue…]

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung 50-150mm f2.8 OIS review product images (5 of 10)ISO 4001-40 sec at f - 4.0

No, it isn’t your gear. While your gear can make you look like a better photographer in the mind of the fashion world, it isn’t the secret to what makes you more or less of an attractive candidate to someone who wants to hire a photographer. Yes, being more affordable than the other can work and in the cases of people who aren’t very discerning, that’s all that you’ll be able to do.

In many cases, that isn’t a winning battle at all.

As a blog editor and a photographer myself, I’ve been on both sides of the table and in many ways there is an interchangeable hierarchy.

[click to continue…]


Creating the Photograph is an original series where we interview photographers about a photo that they shot and how it was achieved. The results are some knowledge passed on to you. Want to be featured? Email chrisgampat[at]thephoblographer[dot]com.

Photographer Sean Tucker is both a photographer and videographer hailing from the UK. He recently released a three part video series giving some useful tips and tricks to would-be product photographers. “I am actively building my portfolio in both stills and video to go after more people-centric work in the future because that is where my heart is. At present I am working on a portrait series, as well as finishing up editing on an episodic documentary series which I shot last year in New York, about a podcast duo reaching their 10 year mile stone.” Sean tells us.

He is also quite the lighting wizard and managed to make a single artificial light look completely natural.

But how did he do it?

Also be sure to check out Sean on FacebookTwitterYoutubeInstagramFlickr.

[click to continue…]