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Editor’s Note: This blog post has been syndicated from Brian Calabrese with permission. Be sure to follow him on Facebook and Instagram for even more.

It seems as though these days, photographers are a dime a dozen and if you are a photographer, I am sure you have aspirations to stand out from the rest.  But what does it take to become the photographer that everyone is clamouring for?  Those that are successful in photography or anything for that matter offer something that others don’t. They go above and beyond their call of duty.

The most acclaimed photographers are those that truly have a passion for their craft.  They eat, sleep, and breathe photography.  They absorb and soak up as much knowledge as they can stand.  Their appetite to improve and learn more is simply insatiable.  This incredible energy is magnetic, attracting all of the customers you so desire into your services.

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All images by German Roque. Used with permission

German Roque is a 27 year old New Orleans, LA-based portrait photographer who, through his photography, demonstrates incredible relationships with his subjects. Any portrait photographer will tell you how important this is: from senior portraits to film shooters. German not only does this, but balances out the technical aspects through his incredible and creative use of lighting and shadows to tell stories about people and make them look their best.

Most of all though, German is all about developing a rapport with his portrait subject before the shooting even begins. And as some photojournalists will tell you, trust is the biggest part of any photographer’s work.

But it wasn’t always that way: German started out photographing cars just for fun.

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“What matters is what turns out in front of you” states Sydney based street photographer Markus Andersen who is the focus of a short documentary called “Belly of the Beast” by Rob Norton. He says this about using film, digital, Leica or phone cameras. Markus shoots film personally because he likes it, but again he states that it’s just a personal preference. However, he’s much more interested in the world around him in black and white.

The documentary explores the way he works and sees the world to capture the images that he does by chasing the light, finding the right contrast, shapes, and so much more. But unlike other photographers, Markus doesn’t care if he wastes a single frame of film. He figures that it’s much better to attempt to take the shot and be pleasantly surprised than be disappointed.

More than anything though, he talks about his passion for street photography and how it isn’t the goal to become famous. Instead, you should aim to get the best images that you possibly can.

The documentary is after the jump and well worth checking out during a lunch break today.

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

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“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.

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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

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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