Six Things They Won’t Teach You In Portrait Photography Class

The one thing that will teach you to become a better portrait photographer is failure. Typically, when you fail at something, you sit there and wallow in agony. Then you figure out what you could have done better and find a way to keep those mistakes in mind for your next project. Failure, trial-and-error, and perseverance will help you to create better portraits. That’s the first major lesson that they won’t teach you in portrait photography. Here are five more.

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Knowing Natural Light: Photographing Weddings

Bride and Veil
Bride and Veil

Bride and Veil

Natural light photographers have become wildly popular in the past several years. Many photographers actually market themselves purely as natural light photographers. There’s a good reason for this: natural light can create some of the most beautiful images that you’ve ever seen. Using natural light whenever possible is a no-brainer to give your images that beautiful, natural, dreamy quality that is synonymous with Weddings. However, there is more to it than just not using lights. People who have mastered natural light photography did more than just not use lights while shooting. You must really learn and understand how light behaves, reacts, and interacts with your subjects.

Click on through to view some tips to start you off down the right path for shooting weddings using natural light.

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Taking Environmental Portraits

Trainer
Trainer

Trainer

Some of the best pictures I think I’ve ever taken are of people in their own environment. Whether it’s an athlete in their element, a musician performing for the crowd, a trainer in the gym, or even a newborn that’s only a couple of days old snuggling up in some blankets. These types of images are powerful.

These types of images aren’t terribly hard to create. Click on through to learn a couple of my tips and tricks on creating these fascinating images.

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Light It Shoot It Retouch It, A Book Review

The two newest books to my photography library have been two highly anticipated lighting books; Kevin Kubota’s Lighting Notebook, and Scott Kelby’s Light It Shoot It Retouch It. About a month ago I reviewed Kevin’s book and you guys seemed to respond to that positively. You can find that review here. I’ve finally gotten around to putting my thoughts on Scott’s book down in writing. If you don’t know who Scott Kelby is, you should look him up right now. His current accolades include president of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, editor-in-chief of Photoshop User magazine, and founder of KelbyTraining.com. He is a true professional photographer and he’s willing to share all of his knowledge with everyone. He has been a major influence on me during my photographic career. His newest book, Light It Shoot It Retouch It, is the latest in a line of books he’s authored.

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Photographing Live Music

Lead Singer on Stage
Lead Singer on Stage

Lead Singer on Stage

Concert photography can be very rewarding (both personally and monetarily). If you really stick at it, you can make some pretty good money. However, there is a reason why you end up making good money; concert photography isn’t a walk in the park. There are many factors that go into the machine that is great live concert shots.

A typical concert can be 2-3 hours, of which you’ll be shooting the entire time (unless a photo release prohibits you only to a set amount of songs); not to mention the several hours spent finishing the images on the computer. You have to be very knowledgeable with your equipment as you don’t have time to monkey around with it when the lights are on and the mics are hot. You need to know how to capture the emotion and mood of the show by using many different photographic techniques. I wouldn’t say it’s quite as stressful as wedding photography but you still generally only have one chance to get the shot (and unlike a wedding, you have no idea when that shot is going to happen).

Here are some general tips to follow to take your music photography to that next level.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog posting by Travis Lawton, the Lawtographer

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Coping With Mixed Lighting As a Photographer

Mixed lighting refers to an environment that is lit by multiple light sources that have a different color temperature. It could be fluorescent and incandescent, incandescent and flash, natural light with incandescent or any other combination of lighting, and if you’re really unlucky there could be three or more color temperatures in one place. It can be one of the biggest challenges in photography and mishandled, it can ruin a photo that is great in every other way.

While there’s no definitive answer to this problem, there are some guidelines that can help. Here are some things to keep in mind, which I’ve ordered by my usual priority list from most preferred to last option.

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Some Tips for Cosplayer Photography (Pictures Taken at New York Comic Con )

One of my favorite things to do at any Comic book or Anime Convention or combination of the two like New York Comic con is to photo walk around the show and take cosplayer portraits. These folks are all dressed up and had a place to go. I consider it the performance art of these shows and thing the images should be captured for all to see. Cosplayers put a lot of time and effort into their costumes and accessories. I give them my respect by putting a little thought into how I take their photos. There are large amounts of tips that can be given, but here are the ones I think are the most important.

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Three Quick Uses for a Reflector at a Convention Event (Besides Reflecting Light)

“Man, you’re not kidding around.” That’s what Matt, my Lighting Tech, told me when he stepped into the Press Room and looked at all the gear I had laid out on the table—which included a collapsed 32 inch reflector. At this year’s Comic Con, I wanted to get the best photos I possibly could. While that means not only having knowledge of how to pose my subjects, it also meant bringing everything that was needed. After having shot the convention for the past four years, I finally learned from my mistakes enough to also know what gear to bring along. While I didn’t want to lug a reflector around with me, it was totally worth it in the end. Here’s why:

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Setting Your White Balance Correctly Using a White Coffee Cup Lid

While hunched over a coffee cup and mentally composing an image, I realize the light is weird. I am seeing multiple light bulbs casting different colors of light. I realize the best image result will come from my setting the white balance, but I do not have an Expodisc or a grey card available. Not all is lost however. I do have a coffee cup lid. With that, white balance can be set. I usually keep my camera on auto white balance and make note of the light to adjust things later. That way, I can get a decent white balance setting. There are many ways to set the white balance. Here are some examples.

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Tips for Protecting the Sensor of Your Mirrorless Camera

The mirrorless camera market is growing at a tremendously rapid pace. As more users adopt the little cameras with a big heart, there’s more to learn about them vs DSLRs. One of the biggest factors is keeping your sensor clean. As careful as I am, my Olympus EP2’s sensor recently became so dirty that I actually started to see floaters appear in my images.

Here are a couple of tips for mirrorless camera users to use.

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Lighting Made Easy, A Book Review

Kevin Kubota's Lighting Notebook
Kevin Kubota's Lighting Notebook

Kevin Kubota's Lighting Notebook

Being a photographer has its downsides. We work in a very fast paced, ever-changing field. We need to constantly update our style and keep on top of current trends to make sure we don’t sink into the competition sea and sink like so many before us. We do this by using several different methods, one being trying to wade through all the books and magazines to find those special ones that stick out, grab your genuine attention, and actually teach you something. I recently come across a book that does all of that: Kevin Kubota’s Lighting Notebook.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog posting by Travis Lawton, the Lawtographer

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Tips For the Person Being Forced Into Shooting A Wedding

I’ve encountered a lot of this recently amongst friends, readers, and the like: being asked to shoot a wedding but not having the experience. Everyone in said person’s family and immediate circle says, “Oh, you can shoot the wedding! You’ve got the gear! We won’t have to pay a pro!” Many times, even if you say no, you’re still pushed to do so. The reason for this is because most of said people don’t understand just how much thought, care and work goes int photographing a wedding.

While I recommend that you tell them, “Go find a professional,” here are some tips for the person that’s forced to shoot a wedding.

Editor’s Note: Though we’ve taken a recent turn catering to the street photography crowd, we’ve got loads of resources on shooting weddings. They are listed throughout this piece.

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7 Tips To Get Started On Your Fall Photography

Autumn is a time of change and glorious colors. It is a period where the temperatures cool and the days become shorter. It is always a brilliant time for photography. The fall lends itself to trying out new techniques and gear. It is a great time to be artistic. Autumn can accentuate the sensual richness of color in photography and having the right gear is key. The best part is, every year you can focus on something different. This year, most of my autumn photography is macro.

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Working With Models For The Budding Photographer

Male Model Sitting On Wall

Model Sitting On Wall

Models are interesting creatures. They can very picky and complicated or they can be the complete opposite and need coaching and hand holding the whole way. Every once in a while, you’ll hit the jackpot and get that perfect person that knows exactly how to model while taking whatever suggestion you throw at them (within reason of course).

If you’re just starting with shooting actual models, it can be quite intimidating. You want the model to feel comfortable that you know at least a little bit about what you’re doing while at the same time being able to direct the model to get the shot you’re looking for. Also, you have to do all this while building a relationship with the model so they will let down their “photographic guard” for you. This is what I call it when someone is just posing for you instead of emoting, and it comes across in the picture.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog posting by Travis Lawton, the Lawtographer

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Are TIFFs and RAWs Really the Same Thing?

Talk to any old school photographer or those with lots of experience from the film days. They would most likely tell you that scanning their film negatives gives you TIFFs that are essentially the same things as a RAW file. But is it really? I interviewed the legendary Chuck Westfall from Canon USA about this. Here’s what he had to say.

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Photographic Proof That You Should Never Be Afraid of Playing With Lightroom Presets

Original Photo

The other night, I was going through my portfolio and was looking around for images to play with. Then I stumbled upon a bunch of portraits I shot of gorgeous cosplayers and decided to try out some of my favorite Lightroom editing techniques and film renderings. Though I used to be of the school of thought that Lightroom presets are for people that don’t know how to edit, I am now a convert that says that they can teach you even more about editing, and by not playing with them, you’re only limiting yourself. Here are some images that we’ve worked on to show you just that.

PS: I’m aware that all of these images could use even more editing to make them really pop. Retouching does wonders for everyone no matter how gorgeous you are.

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What To Do When Your Feeling Under The Weather

So you’re sick. You’ve cancelled your meetings and appointments. You’ve stayed home from the office to rest and watch The Price Is Right. You feel terrible and knowing that you’re wasting the day away by just lying in bed isn’t helping. There are some things that photographers can do while feeling under the weather.

Let me reiterate that the absolute best thing for you is to follow your doctor’s orders. If they tell you to stay in bed and rest, then stay in bed and rest. If you feel well enough to turn on your brain a little, here are some suggestions you can easily accomplish. Oh and just so you know, I came up with this post idea and am currently writing it while sick.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog posting by Travis Lawtonthe Lawtographer

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Ten Ways to Take Better Photos Without Spending More Money

No matter what your photography knowledge level or equipment are, you can take better photos today than you did yesterday without spending a dime. Every one of my suggestions can be applied whether you’ve had professional training or not, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re using a $100 point-and-shoot or an expensive DSLR. Geared primarily towards amateur hobbyists, perhaps those of you with more experience can get some ideas as well. Here are some suggestions that are independent of gear.

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Parents & Photography During Early Days of Grammar School

School has begun. All the little kiddies are off. Parents with cameras are out in force getting those early images of the school year. From what I have seen, it can be done a little better. I am a husband and a dad first, and then I am a photographer. When it comes to taking pictures of kids at school, I tend to take it a little serious. First thing I do is make sure to acknowledge, when at school, it’s about the kids and making them comfortable. It is not the images. If you get good pictures, fantastic, if the kids start their day super happy, that is the real victory! My kids’ first day at school, this year, inspired this post. A dad with a Nikon D700 and a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S lens with a lens hood on, almost smacked a child in the head with his gear.

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