How to Use Lighting to Make Eyes More Gripping

Model: Erica Lourde

Model: Erica Lourde

Almost every portrait photographer will tell you to always focus on the eyes no matter what. Though we situationally disagree, they generally have a point about focusing on a portrait subject’s eyes and that they can be the most gripping and personable part of the image. With a couple of tweaks that you can do even before you start the editing stage, you can make the eyes even more enthralling.

So how do you do this? It’s all about your light modifier, light positioning, composition, and aperture choice.

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Lester Cannon: Shooting Portraits During the Golden Hour


All images by Lester Cannon. Used with permission

Photographer Lester Cannon hails from the California Bay Area. His job as a Sergeant in the US Army has allowed him to do lots of traveling–and for the past five years he’s been based in Germany. “Portrait and Photojournalism/Street Photography are my what I love the most. I enjoy traveling all over the world and photographing as many beautiful and interesting people I can find.” says Lester.

Lester is a true Renaissance man: he sometimes shoots digital, but has mastered the art of modern film photography like few other photographers have in this digital age. He shoots the photos that we all wish we could get with film.

And as he tells us about his portraits, it’s all in the eyes and the face.

Be sure to follow Lester on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Vimeo.

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Professional Photographers on Composing Better Food Photos

Screenshot taken from the video

Screenshot taken from the video

All of the master food photographers will tell you that great food images should suck you into the moment and should deliver an experience of some sort. Part of this creation has to do with having solid composition. The folks at We Eat Together put together a video showing how to do just that. Their first time has to do with getting rid of your light source in the image and also making sure that it isn’t visible lest someone focuses on that instead of the delectable bites in front of you.

The host comes up with a load of difference scenarios and compositions involving various angles that draw the viewer in. The use of reflectors really helps.

Their video on composing better food photos is after the jump. But we’ve added quotes from other food photographers that we’ve interviewed to add extra value to this post.

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Why Bokeh is a Critical Element to Telling a Story Through Photos

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Panasonic 42.5mm f1.2 review product images (4 of 7)ISO 2001-400 sec at f - 1.7

It’s very easy to become obsessed with bokeh–look at the cinema and television industry. Watch famous movies of Tarantino, Nolan, or television shows like Arrow or American Horror Story and you’ll see that the world’s best cinematographers use lots and lots of bokeh. In the same way that cinematographers use bokeh to tell a story, photographers should use bokeh to tell a story and transmit a presence and feeling into the viewer that grabs them and forces them to pay attention.

We’re not at all saying that photographers need to be more cinematic–but instead we’re saying that many photographers need to start thinking about bokeh in a different way.

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Vignetting In a Photo Isn’t a Bad Thing



Person after person in forum after forum will complain about vignetting in an image. Advances in culture and marketing overall have grown to make us complain about something like this. Vignetting traditionally happened when the imaging circle from the lens wasn’t hitting the entire sensor area, It has always been corrected by stopping the lens down unless the imaging circle genuinely doesn’t cover the sensor or film plane. It was a technical problem, but at times actually happened to look good–at least in the artistic world it did and still does.

It’s time that we stop complaining about vignetting in an image. It happens, and when you use vignetting effectively it can change the entire mood of a scene or can be used as a great compositional aid. Vignetting happens around the outer edges of the scene and causes a darkening effect.

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Centering Subjects: On the Issue of Breaking the Rule of Thirds

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung 85mm f1.4 portrait review images (1 of 3)ISO 1001-800 sec at f - 2.5

The Rule of Thirds: it’s the rule that every single photographer is told to follow from the beginning. It’s always about not centering your subjects and instead putting them around the intersecting inner corners of the image divided into nine sections. And you’re taught from the beginning to just follow this rule.

This rule has to do with technique, more than anything else. The technique is what also limits many other photographers from creating better images. What do we mean by that? When you first start out as a photographer, you’re bound to get stuck in trying to compose a scene along the rule of thirds lines. But that can either make you a better photographer or one that gets so wrapped up in the technique that they end up giving up. A similar thing happens in the video world with the 180 degree rule.

So here’s a message for beginners–telling you to compose in a brand new way.

Ready for the secret?

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Why The Web Made Square Format Images So Popular

nyc, new york city, chris gampat, photography, the phoblographer,

No, Instagram isn’t really the reason why square format images so just so popular with folks. Despite the fact that today’s digital age has put such a big emphasis on it for many reasons, photographers have loved to shoot square images since the film days. One of the more popular formats for many photographers was 6×6–which required medium format film and was stuck right in between 6×4.5 and 6×7, both rectangles. These images were from some popular cameras like the Bronica SQ-A amongst others in the SQ series of cameras. Using these cameras, both portrait photographers and wedding shooters were able to have an easier time creating images for many reasons–with many of them attributing to them square format.

Here’s why the square format strikes such a chord with viewers today.

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Useful Photography Tip #100: Shoot in Black-and-White so You Don’t Get Distracted by Colors

Felix Esser The Phoblographer Lightroom 5 Black and White Conversion

Want more Useful Photography Tips? Check them out here.

Back in the days of film, when color wasn’t as commonplace as black-and-white, one of the most important things for any photographer to learn was to look past the colors they’d see in the viewfinder, and concentrate on the intensity of the light. Because when you shoot monochrome, you don’t get any color information, you get shades of grey. Equally important when shooting without color is composition, that is the various forms and shapes in an image and their relation to each another.

In general, learning to work with light and shapes is a good idea in photography, because it’ll help you get better pictures. Better in this case means pictures that are pleasing to the eye, and that evoke an emotional reaction in the viewer. Learning to see just the light and the shapes in an image, and to neglect all color information, is not an easy task. But luckily, in this day and age of digital cameras, there’s an easy and effective trick that’ll help you not be distracted by colors.

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The Phoblographer’s Introduction to the Rule of Thirds (And Breaking It)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Tamron 70-200mm f2.8 VC image samples (22 of 36)ISO 2001-100 sec at f - 2.8

Many folks have heard of them. A long time ago, we wrote an introduction to the rule of thirds, but it’s been in serious need to a revamp. The Rule of Thirds is one of the biggest rules in the photography world that every instructor and other photographers tell you to follow. But it is very easy to get too caught up in that and not focusing on subject matter.

And in the end, subject matter and content are king. To that end, the rule of thirds can sometimes be thrown right out the window.

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Five Tips for Effective Composition

julius motal the phoblographer composition image 06

Since the beginning of this year, I’ve been in the midst of a photo365 project in which I make an image a day for each day of the year. I make far more than one image per day, but the daily goal is to find one image that stands above all the rest. This practice keeps me in a constant state of photographic awareness, and it forces me to look for new ways to make images. This has largely been a street photography project in NYC, and with little thought, the images can become repetitive. Over the past two and a half months, I’ve rethought composition as I got to know my city better.

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Photographer Conor Harrigan on Creating Scenes Based On His Vision of the World


All images by Conor Harrigan. Used with permission.

Conor Harrigan is a photographer that hails from NYC and is one of those shooters who when you stumble upon his work are absolutely dumbfounded. Harrigan not only utilizes some of what NYC offers in terms of locations, but much of what the connected Long Island does as well. His work teaches us that there is a lot that goes into the production of an image–and that each image should have a ton of effort and feel like a production. He puts a high emphasis on the lighting, composition, etc. but mostly goes along with the flow to create the best images that he can.

We had some time to talk with Conor recently about his work. Be sure to also check out his Instagram.

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15 Quick Tips to Getting Better Portraits

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica S2 Shoot at the loft redo (4 of 4)ISO 160

Want to take better portraits, but are just getting started? Here’s a quick roundup of 15 random tips to help you do that.

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How to Create an Instagram Timelapse Using Your Android Phone

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy S4 review product photos (3 of 12)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 1.8

Ever since Instagram launched their video feature, we’ve all been fascinated by what creators can put out into the ecosphere. But something that is very valuable to us photographers is the use of a timelapse to tell stories or capture scenes in a different way. And while stopmotion video is totally possible on Instagram (though with some caveats) timelapses aren’t as simple.

But where there is a will, there is a way. And shooting your very own timelapse for Instagram is very possible–and fun!

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Five Tips for First Time DSLR Owners

Canon Rebel with Canon 50mm F/1.8 on the left and Canon 5D with Sigma 85mm F/1.4 on the right

Canon Rebel with Canon 50mm F/1.8 on the left and Canon 5D with Sigma 85mm F/1.4 on the right

FACT: A DSLR will not get you better pictures, knowledge will. Think about it this way–who is bound to do better at capturing a better photo: a person with an expensive camera that knows nothing about it or a person with a cheap camera that knows loads about it?

It’s happened. Photography has exploded and more than any time previous, there are DSLRs in the hands of more people than ever before. But there are also loads of people that don’t know a single thing about what they’re doing with the camera. On many occasions, I’ve been asked to take a picture of people and have been handed a DSLR on auto. Or I’ve just randomly seen people taking pictures with the cameras and not knowing a single thing about what they’re doing with the device.

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Photographing with Limitations


As part of my photography workshops, I like to start off with a jarring but hopefully inspiring exercise. Because I know from personal experience how hard it can be to shake a photographer from old habits of seeing and shooting, I have come up with ways to shake things up. The result is not only something that helps my students, but that also helps me when I want to challenge myself in a new way.

With that in mind, I send students out with a shooting exercise which is meant to make them rethink not only how the see through the camera, but more importantly how carefully they choose a subject and compose their photographs.

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published at The Candid Frame.

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The Phoblographer Weekly Recap: June 9th 2013

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 12mm f2.8 product images (4 of 7)ISO 1001-200 sec at f - 5.6

“The Phoblographer Weekly Recap” is a new feature where we recap the week’s most popular posts. Each weekend, we will present you the top ten posts of the week for your perusal. If you’ve missed any of our popular stories that week, you’ll find them here. Among this week’s top posts: we review the Zeiss Touit 12mm f2.8 lens, 100 year old stereoscopic photos surface, and Nokia’s new ‘EOS’ camera phone leaks. Find the complete breakdown after the jump.

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The Basics of Photography: C for Composition


Continuing on with our series on the Basics of Photography, this week we are at the letter C, which will be covering the topic of Composition. Composing an image within a frame is one of the most important aspects to creating a good photograph. For most of us, we have to work within a rectangular format (unless you shoot a square format camera) and there are some “rules” (I like to think of them more as guidelines really) that you should adhere to, in order to help improve your photographic style. Read on for my introduction to the rules of composition.

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5 Ways My Phone Improved My Photography

Ibarionex Perello Phoblographer 2 of 8

There are times when the latest, most advanced, feature-filled camera gets in the way of the very thing that it was designed for – making pictures. Surprisingly, it has little to do with the mechanics of the camera and more about the person holding it. In this case, it’s me.

I only started to be aware of this when I began shooting with my iPhone. As I increasingly used the phone to make images, I realized that I photographed in a very different way than when I shot with my HDSLR. In many ways, I was looser, more reactive. More importantly, I was having more fun.

The resulting images seemed to excite me more despite the fact that I didn’t have the benefit of interchangeable lenses, uber-resolution and a high burst rate. So, I began to think about the things that I was doing with my phone, which I could translate to my work with my “real” camera.

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A Quick Refresher Course on Composition

We all get the gist of composition. Think of how many times you’ve heard about the rule of thirds or the golden spiral. If you’re just starting to take your photography seriously, however, there are times when we get caught up in things, or stuck on “auto”, and let this important aspect of photography slide to the backburner. When used properly, these elements of composition can make an image really come together. That’s because you frame and arrange elements together in a way that accentuates the subject and your own personal style. The viewer will, hopefully, walk away from the image with an understanding of visual aesthetics, form, and design.

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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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