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Inspiration: Photographer Grey Villet

Long before Facebook, Twitter and viral videos, magazines like National Geographic, LIFE and TIME were bringing powerful images into American homes.   We still see them on the Internet today. Most of us scroll through these images without giving a thought to the photographers who went out into the world to capture them. This was the heyday of photo essays and journalistic photography, and the average reader wouldn’t recognize names like; Alfred Eisenstaedt or Margaret Bourke-White,  but you would most definitely remember the iconic images they took that made their way into the American Zeitgeist through LIFE Magazine.

Grey Villet isn’t a household name, but as a freelance photographer, commissioned primarily by LIFE and TIME magazines, Grey was given assignments to create  photo-essays that capture the essence of some of the most poignant stories and social movements of that time.

 

Gay rights in New York. – This issue is obviously close to my heart, especially now with Gay men being rounded up, put into camps and tortured in Chechnya. It’s easy to loose track of how far we’ve come in the United States when it comes to Gay rights, but in the 1960’s, the movement was just beginning. Here in our own country, the people who were tasked with protecting the rights of citizens were raiding gay bars and arresting men simply for being homosexual. The birth of the gay rights movement here in the U.S. was a powder keg of anger and passion.   Grey Villet was tasked by TIME magazine to cover the protests. These were some of the first images that actually portrayed individual Gay people, their struggles and the passion behind their cause.

 

Loving vs. the state of Virginia – As gay men and women were fighting for their rights in the 60’s, there was an interracial couple in Virginia who were also fighting for their right to love and marry, a right that Gay couples fought for just a few years ago, and in some states, we are still fighting.   Mildred and Richard loving were married in Washington D.C. in 1958. It wasn’t until they moved back to their home state of Virginia did they realize that they may be subject to arrest for the crime of miscegenation (mixing of races). In fact, Virginia lawmakers told them that they would indeed be arrested and face 25 years in prison if they didn’t leave the state, (and their family and friends). They weren’t the first interracial couple to get married, but this case captured the attention of the whole country.   The images that Grey Villet captured of their life, along with the accompanying story in LIFE magazine, made a huge impact in the heart of the country. Sure, the images didn’t change everyone’s mind, but putting a human face to the issue makes it just that much more difficult to hold on to one’s racist views.

At a time when there was no digital photography and no Photoshop, the job of a good photojournalist required patience, technical skill and the ability to really understand their subjects. Photographers whose images graced the pages of TIME, LIFE or NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC we’re empathetic, astute observationalist’s and masters of their craft.   We owe thanks to these courageous photographers, like Grey Villet, for their legacy of images, images that tell the story of all those who came before us, braved the trail to give us the rights that we may now take for granted.

 

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Choosing the right travel Camera

Travel season is upon us, which means tons of vacation photos. In past blogs I’ve written about how to get the best results from your iPhone camera. The iPhone is still the most used and versatile pocket camera. With each successive Apple upgrade to the iconic camera/phone comes more and more megapixels and better features. But there are many amateur and professional photographers out there who are used to a certain amount of control and creativity when it comes to their photos. For these photographers, it’s good to know how to navigate the world of Prosumer travel cameras. In this post, I’m going to break them down a bit to help you find the right camera for you.

To choose the right travel camera, the best advice is to get a sense of which features are the most important for the type of travel you want to capture and photos you take. For instance – do you spend a lot of time in the water and need a waterproof camera? Do you shoot more video than photographs or do you shoot mostly landscape and architecture. Is your eye more tuned to shooting people and events?   Do you want a camera with interchangeable lenses or do you just want something small and compact that will fit in your pocket?

Small travel size cameras range in price from around $200 to $10,000, so it’s a good idea to come up with a price range that fits your budget.  Here are the basic types of travel cameras:

 

Point-and-shoot:

These are the most common and versatile type of cameras on the market and I’ll be spending the bulk of this post on this category. These cameras are all mirrorless cameras; when you look through the viewfinder of a traditional DSLR camera, you are actually looking into a mirror, which is angled so that you can look through the lens. When you press the shutter button, the mirror flips up to expose the sensor (or film if you’re shooting film). Smaller travel cameras don’t have mirrors. (The iPhone is a good example.) The image through the lens is electronically transmitted to the screen behind the camera.   Eliminating the mirror drastically reduces the size and price of the camera.

Point-and-shoot cameras have a staggering amount of options available, which is reflected in the huge difference in price. Here are a few features that you want to have if you’re just looking for a simple, easy to use point-and-shoot camera.

  • Built in Flash (most have them)
  • Fully automatic mode as well as manual modes – not all low-end cameras have manual modes
  • Shooting in Camera RAW files – you’ll have to spend more for this feature, most low-end travel cameras don’t offer it, but if you’re used to working on your photos in Lightroom and want the control over your images, it’s worth the extra money. Do your research if this is something you want.
  • Video Capability– Most have this function but some of the low-end cameras shoot in 24fps (frames per second) rather than the standard 30fps . If good quality video is something that interests you, you might want to splurge on a camera with better video capability.
  • Mega Pixels – 12 up to 30. A quick note about mega pixels as it relates to price point and file/print size: The sensor inside the camera will dictate how many mega pixels your camera is. The more mega pixels the larger the file size.  If you’re not planning on printing HUGE quality prints, then mega pixels aren’t that crucial for you and you can spend your money on more important features like video or waterproof cases. Many low-end point-and-shoot cameras have between 12 and 20 mega pixels and these work just fine for most vacation photos. Provided you don’t have to crop the image in post-processing, you’ll get a nice 8×10 or 12×14 print out of a 12 mega pixel camera.
  • Wifi-enabled – A feature that’s beginning to appear more and more often in both point and shoot and high-end digital cameras is the ability to connect to a WiFi network. When you can send photos wirelessly through your home WiFi network, it can greatly simplify the process of creating backup copies of your images, as well as sharing photos with others.  Some cameras allow you to make direct connections to Facebook or other social networking sites, too, which can be a great feature. Many WiFi-enabled digital cameras also now give you the option of uploading your photos to the cloud, which usually is a storage site that’s owned by your camera’s manufacturer. Using the cloud to store your photos is a great idea, as you’ll always have backup copies away from your home computer, where they’ll be safe from a fire or other natural disasters. The downside to WiFi-enabled cameras is that they can be a little difficult to set up and use on occasion. You will almost certainly need to understand a little bit about entering network passwords and knowing the name of your WiFi network before you can make the connection with your camera. If you’ve ever made a WiFi connection with your smartphone or with a laptop computer, you probably have the experience needed to make the WiFi connection with your camera. The wireless connection also can drain the battery more quickly than using a USB cable connection.
  • Zoom lens – A quick lesson in zoom lenses in point-and-shoot cameras: they are broken down into how far they’ll zoom in from the widest setting- 3x, 7x up to around 12x. For example, if your camera, fully zoomed out, is 24mm (a pretty standard wide zoom), then a 3x zoom lens will zoom in to 72mm, the maximum zoom for a 7x lens is 168mm and obviously a 10x fully zoomed in is 240mm. There is some loss of clarity with the higher zoom lenses but if you’re looking for the most all around versatile lens, you can’t beat a built in 10x lens.

 

Recommendations for Point-and-shoot cameras:

Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS – $225

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  • 20 mega pixels
  • Built in flash
  • 12x optical zoom
  • 1080p video at 30fps
  • Wi-Fi enabled
  • NO RAW shooting

Review and specs for the Powershot 

 

 

Panasonic Lumix ZS50 / TZ70 – $250

The Panasonic LUMIX ZS50: The ultimate all-round travel camera, boasting enhanced low light performance and powerful optical zoom (PRNewsFoto/Panasonic)

  • 13 mega pixels
  • Built in Flash
  • 4x digital zoom
  • Fully automatic plus manual modes
  • HD video at 30fps
  • RAW shooting

Review and specs for the Lumix

 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V 20.1 – $900

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  • 21 mega pixel
  • Built in Flash
  • 3x optical zoom
  • 4k video at 30fps
  • Automatic and manual modes
  • RAW shooting

Review and specs for the Cyber-Shot

 

 

Action Cameras:

This would include the GoPro line and any shock or waterproof cameras. They’re used mostly by people who’s vacations are a bit more adventurous and want to capture more physical activities. I personally own a GoPro camera. They’re really fun little cameras. I’ve mostly used them for motorcycle trips or camping where there is an opportunity for some fun with water. If I’m being honest, it’s more of a novelty than a necessity when traveling. They’re purely for fun. But if you love to swim, rock climb, kayak, water ski, sky dive, ride a bicycle or motorcycle or any dynamic activities like that, then get yourself an action camera and have a blast!

 

Recommendations for Action Cameras:

GoPro Hero 5 Black –  $400

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  • 12 mega pixels
  • No flash
  • Waterproof case included
  • HD video 30 fps
  • Raw Shooting
  • Focus free
  • No Zoom

Review and specs for the GoPro Hero

 

Nikon Coolpix AW130 – $350

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  • Nikon Coolpix AW130 $350
  • 16 mega pixels
  • 4x Digital Zoom
  • Built in flash
  • Underwater depth 98 feet
  • Auto modes only
  • HD video at 30 fps
  • NO RAW shooting

Review and specs for the CoolPix

 

Canon PowerShot D30 – $300

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  • 12 mega pixels
  • 4x Digital Zoom
  • Built in Flash
  • Auto modes only
  • NO RAW shooting
  • Waterproof up to 80 feet
  • NO Raw Shooting

Review and specs for the PowerShot

 

DSLR and high-end mirrorless cameras:

This is the larger and heavier option of the three and used mostly by more serious photographers. Bringing a big heavy DSLR on vacation does defeat the purpose of having a light, easy to use travel camera. But, if photography is your passion and your art, then finding the right DSLR, one that you’ll use often, is important.

I shoot Canon and right now I have 3 canon cameras in my bag. Very rarely do I bring one of my big 5D’s with all of my lenses when I’m on vacation. I’ve tried, but lugging a big heavy backpack all day while you’re on vacation is a drag and I end up not using it very often.  PLUS, my work cameras don’t have built in flash so I’d have to bring a Speedlight flash unit if I just wanted to take night shots with my friends.  I end up looking and feeling like an ‘event photographer’ , so my vacation starts feeling like I’m at work.  I have a smaller Rebel that fits the bill and takes great shots. It has a built in flash, has all of the functionality of the high-end DSLR’s, and if I take one versatile zoom lens with me, I never have to change lenses.  There are a number of really great smaller DSLR’s on the market today; they’ll give you lots of options and won’t slow you down on your travels.

Recommendations for DSLR and high-end cameras:

 

Canon EOS Rebel T6i – $900 lens included

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  1. 24 Mega Pixels
  2. APS – C Sensor (not full frame)
  3. Optical LCD screen
  4. ISO – 100- 12,800
  5. Kit lens 18-55mm  – I recommend upgrading to a 24-105mm
  6. Full auto/manual modes
  7. Video capable at 30fps
  8. Built in Flash plus hot shoe for external
  9. Wi-Fi capable

Review and specs for the Rebel T6i

 

 

Sony Alpha A77 II – $2,000 kit with lens included

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  • 24 Mega Pixels
  • APS-C CMOS sensor (not full frame)
  • Full auto and manual shooting modes
  • Tilting LCD screen
  • 1080p HD video at up to 60 fps
  • ISO 100-26,000
  • Built in Flash plus hot shoe mount

Review and specs for the Alpha A77ii

 

 

Leica TL – $1,600 -body only. Lenses run between $1,500 and $3,000

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  • 16 mega pixels
  • APC-C Sensor
  • Fully auto and manual modes
  • Lens not included
  • Built in Flash – no hot shoe mount
  • ISO 100-12,500
  • HD 1080p 30fps video
  • Wi-Fi and smart phone Apps

Review and specs for the Leica TL

If you can, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL CAMERA STORE.  You can find these cameras on-line for a great price, but many local camera stores will match the online price. I’m a big believer in shopping locally if you can.  Plus, there is a certain tactile satisfaction in going to the store and holding the camera.  If you’re in San Francisco, Los Angeles or Santa Barbara, I recommend Samy’s Camera – they also have a great online selection and will ship tax free in many cases.   But, if you don’t have a  store near you – B&H  photo (based in New York) has great prices.

Happy Shooting!

 

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Special New Years rate on “Model Experience” shoots!

Have you even wanted to have a model experience? To appear in a magazine quality shoot and have the images for your own use? These shoots are designed for you!

These shoots are a FUN and artistic collaboration designed for people who have always wanted to capture new and unique sides of themselves, and to have high-end artistic prints that they can either proudly display on their walls or share with their partners or perspective dates.

Beat the cold and the rain in a hot bathtub!   Take advantage of my locations or I can come to your home and we can set it up there in a comfortable environment.

Examples of past shoots.  (Some NSFW) content.

 

Your shoot includes:

  • Wardrobe and shot consultations to help you get the most out of your shoot.
  • Individuals or add $100 for a couple shoot.
  • As many as four wardrobe changes.
  • Natural or artistic physique shots.
  • Both artistic lighting and natural light.
  • A variety of black and white and artistic color choices.
  • Print quality image files.
  • All proofs from your shoot are available for you to download.
  • Professional retouching on two images of your choice.
  • Additional retouching available on a ‘per-image’ rate.
  • Discresion and privacy guaranteed.

* All models appearing in the above images have given their express permission.

Special $200 discount for January and February 2017 –  Discounted Rate:  $300

The special rate is for an individual model, two-hour photo shoot (one location), which includes all of the features listed above and must be booked and paid for before February 28th 2017. 
Additional time, wardrobe changes, couple shoots, locations and retouching are available for an additional fee. 

Contact me today to inquire about setting up your shoot!

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Make your next event memorable

When photographing an event, the job of any great photographer is to get in touch with the energy of the event and use their creative eye and skills to expertly capture memorable images.

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My approach to any event that I am hired to photograph is to first, listen to my client. I want to get a sense of what their event is all about; what’s important to them and what kind of images they’re looking to come away with when the day is over.

Each event is unique. Fundraising events require images that will not only capture the energy of the event, but also to give my clients a variety of photographs that will help them promote and market their cause. Weddings come with a list of “must-have” shots – group shots, cake cutting, toasts and visiting family and friends. There is a timetable that you must work with in order to not only capture those images, but to do it in an artistic and interesting way.

Each location is unique and offers it’s own set of challenges and opportunities for amazing shots. Indoor, low light locations yield beautiful moody shots. Knowing when to use a flash and when to let the mood of the location dictate your shots is key. Outdoor, natural light is beautiful at the end of the day but not all events take place in that golden light. A really skilled photographer knows how to navigate mid-afternoon sun and can still produce quality images.

Having the delivery system in place to share the images with your clients is very important. A photographer should be prepared to host images for their clients, allow them to download files (if that’s the agreement you’ve made), give them the ability to share the images with the group and even order prints or merchandise if needed.

When you hire me for an event you get the benefit of years of experience, technical skill, a professional proof site that allows you to order prints (framed or not), and someone that knows how important your event is to you. With the holidays coming up, consider hiring a professional photographer for your next big event!

Contact me for a free consultation and quote!

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Sense8 – A photographers diary

Because of the overwhelming success of the first season, Sense8 is back and shooting season 2!   This show is like no other I’ve ever been involved with. The sheer scope of it is staggering; 8 months of shooting spanning 9 countries, 10 cities, a large international cast, hundreds of extras, a creative team that is committed to pushing boundaries and making art, and a production team that is one of the best in the business.   This was my second season working with my dear friend Karin and the Wachowski’s, who have been my friends for about fifteen years.   They truly have artist’s souls. Their generosity of heart and their artistic vision inspires anyone who works with them to reach deeper into their own creative selves and to create art with them.

My job for the past two seasons has been to work with Karin and the Sense8 team to capture beautiful, iconic footage of San Francisco, both for the opening montage and as establishing shots for the series itself. For ‘spoiler’ and ‘non-disclosure’ reasons I won’t go into the details of where, what and who we shot over the course of three weeks in San Francisco, but I can speak about the process of shooing B-roll footage for a TV series and what it takes to capture those iconic shots which you may have seen in the series.

 

Shooting from the outside looking in:

If you’ve ever paid attention to establishing shots in a film, especially the opening montage of Sense8, you’ll notice that there is an ‘outside to inside’ rhythm to the shots. In the beginning of the montage  you’ll see stunning sunrises and sunsets, time laps shots at night; shots that give you a sense of standing on the outside looking into the location. Once we’ve established where you are we can take you on a journey inside of the locations to capture the heart and soul of each city.

From a distance:

Capturing beautiful outdoor shots and landscapes is all about light, and being at the right place at the right time however, not much is left to chance.   All of the locations I shoot have been scouted, assessed for the best light, the position of the sun, and accessibility.

San Francisco offers unique challenges for those types of shoots due entirely to the unpredictability of the FOG.   We may have planned for a beautiful sunrise shot, only to wake up at 4am and have the city covered in a thick blanket of white. Sunset shots present the same challenges. There are days when the fog works with you and you get really dramatic footage, and other days where it’s pointless to even try. For people shots, portraits and fashion, I love the fog. Photographers call it “natures soft box” because it diffuses the harsh sun and produces a lovely even light. But for wide-view landscape shots it’s definitely a buzz-kill.   On days like that, we pivot to the other shots in our list that we are able to capture. Shooting cityscape shots at night can be tricky. There is a small window after the sun goes down called “blue-hour” or “gloaming” light. It’s that half hour window before the night sky turns completely black where you get your best shots. You’ll see more depth in the buildings and landscapes.

A few tips for shooting landscapes in San Francisco:

  • Summer is cold, let me rephrase, summer can be freezing here. Bring warm clothes and a hat.
  • Always have a tripod if you’re shooting film or if you’re shooting stills in low light.
  • Have a buddy with you, someone who you enjoy hanging out with. Photographers with big expensive cameras roaming the city alone at night are very visible targets for robbers and muggers.
  • Download this app – Sunseeker. It’s super helpful in knowing where the sun rises and sets in the locations you want to shoot.
  • If you’re looking to capture a sunrise shot: Get up early, check the weather and fog report the night before and give yourself plenty of time to get to your location and set up before the sun comes up.

Getting in close:

Capturing the heart of a city for Sense8, is much like capturing the heart of the events I photograph. You look for narratives and energy. For Sense8, we had our narrative in the story so finding people and events that embody the diverse energy of the city was our main goal.

Each neighborhood, especially in a city like San Francisco has it’s own unique community. The Castro is entirely different from North Beach or China Town. This year, we looked at the footage we had captured for last season and tried to cover neighborhoods and events that we didn’t get the year before.   Having a list of all of the events and festivals going on while you’re in town shooting is crucial. You can’t get to all of them but it gives you options when you’re shooting people.

 

 

A few tips for shooting outdoor festivals:

  • Do your research. See if there are any ‘must see’ events or performances happening so you have a rough goal of what you want to film.
  • If possible, time your shots for ‘best light’. Since most festivals begin during the harsh sunlight mid-day hours, try and hold out for the golden light at the end of the day.
  • Ask permission. It’s important that you ask permission to film someone. Yes, if they are participating in an event in a public space then they’re fair game. But, if you talk to them, tell them what you find interesting or captivating about them and ask their permission to film them, you’ll get a willing and eager subject and much better shots.
  • Look for color, movement and the kind of energy you need for your shots.

On a personal note: I’ve been living in San Francisco for over 20 years now. I moved here at a time when the energy of the city was much different than it is now. You could walk through any neighborhood at any time of day and experience diversity and inclusion.   There was an energy to this city that has seemingly faded away. However, while it may not be as evident as it was before, I can tell you that it’s still there; you just have to look for it.   There are *blogs and publications you can subscribe to that will give you a run down of events happening each week.

 

In the end, Karin and I got most of the shots on our very extensive shot list. We traveled the bay area, shot in some amazing locations and had a great time doing it. I think we were successful because, while we were organized, planned and scouted ahead, we also left room to bend with the changing weather and a production schedule that was always in flux.

I also came away with a few insights as it pertains to my work with my clients here in San Francisco. Whether I’m shooting B-roll for a film production or capturing brand and location shots for my corporate clients, the approach and work ethic is the same: Truly understand what your client wants and needs for their project. Approach that project with the eye of an artist. Be organized, plan for all contingencies and if need be, be prepared to get up at 4am to create artful images.   Oh, and dress warm!

 

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Thrive in Joy

Two years ago, my very dear friends lost their only son to a freak lighting strike on Venice Beach, California.   The event made national news, as did the passing of their son Nick, a gifted baseball player and an incredibly bright soul who was set to attend USC that year.   The loss of a child, no matter the circumstances, is grief beyond belief – but to loose a child so suddenly and randomly is something I can barely wrap my heart around.

Last week, I was in Los Angeles to witness and photograph how my dear friends, two grieving parents, have channeled that grief into something positive and incredibly moving. They started a foundation in Nicks name and held a Baseball event at Notre Dame High School in the Valley. It’s the school where Nick played baseball and the event was created as a venue for people to come together, play ball, connect with friends and family and to raise money for the Thrive in Joy, Nick Fagnano Foundation. The foundation provides scholarships to USC as well donating money and support to several Los Angeles schools and on going projects to make over classrooms in the impoverished districts of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

The event at Notre Dame was a moving celebration of life. Dozens of people, including coaches and umpires, donated their time and energy to create events like; baseball clinics for little kids, a lecture for parents on how to support student athletes or to be better coaches for their kids teams, an exhibition game with many alumni and friends, a softball game for older men and women, food, games and a silent auction with excellent items.

When I shoot events, my job is to capture the energy of that event, the heart and soul of what it’s all about. In this case, I didn’t have to search for that narrative it was all around me. It was an absolute pleasure to have been a part of it. My friends, the volunteers and the participants were all there to celebrate the life of an incredible young man, and in his name, help others to reach their full potential.

Click here to learn more about Thrive in Joy, The Nick Fagnano Foundation

To see the full gallery of images from the event – Click Here.

Here are some images that help tell that story:

Coming to Los Angeles in June

I’ll be making another trip to Los Angeles – June 19-24th and I’m accepting bookings for Photo Shoots!

If you live in LA and have ever wanted to shoot with me this is a great opportunity.   Contact me now to book your shoot!!

 

 

 

LIFE photographer Margaret Bourke-White clad in fleece flight suit while holding aerial camera, standing in front of Flying Fortress bomber in which she made combat mission photographs of the US attack on Tunis.

Inspiration – Margaret Bourke-White

 

As a photographer, when I look for inspiration I seem to gravitate toward the pioneers in the industry. I find it in the photographers who broke new ground at a time when breaking that ground took such passion, will and determination. It’s no coincidence that many of my personal hero’s in that field are women.   Capable and exceptional women are still fighting today to be recognized in a mans-world. They are still fighting for equal pay or to retain their right to choose. Imagine only recently having the right to vote, making your mark on that world and gaining the respect and admiration of your male-peers.   Margaret Bourke-White is one of those women.

From Patrick Murfin’s blog about Margaret:

Sean Callahan, an awe struck admirer and author of the book Margaret Bourke-White: Photographer noted, “The woman who had been torpedoed in the Mediterranean, strafed by the Luftwaffe, stranded on an Arctic island, bombarded in Moscow, and pulled out of the Chesapeake when her chopper crashed, was known to the Life staff as ‘Maggie the Indestructible.”

Margaret not only entered a mans-world as photographer, she went where no woman photographer has gone before. She was assigned to Europe before WWII to document everyday life under Fascists in Italy, Nazi Germany and Soviet Communists. She was granted unprecedented access, including to Joseph Stalin. That rare shot of Joseph Stalin, smiling and relaxed appeared on the cover of Life.

 

When war broke out, she was there to cover it, surviving a Luftwaffe bombardment and firestorm in Moscow. She flew and documented combat bombing missions in North Africa, and survived artillery bombardment in Italy where the army was bogged down in a grueling mountain campaign. Margaret also followed General Patton’s Army toward the end of the war. She was with him at the Buchenwald Death Camp shortly after it was liberated. The photos she took were published in Time and were among the first and most detailed images that Americans were able to see. The experience was a tremendous shock, commenting later:

“Using my camera was almost a relief. It interposed a slight barrier between myself and the horror in front of me.”

 

Her next assignments took her to India where she documented the Independence of India and the bloody partition of India and Pakistan. Again having access and photographing the key players in that conflict including Mohandas Gandhi. The photograph of him, emaciated from fasting and sitting at his spinning wheel became one of the most recognizable images of him.

 

Margaret’s images still remain as some of the most moving and inspiring visual documents of WWII history. She, like so many women during WWII, stepped into a world previously dominate by men and showed her courage, strength and compassion. She did this, not in an age of iPhones and Instagram, she succeeded under the most dangerous and horrific circumstances.

 

She is a huge inspiration to me.

A few powerful examples of Margaret’s work:

 

Resources :

The Not Quite Indestructible Margaret Bourke-White

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Bourke-White

Making the investment in a professional photographer.

We live in the age of social media, Instagram and hi-resolution iPhone cameras. More than ever before, people are expressing themselves as amateur photographers and they’re having a great time doing it. As a photographer, I’m keenly aware that the growing trend in social media photography is opening up access to less experienced and less expensive amateur photographers. In some cases those photographers will serve you well. For instance, if you need a good Facebook profile photo or if you want a friend shoot a party or event, then going the cheaper route will serve you well. With so many friends and family taking up photography, it’s a good time to ask: When should you make that investment and hire a professional?   The best answer I can give you is this: When it matters, when it’s important to you personally or professionally to get the best quality images.

Here are the top five types of jobs for which I’m most frequently hired and a little insight on how I approach them:

Professional headshots – If you are using your headshot to represent yourself in the professional world, hire a professional to take them for you. Whether you’re an actor, author, personal trainer, CEO, performance artist, or business owner, your face is the impression people have of you. When I’m shooting headshots I make sure your wardrobe reflects your professional image by providing a free consultation so that you get the most out of your shots. A professional also knows how put you at ease, give you easy direction and guide you toward being authentic and accessible. We give you enough variety of poses and backgrounds so you have plenty to choose from. The images can be reprinted and enlarged and when you’re done, you’ll have a library of great images to use for a few years. It’s worth the extra time and money.

 

Editorial and Fashion Shoots – I think the reasons for hiring a professional for your Ad campaign are pretty evident. When you look at a finished Ad it’s easy to forget that most Editorial or Fashion shoots are a team effort. The photographer, while our vision, energy and spontaneity are huge assets, is only part of a larger effort to create an Ad campaign. There are clients and art directors, editors, retouchers and graphic artists, make up artists and stylists. There are so many creative minds working together to realize a vision that was conceived months ago. The best photographers are able to work with that team, to give them exactly what they want and to know how and when to contribute their own ideas or sense of style.

 

 

Corporate Brand Photos – Your Company’s online image is HUGELY dependent on the images you choose. This is not something you leave to an amateur. There are dozens of considerations to take into account when setting up a brand shoot. Among them is the energy of the company and it’s co-workers, the color palate of the web site and logo and the message they want to convey to their customers. Each of these considerations steer the art direction of the brand shots. A good photographer can guide small companies through those choices and work with the art director on larger shoots. We have the experience under our belts to be able to not only give the clients what they need, but to offer up ‘out-of-the-box’ images in ways that they may not have envisioned.

 

Location shots – Whether you’re selling a home, putting it on Air BnB or showing off your company space, your online images will be competing with thousands of others. You need well-lit and staged images that highlight your space and makes it stand out above the others.   Hiring a professional who has the equipment, experience and eye to artistically capture your environment is an investment well worth making. When shooting a space for a client, I make sure I’m there at different times of day to catch the best light. I look for interesting details and accents that make the space unique and I understand that images can create a sense of drama, comfort or energy.

 

Weddings and couple photos – Needless to say, your wedding is an incredibly special moment in time. It’s not the time to trust it to an amateur. A good wedding photographer has the experience to be in the right place at the right time. We plan for any lighting contingency and know how to make your special day as stress-free as possible. We communicate with the other vendors involved and work with them as a team. While there may be a lot of pressure to make sure you get all of the shots you need, it’s equally important to make sure you don’t intrude into the couple’s experience of their day. We’re able to put them at ease and allow them to have fun in the process. We also have the resources to offer our clients and their family high-end prints and photo books.

 

When you have a project that matters to you, contact me for a free consultation!

 

Valentines Day Special!

 

Valentines Day is coming!

Candy and flowers are great but this year, consider giving a unique gift that will last forever…the gift of a custom photoshoot!

Your shoot includes:

  • Gift Certificate – Add a personal message to your gift card.
  • Wardrobe and shot consultations to help you get the most out of your shoot.
  • As many as two wardrobe changes.
  • Traditional couple and interesting artistic shots.
  • Both artistic lighting and natural light.
  • A variety of black and white and artistic color choices.
  • Print quality image files.
  • All proofs from your shoot are available for you to download.
  • Professional retouching on two images of your choice.
  • Additional retouching available on a ‘per-image’ rate.

Special gift certificate offer:  Buy your Valentines Day gift certificate before February 14th and receive 1  FREE retouched 8×10 print. 

Contact me today to order your gift certificate and for a free quote. 

Winogrand - laugh

Inspiration: Garry Winogrand

In keeping with my tradition of featuring photographers that have inspired me, I’d like to call some attention to Garry Winogrand.  You may know his work, especially his famous shot of Marlyn Monroe’s skirt being blown up in New York.  While Garry Winogrand may not be a household name like Richard Avedon, his work to me represents what’s beautiful about “Street Photography”.   Garry Winogrand starting shooting as a freelance photo journalist and his work has been featured in over 30 solo and group exhibitions in some of the worlds most prestigious and galleries.   What strikes me most about his work is that he has the ability to capture such authentic and beautiful moments.  So many of his images, not only freeze a moment in time, but draw me in to each subject.  His images inspire my imagination and make me want to know more about his subjects.

You can read more about his life and work here:

New York Metropolitan Museum of Art

Wikki

New York Times

Some of my favorite images!

 

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Wardrobe tips for your professional shots

Wardrobe can make or break your professional photo shoot. After choosing the right photographer, putting together wardrobe choices that compliment the image and convey a sense of harmony in your shots is one of the most important choices you can make.  Setting up a photo shoot with a professional photographer is an investment. You want your shots to be the best they can be.  Put some time and energy into choosing the best wardrobe.

When I book a photo shoot with a new client, I offer a very comprehensive consultation on choosing the right wardrobe. I speak with clients about the style of shots they need to promote themselves, and the wardrobe they’ll need to make sure their images really stand out. Once we’ve come up with a game plan, I send out a very detailed wardrobe consultation package. That wardrobe package will help guide them in taking an honest look at what’s in their closet while giving them time to borrow or buy a few simple looks that will take their images to a whole new professional level.

Here are some of the tips I give to my clients on making successful wardrobe choices:

 

Your personal style doesn’t necessary make for a good photo.

We all have our own personal style and way of expressing ourselves through wardrobe. Don’t confuse your style or color choices with what makes an excellent image.

 

Do some homework.

Watch how the professionals do it. There are some incredibly talented wardrobe stylists already doing what you’re trying to do with your wardrobe. Look through magazines; start paying attention to TV commercials, Movies, advertisements. Unless it’s a rich period drama or a fashion spread, wardrobe stylists understand how to dress actors and models for camera. They know how to make sure nothing in the wardrobe pulls focus away from the action, the drama or the actors/models. Even T-shirts that are visible under wardrobe are carefully chosen to blend with the outfit. You’ll rarely see a white T-shirt under a dress shirt unless it’s character specific. More than likely, you’ll see beige, blue, grey; this makes sure that a pop of white doesn’t draw focus. The same rule applies to your shots. You want to make sure nothing in your wardrobe will pull the eye away from what’s most important – YOU.

 

Solid rich and subtle colors

You may love paisley or pastels, leopard prints, stripes, bright reds or solid blacks. But these prints, patterns and colors pull the eye away and distract the viewer from you. Stick to solid colors. You can layer your outfits but the color pallet should be subtle changes and compliment each other.

      

 

Successful colors

We all have different skin types. It’s important to know what types of colors look best on you. Myself, I have more of a ruddy complexion so cooler colors are better for me. What ever your skin colors, there are a ton of subtle shades of that pallet that will look amazing on camera.   If you look great in blue, go for a darker earthy blue rather than a bright baby blue. If you look great in green, choose something darker and subtle rather than neon lime green.   If you like reds; then choose a darky dusty burgundy, instead of tomato red. This isn’t to say that you don’t look amazing in those big bold colors, but we’re choosing colors that will keep the eye where it belongs -On you.

 

Pick complete looks

Finally, if when you’re putting together wardrobe choices, lay them out so you can see them together. Pick complete looks, including t-shirts, belts, pants, shoes and jewelry. Keep your jewelry choices simple; nothing to big and bold that distracts. Make sure you feel good about each look; that the clothes fit well and are pressed and cleaned.

 

So remember – your personal style is amazing, but chose colors, wardrobe and jewelry that will look best for camera. It will take your shots to a professional level.

Special Rate on Artistic “Model Experience” Shoots!

Treat yourself to a “Model Experience”

Have you even wanted to have a model experience? To appear in a magazine quality shoot and have the images for your own use? These shoots are designed for you!

These shoots are a FUN and artistic collaboration designed for people who have always wanted to capture new and unique sides of themselves, and to have high-end artistic prints that they can either proudly display on their walls or share with their partners or perspective dates.

Beat the cold and the rain in a hot bathtub!   Take advantage of my locations or I can come to your home and we can set it up there in a comfortable environment.

Examples of past shoots.  (Some NSFW) content.

Your shoot includes:

  • Wardrobe and shot consultations to help you get the most out of your shoot.
  • Individuals or add $100 for a couple shoot.
  • As many as four wardrobe changes.
  • Fashion or artistic physique shots.
  • Both artistic lighting and natural light.
  • A variety of black and white and artistic color choices.
  • Print quality image files.
  • All proofs from your shoot are available for you to download.
  • Professional retouching on two images of your choice.
  • Additional retouching available on a ‘per-image’ rate.
  • Discresion and privacy guaranteed.

* All models appearing in the above images have given their express permission.

Special $100 discount for January and February 2016 –  Discounted Rate:  $350

Rates are for an individual model, two-hour photo shoot (one location), which includes all of the features, listed above.  
Additional time, wardrobe changes, couple shoots, locations and retouching are available for an additional fee. 

Contact me today to inquire about setting up your shoot!

The two most important Holiday photo tips

One year, during the Holidays, my Mom brought over a box of family photos. These amazing black and white images spanned many generations and chronicled the history of my family. There were photos of aunts and uncles, grandparents and friends, many of whom have long passed away. There were photos from Christmas’s and Thanksgivings, some of which I remember vividly as a child but many of those years I hadn’t been born yet. This was a potent visual documentation of my family and it was an incredible experience to view this reminder of where we’ve come from.

family1

If you’re like me, you’ve become the non-official self-appointed family photographer. That’s an important job. One day, the photos we are taking today will be viewed by future generations in the same way I viewed our family history.

If I could give just two tips for photographing Thanksgiving this year it would be these two:

1. Approach your shots with heart. Begin to see the your shots from the perspective of a historian. Yet another shot of that beautiful turkey is always nice but remember to capture personalities, laughter, tenderness and celebration. Find those candid moments that really let the viewer feel the energy of the day; let future generations see what it was like back in the old days of 2015.

 

2. Put yourself in the photos. Don’t let the history of your family or friends be told in photos without you. You are an integral part of this story. Try giving your camera to a trusted family member or friend and have them take over for a while making sure you’re in some of the shots. And of course, Selfies with friends and family are one of the best ways to make sure there are some shots of you.   Don’t hide this year, be a part of it!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

 

 

Order your Gift Certificate today!

We offer custom order gift certificates for any occasion.

 gifcard_comp1_web

Fully Customizable:

  • Write a personal message for the recipient
  • You can email a digital gift card or have a print quality gift card file sent to your email for you to print.
  • Choose the type of shoot you’d like to order: Studio portraits, outdoor location, home shoot.

Flexible payment options:

  • Pay for an entire shoot.
  • Select a dollar amount that you’d like to contribute.
  • Make a non-refundable $100 down payment deposit now and pay the balance the date the recipient books their shoot.

To order your shoot today:

  1. Contact me
  2. Name of recipient
  3. Any personal message that you’d like to include
  4. Dollar amount. Specify if you’d like to pay for the entire photo, give a set dollar amount or pay a deposit now and the balance the day the shoot is booked.
  5. Include your email address and phone number so I can contact you to set up your gift card and give it that personal touch.

* Gift certificates must be redeemed within one year of the date of purchase.

 

 

CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR GIFT CERTIFICATE TODAY!

One man, six different photographers with very different results

My friend Michael sent me a link to this article today and it really moved me. The focus of the article and accompanying video was on the artistic eye of the photographer; specifically, how portraits can be shaped by the photographer’s point of view rather than just the subject being documented. In this video, the same person was photographed by six different photographers – the twist: Each photographer was given different information as to the background of the subject. The subject’s backgrounds were varied and fictional. The result: incredibly different portraits of the same man.

In my work, I strive to bring out the personality of each subject I photograph. Getting to know who that person is shapes the style and direction of each portrait. It’s one of the most rewarding aspects to my craft. This article really hit home and reminded me of how important a photographers eye and vision is to portraiture.

Canon-Portrait-video

Enjoy this contribution from www.shutterbug.com

Thank you Michael Armentrout for sending me the article.

 

Happy Halloween

 

Halloween keeps sneaking up on me.  My friends seem to always be ten steps ahead of me, planning their costumes and finding the right party or haunted house to attend.  Me, on the other hand, wakes up on Halloween day with no costume and no plan.   Which is why I suppose I’d rather photograph the costumes than wear them.

If you’re planning to take photos this year, here are a few tips to make them stand out.

Shoot as much as you can before it gets dark.

Photography is all about using light so if you want to capture some nice images shoot at dusk.  If there’s still some light available you’ll be able to include the background in the shot and avoid using your flash

Stoop down to the level of your subject.

If you have kids and you’ve dressed them up in adorable costumes, make sure you get down to their level to compose your shot.

Fill your frame.

Whether you’re shooting with your iPhone or a nice digital SLR, move closer to your subject compose your shot.  Take a few shots, one wide and some close up portraits.

Keep still.

If you’re shooting stationary objects like a jack-o-lantern or other Halloween accessories, take your time, keep your camera steady and try a slightly longer shutter speed.  If you can, use a little tripod or set your camera down on something stable so you don’t have camera shake.

 

Have a safe and sane Halloween!

 

Inspiration: Arnold Newman

Inspiration: Arnold Newman

Every few months I like to feature a photographer who whose work has inspired not only myself, but has influenced thousands of photographers throughout the years.  Before Annie Lebovitz, who took up the mantel of portrait and fashion photography, there was Arnold Newman.  His work has spanned decades and he’s documented the faces of some of the world’s most influential people; including six U.S. Presidents, artists and world leaders.  He was the first notable person to compose portraits using the environment of the subject to create a more complete and dramatic image.  While this may seem relatively common in today’s portrait work, it was ground breaking at the time and his techniques still influence the way I design shoots for my clients.

 

 

 

Arnold Newman (1918-2006) is acknowledged as one of the great masters of the 20th and 21st century and his work has changed portraiture. He is recognized as the “Father of Environmental Portraiture.” His work is collected and exhibited in the major museums around the world including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Chicago Art Institute; The Los Angeles Museum of Art; The Philadelphia Museum; The Tate and the National Portrait gallery, London; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; and many other prominent museums in Europe, Japan, South America, Australia, etc.
Newman was an important contributor to publications such as New York, Vanity Fair, LIFE, Look, Holiday, Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire, Town and Country, Scientific American, New York Times Magazine, and many others. There are numerous books published of Newman’s work in addition to countless histories of photography, catalogues, articles and television programs. He received many major awards by the leading professional organizations in the U.S. and abroad including the American Society of Media Photographers, The International Center of Photography, The Lucie Award, The Royal Photographic Society Centenary Award as well as France’s “Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters.” In 2005, Photo District News named Newman as one of the 25 most influential living photographers. In 2006, Newman was awarded The Gold Medal for Photography by The National Arts Club. He is the recipient of nine honorary doctorates and has lectured and conducted workshops throughout the country and the world.
Arnold Newman died on June 6, 2006 in New York City. He was 88 years old.
source – www.arnoldnewman.com
courtier-634

RN74 Event – Brand awareness

I often get hired to shoot events for my corporate clients with two goals in mind:   Capture the energy and feel of the event, and capture images they can use to promote their company.  This event at RN74 Restaurant in San Francisco gave me the perfect opportunity to achieve both of those goals.

In today’s visually oriented social media climate, professionally captured images are key to raising your brand awareness and bring a very impressive visual polish to your company.

Contact me today to find out how we can help you succeed!

 

Continuum Winery – Creating a Brand

I had the opportunity to work with one of my clients last weekend to create branding images for their business.  We spent the day in the Napa Valley at Continuum Winery, the new label for the Mondavi Family.  It’s an amazing hilltop winery and a perfect location for high end wine tasting and special events.  As a photographer,  it was a beautiful backdrop to create the images they needed to really capture the style and class of the events the produce for their clients.

 

FINE ART PRINTS

I’ve added some new prints to my online gallery store.    These are high quality fine art quality images printed on premium paper and available as is or choose from a variety of frames, matting and museum quality glass.

Check out the selection here

 

Why Pinterest?

A few months back I posted a five part series in getting the most out of your iPhone photography, including links to several social media apps for sharing your images.  I thought I’d go a little deeper into one of those apps – Pinterest.   Pinterest has been around for 5 years now and with all of the super trendy web sites and apps out there you may ask yourself, “Why Pinterest“?   There are plenty of web sites that allow you to share photos, network or just get inspiration.  But what makes Pinterest so interesting is that it’s different things to each person who uses it.   You can share your own images or share images from any online source. You can share ideas with other users or make your boards and post private so you’re the only one who sees them.  You can get inspiration for hobbies, travel or things you dream about achieving and organize those images on a big board.   It takes the place of the old fashioned bulletin boards, photos and thumb tacks.  For the visual person, it can be an incredibly powerful tool.

CLICK Here to check out my boards on Pinterest 

pinterest boards

 

How people use Pinterest:

  • Get inspiration for their hobbies or careers  (57%)
  • Store images of things they dream of having or places they dream of traveling. (53%)
  • Keep their thoughts and ideas organized (47%)
  • Share their ideas of others (52%)
source 

It may not be useful for everyone but you can’t deny that over the past year Pinterest users have increased by 97% over the previous year: more than any other form of social media.

GWIPinterestTumblrInfographic

 

If you’re a dreamer, a creative person, or just need to organize your thoughts and ideas in a visual way, Pinterest is worth taking a look at.

Inspiration – Isabella Bird

I have a short list of photographers who’s life and work have inspired me.  Annie Leibovitz, Dorothea Lange, Richard Avedon to name a few.   What draws me to a particular photographer, is a combination of the images they captured, the time in which they lived and obstacles they had to overcome in order to capture those images.   Nothing could be more inspiring to me than the women, who in the turn of the century did not even have the right to vote and yet set out on incredible adventures across the globe to share their view of life.   The woman who was truly THE pioneer of her time was Isabella Bird.

 

bird   Isabella was born in 1832 in England.  The daughter of a prominent Church Official, she was frail and sickly as a child.  After the death of her parents she began to travel the world, visiting Australia, Hawaii (then known as the Sandwich Islands), America (where she explored the Rocky Mountains on horseback in 1878).   After the death of her husband, Isabella made several trips to Central Asia, the Middle East, India, Tibet, Turkey and Kurdistan.  She was a prolific author, was called by the London Times “The boldest of Travelers” and was the first woman named as a member of the Royal Geographic Society.

 Today, we pull out our paper thin iPhones and with the push of a button on a screen we can capture anything we want.  I am overwhelmed, not only by the courage it took for Isabella to travel to such remote and wild locations, but by the daunting logistics involved in capturing each one of her stunning images.  The cameras of that day were huge, heavy and required an even heavier wooden tripod, and yet, she was able to expertly expose her images and engender such trust in her subjects.  Even with a staff of guides and Sherpa’s, for a woman in that time to orchestrate and document years of travel was a monumental feat.

 

 

Here’s the pioneers of photography; And to Isabella Bird.

Tips on shooting Black and White photos on your iPhone

Never has the photo world been so friendly to amateur photographers than it is now.  With the advent of social media platforms, like Instagram where you have access to creative tools and filters, the amateur photographer can even turn the mistakes or mishaps into something interesting. If Black and White photography is your passion, you can create some amazing images with just a few tips.

All of these images were shot with and iPhone 5 and iPhone 6.

  1. Contrast is a good thing.

There are times during the day where the bright sun makes it next to impossible to capture the image you want.  Those days can be productive if you begin to look at your surroundings like a black and white movie.  For cityscapes or landscapes; look at shadows, clouds and contrast.  You may not have the light for nice family portraits but that sun will give you all kinds of gifts if you look for them.

IMG_5859      shadow

 

  1. Drop your exposure

When you convert photos to black and white, the ‘whites’ can easily get blown out if you exposed your image for color.  If you plan on shooting in black and white try dropping your exposure a bit so the whites (like clouds) retain their texture.

IMG_5861

To find out how to adjust the exposure in your iPhone camera, check out last month’s series on getting the most out of your iPhone.

  1. Flat and cloudy days can make for interesting black and white shots.

We’ve all gone out to shoot only to find the light isn’t cooperating.  On days like those, begin to imagine what your black and white shots might look like.  Play with interesting angles, composures and perspectives.

IMG_5865

  1. Use black and white to create drama.

Sometimes you’ll come across a scenario when you’re shooting that might move you; there is a sense of emotion being conveyed. These images can be the most impactful when they’re shot for black and white. The absence of color can remove the distractions bring the viewer right into the scene.

IMG_9077-inst

iPhone camera tips Day 5 – Must have camera App’s

In this final post I’ll recommend some great smart phone App’s that will help you take your images to the next level.

Recommended APPs:

If I had to chose ONE app that I use the most for my iPhone photos it would be:

camera+CAMERA+ 

You can shoot your images directly in this App, or process them later.  The “lab” features are stellar.

 

Other Recommended App’s: 

 

photoshopPhotoshop for iPhone

Lot’s of great filters, and image processing features.

 

flickrFlickr

A photo-sharing community that also lets your print.

 

framaticFramatic

Awesome app for doing photo collages for posting your images on-line.

 

instagramInstagram

We all know what instagram is.  A great way to share you photos. Link your Facebook and Twitter accounts if you want. Easy to share your images.

 

pinterestPinterest

Share you inspiration and get inspiration from others.

 

 

Print your photos:

lifepicsLifePics

LifePics lets you order prints from several local stores on their network – Photofinisher Network. According to their website there are over 12,000 stores located all over the world. he app uses your GPS to find local stores near you that you can order photos from. You can also use this app easily while traveling just use the “Get Location” option to find stores on the go. The prices range based on which retailer you pick inside the app so it might be worth viewing options. 4×6 at Office Depot run $0.15 each.

shutterflyShutterfly

Shutterfly is a popular photo sharing site that provides a large number of personalized photo gifts- calendars, photo books, coffee mugs, calendars and more. I am assuming because of the diversity of their photo offers that is why Shutterfly opted not to add the Cart/Order process directly in the app. But you can upload your iPhone photos into your shared Shutterfly albums from the phone or using the camera directly.

snapfishSnapFish

Snapfish is similiar to Shutterfly in that you can order customized gifts from your photos. The app allows you to add photos to your albums and download existing photos from your online album onto your phone. The multiple upload feature worked pretty quickly. Perhaps a photo book of your instagram photos might make a fun coffee table book! *in app photo ordering is not available

 cvsCVS Photo

there is a CVS less than a mile from my house. So CVS photo center is my go-to photo printing source. Until I discovered this app I saved photos from my iPhone to my computer then ordered prints on CVS website for pick-up at their 1 hour printing station. With the app I can now upload photos (albeit 1 at a time) to my CVSphotos.com account. It does appear I have to actually “order” from a computer but getting the photos in the album saves a lot of time.

walgreensWalgreens

This app has versatility. Photos: you have the option of uploading photos (multiple) from your camera roll or using the camera – you can also upload to Facebook & Walgreens inside this app. After uploading your photos easily order prints with a big “Print & Share” bottom.

iPhone camera tips Day 4 – Printing vs Posting online

So, you’re back from your amazing vacation and you captured the whole trip on your iPhone. You’ve taken  some beautiful shots and you’d like to get them printed or put together a book to remember your trip.  What do you do?   Today I’ll give you some tips on printing your iPhone photos.

Quick tip:  The images you take with the main or back lens of your camera will be larger and better quality than the “selfie” front lens of your camera.  So if you plan on large prints, use the main lens. 

The first thing you should know is that it’s incredibly easy now to upload photos and have them printed. There are quite a few app’s that allow you to upload photos directly from your camera roll to the print labs.  I’ll list those apps in second.  If you want to skip the technical part, just scroll down.

First, a quick crash course on iPhone photo resolution:

Each successive iPhone model has come out with better cameras, larger megapixels and better lens’s.   If you mostly just post your photos online, a large megapixel camera isn’t necessary.  The biggest benifit with large megapixel cameras is when you go to enlarge your images.  The larger the megapixels the bigger the file – the bigger the file the bigger the print.  Your iPhone saves the images you take in 72 dpi, or the more current ‘ppi’ resolution.  ‘DPI’  means: “Dots Per Inch”  and “PPI” means “Pixels per Inch”.  This is how much pixel information is contained in one inch.  Computer monitors only require 72 dpi or ppi to view a photo. Since most iPhone images are used online and viewed on computers, that is the default setting for your iPhone. Most digital printers are set for 300 dpi for the best quality images so they must be converted/resized to 300 dpi so they can be printed.

Here is a chart showing you how large the images are (at 72 dpi) on different iPhone models:

iPhone-iPad-photo-sizes-0315

 

Once these images are converted  for printing it roughly translates to this:

Photo Size in Pixels Good Quality 150 ppi Medium Quality 200 ppi Best Quality 300 ppi
800×600 px, 0.5MP 5.33″ x 4″ 4″ x 3″ 2.67″ x 2″
1024×768 px, 0.75MP 6.83″ x 5.2″ 5.12″ x 3.84″ 3.41 x 2.56″
1600×1200 px, 2MP 10.67″ x 8″ 8″ x 6″ 5.33″ x 4″
2048×1536 px, 3.2MP 13.65″ x 10.24″ 10.24″ x 7.68″ 6.83″ x 5.12″
2592×1936 px, 5MP 17.28″ x 12.9″ 12.96″ x 9.68″ 8.64″ x 6.45″
3264×2448 px, 8MP 21.76″ x 16.32″ 16.32″ x 12.24″ 10.88 x 8.16″

Ok, so there’s a little background on print vs internet resolution.  For a handful of iPhoneographers who like to process their own images in Photoshop these are useful tools in prepping your images for printing.

Quick tip:  When you crop your images, they loose pixel dimensions.  Use the tips I mentioned in earlier posts about “Filling your Frame” when you snap your photos. If you get into the habit of not using the zoom feature and composing your images exactly the way you want them printed, you’ll have the full pixel dimensions available to you with more options for larger, better quality prints.  

Great App’s for uploading and printing your photos:

There are a bunch of apps you can download that offer all kinds of print services ranging from simple and inexpensive snapshot prints to photo books, enlargements, merchandise and gallery wrapped prints.  These labs will automatically convert your 72 dpi images to the best quality for prints; all you have to do is upload them directly from your phone.  Here are a few for you to check out.  Tomorrows final post will have a much bigger “must have” list of app’s.

 LifePics: lets you order prints from several local stores on their network – Photofinisher Network. According to their website there are over 12,000 stores located all over the world.  The singup and photo upload process is pretty simple. The app uses your GPS to find local stores near you that you can order photos from. You can also use this app easily while traveling just use the “Get Location” option to find stores on the go. The prices range based on which retailer you pick inside the app so it might be worth viewing options. 4×6 at Office Depot run $0.15 each

Shutterfly for iPhone: Shutterfly is a popular photo sharing site that provides a large number of personalized photo gifts- calendars, photo books, coffee mugs, calendars and more. I am assuming because of the diversity of their photo offers that is why Shutterfly opted not to add the Cart/Order process directly in the app. But you can upload your iPhone photos into your shared Shutterfly albums from the phone or using the camera directly. Shutterfly offers discounts and promotions frequently so I’d recommend this option for parents who will be printing multiple copies and ordering photo gifts from photos of their little ones.

Snapfish: Snapfish is similiar to Shutterfly in that you can order customized gifts from your photos. The app allows you to add photos to your albums and download existing photos from your online album onto your phone. The multiple upload feature worked pretty quickly. Perhaps a photo book of your instagram photos might make a fun coffee table book! *in app photo ordering is not available

 

Tomorrow – Must have photo App’s for you iPhone.

 

 

iPhone camera tips Day 3 – Playing with Light.

Photographers use light to paint their subjects.  We’re constantly looking at the direction and quality of light at different times during the day.    Whether it’s natural light or artificial, paying attention to your light will help you create the kind of shots you’re looking for.

When I’m shooting outdoor portraits, landscapes or architecture only shoot at times during the day when the natural light is soft and warm; this limits shooting to early morning or late in the afternoon for the ‘golden hour’.  Since most of us use our iPhone cameras to capture moments in our lives it’s not practical to wait for the sun, we want to capture that moment and move on with our day.  So with that in mind, here are a few little tips to help you adapt to the light you have.

Full afternoon sun:  Photographing people in the middle of the day with full sun is tricky.  It can create pretty harsh shadows on their faces.  There are a few tricks to help you navigate harsh lighting conditions.  Turn on your trusty flash.  This one of those moments where your flash comes in quite handy and can really help fill in those dark contrasting areas.

If you have an option to get out of that sun, find some shade, perhaps close enough to a bright object so the sunlight will actually “bounce” on to your subject.  Your iPhone should asses the darker conditions and give you a correct exposure but if you keep getting dark images, refer to the focus/exposure lock feature on the first day of these tips.   Press and hold the area on your screen (your subjects in shade) until your camera locks in the correct exposure and snap your photo.

Look for back light:  This is tricky, you definitely need the right quality of light but if you’re shooting at the end of the day and there’s some soft beautiful light available. Shoot a few shots with the sun directly on your subject, then flip you position and put the soft sunlight either behind your subject or slightly behind and to the side.  You’ll see a lovely highlight on their hair.  Use the focus/exposure lock again to make sure you phone exposes your subject properly and snap you shot!drew-127-BLOG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lighting too harsh – shoot for black and white:  You can’t really control the quality of natural light during the day.   Some days it’s cold and foggy, other days it’s bright and harsh.  On days when I get harsh light but still want to shoot,  I switch my eye to finding contrasts and I shoot my images knowing that I’m shooting for black and white photos. Black and white imagery can be very powerful when you embrace the shadows and contrasts.IMG_1333_blog

Using light without your flash indoors: If you’re shooting snapshots and people having fun, use that flash and capture some great moments.  But, sometimes you just want to get some interesting artistic shots with your phone.  Look for interesting light sources to light your subjects.  Candles, lamps, daylight streaming in through a window all create some drama and some fun creative shots!IMG_4803_blog

 

Coming tomorrow –  Day 4, Must have iPhone camera App’s

 

iPhone camera tips day 2 – Improving your composition.

We’ve all done it,  we see something interesting, grab our phone with one hand and snap a bunch of photos.  Sometimes they turn out while other times…well, not so great.  Composition is a big part of setting up a shot. It doesn’t have to be complicated, In fact, with a few simple tips you can take your average snap shot and give it an artistic feel.   Here are few tips to take your composition to the next level.


1. Have a steady hand:
 Hold your phone the way you would hold a camera.  Use two hands to keep it steady and use your index finger to gently tap the shutter button.  Most iPhones will allow you to use the volume button to snap the shutter but I find that to be a little cumbersome  and it can sometimes shake the camera.   I use the shutter button on the screen.

2. Check your frame: The most common error in composing a shot is to leave a huge amount of room at the top of the frame; especially when you’re capturing a group of people.  You may have to physically move forward or backward to fill that frame with exactly what you want.
Also, I good rule of thumb when photographing people is to put yourself on the same plane/level as they are; unless of course you’re shooting down from above for artistic effect.crop2

3. Rule of Thirds:
This is a commonly used photography term for putting your subject in one third of the frame while the other 2/3rds create a negative space. Try playing with your framing to create a little more drama in your shots.

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4. Angles: If you don’t want a straight forward shot, play with some angles.  Tilt your camera in different directions to give your subject a more interesting angle; this is especially good for architecture.

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5. Try having a point of view or focus point: Sometimes we want our foreground subject to be in perfect focus while the rest of the images falls a little blurry. This is called “Depth of Field”.  Try framing your subject in the foreground, perhaps even to one side of the frame, tap on the focus lock feature so your camera knows what to focus on and then snap your shot.  The rest of the image should fall away in soft focus.

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Coming tomorrow:   Playing with Light

One week of helpful tips for your iPhone camera

A few years back I was watching an interview with Annie Leibovitz.  Brian Williams asked her:

“What do you tell people when they ask you what kind of camera to buy?”

Her response :

“The iPhone…really, that is the snapshot camera of today” 

I found that to be true for myself as well.  I have several cameras.  The big Canon with the handful of lens’ I use for work is amazing.  I love my Canon but when I’m done working and just want to shoot for fun, my go-to camera is always my iPhone.  The quality of images with the new iPhone 6 are stellar.   It’s an 8 megapixel camera with improved low light (f2.2) abilities.  Not to mention the 1080p hd video.   If you don’t have the iPhone 6 yet don’t worry, the 5’s are also great cameras; very intuitive and easy to use.  But even the best cameras need a little coaxing in certain situations  to get the best shots. With more and more of us relying on our iPhone’s to capture moments or to just express ourselves creatively through Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr, Facebook etc.  I though a few tips on iPhoneography would be helpful.

Today’s tips: Knowing how your camera works.

Tap or touch….Instant correct exposure.

Your iPhone has a passive auto focus and exposure system; meaning, it takes into account all the light in the frame and sets an average exposure.   In most cases, for landscape photos in full sun it does a great job.  But there are times when the subject you want to focus on is either much brighter or darker than the background in the rest of the frame.  In that case If you haven’t already discovered this on your own, this tip will literally change the way you shoot with your iPhone.

There two ways of controlling the correct exposure or focus on your iPhone:

  1.  Quick focus and exposure – tap once on your screen in the exact place where you want to set the exposure and focus.   – a little yellow box will appear.   – snap your photo.
  2.  Focus lock – Same principle as the quick focus except this time, press and hold in the spot on your screen until the yellow box appears again.  It will engage the auto focus/auto exposure mode and it will remain in that setting until you take your shot.  This is particularly helpful when you want to slightly recompose your shot without having your camera constantly changing the exposure.

The Flash:

I prefer to keep the flash turned off, only using it when it’s needed.  If you’re indoors and want to take some flash shots, don’t stand too close to your subject or the flash will blow them out and make them look like ghosts.    Your flash works best between 5-9 feet from the subject.  Once you go beyond 12 feet the flash is much less effective you’ll start to lose quality.

 The digital zoom feature:

Don’t use it. You’ve probably noticed that the quality of the image suffers when you zoom in.  This is because the zoom feature on the iPhone is only a digital zoom.  If you want to zoom in, walk toward your subject until you have the frame you want.  You’ll end up with much better quality images.

Clean your lens:

Our grubby finger prints are all over our phones.  That, combined with pocket lint will make give your lens an oily dusty film.  Ideally, use a very slightly moist lint free cloth to clean it.   If you don’t have one, Use a soft article of clothing – like your shirt.

 

Coming up;  improving your composition.

 

GALLERY STORE NOW OPEN!

It’s been many months in the making but my online store is now live and ready.

This is a small collection of both commissioned and non-commissioned work that I’ve shot over the years. Until now, these images have been only been available by special request. I’m excited to be offering these personally selected prints to the public. All prints are available in a variety of sizes, premium papers and reproduced by one of the best photo labs in the country. You can order these prints ‘as is’ or design the perfect frame, mat and glass to compliment your home.