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Six Holiday Photo Tips – #4

Tip 4. POSES.

Posing people for a photo is tough.  They’re going to be looking to you for some direction and it helps if you  have a few ideas, otherwise they’ll just stand there staring at you with blank faces  :0)

A few suggestions:

  • Make sure they get close together. If they’re too far apart it can look like they don’t really like each other. LOL   This will also help you with cropping a photo to a standard size.  *
  • Put the family elders in the middle and have their kids around them.
  • Separate them into small groups.
  • Stagger the tallest in the back or have the kids sit on the ground.
  • If you have things to lean on (like a lamp post or railing) use it.  If you have objects for them to interact with, something meaningful or fun for the group like presents, cocktails or anything fun, bring those out and play with with them.
  • Also: Be ready for spontaneity. Sometimes the best photos come when people don’t know it’s coming; they happen between shots. Look for those moments! You’ll catch people laughing, goofing around or being silly. These moments can be the most precious. A.B.S = Always be shooting! You never know what you’ll capture.

* If you think you’d like to print the photos: frame your shot with a little room on all sides so you can crop the photo. (roughly: a little on the top and bottom and a bit more on the sides) Most digital cameras, including iPhone photos are 4:3 ratio so if you want to crop these photos to a standard 8×10 crop, make sure you leave that room to crop it the way you want.

Next week:  CHECK YOUR ANGLE AND AVOID THE ZOOM.

Six Holiday Photo Tips – Tip #3

Tip 3. LET THEM KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT.

Shooting a big group can be challenging. Let’s face it, most people don’t like getting their photo taken and when you put them in a big group, a few of them can get impatient with the process. Let them know what to expect; tell them how many shots you’re going to take. If they know that you’re shooting a dozen shots to make sure their eyes are open and they all look fabulous it helps – everyone wants to look good.  If it’s a simple shot with one pose – take about 10 shots.  If you have an energetic group that wants to have fun or you have a few poses or actions to do, take 20 or more.

If you have an action; like, for instance, everyone jumping or a specific theme in mind, get them on board with it. Sell your idea,  get them to visualize the photo.  I find that if they know what’s coming and they understand where you’re coming from they will have more fun with it.

Be open to suggestions – you may know exactly how you want to shoot a group but if you stay in the moment, sometimes the energy and suggestions of the group can uncover some really fun photo ideas.

Make sure they all know to look directly into the camera – I know that seems obvious but once I’ve downloaded the photos, you’d be surprised how many people are looking off to the side or distracted by something.

Make the process fun for yourself and for everyone in the group and you’ll end up with some really exciting photos!

Next post:  POSES.

Six Holiday Photo Tips – Tip #2

Tip 2. TAKE SOME TIME TO SCOUT.

Do some scouting before you gather your group. It can be a little stressful to wrangle a small group for a photo so if it falls upon you to take the family photos, take some time, go outside and scout for the best places to shoot. I actually like this process quite a bit.  It kind of meditative and it gives me a little time to feel centered and visualize the shots.  Plus it gives me a little break from the energy of the group.  Find the best light and the nicest backgrounds. Take a look at the background to see if anything will be sticking up or across people’s heads. Take some test shots to see how you like the background and the quality of light (See tip #1 for finding the best light).   Maybe find one willing test subject and put them in different locations for test shots.

A few other things to pay attention to:  If the background is really overblown and too bright.   Are there poles, branches or signs that might stick out of the top of people’s heads when you crop the photo?  Simple backgrounds are usually the best.

Advanced tip: Play with depth of field. If you can, pull your subjects away from the background far enough so it falls blurry behind them. You want to make sure everyone is in focus so make sure your F-stop is at least 5.6 or higher but keeping the background far enough away will help in making it soft focus.

 

Next week:  LET THEM KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT.

Six Tips for taking the best family and group photos for the holidays.

It’s the time of year; your family and friends are getting together to celebrate the holidays! Whether you’re a professional amateur or prolific Instagramer on your iPhone; if you are the designated photographer this holiday season I have a few tips that will help you make the best of your photo opportunities.   Every Tuesday and Thursday in December I’ll update this blog and give you a new tip. Stay tuned!

 

TIP #1 . FIND YOUR LIGHT.  

You can’t beat beautiful diffused natural light for getting beautiful photos.   If you’re lucky enough to have some good weather get your family and friends outside for some shots – later in the afternoon when the sun is low is the best time to shoot.

If you have to shoot mid-day, look for a nice shady spot so the sun isn’t dappling on peoples faces or creating unflattering shadows. If you’re shooting later in the day, put the sun behind your subjects so they have a lovely back light and then adjust your camera to expose for your subjects. For iPhone users: Put you finger on the screen over your subjects and hold it. This will lock in the exposure and focus point. You’ll see a little slider on the right; slide that up until you like the exposure and the take the photo; it’ll make sure they are exposed properly.   If you have a flash on your camera don’t be afraid to use it to fill in the darker areas.   Again, for iPhone users there is a little ‘lighting bolt’ icon on the top of the screen, press it and you’ll see three options – the default is “auto”. Press the “On” button to insure the flash fires.

Also, if you’re shooting indoors, look for a big window as a great source of natural light. It’s great for shooting one or two people.

 

UP NEXT:   TAKE TIME TO SCOUT A LOCATION….

Professional Photo Shoot day at STRUT in the CASTRO

I’m doing a photoshoot fund raiser for Strut health clinic in the heart of the Castro in San Francisco.   Strut is a non-profit organization and offers free and low cost health care to the community.  The staff at Strut does some amazing things for our community and I want to be able to do what I love and give back!

Here’s a link for all the information:  PHOTOSHOOT DAY

Sat, Nov 3, 2018 10:30am – 5:00pm
WHERE:
Strut
470 Castro St
San Francisco, CA 94114
USA
CONTACT:
 Baruch Porras Hernandez

Joe Mazza wants to take your picture!

Need new head shots? Want to update that Linked in Profile? Queers are always out and about doing things and making waves in the community and often they don’t have professional head shots! Who has the time? Or the money right? Well join us Nov 3rd to get your portrait taken by professional photographer Joe Mazza for only a minimum suggestion of a $25 donation!
All donations go to support Strut and out mission of queer sexual health and wellness!
(No One Turned Away from Lack of Funds)

Come get a serious picture taken, or a silly one! BYOT, Bring Your Own Tiara!

Come sign up, this will be a first come first serve basis, sign up list will not be put out until 10:30am, on the dot. 

•Up to two people per shoot.
•Your shoot will last about 10-15 minutes and will have a variety of poses and crops.
•A link to a private proof page will be provided so you can download your photos 10 days after the shoot. The proofs will be fine tuned for contrast, tone and color, and be cropped 8×10.
•Copyright usage: You are welcome to use any of the photos taken during your photo shoot to promote yourself either professionally or on social media for fun! You may not give permission or license any 3rd party to use the photos for any purpose.
•Wardrobe suggestions: If you just want to have a fun shoot, come as you are and have fun! If you’d like shots to use professionally, we want people to focus on your face and eyes and not your wardrobe so wear solid muted colors that you feel good wearing.

If you have any questions feel free to contact our community events organizer Baruch Porras Hernandez at bporrashernandez@sfaf.org

 

 

 

 

 

Taking a leap of faith

Planned Route

Planned Route

A leap of faith can take many forms. Sometimes we take them when our survival depends on them while other times it’s a leap to live more fully, more authentically in our lives. I’m taking a little detour from my usual photography posts to write something a little more personal about an experience I had recently that made me think about the little leaps of faith we all take in different aspects of life. I made a decision to take a month off and ride my motorcycle from San Francisco, through the Sierras to tour Canada and then back down the coast. I realized that I had traveled all over the world but I had never been to Oregon/Washington or Canada. It’s the adventure I’ve wanted to do for years.

The trip was more than I could have imagined, not just for the leap of faith it took to leave my business for a full month, but it highlighted how the journey we take after that leap can often look very different than originally thought. It was a metaphor for me about faith, expectations and then letting go, about staying present, open and trusting on the journey.

 

I’ve taken quite a few leaps of faith in my youth; those leaps seem much easier when you’re young. I was much more fearless. Maybe it was because it felt like, if I failed, I didn’t have as far to fall. When you’re young you feel invincible. I was a bit of a daredevil in my youth, I’ve jumped out of planes, climbed 1,000 foot cliffs, traveled the world and even moved to San Francisco with no job prospects simply because I loved the city. What I loved most about those decisions back then was that every time I made one, it seemed like all the pieces magically fell into place to help me follow through with my goals. As I look back, there was a lot of struggle and hardship along the way but the signs that I had made a decision to live more authentically were always there.

As I got older the fear of taking those big leaps got more intense. They became more about survival than they were about whimsy. Walking away from my business for an entire month was frightening. As a freelance creative person, or any small business owner can testify, there is a paradigm that exists in the way you approach your business; it develops over a long period of time. Unlike a job with a steady income at a big company, the entirety of your income falls on your ability to keep generating it. There are no paid vacations. You are called upon to always be working, thinking, growing and producing new work. Owning your own business is gratifying. It allows you to experience an awareness, a deep satisfaction that you are truly creating your own life but it also makes you keenly aware that if you’re not working constantly you’re not moving forward. Sometimes it’s hard to know when to take a break, to allow yourself to unplug without fear that you’ll be missing opportunities.

Humbolt Redwoods

So the leaps of faith I’ve taken as I’ve gotten older were quite different than the ones I took in my youth. I focused instead on building my photography business. I focused on stability; increasing my client base, on advertising, better equipment and bigger and more creative jobs. While incredibly rewarding, I also felt something was missing, like had lost or forgotten a part of myself along the way; that part of me that took leaps of faith … for whimsy. It has taken some events in my life to shake me enough to realize that life is short; that you also have to seize the moments when you can and live your life more fully.

 

Kawasaki Versys 1000

On my 50th birthday I took a whimsical leap; I learned how to ride a motorcycle. This was no small feat for me; I’ve always been terrified of them. Have you ever examined some of your fears in life and tried to trace them to their origin?   When I was seven years old my mother grabbed me, looked me in the eye and told me to stay away from motorcycles; I was never allowed to have one. She had a friend whose son had died in a motorcycle accident and as a mom; she wanted to protect her son. There it was, the origin of one of my biggest fears. A grown man afraid of motorcycles because his mom told him he should be. It’s actually funny when I think about it. But at 50 years old, it was time to face that fear, to at least take a class and learn how to ride. When I made the decision to learn it felt right, all the pieces feel into place but what I didn’t know was that when you first learn to ride it’s about 90% terrifying and only 10% pure exhilaration! But like most journey’s, as time goes by, that ratio slowly changes and flips; peace, freedom and exhilaration dominates the terror and it becomes your happy place and I’ve been riding for over six years now. What I also didn’t know was how much I would absolutely LOVE long motorcycle trips. So this one leap led me to take 2-day trips, then 3 and 5-day trips; each one a stepping-stone in the big decision to take that one month off and ride to Canada.

When you finally decide, I mean really decide to take that leap, whether it’s for survival or whimsy, things began to happen. Once again, just as I had experienced in my younger days, I began to see all of the little pieces that started to fall into place to allow me to go; a few advertising clients and big jobs waited until I returned, a good friend supported me in my preparation to leave, friends rode with me along the way or gave me a place to sleep on the journey. All of my fears about loosing business or not being able to survive began to fade, not right away but they did fade and in their absence was the feeling that I was doing exactly what I needed to do. Just making the decision was the scariest part. Once you decide, it’s not so scary.

Oregon Barn

The trip itself was nothing short of amazing; not just for the scenery or interesting people I met along the way. It was life changing because when it was over I began to see how much the entire experience was a metaphor for taking leaps, experiencing the journey and having it look nothing like you had imagined. It reminded me that there are hardships along the way but staying open throughout the experience allowed me to see the bigger gifts; and those gifts rarely disappoint.

Lava Beds Road

Sometimes, from one day to the next, I didn’t know where I was going to sleep. I was truly making it up as I went. There were days when this kind of gypsy life made me weary but after a while, I began to trust that the perfect spot would reveal itself and it always paid off. The ride through the Sierra’s took me through some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. I rode through Lassen National Park, Lava Tubes Monument, Crater Lake and Mt. Saint Helens. It was kind of a “volcano tour” of California. Every one of those destinations felt earned because there is no escape from the elements when you ride; the weather and wind, much like life, are just part of the journey. Riding 200 miles a day on twisty mountain roads on a motorcycle takes stamina. Some days I was feeling strong, balanced, and one-with-the-bike. I love those days! Other days I just didn’t have it, every hairpin turn was awkward for me. You feel every gust of wind, every bump and every uneven surface in the road. In a car you may not notice the thin twisted tar patches that they use to cover cracks in the roadway, but for motorcyclists, we call them ‘snakes’. Every time you go around a curve that’s covered in those snakes is to feel your back tire slide ever so slightly before it eventually grips again on the solid part of the road. This happens over and over and each time, even though you know it’ll probably be ok, your fear and adrenaline spike. There are days when those snakes take their toll on your nerves. This was a daily part of the journey I hadn’t considered when I imagined my trip, but it was those damn little snakes that made me realize that you eventually have to trust, not to dwell on them because while it’s scary, your back tire does find it’s grip, and when you ride around a big curve and see a glacial lake surrounded by old growth forests, the entire struggle it took to get there just melts away.

Crater Lake

The roads in Oregon are packed with huge logging trucks. When you’re behind one you’re being pelted by pieces of bark being blown off of the logs, and trust me, there’s a difference between bark hitting your car windshield and when it hits your leg at 70mph on a motorcycle. When you pass a big semi, there is a back draft that can violently buffet you when you approach it. As you start to pass, that back draft wants pull you into the truck. The only way through is to gun the throttle and get past it as quickly as possible but once I passed it I also realized I could smell the differences between pines, redwoods or spruce trees because you can smell everything on a bike. Then you finally turn off the interstate and on the next road is a volcano turned into the deepest fresh water lake in the country and it takes your breath away.

Hoh Rainforest

On a month long ride you go through some very extreme weather. It can be 45 degrees in the morning and 95 degrees in the afternoon. Those extremes are intense, very uncomfortable but it allows you to pull over, put on or take off some layers and you end up meeting another rider at a rest stop who clues you into a road you may not have planned to take. When you ride in the rain you can feel it on your body, you can hear those raindrops echo in your helmet the same way you can hear them on the roof of your house. If you’re dressed for it it’s not so bad. But in a torrential downpour like I experienced in Vancouver and Washington, it’s terrifying. You can’t see very far because, of course you have no windshield wipers on your helmet and the road fills with water very quickly. Sometimes you can pull over for a little while until it passes but other times, you have to slow way down, turn on your hazards and pray that you wont hydroplane or that a car won’t come up behind you too fast. But pulling over in that rain allowed me to find a fun local diner and try Elk. That rain is why Washington and Olympic National Park is a rain forest. When you finally arrive, get off your bike and walk through an actual rain forest in the rain, it is one of the most peaceful and spiritual experiences you can have.

Rider buddies

Deception Pass

Next time you’re following a motorcycle in your car, see if you can spot the bond between riders; when we pass each other, we give a little wave, an acknowledgement to be safe, that you’re not alone. It’s a comforting gesture and one I always enjoy when I ride. One of my biggest goals on this trip, one that I reminded myself every morning was to stay open to meeting new people and connecting with other riders really added to the experience. We chat each other up at rest stops or restaurants. We are fellow travelers, swapping stories, giving each other tips on great roads to take.  I met some really nice Canadian riders on the ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles Washington that told me about the road to Cape Flattery, the most northern part of the U.S. and another rider and friend that told me to take the ferry to Whidbey Island and through Deception Pass as way of by-passing the logging truck laden I-5 to Vancouver. It rained on that leg of the journey but I got to take my first ferry ride, park my bike at the front of the line and just enjoy the ride. I was able to experience rain on a less traveled road and saw some of the most beautiful views. There is a camaraderie between travelers and when open to it, takes you to some pretty amazing places.

All in all, I rode over 3,000 miles on my trip. I stayed in 20 cities, camped in some amazing spots, made countless detours just for the adventure. I rode further north than I’ve ever been, stayed in a haunted hotel, had to hold up for three days in Portland because of a storm in Canada, found the most peaceful lodge in Ucluelet, BC. The journey, once I decided to take that leap of faith was nothing like I thought it would be.   It was epic, life changing, terrifying, exhausting, exhilarating, peaceful, tedious, sweltering, freezing, wet, beautiful, awe-inspiring, magnificent, strange and wonderful. It was a constant reminder to me that taking a leap of faith and staying open and present on a journey, however it unfolds, will give you more than you ever could have imagined.

Understanding copyrights when you hire a photographer

I often get questions regarding the copyright laws from clients who’ve hired me for a photo shoot. I thought it would be a good time to clear up some myths and truths about copyright laws as it pertains to photographers. They can seem a bit intimidating at first but here’s a simple way of navigating the “who-owns-what” part of photo shoots.  Before I dive into the details let’s bust a myth; While each photographer is different in how protective they are about their images, photographers build their business’s on their work and integrity.  It’s normal and usual for a photographer to use images they’ve taken in their own portfolios, possibly in print or social media to promote their work but we don’t exploit our clients images and sell them to advertisers.  That’s just bad business.

What is the copyright law as it pertains to photographers?

In simple terms, copyright for photographers means owning property. As soon as a photographer presses that shutter button they have created and own that image. With ownership, they get certain exclusive rights to that property. For photographic copyrights, the ownership rights include:

(1) To reproduce the photograph.

(2) To prepare derivative works based upon the photograph.

(3) To distribute copies of the photograph to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending.

(4) To display the photograph publicly.

 

When I’m working with individuals or companies, each shoot is different:

Whether I shoot with an individual, a couple or a corporation who hires me to create work for them, I still retain full copyright of those images. However, I do grant them *license to use those photos to promote their brand or their company, to promote themselves or to share their photos with family and friends in print or electronic media. In fact, it’s my sincere hope they are able to use those images as much as they can. That was whole reason for the shoot. So from my perspective and for the sake of promoting my business, use those photos!

What you CAN NOT do is transfer those images to a third party for use to promote their business (with the exception of instances of promoting yourself within that business). The same rule applies to wedding clients. While it may be tempting to give a photo from your wedding to, lets say, the catering company or florist so they can use those photos as an example of their work to promote themselves, it’s not ok to do so without the permission of the photographer. In many cases a photographer will give permission so long as a photo credit and link back to their website is included. But it’s right and proper to seek that photographer’s consent in writing – even via email.

Why do photographers retain the copyrights even if you hire them?:  Professional photographers are dependent on their ability to control the distribution and reproduction of the photographs they create for several reasons. For example, copying a photo without permission, editing their work (with that cool new filter on Instagram), or not attributing a photographer (not making a clear and correct assertion as to who took the photo in the absence of a watermark) can negatively impact a photographer’s professional reputation, the ability to market and advertise their photography products/services their ability to generate an income from the works they create.

Using images you see online: a photographer created every image you find on the Internet and that photographer holds the copyright to that image. Regardless of whether or not you found that image in the public domain, you are not entitled to alter or use that image for your own purposes, with the exception of using an image or images to highlight or promote the work of that photographer (with their permission).  While in some cases your theft of that image will go unnoticed, you are in violation of U.S. copyright laws and are subject to a lawsuit by the copyright holder.   Just don’t do it.

 

Addendum’s or considerations:  Regardless of whether or not you paid for a photo session, you do not have the right to sell, license, transfer ownership of your images.  However, there are a few addendum’s or considerations that can be added to a contract.

Licensing: * this is different that ‘copyright’. While a photographer will always retain exclusive copyrights to their work, I will often license an image (usually for a fee or in some cases a very specific photo credit) to that company or individual. A license fee is based on the ‘usage’ of that photo.  In the case of a stock photo shoot with a company, the license agreement usually contains a clause that allows the photographer to use the photos in their portfolio to promote their work but not to sell those photographs to other companies.

Privacy exceptions: If I have been commissioned to shoot a more artistic or intimate shoot with an individual we start with a conversation. I get a sense of what they’re comfortable with when it comes to the types of photos I will use in my portfolio. I often enter an agreement with that individual (for privacy reasons) as to the type of images that I will release into the public domain via electronic media and that agreement is put into writing.

Work for hire copyright: This can be a very misleading term but basically, work for hire means that the photographer is a full time employee of a company and creating images for that company.   Work for hire does NOT include working as a contractor for individuals, weddings, events, stock photos etc.; unless there is an express contract written at the time of the photo shoot, which assigns exclusive copyrights to the person who hired the photographer.

While copyright laws can seem intimidating, they do exist to protect a photographer’s work from being stolen and used without their permission. Most photographers like myself, would not be in business if we didn’t understand that each photo shoot and each client is unique.  I understand that if you paid me for a photoshoot, while I may hold the copyrights to those photos and may used them to promote my own work, you’re not going to see them in an advertisement on the side of a bus.   Photographers like myself, build our businesses on referrals and the satisfaction of our clients. It’s important to understand copyright laws, but personally, I want every client to LOVE their photos, to trust that their images wont be exploited and most of all to enjoy working with me.

 

Here is a link to the US copyright laws:

https://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#106

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.

courtier Wines

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!

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!

 

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!!

 

 

 

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. 

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!

 

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!

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

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