Photography Basics

This section of my blog contains a comprehensive resource for taking better pictures.

Photographic Vision

Developing Photographic Vision Photographic vision: Shoot a wide variety of techniques. You will become exposed to many visual ideas and experience. This then can be merged into a vision. Keep shooting using different techniques, different subjects, break the rules, and worry less about what others think about your photos. Shoot for yourself. If you are excited by what you are doing, you are on the right path to personal vision.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tips for a Successful Photography Business

A good deal of money can be earned with photographs but you should have a plan. You must love photography and have a reasonable understanding of some fundamental techniques.

Here are some of the guidelines that will help a long way toward building a successful photography business.

*Research so that you understand the pros and cons involved. Subscribe to a good magazine related to the photographic industry such as Professional Photographer, Camera Arts, Photo District News, PopPhoto or Shutterbug. The internet is the biggest source of information and can provide you with an abundance of career opportunities and more information on starting a photography business.

*It is very important to decide what kind of photography business you want so that the relevant requirements and finance can be muscled up.

*You will need to consider carefully your main tool - the camera, either digital or film. You must also consider a reliable, high-quality PC and good relevant photo software. If the business is being undertaken on a massive scale then maybe a developing lab needs to be planned and established.

*Start with the photography field you enjoy the most and diversify later. Become known as a master photograper in that field such as weddings, photojournalist or portraiture.

*Your portfolio must contain a collection of pertinent photographic work your best work. Your portfolio must be able to impress the client in the very first meeting. There are rarely any second chance.

*Keep your only your best work.

*Showcase spontaneous photos that you believe are of good quality. You’d be surprised how many people respond favorably to peoples expressions when they are good shots.

*Backgrounds. A navy, black or white, canvas background of at minimum 7-9 foot and good quality strobes.

*Photo-editing software such as Photoshop; Photoshop Light room, iPhoto, i View Multimedia, MediaPro, ACDSee, Corel and Picasa.

*Create backups of all images to CD, DVDs or an online agency such as Smugmug.

*Constantly upgrade and maintain your website so that each time people come across your website, they will find fine something new and interesting.

*Copyright your photographs

*Business cards. A clever impressive graphic or a picture of yourself with your equipment is best. Your contact number or email must be easy to read. Make your phone number the largest thing on the card - that’s what most people will use it for.
You can upload and design your own business cards at Zazzle or PrintBusinessCards.

*Craft Fairs and Art shows are the perfect platform from where your creativity and work will be really appreciated because at such places you will find some niche customers that have a sharp eye for real talent. Do a Google search for “photography art show".

*At first do not don’t charge high amounts. Tread slowly. Research other photographers to get an idea of what they are charging and base your prices accordingly.

*Market your work. Search for suitable local markets and get the snaps printed in a local journal or newspaper and always display your contact number prominently.

*Develop a website to promote your photography business. Include a testimonial section and gauge the response of the people visiting your website. Let them make comments.

There are many more jobs also related to photography than there ever were previously and because of the diversity and flexibility of digital photography

Monday, April 20, 2009

Part-Time Photography

When someone asks what you do for a living, can you see their
eyes glaze over with boredom by your response?

Do YOUR eyes glaze over with boredom by your response?

Do your kids invite YOU to speak at career day in school?
Or do they wish they hadn't?

When you talk about your work - are people excited to learn
more? Or do they try to get away?

When you call someone - do they pick up? Or do you end up talking
to a lot of answering machines?

Try this instead... Become a photographer.

When you tell someone you're a photographer, their eyes light
up and they excitedly start asking you questions!

The conversation almost always ends with them saying something
along the lines of, "You must really love your work! I sure wish I
could do something I loved and get paid for it!"

The only difference between wishing you were a photographer and
actually being one; is knowing where and how to easily find
clients eager to spend their money WITH YOU.

It really isn't hard.

Click Here!

How much do you spend on your "photography hobby"?

Are you one of those lucky ones that has the cash to buy all
the latest gadgets? Do you have hundreds or even thousands of
dollars worth of filters and lenses that you never even
bother to use?

Or, is money a little tight?

Is there a lens you're dying to have - but just can't afford?

Want to switch from film to digital but you just can't swing
the cost of a good camera?

Think it would be nice to own a set of studio lights... but once
your spouse found out you bought them, you'd end up sleeping
on the sofa?

Wouldn't it be nice if someone ELSE paid for all your equipment?

They will - if you have your own part time photography business.

If you have a part time photography business operating out of your
home, you can deduct your photo equipment as a business expense!

Let Uncle Sam (if you are in the United States) pay for a part of
your gear through tax write offs! Plus you can deduct car expenses
and mileage associated with your business, your home office and
tons of other goodies!

And that's just the tax benefits. (Check with your CPA)

On the income side, you will have income from your customers that
will pay for all your new equipment, new cars, college for
the kids, etc.

Long term, you will be building an asset (your business) that can
be sold for a substantial chunk of change when the time comes to
retire. Or, you can leave it to your kids so they don't have to be
a slave to a weekly paycheck their whole lives.

You can dump some of your earnings into various tax free retirement
programs, have money to invest, FINALLY have the Christmas you've
always wanted but couldn't afford. And on... and on.

All is possible - for YOU. You just need to get started.

Click Here!

Home or Studio?

Starting a Photography Business - Home Based vs. Studio Space

When deciding on a place to run your successful photography business, there are a few options:

Home Based Photography Studio
. This has several advantages:
* Low overhead - no rent
* No commuting time
* Your work space is tax deductible
* Great if you have kids at home
* Family oriented and relaxed

Disadvantages of a home studio include:
* Lack of sufficient space
* You have to keep your house clean at all times!
* Having strangers in your home
* Some people may view a home studio as not being a "real" business

Buying / Renting a Photography Studio
Advantages of renting or buying a studio space include:
* More exposure for your business (window displays, foot traffic, drive by traffic)
* More adequate space for your equipment and props
* More adequate space for parking
* Some may view you as having a "real" photography business
* Your work life and home life can be kept separate

Disadvantages include:
* Higher overhead (rent or mortgage) eats your profits
* Commute time
* High prices may keep you out of more desirable neighborhoods or shopping centers
* A less desirable location may mean that you have to lower your prices

Other options
Many photographers choose to shoot "on location" only. This means that they either go to the client's home or shoot mainly at outdoor locations. This can work nicely because it allows you to avoid renting a space and keeps clients out of your home.
Other photographers may choose to temporarily rent a studio space for a day or more. Some photo studios rent out their space on an hourly basis, but if this isn't available in your town, consider renting a small conference room at a local hotel (this would be good for a portrait event where you will be photographing numerous families).

Start your photography business today!
Pay the rent with your camera--this month!

Where is your camera?

If you aren't taking your camera with you everywhere you go, then you are most certainly missing out on great photo opportunities. Why not take it and use it everywhere? The key, by the way, is to use the camera -- not just take it with you. Bring it with you and use it so often that the camera becomes an extension of you.
Soon it will feel strange when you are without your beloved sidekick.

Do you ever think you're running out of picture ideas? When you always have your camera by your side, ideas are all around. Driving by the fire or police station? Why not stop in and take a few pictures? Are you taking the kids to the carnival this year? How about the park? A camera is a "must have" in these situations. Have you taken your camera to the office yet? Co-workers might just make good models. Need something to keep you occupied at the Laundromat? How about when you get your oil changed?

Don't forget to take along a few model releases in case your mechanic doesn't have one of his own.

Always remember that the right time to take that great picture is now. If you wait until later, the lighting will surely be different and waiting until tomorrow easily turns into never.

The moral of the story is this: if you see a great subject, take the picture then. A few minutes out of your busy schedule won't matter much in the long run and the rewards of the perfect image will last forever.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Photography 101: Aperture and Depth of field {DOF}

Depth of Field (DOF) is that amount of your shot that will be in focus.

Depth of field is governed by three factors: aperture, lens focal length and shooting distance.
*The smaller the aperture, the deeper the depth of field (the other two factors remaining the same).
*The shorter the lens focal length, the deeper the depth of field (the other two factors remaining the same).
*The greater the shooting distance, the deeper the depth of field. i.e. other two factors remaining the same).

There are times when you desire a great depth of field, i.e. where objects both close to you and far from you are in focus. This is especially true when you are taking a landscape picture and want as much as possible to be in crisp focus.
Large depth of field means that most of your image will be in focus whether it’s close to your camera or far away where both the foreground and background are largely in focus.

Then there are times when you want to isolate your subject, as when you are taking a portrait and want your subject to be in sharp focus but the background to be out of focus. In this case, you desire a shallow depth of field.

One way to influence DOF is by selecting the appropriate aperture.

The rule of thumb is this:

Select a large aperture (or small f/value or small aperture value), e.g. f/2.8, to obtain a shallow DOF
Select a small aperture (or large f/value or large aperture value), e.g. f/8.0, to achieve great DOF

Small (or shallow) depth of field means that only part of the image will be in focus and the rest will be fuzzy).
DOF also changes with focal length. Use a small focal length to increase DOF, a longer focal length obtain a shallower DOF.

Aperture and the Sweet Spot - sweet spot is the place where the lens is in its sharpest point. For most lenses (that go on DSLRs) this is somewhere between f/8 and f/11. Remember that when looking for sharpness in your picture.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

“What are the most important things I should do to improve my photographs?”

Twenty-One Ways to Improve Your Artwork

1.) Shoot more than you do; print more than you do; and be a ruthless editor. I’m serious. There is a great deal to be gained in practice . Besides, relentless practice does have a twin sister known as luck. If you are not throwing out ten finished prints for every one you exhibit you’re not being critical enough. If you are not shooting 100 images for every one you print, you are not being energetic enough.

2.) Avoid bulls-eye composition whenever possible. Art is supposed to have meaning, emotion, power, or magic. Don’t merely show what the subject is; show what it isn’t, show what it means, show why it is, how it is, for whom it is, where it is, and/or when it is.

3.) Think in two-dimensions. Learn to see flat. Learn to see edges and shapes instead of details and colors. Squint and look at the world through your eyelashes so the details dissolve. Or, try looking through a lightly frosted piece of plastic. See your composition in terms of its large masses first, and let the film reveal the details. Learn that composition is about shapes and that texture is about details.

4.) Move closer. Move even closer. Use wider-angled lenses and get closer. The best photographs are almost always ones in which the viewer feels directly involved in the world in the image, and this happens most successfully with direct engagement. If 30% of your images are made with a wide-angle lens and 70% with a telephoto, reverse this ratio and you will find your photographs improve dramatically.

5.) Photography is part art and part science. Limit the number of cameras you own, especially early in your career. Learn thoroughly what your materials will do and don’t get seduced by the idea that better photographs reside in better equipment. All the great photographs in history were made with more primitive camera equipment than you currently own.

6.) Work on projects. Make lots of images and look deeper. Rephotograph things you’ve already photographed. Allow the images to unfold as you work the project repeatedly. Every project, no matter what the project, requires research – the kinds of research you do in the library as well as in the field. Read, study, ask questions, look at the work of those who’ve gone before you, think, ask questions, listen some more, and ask more questions. Write things down. If a project doesn’t occupy a serious percentage of a notebook full of notes, you probably haven’t done enough to think about the project before you pull out the camera.

7.) Start with the image or the project and figure out which tools will best help you to succeed. If you find you are constantly needing new equipment, review #5 above and be honest about whether or not you are choosing the right projects.

8.) Attend workshops. Read books. Seek out the advice of experienced photographers. If you want to make great photographs, look at great photographs and talk to great photographers. Be someone’s apprentice for a while. Assign yourself the task of reproducing great photographs as closely as you can. Learn from the masters, but don’t become them.

9.) Work through the compulsories. It has truly been said that to see farther than others you should stand on the shoulders of giants. Great photographers and artists before you have made work that survives today as a testament to their creativity. In order for you to carry their torch, you must first trod their path. Don’t be discouraged if it takes you years to learn what they already know; it took them years to learn from those who came before them. Study history. Know the conventions, the rules, the clich├ęs, the techniques – know the mind of those who have already asked and answered your questions.

10.) Finish it. There is nothing to be gained by having the potential to be great. Opportunities will unfold as if by magic. But if your best project is, for example, your 10th project, there is no way you could have gotten there until you completed the first nine. There is no faster way, no more efficient way, to get to your life’s best work than to finish the necessary work you need to do that prepares you for your eventual best work. Finish it, let go of it, move on.

11.) Realize that creativity does not work on a clock. Use a memo recorder. Carry paper and pen. Be disciplined about capturing odd thoughts at odd moments when they pop up. Do photography (or at least think photography) every day. Don’t be surprised if your best and most creative ideas happen when you least expect them.

12.) Let go of photography and make art. The objective of photography as a fine art pursuit is not to accumulate artifacts that will impress collectors and curators. Ultimately, your real work is to connect your Self to the world. In doing so, you will pass on to the viewer an artifact which connects them to the world and back to you. Ultimately, if your work does not move someone, it does not move anything.

13.) Read books, attend exhibitions, subscribe to magazines and develop your own personal mental gallery of images, image-makers, imaging trends, and likes and dislikes. The more you know about other photographers, the more you’ll know about yourself.

14.) Ignore advice from others if they tell you how to do it their way. There is no more useless critique than when the comment starts out, “If it were my picture I would have done...” The best critics will tell you what it is they see in your photograph and leave it up to you to decide whether or not what they see is a function of their unique vision or your success or failure in making the image you intended.

15.) Live with it for a while before going public. Create a space in your home or your studio where you can thumbtack lots of pictures to the wall. Keep them there, look at them repeatedly, look at them at different times of day, in different light, in different moods. The process of doing so will likely lead you to try printing variations, cropping variations, and even entirely new approaches with a given image.

16.) Figure out a way to make it happen on your own. Don’t let the lack of resources get in your way. Do not let limitations prevent you from doing your art. Do not rely solely on the generosity of others. To do so will mean that your work can only progress when someone else wills it. Ultimately, no one cares about your artwork or your artistic progress more than you.

17.) Think clearly about your objectives. Which do you care about more: making images the public loves or making images that you must? Clearly knowing which is more important to you makes everything else easier.

18.) Photography is not a group activity. Learn to work alone, without distractions.

19.) Don’t photograph what is “photographable.” Photograph what interests you, even if it is impossible to photograph. It is almost impossible to make a great photograph of something that doesn’t interest you.

20.) Think from your subject’s point of view. Think from your audience’s point of view. Think about what you are communicating. Think about how this will look in the passage of time. Think about what’s on the edges, just inside, just outside the photograph. Think about what you have said. Think about what you haven’t said. Think about what people will think you have said, and what they’ll think you haven’t said. Most importantly, know when to think and when to suspend thinking on purpose. Art without thought is incomplete. Art with thought is incomplete.

21.) Remember, art is not about artwork. Art is about life. To become a better artist, first and foremost become a better person – not in the moral sense, but rather in the complete sense. Remember that the greatest artist is not the one with the best technique, but the one with the most human heart.