Monday, February 28, 2011
I was recently asked what's the difference between using a white beauty dish vs a white umbrella. Since I have a new intern I decided to take the time to show her and share the results here as well.
The beauty dish has long been one of my favorite lights, but doing these tests every now and then simply reinforces my view on the beauty dish. I will use an umbrella's from time to time when appropriate but most of the time I perfer the look and feel of the white beauty dish. Take a look at both and decide for yourself what works best for you.
For this test I used the Profoto Acute 2400 pack with one acute head.
The Beauty dish is made by Profoto and the white umbrella is made by Photoflex
Reading for White Umbrella
F Stop:8.3 and shot at F 8.0
shutter speed: 1/200
Readings for White Beauty Dish
F Stop: 16.3 and shot at F 16.0
Shutter speed: 1/200
More detailed lighting link: Photographic Lighting
Last week I was photographed for an article and the photographer was trying hard to pose me and it didn't feel natural to me, because the "pose' she wanted me to do was not something I would ever do. If you are posing your subjects, make sure you do something that fits who they are. That said, the following posing information can be very beneficial as long as you know when to use it and when to let your subjects be free.
By the way, this is another great blog to read every day!
Link: Posing Techniques
Always Dream Big
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Saturday, February 26, 2011
When the photography world turned from film to digital a lot of thing started to vanish, like all the great labs. However, when anything goes away something new takes it place, and one of those new careers is the digital tech. Much of the work the lab did is now taken care of by the digital tech. In the days when film was king I could take 100 rolls of 220 format film to the lab and do a "clip test" on a select few rolls. I'd clip ten rolls from the bunch and look at the test in an hour. After viewing the test clips I'd then decide how to process the entire job based off those clips. The entire job would be complete in three hours and I would then pick up my film and start to make selects of my favorite images to send to my client.
Today the process of processing files is very different from processing film . The tech is an essential part of the assignment and if you are not using a digital tech YOU are the digital tech going through all the images and processing the files. Don't give this service away and never let your clients think this is a free service. The real work starts after the job when you have to edit images via Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One Pro or Aperture. Editing transparency film was a much faster process and in many ways more enjoyable, but digital is a big part of our lives and the standard for many photographers today. If you spend hours editing, tweaking and processing your files please make sure you are charging for you time or you will soon be out of business.
I am so grateful for my digital tech's and all the hard work they do to make my life easier! To all my tech's, assistants and interns. Thank you!
Friday, February 25, 2011
Best Photography on the Web
I had a very wonderful review from a reader and follower on Twitter from Munich, Germany and I want to also share his review. Thank you Bruno!
“10 Ways to Use One Light Source”
Recently I’ve been spending quite some time with the work of Matthew Jordan Smith. Apart from a boatload of breathtaking images, Matthew’s also got a voice at least as soothing as Bob Ross’… Don’t believe me? Check out this video of Matthew talking about his favorite paper:
I digress. Sorry about that. Anyway, Matthew has also made a couple of instructional presentations on how he made some of his images. I rarely buy instructional videos and the like, mainly because I’ve found that few are actually worth the money. In Matthew’s case I gladly made an exception though. Matthew offers several videos / presentations on his website, each selling for $12,95. I decided to start out with “10 Ways to Use One Light Source”.
“10 Ways to Use One Light Source” is a 20-minute presentation taking the viewer through 10 images shot with one light. Each shot is presented along with a lighting diagram and Matthew talking you through the setup step by step. While 20 minutes may not sound like much, it’s 20 minutes packed with actual information free of unnecessary junk or other distractions. This may disappoint the armchair photographers who prefer talking about photography instead of actually doing it, but it’s perfect for those of us who actually want to apply the things they learn.
Here’s a short clip from another one of Matthew’s presentations so you can get an idea what they are like:
“Just” One Light
As a photographer, one easily gets into this more light equals better light mindset. It’s not so much about the look, it’s more about the feeling of security you get from putting up a truckload of lights, thinking “Guys, I’m trying to make a masterpiece here, this can’t be simple.”
There are actually two things wrong with this mindset. First, a great shot can definitely be simple. And second, lighting an image with just one light can be anything but.
Deconstructing other people’s images is something I do every day, trying to figure out the way an image was shot, the number and position of lights and other important elements. I have to admit that I was often quite surprised that all these images were actually done with “only” one light.
Assisting for other photographers is possibly the best way to learn your craft. You’re able to see the shot being put together from scratch, learn about the way the photographer thinks and -if you pay attention- you can pick up some of those little tricks good photographers use constantly. While no video or book or presentation can teach you as much as a day spent assisting for a good photographer, Matthew’s presentation goes a long way in putting you in that spot.
It’s not so much about the general setup. If you look at a photo, you can usually tell by the reflections in the subject’s eyes and the shadows on their face, where the light is coming from. What you don’t see, however, is the little things that shape the final image from a raw shot into a brilliant one. Here’s where things like reflectors, v-flats and mirrors come into play. It’s also where you find out that “just” one light can be surprisingly complex and versatile.
I learned a lot from this presentation and -more importantly- I’ll be coming back to it for reference whenever I’m about to do something in this style. At $12,95 you shouldn’t be hesitating.
Link to actual review: Bruno Axhausen
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
It's the last night in Vegas and while most of the 15,000 photographer who are here for the WPPI photo convention are out celebrating the last night of the convention, I am in my hotel room prepping for my shoot on Thursday back in Los Angeles. Research is a critical part when it comes to creating powerful images and well worth the time. The return on your time investment is greater when you spend time working on the visuals you intend to create BEFORE you go out to shoot. Often times many of us invest our time on things that don't render a return or if they do it's not a great return. Today think about how you spend your time and discover the things that give the biggest return from your time. Once you've established what those things are, dedicate more of your time to those things for a bigger return on your time investment and more joy in your life.
Tonight I pulled images found from my research to put a storyboard together to submit to my client. The assignment will be shot on the beach with natural light. The only request my client has is to push the envelope to make it sexy and hot. Not a bad assignment at all to have as I love shooting on the beach and creating sexy images. One the images are public I will share them here but in the meantime if you'd like to learn more about shooting in natural light check out my latest video titled "Ten Ways to Create Natural Light Portraits" available in the Gallery Store.
Always Dream Big
Monday, February 21, 2011
Every day we see images of slick fashion & beauty ads on billboards, magazines, web magazines and more, but few of us know what goes into bringing those images to life. The crew, or team behind the scenes work long and hard to make all my images come to life and I'd like to dedicate this post to them. My hard working team of makeup artist, hair stylist, wardrobe stylist, prop stylist, photo assistants, producers, agents and interns. Thank you all for making my life easier, because without you my work would not be what it is. Thank you!
These images are a glimpse into the moments before a recent shoot with a client this month in Los Angeles. To learn more about shooting on location with natural light click the following link: "Ten Ways to Create Natural Light Portraits".
Always Dream Big!
People often comment on this photograph and ask me how it was done. To be honest it is fairly easy to achieve this look in your portraits if you follow one simple task. Learn each of the lens you own and experiment shooting them wide open. What do I mean by "shooting wide open"? If your lens is considered a fast lens the widest F-stop will be 2.8, 2.0, or even 1.2. on the opposite end of wide open is shooting all the way closed down, which is F 16, 22. Today I want to talk about shooting wide open and the benefits of this.
Once you have determined the fastest F stop your lens is capable of you can experiment by shooting at F 2.0, 2.8 or F4.0, depending on your camera and lens. Practice by focusing on only the eyes of your subject and you will be surprised how beautiful your portraits will start to look.
Today I am speaking at the WPPI Convention in Las Vegas and I will touch on this subject and show the results of it as I shoot on stage. If you are in town for this international photo convention please come by the Sony booth and hear myself along with other great photographers, Brian Smith, Me Ra Koh, David Mclain and Sara France as we share information to help you become a better photographer.
To learn more about other techniques I use in photography check out the instructional video's in the Gallery Store at the following link:
Instructional Videos include:
Ten Ways to Use One Light Source
Ten Ways to Create Natural Light Portriats
How to Work with Complex Lighting Situations
The Secret to Making Creative Photographs
I hope to see you soon and "Always Dream Big"!
Sunday, February 20, 2011
India is a place I fell in love with years ago while traveling. Today I'd like to share a way we can all band together to help children around the world through photography.
From now on every time you purchase an instructional photography videos, ebook, or limited edition prints from my store a portion of the sale will go to "Kids with a Cause Europe" and go towards helping kids in India and Romania. Dr. Suciu Horatiu is performing life-saving operations on children born with heart disease and money from Kids with a Cause helps him in his efforts. The Veerni Project is a facility for girls in Rajasthan, India and helps young girls live a better life through education and training. There are so many things we can do as photographer to give back and this is only one way. I donated photographs to this organization to have an exhibit in Switzerland and the sale from the exhibit went to the charity. Today think about what you can do to help other through your photography.
Photography is more powerful today than ever before, and now while you learn through one of the products mentioned below you are also helping kids around the world. What can be better than that!
Click on links below for products.
Instructional Photography Videos
Limited Edition Prints
Always Dream Big
Saturday, February 19, 2011
This Monday-Wednesday I will share my thoughts on "how to create iconic photographs", and speak on "social media and photography" at the WPPI convention in Las Vegas. Come see me at the Sony booth!
Monday at 12:30pm & 2:00pm!
Friday, February 18, 2011
One of my favorite subjects last year was the very talented Alyson Stoner. We shot two days in a row working in all types of situations ranging from using natural light outdoors to shooting silhouettes to working in studio. During our shoot she sung, laughed and talked about her friendship with young heart throb Taylor Lautner . It was great hearing the stories and then this morning seeing them together as she interviews him on their way to an event.
Very often my shoots will incorporate many different types of scenarios regarding lighting but my training prepared me to deal with all types of situations. Today you can learn in a much easier way than I did simple by checking out one of many channels available to you on line or my purchasing instructional videos. The only thing better than learning to master what you love, is doing so while at the same time helping others. I believe it's essential to give back when you are blessed so I am happy to announce that from every sale of my video's I will give a portion to a different charity each year. This year the charity I have decided to give to is "Kids With A Cause Europe" based in Switzerland. They are a wonderful organization that helps children all over the world and currently working on a project called "Shirts Off Our Backs". Today I am contacting Alyson Stoner and asking her to give a shirt off her back to have auctioned off for the charity. Today you have the opportunity to learn more about photography and at the same time help kids all over the world.
All Instructional Video's are only 12.95 each and a portion of that will go to charity.
1) Ten Ways to Use One Light Source
2) Ten Ways to Create Natural Light Portraits
3) The Secret to Making Creative Photographs
4) How to Work With Complex Lighting Situations
5) Successful: How I Turned My Dreams Into Reality
Great website to Learn more about photography:
2) Creative Live
3) Going Pro
4) Skips Summer School
Thursday, February 17, 2011
It's time to prep for your next photo shoot. What are the types of things you do to prepare?
I just finished an all day shoot yesterday that went deep into the evening and now preparing for a shoot tomorrow as well. One of the first things I do before a shoot is think about how I will express my idea's to my client. When I'm working with a subject who is not comfortable or familiar with being in front of the camera I try to have visual aids for them, so in prepping for tomorrow's shoot I am going through my books of idea's to help guide my subject. I also want to make sure I have all the necessary gear needed to complete my assignment.
In terms of camera's, lens, accessories and such all check out, but I needed an extra set of 'auto poles" and fresh no seam paper. In NYC auto poles are very common, but on the west coast they seem to be a little known secret. My new intern and I went to purchase a set yesterday and the first salesman at Samy's didn't know what they were. We finally found someone who did and they the sales person told us we HAD to get two accessories to go with it or they wouldn't work. I was shocked to hear this since I've used them since 1986, probably before this sales person was born. I quickly corrected her and told her she was giving in correct information but she told me she'd worked for Samy's camera for three years and knew what she was talking about. I just smiled purchased what I needed and walked out.
As my new intern learned yesterday, a lot of camera salesmen are not always the best people to ask about photography gear because they are not making a living shooting. To really learn photography seek advise from those who are in the field working day to day producing work.
I've been asked to do a new video relating to working with natural light that's applicable to a wider range of photographers like portrait, wedding, high school senior, etc. I am happy to announce the new video is available in the Gallery Store. "Ten Ways to Create Natural Light Portraits" shares my 24 years of experience shooting all over the world in many different situations and how to work with natural light.
This one is a must if you love shooting outside with natural light!
Next week is WPPI in Las Vegas and I will speak for Sony each day, Monday - Wednesday! If you're in town please stop by and say hi!
Always Dream Big!
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Today I saw a post on Twitter and Facebook with the following:
By Photographer Matthew Jordan Smith. The inspiration that this book packs partnered with extraordinary photographs by Matthew is phenomenal. Also, a wonderful read as we celebrate Black History Month. Thanks Matthew for sharing your wisdom and talent with us.
I’ve been having some deep discussions with other photographers lately about the need for shooters to develop good technique. In the midst of these discussions though I remembered something from my one and only art class in college – There is no technique without expression.
My art teacher believed that pretty much anyone who really wanted to could learn the technique required to provide decent deliverables in any artistic endeavor. I have seen this myself. When teaching brand new photographers, they very quickly run up the ladder from rungs one through nine. They acquire decent technique if they apply themselves. But going from rung nine to 10 – well that’s a different animal all together.
Technique leads to craftsmanship if you’re really talented and really apply yourself. And in the eyes of my art teacher, the next step is expression. My teacher said you need to learn technique not in and of itself, but as a means of expression. It was at this moment that I first started developing my long-held theory that the creative photographer is really a storyteller. This is where that idea was born for me. It’s very ethereal. Some of you may be rolling your eyes at me right now saying “Not another post about storytelling!” But I do think this is important. I also think it’s very hard to describe let alone teach. Hence, the reason for today’s post.
My charge to you is simple. Don’t just learn camera or photo technique. Learn it as part of a means to an end. Learn it so that you can more fully express your own inner, authentic vision. See what you need to see. Practice in your medium. Develop technique and THEN think about what is important to you. The next step is developing craftsmanship and THEN you’ll be on your way to truly, honestly and openly expressing yourself as a photographer.
I hope you all had a great Valentines Night and that the love you shared continues each and every day. The only thing in life that will last is love. Show it, share it, be it.
Monday, February 14, 2011
With today's amazing camera we have the ability to do almost anything. We can photograph a bullet if we want and freeze the action. However just because we have the ability to freeze the moment doesn't always mean we should.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Tonight is the Grammy's and the person I'm most interested in seeing is my friend, Aretha Franklin. I've spoken this week to her people and they have all asked me to make sure to watch because she's lost so much weight and looks quite amazing. We are working on the next opportunity she has to shoot and I hope its soon.
Friday, February 11, 2011
This was a great week starting with a cool post by Scott Bourne and his PhotoFocus blog. I had a few great shoots with new clients and I'm looking forward to sharing images from all of them here soon.
If there is one question that is asked by my assistant's on every job it would be this, "What f-stop do you want to shoot"? The answer to that question depends on many different factors, like if I want everything in focus or just a small element in my image; does my subject have great skin or does he or she have problem skin? Is the focus of my shot the person or something they are wearing? After I determine what the focus of my assignment is I can decide what F-stop is best for my shoot to achieve the look and feel I'm going for.
Monday, February 7, 2011
Being creative is a gift, and many of us have this gift hidden deep inside of us. Most young children show incredible signs of creativity but as we get older it seems to fade away and vanish. Is the gift gone or is it simple hidden?