1 Easy Way to Guarantee Your Photography Will Improve

1 Easy Way to Guarantee Your Photography Will Improve

How do you make every day count as a photographer? How do you make every day count for yourself? There is 1 major project that thousands of people start every January 1st that improves their lives and it has nothing to do with going to the gym. Photo-a-Day, or 365 Projects, is the secret to success for many photographers of every level. They are fun, challenging, sometimes mundane, sometimes exhilarating, and always a great teacher. Why do people commit to taking a photograph every day for a year – rain or shine, sickness or heath, inspired or not? I will explain the main reasons why Photo-a-Day goals are healthy, what you can do with the results, and how to get started. 3 Reasons to Start Taking 1 Photo Every Day: Presence, Practice, and Purpose Your only requirement for starting a Photo-a-Day project is the desire to participate. There are 3 main reasons photographers make this commitment: Presence, Practice, and Purpose. Let’s look at each one in detail. Presence In art and in life we’re thinking about the next big thing. A Photo-a-Day goal makes you think about right now. Looking for something meaningful, interesting, or even funny to photograph every single day helps to slow down time. Mindfulness gives you heightened awareness of your surroundings and you start seeing the photogenic in everything. Over time, your eye gets better and more discerning which allows you to walk away from every situation with more winning shots than duds. Your everyday environment may look very different to you at the end of the year than it does today. Practice The daily discipline...
Personal Bests of 2014 – Get Inspired and Share Yours

Personal Bests of 2014 – Get Inspired and Share Yours

We celebrate progress on all levels – whether you’re a pro trying to stretch your personal limits or a novice who just learned how to shoot manually. We get better every year that we stick to our photographic and cinematic goals. Here are the personal favorites of 2014 from a variety of our employees, friends, and partners from all backgrounds, styles, and skill levels. Check out the images and videos below, see what they shot with, and get inspired. This is one of Seán Duggan’s favorite images from 2014. He took it while deep inside an ice cave that extended 300 meters back beneath an Iceland glacier. His guide provided the perfect sense of scale for this enormous “room”. This is an HDR blend of 3 exposures shot with a Canon 5D Mark II and a Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 lens. Want to get a shot like this? Join Duggan on his next workshop, Winter Landscapes, Ice Caves, and Auroras, in March, 2015. In his worldwide workshops, Michael Corsentino teaches students how to achieve fashion and glamor portraits like this City Girl Fashion editorial he shot in Brooklyn. Corsentino lit this scene with a Profoto B1 Air Flash and an Elinchrom Deep Octa. His work and travels can be followed on Instagram: @corsentino. Travel dominates every year of Michael Bonocore’s life and 2014 was no exception. He ran the second camera for a SmugMug Films production on the adventures of surf photographer Chris Burkard. Burkard documented a group of surfers braving blizzards, high winds, and freezing temperatures in search of the perfect wave. When Bonocore wasn’t shooting slow motion of Burkard in action on...
Filter Size Guide

Filter Size Guide

Filters are optional accessories that can either be screwed onto, dropped in front of, or dropped into lenses. They are usually made of glass with a metal or plastic frame. We put UV filters on almost all of our lenses going out on rental because even cheap filters help protect the front element during transport. Not keeping them on, or at least putting them back on when shipping back, can cost you! However, most people use filters for artistic reasons. They either want to restrict the amount of light coming into the lens, as in the case of neutral density filters, or they are trying to cut out glare with polarizing filters. There are strong UV filters that cut out visible light in the violet end of the spectrum (reducing haze) and there are graduated filters used to cut down exposure on only part of the frame – and many more! You can even stack them, though we kind of overdo it. Most of the time you’ll be encountering screw-on filters. Make sure you are renting the right size with the right-sized lens. Usually the front element of any lens will tell you its filter size (the lens cap is also telling) but here are some handy guides to help you find the correct pairing: Lens to Filter Chart – Canon with even more information here. Lens to Filter Chart – Nikon with even more information here. Lens to Filter Chart – Sony Lens to Filter Chat – Tamron Lens Chart (see Filter Size column) –...
Lightroom Keywording Tips

Lightroom Keywording Tips

Seán Duggan is a fine art photographer, author, educator, and an Adobe Certified Photoshop Expert with extensive experience in both the traditional and digital darkroom. His Lightroom Viewfinder series provides photographers with the tools they need to effectively use Lightroom for organization, editing, and printing. Lightroom Keywording Tips by Seán Duggan Keywords are an important part of the organizational workflow for maintaining an image archive that is easy to work with, and one where photos can be found quickly. In an earlier article, I covered some basic keyword strategy and concepts for how you might use keywords to add more meaning to your images. In this article, we’ll concentrate on the procedural side of applying keywords with a look at some essential techniques for adding keywords in Lightroom. Apply Keywords on Import The first step in taking full advantage of keywords in Lightroom is to apply them as early in the workflow as possible In the Import dialog there is a place to add keywords in the Apply During Import section in the right panel. Location, event, or client names are all things that can be applied to all of the images on the card (assuming it contains a single shoot). Even if the card contains a mixture of images, you might be able to apply a couple of very general keywords (i.e. Europe, France, travel) that work for all the images on the card. Start Broad, then Narrow the Focus Once the images have been imported you can then apply more specific keywords. Let’s say you have a card full of images taken at several locations in California. The basic location...
Senior Portrait Rules and Resources New Photographers Must Know

Senior Portrait Rules and Resources New Photographers Must Know

Senior portraits have been an American tradition for over a hundred years and were traditionally shot by a school-invited studio where everyone was posed the same way. Today almost anything goes for a senior portrait and that can be lucrative for freelance photographers. If you’re new to senior portrait photography, here are some things to know: 1) Not All Schools Accept Freelance Portraits Before you market too heavily to certain districts, find out which schools contract strictly with certain studios and which ones are more lax. While any student can commission their own senior portraits for ceremony invitations and keepsakes, some schools will only allow the robe-and-cap standard portrait into the actual yearbook. 2) Specs Matter Find out the school’s requirements. Many schools want their yearbook shots to be vertical with no props or hands in-frame. If you’re just taking shots for a senior’s invitations then there are fewer rules to worry about. 3) Consider the Professional School Photographers Association International Particularly suited for those working directly with and for schools, the PSPA provides licensing, insurance options, and handy format guidelines. 4) Prepare to Print Seniors need prints for their ceremony invitations so print sales are a bigger guarantee from this client type. Don’t be caught unprepared! Get print samples and template tests ahead of time and find out how to prepare your files for print. 5) Railroad Shots Are Vetoed Just in case anyone missed the memo, posing your seniors on railroad tracks has been publicly condemned. Even if you’re not easily swayed by public sentiment, know that U.S. railroad tracks are private property. We hope these tips help get...
7 Vacation Shooting Tips for Better Photo Books

7 Vacation Shooting Tips for Better Photo Books

How many times have you been overwhelmed by the number of pictures you took while traveling? Most of the time we take pictures without planning ahead for how we’re going to use them. Countless memorable vacations are taken and photography keepsake books are never made. Here are some things to keep in mind while shooting on the road. These tricks will help you narrow down your best images so that you can create a compelling and cherished photo book. 1) Think in Scene Pairs There are only a few eye-catching ways to display photos in albums and related pairs is among one of the strongest tactics. Shoot the same action, person, landmark, or event in a series of pairs – near/far, back/front, detail/scene. 2) Go Wide Angle Usually we think of books as having 1 photo on each page. Go for a spread across 2 pages. It is impactful and breaks up monotony. 3) No Captions Needed – Explain Your Experience Visually Show a process with a sequence of images that better define what is happening rather than relying on written explanations. Just 1 picture of an event might not be enough to explain what is happening – show detail in addition to context. 4) Create Your Own Traditions A series of images framed the same way in different environments look great in print. Take them all on one trip or make it a tradition that lasts through years of traveling. 5) Orient Yourself and Your Viewer You won’t remember as much as you think you will. Take pictures of maps, billboards, and other important information and include them...
The Importance of Being Archived

The Importance of Being Archived

Our friends at SmugMug really care about photography and the importance of taking pictures in everyday life. This is part 2 of a 3 part series on improving your online life as a photographer, whether that is by improving your website or backing up your files. Here are some tips on how to avoid a personal, digital meltdown and keep your memories safe against fire, flood, hard drive crashes, and other unexpected blips in the matrix. SmugMug’s 9 Must-Haves for a Successful Photography Website reprinted with permission  We see so many websites each and every day and love hearing about how people are using their online websites and how having an online presence affects so much of what they do. Not long ago we shared 6 top mistakes people make when they put together a website but this time we’re addressing a topic that most people probably don’t want to even consider: backing up your photo and video files. A hard demon to face but we’ll show you why it pays to prepare for a potential doomsday disaster. The Worst-Case Scenario Imagine this: you’re booting up your laptop, ready to email your recent trip photos to your friends, and all of a sudden you get the BSOD. In one split second, poof! Your hard drive is gone. As you wipe the sweat from your face, you realize – oh no! All the photos and videos I shot, all the things that I lived and saw in those two weeks abroad, those were the only copies I had. And they’re gone. Forever. Why Back Up? The subject of backing up your files...