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...
Have All Your Holiday Pictures Become The Same? Try Telling A Photo Story

Have All Your Holiday Pictures Become The Same? Try Telling A Photo Story

The holiday season is in full swing and for many of us it is a time to spend with friends and family, some of whom we may not get to see often. Is it great to have that group shot of long lost friends or 3 generations of family in one frame? YES! But why not test your skills this year at telling a photographic story. Follow these simple steps to communicate just how beautiful, exciting, or sentimental your time was spent over the holidays. Doing so just might jog those memories ever more clearly in the years to come and leave you with something to always cherish. The Checklist A good way to start is by considering what your story or angle will be before you even pick up a camera. Plan ahead the shots which will be most critical, whether they are portraits or wide angle landscapes, that best tell your story. Having a loosely memorized shot list will increase your chances of capturing those key moments as they arise, since there will be many distractions while you shoot. Follow the Same Rules as Writing Whether you are blogging, sharing on social media, making a scrapbook, or submitting for publication your viewers will need to understand the context of your pictures. As you shoot, remember the who, what, when, where, and why. Your goal is to explain to viewers the reasons for your subject’s actions. Variety is the Spice of Life To tell a bigger more compelling story, shoot the subject or event from a range of viewpoints. Understanding beforehand how you would like your photographs to be read...
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...
Getting Started: Environmental Portraits

Getting Started: Environmental Portraits

Portrait photography is a very common entry port into a burgeoning photographic hobby or even career. There are several main categories of portrait photography, environmental portraits being one of the first attempted due to its accessibility. To accomplish a successful environmental portrait you do not need a studio, elaborate lighting techniques, or hair and make-up specialists. What you do need, however, is a vision or a story that you wish to tell that works in balance with the subject you are photographing. Read on to find out what to keep in mind when first embarking on this style of photography to increase your success of creating impactful photographs. Let’s first start by explaining what we mean when the term ‘Environmental Portrait’ is thrown around. It is a portrait taken of a subject that interacts and has meaning with the environment it is in. The portrait not only relies on the subject but also the context, clues, and points of interest which are given to the viewer to determine a background story. What is the difference between an environmental portrait, standard portrait, and candid portrait you ask? A standard portrait’s intention is to focus solely on the subject, relying on expression, physical characteristics, and lighting to communicate an impression. The difference with an environmental portrait, as the name suggests, is setting. It is generally shot with a wider lens to include more context of the scene, and offers the subject an environment that can put them at ease, sharing the attention with their surroundings. There can be a fine line between an environmental portrait and a candid photograph which is dependent on circumstance. The subject, whether a planned session or someone who has...
22 Fall Photographs That Will Inspire You to Get Out and Shoot

22 Fall Photographs That Will Inspire You to Get Out and Shoot

Fall is the photographer’s dream season and we asked photographers both experienced and new to share fall photos that we hope will inspire you. From traditional landscapes, to football, and autumn weddings, here is what fall means to these shooters. Learn what they used to capture the scene and gather ideas for your own adventures. We’d love to see your fall photography in the comments below. Enjoy your journey this fall and shoot, shoot, shoot before the color...
SmugMug Films Showcase the World’s Most Exciting Photographers

SmugMug Films Showcase the World’s Most Exciting Photographers

We are ecstatic about the new SmugMug Film series that showcases the world’s most epic and exciting photographers working today. The dedication and drive of these photographers is demonstrated in the short videos that give a behind-the-lens look at the people who capture beauty and wonder each day with their cameras. Each video is hand made by SmugMug’s very own staff using some of BL’s gear. They sometimes brave harsh conditions in order to capture the spirit of the photographer’s working style – other times they get to bask in the sun and absorb some of the fun that photographers help create. SmugMug created this series to inspire passion and encourage you to get out and push yourself to new photographic limits. SmugMug Films was created to inspire, celebrate, and share the love for the the art of photography. The featured photographers have pushed all limits to pursue a passion and capture images of raw beauty in unimaginable places. Check out more of the amazing photographers of the world by subscribing to SmugMug Films’ YouTube channel to get first access to each new episode. Watch these extraordinary people follow their dream to create breathtaking images that stop us in our tracks. The next time you are lacking photography inspiration check out some of these SmugMug Films to get your creativity flowing and challenge yourself to a new...
Stock Photography that Gives Back: Winners of the Call to Action Contest

Stock Photography that Gives Back: Winners of the Call to Action Contest

StudentStock isn’t your average stock photography site. It’s populated by imagery created by students of all ages and a certain percentage of the proceeds goes towards scholarships. Started by a couple of photography teachers, StudentStock is a launchpad for students who are creating great work but need a platform for selling. It helps beginning photographers grow their skills, develop a sense of what sells, and, ultimately, be a part of the stock photography marketplace that is often so hard to find success in. The following photographers are on that path to success. They recently won the Call to Action photo contest, put on by StudentStock with support from BorrowLenses. See their winning entries below! 1st Place: Kirk Yarnell – California State University, East Bay Taken in Bend, Oregon during a roundup, Yarnell captured this back in 1994 so, yes kids, this was taken on film! Yarnell has been shooting since 1980 and currently lives in Mt. Shasta, California. 2nd Place: Shannon Fuller – Butte College Fuller tried to get this shot with 4 different dogs before getting the exact one she was looking for. She used a Nikon 70-200mm to capture this moment from a distance to avoid getting soaked herself! She froze the action at 1/1600th of a second. 3rd Place: Ben Meester – Butte College After a storm, Meester set out to one of his favorite back-country spots in Tahoe to get this shot. He used a Canon 14mm for an effective vista of the first run of the day. Runner Up: Aaron Alvarez – Santa Ann College Taken at Newport Beach, CA with a Canon 5D...
Visual Vitamin D: Inspiration for Spring Shooting

Visual Vitamin D: Inspiration for Spring Shooting

Longer days, weddings, and vacations – there is a lot to look forward to in spring (unless you’re a night-photographing curmudgeon workaholic – you know who you are). Here are some inspirational images from our friends that exude “spring” to them in their own way. Hopefully they will inspire you to stay out late (or stay inside the studio – the sun is overrated anyway) and shoot, shoot, shoot! “For me, spring means I’m one step closer to being able to shoot outdoors underwater again. Cast off the shackles of winter and stuff them away with your winter coat and boots! Rejoice that you no longer have to stress about your car not being plugged in overnight and you can use those precious neurotransmitters dreaming up new ways to break your creative mold. Spring is for new growth, so try new things and push your limits!” – Renee Robyn “Spring is a time of rebirth and regrowth. The weather, so often inclement, forces many to stay inside. Explore during those brief moments when the weather pauses. Discover unique and interesting ways to compose something that you know has been photographed before. Use the built up energy of waiting for winter to end to explore with new eyes and new creativity. And don’t forget to look somewhere on the ground near you for all of that water that has been falling from the sky to reflect that momentary break.” – Jay Goodrich “Once during a cold winter I decided I wanted to photograph some beauty shots by a blooming tree. Then spring came. I watched trees getting dressed in gorgeous colorful...
Capturing the Surf: an Interview with Photographer Seth Migdail

Capturing the Surf: an Interview with Photographer Seth Migdail

Seth Migdail is a surf photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. A regular at Mavericks, his work has been featured in a number of outlets, including Surfline.com and theinertia.com. I sat down with Seth to talk about his work, his process, and what it takes to break into the insular surfing community. How did you get started in photography? I grew up as an artist, doing drawing and painting. I found photography in college, and ended up dumping two years worth of art school and pursued that. I have a fine art background, a BFA in photography, so I came up in the analog world. I shot a lot of large format, medium format – that’s how I got started. Back then, in fine-art school, you take a lot of time to try and find your identity. It took me a while, but I eventually did. I did a lot of documentary photography, what I’d call “social landscapes.” I got a solid foundation in the craft that way. I also did a lot of work in the studio. What is your favorite subject, and why? Definitely surfing. I found surfing when I moved out to California. Growing up in New York, I hadn’t surfed at all, and I only discovered it when I moved up to San Luis Obispo. I’d actually put photography aside for a few years and kinda became a surf bum down there. When I moved up to the Bay Area, I suffered an injury that kept me out of the water, and I started shooting again. At the time, Mavericks was just re-forming...