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...
10 Wicked Portraits and Halloween Shooting Tips

10 Wicked Portraits and Halloween Shooting Tips

Fall is the landscape photographer’s dream season but Halloween is when portrait photographers get all of the fun! Check out the images below, plus gain some shooting tips from working photographers. Let the shapes and shadows of the night inspire you and have a safe and happy Halloween from everyone at BorrowLenses! Niki’s Tip: Shoot multiple exposures right after sunset during blue hour to combine a moody atmosphere and a sharp subject. Use exposure blending in post processing for a great effect. Allie’s Tip: Use a 5-in-1 light modifier to create light for all tones. It will ensure that white balance is on cue while you’re developing that fall feeling surrounding the child/subject. Julia’s Tip: Plan your shoots in advance and brief your team at least a few days prior to the shoot. Often makeup artists and hairstylists are willing to purchase additional tools, products, makeup colors, or even hair extensions to get better creative results. Give them some extra time to do their shopping – the entire team will benefit from it! Renee’s Tip: Learning to see color accurately is very difficult and time consuming. Pick up books on color theory, attend a painting class, or hang out with painters who understand it well. Your art will appreciate it in the future. Alex’s Tip: Use slow shutter speeds to gather moody ambient light and then compensate for motion blur with flash. Emerald’s Tip: Have a kid who hates having their photo taken? Put them in a villain costume and take advantage of the abundant attitude. My kid actually enjoys her sessions for once when sneers, snarls, and wiggling are welcome! Jamie’s Tip:...
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) –...
10 Essential Tips To Get Great Blue Angels Photos

10 Essential Tips To Get Great Blue Angels Photos

This weekend is Fleet Week here in San Francisco and given numerous emails I’ve received about photographing the event I thought I would consolidate my tips to photographing the Blue Angels. Following these 10 Blue Angels photography tips as originally found on my blog  should put you on the fast track to walking away with some great photos. Logistics – Be Prepared In San Francisco that means get to the show very early. Parking is always a challenge and will test your patience. Don’t let the search for parking ruin your day. If you want to avoid that aggravation then take public transportation and/or park far away. Bring a lunch or a snack. Get the nutrients and fluids you need in your system ahead of time so you can keep your eye on the show and not your bag of chips. Finding an unobstructed view can be a challenge. Arriving early will not only enable you to find the best location possible but will give you the time to scout out various spots to set up. Know Where Center-Point Is Center-point is the physical location that all Blue Angels maneuvers are centered around. This is the mark they aim to criss cross over and navigate around. For Fleet Week here in San Francisco that point is in front of Aquatic Park. Knowing this location is critical if you plan to capture the Blue Angels Criss-Cross maneuver. Location, Location, Location! As with realestate location is everything. In San Francisco for Fleet Week there really isn’t a bad spot. I have taken photos of the Blue Angels from a variety of locations...
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...
Alternative Ways To Photograph Iconic Landmarks

Alternative Ways To Photograph Iconic Landmarks

The sheer volume of iconic imagery is boundless. Although enticing to point your camera and begin clicking away at the first landmark you see, below are some quick tips that will help set you apart from the crowd. Use Foreground to Your Advantage Landscape vistas are awe inspiring and finding a vantage point that grants you an uninterrupted panoramic can yield spectacular photographic opportunities.  However much a majestic view, creating a unique image that differs from others who have shared your view can be right in front of you. Try adding something simple to the foreground of the scene to enhance interest and intrigue to the overall picture. Push yourself to build layers of information that will depict  a story of space and time. Find Symmetry Composing a picture that abstracts a scene is a clever way to shoot more commonly photographed landmarks. Finding patterns or symmetry can give energy and visual organization to the scene as well as directs viewers around the frame. Make It Personal When visiting iconic places, whether they be natural wonders, national landmarks, or even small town trips, it’s important to remember the experience is unique to you. Try incorporating aspects of your personal experience to help encapsulate what was happening at that very moment in time and how you were feeling to later reflect upon and inspire others who may have shared that same feeling. Find A Unique Vantage Point There are some things out there that are undeniably beautiful and despite how many times they have been photographed you just can’t resist to try your hand at it. By finding a unique vantage point that is lesser known, or perhaps needs a...
7 Reasons to Print your Work

7 Reasons to Print your Work

The chances are high if you are reading this article that you are a visual artist to some degree.  Maybe you have years of shooting under your belt, having started off shooting film and familiar with the printing process.  On the flip side, perhaps the popularity and accessibility of digital shooting inspired you to take a deeper interest in photography and filmmaking.  You may even be an artist who strictly uses your smartphone as a tool, yielding results that beg viewers to exclaim  “that takes better pictures than my real camera!” With so many moments being captured digitally and shared virtually these days the popularity of printing and giving life to pictures outside of the digital realm has taken a nose dive.  Here are 7 things you get to experience when you print your images: Signing Your Work Have your experienced countless hours of thinking how to take that singular picture or how to tell a story that just won’t get out of your head? The money and effort it takes you to pull off your unique vision shouldn’t end by posting it on the interwebs.  Printing an image onto fine art archival paper and signing your work of art can generate great satisfaction and act as a symbol of the culmination of hard work it took creating it. Hosting an Art Exchange Do you have amazingly talented friends whose work you enjoy immensely but may exceed your budget when it comes to decorating?  Do you want an excuse to throw a party?  Host an Art Exchange!  Those in attendance are required to print multiple prints of just one work...
How to Keep Your Gear Clean and Protected: Summer Edition

How to Keep Your Gear Clean and Protected: Summer Edition

Summer is full of outdoor excursions, worldwide travel, and photo/video projects which take advantage of the long sunlit hours.  Among all the wonderful outcomes of summer exploration it’s good to keep in mind how to best protect your gear when the tides may turn for the worst. Sea Sand Sun Considering your next photo shoot or outdoor adventure at the beach or on a boat?  Do it!  Just be prepared for the elements.  The beach and open waters are littered with hazards that can be potentially harmful to your gear. Use a UV filter and lens hood to protect your lens from loose sand or sea-spray. Bring an umbrella to shield your bag from blowing sand. Wrap your camera in a plastic bag when not in use. Keep your gear in a shaded place to protect it from intense sun exposure for lengthy stretch of time. Never change lenses or memory cards while on the beach.  If sand finds its way into your camera it could be devastating! If sands makes its way onto your gear use an air blower first to avoid scratching the glass elements before wiping it down with a microfiber cloth. Video tip: bring a wind screen for clean audio Fungus is Among us Summer (and winter for that matter) have varying degrees of temperature changes when going from indoors to outdoors and vice versa.  When gear is involved in this shift, condensation will occur and over time could wreak havoc on sensitive internal mechanisms. Place your camera and lens in a plastic bag when going from AC to humid outdoor weather to ensure condensation...
Breaking the Rules to Get the Most Out of Natural Light

Breaking the Rules to Get the Most Out of Natural Light

In photojournalism school, students are taught to underexpose when out in the field in order to achieve the richest colors and most intense contrast possible in a photograph. The trick, conventional wisdom explains, is to bring the exposure back up in post processing. I shot this way for years and it always treated me well. I’m still a big fan of the ‘underexpose method’ when shooting landscapes and documentary stories. The technique brings out the drama of what you’re trying to capture; old, wrinkly faces look like they belong to lost souls with millions of years of stories to tell, a canyon or mountain scape appears to be straight out of a dream with rainbow-like colors and dark, cloud-filled skies seem to hover over every crevice of the earth. Depth and drama are what this technique creates  — perfect for telling stories with a ‘wow’ effect. After starting my own wedding photography business, I slowly learned how to bend and, even break, the rules. My focus shifted from news stories that break your heart to telling the happiest stories imaginable — family moments of pure joy and love as young couples prepare for their next stage of life together. When photographing a wedding, you are trusted to document one of the most precious moments in a person’s life. I wanted to do these people justice by focusing on the beauty within. By capturing them in just the right light, I knew I could help them see their own beautiful depth radiating out. With this new goal in mind, my style began to morph. I no longer cared as much about the...