The Insider’s Guide to Choosing a Wedding Photographer

The Insider’s Guide to Choosing a Wedding Photographer

As we approach wedding season, brides, grooms, and photographers alike work to assemble seamless itineraries leading up to the big day. I have firsthand experience speaking with a wide variety of wedding photographers regarding their client relationships and have embarked on my own year-long wedding planning experience. Here are a few tips I have learned by being both the client and the photographer. Choose a Style There are a lot of talented photographers out there, each with a particular style. Look at the work of the photographers in your area and gauge what you are most immediately and instinctively drawn to. This will greatly help narrow down your choices. Here are some examples: Traditional Photographers: Heavier on posed photos with a pre-planned shot list. Good for couples who don’t want too many surprises or who need the logistical organization of a shot list (good for large parties). Usually everyone at the wedding is well captured with a traditional photographer. Photojournalistic Photographers: A record of the day with little to no pre-planning. Emphasizes fleeting moments, energy, and emotion. Rituals, like cake-cutting, sometimes get skipped in favor of capturing a candid smile. Focus is on the couple at the sacrifice, sometimes, of the wedding party as a whole. Artistic/Illustrative Photographers: Similar to traditional photographers as far as coverage goes but with updated shooting styles. Results will be more stylized and can include dramatic lighting, unorthodox posing, unusual backgrounds, and extreme angles. Film Photographers: A growing trend among wedding photographers is to harken back to pre-DSLR days and shoot film. Borrowlenses’ own Sohail Mamdani’s wedding was shot entirely on film. There are...
Photographing Your Dinner: Restaurant Dos and Don’ts

Photographing Your Dinner: Restaurant Dos and Don’ts

Are you a food-for-pleasure type of person?  If the answer is yes, then I can say with confidence that we may all be guilty of snapping a few pics of our meals from time to time. Some of us seek out new and exciting restaurants that offer avant-garde food and interior design.  Others rejoice in old school pleasures of down home diners and off-the-beaten-path food attractions. Whatever your guilty pleasure is, here are a few tips and tricks to heighten your “foodie” photography. 1) Ask Your Server if Photography is OK Chefs tend to be fun and playful characters with creativity in the kitchen that at times can inspire more than just an appetite. Food has long been photographed but taking pictures when your food arrives to the table is a newer fad. According to the New York Times, there has been a growing backlash of taking pictures of your meals while dining out. Restaurants and Chefs have been “burned” by disruptive behavior that interrupts the dining experience and have discovered less-than-appetizing images of their dishes online. This has become a big enough problem that there is an upswing in restaurants who have put restrictions on the photography allowed to be taken – even stealthily on your phone. This movement has gone as far as banning people from taking pictures inside the restaurant all together! The best way to avoid any embarrassment, as well as increase your level of comfort if you are moved to photograph your meal, would be to ask your server first.  The establishment will appreciate your consideration and will most often give you the thumbs up....
7 Tips for Better Compositions

7 Tips for Better Compositions

John Cooper specializes in corporate, industrial, and commercial photography for various business communities in Texas and teaches basic skills to other burgeoning photographers. If you are just starting out, or looking for a refresher, check out his advice below. 7 Tips for Better Compositions by John Cooper What makes one photo better than another?  Good photographs have compositions comprised of visual elements that abide by certain design principles.  Photography, it is said, is the subjective application of objective tools. Here is a cheat sheet on how to get better photographs. It is not an analysis of art theory or physics.  However, I urge you to research those topics if your passion is photography. In the meantime, here are 7 quick ways to make better photos.  You “make” photos, by the way – you do not merely “take” them. You Can’t Fix Blur Yes, we can put a man on the moon but we still cannot focus a blurred image.  The rule of thumb for hand-held shots is to use a shutter speed that is faster than the reciprocal of the lens’ focal length.  Using a 200mm telephoto, for example, would require you to use faster than a 1/200th second shutter speed.  A 50mm would require faster than 1/50th and so on.  Image stabilization has changed this up to 2 stops but it’s not worth the risk, in my opinion.  Remember, you can’t fix blur no matter what version of Photoshop you may have.  Increase your ISO and/or open you aperture or use a tripod.  Do whatever it takes to get tack sharp focus every time the shutter actuates. Understand...
6 Website Mistakes You’re Probably Making Right Now

6 Website Mistakes You’re Probably Making Right Now

Our friends over at SmugMug.com help photographers from all walks of life put their best memories into beautiful and safe photography websites. They have seen every kind of website, from breathtaking portfolios to always-under-construction blunders. To kick off a new blog series of photography website tips and tricks, SmugMug lists the most commonly made mistakes of the website world. Avoid these and you’ll be on the right track toward making a good first impression! 6 Website Mistakes You’re Probably Making Right Now by Schmoo Theune So you’ve put your photos online? Great! At SmugMug we believe photos are best when shared, even if it’s only with a few people you really trust. Many of us love to make new connections by building a fully public website but to throw open your door to opportunity (or profit), you’ve got to have the right combination of personality and presentation. Your personality is ultimately up to you but as website builders we’ve got a few tips to help you get the most presentable, functional, online home possible. We’ve seen thousands of websites by photographers who shoot all kinds of stuff so we’ve compiled a few of the most common website bloopers we help customers eradicate every single day. 1) The Dead-End Hello: Zero Contact Information This is one of the most common mistakes we see. You may have done everything right and created a beautiful website but what happens if your visitors love your work and want to hire you? So many websites have great photos on them but zero personality, such as an email address, a personal photo, or even a brief bio....
Microadjustment for Lens and Camera Front/Back Focusing Issues

Microadjustment for Lens and Camera Front/Back Focusing Issues

All lenses and cameras that return to one of our two headquarters are tested and cleaned by our Receiving Team. Sometimes a lens, in particular, will go out on a rental and need to be replaced by another one from our stock because of focusing issues. The majority of these re-tested lenses end up having nothing wrong with them. Here is an explanation for why this happens and how you can dig deeper into the settings of your camera so that you get the most out of not only rental lenses but your own stock of glass as well. Mass Manufacturing and Range of Accuracy All cameras and lenses are manufactured within certain tolerances. This means that a camera or lens is considered in spec if it falls within a certain range of accuracy. Every manufacturer is different. Sometimes a lens that is front or back focusing +/-3 is considered within normal operating quality. Other manufacturers are more stringent. What Is Front/Back Focusing? Front focusing is when the focus falls in front of your intended subject and back focusing is when the focus falls behind your intended subject. Most of the time this is caused by the user. Barring user error, a lens could be tested at -2 and back focusing slightly or tested at +1 and front focusing slightly. Both are considered within the range of normalcy. Cameras compound the issue. Sometimes, a lens can be back focusing slightly and that is not a problem. But if it is mounted on a camera that is also back focusing slightly then you are now shooting outside the range of spec....
5 Resources to Help Protect Your Photography

5 Resources to Help Protect Your Photography

In an ideal world you will not have to use some of these resources to protect yourself against image theft. However, the use of OPP (other people’s photography) is rampant – sometimes out of malice and sometimes because of a simple misunderstanding or lack of research. Here are 5 things to explore to help you protect your work in the first place and what to do if something unlawful happens to it. Copyright Your Work For $55 a batch (as of this writing, updated July 2014), you can have your photographs registered for copyright. Register Yourself as a Photographer For free you can register yourself with PPA so that others can find you when they are interested in duplicating your work. If you are an ASMP member, you can also get into their Find a Photographer database. Additionally, register yourself with the Plus Registry, which is also a great resource for all things licensing related. Keep Your Rights Nearby Know your rights as a photographer without having a lawyer on speed dial. A U.S. attorney has put together a handy printout to refer to if confronted for taking pictures (UK version here). Prepare to Write a Nastigram Sending a DMCA takedown notice is scary. DMCA Info makes it a little less daunting with plenty of info, including a notice template. Where applicable, you can also request items to be removed from Google products, including a subsection requesting the removal of items because of copyright violation. Further protect yourself with a free account on Lenstag, a gear registry that also offers free DMCA and Model Release documents as well as optional...
Working With Magic Lantern RAW Files

Working With Magic Lantern RAW Files

In case you missed it, we started carrying a version of the Canon 5D Mark III modified with the Magic Lantern firmware modification last year. One of the really cool features of this tweaked body is that you can now shoot 1080p video in RAW format. Still shooters know what this means: better control over white balance and a file that stands up to post-processing really well. RAW is still something of a new bag for video shooters working with DSLRs, however, and there are a few things you should know when you start working with RAW files from the 5D Mark III. Making the Magic Lantern RAW File Usable Let’s start with this: The RAW file you get from the 5D isn’t immediately editable. It’s a single file with a .RAW suffix that none of the popular video editors, neither Final Cut nor Premiere, currently recognize without additional plugins like GingerHDR. So you have to modify this file to work with it. The converters for Magic Lantern RAW files essentially do one thing: they take a single RAW file and split it into a sequence of image files in either DNG, TIF, or JPEG files. Your video clip is then available to you as a folder full of hundreds or thousands of single images, each one representing a single frame of footage. That’s not ideal in that you now have a fairly large number of files to manage, but it’s not too difficult to work with them. But first, you have to get to that point where you have those hundreds of files. For this, you have a...
5 Important Photography Business Tips to Start the Year Off Right

5 Important Photography Business Tips to Start the Year Off Right

The holidays are prime season for getting new cameras and lenses. It is also when photographers take stock of their images as well as their income and expenses. Here are 5 important recourses for any business-minded photographer, whether you’re a seasoned shooter looking to hone your business skills or a complete novice who wants to get a jump start on organizing their future. • Never Shoot for Free In this interview with freelance photographer Court Leve, you’ll discover how important it is to find financial value in your work as well as artistic value. • Register Your Gear Insuring your camera equipment is essential but did you know you can also register it for free? Register your serials online with Lenstag and it will send out indexed alerts in the unfortunate event that your gear gets stolen. • Prepare for Taxes One of the less celebrated rewards of owning your own business is having to file taxes for it. Fortunately, there is a lot of online help! • Manage Your Time In the Nutritional Facts of Photography, Jay Cassario breaks down how much time you can expect to spend on each task as a freelance photographer. • Update Your Site SmugMug share some of the rules to a successful website no matter who you used to host your images. We hope these tips will help you reach your goals in the coming year! Want more? Visit the blog every week for great advice, tricks, and even special offers on photography, videography, lighting, and more! Cover Image: “Jump!” by John Loo is licensed under CC...
SmugMug’s 9 Must-Haves for a Successful Photography Website

SmugMug’s 9 Must-Haves for a Successful Photography Website

  Having a website to showcase your work on, or to allow potential clients to contact you through, is essential. Whether your website is simple and self made, a completely customized WordPress, or a template from SmugMug, there are some basics that all sites need to include in order to be successful. Here are SmugMug’s 9 must-haves for any photography website. SmugMug’s 9 Must-Haves for a Successful Photography Website reprinted with permission  These days, everyone has a website and we think they’re great. But how do you know exactly what your friends, family and fans are really thinking when they see it? And if you’re a pro making money from your craft: Are you sure that your site is doing everything it can to get you clients and seal the deal? How much business are you losing from silly mistakes? After browsing tons of sites and hearing the advice from our marvelous team of Support Heroes, we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you get the best, most effective and appealing website you  possibly can. Period. 1) Your Contact Information Omitting or hiding ways for people to reach you is a grave mistake, one that you may not even know you’re making. Think it through: If someone finds your site and wants to talk with you, how would they do it? If you forget to include your contact information (or hide it several clicks deep), would you expect them to spend more than 5 minutes hunting for it before they give up? Chances are you don’t even have that long before they move on. It’s true that putting your email address...
5 Lies Your Camera Likes to Tell

5 Lies Your Camera Likes to Tell

Think your camera is your best friend? Think again. Heed these 5 warnings and better equip yourself with the knowledge needed to walk away with better images! Your camera is a marvel of amazing technology but you still need to use your brain when you shoot. Even if you’re in full Auto mode, don’t assume your camera knows what’s best for you! Here are five common bloopers and how to avoid getting tripped up on your next shoot. Lie #1: It’s Exposed Your camera has several automatic metering modes to help you catch the right amount of light without you needing to whip out the calculator. Are you using the right one? Spot, center-weighted, and multi-zone metering are great for many situations–so be sure you know which one is best for you. For example, you may want to over-expose when shooting in situations like snow to be sure you get that fluffy, clean white stuff you’re used to seeing. No one likes gray snow. Finally, let your artistic creativity be your guide. There’s no shame in flooding your summer portraits with light or even leaving in a bit of flare if you’re going for a sun-soaked, dreamy mood. Similarly, underexposing your shots is your key to super-dramatic clouds, abstract shadows, and gritty street shots. Click here for more info on metering modes and how they affect exposure. Lie #2: It’s in Focus Despite the reassuring “beep-beep!” of your AF system, there’s still a lot that can foil your focus. The most common culprit is motion blur if it’s too dark in the room. As a rule, you want your shutter speed to be...