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...
Two Lighting Styles in 1 Shot with the Pocket Wizard MultiMax

Two Lighting Styles in 1 Shot with the Pocket Wizard MultiMax

Alexis Cuarezma is a San Francisco-based photographer who specializes in both on-location and in-studio portraiture. An alumnus of the Eddie Adams Workshop, Cuarezma has done assignments for the LA Times, the New York Times, HBO, and a number of international publications. He recently did a shoot with Shayne Skov for Sports Illustrated at Stanford University, where he had precious little time to essentially do two shoots at once. Cuarezma has a passion for bold visuals, bright colors, and high contrasts. However, his assignment called for “gray seamless”. To accommodate both Sports Illustrated and his personal style, Cuarezma harnessed the light grouping abilities of the Pocket Wizard MultiMax. He assigned all of the lights Sports Illustrated wanted for a uniform, seamless look to one channel and the punchier lighting setup to another channel and used the MultiMax’s Speed Cycler feature to fire off the two setups in succession. “As soon as I saw this, in my mind I knew I could use this. I didn’t care to fire off strobes at 10 FPS, however, I did care about being able to fire off 2 different sets of lights back-to-back because they don’t have to be the same setup/look. I have a Canon 1D Mark IV that can fire off 10 FPS. So that’s taking a frame every 100 milliseconds. In theory that’s 2 separate images in 200 milliseconds and with the Speed Cycler feature that could be 2 completely different looks shot nearly simultaneously.” Cuarezma set off to draw a lighting diagram for his assistants and to make this concept a reality. So long as the transmitting MultiMax is set...
Memorial Day Weekend Photography/Videography Shooting Ideas

Memorial Day Weekend Photography/Videography Shooting Ideas

If you’re lucky enough to have a long weekend coming up, seize the opportunity to get some valuable shooting time in. If you’re stuck indoors there are still a few things you can accomplish to make this short break a productive one. Here’s 10 great activities for new and seasoned photographers and videographers alike. 1) Get Reflective Avoid the traffic, the crowds, and the madness for awhile and spend some quality time with the ones you love: your camera and lens. Fire up some new romances while you’re at it – after all, Memorial Day is a free rental day! 2) Build a Photobooth Photobooths are one of the more efficient ways to capture the life of any get together without having to be the “event photographer” the entire time. If you’re new to photobooths, now’s the time to practice (your family and friends will love it even if it’s your first one). Try our  Photobooth Essentials to get started. We also have a swank Drop It Modern backdrop you can try. 3) Get Some Exercise Want a workout? Rent a rig. You’ll build some muscle in no time while harnessing creativity. 4) Pack Well If you’re air traveling, don’t check your gear! It will end in tears. Get a bag that is carry-on approved. 5) Embrace Your Inner Hybrid Cameras like the Panasonic Lumix GH3 and GH4 are fantastic at shooting both stills and video. Becoming versatile with both will improve your marketability. 6) Learn to Light Paint Light painting is fun and requires inexpensive materials to accomplish. Check out this tutorial by Olympus Trailblazer Jamie MacDonald on how to enhance your everyday pictures with this unique lighting style. 7)...
Calibrating your Monitor: Using the ColorMunki

Calibrating your Monitor: Using the ColorMunki

So often I hear of photographers, both pros and hobbyists , whose pictures live only on hard drives and online. If this is you, it’s time to get printing! As photographers we spend countless hours in front of our computers editing our work to create dynamic imagery that reflects us as artists. Every level adjustment and brush stroke is an artistic choice made to emphasize our vision. For this reason, it is vital to work with a color calibrated system which produces accurate color and contrast during printing and instills confidence when transferring images off-site. Here is an abbreviated lesson on how to painlessly calibrate your monitor and printer in under an hour. Step 1: Download the ColorMunki Software. Step 2: Plug in the ColorMunki and open the software if it doesn’t open automatically. Step 3: For accurate precision profiling, measure the ambient light of the room by turning the rotary dial on the side of the unit to position C (third notch from the top). Place the ColorMunki next to your display and choose ‘calibrate’ on screen or by clicking the measure button on the side of the unit (the only button that can be clicked). It should take less than 1 minute to optimize the luminance of the display. Tip: Computer monitors display colors best in low light. Keep it low while judging color and eliminate any illuminating objects that may surround the monitor. Step 4: Once the software tells you the ambient light has been measured, choose ‘Match My Printer to My Display’. Turn the dial of the unit to position D (fourth and last notch at...
Illuminating the Face, by Peter Hurley: A Review

Illuminating the Face, by Peter Hurley: A Review

Back in 2011, photographer Peter Hurley teamed up with our friends over at FStoppers to create a tutorial video called The Art Behind The Headshot. That 4+ hour video more or less became required watching here at BL for anyone shooting any kind of portraiture, not just headshots. In fact, I still refer to it from time to time to prep for a new client; it was equal parts motivational video and coaching tutorial. Now, three years later, Peter Hurley returns with another tutorial called Illuminating The Face. This is the next logical release after The Art Behind The Headshot, and Peter sent us a copy for review. Here’s the one-sentence review: This is yet another home run for Peter Hurley, and if you happen to photograph the human face, regardless of your genre, this needs to be on your “must watch” list of tutorials. What came before… Let’s talk for a moment how Illuminating The Face differs from The Art Behind The Headshot. The Art… was very much a non-technical tutorial. It was a lot like having Peter Hurley coach you on how to interact with your subject, how to direct them, what to look for when pressing that shutter button. That’s not to say that there was nothing technical in that video; Peter did cover his trademark square box lighting technique that had turned heads on the internet and spawned a slew of  copycats and admirers — including, I’m not ashamed to admit, yours truly right here on this blog. Yet The Art… wasn’t a technical tutorial. It was very much a “human” tutorial, and was gloriously welcome at a time when...
Writing an Effective Artist Statement

Writing an Effective Artist Statement

Standing consensus says that great art speaks for itself and needs no explanation but a simple and genuine statement has a way to reach out and welcome people to your art. When I attend a curated show or see an installation around town that grabs my attention, I will make sure to read the artists’ statements or biography. Taking the time to better read the intention of the artist will open the work up to broader interpretations and understanding. There are many instances when as an artist you will be asked to provide such a statement. Here are a few key points to consider while writing.  Just Write! Some of the simplest and most impactful advice I have been given was to “just write”. Write without the expectation of anyone reading your words. Expel your thoughts onto paper the same you would your art. GET IT OUT! With the abundance of technology that surrounds us on any given day – go somewhere unplugged and start formulating your ideas by hand. Give yourself time and space to understand your thoughts, to fail, to have revelations.  Scribble, cross things out, make a mess.  This time is all about you. Perception is Key Artist statements are for people who want to know more. This is your opportunity to briefly explain why you are as an artist, your inspirations, and how you create what you do. What message are you trying to express and what would you like the viewer to take away from their experience? Understanding your audience is key to the language that you choose.  Try using simple and clear sentences and...
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....