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...
10 Tips for Better Architectural Photographs from a Former Architect

10 Tips for Better Architectural Photographs from a Former Architect

Architect-turned-photographer John Cooper has spent the last year converting his three decades of building experience into high quality architectural images.  Despite already having the knowledge of a registered architect and member of the American Institute of Architects, Cooper has learned a lot through trial and error after changing roles and capturing the structures he once helped to create. Here are his 10 pieces of advice for aspiring architectural photographers. 10 Tips for Better Architectural Photographs from a Former Architect Architectural photography should be a prerequisite for all photographers. It covers all of the basics of available-light shooting in one subject matter. Understanding these principles, and heeding some of these extra bits of advice, will improve all of your photography – not just architectural photography! 1. Obtain permission to be on location. I totally agree with our legal right to photograph public spaces but things are different in actual practice. At 4:30 in the morning it is much easier to show a permission slip/pass than to discuss the Constitution. 2. Shoot only in “blue” and “golden” hours. It may seem restrictive (and it took me a long time to be convinced) but the quality of light really is just better during these early morning and early evening hours. The blue hour is the hour preceding sunrise and the one following sunset while the golden hour is the first and last hour of sunlight in a day. Check the times throughout the year to find out when it is optimal to take advantage of these magical hours. 3. Scout your location and check a few problem questions off a list: What is the...
10 Ways to Shoot Better Wildlife Photos

10 Ways to Shoot Better Wildlife Photos

As a professional travel and wildlife photographer, I am frequently asked the same question: “How do I take better pictures of animals?” My answer is usually always the same. There is no perfect recipe but there are some things you can do that will substantially improve your end result. Here are 10 rules that I live by. 10.  Vary your lens choice. A common misconception is that you need the longest lens possible to get the best wildlife images. In some cases that is true but there are many situations in which a wider lens is more desirable. For example, I found myself reaching for a wider lens in Africa to capture a cheetah on the hunt in northern Kenya. A nice tight headshot is always wonderful but incorporating an animal’s native environment into your composition is also very pleasing. 9.  Use a monopod or tripod. Wherever possible, use a monopod or tripod. You will always get sharper images the more stable your camera and lens. This is particularly true in low light conditions such as dusk in the African bush or hiking in a tropical rainforest when your shutter speeds are slower. 8.  Use a small bean bag when shooting from a vehicle. Often you cannot get out of your vehicle to capture an image for safety reasons. When a monopod or tripod is not an option, a small bean bag can be very helpful to stabilize a camera with a longer lens.  These bags can be found at most camera shops, are very portable, and can be filled and emptied right on location so weight is not a...
Shoot the Blues Away: 10 Motivating Winter Photography Tips

Shoot the Blues Away: 10 Motivating Winter Photography Tips

Photography often takes a hit during winter. Wedding gigs start to slow down and holiday obligations, bad weather, and shorter days give us plenty of reasons to procrastinate shooting. We have compiled 10 tips for staying motivated during these brumal months. Discover new ways to practice your craft and avoid a rusty start during spring’s heavy shooting season. 1) Bad Weather = Unique Images “Get out to shoot photographs even when you don’t think the weather is nice enough. A lot of great winter photos are taken when weather conditions are less than ideal. Bad weather or changing weather can translate to great atmosphere making the mundane seem extraordinaire.” – Jim Goldstein 2) Collaborate “I stay motivated in the winter by meeting and collaborating with other like-minded artists. When I am surrounded by people who are driven, passionate, and full of love for life, it seeps into my winter moodiness and completely wipes it all away. There is no substitute for really great hugs, especially when it’s cold out.” – Renee Robyn 3) Go Out Just as a Storm Clears for Extra Drama “Let’s face it, going out in the winter sucks. This image was taken on a particularly cold and windy morning. The wind was piercingly cold, the kind that makes your bones ache. Ski goggles were a requirement to see through the blowing snow and operating the camera was nearly impossible. So why would you want to go out in this misery? Dramatic weather conditions are the only way to get an image like this – fresh snow and clouds rolling over the mountains after a clearing storm during sunrise....
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...
Three Key Methods For Backing Up Your Photographs

Three Key Methods For Backing Up Your Photographs

Zach Egolf is an IT professional and freelance photographer in the Baltimore area. In this guest post, he explains three methods for backing up your files in preparation for the worst possible scenario. The Importance of Back…Back…Backing Up reprinted with permission by Zach Egolf Wandering into the world of photography without a backup plan is a lot like wandering into…well, just about anything blindfolded!  You might think you know the terrain, how to navigate it, and where you’re going, but the next thing you know you’ve wandered into a forest, caught yourself on some thorn bushes, and lost your pants.  And much like losing your pants in an evil forest, losing your photos can be a frightening ordeal. Think of this scenario: You spend 10 hours shooting the perfect wedding.  The colors are all perfect, the lighting is spot-on, the bride and groom photograph like the two greatest love birds in the world.  You get home to your computer, pull all of the photos off of your memory cards, and then go to bed.  A wedding is a long day, after all, and you want to get your rest so that you can wake up the next morning and start working your magic! The next day comes along and you start to edit the photos.  Two days pass, you’re halfway through the photos and, all of a sudden, a freak storm rolls through town and zaps your house, frying your external hard drives, and wiping out 10 hours worth of photos.  You have nothing to deliver to your clients except the crisp shell of metal and magnets.  You have...
Get Striking Photography Tips and Inspiration from 10 Pro Photographers

Get Striking Photography Tips and Inspiration from 10 Pro Photographers

In a world saturated with images, we want our work to stand out. It takes a lot of time, practice, and–sometimes–a little luck to get striking photographs. Here are 10 examples of striking photos we love from photographers working in the field today. We hope the images inspire you and the tips and tricks help you improve your portfolio. Benjamin Von Wong: “Exploring the multiple exposure function on my Nikon D700 unlocked some creative potential never before explored in this fiery shot of pyrotechnician Andrey DAS.” See Von Wong’s full tutorial to find out how this striking image was achieved. Troy Paiva: “There are pops of purple-gelled strobe between each car and through the windshield–snooted red LED in the tail lights and onto the ground too. I also added a few seconds of natural LED on the right trunk-lid edge and bumper, the reflection carefully placed to balance the moonlit reflections on the left side of the trunk. This is a stack of two 4-minute exposures–focused on ∞ for 8-minute star trails, and a 2-minute exposure focused on the tail lights for increased depth-of-field.” See ‘Thunderbirds Are Go!’ and more striking light-painted work on Lost America. Julia Kuzmenko McKim: “I believe great photography starts with the photographer’s thorough understanding of the main principles of light behavior and the basics of visual arts such as composition, visual balance and color theory. Everything else is just regular tasks and problem solving at each photo shoot: getting great experienced models with flawless skin, the crew of highly skilled creative professionals and the equipment and accessories that will help the photographer to achieve the results he or she...