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...
Shooting at Night with the Panasonic GH4

Shooting at Night with the Panasonic GH4

The Panasonic GH4 is an amazing little camera. I’ve been putting it through its paces from the moment I got my hands on one, and just like any gearhead, have been reading practically every review and comment about it on the internet. What can I say? It’s an addiction. I confess. One thing that stood out to me in all the signal and noise out there was that this camera isn’t a great performer at high ISO. My initial quick tests bore that out; at ISO 800, the footage is pretty noisy and by 1600, it’s unusable for a lot of work. But what I wanted to know was something a bit more subtle. I wanted to know if I could shoot at night, in a place like San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, and still walk away with usable footage? See, what a lot of people don’t get is that “low light” and “high ISO” aren’t synonymous. Just because you don’t have bright daylight doesn’t mean you have to force your camera into stratospheric ISOs. There’s more than one way to skin this particular cat and so, with my GH4 and some bits and bobs, I set out to find out if I could get the footage I wanted. Here’s the gear list: Panasonic GH4 Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8, Nikon-mount Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 Metabones Nikon G to Micro Four Thirds Speedbooster Video tripod and head The video is below, but before you watch it, here are a few notes to keep in mind so you know what to expect… The video is shot at 4K, 24p. ISO was kept between 200 and 400 for...
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...
Why the Sony RX100 III Point & Shoot is a Vacation Must-Have

Why the Sony RX100 III Point & Shoot is a Vacation Must-Have

Do you agonize over sacrificing quality in favor of comfort when packing camera gear for vacation? I tossed my hefty Nikon D800 aside and rented the Sony RX100 III from BorrowLenses.com for vacation. I wasn’t going to shoot much so if the camera sucked then no harm, no foul. The camera definitely didn’t suck. Sony’s third iteration of an already well-regarded model opened my eyes to just how far point and shoots have come. I didn’t expect to write this blog post so I don’t have very many traditional “camera review” photos. What I have, however, will demonstrate how one can get big results from a camera the size of a deck of cards. Part I: Sample Shots Night Photography They’re no National Geographic contenders but considering that I wasn’t expecting anything from laying my camera on the ground with a 15 second exposure, I am impressed. Being somewhere with very little light pollution (Rarotonga in this case) helps. The noise is bad in the clouds but I am really cranking it at ISO 5000. I didn’t spend time perfecting exposure times but I urge you to take this camera out and test its limits on night sky photography. Capturing average night scenes was fruitful as well. This is where we ate dinner every night. Taken handheld at 1/30th of a second, f/1.8 at ISO 800.The Macro Mode on the RX100 III is pretty good, too – even in low light! Macro Photography I didn’t play with this feature a whole lot but what I saw was promising. It’s no Olympus but that’s hardly a fair comparison. This is a point and...
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...
Get the Perfect Light Writing Sparkler Shot

Get the Perfect Light Writing Sparkler Shot

Every wedding photographer is always seeking to get the perfect image that will capture the unique setting, timing, and location of the big day. Bobby and Tanya of Frozen Exposure Photography + Cinematography have written up a quick tutorial on how to create unique wedding portraits using sparklers. Check it out and make your own photos shine! Want to Re-Enact This Shot? Brides: The “Light Writing Sparkler Shot” is always a favorite and such a cool way to celebrate, photographically, your new last name, or if your new last name is hard to write in “sparkler,” then spelling out “Love” is gorgeous, too! This shot is even MORE fun when another couple helps with the writing! Especially if that couple is recently married or engaged! Frozen Exposure recommends getting this photo in the middle of the reception, when everyone else is comfortable and after the “cake shot” so that you can be outside and have at least 15 minutes for this shot to be set up, laid back and fun. It really turns out to be a special moment between the couple, and if you have some or all of the bridal party together helping, then it’s always super fun when everyone runs to the camera after the shot, sees how perfect it turned out, and jumps up and down screaming. This is always a moment of major camaraderie. Photographers: Make sure to use the 36 inch sparklers  to prevent the sparkler from running out on you mid-word. Always remember to try this shot at a very low key time when the bride and groom are happy and ready to get 15 minutes away from...
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...
Part 2: Basic Steps and Lessons of Using Tilt/Shift Function

Part 2: Basic Steps and Lessons of Using Tilt/Shift Function

This is part 2 of a series on tilt-shift lenses. Be sure to also check out part 1: Will Learning Tilt-Shift Lenses Improve Your Photography. 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. You can also read more tips for architectural photography from John on our blog.  Basic Steps for Using Tilt-Shift Controls Select your perspective and lock down your tripod. Making sure you are level to the horizon; compose the scene straight on using the “live-view” mode. Set to bracket exposure. I use one full stop since the light measurement goes crazy with everything moving around. Bracketing with tilt-shift, I feel, is mandatory. Select f/8. Remember that aperture settings do not affect DOF on tilt-shift lenses. If your focus plane has been aligned with the sensor plane, then focusing on that plane will result in total plane focus regardless of aperture. I use f/8 because it consistently produces the sharpest image on the wide angle lenses I use. There are 3 controls and 5 knobs or buttons on all tilt-shift lenses to control everything you do. The Lens Rotation control is the button at the rear of the lens. Depressing it allows the lens to move a full 360° and always remains parallel to the camera’s sensor. Loosen all control knobs and start composing! Throw caution away and have some fun. It will take a long time but you will soon see this “plane of focus” I keep talking about. Compose...