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...
Stock Photography that Gives Back: Winners of the Call to Action Contest

Stock Photography that Gives Back: Winners of the Call to Action Contest

StudentStock isn’t your average stock photography site. It’s populated by imagery created by students of all ages and a certain percentage of the proceeds goes towards scholarships. Started by a couple of photography teachers, StudentStock is a launchpad for students who are creating great work but need a platform for selling. It helps beginning photographers grow their skills, develop a sense of what sells, and, ultimately, be a part of the stock photography marketplace that is often so hard to find success in. The following photographers are on that path to success. They recently won the Call to Action photo contest, put on by StudentStock with support from BorrowLenses. See their winning entries below! 1st Place: Kirk Yarnell – California State University, East Bay Taken in Bend, Oregon during a roundup, Yarnell captured this back in 1994 so, yes kids, this was taken on film! Yarnell has been shooting since 1980 and currently lives in Mt. Shasta, California. 2nd Place: Shannon Fuller – Butte College Fuller tried to get this shot with 4 different dogs before getting the exact one she was looking for. She used a Nikon 70-200mm to capture this moment from a distance to avoid getting soaked herself! She froze the action at 1/1600th of a second. 3rd Place: Ben Meester – Butte College After a storm, Meester set out to one of his favorite back-country spots in Tahoe to get this shot. He used a Canon 14mm for an effective vista of the first run of the day. Runner Up: Aaron Alvarez – Santa Ann College Taken at Newport Beach, CA with a Canon 5D...
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...
Visual Vitamin D: Inspiration for Spring Shooting

Visual Vitamin D: Inspiration for Spring Shooting

Longer days, weddings, and vacations – there is a lot to look forward to in spring (unless you’re a night-photographing curmudgeon workaholic – you know who you are). Here are some inspirational images from our friends that exude “spring” to them in their own way. Hopefully they will inspire you to stay out late (or stay inside the studio – the sun is overrated anyway) and shoot, shoot, shoot! “For me, spring means I’m one step closer to being able to shoot outdoors underwater again. Cast off the shackles of winter and stuff them away with your winter coat and boots! Rejoice that you no longer have to stress about your car not being plugged in overnight and you can use those precious neurotransmitters dreaming up new ways to break your creative mold. Spring is for new growth, so try new things and push your limits!” – Renee Robyn “Spring is a time of rebirth and regrowth. The weather, so often inclement, forces many to stay inside. Explore during those brief moments when the weather pauses. Discover unique and interesting ways to compose something that you know has been photographed before. Use the built up energy of waiting for winter to end to explore with new eyes and new creativity. And don’t forget to look somewhere on the ground near you for all of that water that has been falling from the sky to reflect that momentary break.” – Jay Goodrich “Once during a cold winter I decided I wanted to photograph some beauty shots by a blooming tree. Then spring came. I watched trees getting dressed in gorgeous colorful...
Capturing the Surf: an Interview with Photographer Seth Migdail

Capturing the Surf: an Interview with Photographer Seth Migdail

Seth Migdail is a surf photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. A regular at Mavericks, his work has been featured in a number of outlets, including Surfline.com and theinertia.com. I sat down with Seth to talk about his work, his process, and what it takes to break into the insular surfing community. How did you get started in photography? I grew up as an artist, doing drawing and painting. I found photography in college, and ended up dumping two years worth of art school and pursued that. I have a fine art background, a BFA in photography, so I came up in the analog world. I shot a lot of large format, medium format – that’s how I got started. Back then, in fine-art school, you take a lot of time to try and find your identity. It took me a while, but I eventually did. I did a lot of documentary photography, what I’d call “social landscapes.” I got a solid foundation in the craft that way. I also did a lot of work in the studio. What is your favorite subject, and why? Definitely surfing. I found surfing when I moved out to California. Growing up in New York, I hadn’t surfed at all, and I only discovered it when I moved up to San Luis Obispo. I’d actually put photography aside for a few years and kinda became a surf bum down there. When I moved up to the Bay Area, I suffered an injury that kept me out of the water, and I started shooting again. At the time, Mavericks was just re-forming...
What It’s Like to Win a Canon 5D Mark III

What It’s Like to Win a Canon 5D Mark III

On the eve of our big camera giveaway winner announcement (update: giveaway is over, see latest promotions on our Facebook page) we reached out to a prior year’s winner to see how she has faired since winning a brand new Canon 5D Mark III from BorrowLenses.com. Rachel Coward is a photographer and editor at TulsaKids Magazine, an award-winning parenting publication in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Previously she was a staff photographer and editor at the Columbia Missourian and a photographer for the University of Missouri’s alumni magazine. BL: You had your choice of a Nikon D800 or the Canon 5D Mark III. The prior year’s winner chose the Nikon. What made you choose the Canon? Rachel: Tomayto, tomahto. My very first camera was my parent’s Canon AE-1 film camera, so Canon is what I learned on from the beginning. It really just comes down to personal preference. If I didn’t have brand loyalty, I’d still probably choose the Mark III because of the video capabilities. BL: Where was your photography business at this time last year versus where it is now? Rachel: A year ago I had just graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, where I studied photojournalism and loved every minute of it. Go Tigers! This time last year, I had just begun working as a full-time freelance photographer and my main gig was making pictures for Mizzou Magazine, the alumni magazine for the University of Missouri. I’m continuing to work as a freelancer now and my business has certainly grown. I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to make it as a professional photographer in a very competitive market. There’s a lot...
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....
Fuji X-T1: First Impressions

Fuji X-T1: First Impressions

One of the most eagerly awaited cameras of the year arrived earlier this month, and I took some time to put it through its paces. A more detailed review will follow, but I’ve worked with it long enough to put forth a few first impressions. The tl;dr version of it is this: the Fuji X-T1 is the best camera Fuji has ever made, and is the best mirrorless camera on the market. In my personal opinion, anyway. I’ve been a Fuji fan since the X100s came out, and eventually started using the X-E1 and X-E2 as my primary stills cameras (with a D800E for specific projects requiring high megapixel images and the Canon 5D MKIII for video). When the X-T1 was first announced, I looked at the images leaking onto the web and my first impression was, “WTF??” Looking at it, you can see that it kind of harkens back to retro SLR cameras. To me, it looks a bit like a blunt-top version of the Fuji STX series of film SLRs, and at least at first, it wasn’t something that caught my attention the way the rangefinder aesthetic of the previous X cameras did. Then I got one in my hands and my first thought was, “uhhh… what…?” On the one hand, this is most definitely a Fuji camera. It has loads of dials means you rarely have to drop into a menu once you set it up right. There’s a nice, firm heft to it that we’re used to with the X-E and X-Pro series. It’s small and light despite feeling dense. It is, in other words,...