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Tips On Getting A Million Followers On Instagram

Tips On Getting A Million Followers On Instagram

If you are a photographer and have been trying to get more followers on Instagram, you must have heard this advice at least a million times that you need to share your best work on this social network to grow your followers. Steve Martin, the actor, has famously said that they can’t ignore you if you are really good.

While this advice is great, it’s not practical. Even if your photographic skills are so good that you can make Mona Lisa look like a finger painting, you are less likely to be noticed on Instagram. Consider the fact that over 52 million pictures are shared on this network each day by over 500 million users.

Is Instagram right for photographers?

In the beginning, Instagram was seen as a place where people liked to share their basic moments of daily life. Once the network started growing in popularity, everyone from presidents to movie stars to others joined the website and the curation of posts started getting more traction. All the top names in the photography world including National Geographic photographers to Magnum photographers also joined the network.

While some argued that this meant death knell for this network, others saw it as an opportunity. Many photographers found it inspiring to become a member of a global social network where everyone speaks the visual language. Companies also found a new marketing channel for marketing their goods.

Some naysayers think that the mobile social network, Instagram, is a second-class social platform. They argue that no photographer would want to show their pictures on a tiny mobile screen. However, the fact remains that 80% of time in social media is spent on mobile devices. In simple terms, whether you a hobby photographer who wants to interact with other hobbyists or a professional photographer looking to market your business, you need to be near your audience and Instagram happens to be that place.

Instagram isn’t a bed of roses

While the advice given by Steve Martin about getting discovered is great, Instagram age is different and this advice no longer holds water. There are many photographers who have been unable to find an audience. Advice given by P.T. Barnum is more pertinent as he once said that nothing happens without promotion.

Tips On Getting A Million Followers On Instagram

You need to be proactive on Instagram to build your following. Instagram does not have any share button like Facebook that helps others discover you. Also, the algorithm used by Instagram doesn’t put your pictures in front of new members. Most of the engagement for your feed is usually the result of your followers and not people who stumble onto your work.

Therefore, you need to get your work shared by other Instagram accounts in order for your work to reach new audiences. You can do this in two different ways. One of the ways is to ask other photographers to share your work. Another way is to get featured on hubs.

Leveraging hubs for gaining followers

Hubs may be defined as other Instagram accounts that feature the work of other people. They may also be defined as a variety show sharing the happenings around the Instagram world. Each hub works like a different channel. For instance, there are architecture helps, nature hubs, food photograph hubs and street photograph hubs among others. A business, a group of people or an individual may own a hub.

The photo you see below was featured by the FreedomThinkers hub and I took this photograph in Malaysia. Their website says that their mission is to inspire their visitors to travel the world. Since this aligns with my mission, I was more than happy to share my photograph on their account.

Some hubs are also run for the purpose of creating a community. Companies also back up a hub as a way to market their products or services. Overall, hubs are a great way to get new audience to see your work.

To allow hubs to share your work, you need to include the relevant hashtag in the caption of the photo. The relevant hashtags can be found in their account bio. If the owner of the hub likes your work, they may share it and also credit you by sharing your Instagram feed address and name. The exposure you get from the hub may drive traffic to your personal feed and that may get you more followers.

Tips to go viral on Instagram

The social network works like a news channel as once the story is broken by a channel, others also start reporting on it. A number of hubs also copy the feature photo from other hubs. Many accounts have gained massive amount of exposure to their work and you may too through the domino effect.

For instance, more than 20 hubs featured my Dark Towers photo. One of the hubs was the Game of Tones. I didn’t make any effort to get my photo featured on all the hubs but many hubs featured my photo after they saw it on another hub. All the hubs combined together had a follower count of over 1 million.

You are not going to get your picture featured on that many hubs each day but it’s common to have a few different hubs share your photo all at once.

  • Tips to get exposure on Instagram

Whether you are a seasoned pro or a complete newbie or you have over 100,000 followers or have just a few followers, there is a hub for all types of photographers at all levels. Follow the below mentioned tips to get your work featured on these hubs.

  • Know the Hubs

If you want to get your work featured on one of these hubs, you need to tag your photo as per the information given by each hub and/or put the hashtag in the caption. It is important that you don’t blindly tag a hub due to its popularity. You need to make sure that your photographs align with the quality and style of the job.

  • Location

One of the best places to start is geography hub. You should begin by looking for the hubs focusing on a particular region such as your country, province, state, city or the place where you plan on travelling. One of the added benefits of local hubs is that you may also meet people in your area.

  • Find hubs for different types of photography

You should also consider various hubs dedicated to different genres such as @urbanromantix or @nightphotography. Such niche hubs are great for finding other like-minded photographers.

  • Small hubs at the beginning

It is recommended to start small in the beginning. If you are completely new to Instagram or photography, you should try small hubs. Ideally, you should try to aim hubs up to 10,000 followers at the start.

  • Find brands

There are also a lot of business hubs on Instagram and some of the biggest hubs are owned by brands. For instance, there are 2 million followers of the magazine Travel + Leisure and it is known to regularly feature photographs from other feeds.

  • The secret to get exposure on Instagram

This is the most important and final tip. If you have found the hub where you would like your work to be featured, you should follow that hub as well as the admin of that hub. Some hubs will also want you to follow the admin of hub to be featured. Admin of a hub also wants exposure like everyone else on the platform as they also want to increase the number of followers.

If you are unable to find the admin of the hub in the bio, take a close look at the last few photographs in the feed. You may find a note telling you the admin who selected the featured photo.

  • Engagement

Once you have found the admin of the hub, you should visit the feed of the admin account, friend them as well as like a few of the photos and do not forget to comment on a few of their photographs. You need to make sure to write something to prove that you are a real human being and not a robot. In simple terms, you may not engage them with just a Great Shot comment or just thumbs up.

Also, don’t make the comments look like human spam and you should never asked the admin of the hub to view your feed. You should also never ask them to give feedback on your work and you should never ask them to feature your work.

If you are patient and genuinely interact with the work of the admin of a hub, it is likely that they will also visit your feed. If they like your work, it is possible that they might feature your work.

Overall, admin of a hub is like a gatekeeper and they act as editors of social network magazines. To get your work featured, you need to get your photos seen by them. You need to tell them who you are. The single most important thing for you to do to get featured is to connect with the admin of the hub other than creating amazing work.

Is it worth the effort?

You will still find people who think that social media is not a good use of time. While it’s true that you need to be out working instead of just staring at your phone but things are not as simple as they seem to be.

For instance, the Busan roof topping photograph was shared on 21 hubs and I got a few hundred followers from that photo but it doesn’t really matter. Life is not all about popularity. Whether you have 1 million followers or just 10 followers, the most important thing that matters to a photographer is to create.

However, it’s also true that the act of sharing also has a deep bond with the act of creation. If you love taking photographs and want to keep it for yourself, there is nothing wrong with it. However, if you want to share your passion with other people, it is a great way for you to let the world know.

Improving Your Photography Through Shooting Behind The Scenes During A Short Film Shoot

Improving Your Photography Through Shooting Behind The Scenes During A Short Film Shoot

For creative photographers, it can seem like a very boring idea to shoot behind the scenes during a short film. I thought so too until a friend of mine called me to ask if I should shoot on a school project of his (he’s in film school and needed to shoot three sequences). I didn’t want to say no to my friend, so I showed up on the day. Much to my surprise I got to meet many people and learn lots of things. The best thing of all is that I ended up taking some of the best photos I have ever taken since first picking up my camera.

The following are some of the major reasons why you should think about shooting behind the scenes and how your photography can benefit from it:

1. It’s a great chance for a photo shoot

While a short film is being shot, a majority of the actors aren’t afraid of cameras and are used to modeling. There’s a make-up artist, and director of photography for working on the lighting (and many more individuals on the set of course taking care of the costumes, sounds, etc.). Basically a short film is a photo shoot, but people act and are being filmed instead of just images being taken.

Actors have their make-up and hair done and are wearing their costumes, and all of the lighting is done for you by the director of photography. This should be seen as an advantage since weeks are spent planning and you are just there to take beautiful photographs in ideal conditions. Most of the beautiful images that I took were during the short film and I wouldn’t have been able to reproduce the ambiance, costumes and scenes by myself.

Even if you prefer planning your own photo shoots or don’t care for the theme too much, trying out other people’s ideas is another way to help you progress by getting you out of your comfort zone.

2. You are surrounded by other creative people

I have been helped so much by working with other creative individuals. The best things are not wanting to disappoint anyone and having the shared interest. Working with other individuals who create provides you with that added boost and gives you that push to do your very best. These images are need by most people who are part of a film crew. Just think of all that work they do to create their projects, ranging from make-up artist remaining on set all day along, to negotiating to borrow very expensive film equipment, to finding the perfect actors, as well as all of the detailed planning that goes into the sequences. You automatically try to get stunning shots since you can’t disappoint other creatives with average images.

Improving Your Photography Through Shooting Behind The Scenes During A Short Film Shoot

It is hard since you only can shoot photos after the scenes while the film director is briefing the actors. So they aren’t posing for you. What you have to do is walk around without drawing any attention to yourself to get some good images taken. While the video camera is going don’t take any image. The sound of your camera’s shutter can ruin an entire scene, and you definitely don’t want to do that. Just wait patiently until the director says cut. That’s when you can start to take photos.

Whenever an actor isn’t part of a scene, you can always ask them nicely to pose for you. A majority of them need to have portraits for their portfolios or websites, so many of them will say yes. If someone does say no, just let them know if they change their mind that you are always happy to take portraits.

3. You might get to work on future projects with these people

An entire day of filming make take eight hours or even longer. You will meet many people (depending on how large the crew is), and there will plenty of time for getting to know everybody. I definitely recommend that you socialize during breaks and get to know everybody. A majority of them will share the same passion with you, whether it’s someone from the sound team or the assistant, you can talk about future or previous projects, have technical discussions on camera gear, or many other topics.

Improving Your Photography Through Shooting Behind The Scenes During A Short Film Shoot

The most talkative are usually the actors, especially at times when they have a couple of hours without scenes to do. Let them know about your photography. Ask them if they want to do a photo shoot with you in the near future. Make-up artists are great contacts as well, so get their business cards and call them for your next photo shoot when you need somebody for hair and make-up.

I met one make-up artist who had a little girl who was wanting to get started with modeling. A few weeks later we met and I photographed her. I wound up with a great image for my portfolio.

Get your images ready quickly so that you can show them

One useful tip I can provide to you is work on your images as soon as you can. Once these individuals see your images they’ll start to spread the word to others they know, on social social, etc (as long as your results were good). You most likely will end up being friends on Facebook with a majority of the crew and will be able to stay in touch that way.

Many of them post on Facebook or will contact you directly when they are need of a photographer. After you have done a good job,most likely they will call you again. Then their friends will start to call you also, along with other make-up artists and actors and increase your contacts further.

4. You’ll learn many technical things

Lots of advanced equipment is used by most film crews. When you watch them set everything up, you’ll learn a lot about organization, tracking shots, team work, communicating with actors, sound, lighting, framing, choice of lenses and cameras. Just keep your eyes open and try to absorb as much information as possible.

A majority of photography directors use various lighting techniques including back-light, soft light, harsh light, key light and hair light with various modifiers. Make sure you pay close attention their work and do you best to replicate it after you get home. Another thing you can do is take images of their light set up so you will know precisely how each light was placed on the set.

How To Travel With Camera Gear Safely

How To Travel With Camera Gear Safely

One of the best things ever about becoming a photographer is how the whole world seemed to completely open up to us as soon as we started using our cameras. Currently we live wherever we happen to be shooting. We have visited 10 countries this past year on three different continents and in between have experienced numerous cities. Although we love all of freedom that travel provides us with, the biggest thing that we worry about is how to travel with our camera gear safely. So whether you want to carry your camera with you around town to document your kids or are hopping on an airplane every week, the following are some simple tips to help keep your gear away from thieves and in good condition.

Make Your List And Then Check It Twice

Prior to leaving the house, be sure to make a comprehensive list of each piece of equipment you will be taking with you, in addition to their serial numbers. It useful to have the ability to tally up your list while you are in transit. It is such a bad feeling to hop on a train and then realize you thought you had put your 50mm lens inside your backpack when it’s actually still back at home sitting on your kitchen table. So make a list, go over it, and save yourself a lot of trouble trying to remember each piece of camera gear inside your head. If you record the serial number it will help you track and report them in case they go missing ever.

Our travel camera gear checklist varies depending on far we are traveling and how long we are going to be gone. Last fall when we went to Asia on our six-month honeymoon, our list was very different from the one we might have when shooting a wedding in New York. The two checklists that we have look something like the following:

Checklist For Personal Travel

  • 2 Canon Mark III’s – one camera for each of us, although sometime we take just one body along.
  • 50mm f/1.2 lens – We always take this with us and never leave home without it. It is this lens that provides us with the greatest flexibility for shooting any scene we choose.
  • 45mm f/2.8 tilt-shift lens – whenever we are traveling through cities, it is ideal for us to have a tilt-shift with us. We really love to shoot portraits with it, and it has turned out to be among the most versatile lenses for us.

Professional Travel Checklist

  • 2 Canon Mark III’s
  • 50mm f/1.2 – If we had to, we probably could shoot a whole wedding with this!
  • 45mm f/2.8 tilt-shift – Great for individual portraits and setting scenes.
  • 35mm f/1.4 – You can set a scene that is slightly more interesting for couple’s portraits than a 50mm allows for and you also achieve better environmental details. For dance floor shots this is also our go-to lens.
  • 85mm f/1.2 – Although we wish there was a faster focus on this lens, it truly is gorgeous. It takes portraits to a whole new level. However, it is also very heavy, so we don’t use it as much as we would like too, since for casual personal travel it is too heavy.

Depending on the scope and size of the project, we might also take along:

  • 70-200mm f/2.8 – We definitely prefer not having to carry it, so it’s always a struggle, since it’s an excellent catch-all lens for staying out of the scene while shooting wedding guests at a distance or shooting from behind large ceremonies.
  • 17-40mm f/4 (this wide-angle lens we are using less frequently, but once it while it offers a good way of capturing a building from close up or a whole wedding ceremony. Increasingly we are using our 35mm for shots that we used to use our wide angle for.)

The hardest part of travel is our lighting setups, and we invariably end up having a long meeting with security. When we take along the bare minimum, here is what it includes:

  • Canon Speedlite 600EX-RTs – We have a ST-E3-RT Transmitter along with two matching Speedlites. For most weddings, they serve us quite well. If we need something a bit heftier, we will add in:
  • Profoto B1 setup – This is an amazing light. With the Profoto 35-inch RFI Octa Softbox. However, it adds an extra bag for us to carry with us and since we try to reduce the number of carry-ons we try leaving it in our home studio whenever we can. Also required with the B1:
  • C-stand: They are very heavy and a big hassle trying to fly with. That is why we usually leave it t home and rent on instead wherever we are going to be working. For some equipment that is really awkward, heavy or bulky, weigh the benefits and costs of renting it instead at your shooting location. Renting a C-stand only costs $20 or so, which for us definitely outweighs the hassles of trying to travel with it.

Prior to leaving on any trip, whether it’s professional or personal, it is critical for you know what the ideal outcome for your photos is. On personal trips we don’t take flashes or zoom lens because we don’t shoot any wildlife or anything else where we would need long lenses. Whenever possible we only use ambient light and with our night photography prefer to just incorporate whatever light is setting the scene already.

Even on professional projects, we still are very careful about what we pack and as we are putting our gear together we consider our project. Some large events or weddings may require a longer zoom or wide angle lens, but if we can do without a lens then we will. That requires more planning, working with our clients closely, and having a thorough knowledge of our equipment. However it is definitely worth it when we are able to pack all our gear inside a small bag and be quite sure we can produce excellent work with it!

Downsize

Pre-travel is an excellent time for downsizing your gear. Only take what is the most important for you, and think about the images you will be wanting to take while you are traveling. We always take our 50mm f/1.2 with us, but we might bring along our 1950’s Yashica film camera or tilt-shift lens also depending on what type of trip it is. It’s nice having options, but taking along all of your gear without having a specific plan will just add unneeded stress to your trip. Travel light, and use whatever you have.

This is especially true, if you are flying. Minimize your gear so that it fits inside your carry-on luggage. Personally, we’d rather have to crawl to where we are going then have to check a bag that contains our most valuable gear and have it out of our sight. It’s true that it’s a huge hassle getting your camera through security (it seems like they are blown away by unusual lenses, old film cameras and light sets), but it can lead to some interesting conversation. It is worth the extra time for your peace of mind.

Getting Through Customs

Here is a thought about custom forms: If you’re entering a country that might have shaky relationships with journalist, you should lay low and don’t write journalist or photographer on the custom forms. If too much attention is drawn to your camera gear and you being able to use it that will frequently generate more hassles for you when you land at the next airport. Although we don’t encourage anybody to lie on the custom forms, it is much better to stay under the radar as much as possible.

Protect Your Data

Everywhere we go we take LaCie Rugged hard drives and backup whenever possible. Whenever we can access fast internet, we utilize online storage, however good luck finding wifi that is strong enough for uploading thousands of raw files while up high in the Burmese mountains. This is something that I keep track of as closely as I do my passport. So why do I use the LaCie Rugged? Well that last thing I heed is having a hard drive fail due to a bumpy dirt road while sitting in back of a jeep covered with mud.

We use large memory cards as well and every night we back them up. We always carry backup cards inside our briefcases, and also with our cameras.

Make Your Gear Appear Cheap

Avoid overdone, fancy accessories and camera cases. Anything with clearly expensive features or brand logos will draw lots of attention. While carrying our gear around in a low-key camera bag (there are many solid options available that look like regular bags, or else you can purchase protective inserts to put into your backpack), you can make a few adjustments to your gear to make them less conspicuous instantly:

Make Your Gear Appear Cheap

  • Take your logo-covered camera strap off (unless you are getting paid by Canon to advertise for them. Otherwise it isn’t necessary for you having their log on your camera strap) and using something more personal instead. Use black gaffer’s tape to cover up the brand on your camera body. Without the white print, your camera will appear more average and less attention will be drawn to how much you may have paid.
  • Scuff it up! For more than three years now, we have been shooting with our Canon 5D Mark III’s. They are definitely starting to show some wear and tear from being dragged all around the world. I absolutely love it! Those marks and scuffs mean that you are making good use of your gear and it is serving you quite well. So when it starts looking old, don’t rush to replace it or polish it up. Its charm is hard-won and will probably cause most people looking for your gear to believe it is worth less money than it probably actually is.

Safety On Location

Getting somewhere is just half the battle of course. After you have landed, you’ll need to works smart and keep your wits. Here are a couple of thoughts regarding shooting safety after you have arrived:

Just like when you are home, make sure your camera gear isn’t displayed in such a way that it draws a lot of attention. Keep it zipped inside a bag, on a strap or close to your body. It amazes me how many people wander around and their cameras are on full display. Not only do you look just like a tourist, it also draws the attention of thieves.

Don’t discuss your gear with strangers. One time in a bar we sat next to a few friendly and drunk strangers who showed off their large zoom lenses they had just purchased. They made fun of the small 50mm we had with. However we felt we had the last laugh since our camera setup was (although more expensive), inconspicuous, small and less appealing for thieves not knowing the difference.

Here is our thoughts on tripods: we don’t ever travel with them. They usually aren’t necessary, invite unwanted attention and it is awkward setting them up in public areas. We make use of makeshift tripods – such as bar tops,rocks, tables and banisters when it is necessary to have a steady shot. We have frequently seen other photographers who make a big deal out of getting their tripods set up. That just let’s thieves know where you are and what you have. They probably could get just as good a shot just using a shutter speed that is slightly faster. Carefully consider whether you really need to have a tripod or not and then make the best decision. If you do decide to take one with you, while you are shooting, your camera strap should be kept around your neck.

Although you always need to careful when you are in an unsafe neighborhood, another thing that we recommend is not to limit yourself to just visiting areas that are considered “safe” when traveling. A theft can take place anywhere. You may also end up missing out of some of the finest parts of traveling if you put too many restrictions on yourself. Whenever you are shooting in higher crime neighborhoods, be alert. Walk with confidence and your head up. Also avoid hunching over your gear like you are trying to hide something. Your bags should stay zipped up and no matter where you happen to be stay alert for pick-pockets. Shoot with confidence without drawing a lot of attention to yourself.

Helpful Travel Photography Tips

Helpful Travel Photography Tips

Every place that you visit is going to have its own ambiance, look and character. If you want to have photographs of all of your travels that are lasting and beautiful, they need to capture each of these qualities and offer up as much about the location as to the literal look.

We may not remember the smell or the buzz of a flower garden that was visited in the spring, or the awe of taking a long gaze at a mountain that is intended to be climbed. Or, you may not have the ability to remember the feeling of a tropical breeze, the wonderment at a wild bear, the thrill of a roller coaster, or even the adrenaline of heading out white water rafting. Photographs need to be able to bring these and a variety of sensations back to help trigger memories and communicate exactly how we felt to others who were not there. In order to do this, you should think and feel just as much as you look whenever you set out to take photographs.

To start with, you need to be able think about what make you decide to choose any particular destination out of any other place in the world. Wherever it may be, such as the parks, the beach, galleries, food or the mountains, it appeals to you in some way. If the spot did not appeal to you, you wouldn’t be heaing here. The activity, site, or even the inactivity, happens to be one of the things that you want to be able to photograph. However, there will probably be many other wonderfully interesting aspects of the location that you may not be aware of, which is where your research comes in.

Photographers that work for National Geographic will spend a great deal of time on research, which is what helps us to determine what is there. What is the place about, and what are the subjects that need to be covered. Read up on travel books and brochures, and be sure that you go to bookstores, libraries or look online. Speak to friends who may have been there and pick up as much travel information as you can at the country’s embassy. Finding whatever you can find that is relevant, then devouring it, is the most helpful.

Your understanding of the traditions and customs of the area is vital. It is important that you never act in a manner that is offensive or rude while you are there, as it can be hard to understand what is acceptable and what is not with some knowledge. This will also help you to understand some of the things that people do during an initial encounter that you may find to be simply incomprehensible or horrifying.

After arrival at your destination, try to take note and remain open to first impressions, even writing them down if you need to. A notebook can be a great tool for any travel photographer to have. Once you see a place for the very first time from the window in a plane, or even when you drive around the bend and get a first glimpse, such as when a ship nears your destination island, how does it make you feel? Where are your eyes going first? What is it that you notice about the place initially? Is there a smell, a feeling, a change in temperatures, bright lights, mysterious fog, or a memorable building? No matter what it is that comes into your mind, you need to be able to remember it. The first impression that you have is an invaluable spark for creative interpretation, which by definition will not be repeatable. You may have seen the pictures of the location or you ready about it. However, you are there now and all of your senses are involved.

1. Get Out There

The best way for you to discover the life and rhythm of the place, or to figure out what to shoot, will be to fully experience it. Many locations, particularly those that are hot, will be very active in the morning and then later on in the afternoon, including a lull around the middle of the day. Get up as early as possible and stay out late. When you are on a tour scheduled to leave the ship or hotel at around 9:00, be sure that you get up before dawn. Wander around a bit before meeting up with companions and if the tour goes back to the ship or hotel to grab lunch, stay behind. Instead of taking the bus back at the end, hang around a bit and then take a taxi after sunset. Use whatever spare time that you have and get out to look for photographs. Besides keeping yourself available for more opportunities, you are spending time discovering what place will fully enrich your experience.

2. Get Lost

Take time to sit in cafes to watch the time pass by, or wander down an interesting alley. Try not to eat where tourists do, and take off where you see locals going. Set off down a street that sparks your imagination and see where it leads. Look around the bend, get away from crowds, and meander away from spaces where there are too many tourists. Getting away from what is too familiar and comfortable will help you to easily adapt to the rhythm of a place so that you can be more observant.

Have your camera with you at all times and keep your mind and eyes open. Serendipity actually plays a major role in travel photography results. You will never know what you may run into and you always want to be ready. There are a lot of times that you will see what may make a wonderful photograph, but you will decide that the lighting is not right, there are too little or too few people around. Something will mean you have to come back later. However, you will sometimes get lucky, or you stumble upon a scene that is just perfect at the right moment in time. If you are out of film, you forgot your camera, your storage card is full, or if you need to fumble around to get the best lens on, the moment count be gone before you are able to recover. This will be true whether you are visiting a manmade or natural site, or you are trying your hand at street photography. Any static subjects like trees, monument, or mountains are never going to go anywhere. But, you may find that the soaring eagle, the perfect ray of sun or the couple embracing in front of you will not be likely to hang around for a long time. You need to think of this as a hunting trip. When you leave your camp confines, you should always be able and ready to capture what pops up.

3. Make Time For Your Photography

Just like anything else that you want to do well, creating great photographs will require a commitment level, along with energy and time. A problem with modern travel is that your days are generally chocked full with scheduled events, tours, and meal times. Trips are usually based on limited time, and we always want to see as much as we can during this time. Itineraries will rarely leave a lot of room for serious photography, so you have to be the one to make the time. It can help to make your photographs part of your everyday scheduling. This will help you to avoid the times when you say that you are too busy or that you could always try tomorrow. Stop procrastinating.

While you are traveling, you will more than likely come across all kinds of subjects and situations. This will require you wearing the hat of a jack of all trades, which means that you need to understand how to photograph landscapes, portraits, and everything that comes between.

More than anything, you need to work the situations over. Do not be satisfied with the first view of any place or the first shot that you snap. It is always possible, and more than likely, that you will be able to take a better shot. Why else do painters create initial sketches? Get even closer. Grab different lenses. Try different angles. Wait for the crowd. Check the lighting. Wait for that bird to land on the right branch. You should never be in a rush to get somewhere other than where you are. Tell yourself that there is nothing more important that the best shot that you can get out of whatever situation that you are in. After you have gone through every possibility, you can work on the next adventure.

4. Landscapes

You will find landscapes in all forms, including forests, mountains, swamps, rivers, lakes, deserts, plains, and seacoasts. Every one will have their own characteristics and their own category.

No matter what kind of landscape you may be shooting, you need to think about the essential qualities that make it so. Think about how it makes you feel and any emotions that are stirred up. Show the waves crashing on the rocks, or show how desolated the beach resort is in the winter months.

5. Cities/Towns

Just like landscapes, every town and city will have their very own look and feel. There could be a distinctive setting, a skyline or certain architecture that truly speaks to you. Maybe there is a certain type of food popular to the area or there is a local site that stands out. You will always find at least that one thing that is truly unique.

Helpful Travel Photography Tips

When you cover any location, you need to capture a good sense of the place, look for famous landmarks in the area and understand the life of the inhabitants. When you want to capture cityscapes, for example, think about looking at the postcard racks in a hotel lobby or at a kiosk. They can give you a wonderful sense of the right views that you should be capturing.

6. Buildings/Monuments

Helpful Travel Photography Tips

While you are photographing statues, buildings or monuments, it is best to think about whatever they represent prior to shooting. For example, any cannons that are located on a historic battlefield setting may look a lot better with a foggy background than they would in the bright sunshine. Determine the idea of the subject, then take the lighting, angle and weather into account that may communicate it best.

7. Family Members/Friends

Because we often travel with people that we know, we normally want to come home with plenty of pictures of those that were with us to have as a souvenir of the trip. Always get these, but never forget that we can use the people as subjects to make photographs much more effective.

While taking pictures of friends, strike a good balance between them and a view of the place where you are. For example, a close up portrait of your friend while you are visiting China will make for an incredible memory to share with others. You simply want to capture the essence of the moment and make the picture one that will bring about storytelling in the future. Try not to get so close that there is no context. Instead, look for what draws attention and keep your friend or family member recognizable, while still having a sense of where you are.

Dress Code For Photographers - What You Should Wear On A Photo Shoot

Dress Code For Photographers – What You Should Wear On A Photo Shoot

As an aspiring photographer, one of the main questions you will eventually have is what you should wear on a photo shoot and whether there is a dress code for photographers. The answer will vary widely depending on the specific client you are working for, the kind of photo shoot you will be doing, your overall brand and style as a photographer as well as the culture for the area you are going to be shooting in.

For example, a portrait photographer might have more flexibility in terms of the way she or he dresses compared to someone who is a corporate event photographer. Also, a photographer who is shooting on the West Coast of the U.S. most likely can dress more casually than someone shooting on the East Coast can. Putting these variations aside, the following are some general guidelines for photographer dress codes to help you get started.

1. Invest in a pair of comfortable and solid shoes.

No matter what type of photo shoot you are going to be doing, begin with your shoes. Keep in mind that most likely you are going to be standing for many hours at a time, so ergonomics and comfort are essential. Also consider the terrain you may encounter on your shoot, as well as the weather. Will there be sandy shores, grassy fields, or other kinds of outdoor elements that you may be wandering into in order to get certain angles? If yes, then it will be very important for your shoes to be able to take a beating and then still look good.

I am a female photographer who mainly works with corporate clients, so I usually opt for dress black leather tennis shoes for long shoots in outdoor elements, black leather boots in cold weather or black leather flats in the summer. In any event, it general it’s a good idea to avoid wearing flip flops, high heels or sandals.

2. Cover up

For creative photographers who are constantly searching for creative angles, keep in mind the potential physical maneuvers you might need to do during a shoot like squatting, stooping and bending. You should dress accordingly, and be sure to wear clothing that allows you to be flexible physically without having a wardrobe malfunction or revealing too much to clients. For women, that means avoiding skimpy outfits, ultra short dresses and skirts and low-cut tops. Bring a sweater or blazer to cover up in at the very least. Men, don’t forget to wear a longer shirt and belt that you can tuck in.

3. Wear all black

This point is debatable. It could be argued that a better strategy is to dress according to what your specific brand is. However, as a general rule of thumb, it is best to wear all black in order to be as invisible as you possibly can during a photo shoot. This way you won’t stand out too much and draw attention away from the main subject of your photo shoot. Wearing all black also give you a more official appear, similar to a staff member. This can be useful in navigating around the venue you are working.

Dress Code For Photographers - What You Should Wear On A Photo Shoot

On all my photo shoots, I personally go with the all-black rule. It is one less thing I need to worry about since I have a uniform that is pre-assembled that I can rely on. This uniform for me involves matching and mixing from this selection: a black blazer, several different black polo shirts, several different button-down black blouses, a black leather belt, a pair of black slacks and a pair of black skinny jeans. Whenever I can, I try purchasing my black clothing in moisture resistant, lightweight fabrics instead of cotton so sweat absorption can be avoided.

4. Add a personal touch to your outfit

Some photographers may argue the point above about wearing all black by claiming it is important for you to dress in a way that is consistent with your brand. I definitely believe in that also, but you can still incorporate brand elements into your dress while wearing all black. For instance, I always wear a couple of pieces of statement jewelry for accenting my outfit. They also are great conversation starters. I have a few unique watches, necklaces and pairs of earrings that attract questions or comments, but are also subtle in terms of size so that they aren’t too distracting.

Dress Code For Photographers - What You Should Wear On A Photo Shoot

Another idea is to have black clothing custom ordered with your logo on it, like a polo shirt that has a subtle branding element on it. I have a photography colleague who has done this very successfully to reinforce his brand further, while also giving him a more official appearance during his photo shoots.

5. If you aren’t sure, ask

If you really are in doubt as to what you should wear on a photo shoot, you should ask your client what they prefer. For portrait sessions this probably isn’t too important, but in particular it could be more critical for event photographers, so it doesn’t hurt to simply ask your client. Once time a corporate photography client of mind forget to send me their two-page document which detailed their photographer dress code. I wouldn’t have ever received it if I hadn’t asked. You should at least find out whether the dress code on your shoot is casual, semi-formal or formal, and find out what this means to your client.

The Choice Is Yours

For some photographers, what they wear on a photo shoot might not seem that important. However, I firmly believe that the way you dress reflects your brand, so it is critical to consider each aspect of your outfit.

Are You Looking For Fulfillment As An Amateur Photographer?

Are You Looking For Fulfillment As An Amateur Photographer?

If you happen to be a serious photographer, you may occasionally feel a bit of regret, or at least a touch of envy whenever you meet someone and discover that both of you love photography. Until you find out the the new friend that you made is actually a professional photographer. Is it right to feel jealous the he or she is a professional and you are not? If you are feeling a bit green while thinking about this, you should define what it actually means to be a professional. Then, you can think about the things you could do to find the fulfillment you are looking for as an amateur in the photography world, including learning new techniques, finding a community, specializing, devoting yourself to personal projects and giving back.

Define Professional Photographer

To start off with, you should clarify the major differences between an amateur and a professional. Looking at common definitions, professional photographers get their primary source of income from their photography business. You could argue what actually makes someone a professional photographer, but there is more.

When you are an amateur photographer, it does not mean that you are not actually serious. It will not mean that you are not excellent, either. It is best to clarify that the major difference between being an amateur or a professional is the distinction as to how you earn primary income. If you are a professional, then by definition you have to earn a living by way of your photography work. If you are an amateur, the chances are good that you also have other sources of income. It is not going to be necessary for you to sell your works to help you pay for the rent.

Find Fulfillment As An Amateur

Maybe defining work as a professional photographer in this way rather than what would be a reflection of whether your work is good and given you more of a perspective than simply being an amateur is a good thing. If you are feeling a bit floppy on the whole thing, and you think that being a professional in the photography world would be a lot better than working as an amateur, then start acting like a pro. Focus on all of the things that a pro would do that can make the rest of us respect them so very much. It is best to remember that the goal as an amateur is not to generate income, and it is to find fulfillment in photography. Here are some ideas:

Foster New Techniques

If you have a good friend that shoots macro flowers, and you are looking to shoot with them, it will be best for you to learn all of the macro photography techniques. Even if you are normally someone who simply photographs horses, it will make sense for you to learn how to understand all of the inner workings of shooting and processing shots on macro flowers and putting together a portfolio of your best images. The bottom line is that whenever an opportunity comes about for you to learn a new technique, including portrait lighting, macro photography or diving into Photoshop, take the time to learn. Professional photographers that have the ability to remain relevant are those who are always learning.

Remain Open To New Technologies And Ideas

There will always come a time when you are faced with new technology and different ways of doing things. Looking back now, can you imagine what it was like before the digital age came into play? The bottom line is that change is always happening and you need to pick and choose your battles as to what you want to learn and what you want to stay away from, as this can have a major impact on your success as a professional, or an amateur for that matter. For example, even if you are not a fan of HDR, you should remain open to learning the techniques that are involved, as they could be beneficial to you in the near future.

Community

Most professional photographers will all know one another. All you have to do is take a look at the attendees for major conferences and you are going to see that well-known professionals will be diving into seminars and meetings with people they have been working with and around for many years. Even people who did not know each other very well at the beginning of the conference will generally feel like old friends by the time the event concludes. The best thing about this sort of professional camaraderie is that everyone comes together in the cyclone known as photography, including staff, volunteers, students, presenters and professionals.

Are You Looking For Fulfillment As An Amateur Photographer?

If you visit such a conference, there will generally be plenty of opportunities where you can become a second shooter, a behind the scenes photographer or even participate in photo walks. Each of these opportunities will not magically appear after such conferences, but they are there. If you do not have a community, you will never find out about these opportunities. You are not going to be looking for your next paid gig, but if you network with the serious photographers and professionals, you will find the spark that will motivate you to pick up the camera.

When you find something incredible, you have to take advantage of it. For example, when you are in front of the Chicago Theater sign and there are rain puddles forming on the ground below, take the time to snap shots of the pools of light that are reflecting the iconic image. It is the opportunities like this that can bring you from the level of a beginner to a real photographer. You simply have to know what to look for.

Specialize

There are very few professional photographers that will work in all genres today, with most picking a specialty. They are going to be known more specifically for fashion, weddings, wildlife, portraits, architecture, landscapes and more. Some photographers will specialize even more. For example, if there is a wedding photographer that specializes in documentary style, black and white photography for wedding shoots, brides are not going to be hiring him for traditional portraits of 12 bridesmaids standing in a row. Instead, they hire him for grabbing shots that other photographers will not see. When are an amateur, you can specialize and become an expert for your field in your local area.

Giving Back

Professional photographers will always give back. It is part of networking, but also a great opportunity to create images that are meaningful. Photographing animals that have been abandoned at a local rescue shelter, teaching the disadvantaged youth more about the world of photography, or even donating your time to charitable foundations and non-profit events to give back.

Personal Projects

Personal projects

Professional photographers that shoot weddings all weekend while you were off taking pictures of flowers probably also has projects that he or she works on in their off-work hours. Personal projects are great for helping professionals to stay in touch with what made them photographers to begin with. They can sink themselves into these meaningful projects and remind them of why they are artists.

The professionals may not plan to show any personal images that they shoot, as they are simply creating them to enjoy themselves. By the same token, they could be creating a coffee table book filled with street photograph. Personal projects will also work the same way for an amateur, as they can help you to define yourself as an artist and give you meaningful creative outlets.

Redefine The Term Amateur

You can use these ideas whenever you shoot to find fulfillment. Just remember because your primary income may not be tied to photography, you will have more choices head of you where a professional may not. You do not have to compromise by taking a job just so that you can pay the rent.

You are making the images for you!

When a paid opportunity happens to come along, you can take it into consideration based upon the enjoyment that you will get out of it. You may even be able to buy a brand new lens that you have been looking for, instead of worrying about paying bills with it. If you are “just an amateur”, these are things that you do not have to stress over.

Are you an amateur or professional photographer? How do you define both of these? Do you happen to have an opinion as to whether or not it is better if you are a professional or an amateur? The more that you learn about these things, the more that you will be able to get out of your chosen path with photography.

Do you have thoughts on this subject that you would like to share? Comment below.

The key to improving your photography is repetition

8 Advanced Street Photography Tips That Can Help Take You to the Next Level

Teaching and learning can only get you so far in photography. At some point, you’ll reach a skill level that makes it up to you to put time and effort into continued improvement. You must take some time to master your skills in order to improve your photos. Luckily, there are things you can do beyond dedication and self-learning. However, there are some advanced street photography tips that can be used, which can help you improve your skill level and take better photos.

1. Use Your Eye, Not A Viewfinder

It is common for people to look straight into a viewfinder when making a photograph. This allows you to forget the world around you, however, this can make street photography difficult. Through the viewfinder, your vision is hindered significantly. This can damage your ability to spontaneously capture moments. You must see everything happening around you. This can help anticipate the moments about to occur in front of the camera.

8 Advanced Street Photography Tips That Can Help Take You to the Next Level

Your eyes are the best viewfinder. You will also notice more if you use your eyes. Use your eyes to scan an area, looking for subjects from far and near, waiting until you notice something. Then you can use the viewfinder to help you capture the moment. If you start by looking through the viewfinder, when the moment happens, you’ll be a half-second too slow. The viewfinder will slow down your ability to notice the moment when it occurs.

2. Embrace Spontaneity

According to Garry Winogrand, this is one of the best tips he received early in his photography education. It set him on a path to becoming one of the world’s most renowned photographers. You can spend your time thinking about what you’d like to shoot or your current work, but when you’re shooting, you should embrace your gut instincts. Don’t worry about whether you’re doing a good job, or not, or trying to work out the little details. Instead, push these thoughts aside and enjoy yourself.

There’s no need to worry about what others will think. If you believe there’s a chance for a good photograph, go for it. It doesn’t matter how weird you think the image may be. Your brain will try to talk you out of it. There’s a reason for the gut feeling, so make sure to use it to your advantage. Using your instincts allow you to shoot confidently. This will show in your work. They’ll feel more you and more real. Of course, you’ll take more bad photographs, however, the good ones will be much better. Trust your gut instincts.

Keep in mind that it’s easy to take this suggestion too far. You don’t want to machine-gun fire your camera without having an inkling of a good photograph. Although you want to take lots of photos, you still want to improve your skill. Taking random rapid photos is taking things too far. Turn off continuous shooting and ensure you’re able to capture and recognized the moment with just a few shots.

3. Think About How Your Photos Will Age

Think about our work in the historical context. If you look at classic photographs, think about what makes it special. The modest old photographs of fashions and window displays look incredible. However, these same photographs may have seemed ordinary when they were shot. If you could go back in time and take photographs, what do you think might interest you. This may be much different from what other photographers were shooting.

Is there any part of your life, that you believe will be interesting in the future? What will change? In the future, will people spend every second staring into their cell phones will huge headphones on their heads, disconnected from the world around them? Who knows?

Try not to take things for granted. If you feel yourself disregarding something in your life, think about why you feel this way. Occasionally, the situations you want to ignore, make the best photographs. So, pay careful attention to the things that are going on around you.

4. Create Themes and Consistency in Your Photos

The more you shoot, the more you’ll notice that you’re attracted to certain photographs. Find consistencies when editing, then embrace them. Over time, these ideas can blossom, becoming full-fledged books and projects.

Group the images together into collections. Consider the type of photograph that you’d like to add. The next time you come across a moment, fitting into a category, you can quickly notice and capture it. Every individual photograph is a work of art. Each collection of photographs is also a work of art. Play with the order of the photographs. The meaning which comes out will vary with different sequences.

Consistency does not mean you should avoid photographing various types of subject matter. It also does not mean you can’t use black and white and color photography. You may be diverse in your shooting methods and techniques. You can change your style and evolve as you go. However, you should still group consistencies into a project so that the photos fit together.

5. Repetition

The key to improving your photography is repetition. You must take frequent photographs to keep your eyes sharp and improve your hand-eye coordination. Over time your instincts will improve. The more often you take photographs, the better you will be. Don’t get rusty. Even the best photographs must continually work on their craft, to maintain and improve their skills level.

The key to improving your photography is repetition

If you learn to enjoy the act of photography, it will be easier for you to walk out the door and shoot more. You should not have to wait to feel inspired. Photography is not about being inspired or uninspired. If you enjoy walking, you can create a plan for how you can take photographs while you’re out. Just like going to the gym, you need to stick to your plan if you want to see results. Over time, this plan will become a routine and your enjoyment will grow.

There’s no need to worry about bringing back great photographs. This might happen, but you should not feel said if you don’t get anything good during your session. Good photographs will come in time, however, if you often feel frustrated, it can affect your shot. Enjoy the process of being out in the world. Do something you love. The more you enjoy that, the better.

6. Photograph Where You Live

You can use where you live as a backdrop for a project, whether you live in a small suburb, or the middle of a big city. Look for an area that you frequent most and know best. Go to a place that you think would be boring for photographs. Then, you can figure out how to get the best photos. Don’t take anything for granted. Anything can make a beautiful and good photograph. It only takes dedication.

7. Emotion and Gesture

A photographer’s job is to pass on an idea or emotion to the viewers of their work. How you do this, is something you should figure out. Search for emotions and feelings when shooting. Aim to create evocative photographs.

When photographing people, capture them while portraying emotions. This can be shown through facial expressions, what they’re doing, or their body gestures. Sometimes, you may capture unique looking people with no gesture or emotion, which will ruin the photograph. Other times, you’ll capture the image of someone that you didn’t think would be a great subject, but their gestures and emotions can make the photograph. When you photograph people, emotions are essential.

8. Zone Focusing

In street photography, zone focusing is one of the hardest technical skills to master, but it’s important to learn. At first, you’ll screw up many of your photographs, however, over time it will become more accurate. This is the best way to obtain a sharp photograph.

Zone focusing works well in busy areas. However, this technique can be used anytime, after your skill improves. I personally zone focus 60 percent of the time, then use autofocus for the rest. If your subject is still, and you have time to autofocus, it’s good to use this feature to guarantee perfect focus. The rest of the time, zone focusing should be used.

What is Zone Focusing and How Is It Done?

Zone focusing is a strategy that uses manual focus for your camera. You must guess the subject’s distance. This means you’ll need a distance meter in your camera or on your lens. You must set your camera, or lens, to manual focus. Then you can set your focus to a specific distance from the camera. I prefer a distance of 8 to 10 feet, although I will use a smaller distance in a really busy are where people are close together. Next, determine how far away the person is from the camera and now you know that all subjects ate that distance will be sharp.

You can do zone focusing at very large apertures, even f/2. However, this can become difficult. The focusing strategy will work better with the f/16, f/11, and f/8 apertures and a wide-angle lens, like the 35mm. This ensures your image has a large depth of field, but you must make sure you raise the ISO in order to achieve this effect and still maintain a fast shutter speed.

There may be a significant area in front of the spot you’re focusing on, and behind it. Everything in this area will be in sharp focus. This can help when you miscalculate distance, such as when the perfect moment occurs and you’re not able to focus on the exact area or if you have several subjects at varying distances and you want all their images to be relatively sharp.

It’s a good idea to start zone focusing in an area with bright sunlight while using a wide-angle lens. Then, you will be able to shoot at f/16 or f/11, which means more of your images will be sharp. This gives you less to worry about. Set the focus at 8 to 10 feet away. Pay attention to your subject, more than what you’re focusing on. This can be a very freeing experience for a photographer. Any time you’re able to save time by not having to focus will make it easier for you to capture moments. This will help you catch instantaneous and spontaneous moments as they appear.

6 Tips To Help You Capture Action Within Your Wildlife Photos

6 Tips To Help You Capture Action Within Your Wildlife Photos

Even using the top-end DSLR cameras and the fastest lenses, it can be tricky to catch fast movement within your wildlife photos. The physical speed on your autofocus might not be able to track and keep up with a moving subject. Due to the limitations that your equipment might have, you might discover that you miss a fight going on between two animals or a flutter of wings.

Fortunately, there are a few things that can be done to overcome these problems. The following are my best tips for capturing action within your wildlife photos successfully.

1. Pay Close Attention To Behavioral Clues

Animals are really good at providing information about what they are about to do next. When you pay very close attention to the subjects you want to photograph, then there is a good chance you can predict the future and end up with a great chance to capture something amazing on camera. You can frequently apply a general overall rule to a certain class of animals, instead of having to learn a hundred or more different cues from all kinds of different species. For instance, when a bird is getting ready to fly off, a majority will lean forwards first and before taking flight appear “twitchy.”

While I was photographing a greenshank, it was taking a bath in a puddle that was in a field. Based on my experience, I knew that after preening and bathing that birds shake off or fluff their feathers. I properly composed the image, then I waited while having the subject in focus and having my finger ready on the trigger. Probably after waiting for around 20 minutes, eventually the bird stretched its wings out and I clicked my camera shutter.

What made capturing this moment possible was having the ability to anticipate this behavior. If I had attempted to jump into the action after seeing the stretch, this action would have long been over before I could even get my camera focused. I applied this same principle to another image. I discovered a black-headed gull who was washing itself and dipping his head underwater. Soon after finishing, the gull threw droplets into the air. What made the image possible was waiting in position.

2. Don’t Use Live View

live mode that comes with your DSLR camera

With wildlife photos you shouldn’t touch the live mode that comes with your DSLR camera. It makes it very difficult to do tracking, and anytime you engage autofocus your live view will go off and the mirror will flip down. Due to the way you have to end up holding your camera, things also become unstable. Stick with using your viewfinder instead. It is a lot easier to track your subject and react quickly with that method.

3. Use A Shutter Speed That Is Sufficient

Of course you need to have a sufficient amount of available light. However, you also need to make sure you use a fast enough shutter speed for freezing movement. One general rule that you will want to use in order to avoid having camera shake is to have 1 over your camera’s focal length. For example, when using a 400mm lens, in order to avoid camera blue your shutter speed should be a minimum of 1/400th second.

However, the rule still might not provide you with a fast enough shutter speed for freezing the subject. Adjustments may be required since animals frequently move very quickly. A good option for flying or fast running animals is 1/1000th second or higher. In terms of what shutter speed you will need, it depends on what you’re wanting to photograph, and exactly how you will be shooting it.

One good tip is making sure you review your images whenever possible and check to make sure you are using a fast enough shutter speed. Zoom in on your LCD and check for motion blue. Increase the shutter speed if you find any.

4. Don’t Stick With Your Tripod

If you feel comfortable holding your camera, then perhaps you can get rid of your tripod. Certain tripod heads, such as ball heads, can restrict you when you are attempting to follow a subject that is moving when it does a lot of stopping and starting. When you have to undo knobs in order you to move your camera, it can really slow you down.

When you free your camera from your tripod it let you move about freely. Engage the vibration reduction on the lens of your camera. That will help to eliminate camera shake. However, if you use a fast enough shutter speed you shouldn’t have that problem.

5. Use Continuous Focus

You should switch over to continuous focus mode on your camera in order to track focus on a moving subject. If you’re having to refocus manually continually due to your camera locking onto one spot after focus is achieved, then most likely you will be one step behind whatever animal you are trying to photograph at all times. Continuous mode helps to prevent the lane of focus from shifting.

6 Tips To Help You Capture Action Within Your Wildlife Photos

Make sure you check the menu on your camera and locate the setting that chooses whether pressing the shutter or achieving focus receives priority. You should set it to shutter. That will ensure you can fire frames off at those opportune times.

6. Lay in Wait

If the focusing motors on your equipment are too slow and unable to keep up with an animal that is moving, you need to change your approach. Search for patterns of behavior, like the route an animal make take on a regular basis. There is a good chance that they will pause at certain places. Focus on that spot, and point your camera directly at it. Then lay in wait, and as soon as the animal comes into view, then fire your shutter.

Whenever you are trying to follow a bird while it is in flight, try to set your focus on a plane that the bird is going to pass through. By this point you will need to be in manual focus. Pan right along with the bird, and hold the shutter down to use the burst mode as the animal passes by you. If you have timed things right, hopefully one of your shots at least will be in focus. In order to get the focal plane adjusted to an optimum distance you will need to do this several times, and have some luck on your side as well!

4 Tips To Maximize The Use Of Your Kit Lens

If you are a beginner photographer who is purchasing your first interchangeable-lens camera, most likely the camera body you choose will have a starter lens that it comes with. This is also referred to as a kit lens. Usually kit lenses are priced quite inexpensively and are found on a manufacturer’s offerings lower end. A majority of experienced photographers turn up their noses whenever a kit lens is mentioned. However, as technology keeps evolving, kit lens continue to improve with every new camera release. So if you just bought a camera, check out the following four tips to maximize the use of your brand new kit lens.

Why Should A Kit Lens Be Used?

As previously mentioned, kit lens work best for those who are just getting started with a specific model of camera. If you don’t know what lens you should buy for your new camera, go with the kit lens that is recommended. The first kit lens that I invested in was when I first entered into the mirrorless world and bought a Sony a6300.

I was intending to use this camera for casual travelling, so I didn’t want to buy an expensive Sony lens, so I just went with the 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens that was included. This lens choice was not only cheap, but it was very compact as well due to its retractable zoom. The kit lens of course had lots of different pros and cons to it, but after doing some practicing with it, I was able to take shots that rival the ones taken with my L-series lenses and full-frame Canon DSLR. The following are a few practical tips to help you get the most from your news kit lens.

1. Usually kit lenses come with variable apertures.

The kit lenses from a majority of camera manufacturers come with variable apertures, which means as the local length is increased, the minimum and maximum aperture sizes decrease. The feature is what makes the lens a lot less expensive than fixed aperture lenses. However, for experienced photographers it can be very frustrating when they want constant aperture (like f/4 or f/2.8) on all focal lengths. But most likely variable apertures won’t matter that much to casual and beginning photographers.

The Sony 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 is most certainly a variable aperture lens, which basically compromises packing the focal length into a very small physical space. In general this was fine since I was mainly shooting landscape and street photography during the day. However, not having constant aperture did become very frustrating whenever I tried to shoot in low light conditions.

2. Know what limits your kit lens has

Before you use your kit lens to start shooting away, you need to realize that there is a reason why they have a stigma attached to them. Very rarely do kit lenses offer the finest image quality. Instead it’s a trade-off for them being less expensive and more compact. For my Sony 16-50mm kit lens that’s definitely the case.

4 Tips To Maximize The Use Of Your Kit Lens

The lens has a fairly decent mid-range zoom, thank to its retractable zoom that is packed into a very small body. Its size actually rivals the Sony 20mm f/2.8, which is the camera maker’s official pancake lens. However, as a compromise, there is a tendency for images to be on the softer side, and when using 16mm to shoot wide there is obvious distortion. Also, the variable aperture on the lens does come with some limitation whenever you are shooting without flash in low light. Becoming familiar with the limitations of your kit lens will help you make adjustments to your expectations and provide you with a better understanding of what you can photograph well using the lens as well as what you might struggle with or not photograph very well.

3. Find the sweet spot on your lens

For all of our discussion of kit lens limitations and compromises, it’s very important to also recognize that every lens does have a redeeming quality – which is its sweet spot. When it comes to the exact process of discovering the sweet spot of your lens, there is much that could be said. However for a brief summary, the sweet spot when shooting produces the sharpest possible image using that lens. Based on my experience using the Sony 16-50mm kit lens, the sweet spot for it is 35mm at f/8. Even then the images aren’t as sharp as I want them to be, since the corners of the frames still are fairly soft. However, when it comes to the abilities of the lens this is when they are at their best.

4. Use a prime lens to supplement your lens kit

As previously mentioned, typically kit lens suffer the most in terms of producing really tack sharp images as well as trying to work in low light. Investing in a prime lens is the best way of combating this while remaining in a price range that is affordable and that doesn’t add a lot of bulk onto your gear.

The prime lens that you end up selecting will vary depending on your photography style, your budget and the brand. In general, it is best to opt for a prime lens in the 35mm to 50mm range, given that the closest focal composition for the human eye is 35mm. For my Sony setup, I chose the 20mm f/2.8 pancake as the prime lens for supplementing my 16-50mm kit lens. Now I can use my prime lens whenever ultimate image sharpness is critical and for shooting in low lighting conditions.

Summary

The first essential step that you need to take in mastering how to use your lens is to understand what your kit lens limitations are. Those limitations become more obvious the longer you experiment with and use it. You can also learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of a specific kit lens through reading critical and user reviews online.

4 Tips For Supercharging Your Lightroom Workflow

In this article, we will be discussing four tips to assist you with supercharging your post-processing and Lightroom workflow. That way you will be able to spend more time on photography, which is the part you actually love doing!

The Issue

It can be a very time-consuming and daunting task to have to go through several hundred photos following a photo session to the point it can feel more like an unpleasant chore than a creative and enjoyable part of the overall photography process. Those late nights of staring at the collection of photos on your computer monitor can really take all the fun away from photography. It may make you want to throw your computer monitor out the window, and toss your camera gear in the garbage and look for real estate prices on desert islands so that you don’t have to edit a photo ever again in your life.

Fortunately, a majority of image editing programs come with some kind of built-in photo management system to help with streamlining your editing. A set of tools comes with Lightroom that have continued to be perfected over the course of many years worth of iterative development. They can really help you with cutting down on the amount of time you need to spend on your post-processing workflow. Whether you are just getting started with photography or are a seasoned veteran, the following are four technique you can use to help you save valuable time and perhaps bring back your artistic spark that you might have lost somewhere along the way.

1. Create presets of your own

A majority of people realize that Lightroom provides an extensive selection of built-in presets for you to use. You can even purchase additional sets. However, although these can be very useful, they may not meet all of your specific photography needs. If you are anything like me, you have a tendency to use the presets as your starting point and then continue tweaking your images endlessly. However, it can be tricky at times to get to the right starting point.

The solution for this is user-created presets. Lightroom allows you to save adjustments in any combination as a Preset within its Develop module that can be applied at any time to any photo. When going through my initial photo imports I find this very useful. I like to add some vim and vigor to my RAW files coming out of my Nikon D750 right away. So on import, usually I apply a preset that I made and named “Nikon RAW Import. It adjusts shadow levels, white, black and a couple of other parameters. It provides me with a great starting point for practically any image and when editing helps save a lot of time.

Saving Your Presets

In order to make presets of your own, go into the Develop module and then changing your sliders values dial in the levels of noise reduction and sharpening that your prefer and adjust the tone curve and you will be 90% done. Once you have created your initial edits, go into the Develop menu and select “New Preset.” Choose the parameters you want to include in your Preset. Finally click on “Create.”

Now your Preset is ready to use and can be applied with just one click to a set of images or one image. You can do this through choosing them (via the thumbnails) within the Develop module. Just right-click on the images you and want and then select “Develop Settings > User Presets > Your Preset Name.” Your Preset can also be applied to all of your photos when you import them by going to the Import screen and choosing the option “Apply During Import” located on the right-hand side of the screen. Pull down the menu called “Develop Settings” and your presets will be in the list.

As an added bonus, it is even possible to share your Presets by navigating over to the folder where they are stored on your hard drive (“Preferences” menu > Presets > Show Lightroom Presets Folder), and then copy the file that has your Preset data in it and then share it with whoever you want to.

2. Sync edits over multiple photos

This option is something that photographers are crazy about! You can save so much time for your Lightroom workflow through using this one odd trick! It might sound cheesy and something that might be found on a used car site, but it really is true in this case.

Over numerous photo sessions you’ll end up having dozens of images which are fairly similar to one another and therefore can frequently benefit from having the same kinds of adjustments done to them. For example, you photograph a wedding and end up with 20 very nice images of all of the groomsmen getting ready in the church office and adjusting their vests. It could easily take you 5 to 10 minutes to adjust the noise reduction, color saturation, highlights, black levels and white balance. Finally you have one photo looking just right. Then you suddenly realize there are still 19 more for you to do. At that point you thinking about how much you could sell your 70-200mm lens for on Craigslist since you know it’s going to be another long editing session of staying up way too late and drinking too many cups of coffee.

Syncing Your Processing Setting

There is actually some hope after all! To sync the edits instantly from your first photo to all of the others that are similar, choose the initial image while in filmstrip view which is located on the bottom of your Develop panel. Next hold the shift key down while choosing the rest of the images and then click on the Sync button, which is located in the lower-right corner of the screen.

You can select which edits you would like to sync, and then once you click the button, all of your other images are edited instantly just like your first one. You have just saved a ton of time. You are very welcome.

Or you can use the Copy/Paste option for copying edits from one photo over to another one. However, you can only do this with one photo at a time. In my experience, the Sync option is a lot more useful.

3. Use the White Balance Eyedropper

As a beginner digital photographer, I was the type of individual wanted to do everyone on my own. Auto mode? No thanks, I can set the exposure on my own. Autofocus? No, I don’t think so.

I learned over time to let go some of my tendencies except for one glaring exception. For far too long I stuck with setting the while balance in post-production on my RAW files.

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Setting the white balance properly is the absolute foundation for most photo editing. Usually you can achieve a good result if you fiddle around with the Tint and Temp sliders long enough. The problem is that takes a very long time, particularly when you have hundreds of images to work on. It takes lots of guesswork as well as trial and error to get the white balance just right.

How To Use The Eyedropper

There is a strange icon located on the left-hand side of the Develop module’s Basic Panel. It looks like a light saber or maybe a medieval dagger. It is actually an eyedropper. It can help you a great deal when it comes to getting the proper white balance to use on your RAW files.

Click on the icon and then locate a slightly gray (neutral) spot on the photo. Not pure white, but a bit off-white to provide Lightroom with a reference point for calculating the value for how the other colors in the photo should look. It neutralizes any shift or color cast in the area. Then in half a second your photo is now white balanced correctly. However, in case it doesn’t look exactly right you can still use the sliders to make adjustments. When you use the eyedropper, it isn’t a totally guaranteed method. However, it almost aways will get you very close or right on the mark.

4. When Culling Images, Flag/Reject

Recently I was chatting with a friends who takes lots of photos of his children using his DSLR. He said that for him one of the toughest things to do was going through his images and removing the bad ones. So his solution is just to not delete anything.

If that sounds like you, whether you happen to be an amateur or profession, and you aren’t able to bring yourself to click on the Delete key whenever you are looking through your photos – Lightroom can help you.

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Maybe you did a family portrait session and you got 20 pics of just dad and mom, 50 that were taken in burst mode with their children sitting on their laps. And also a few hundred when the pet ferret joined in on the shoot. It would be easy to discard some of your imaged due to them being poorly composed, or out of focus, but what about all of the others? What about the ones are still pretty good but also fairly similar?

Flagging Images In Lightroom

When you are in Lightroom and scanning through your library, the arrow keys can be used for moving from one image to another, and the X and P keys are for marking images as rejects or keepers. Tap on the X to give is a small black flag that denotes it is a rejected image or tap on P to give a pic a white flag.

A Rejected photo isn’t worthy or your consideration while a flagged pic is one you have highlighted as being especially good. When you mark a photo as Rejected it doesn’t delete it. That way you can go back any time and look at it later if you want to. However, as you are culling it does signal to you that it doesn’t need to be considered.

Filter Your Image

The filter bar located on the bottom of your screen can also be used for showing only the images that are Rejected, Unflagged or Flagged by clicking on the corresponding icon. If you mark an image improperly by accident, just press on the U key in order to remove its Rejected or Flagged status.

Using the Rejected and Flagged marking has reduced my editing time by a significant amount and will most likely decrease yours also. In a similar way, the number keys 1-5 can be used for marking images to give them one to five stars. You can also use the number 6-9 for labeling images with various colors. I don’t find these as useful as just using the Rejected/Flag method while doing my initial culling. However, I do find it a lot more useful when deciding, for example, which of the images are worth showing to clients, sharing or printing or are the very best images.

Your Turn

I hope you find the above tips to be useful. Definitely there are a lot more options to help make your Lightroom workflow go even smoother that we don’t have time to cover in just one article.