Hints: Best Photo Tips Ever!

Hints: Best Ever

If you’ve my blog posts regarding photography, you’ve heard me almost if not full on RANT about the flood of marketing hype on technology vs art. I’m a firm believer that buying a new set of paints, brushes, canvas and an easel does not make one an artist. The same holds true for photography. You can purchased the biggest, best, camera; the latest apps, the latest software and it won’t make you a photographer. It’ll just make a big dent in your bank account.

You’ve heard me go on and on about exposure, composition, lighting and knowing camera limitations. I like other photographers would be more than willing to answer questions, offer how-to’s and hints, coach those interested in the medium as an art form.

It makes me think about time I was at an event talking with another photographer, when an acquaintance came up to me. The person was there to photograph the event. Their images we way over exposed. The photographer (well actually, picture taker) asked for my help to figure out the problem. My problem was I was handed a Nikon camera when I shoot Canon. I had to figure out the menu navigation in order to help solve the problem. The photographer (picture taker) couldn’t even navigate the menu.

After getting the “picture taker” situated, it dawned on me; This person is the Official Event Photographer? Are you kidding me? Hey why not, the person has a “big camera”, they must know what they’re doing.

Anyway back to the original idea behind this post. I have a “Google Alert” set for portrait + photography, so interesting articles come in to my inbox. The other day, there it was. The article that summarized every really cool photography hint to the non-photographer. Guess what, no special camera/phone, no wiz-bang app, no marketing hype, just good-ole photography basics. The best advice anyone could give a wanna-be and good reminders for the seasoned photographer – like me! So I decided to include the article for  your benefit.

http://www.telegram.com/entertainmentlife/20170102/avoid-dull-snapshots-tips-for-taking-stunning-pictures

Please look it over. In fact, book mark it as you may want to go back to it again. I have to hurry up and finish my post so I can go back and read it again. Afterwards, take a moment to give me your thoughts on the hints. Remember the goal is not to make you a National Geographic staff photographer, but to help you improve your photos on Facebook. Let me know what you think. You can even post your questions for more discussion. Happy shooting!

tom-szabo.com logo

tom-szabo.com; jewelry, photography & scuba instruction.

Commitment to Craft

Commitment To Craft

Those of you who know me are probably aware of my commitment to my craft – Photography. I’m willing to help people solve a problem. I use this medium to share tips and techniques. Yes, I’ll give you suggestions/critique on your work. It doesn’t matter to me if you use a DSLR or a cell phone camera. Although I have my opinion about cell phone shooters – chuckle!

It’s been my expressed opinion that people often fall into the trap of believing high-dollar corporate marketing about their technology vs individual skill. Meaning buy our product and you can create like the pros. If that were the case, our entire golfing population would be on the pro tour because they bought expensive golf clubs. Now we all know the truth behind that one.

To be a good – not necessarily award winning photographer, takes time, effort and knowledge. Time spent experimenting with your tools. Effort to work at your craft. Learning about your camera, exposure, composition and lighting. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect you to get a degree in photography. However you need to learn enough to achieve the results you desire. Buying the latest and greatest technology doesn’t do that.

You may have heard my comment: A poor image with an Instagram filter is still a poor image. Can filters and special effects enhance your results? Bet your media card it will. It all starts with a well done image and that happens using the skills I mentioned above.

A great way to begin understanding what makes good photography is to study those recognized for being a master of their craft. Why do art students spend so much time in class and places like art museums? They’re studying the masters. It doesn’t mean you copy them, but you need to recognize what makes them a master and try the studied technique.

On occasion I’ve offered a link to a photographer I feel has a “Good Eye”. This link just came across my inbox: https://www.theguardian.com/music/gallery/2016/nov/16/patrick-harbron-intimate-rock-photography

Take a look at Patrick Harbron’s work. Most of it seems was created during the age of film photography. You’ll see how He uses composition, lighting and equipment to get his results. If you’d like a discussion about what film teaches us, that’s another topic. Does Mr. Harbron get special access at events? Probably. But might you’ll be able to get special access at your child’s next performance or sports outing? Maybe – give it a try and let me know about your results. Oh yeah, be sure to check out Mr. Harbron’s work.

tom-szabo.com logo, commitment, craft

tom-szabo.com; jewelry, photography & scuba instruction.

Photographing Flowers – Easy?

Photographing Flowers!

In a recent article by Hana Tavener for I-News – The Essential Daily Briefing, she listed five suggestions to help you photograph flowers.

1 – Get Close

2 – Focus/Depth of Field

3 – The Whole Wide World (or field of view)

4 – Timed To Perfection (Time lapse)

5 – Vary Your Conditions

You can learn more by reading the entire article.

Let me suggest that you look over the 5 topics listed above. Do you see anything that says walk up to a flower and push the button? Of course not. To create good photography, you need to to use the gray matter between your ears – your BRAIN. Learning a little about photography also helps. That means reading to learn about your camera, exposure, composition and of course shoot and shoot and shoot some more. You can’t create art by buying the most expensive camera and simply point it at a subject.

First of all let’s get down to basics – your smart phone is NOT smart! You are a “Human” with the power to learn and think. That also means applying what you’re thinking and learning. So by all means, read. Then go out and apply what you read by shooting. That’s how you become a better photographer (vs. a “pitcher-taker”).

In addition, search for well known photographers. read what they write and study their work. It really helps. Good luck and keep shooting.

purple cone flower

Purple Cone Flower shot in author’s back yard.

This Portrait Video Will Make You Think About Lighting

Portrait Photography And Lighting.

Portrait photography requires that you always think about lighting. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a boat-load of studio equipment or a cell phone. I found this short video demonstrating 3 different set ups. These set ups will demonstrate how you can change the result using some minor tweaks of lighting.

Obviously you’ll notice how much equipment a professional photographer uses. That’s not the point. The point here is when taking a picture of another person or persons, you have to open your eyes and plan your shot accordingly. I hope you find the video helpful! Feel free to post your questions, comments or thoughts.

tom szabo, tom-szabo.com, portrait photographer for families, high school students and executives

Notice how your eye is drawn to the subject in this image?

Make Shutter Speed A Photography Tool

If you have read some of my posts, you may have read this before: “You’ve got to be smarter than the camera!” That means understanding how the camera works and camera limitations. Cell phone manufacturers want you to believe that you can take professional photos with their product. Well, even a blind squirrel finds a nut! Good images are made not taken. So that means what I said earlier – “You’ve got to be smarter than the camera!”

Lets start with one of the tools used to create good images – Shutter Speed. Simply the time the sensor is exposed to light from a scene or subject. That time be be a fraction of a second to minutes. Shutter speed can be a very creative tool. Read on to learn more and see some wonderful examples.

Why Does This Photo Look So Bad?

Cell phone, point-n-shoot or DSLR camera, it doesn’t matter. A bad photo is still a bad photo. As I said before, A bad photo with an Instagram filter is still a bad photo, it just has an Instagram filter! Do you even recognize that you’ve taken a bad photo – maybe, maybe not.

Many unsuccessful photo are the result of not paying attention to lighting. I created a short video to demonstrate one of the major outdoor lighting problems and a couple hints to help correct it. I hope you find it helpful. As always, let me know your thoughts.

7 Tips To Look More Professional!

Using LinkedIn as an example, look at the profile pictures that people use? In addition, have you noticed how many people don’t have a profile photo?

Let me offer some suggestions as to how your professional head shot should or should not look:

  1. Lighting – Look at your photo to insure the lighting is even and flattering. Stay away from bright backgrounds when you are in shadow. When taking your picture in the office, use fill flash. This will keep the big black covers off your eyes. Oh yeah, take off the sunglasses. If you have dark hair, don’t stand in front of a dark or black wall. Your hair will practically disappear from your head.
  2. Exposure – Many sites may darken your photo. So if your photo is already too dark, you may disappear from view. Check that your photo has enough brightness.
  3. Location – Find a location that compliments you and makes you the appear as the subject. Stay away from photos taken at parties or your night out with the gang. In case no one told you, your car is absolutely the last place to take your professional head shot as a “selfie”. In addition, forget the “duck-lip” look.
  4. Color Balance – If you want to look professional, use the proper white balance setting on your cell phone camera. This is why your picture looks overly red or blue. Pay attention to the ambient light. If there is a lot of a single color in the lighting (a lot of red lights from the neon Budweiser sign at the bar), go to another location.
  5. Crop – There are way too many profile photos where the subject was cropped from a group photo. That hand on your shoulder from the person standing next to you is a dead give away. Crop the photo to include your head and shoulders. Don’t crop off the top of your head an ear or your chin. Stay away from cropping too little. You become almost unrecognizable when dropped from the waist to above your head.
  6. Aspect Ratio – Make sure you maintain the correct aspect ration on your photo. That will prevent the photo from being squashed making you look like a “pin-head”. Make sure the file is sized so the image does not shrink after you upload it. When this happens, you may almost disappear on some screens.
  7. Photo/No Photo? – Use a photo as opposed to the grey silhouette icon.  Most professionals will delete connection requests from unknowns with no photo.

To truly be viewed of as a professional in your industry have a professionally created head shot done. How can you be viewed as valuable if you won’t invest in yourself? If you have any questions or want to learn more about your professional head shot, please feel free to contact me.

How A Photographer Turned Pro!

Almost everyone today believes that technology makes you a photographer. You’ve heard me talk about understanding light, learning the craft, knowing your camera/phone and studying light. Here’s an article about Michael Afonso and his journey to turning pro.

Michael Afonso: How a Portrait Photographer Went Pro

Make Your Photography Subject Standout!

Anytime I look at an image, I expect a clear answer to the question: What’s the subject? When you ask this question, is the answer clear to you? Let’s not be concerned with camera exposure at this point. Let’s think about composition. How do you use your camera so its obvious who or what is the subject of your image. Here’s a great article to help you emphasize the subject of your photograph:

Six Ways to Draw The Eye to a Specific Subject in a Photo

Senior Portrait Photography

So you want to by pass hiring professional to shoot your child’s senior photos? OK, then do some research and learn what it takes to capture that perfect photo. Here’s a great article on where to begin. If you decide not to do this project yourself, then please consider contacting me to be your family photographer.

Zach Ashcraft: Taking Better Senior Portraits

As A Photographer It’s Click, Click And More Click!

Here is a very interesting article about a “newbie” photographer who started in his back yard. Read how his hobby has brown through Click after Click after Click.

http://newscenter.nmsu.edu/Articles/view/11006/nmsu-college-of-engineering-professor-utilizes-scientific-approach-to-photography

Photography And Copyrights – Who Cares?

Let’s start by saying as soon as you press the shutter, your image is protected under federal copyright laws. Many social media sites are changing their “terms-of-service” to minimize or eliminate your rights under the copyright laws. Do you wonder why photographers are so fussy about protecting their work. You may say, “but I’m not a professional, so no big deal”. Maybe that’s true, but do you want to give up your rights so quickly? Copyrights first, then what?

Find out more by attending this free 1-hour webinar

http://pages.photoshelter.com/Copyright-Zone-Guys_Copyright-Zone-Guys-Registration-Gate.html

Photography Tips

The tips in this article should help you to open your mind when you look at the cell phone camera screen. Although I follow the author’s comments under the section “Avoid Using Flash”, I’d suggest using flash. The reasons cited are valid for the pro photographers, but the people I see using cell phone cameras might not even notice the problems mentioned. I’ve seen too many pictures ruined by not using flash vs the down side noted in the article. So read on!

http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/lff2EpQRe0r6hLsYFDCtZI/Tips-for-pictureperfect-photographs.html

Poses For Portrait Photography

Posing a subject for a portrait is sooo very important. When people come into the studio, they are nervous and uncertain. Try to take a picture of your family or friends at an outing or on vacation. Even then you have to direct your subjects to achieve your intended result.

So here is a short workshop style video that will give you some suggestions and techniques. Yeah, Yeah, I know; You’re going to say Tom I’m not a professional. That’s right, but take just one tip from this video and you’ll be better off. There is a section on newborns in the video. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it also. Let me know your thoughts.

A Complete Guide to the Basics of Posing for Portrait Photos

Photographing Snow

This has been a real cold and snowy winter here in northeast Ohio. If you’re like me, you see a lot of people post pictures of snow scenes on social media. One problem I see consistently with these photos is they are “under exposed”. That means they are too dark. I have to admit my cell phone produces the same results.

I finally said, enough is enough. I started to scroll through the camera settings on my cell phone and found what may be referred to as “exposure” or “brightness” control. I pointed my cell phone out the patio door and took two pictures of a snow scene in my back yard. The first was shot at the normal exposure. The second photo I increased the exposure by +2. You’ll notice the show is much whiter. Actually the +2 setting is a bit too much of an increase. A setting of +1 or +1.5 might have been enough.

Anyway, try this with your cell phone. Scroll through the settings menu looking for your phone’s exposure compensation control. See how much difference it makes. Then tell me what you think.

Snow scene normal setting

Snow scene photographed with exposure adjustment set to normal.

Snow scene brighter

The 2nd. image was captured with the exposure set at +2.

Tips On Wildlife Photography

Let me suggest that you first look at the images in this article. Then look at some of the pictures on your cell phone camera. Do you see a difference, aside from the subject. Read the article looking for tips that might apply to the picture you’ve taken. I’d like to hear your comments.

Matthew Gillooley: Tips on Photographing Wildlife

Draft

3 point Photography Checklist

When I watch cell phone picture takers, I can tell the image will not be what they expected. Just by watching, I can see the result will not work. Why? Most cell phone camera picture takers haven’t a clue about photography. So if you fall into this category, here’s a great into article with 3 things to check.

http://www.dnaindia.com/scitech/report-a-new-year-tech-resolution-take-photos-like-a-pro-2050816

Planning Photography For A Youtube Video

Youtube is fast becoming the “Go-To” resource for entertaining, instructional and promotional videos the world over.  Businesses have begun to use Youtube as a promotional tool.  These videos often are produced by individuals using some basic video recording equipment or professional video studios.

Your Youtube channel can contain a vast array of videos to support your company’s marketing efforts. Videos have been used to promote sales, provide instructions, and build your brand. These can range from short one to five minute videos or longer ten to 20 minute videos. Your Youtube channel or individual videos can be linked to your company web site, blog or social media sites.

Here are some planning considerations for your Youtube videos:

  1.  Consider the goal for your video, Promotional, entertainment or instructional.
  2. Write your script.  This will give you a chance to choose the important words for maximum impact  Also consider your audience.  Use words they’ll understand.  Don’t use acronyms or industry specific terminology, unless they are acceptable in your audience.
  3. Rehearse your script.  This rehearsal will help you with edits, timing, facial expressions and vocal expressions.  Rehearse your script to the point of memorizing it.
  4. Once your script is complete, consider putting up keywords or phrases on large sheets of paper similar to a flip chart.  These large keyword sheets can be hung adjacent to the camera to help keep your presentation on target.
  5. Make sure the location has adequate lighting. Background noises should be eliminated or minimized, unless they contribute to the overall intent of the video.
  6. Once filming begins, rely on your rehearsal.  Concentrate on your voice, expressions, inflections, hand gestures and the use of props.  Don’t worry, that’s why there are retakes.
  7. Review the takes and determine what technique adjustments are necessary.
  8. Consider the use of title slides for introduction, contact information and production statements.
  9. Rely on good editing skills.  Whether they are yours or a skilled editor for best results.
  10. Treat your video files like any other data file.  Store your digital files accordingly and make sure adequate back ups are made.

I used the steps outlined above to create a short introductory video for my photography studio, A Thomas Image.  You are welcome to check it out.

Taking these steps should allow you to create a successful video for your business.  They apply whether you film the video yourself or use a professional videographer.  Good luck with your video projects.