Lighting For Success

Three simple, classic portrait lighting setups that will generate income

When I first started out in my photography career, I shot a lot of different jobs. One day I might be shooting ice climbers, the next day snapping shots of cheesecake dripping in chocolate and the next day photographing moose for a visitor bureau. During this time I started shooting portraits, and I quickly realized there was a steady flow of business... Read more

Sharpness Is Essential

Tools and techniques for perfect focus

If you’re going to make money with your photography, you absolutely have to make sure your images are sharp. I don’t mean the kind of sharpness that comes from postprocessing; I’m talking about the real thing: tack-sharp focus, no motion blur, no camera shake. Cameras are so good these days, the smallest flaws are evident. While... Read more

The Beauty Of Available Light

When many people think of a professional portrait photographer, this often conjures up images of someone like Richard Avedon, darting around frantically with a light meter.

When many people think of a professional portrait photographer, this often conjures up images of someone like Richard Avedon, darting around frantically with a light meter, taking readings from all different angles in a high-paced and frenetic setting at a large industrial space surrounded by a myriad of assistants, different types of strobes, hot lights,... Read more

Shot In The Dark

It has never been easier to create stunning astral photos. Here’s how.

"I can’t see anything in my viewfinder." "What’s the symbol for infinity focus?" "How do I turn on my long-exposure noise reduction?" "What white balance should I use?" A barrage of questions is hurling my way in the frozen, ink-black night. I’m teaching a photo workshop, and we couldn’t... Read more

The Positives Of Negative Space

Consider the space surrounding your subject for more dynamic compositions

As photographers, we often get so involved in selecting, positioning and composing for the subject that we can forget the unrelated factors that have just as much of an impact on the composition as the main subject itself. In many cases, the often forgotten element is the negative space. Negative space is the area of a composition that doesn’t... Read more

Knockout Black & White

What exactly draws photographers to the black-and-white image?

What exactly draws photographers to the black-and-white image? We have the ability to re-create a scene almost exactly as it existed, yet we still continue to create images in black-and-white. Color television was invented and became affordable for everyone to own, and the black-and-white television set was rendered obsolete. At the same time, color... Read more

Go Deep

About five or six years ago, the term "bokeh" started getting batted around a lot in the photography community.

About five or six years ago, the term "bokeh" started getting batted around a lot in the photography community. Bokeh became one of the most overused buzzwords of the decade, and now just about every online discussion or review of a lens discusses the phenomena of bokeh at length. Bokeh is a word that seems to have materialized out of nowhere... Read more

Wild Exposures

Multilayered silhouettes that explore new territory in self-portraiture

Creating multiple exposures is a trend that’s getting a lot of attention in the photography world lately. I’ve seen multiple-exposure photographs pop up everywhere, from Flickr to 500px, and I really love the way they look. These images, created by combining multiple images into one, can be done in-camera with some camera models, as well... Read more

Winter Wonderland

Tips and inspiration for cold-weather storytelling in a snowy environment

When I ventured into my first adult winter in New England, I found myself approaching the season with a certain giddiness and childlike innocence that bordered on naive. What I had forgotten from the winters of my youth was how a snowy world creates a sense of freedom with all that vastness of white. Winter is a photographer’s dream! I love to... Read more

Exposure Solutions: Balance Backlight

Backlight can produce beautiful results for portraiture if you know where to take your meter reading—and, if you call upon a reflector.

Backlight can produce beautiful results for portraiture if you know where to take your meter reading—and, if you call upon a reflector. One nice quality of backlight is the illumination at the edges of your subject’s hair, creating a warm and healthy appearance. Shoot backlit portraits when the sun is at a low angle in the sky: early morning... Read more

Step Up Your Light

Speedlights and on-camera flashes have become so advanced that many photographers are using them as primary studio and location lights.

Harbor Digital Design Ultimate Light Box Diffuser ProPack Speedlights and on-camera flashes have become so advanced that many photographers are using them as primary studio and location lights. Thanks to wireless communication, multiple flashes can be used together in several groups to produce very sophisticated lighting setups. Just as adding... Read more

Envision The End Result

You know, it doesn’t take much to turn a snapshot into a great shot.

You know, it doesn’t take much to turn a snapshot into a great shot. Most of the time, envisioning the end result—what you can do in the digital darkroom—is the key. Hey, if it worked for Ansel Adams (using film and the wet darkroom), it can work for you, too! Ansel Adams was the master of previsualizing the final image. Other times,... Read more
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