How To Interact With Portrait Subjects

Portrait shoots are no place for shy photographers. Here are a few tips for coming out of your shell to help portrait subjects come out of theirs.
portrait photography
Bedside manner is crucial for portrait photographers. But it wasn’t until I became a professional photographer that I realized the importance of personality. If you’re not a “people person,” portrait photography is going to be challenging for you. While it may not get the coverage of camera and lighting techniques, the truth is, it’s the photographer’s... Read more

Retouching Basics: The Clone Stamp And Spot Healing Brush

New to Photoshop? Start here for your quick fix of digital magic.
Photoshop retouching
Portrait after retouching in Photoshop If you’re a new Photoshop user and you want to know what tools you should try first, keep reading. In my opinion, the most magical, and simultaneously most useful, Photoshop tools are the Spot Healing Brush and the Clone Stamp. The former is a one-click fix for spots, repairing and replacing them seamlessly with... Read more

How And Why To Use Auto-Exposure Bracketing

In tricky lighting situations, hedge your exposure bets with auto-exposure bracketing
auto-exposure bracketing
When you’re working in difficult lighting conditions—say, a contrasty midday scene, a backlighting situation or a scene that’s very dark or very light—it can be difficult to determine the correct exposure. In this situation, you might think it’s best to use automatic exposure controls, like program mode or shutter priority or aperture priority.... Read more

Better Pose, Better Portrait

Help portrait subjects feel at ease by giving them something to hold on to
portrait photography
When photographing people—whether that’s in studio, in their living room or in the great outdoors—there’s one posing trick that will help the subject look and feel more comfortable every time. It’s giving the subject something to ground them. Frequently this involves providing the subject with something to sit on, lean against or physically... Read more

Lighting Modifier Must-Have: Cinefoil

This matte black, heavy-duty aluminum foil is a tremendous lighting solution
Cinefoil
There’s a product in your kitchen that works great as a lighting modifier. It’s affordable and disposable, and it won’t catch fire no matter how hard you try. It’s aluminum foil, the same stuff you wrap your leftovers in. Technically, the studio variety of aluminum foil, also called Cinefoil or black wrap, is matte black in color, and it’s... Read more

Studio Safety: Coiling Cables

Lighting for photo and video involves lots of cords and cables. Most people don’t know how to handle them properly.
coiling cables in the studio
Discussing the proper way to coil and deploy electrical cables and extension cords may seem ultra-nitpicky, but trust me when I tell you it’s one of the most important skills you can master when you’re working in a studio. Whether you’re doing a quick portrait shoot or working on a big blockbuster movie set, it’s really important for your safety... Read more

Camera Settings For Capturing JPEGs

From Large and Fine to Small and Basic, which JPEG settings are ideal for a given photographic situation?
JPEG camera settings
Let’s start this tip with a caveat: I think it’s best to capture full-resolution RAW image files in-camera. This is how I do it, and it’s how I ensure the highest-quality image file with the most options after capture. But sometimes I need to shoot JPEGs, too. Some might say they shoot JPEGs “instead,” but I still prefer to save those high-quality... Read more

Delete Your Backups!

Save tons of space by deleting redundant Lightroom backups
delete backups in Lightroom
One of the many benefits of the user-friendly Lightroom image management application is that it’s easier to do repetitive tasks—like periodically reminding you to back up your catalog. Backing up the catalog is a big deal, because a corrupt catalog will drive you crazy. I had corrupt catalogs with a previous program I used, and it was a huge hassle.... Read more

Crop Closer For Better Portraits

Cropping off the top of the head isn’t a mistake—it’s a strategy for more engaging pictures
crop closer for better portraits
Have you ever accidentally cropped a portrait so close that you cut off the top of the subject’s head? You may have noticed that, for some strange reason, the picture became a little bit more appealing. Well, that was no accident. Cropping the top off of someone’s head is a great way to make a portrait more engaging, because it draws the viewer’s... Read more

Using Photoshop’s Vanishing Point Filter

Clone and stamp with the appropriate perspective to make clean edits against receding patterned backgrounds
vanishing point filter
Sometimes when I’m retouching an image in Photoshop, I need to remove an element of the picture that’s unfortunately on a geometric background. If the element—let’s say it’s a tree branch—was against a blue sky, well, that’s no problem to clone stamp away with a few clicks. But when that tree branch is against a brick wall, and the brick... Read more

Combat Backlighting With Exposure Compensation

Light from behind the subject can fool your camera. Here’s how to trick it back in place for the perfect exposure.
combat backlighting with exposure compensation
In certain lighting situations, your camera’s auto-exposure capabilities will be limited. To put it bluntly, in some scenarios your camera is going to get it wrong. One of the main offenders in the “fool your camera’s exposure meter” arena is backlighting. These are situations where the light behind the subject is much brighter than the frontal... Read more

Tripod Maintenance And Repair

How to take care of your tripod so it has a long and healthy life
tripod maintenance and repair
Tripods get taken for granted. But the day you find your tripod has a loose leg or a wobbly head is the day you realize how essential a fully functional tripod really is. Here’s information on repairing common tripod troubles and instructions to help keep your tripod in good working order. A little bit of preventive maintenance will go a long way... Read more
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