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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
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

Shutter Speed Basics: Panning For Motion

Intentionally add motion blur to enhance the sense of speed for creative effect in your photos
panning for motion
One way to deal with fast-moving subjects in your photographs is to use the fastest shutter speed possible to ensure every moving piece is frozen in place and rendered tack-sharp. This is the traditional approach to preventing blurry pictures, which, according to conventional wisdom, are bad. But, in fact, motion blur in photos can be a benefit. By... Read more

A Foolproof System For Model Releases

Property and model releases are important. Learn how to keep them safe, secure and easily accessible.
model release
If you have any plans to use a photograph of a person or their property for commercial purposes, model releases and property releases are necessary. They really should be part of the best practices of any professional photographer. I recommend carrying them in your camera bag, and keeping a virtual release app on your smartphone in order to ensure you’ve... Read more

Camera Basics: Start With Shutter Speed

When it comes to learning your camera’s manual exposure controls, the place to begin is with your shutter speed
shutter speed
Cameras are simple: just a light-tight box with three modifiers. Those modifiers, which are adjusted in conjunction with one another to make every exposure, are ISO (formerly film speed in the pre-digital era), aperture (also known as iris, ƒ-stop or lens opening) and shutter speed. Each has a different impact on the picture, so how do you know where... Read more