By Kav DadfarCities are excellent places for any photographer. Whether you like to shoot street scenes, landscapes, portraits or architecture - the urban environment offers a wealth of opportunities
By following some simple steps when planning your shoots and when you're out in the field, you'll be able to get the most out of any city that you're photographing.
1 Plan a shot list
The key to any successful photoshoot is research and planning. This is even more important when photographing a city.
There are many photo opportunities to be found – and to ensure that you maximise your time, you need to have a shoot plan, or otherwise known as a shot list.
A shot list is simply a list of what you want to try to cover on any given shoot. This might be a simple bullet point list places. or something more detailed like the exact location and time of the day you want to be there.
The basis of a good shot list is research and planning. I can honestly say that I spend more time researching and planning a city shoot than actually taking images.
Here’s how I go about researching my city shoots:
Define the purpose of the shoot – cities are big places and trying to photograph everything might be impractical. So, try to define precisely what you want to achieve.
Begin your research – once you have an idea of what you are going to be shooting, take time to research it. Begin by searching on the internet and make a note of any exciting locations. Look through social media for example photos of the places you are hoping to shoot. Browse Google Maps for points of interest.
Write a shot list – once you’ve gathered information, you can start to plan your shoot. The level of detail you want to go into will come down to you. I try to plan shoots on a spreadsheet almost to the hour – so that I know where I need to be. I factor in travel times between locations and even make contingency plans in case of bad weather. All of this helps me maximise my time and efficiency when on location.
2 Take your time
One of the biggest mistakes anyone can make when planning their shoots is trying to cram in too much… Trying to photograph everything will probably mean not photographing anything well.
Try to give yourself more time than you think you will need. Not only will this allow you to find unique angles and views, but it will also mean you can go back if the conditions aren’t right first time round.
3 Always be ready
The great thing about photographing cities is that for all your planning, there will also always be spontaneous photo opportunities – so you need to be ready for them.
When on location, make sure your camera is out of your bag, it’s turned on with the lens cap off. The last thing you want when a great photo opportunity is in front of you, is to be scrambling around trying to find your camera.
A good habit to get into is to continuously change your exposure settings every time you move to a different location.
For example, suppose you’re walking in a narrow, dark alleyway. In that case, you will likely need to raise your ISO so that your’e allowing more light to reach the camera. But when you’re in a main street and in bright sunshine, change your settings again by reducing your ISO.
This constant tweaking will ensure that your settings are approximate to what you want them to be when you need to take a photo.
4 Get up early
If you want to shoot without the crowds, get up early in the morning.
Not only can you take advantage of the early morning golden hour light, but you’ll often find you have the place to yourself.
If you’re venturing out when there’s going to be less people around, be aware of your surroundings. If you’re not familiar with the area you’re photographing, try to go with someone else, or even ask a taxi to wait for you while you take photos.
5 Look for rivers and bridges
One of the most striking photos of any city is often its skyline.
The best places for cityscapes are often riversides or bridges as you’ll get a natural clearance to see the city.
It also means that you’ll have a spot where you can easily photograph the skyline at sunrise and sunset (using a tripod) to get those dramatic skies and soft light.
Google Street View is a great tool for finding good locations for these cityscape shots. For most of the famous cities around the world, you can pretty much find the exact spot that you need to be at using Street View.
But another good place to capture cityscapes is often from rooftop bars. Every city will have some restaurants, bars or even viewing platforms that offer great views.
The downside of these is that often they are not open at the ideal times for photography or there are entrance fees. Some also won’t allow tripods which makes it difficult to capture photos in low light conditions.
Tip:Look for hotel rooms that have a good view of the city. You can even ask when booking a room or checking-in if they can give you a city view room. I have lost count of the number of times that I have managed to take amazing cityscape shots from my hotel room.
6 Head to markets
Markets are one of the best places to photograph in cities. They are a hub of activity, and if it’s a city you’re visiting – you will often be able to get a glimpse of everyday life.
From portraits of the market vendors to the moments of interaction, or the colourful variety of food and products on sale, they offer a range of opportunities for interesting and engaging shots. I always ensure I add markets to my shot list in any city.
7 Look for the details
Think of any city in the world and the first image that comes to mind is often the landmarks, but some of the most interesting shots can be found in overlooked details. It could be architectural patterns, graffiti or even an interesting doorway. These details will help give your portfolio variety and also offer a different view of a well-photographed place.
Whether it’s a city you’re visiting, or the city that you live in – with these tips, some careful planning and some imagination – you’ll be getting those incredible cityscape shots in no time!
I take a lot of travel photos (it comes naturally, being a travel blogger!) and I’m always thinking of ways that those photos can make me money. I love the photos I’ve taken, so surely other people would too?
Here I’ve put together a big list of websites where you can sell your travel photos online, some are big companies you’ll have heard of – others are smaller companies – that might make a better choice if you’re taking this on as a side project for extra ‘pocket-money’. Either way – these are all great places to sell your photos online – so get reading!
Sell your images through iStock Photo and you’ll earn a royalty rate of 15% for each download. There is also an option to become an exclusive contributor and earn up to 45% instead, which is pretty impressive. These website has a good community feel to it – there are lots of forums and group discussion, which really helps when you’re trying to figure out which of your photos will sell online better than others.
Learn how to sell photos online as fine art, and get your own eCommerce website with must-have features to increase your art sales. This is a robust website platform for professional photographers focused on selling their images as art prints. They provide first-class educational resources, and a step-by-step Success Plan to ensure that you follow best-practices. You can print and fulfill your own orders, choose your own lab, or use one of their labs for automated print fulfillment (“print on demand”). There is also a members-only forum where all customers share ideas, sales strategies, and receive guidance from industry experts.
If you work in travel, and want to make extra money from your photos – TourPhotos is a professional photography platform dedicated to tourism and activity companies. It will help you manage and deliver your tour photos (the photographs from your activities, excursions and attractions) to your customers. You will be able to choose whether to sell or make your photos available for free (SELL plan or GIVE plan). TourPhotos charges between 19% and 25% commission on your sales with zero fixed fees (if you decide to sell photos) or a 19$/49$ (pro/business) monthly fee if you decide to share your photos for free. With its endless features and tools, TourPhotos guarantees you, your photographers and your final customers an extremely user-friendly, customisable and professional experience.
This website is a lot like an online gallery or portfolio – with the added benefit of being able to sell your photos online via the tool too. It’s great as it has two purposes. The first (of course) to sell your photos, the second – to make them look awesome. And you’re more likely to sell more photos online, the more professional and awesome you’ve got them displayed. You can set your own pricing and you get to keep 85% of the markup – but that’s not all, as well as selling digital downloads, you have the option of selling prints and greetings cards too, which is good for those of us who want more selling options.
On Alamy photographers earn a whopping 60% royalty fee on any images they sell, so it’s easy to see why this website is such a popular choice when it comes to selling photos online. It’s one of the world’s largest stock photo libraries – so you’l have a fair bit of competition, but maybe that’s a good thing and will help you step up your game!
This is one of the smaller websites on the list, but still offers a great reach for beginners – so would make a fantastic option for anyone wanting to dip their toe into the world of selling photos online. The royalty isn’t too bad either – you’ll get 50% of the price of each photos you sell.
Dreamstime is a microstock agency, and one of the best there is. Aside from being easy to use, it is well thought of and reputable too – which is just as important when making the decision of where to sell your photos online. Before you start selling, you’ll need to get your images approved by their editors (which can be a long process) but once you’ve been approved and you’ve got the hang of it, a rate of 25-50% royalty is yours for the taking.
This is perhaps one of the more well known options on this list, and if you like the idea of selling your work (but at the same time want to retain complete control and pocket more of the profit – who doesn’t want those things?) you could consider setting up a professional photography website with built-in ecommerce from PhotoShelter. The PhotoShelter system is modern, and will make your images look beautiful.
To start selling with Crestock, simply sign up to their website, follow through the easy registration process… and you’re good to go! They’ll give you 30% royalty, so once the images have been approved by staff you may be able to start selling images within the week!
I like Fotolia for its convenience, fair royalties and expansive market reach. Sign up and present your work to more than four million image buyers around the world, around the clock and you’ll notice your images start selling quickly and seamlessly. Each time one of your photos sell, you earn a royalty of between 20% and 63% of your sale, which is immediately added to your Fotolia account – which takes away any money hassles.
Shutterstock is a highly ranking website which means it likely gets a lot of online traffic – perfect for making sure you sell your photos! Shutterstock also have an approval process in place – and you’ll have to submit ten initial images for approval before you can proceed with any others. But no fear! There are many online forums on their website where you can pick up hints and tips for getting this right first time. With Shutterstock you’ll earn between $0.25 and $28 each time an image of yours sells, depending on the licence.
With this site, their royalty structure is based on your contributor level, which is quite unique. It basically means, the more images you upload, the more you can earn – good news for anyone who plans to commit to this full-time. The amount you receive could rise from 30% up to 60% if you are particularly active on the site – so get started quickly and build up your reputation.
Zenfolio allows you to create a portfolio site of your work, a little like Smug Mug mentioned above. You can upload photos, create galleries, password protect galleries, and make your photos available for purchase – a great option for wedding and event photographers where you might make several sales off the back of one event. There is a 14-day free trial available if you want to give it a spin first.
This is a more quirky one, but I wanted to include it! If your images are more VSCO and Instagram friendly – than studio lighting and fake smiles, you may find the audience on Red Bubble more interested in what you have to sell. They don’t just sell images, it’s all about the products too – so you could sell canvases with your images on, for example.
This is a bargain stock photo website, so the amount you’ll make will be less per image – but if people buy in bulk, it may end up equalising anyway. With a less strict submission process that other big names on this list, it may be a good option for anyone wanting to test the water.
Street photography is one of the most popular genres for image-makers. But getting those striking photos isn’t always easy. These top tips will help you get the best results
Street photography is a genre that many will experiment with at some point in their photography journey, even if it’s not their principal subject of interest. It’s easily accessible for photographers of all levels, and provides ample opportunity to practice a wide range of photography skills and techniques. Great street photography has the power to evoke a range of emotions with the viewer, turn the environment around us into something extraordinary, and provide an unseen and intimate glimpse into the everyday life of others.
Saying this, capturing great photos within this genre takes time, patience, and above all, practice. So, to help you elevate your street photography–here are our top tips:
1 Travel light
One of the biggest advantages of street photography versus other photographic genres is that you do not need a lot of equipment for it. This is handy as you will be spending a considerable amount of time walking around looking for interesting scenes to capture. And you will generally be shooting handheld so those cumbersome tripods can stay at home, as can the bulk of your camera gear.
Just pack your camera, mirrorless, smartphones and compact cameras are great for street photography as they are lighter and smaller than DSLRs (read more about different types of cameras here). Also consider a zoom lens – something like a 24-70mm or 24mm-105mm lens will be more than sufficient.
The only other accessory, besides a spare battery and memory cards, that might be useful would be a small LED light. This will help in low light scenarios by allowing you to illuminate your subject a little – instead of having to raise your ISO too high, which may impact the overall quality of your image. Read more about ISO here.
2 Get close and get over your inhibitions
Often street photography will involve people being in your composition, and to capture an intimate moment, it might mean taking a photo without the subject noticing. At other times your subject needs to be looking at the camera to help build that engagement in the photo. Either way, you will need to be close to your subject to get the best shot.
One of the most common issues encountered when practising street photography is shyness in approaching strangers to photograph, which might result in trying to take a photo from a distance with a telephoto lens, which won’t yield good results. If this sounds like you, the shyness will be a big hurdle that you need to overcome if you want to get better at street photography.
So how do you overcome your shyness? A task that I often set for my workshop attendees who suffer from this is to capture at least 3 head and shoulder portraits of strangers every day. This means they have to ask people which, when done enough, helps overcome that shyness. And in turn, you’ll find your street photography will become much more engaging.
3 Learn to shoot from the hip
This is a useful technique for every street photographer to master – but especially for those who struggle with shyness. It involves just pointing the camera and shooting from lower down without looking at the LCD or through the viewfinder. The benefits of this technique are that your shots can feel more spontaneous and of course, people will be far less aware that they are being photographed.
But as you might imagine, without composing your shot properly through the viewfinder or LCD screen, the results will be very hit and miss. Sometimes you will capture a great photo, but you must accept that most of the time your shots will not work. Like anything, the more you practice the better you will become at using this technique.
4 Make sure you’re ready
Good street photography will involve capturing fleeting or spontaneous moments. So, you need to be ready to shoot at any moment. That means your camera needs to be out of your bag, turned on with the lens cap off. You should also get into the habit of tweaking your exposure settings regularly based on the environment around you.
There are no universal settings for street photography as every scenario is different. But as a rule, I would recommend shooting in burst mode (when you hold down the shutter button on your camera to take multiple shots in rapid succession) as it’s extremely difficult to nail the perfect moment with one shot. Using burst mode, you can select the best frame later when you are editing your shots.
The other setting that you will find useful in most street photography scenarios is “continuous focus”. When enabled, if the shutter button is held down half-way the camera will continue to focus on the subject. This is vital when photographing a moving subject – as the point of focus will change every millisecond to stay on the subject.
5 Wait for the right moment
I refer to this technique as ‘setting a photography trap’. It simply requires you to find an interesting setting or location and wait for the perfect moment to take a photo. You could be waiting just a few minutes, sometimes a bit longer, and in extreme cases – hours!
See the visual examples below, the key is to try to pre-visualise the shot in your head, get your settings correct and wait for the perfect moment.
6 Look beyond eye-level shots
Every photographer is guilty of taking too many shots at eye level. You will be amazed how different your photos will look by simply raising your camera above your head or lowering it to the ground. Even just kneeling will give your shot a completely different perspective.
A lot of cameras these days come with a tiltable LCD screen that makes it incredibly easy and a lot more convenient to shoot at different angles. A good habit to get into is to take a variety of shots low to the ground, eye-level and above your head when you’re out with your camera. This will give you a nice range of images from different perspectives.
7 Simplify your composition
It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to include too much in your composition. In street photography, it is even more important to have a clear and defined story. This does not necessarily mean that you should have only one focal point in the shot. But rather to be aware of other elements in your composition that might be distracting to the viewer.
For example, if the main point of interest is in the centre of your shot, avoid distracting elements around the edges of the frame. Or if you are photographing a busy scene, make sure you have a clear point of focus for the viewer so that their eyes are not darting around the image.
8 Incorporate the urban environment
Photo opportunities for a street photographer are endless. There are just so many different variables that you can combine to make your photos unique. One of the biggest elements is the environment around you. Any built-up area will have interesting textures and features that can bring a photo to life.
Some of the best street photos are those that incorporate the built environment into the main story of the image. So be on the lookout for interesting scenes where you can combine the main subject of the photo with the surrounding environment.
9 Look for interesting light and contrasts
It is not just your subject and story that can elevate your street photos, but also the light and contrasts present in any scene. Street photography will naturally mean you’re taking photos in built up areas. This will present challenges in being able to control harsh light in bright and dark areas. But often you can use these contrasts to your advantage by making them part of your composition.
Like the examples below, if you are faced with a harsh backlit scenario, then look to capture silhouettes. If there is strong light and shadow across your scene, see if you can use it as a frame for your shot, or as leading lines to guide the viewer into other parts of the image. Strong contrasts also look great when converted to black and white
10 There’s no such thing as bad weather
One of the best things about street photography is that you are not restricted by changing weather and light conditions as you may be with landscape photography. In some ways, what could be considered ‘bad conditions’ is perfect for street photography. For example, overcast and rainy conditions are often the bugbear of landscape and nature photographers. But with street photography, these can be great conditions.
Muted light makes it much easier to manage your exposure, and the city streets after rainfall present tons of opportunities to capture reflections or interesting shots through rain-soaked windows (see the examples below). Even in harsh sunshine, you can utilise the shadows I talked about above to add an interesting element to your compositions.
Street photography is a great genre of photography to be involved in. Not only will you learn a lot of skills that will help you in whatever type of photography you specialise in, but you will also end up with some amazingly unique photos. By following these 10 tips above, you will find your images become much more striking, not just with street shots, but across many other photographic subjects too.
Like any other business, your photography business requires good marketing and a strategy to help increase its revenue. Here are five simple ideas you can try out…
One of the most important lessons I learned early in my photography career was that to be a commercially-successful photographer, you cannot just be a good photographer. You need to view your photography as a business.
That means being proactive in promoting your work and marketing yourself to potential clients, which is even more critical these days when there is so much competition out there. To help your business grow, you need to start thinking like both a photographer and a marketing manager. These five ideas will help you get into that frame of mind.
1 Write a marketing plan
All photographers are guilty of the ‘scattergun’ marketing approach. This means the type of marketing strategy that involves the odd social media post, Google ad or a sporadic email to a client. Not many photographers take the time to think and plan their marketing strategy. But planning one presents a real opportunity.
Start by thinking about your photography business overall. Write down what you are hoping to achieve short term and long term. For example, ask yourself, are there any particular customers who you would like approach? Or do you want to start selling photography-related products like calendars and prints? Once you have an idea about your business goals, you can begin devising a marketing plan.
Create a marketing strategy for your photography business and set a range of goals on what you want to achieve in the short-term and long-term.
Think of all the different marketing avenues that you can follow, such as social media, email and networking, and create a strategy for each one. It is not enough to think, “I’ll post a photo on Instagram”. You need to know why you are doing it and what you will be doing. For example, you might choose to use Instagram to showcase photos you want to sell as prints, whereas in an email to your client list, you might like to talk about a shoot you have recently finished. The important thing is to treat each marketing channel separately and create a bespoke plan for each one that ties into your overall strategy.
My Instagram profile showcases a curated selection of my images and highlights some of the clients I work with.
For a deeper dive into channel-specific social media marketing, check out the dedicated guides found on your Picfair Dashboard here.
One of the best ways to market your business is to continually keep your contacts and clients informed with news and updates about you and your work. For example, when you finish a new shoot, you could create an album on Picfair with your best images and send an email to your contacts and customers to tell them about it. A proactive approach like this could mean you end up with more sales than you were expecting!
Emails don’t need to be regular. You should make sure everything you send out adds value to your photography business. Make a list of ideas, upcoming shoots, or anything else that is relevant. Then make a note in your diary and who you want to email so that you are ready when the time comes to get in touch.
Popular holidays such as Halloween and Christmas are also a great reason to get in touch with your customers and showcase your themed images.
Send your customers themed holiday emails that showcase your work. Image buyers regularly purchase holiday-themed images. And a friendly email is an ideal way to remind your customers about your photography.
You may also find that emails tailored to particular clients or potential customers will be more successful than blanket emails and better appreciated by the recipient. This is another reason why it is essential to make a proper plan of who you are emailing and why.
Create a calendar for your emails so you can plan well in advance and make sure what you’re going to send out adds value each time.
Create a calendar for your emails so you can plan well in advance and make sure what you’re going to send out adds value.
3 Don’t neglect print marketing
If you are old enough, you may remember how great it felt when you received a postcard from a relative from their vacation. In today’s digital world, we have somewhat lost the practice of sending out physical correspondence. But you should not underestimate the power of sending out something related to your photography business in print. It will stand out much more than an email and help the recipient keep you in mind every time they see it.
Start by getting some quality, professional-looking business cards printed. Business cards will always be handy to have on you to give people that you meet. And if you’re on a shoot where you could encounter potential customers, like at an event, you’ll have something you can give them.
I often send my best clients and customers something in print, like a set of postcards, desk calendars, or even a small print of one of my photos. I almost always receive an email back with a thank you for the item. Just make sure you enclose your business card with what you’re sending out too!
You can also go further and create something even more significant in print! Here’s a personal magazine of my photography that I’ve made to send to my clients and potential customers.
4 Keep your contact information up to date
I often write travel articles for some of the UK’s biggest brands, and recently I was working on a project where I needed travel writers. It was astonishing how difficult it was to find contact information for some people, so I gave up. Those writers missed out on the project I was working on simply because I couldn’t find contact information for them. Keeping your contact information up to date is one of the quickest and easiest marketing fixes you can make. The best way to do this is to set yourself a reminder once a month, along with a checklist of places to review your contact information.
Keep a list of the places you have your contact information, and keep this up to date. Some of the places where you may keep your contact information may include your Picfair Store, external blog or website, social media profiles, email signatures and any organisations or trade bodies where you are a member.
As well as your necessary contact details, you may also want to update other relevant information related to your photography business. For example, you may have just won a photography competition, or learned a new type of skill (like aerial photography) or even moved location. Make sure your information tells people about it. Otherwise, you could potentially be missing out on work.
If you’ve recently up-skilled or added a new type of photography to your offering – make sure you add this to your contact information. Image by Gabriel Codarcea.
5 Engage with other photographers
One of the downsides of photography is that it can be a lonely profession or hobby, which was the case even before the pandemic. However, it’s essential to know that there are plenty of opportunities for those who want to connect with other photographers. Often in associations, camera clubs or even community groups based on the photography subjects you enjoy.
You may think, “How will that help my photography business?”. The answer is that you never know when someone might recommend you for work or know someone who requires your services. Expanding your photographer network will help you get your name out there and lead you to new customers.
At the very least, you should join some private groups on social media (like Facebook groups). These groups also allow you to interact and share ideas with likeminded individuals. Who might inspire you or give you some ideas on how you can improve your images.
Engaging with like-minded photographers will help you expand your network and could lead you to potential new opportunities. Image by Dan Martland.
If you want to make your photography business more profitable, then a well-planned and executed marketing strategy is necessary.
Remember, marketing your photography business is no different from any other business. And the sooner you get to work on your strategy, the sooner you’ll start seeing the benefits.
In 1907, Auguste and Louis Lumière presented autochrome—a revolutionary method for reproducing color in photographs. The world was stunned and enraptured. “Soon the world will be color-mad,” photographer Alfred Stieglitz wrote that July from Munich. “And Lumière will be responsible.”
We’ve come a long way in the last century, and we no longer need potato starch—the crucial ingredient in the autochrome process—to render color. But the power of color hasn’t faded over time; all these decades later, the world is still color-mad.
While you can find color theory in any painting classroom, it remains a somewhat overlooked field in the world of photography, so we’re devoting a three-part series of articles to examine colors and the relationships between them. This is just part one–an introduction to the color wheel–so keep an eye out for the rest in the coming months.
The Color Wheel
A color wheel is just a convenient way of visualizing the relationships between colors. The most common wheel used by painters is based on RYB color system–where red, yellow, and blue are the primary colors. Mix those colors, and you end up with secondary colors orange, green, and violet. Combining those results in one of six tertiary colors: red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, or red-violet.
Sometimes, however, photographers might use the RGB system–in which case, red, green, and blue are the primaries. Mixing these colors will create secondary colors yellow, cyan, and magenta. The RGB system also has six tertiary colors: orange, chartreuse green, spring green, azure, violet, or rose.
In this brief introduction, we’ll look at six easy ways photographers can use the color wheel and simple “color schemes” to strengthen their compositions. While photographers can certainly use the RGB system, we’ll rely on RYB for right now.
A monochromatic color scheme uses one of the twelve colors on the color wheel with different tints, shades, and tones. You create a tint by adding white to your base color, a shade by adding black, and a tone by adding gray. Photographers can use these schemes to create harmony throughout a composition.
Puchong Pannoi’s photograph of the ancient city of Bagan in Myanmar has many layers, from temples to trees to a hot air balloon floating in the distance. While these elements could be distracting in the eyes of another photographer, Pannoi has brought them all together beautifully–with a little help from a monochromatic palette.
Monochromatic color schemes can often be bold. According to photography legend, Ansel Adams was once so displeased upon seeing one of William Eggleston’s most famous monochromatic photos that he remarked, “If you can’t make it good, make it red.” Fortunately, these days dramatic color is not only accepted but embraced–with stunning results. Take a cue from 500px Contributor Estislav Ploshtakov, and use it to make a strong impact.
For a complementary color palette, use two colors on opposite sides of the color wheel. Complementary color schemes are well-suited for photography because they add contrast–resulting in pictures that “pop” off the page and screen. Here, Da Miane uses complementary colors green and red.
In this street photo from Singapore, Peter Stewart uses complementary colors blue and orange. No need for an overly complex composition–these colors catch our eye all on their own.
In this variation on a complementary color scheme, you’ll select your base color, and then instead of using the color directly opposite, you’ll use the two colors on either side of it.
In this colorful photo, Claudio de Sat photographs the blue sky against the architecture of East Berlin’s Plattenbauten buildings. He then incorporates hues closer to red-orange and yellow-orange on the color wheel. The result is a striking and harmonious photo with a little bit less of the dramatic tension we’re used to seeing in photos with complementary colors.
A tetradic color scheme, sometimes called double-complementary, features a total of four colors, including two sets of complementary colors. Of the basic color schemes we’ll cover here, this one might be the trickiest to pull off–if only for the fact that it incorporates four colors.
This photo by Alena Haurylik does it brilliantly. By using two complementary pairs (orange-blue, green-red) in moderation, it succeeds in being both eye-catching and sophisticated.
Analogous color schemes incorporate three colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel. Wildlife photographer Jonne Seijdel encountered this dazzling Rwenzori three-horned chameleon while traveling through the Rwenzori mountains in Uganda. In this photo, he was able to include side-by-side colors for a pleasing and dynamic result. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given this example, analogous colors are often found in nature.
When using analogous colors, photographers usually choose one dominant color and then use the others in a supporting role. Designers use what they call the “60-30-10 rule”–meaning that the main color (usually primary or secondary) takes up 60% of the space, while a supporting color (secondary or tertiary) takes up 30%, and the final color takes up just 10%.
This photograph by Jovana Rikalo, appropriately titled Orange Dream, features mainly the color orange, with red and yellow accents.
A triadic color scheme comprises any three colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel. Like complementary colors, these schemes are vibrant and full of contrast. In the majority of situations, these will be the three primary or secondary colors. 500px Contributor Sabrina Hb’s portrait of a woman and fruit in Colombia might be called Yellow, but those touches of blue and red on the woman’s dress complete the photo–giving it that extra “oomph” and vitality.
Designers generally recommend sticking to the three primary or three secondary colors for that “clean” look. Use too many tertiary colors, and you run the risk of a photo that looks muddy. This landscape by Gunar Streu is another perfect example of color done right because it uses the three secondary colors of the RYB color system: orange, violet, and green.
While color theory might be easiest to implement in the studio, these talented photographers remind us that photographers of any genre, from street to wildlife to architecture, can use it to their advantage. Color is a photographer’s playground. Experiment with different schemes, and see what works best for you. We’ll see you again in part two of this three-part series on color theory.
While color theory might be easiest to implement in the studio, these talented photographers remind us that photographers of any genre, from street to wildlife to architecture, can use it to their advantage. Color is a photographer’s playground. Experiment with different schemes, and see what works best for you.
Stay tuned for part two of this three-part series on color theory.
In today’s highly competitive market for photography, it is not an easy task to build your brand and have people notice you. Now days, you need to stand out from the rest of the crowd and bring people in. If you’ve wondered how to market your photography, look no further. In this article, I am going to over my top 3 ways to market not only my pictures, but my business as a whole.
If you are looking to save money and also grow your sales skills, try going business to business or calling local stores to ask if you can display your work or leave flyers or business cards with them. I have found out that the majority of businesses welcomed it! I started by going to three of the busiest towns in my area and spoke personally to every business I could. After introducing myself, I let them know that I was looking to possibly leave some business cards and flyers, in hopes of gaining new clients. If they showed interest, I would continue by telling them more about my business model. By doing this, if any customers had questions, they might be able to answer a simple yes or no question, which will lead to them taking your card or flyer.
As time went on, I found myself extending my range of towns, and going even further to neighboring communities. I also included areas that were not very high traffic, because you never know who will be looking to have work done. Once I had a blog/website, I would offer to put their business on my page and help promote them as well!
This leads me into my next part of marketing, which is having a visual website of some sort. When I first started out, I had a blog from Blogspot. It was something that I was able to post my work, and considering it is a free service, it was great for just starting off. Just recently I was able to get an actual website, and I would definitely suggest this. Having the versatility of different layouts you can have to display your work they way you want is a huge plus.
The way you create your website is key to marketing your business. When someone visits your webpage, they want to know automatically were they are at, and what the page is about. For example, on my website I have the title at the top in a bold font, with my tagline, logo, picture of me with my contact information and my gallery at the top. I place this at this top because the customer can automatically get a sense about what they are going to be looking at, and the quality of work that I do.
Sending out a marketing email is a tactic that brings in a lot of customers for me. This is something that you can put a lot of information into and add your own little touches for a personal design. When a client opens a marketing blast, you want them to be drawn into something at the very top of the page, in order to get them to scroll down more. In my marketing blast emails, I have a headline at the top of the email that says either HUGE SALE, or BOOKING SPECIAL in bold colors and a font that really pops, because if you can catch their attention with the title and headline, then they will want to scroll more to see what it is all about.
Lastly, I have found that Facebook Ads are extremely helpful! At first I was not sure how I felt about paying for Facebook advertisements, but taking what I have learned from my email blasts and applying that to the Facebook ads really made it a game changer. The nice thing about Facebook ads is that you can create your own graphic and then hit boost post to really get it out to the public.
Once you have your ad graphically ready, you upload it to Facebook, and then you can choose your target audience. This is a huge part of getting the word out there, it will allow you to choose male or female, age groups, the location you want, and also add keywords that might be on users pages, such as pregnant, or senior pictures, even marriage. By doing this you can get the exact group of people you are looking to market to.
Another great part of using Facebook ads is that you can set your budget and how long you want to run the ad for. If you only have a budget for $20.00 that’s all you have to pay. It will tell you how many people it is expected to reach and spread out the post evenly across all of the days you want to run it for. You also have the option to add more money and extend the ad run-time, if you choose to. At the end of your ad run, you will get a detailed report of how many people saw your post, clicked on the ad, where they were from, male or female and age range, etc. so you can define your next post even more. See below for an example of one of my ads.
Whether you are going business to business and asking to leave your card or flyer at the front of their store, ramping up your website, or even starting to try out Facebook ads, there is always some way to market yourself. The best part is, with all of the technology we have at hand, it doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money. Building a business is hard work, and it takes a lot of determination to make it a success, but if you believe in yourself and use multiple avenues for marketing, your success will become a reality very soon.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ryan Jakubowski My name is Ryan Jakubowski and I have been doing photography for the last 10+ years. It has grown from an interest into a strong passion of mine that I will never stop doing. I decided to start my business, J&C Photography, over 7 years ago and it continues to take off each year! I photograph a number of different events such as weddings, senior portraits, newborns and even the severe weather that comes across the state of Michigan. For me every shoot is something new, and brings with it its own experience, and that is what keeps bringing me back every time.
Most digital marketing journeys begin with many unanswered questions, mine was no different. I had to first wrap my head around what digital marketing is, how it works, and of course the profit potential.
Recent retirement, quickly reveled the need for additional income. Not wishing to continue to conform and comply with the natural flow, I had no desire to work for anyone. The natural question became apparent; What can I do?
Spiritual awareness revealed to me that being the unique individual that we all are, we were born to create. We are to use our unique gifts, talents, and ideals to provide for the collectiveness of the universe.
Further contemplation led me to my love for photography and art. After years of running an inherited family business and working for others within the workforce, I now finally have the opportunity to pursue my passion for photography.
With the question of what to do finally answered, how to make this a reality became my focus. How could I create a digital photography business? The how began with an intense investigation of the overall digital photography industry.
That investigation very quickly exposed, and initiated a huge need for support, direction and instruction. I lacked the technology as well as the knowledge.
Understanding that the driving force for any business is customers. All business must address customer needs and problems. Bottom line customer acquisition is the key. I had to find potential customers, to present my artistic creations.
Start Up Problems
As a budding entrepreneur you must address a unique set of problems relevant to your particular niche. Ironically, you must solve your start up problems in order to create an entity to address your customer needs.
There are many obstacles that must be addressed when starting any business. The main ones being:
Start Up Capital
The good news is; digital start ups are a little less daunting than traditional brick and mortar companies. And, a lot less expensive!
As I searched for the things needed to get up and going, I was bombarded with countless get rich sachems. Stay Clear! ….. Investigate Thoroughly!
“The strength of the effort determines the outcome”
After countless hours I found a company named The Six Figure Mentors. My affiliation with SFM is the cornerstone of my company. Uniquely, this company addressed not one but all of my start up concerns, issues, and problems.
Via this affiliation I was led to AWeber email marketing company which augmented my customer acquisition efforts initiated by SFM. Although a digital marketing plan can be created without the concept of email marketing, I found it in my best interest to add this concept to my marketing efforts. Email marketing has become the foundation to my marketing strategy.
The technical platforms, training/coaching, learning modules, mentorship, and support from both companies are second to none. This partnership is the solid foundation for my ever expanding digital world.
In addition, marketing their products provides the economic base needed to grow your business regardless to your particular product/service or niche. Their pre developed sales funnel gave me the beginning cash flow necessary to build on.
Do yourself a favor and check them out. Do your own investigation. Simply follow the links and banners on this page.
Please be aware and understand who you are. You must understand the Divine Creation you are. You must understand that you were created by the Divine(God) to create for the universe.
“Simply Become Who You Are”
Throughout my life experiences it seemed the happiness was only an illusion. It was not until I realized the true nature of my being that I could experience the state happiness I now experience.
So create that which you are intended to create. Give of your Gifts and Talents! “DO What You DO”
The dawn of the age of technology has given way to a ton of new types of photographs that weren’t necessarily able to be shot before. The leading companies in camera sensors have developed the tools necessary to shoot unbelievable images in some of the most difficult situations. My guess is that if Ansel Adams had the capability to photograph with the current cameras we possess today, he’d take some of the most incredible photographs ever seen. In his place, however, are a sleuth of experienced photographers that do their best to fill his void… respectfully of course!
There is a flip-side to technology, though.
The more detail that these amazing camera sensors produce, the more apparent photography errors can be.
So, due to the difficult photography conditions such as night photography, it’s important to know how to shoot sharply so your mistakes don’t stand out. You want to be able to shoot your stars tack sharp!
The Importance of Tack Sharp Stars
I want you to think through a scenario with me to understand just how important tack sharp stars in your night photography are. Believe me, they are of the utmost importance!
Let’s say that you’ve come a long way in your ability to photograph the beauty of the night sky and you’re renowned enough to be offered several employment opportunities to do so. You are hired by a very well-to-do gentleman who would like to grace his huge living room wall with a large print of the night sky.
You are beyond excited to have the opportunity to accept this project and you immediately plan for a clear night to provide your client with the work he desires.
The sky is clear and you drive to a remote location to work. You set everything up and take multiple exposures during different points in the night to ensure that you have captured the most compelling image possible.
Next, you spend hours editing and manipulating the select image to create a jaw dropping piece of artwork that will be sure to please your client. You finish, print the enormous copy of the image, and deliver it to your client.
All is well until he hangs it up only to notice that the stars in the image are out of focus. You’ve now lost the job, the time, the money, and your career as a photographer is over. Surely you’ll never work again!
Alright, it’s very dramatic. But, I needed to drive home the importance of getting your stars tack sharp and perfectly in focus.
Razor Thin Decisions
When you are setting up and thinking about how to photograph stars for perfect focus, you need to remember that when you’re shooting stars you’re shooting moving objects. Now, it can be difficult to think of stars as moving objects when you first get into night sky photography, but the distant balls of burning gas actually move a lot faster than you think.
Photographers need to select an exposure that will compliment both sharp stars, and movement best.
You’d be surprised at how razor thin that decision can be.
I’ve read countless articles about settings to use to shoot the night sky that tell aspiring astrophotographers to use an exposure of 30 seconds.
Let me tell you from my experience that if you’re shooting an exposure of 30 seconds, you might as well shoot multiple images and make it a star trail photograph because a 30 second exposure will absolutely show the star paths on large prints. Star paths are different than images with tack sharp star points.
It’s imperative in my experience to keep your exposure at a maximum of 20 seconds. The 10 second difference may not seem like much, but if makes a world of difference if you want pin point stars in your night sky photograph.
How to Execute it in the Field
There is no other option than to get your sharp stars correct in the field. Many times there can be alternatives or tricks you can use in post-processing to overcome mistakes that occur in the camera, but when it comes to focus issues you MUST get it right in the camera. There is not fix-all for focus in post-processing.
So, the natural question is, “How do I shoot tack sharp stars in the field?”
I’m glad you asked!
The assumption that throwing your lens on focus to infinity to create tack sharp star points is inaccurate. In fact, all lenses have different exact infinity points. It’s not always directly on the infinity icon on your lens barrel.
To be sure that you’re moving your focal ring to the correct infinity point in manual focus (you should always shoot the night sky in manual focus) go out to any location during the day and focus on a very small object that is far away. When it comes to setting up your focus, remember the saying, “Aim small, miss small.” The smaller the object you’re setting your infinity point to, the more accurate it will be on star points. Once you lock onto your target, zoom in on it in live view and fine tune your focus for 100% accuracy.
After you’ve dialed in on your small target, remove your hands from your focal ring and look at your infinity point. It may or may not be directly on the infinity icon on the lens.
The next natural question is, “So, how do I find this point again in the dark?”
There are a couple of different ways to do that. One solution is to tape your focal ring in place. This will keep everything right where you left it so you know that your focus is on your focus to infinity point at night.
The other solution is to mark your focal ring with a grease pencil at your infinity point. If your focal ring gets knocked around, your pencil mark will be the indicator of where your focus to infinity point is so you don’t have to do this whole process again.
Once you’re sure that you know where your focus to infinity point is located on your lens, you can be sure that your stars, which are very far away, will be within perfect, pin-point focus.
Now, I also want to put this section in because I don’t want anyone to assume that the very first time you try this you’ll shoot the best night images ever. Just like with other photography techniques there will be room for error and the more you practice, the less margin of error there will be.
A great way to practice is to perform the focusing process over and over until you know exactly where your lens is going to focus to infinity.
If you want to practice focusing for tack sharp stars in the field at night, you can do the exact same process. It doesn’t even need to be a clear night. Simply perform the same steps, except focus on a distant light instead of a distant object like you would during the day. Using a distant and small light on earth will simulate a small star in the sky when you’re ready to photograph the real thing.
Hopefully I’ve poured out the importance of photographing tack sharp stars into your mind so much that you never shoot a photo of the night sky out of focus again. Just remember that as technology gets better and the quality of images increases, photographers must take the seriousness of image quality to another level.
About the author: When David Johnston isn’t leading photography workshops and tutorials or hosting his popular photography podcast, Photography Roundtable, he can be found traveling the world taking photos to awe and inspire his viewers. David has a passion for sharing his knowledge of photography and has many educational offerings designed to help photographers improve their work. Visit his website at www.photographyroundtable.com.
Pandemics always end. At some point, this will pass. We’ll find a way to defeat the coronavirus. We just don’t know when. But that’s not the question that troubles me. What I want to know are the answers to these questions:
Will my friends and loved ones still be here? Will I still be here? What will become of us? Will I still have a job or business?
Don’t tell me you aren’t thinking that too, or at least similar thoughts more appropriate to your situation. If you’re not careful, you can spend hours on end contemplating the worst-case-scenarios. That kind of thinking will destroy your sanity.
Nobody can predict how this will all end, but I’m planning on thriving in the post coronavirus world, and I’ve already started taking steps to make it happen.
When you shut off the endless cycle of crisis, you’re left with a lot of free time. How you choose to fill that time today will impact your future outcomes. So, where do you start?
These five steps will help you focus on doing work that matters.
1. The Life Design Questions
In the early 2000s, I attended a string of personal development seminars. My intoxication with self-help schemes fizzled out, but one of those events left a lasting impact. The leader of this seminar had us focus on three questions. The answers gave us clarity on what we wanted and enabled us to design a life we desired.
Who do you want to become?
What kind of person do you aspire to be? What characteristics do you want other people to ascribe to you?
What do you want to become?
What kind of professional life do you desire? Describe it in detail.
What is the change you need to make?
Describe the person you are now and what you do. What changes do you need to make to achieve the vision of your future self?
This exercise always provided me interesting insights, but it never resulted in any changes to my life. But years later, I found this to be a useful tool when used as a precursor to the next step.
2. Create Your Day in the Life
Several years ago, I listened to a Tim Ferris podcast, where he interviewed Debbie Millman. She described a life-changing exercise that I’ve been following for the last two years. Here’s how it works.
Picture yourself five years from now, long after the crisis ends. Write out in essay format, a day in your life from the moment you get out of bed until you fall asleep.
Think about all of your dreams and imagine that you have already achieved them (use results from the first step). Imagine what your life would be like if you pursued your goals without fear and delay. Be specific about what you do with your day, both professionally and personally. Write about your career, family life, health, and hobbies. Your essay should run about 3,000–5,000 words.
For more details, I suggest you listen to the segment here at 1:31:00 into the podcast. I’ve been focusing on this the last week, and whenever I feel that twinge of angst, I pull out my essay and read it. It has a remarkably calming and motivating effect.
3. List the Actions You Must Take to Create That Life
Once you’ve put your dream life on paper, list out the high-level activities you must take to achieve those goals. Creating a plan can overwhelm you, so don’t get hung up on intricate details. List out the steps as you think of them. There will be a significant amount of gaps, but you’ll address those in the next step.
Let’s suppose in three years you will have published a novel. Your high-level actions would be:
Write the first draft.
Get it reviewed by a developmental editor.
Yes, there are dozens of steps in between. You may need to acquire specific skills, get recommendations, research, and network. But a high-level outline like this gets you excited, focuses your mind, and prepares you to dig into the details.
4. Research, but Not Too Much
There’s nothing like losing yourself in research to take your mind off the craziness of the outside world. It takes more than a few hopeful ideas to achieve a dream. You need to know what steps to take and then act on them.
But don’t bury yourself in research forever. I’ve found that some folks use it as an excuse to avoid doing work or taking risks.
Research other people who have achieved similar goals to yours and find out what they did, and then move on. You can always come back to do more if you need it.
When you finish, go back to your list from the previous step and fill in some of the blanks.
5. Make it Happen
Dreaming and planning are necessary steps, but they mean nothing without taking action. Schedule time in your day to work on your dream. Sure, you knew that already. But what if you’re struggling with following through? It’s almost impossible to focus in this environment.
By scheduling time and limiting your intake of social media and news, you’ll find it easier to focus. If the stress still gets to you, I’ve found that these steps help:
Read your day in the life essay. It’ll transport your mind to a future state.
Listen to music or sounds that calm you. I listen to Brain.fm, but it’s subscription-based. If you want something free, create a playlist. I find that listening to music that reminds me of childhood brings back memories of happier times, and crowds out today’s madness.
Living in an era of uncertainty and fear may get the better of us at moments. But focusing on your dream now will not only distract you from the fear and anxiety but will set you up for a more fruitful post corona world.
The advent of the “Corona Virus Pandemic” has and will continue to create problem after problem. These problems are of epic porpotion. These problems affect each and every one of us! We are at the mercy of this world wide crisis.
All your life you have heard that circumstances lead to opportunities. That is to say, “Problems Create Opportunities”, “Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining”, “ When Things Get Tough, The Tough Get Going”. Please, do understand that every circumstance carries within it a hidden reward.
None of us can make light of these extremely devastating circumstances. All of us must forge a path for our unified and personal survival. First we must collectively accept and acknowledge the reality. Consequently, we then must adhere to the guidelines developed to arrest the situation.
Mandated and self imposed quarantine policies are now being activated. Therefore, many of us have been forced to remain at home. Creating a whole new set of personal problems.
In the midst of tackling that most dreaded “honey do list” your mind is constantly entertained by devastating economic thoughts. Survival becomes your utmost concern. What can I do?
Now, may be a good time to consider entrepreneurship. Now, may be the time to pursue your passions. This, may be the time to create the lifestyle you have been dreaming of. There is no greater happiness than “Self Fulfillment”.
Pick Your Path
All business must address problems and or pain points for their customers. In your contemplation of starting a new business of any kind you should naturally begin with an understanding of this concept.
After that, ask yourself these questions; What do I like to do? What gifts/talents do I possess? What is my purpose in life?
Put it all together and you should come up with what I call a “Definite Purpose”. Then ask yourself; What products or services can you provide to solve problems for your customers? DO WHAT YOU LIKE TO DO!!!!!
Now that that is settled, you will soon realize is that there is also a number of problems you too will encounter as you begin your journey.
Initial Entrepreneurial Problems
Start Up Capital…How much money do you have to get started?
Products or Services…What products/services can you provide to your customers?
Learning…(you got a lot to learn) …Where can I get the training/coaching?
Market…What is my market?
(of course this is not an all inclusive list)
My path to entrepreneurship began with retirement. After retiring I quickly realized that my income had to be subsidized. To live the lifestyle of freedom I desired, I had to create Something. So then I began my contemplation. As a result Digital Age Professionals was conceived and birthed.
Of course I too had to face and solve all the afore-mentioned problems. After much searching and mining I decided that digital marketing provided the opportunities I was looking for.
Having no product or service to offer I had to initially develop my strategy based on affiliate marketing. My research , yielded countless get rich schemes, beware.
“The strength of the effort determines the degree of success”…James Allen.
The two affiliates I have partnered with are The Six Figure Mentors and Aweber. Adopting their products and services has been life changing for me. Their strategies, and coaching coupled with award wining technical platforms provided a solid foundation on which to build.
Choosing the SFM affiliate marketing group was my beginning point. Their program has provided the answer to not one but ALL the aforementioned problems. For a minimal investment I have access to their products and services, conveniently nestled within the frame work of their perfectly constructed sales funnel.
SFM is second to none when it comes to Learning. Working your way through the training modules will set you up for true success. Taking it still further, SFM networking and coaching is superb. And, as an added plus all affiliates have access to thousands of courses (in the niche of your choice) through LinkedIn Learning.
Of course customer acquisition reigns supreme. Automation is the answer. In partnership with AWeber we have developed an extremely successful automated email program with minimal investment.
Email is the corner stone of our marketing strategy. Email automation coupled with social media marketing concepts will get you where you need to be.
After considerable investigation I found that AWeber provides the greatest bang for the buck. You will find that they lead the industry in the newest technologies. Check out AMP (accelerated mobile pages), email carousel, the instant personalized email templates, and landing pages.
The compatibility of the two tech platforms was my selling point. Seamless integration between SFM and AWeber has been the key for me.
Marketing both has been a game changer, check them out! Simply click the SFM, and the Aweber inks.
It’s one thing to be drawn to the digital lifestyle and to know that you want to build your own online-based business. It’s another thing altogether to gain the specific skill sets for the business model you choose. Two of the most sought after and lucrative online business models for brand new business owners are eCommerce and Affiliate marketing. The good news is that we offer comprehensive paths to our partners that provide the foundations for both of these business models.
Using SFM & AWeber’s tried and proven sales funnels, and necessary technical platforms, coupled with outstanding coaching, we have launched a global company with unspeakable marketing possibilities developed around my niche of travel photography.
Now, is the time!
To be in harmony with the universe, you must do the right thing at the right time. (the “law of rhythm”) Like a musician, you must play the right note at the right time or the whole composition is off.
Now is the time to play your note. Take control of your life. If you would like to learn more, to begin your investigation click the “How It Works” tab at the top of the page.
Or better yet. If you are ready to dive in, for a limited time I am providing you a unique opportunity to start your new lifestyle totally FREE. Where else can you launch a new business venture at No Cost? This will allow you to start immediately at no risk. Simply follow the links!
Utilizing these questions has greatly improved my effort to produce impressive imagery. You should consider:
The Story You Wish To Tell
The Position You Should Take
Is the composition Straight?
Movement Within The Frame
Commit To Memory
Excited about the expected outcome from my next photo adventure, I immediately committed them to memory in the order given.
Eager to see the outcome from my newly acquired knowledge, I began using them, in the exact order given.
So, after trying this for a while, I realized that I was struggling to get through the process. At first, I could not understand why the process was so difficult for me. Suddenly, I realized that the order in which the questions were given did not fit my slowly developing style. Causing, my shooting process to become slow and difficult.
Even though each question needs to be addressed, the order just didn’t match my style. So I decided to experiment with the sequence.
My new sequence looks like this:
Orientation (Landscape or Portrait)
This is my personal sequence, and so far it has served me well. Now, I am beginning to see a dramatic improvement in my photography.
For a final note, I must interject two thoughts. First, I sometimes let light lead me to my story, after all, photography is all about light. And finally, I have learned to always shoot both orientations. You will be surprised at what you may come up with.
So, go out shoot some pics and play around with these questions, find your sequence and see if it improves your skills.
Improve your consistency and confidence with a photoshoot checklist
Are you looking for ways to improve the flow of your photo sessions, your post-production workflow or your consistency? Consider developing and following your own photoshoot checklist!
Have you ever finished a photography session that felt awesome at the time only to feel disappointed later with the actual images? Maybe your focus was off. Maybe there were crazy shadows you missed on your client. Or maybe you ended up with a really ugly set of trash cans in the background that are taking hours to clone out in Photoshop. For whatever reason, you HATE them.
Friend, I’ve been there. It’s frustrating and can be such a time killer if you end up spending hours in post-production trying to fix it. Those oversights are honest mistakes. But they sure can wreak havoc on our confidence and our time.
The best photographers have one thing in common…a consistent workflow during their sessions. They might not even realize it, but they perform largely the same tasks in the same order for each and every session. This photoshoot checklist, whether physical or mental, helps ensure accuracy and consistency.
In this tutorial, we’ll talk through some elements of a photoshoot checklist, helping you build a consistent workflow for your photography sessions. Feel free to add elements or change components of this around to suit your style and personality and adapt it as you continue to grow your skills. But until then, you can also use this checklist to help you mentally and physically work through your sessions.
Photoshoot Checklist Overview
New photographers often spend the most time thinking about camera settings when it comes to their photoshoot.
Here are the elements you need to think about having on your photoshoot checklist
Prepare your camera and equipment
Evaluate the light
Evaluate the background
Greet and prepare your subjects (clients, family, objects, etc.)
Position your clients
Check the background and light relative to the subjects
Dial-in your settings
Confirm your settings
Pose or prompt your clients
Pause to confirm a few images
Repeat for different settings or major pose changes
That sounds really simple. And it can be. But I’ll break down each element in detail so you can get an idea of just what a session looks like for me. This is the formula I follow for each photoshoot I have, whether it’s an outdoor or indoor session and whether it’s a family or personal branding session. Having a consistent workflow gives me confidence and improves the client experience because we have a known roadmap to follow throughout our time together!
Step #1 – Prep my camera and equipment. What equipment do I need for a photoshoot?
Before I load my gear into the car for a photography session, I do a mental walkthrough of the session and jot down some notes on what I need. What lenses will I want? What props will I take? Should I take external lighting or a reflector? Once I have those items listed, I gather them up and prep my camera.
To prep my camera, I check my battery, put in and format memory cards and double-check that my lenses are clean and in my bag. Then I reset my aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to the same settings every time. I use f/5.6, 1/200 of a second and ISO 100.
Why do I do this?
First, I want to make sure I don’t have some goofy settings still on my camera that I forget about at the session. For example, one time I had my ISO on 10000 for some a nighttime session with flash. I didn’t catch it and thought my ISO was at 100 and had about a dozen really grainy family images before I caught it.
Second, I like to have my camera ready to start shooting the minute I pull it out of my bag, just in case. If I need to grab my camera quick, I know immediately if I’ll need to adjust my settings one way or the other. I don’t have to stop to wonder what my settings were and think about how I need to fix them. It’s a trick I learned a long time ago from a professional wildlife photographer that has served me well for some quick captures of a session or candid images of my own family.
I also make sure I have the bracket for my tripod or harness in my bag, along with my gray card and my notes on the client session.
Once my gear is ready, I head to the photo session!
Step 2. Prep yourself!
How should a photographer prepare for a photoshoot?
I use a lot of mental rehearsal to get ready for photoshoots. I read through my questionnaires and notes on the client. My shot list gets a few more read-throughs. Then I do a mental run-through of the first five or ten minutes of our session. I literally talk out loud as if I’m speaking to the client. I practice their names, practice my first setup or two and rehearse how I want the session to go.
This imaginary convo usually happens in the car on my way to a session. It might sound a little crazy but it’s helped me tremendously. I get to a session feeling like I’ve been there before because, in a way, I have! Try it for a session or two and see if it helps you!
Remember to prepare your body for the session, too! Use the restroom. Make sure you are hydrated and fed. Wear professional but functional clothing. Apply sunscreen or bug repellent, if needed. Tuck gloves and a hat in your bag if the weather is cold.
If you aren’t worrying about your physical needs it’s much easier to focus on the session!
Step 3. Evaluate the light
The next item on my photoshoot checklist is to evaluate the light. Light is always my first priority because it’s the key component of a quality image. You can make a crummy location look amazing if you have the right light. But a poorly lit image is a poorly lit image no matter how pretty the backdrop.
So look around. Where is the light coming from? What’s the quality and color of light?
If it’s an overcast day, for example, I might use the area differently than I would on a bright afternoon with no clouds. Where’s the best light in your location at that moment? Is there a location that will give me even lighting from head to toe?
Take note of things like open shade, dappled light or natural reflectors you can use to bounce light back into your scene.
Step 4. Evaluate the background.
After you understand the light you have to work with, then it’s time to evaluate the background. The key is to examine the background as it relates to the places with good light.
Look for elements of the background you want to use, like objects for natural framing, layering, leading lines or bokeh. Next, scope out those areas and make a note of parts of the background you want to avoid. Things like power lines, trash bins, tree branches, etc. can all ruin an otherwise great shot.
In the image above, my clients had requested a picture by the property’s gate. Immediately upon arrival, I notice the gate is huge and the powerlines in the background. (We did a few shots here but we moved their first look to a different location…see my tips below on accommodating clients AND giving them great images).
Whenever possible, I complete steps 4 and 5 BEFORE my clients arrive. I get to a location early and have a look around before a client gets there so I can work out my plan by myself. If I’m working in clients’ homes, I greet them, ask for a few minutes to scout out the space and then reconnect with the client to start the session.
Step 5. Prep your clients
I like to welcome my clients and then give them a brief rundown of what they can expect during the session. I remind them of how long we will shoot, explain my posing/prompting technique briefly and make sure they don’t have any last-minute requests. We complete a quick wardrobe check (look for cell phones or keys in pockets or hair ties around wrists!) and then start getting ready to take pictures.
If you’re photographing something other than people, this is where you’d gather your subjects. Make sure you have the products or items you want to photograph ready to go as well before you start shooting. If you’re shooting a location or space, like real-estate photography, do a quick walkthrough to prep the home or building.
Step 6. Position your subject
By now you should have a pretty good game plan in your head about how to use your location. So grab your subjects and position them in your scene for your first series of shots. Don’t worry about posing or prompting just yet. Just get your subject about where you want them and take up your shooting position.
Step 7. Bring it all together.
This is the last double-check of lighting, background and subjects on our photoshoot checklist. How does the light look on your subject? Where is the horizon in relation to your subjects? Anything look wonky in the background? Don’t be afraid to reposition your subjects if necessary. Sometimes all it takes is a step or two in either direction and you make a ho-hum image really pop!
Let me illustrate the importance of why this final check is important with a little story.
I’d been shooting some formal wedding portraits just outside the reception hall. I’d scouted the area, found great light and started shooting. When I started editing, I could have kicked myself. There was a stump with an ax handle sticking out of it in the background. It hadn’t been distracting at the time, but the way I’d positioned the bride and groom, it looked like the ax handle was coming out of the groom’s rear end.
So. Not. Cool.
I’d rushed my workflow and hadn’t taken the time to evaluate my subjects in the background. It was fixable in Photoshop with the patch tool. But had I taken my time and looked at the entire scene one more time, I could have saved myself a lot of time in post-production.
If you look closely at the photo below, you’ll see the fly-swatter in the upper right-hand corner. That was a detail I could have easily taken care of if I had done a better job of looking at my clients in the scene. I delivered the image to the clients after some cropping. But it would have been better had I taken three seconds to scan my scene and remove distractions.
Step 8. Dial-in your settings
Now it’s time we talk settings!
See, we’re all the way to step 8 and I haven’t mentioned settings once. That’s because while settings are important, they aren’t the only thing that makes great images. Yes, the wrong settings can wreck your image. But even the perfect settings can’t overcome skunky light, squinty eyes or a tree limb through someone’s head.
But I digress.
Now it’s time to read your light meter and dial in your settings. I usually start with my shutter speed. What is the minimum shutter speed I need to keep any motion blur or camera shake from my images? Then I select the aperture I want based on my subject and focal plane. Then I set ISO as needed.
Don’t forget about setting the focus and white balance. I will generally set a custom white balance or use daylight. Use your preferred setting or set your own custom balance.
When good auto white balance goes bad…Read our white balance tutorial.
Step 9. Review
Go ahead and take a quick look at your camera screen. A quick visual confirmation that everything looks a-okay never hurts. If something if off, better to adjust it now!
I check for blown highlights, shadows with no texture and the balance between the light on my subject and the light on my background. What looks okay to our eyes, even with good settings, doesn’t translate well to the camera.
“Chimping,” or looking at the back of your camera, got a bad rap there for a while with photographers. You don’t need to do it after every shot, but it’s a valuable tool that you can and should be using during your sessions.
Step 10. Pose or prompt your clients
Now that you are ready to go, it’s time to focus on your subjects!
I wait until after I’ve dialed in settings to pose or prompt because it’s less pressure on everyone. The client doesn’t feel pressured to pose or hold a smile while I adjust settings. And I don’t feel like the client is staring at me, silently screaming, “JUST HURRY UP ALREADY!”
This is also helpful if you’re shooting pets or children. They aren’t going to hold a traditional pose for very long. Keep their cooperation for when you are ready!
Give your subject your posing suggestions or prompts if you’re more unstructured. Then start shooting.
Step 11. Complete your session.
Finally, we’ve arrived at the last item on our photoshoot checklist. It’s time to simply move through the workflow of the session you planned in your head earlier. I’ll take whatever photos I want at this location using this lighting. Then I move on to another area I might want to use. At that point, I start over at step seven and again evaluate the subjects in the new background and light and double-check my settings.
Any time I switch the number of subjects I’m shooting, I double-check my aperture. If I was taking pictures of the little sister at f/2.8, then I switch to the whole family in two rows, I adjust my aperture to give me the depth of field I need.
Want to experience a pro photography session from start to finish? Become a Cole’s Classroom Pro Member and see more than a dozen photo sessions through the eyes of our pros with our “Backstage Pass” videos.
Best Tips for Improved Photography Sessions
Tip #1. Slow down!
My number one tip for improving your photography sessions is simply to slow down. Slow down! Take time to think through what you are doing. Getting things as close to perfect in-camera should always be the goal!
I know how intimidating it feels fiddling with settings while my client waits. But do not rush. It really is better to take an extra 15 seconds now to get things correct than spend hours in post-production trying to fix bad decisions, or worse yet, have completely useless images.
Remember, what feels like an eternity to you is just a few seconds to the client. And they trust you, so the extra time isn’t a big deal to them.
If you feel your clients getting anxious, simply say something like “I’ll take just a few seconds here to make sure I have everything dialed in. I want you to really love these images!”
Seriously, just slow down the whole process and think through your decisions. I’d estimate that 95 percent of my “bad” images are because I was rushing, NOT because I didn’t know what I was doing.
Tip #2. Walk away from bad lighting, backgrounds or poses.
Sometimes I try new things and I don’t love them. Admit that to yourself (and maybe even your client) and then try something else.
If I have a background or lighting scenario I hate, I will tell my client something like “You are rocking it! The light right here just isn’t doing you justice. Let’s walk around the corner and use that area instead.”
If it’s a pose I tried and it isn’t flattering for my client, I keep my mouth shut, snap the picture, then fix the pose. If, after demonstrating and tweaking the pose it still isn’t working, I again snap the picture and move on to another pose. I give my clients lots of praise and find something that works better. You don’t need to tell the client “Oh that doesn’t look good.” Just move on to something more flattering.
Tip #3. You do you.
Shooting at a location where there are lots of other photographers is intimidating as a new professional. You might look around and think “Why are they over there? Should I move? What do they know that I don’t? Her stuff is going to turn out so much better.”
Nope. Don’t even play that game. Focus on executing YOUR plan and flattering YOUR clients, not worrying about the other photographers.
First, everyone has a different style and goals for their images. Her goals and style may not be your goals and style. Your client’s personality might not match her client’s personality!
Second, that other photographer might not even know what in the world he is doing! There are a lot of photographers out there who haven’t put in the time, effort and energy you have to really study photography and light. Copying those photographers isn’t going to help you one bit!
Tip #4. Don’t’ be afraid to take a break to fix something!
If something is wrong with your settings, camera or other equipment, stop and figure it out.
Too many times I think we as new photographers lack the confidence to say “Something’s wonky. Give me a second to figure it out.”
It’s as if saying that out loud confirms our worst fears…that we aren’t good enough to be “real” photographers.
Friend, real photographers have equipment failures. Real photographers have things go wrong. But real photographers also know when to take a break, figure out the problem and fix it.
A stylist isn’t going to keep cutting your hair with dull scissors. Nor will a waitress give you the wrong food and expect you to eat it. Instead, both practice a pause, fix the situation and resume their work. That’s the mark of a professional!
Tip #5. You are the expert. Be accommodating but don’t let the client tell you how to do your job.
My client requested a specific background or pose but it just won’t work. What do I do?
Clients often pick a location that is a gorgeous setting without understanding how important light is to a session. They see a pretty lake or mountain and think it will be a great backdrop for their location. But often, the light in that area just won’t work. Or she REALLY wants to recreate a pose but it’s that is not flattering for her body type. What do you do?
Educate your clients on using great light and posing! This starts during your initial consult, obviously, by talking about why you will shoot when and where you do. But sometimes we get to a session and a client has an idea for a background, pose or setup that is less than ideal. Then what?
I accommodate the client but still work the session my way.
I say things like “Oh I love that idea. Let’s capture a few here where this light is so soft and beautiful, then we will try that one.”
Then, I’ll work in a few shots with the backdrop or pose they’ve requested. I do the best I can with what I’ve got and give them SOMETHING with the specific scene they hand in mind. I give them what they think they want, then go right back to working my way through my photoshoot checklist my way.
Here’s an example…
I was taking senior pictures for a local family this summer. We were working on her grandparents’ cattle ranch in the mountains in Wyoming. One of the locations she really wanted was these big beautiful rocks. The problem was, the rocks were on a west-facing hill in full sun and there were exactly clouds in the sky. To shoot them really well, I should have been there at 5 in the morning, not 6:30 at night. And we couldn’t wait to shoot there until the sun was low in the sky because we needed golden hour for pictures with her horses.
But I knew they were important to the client. These rocks were the same pile of rocks that her great, great-grandparents used to build their first homestead back in the early 1900s. They had tremendous personal significance to my client. So we used the rocks.
But instead of shooting tight portraits, I took a more editorial approach. I used a wider lens and incorporated more of the background into the shots. My client got instructions to look down and away from the sun or close her eyes and be a bit more dramatic. For the photo below, I told her to give me her inner pioneer bad-ass. I did do a few close-ups, knowing I was blowing my highlights but demonstrating I heard my clients request. Then I got back on track with my internal photoshoot checklist.
In this situation, the client loved the final (if non-traditional!) images. But just as often, the clients never purchase those images because they like the ones I created using my knowledge of light and photography better.
So be accommodating. Make the most of a bad situation, then move on and rock your plan. You might surprise yourself with your creativity, the client feels heard and you’ll still deliver amazing images in the end.
Here are some more great family photography tips!
Having a photoshoot checklist helps improve your consistency which will ultimately give you better images in the end. It also helps your confidence because you have a roadmap to follow during your sessions.
If you are brand new to taking clients, don’t be afraid to have a physical photoshoot checklist for your first few unpaid practice sessions. Keep it in your pocket or taped to the wall in your studio so you can refer to it as needed. Soon, you’ll find you can keep track of where you are and where you need to go without that map. I still ask my family to volunteer when I want to try something new. And I write down a photoshoot checklist to follow the first few times I implement new methods.
And don’t underestimate the power of mental practice and preparation. Visualization exercises aren’t just for athletes. It can work for photographers, too. Does it sound absolutely crazy to treat your daughter’s stuffed animals like a pee-wee basketball team? Probably. Does it work? Yes! Practice handling sessions from start to finish, including what you’ll say to clients, how you’ll say it and how you’ll move through your workflow.
Sessions feel overwhelming and scary right now. But creating your own photoshoot checklist helps alleviate your fear, improves your confidence and ultimately helps you become a better photographer. Give ours a try or create your own. Rock your list, rock your session and rock your business!
Teresa Milner is a portrait and events photographer in Southeastern Wyoming and the creative drive behind Dirt Road Wife Photography. Teresa traded life in the fast lane as a public information officer to raise her family in her native rural Wyoming. Today, she lives on a commercial bird farm with her husband, daughter, a neurotic border collie, a lovable yellow mutt and more than 20,000 pheasants! A self-proclaimed country girl, she loves farm life, wildlife, fishing, hunting, wildflowers and singing loudly with the radio to any George Strait song she hears. Meet Teresa at www.dirtroadwifephotography.com. Or follow her on Facebook or Instagram!
But there are many things I had to learn along the way. Here are the top five:
Build relationships. Networking with other bloggers and with destinations is important. I joined several travel-writing and blogging Facebook groups from the start. Today I’m active in only two of those groups–the ones that include bloggers I have the most in common with. We bounce ideas off of each other and sometimes work together on collaborative articles. I also keep in touch, through social media, with destinations that have hosted me. In fact, I’ve become Facebook friends with many destination staff members. Building relationships has brought me many opportunities, including requests for paid writing assignments outside of my blog.
Write multiple articles about a destination. When I visit a destination, I don’t stop at one article that lists everything I did there. Instead, I first write focused articles on each attraction I’ve visited. Then later, I write a round-up, a summary of each attraction, and I link back to those focused articles. This practice has gotten me many invitations for return visits to destinations.
Don’t procrastinate. After dreaming about travel writing for years, but not doing anything about it, I took Great Escape Publishing’s blogging course to learn the basics. Then I jumped right in. Blogging is a good way to get into the travel-writing world because you don’t have to write query letters and keep your fingers crossed, hoping an editor will like your ideas. You write about what you want, when you want. And you get your writing out there immediately for the world to see.
Populate your blog, but take a break when you need it. I began posting article after article, about three a week. This was a good thing, at first. After all, the more content you have in your blog, the more page views you’ll get through Google searches. But writing so many articles became a burden. It didn’t leave enough time to market my blog on social media. I was stressed. Eventually, I cut down to two articles a week, and then one. I’ve even skipped a week occasionally. And you know what? It hasn’t affected my stats at all. In fact, my page views have continued to increase.
Use SEO. To get onto the first page of a Google search, you have to use Search Engine Optimization. That means you include words in your article and title that match terms that people might search for. At first, I guessed at terms I should use. A few years into blogging I discovered there are helpful tools available, like Yoast, that guide you on SEO usage. Today, about three-quarters of my blog’s page views come from search engine searches.
Learn from my experiences. Incorporate these tips into your strategy for quicker blogging success.
[Editor’s Note: Connie completely reinvented her life at 60, with a part-time blog about her local region. You can do this with your own locale… with your favorite hobbies… or with international travels and adventure. Whether you love luxury spas or cultural immersions… history or shopping… all you have to do is pick what you love and get started.
It is truly a blessing and a wonderful feeling to wake up each day doing the things you truly love to do. It is also amazing that those things create for you the lifestyle of your choosing. For me it is travel photography.
Early in life I discovered my love for art. Sketching in pencil, pen, ink, and charcoal. Later in life I was introduced to analog photograph. I became obsessed. But, because of the cost of film and printing, I had to abandon this love.
Now that I am retired I have returned to my passion. I am fascinated by this new era of digital imagery. Thus, the creation of Digital Age Professionals.
We first, had to consider who our potential customers were going to be. Secondly, we had to identify the problems DAP could solve for these customers. After, this we had to establish a location for our potential customers to visit.
Working from the digital format, our first step involved building our web site. Our website is our digital home (real estate). We have made our home as delightful as possible.
As with any home we expect guest. Guest come in two distinct forms, invited, and uninvited. I don’t know about you but certain close friends are allowed to drop by anytime. Of course, the option of admittance is entirely at my discretion 🙂
Then there are those uninvited guest. That you really have to consider if they are worthy for admittance. However, with our business home we want everybody interested in our product or services to stop by at any and all times!
Marketing, is where my problems began! I quickly realized that even though I had a web site, no one was stopping by. I became very lonely. In this instance lonely equates too low income. I had to quickly learn to market my product to those who are interested in my problem solving capabilities.
Thanks to Six Figure Mentors and AWeber I have now developed superior marketing skills and capabilities. Not only for me, but to other business owners who have marketing problems.
Marketing is the most important part of our business development. Without customers there is no business.
Choosing A Niche
Even though my problems began with marketing, choosing my niche quickly became my largest problem. I am writing this post for all new marketeers who are wrestling with this very same problem.
Affiliate marketing got me started, then I soon realized that I had to develop marketing plans that were concentrated on a particular speciality according to my personal desire. This is where the rubber meets the road.
I spent months trying to get this right. I now understand that many marketeers struggle with this problem. Thankfully my love for photography led me to my perfect niche.
By the way, what I have learned from all of this, is that finding the proper niche is an evolutionary process. Don’t get hung up, let your heart lead you to the lifestyle you desire.
When starting out in the photography business, it’s tempting to be a jack of all trades, shooting everything that looks interesting. While this approach may get you hundreds of unique photos, it will not set you apart from the competition.
Competition is a good thing, professional photographers who have embraced the power of intense competition in stock photography have discovered the power of branding for a specific niche. A niche will help you learn and zero in on what works and what doesn’t.
What type of photography sparks your creative juices? Your passion should be an indicator of your photographic niche.
Succeeding in the crowded field of stock photography requires tenacity, a willingness to get out of your comfort zone and work. Those that have succeeded in stock photography, have discovered the power of being focused on a specific niche.
Research on different niches to find out about the competition, gather as much information as you possibly can to discover what works in the niche and what doesn’t. Gather relevant statistics about sales and market demand. This should help you come up with strategies for joining the niche.
Embracing competition also means seeking out new areas that are underserved. Look for what customers are constantly asking for, what seems to be in short supply, join photography forums listen to the hub talk. Discover where there is demand.
Photography is all about painting with light, Creative photography is an art that transcends all spheres, essentially this means that you can shoot any kind of image, your creativity is what will direct your photography business.
You cannot be an expert in landscape photography, portraits, astrophotography, weddings, food, street photography. Approaching photography creatively requires that you zero in on a specific niche, buy the right gear and practice to shoot amazing photos in this niche.
Creative photographers, don’t really have to be professional, they can be hobbyists with an eye to see what works and what doesn’t. If you are a hobbyist with a keen photographic eye, expand your knowledge level through training, courses, and practical applications, as you concentrate on your chosen niche.
What is a niche?
The business dictionary defines a market niche as
“a small but profitable segment of a market suitable for focused attention by a marketer, Market niches do not exist by themselves but are created by identifying needs or wants that are not being addressed by competitors, and by offering products that satisfy them.”
Photography has different specific niches, to discover which ones are profitable, and which ones aren’t you have to research. Study each niche in detail, and list only those niches that are of interest to you. Do you have the right gear and equipment for this niche?
Here is a list of a few niches that you can research on:
Real Estate Photography, Wedding Photography, newborns, Business, landscape Photography, Black and White Photography, Fashion Photography, Studio Photography, Street Photography Pet Photography, Photo-Journalism, Celebrity Photography, underwater Photography, Product Photography, Portrait Photography, amongst many others.
If you are a beginner starting out in photography, you will have limited knowledge about the equipment needed for specific niches. Start by learning about various types of photographic gear that will help shoot high-quality photos.
How do you identify a niche?
Your interest should lead you., Your interest, however, may not be good enough as an indicator of how profitable is. Researching about every area of your expertise to understand the market dynamics will help you settle on a profitable niche.
As we said earlier Photography is an art of painting with light, you may be good in one area and not the other, as an artist, identify areas you are good at. Proceed to do complete market research, this should direct your focus in the area that will eventually become your bread and butter.
When starting on your photographic journey, try out everything, see what works and what doesn’t, zero in on what is working. Study what prospective customers are asking for but seems to be in short supply. Are you in a position to work on meeting this demand? Do you have the required knowledge, expertise, and equipment to shoot images for this specific niche?
Before settling in one niche try out several niches to find out where your unique skills meet a demand in the market.
Challenges of niche Photography
Niche photography is a highly specialized approach to photography, it segments the industry into specific photography markets. Each market requires a specialized approach, in addition to special skills, some segments like astrophotography or insect photography require specialized equipment.
This means that no matter how passionate you are to shoot photos in a certain market, you might be limited by the availability of the right gear. Work in a niche that you have the right equipment and skills to produce high-quality images.
Your location will also determine the type of niche you can join, for example, if you live in the rural areas, you cannot shoot street photos, this, therefore, cannot be your specialty, unless you relocate to a city.
The location will also determine the type of images you can shoot, for example, you cannot shoot underwater images unless you live near a body of water. And have the right gear and scuba diving equipment.
Connect your brand to your niche
Once you have settled on a niche, prepare to ride the storms. As you go through the learning curves, you may find some months will be rough, you may be tempted to quit. Niche photography is a highly specialized photography genre that approaches a select group of buyers who may at first hesitate before committing to buying from you.
When you approach your niche with the end in mind you will stick in there for the long haul. Niche photography is a marathon and not a sprint. The easiest way to attract buyers fast is to have a wide selection of images in your niche.
Brand your images with a style template, as an individual your portfolio may not grow fast enough to stand out in the market. If you have the means you can hire other specialized photographers to shoot images that you can then post-process using your style template to retain uniformity.
If you do not have the means, build your business one brick at a time, work on your brand awareness, build your presence and don’t be in a hurry, the right buyers will eventually discover your unique talents.
Targeting a market niche is hard work, and is not for the faint-hearted, it is, however, the most rewarding and long-lasting successful way of joining this highly competitive business.
Do you want to make a stable career out of your photographic skills? Let stiff competition not derail your ambitions. Choose a niche, study the niche, roll up your sleeves and get to work, you will definitely succeed.
I have come to realize that my purpose in life, in simple terms is; to promote Health Wealth and Love. It is truly a blessing to be able to enjoy my daily life uplifting humanity by fulfilling my purpose.
When you think about it Health, Wealth, and Love combined are the foundation on which true happiness is built. Man’s greatest aspiration should be for, him and his family to enjoy life in good health, filled with an abundance of wealth and love.
There is great debate as to which comes first or, which is more important. I have come to the conclusion, that the order does not matter. To be lacking in either results in unhappiness.
I think we all would agree that the driving force in the universe is “Love”. I also think that all would agree that without good health, happiness is impossible. However, there arrises uncertainty about wealth. The question arises; can you be truly happy while experiencing lack?
Man is limited only by disempowering beliefs and erroneous thinking. Strangely enough, most of our disempowering beliefs come from erroneous religious teachings.
Teachings derived from passages such as; “ the love of money is the root of all evil”. Or, “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into heaven”.
Please, examine such text more thoroughly. Passages are often misunderstood. And sometimes, further study may reveal other passages that should be examined.
Take a look at this passage;
Ecclesiastes 10:19 …a feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.
Now, what do you think? Regardless of what you think, you probably can’t argue with the fact that financial condition directly affects all three of these very important areas.
We must have money. Money is only a medium of exchange that is used as a tool to not only satisfy necessities but to also forge a lifestyle. You get to choose your lifestyle.
It is “only” your thinking that determines your lifestyle. With thoughts of Health Wealth and Love, you create circumstances that in turn manifest the desired environment. Therefore, you get to enjoy your life. On the other hand, thoughts rooted in fear, produce poverty, lack, and ill-health.
My thoughts of an abundant lifestyle led me to the creation of Digital Age Professionals. Built on the Six Figure Mentors, affiliate marketing platform I now lead a lifestyle of complete freedom. I get the opportunity to promote Health Wealth and Love while I travel the world enjoying my two greatest passions; writing and photography.
I hope I have given you “Adequate Motive” to Create a business that satisfies the basic motives within your being. Join us, and turn your passion into the lifestyle of your desire.
Look around you, every material object you see, started out as a thought in some man’s mind. The car you drive, the bricks that form your home, the toaster you used for breakfast this morning, the plate you ate from, the cell phone that you can’t put down. All things (material objects) have their origin in the mind of man, and the manifestation of these objects are the result of Thought.
The mind of man is creative. It must be understood that this creative power originates not in the mind of man but in the “Universal Mind”(God), the source of all power, wisdom, and intelligence. This “Universal Mind” is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscience.
Being omnipresent, mind permeates all things and all space. “The ALL(God) is in Everything, and Everything is in the ALL(God)” This means that the essence of God resides within you, and all individuals. (“ The Kingdom of God is Within”) We are Individualized Spirit. All your power comes from within.
This mind permeates every cell of your body in the form of negative energy. We have come to understand that this energy comprises our “subconscious mind” it acts without our conscious knowledge. This subconscious mind is our true connection between God, the universe, and our conscious mind.
The Universal Mind and You
“God made man in His own image” (Spiritual Image). A through examination of the word man will bring you to its origin, which is the word mind. Now replace the word man with the word mind. The scripture will then read “God made mind in His own image”. Thus, the mind of man is a part of the Universal Mind. It should be noted that a part of anything possesses the same substance and quality of that from which it comes. The only difference is one of degree.
The subconscious mind is the connecting link between the Universal mind and the conscious mind of man. Our subconscious mind is responsive to the desires (will) of our conscious mind.
The conscious mind is the positive energy of thought. The only activity of mind is thinking. Our conscious mind thinks, and impresses upon our negatively charged subconscious mind, which is the connecting link between you, and the Universal Mind(God). This connection produces the power necessary to cause the manifestation of that particular thought. Making your conscious mind the creator of things, environments, and circustances.
Be very careful, your creative conscious mind is susceptible to all forms of influence, gathered in by your senses, what you hear, see, smell, taste, and or feel. Your thoughts are not only influenced by impressions from your senses, but they are also affected by your beliefs, most of which are received via heredity. Your beliefs guide and direct your thoughts, therefore shape your reality. (circumstances, environments) It must be noted that your deeply ingrained beliefs can be either empowering or disempowering. Examine all your beliefs.
I must take a moment to enlighten you to that most of us are oppressed, and subjugated. We have an oppressor in some form or another, whether it be in the form of government or some elitist power. This oppression is rooted in consumerism. As a consumer you are the power that fuels our intricately “constructed society”. And, your beliefs are shaped to keep us in that position. You can only change your position by becoming a producer, thereby lessening the effects of consumerism.
Your subconscious receives all thoughts both good and bad it does not discriminate. If your thoughts are of peace, love, wealth and happiness, your circumstance and environment will be good. But, if your thoughts are based on fear, poverty, and lack, your thoughts will manifest circumstances accordingly. You have been given the power to think on the level of “The Absolute’(God), now use that power.
You Are a Creator
Now that you understand that you are a creator, what are you going to create? Are you going to continue to create bad circumstances by harboring thoughts of poverty and lack, based on fear? Or, are you going to think thoughts of joy, peace, and abundance? Resulting in a life of true happiness filled with good health, wealth, and love.
The power of thought could be considered to be man’s greatest discovery. I submit to you that the major difference between the super rich and the common man is this discovery and the use of it’s power.
There are those who made this discovery and have used this power to create large amount of wealth. Then, there are those who have made this discovery and have not acted on it.
Then there are those who are just now becoming aware. Now that you are beginning to develop this understanding, what are you going to do with it? What kind of lifestyle do you wish to manifest?
You Can’t Change Your Circumstances By Doing the Same Things. In order to get a different outcome, you must change the way you are doing things. You can’t expect a better environment or circumstances when you continue to do the same things the same way. OK, I think you got the point.
Anyway, what I am trying to convey is a well known Universal Law, called Cause and Effect. The law simply states; For every effect, there is a cause. Therefore there is a cause for any and all of your circumstances, as well as the environment in which you live.
Now comes the hard part, and that is accepting that YOU are the cause! We all have a tendency to place blame everywhere but on ourselves. In the allegory of Adam and Eve, Adam placed blame on Eve for his disobedience. We all have a tendency to look for others to blame.
You are the cause! Being created in the “image and likeness of God” makes you a part of Universal Spirit (God is omnipresent). A part of anything possesses the same substance and qualities of that from which it comes. Remember the “Kingdom of God is within”.
All power including the power to change things comes from within. Now ask yourself:
Are you happy with your circumstances/environment?
Are you happy with your job?
Are you tired of living paycheck to paycheck?
Are you tired of working 60 hours per week just to make ends meet?
Are you tired of just being the consumer?
Are you tired of spending your whole paycheck on bills?
If you are dissatisfied with your answers to any of these questions, you need to change the way you are doing things. Change the way you think!
Explore your options, consider your purpose, and your God-given gifts and talents. Find your niche and create a better experience. You are an individualized Spirit, placed on earth with a purpose to create something. Look around you, everything you see that is not animal, vegetable or mineral was created by a man acting in harmony with Universal Spirit.
My new creation is an internet marketing business called “Digital Age Professionals”. I have found that the internet marketing platform provides me the opportunity to participate in a global economy, offering unlimited income potential, all while living a lifestyle of freedom.
Acting within my purpose which is to help people, I believe in the greatest good for the greatest number. I am offering you the opportunity to join me and help to make a change “one person at a time, from the inside out” Click the banner below to launch your new lifestyle at no cost! Let your journey begin!
If you want to learn how to become a travel photographer, you in the right place.
It was a beautiful day in Montreal. I was on a regular afternoon jog listening to a popular photography podcast. The topic of the episode was travel photography. The guests of the show were two professional photographers with the years of experience.
At the end of the podcast during the listeners’ question and answer session, the first question immediately grabbed my attention. Why? Because I’ve been asked the same, or nearly identical, question many times before.
So what’s the question?
“I want to start traveling more specifically for photography, but I do not know where to start. Do you have any idea where I should go or how to plan my trip? Should I edit photos while I am there or should I wait until I return home? What cameras, lenses and other equipment do I take? Help! I am suffering from analysis paralysis“. Ok, so perhaps the question has multiple parts but it still rang true to my experience. I was curious to hear the answers because I knew it was a loaded question and definitely not an easy one.
The photographers’ answers surprised me.
Here are some of them:
“South Asia is a good place to go.”“Do not go to Bangkok.”“If you do not know, choose a place randomly.”“Europe, maybe.” Instead of addressing the complex subject of travel photography, the photographers only concentrated on a single aspect: the location. Their answers disappointed me because I do not consider the location to be an essential part of travel photography. You do not need to travel to a remote and exotic destination to enjoy travel photography.
A simple 4-step process on how to become a travel photographer
I decided to put together a blueprint or guide to help people who want to get involved in travel photography but do not know where to start. I used a similar approach when I first started and it has proven successful over the years.
First and foremost, please do not start your travel photography journey with a trip to South Asia. It will be a waste of time and money, not to mention it will be full of disappointments.
Start smaller and grow from there.
Any urban park has all the essential elements of travel photography: landscapes, cityscapes, people, etc….
Plan your visits during different times of the day. Learn how to deal with the harsh midday light, overcast, rain, sunsets and sunrises. In doing so, you will figure out what minimum equipment you need to cover different scenarios of travel photography.
For example, I realized pretty early that a minimalistic approach to photography suits me the best and all I need is a camera with a walk around lens. For years, I used a combination of a Canon 60D + Sigma 17-70mm and now I have a similar setup of a Sony a6000 + Sony 16-70mm.
I am lucky enough to have a beautiful park in only short walking distance from where I live. Even now, when I have a new piece of equipment, I always test it there. When I switched from a Canon to a Sony, it was a steep learning curve and the local park was the ideal place for learning and testing my new equipment.
Now that it is winter, I ordered new photo gloves and, when I receive them, I will go to the park for a few hours to see if I like them or not.
Park Rene Levesque in Montreal is my testing ground
Step 2: Mini Simulation
The next step is to go on a day-long trip at a location within a 1-2-hour driving range. In my case, I know all the national and provincial parks around Montreal and most of them make perfect destinations for short photo trips.
This trip will take you away from the comfort of your home for the entire day and will allow you to start micro planning and testing your skills.
Make sure you plan in advance what spot to visit at sunset or sunrise. It is not always easy to do both during a short trip, so choose only one and make sure you visit the best spot. Use Google search, Google maps, and 500px to pinpoint the perfect location for your sunrise or sunset shoot.
Also, you have to decide how many camera batteries to bring with you, if you need spare memory cards, and so on. If your trip involves challenging hiking, it also might be a good idea to leave the tripod at home.
These trips are designed for photographers to make mistakes and to learn from them. With every new trip, you will learn more about planning, your equipment, and your habits.
When you comfortable with the short trips, it is time to graduate to multi-day trips.
Mont-Saint-Bruno national park is only 30km from Montreal
Step 3: Multi-Day Driving Trips
This is how real travel photography started for me.
Montreal is located within a 5-7 hour driving distance from New York, Boston and Toronto with Niagara Falls. My trips dedicated exclusively to photography started with 2-3 day driving trips to those destinations.
Multi-days trips require much more planning where you should always do your research first and then plan all your sunrises, sunsets and everything in between.
Another new challenge you have to face on these trips is to figure out how to deal with editing and backups.
I am not giving you a specific scenario to follow because, based on my experience, travel routines are always changing and evolving.
For example, in the beginning, I always did some basic edits of my new photos by the end of every day of the trip. Now, I only concentrate on my shooting and I start the editing process when I am back at home. But, I always have the option to edit photos simply by connecting my tablet to camera using Wi-Fi, grabbing a few photos, editing them with Snapseed and posting them to social media.
At the same time, my backup routine has not changed a lot. By the end of the day, I backup all new photos to two external hard drives and always make sure to keep them in two separate places. I have one with me at all times in my bag and the second I keep in the safe in the hotel or in the trunk of my car.
Also, I do not rush to format my memory cards. I keep photos on the cards until I run out of space on all four of them and only then do I start formatting.
The beauty of driving trips is that you do not have to be too selective about the equipment you bring with you. You can load your trunk with everything you own and later figure out what pieces are essential for your style of photography.
New York. Taken from Staten Island Ferry.
Step 4: Hacking Family Vacation
The next step is to hack your family vacation.
You have to be careful with this one so as to ensure you do not agitate your loved ones or ruin the vacation for them.
A family trip can serve as the perfect opportunity for testing your air travel routines. It requires additional research to figure out carry on allowances on every leg of your trip and to decide what equipment to bring.
After I brought all my equipment on one of my first family trips to Cuba and hardly used any of it, I started to pack differently by bringing only the necessities along. Also, after I switched from DSLR to Mirrorless, I can pack everything (almost everything) in my carry on without worrying about lost luggage.
So how do you start planning?
Begin by planning your vacation as you normally would and concentrate on family activities first. When these are done and everybody is happy, you can enhance your trip with photography adventures.
During the vacation, the only time when you can be 100% dedicated to your photography is when everybody is sleeping. On each day of vacation you will have a few hours between sunrise and breakfast to concentrate on your photography. And, not only will your family be in bed at 5 am, about 99.9% of tourists will be in their beds as well. In fact, you would be surprised how beautiful Venice looks at sunrise – it is completely different and calm without the chaos of crowds.
Cuba. Sunrise at Cayo Coco beach.
Last year, my wife and I went to Niagara Falls in the middle of summer on a weekend getaway. It was so crowded during the day that I had no chance of using a tripod. It was even difficult to take any pictures without having people in the frame. But, when I went to the Falls the next morning just before sunrise, I had the entire place to myself. The only person I met there was another photographer who had the same idea.
The goal of successfully combining a family vacation with photography and to be able to enjoy them both is to plan every single sunrise in advance. The rest of the days will be dedicated to family activities and are much more difficult to plan. You can enjoy your family while trying to be as opportunistic as possible with your photography.
After you have completed dozens of one-day local trips, half a dozen of short driving trips and at least a couple of family vacations, you will be ready to go on extensive trips dedicated exclusively to photography. You will acquire the necessary skills and establish personal routines that will help you be comfortable, confident and safe during your travels.
Learning any new complex process requires breaking it down into smaller digestible chunks that you can then start to tackle one at a time. Travel photography is no different. You cannot learn everything in one shot. By starting small, you will gradually accumulate knowledge, experience and establish your unique routines.
I hope my simple blueprint will help you fulfill your dream of becoming a travel photographer and accelerate the learning process.
By Viktor Elizarov
I am a travel photographer and educator from Montreal, Canada, and a founder of PhotoTraces. I travel around the world and share my experiences here. Feel free to check my Travel Portfolio and download Free Lightroom Presets.
In his view, landscape paintings worked best not when sky and land were given equal weight, but when one or the other took up an entire two-thirds of the canvas. Contrary to popular wisdom, which favored the “formal half” or a one-to-one ratio, he wondered if the most appealing compositions, in fact, featured a different ratio altogether: one-to-two.
In 1797, the engraver and painter John Thomas Smith, who worked as the keeper of prints at the British Museum, came up with a revolutionary theory.
Smith’s theory predates the invention of the camera by about twenty years, but these days, we know it as one of the guiding principles of photography. Now, when we discuss composition, we still use the same term Smith coined all those years ago: the rule of thirds.
Once you understand this common photographic technique, you can learn to position your subject in any image so that the photo is both visually balanced and interesting to your viewers. In this article, we’ll explore the rule of thirds and how you can use it to your advantage.
What is the rule of thirds?
The rule of thirds is one of the easiest ways to experiment with your composition; it is simply a matter of placing the elements in your image so that each of them carries the proper amount of visual weight.
Imagine you are looking at a tic-tac-toe board. Notice how the lines on that board create three distinct horizontal sections and three distinct vertical sections. There are also four points where the lines intersect. According to the rule of thirds, placing your subject along a line or point on this grid will create a more dynamic composition.
You have the option to view a rule of thirds grid as an overlay in your DSLR viewfinder, and you can even look for a grid option in the camera settings on your phone. This can be helpful when you’re practicing the rule of thirds, but be wary of using it too much as it may interfere with your ability to visualize other compositions while you shoot. The best way to master the rule of thirds is to practice visualizing it in your mind.
How to use the rule of thirds
New photographers tend to put their subjects in the very center of the frame. While this can result in a strong composition under the right circumstances, it can also create static images that lack interest.
This is partly due to the way our eyes view a scene: they naturally try to follow the lines and points on the grid, even when the grid is not visible. It’s also due to another compositional element: balanced asymmetry. Usually, your subject will already carry the greatest impact out of all the elements in your image, so it wields a lot of visual weight. By positioning the subject so that it takes up approximately one-third of the image, you’re leaving enough negative space to balance that weight.
In landscapes Try aligning your horizon line with one of the two horizontal lines on the grid. This keeps your viewer’s eye from getting stuck going side to side. If the sky is distractingly bright, this is an easy way to balance that punch of brightness with the more muted detail in the land portion of your image.
In portraiture The eyes are usually the focus of a portrait, so try to line up your model’s eyes along the grid to give them high visual exposure. For group portraits, use stools, steps, or natural height strategically to utilize different areas of the grid.
Some things to consider
The rule of thirds is a great “cheat sheet” for getting dynamic compositions out of almost any scene. However, it’s not always the best choice for every photo. If you’re shooting in one of the following circumstances, the rule of thirds might not be right for your image.
You want something to have a larger-than-life effect Platon is famous for his in-your-face portraits of celebrities and world leaders. You really get a sense of who they are, and for that kind of impact, the subject is the only thing that matters. Although some of his other work does use the rule of thirds, these pieces would only be hindered by it.
If you already use the rule of thirds too frequently This rule is meant to stimulate creativity, not inhibit it. If you’ve come to rely heavily on the rule of thirds and notice that a lot of your work is looking eerily similar, it may be time to try something new.
You’re battling lens distortion If you’re using a wide-angle lens, placing your subject in one of the outer thirds could cause them to appear too distorted. If that’s not the effect you are going for, switch lenses or switch photography rules.
The rule of thirds in post-processing
Sometimes we want a rule of thirds composition, but due to shooting circumstances, it’s not easy or possible on-location. If you’re shooting macro photography of insects, for example, you’re already using a lot of mental energy just to get the right point of focus before your subject moves on. In a situation like that, it can help to shoot just a little wider than you think you need. That leaves you room to crop for the rule of thirds in post-processing.
If you plan to do this, check your camera settings before you shoot. Be sure you are shooting in RAW and give yourself a nice, high-resolution file to work with so that you aren’t cropping away all of your image quality. Keep a copy of the original image in your backups in case you need to go back to the drawing board.
If you simply want to enhance the rule of thirds effect, you can use an adjustment layer mask (or in Lightroom, an adjustment brush) to draw attention to elements that line up with the grid. You can add a little pop of saturation, enhance the brightness, or do some selective sharpening to draw attention to those areas.
Practice is all it takes to master this rule completely. Try setting up a dedicated shoot for this technique and see how many different compositions you can think of. When you walk around without your camera, try visualizing compositions from the things you see around you that follow the rule of thirds. You can also gain a lot of inspiration from finding examples of images that use the rule of thirds to analyze.
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James Maher is a New York Photographer, a huge Knicks fan, and a lifelong New Yorker who got his driver’s license at 30 years old — as any true Manhattanite should. Maher never took the conventional route. His love of photography started with using Photoshop to make fake driver license IDs at the University of Madison with his college roommates.
Over time, he grew his business to offer an eclectic mix of products and services — including photography print sales, a portrait business, conducting workshops, creating online content, and authoring three books. Despite having a diverse business, COVID-19 still shut down his business along with the rest of New York.
He knew he had to transition some of his business online, so he took some time to look at short-term revenue options that could set him up for long-term growth. He began brainstorming how he could re-create traditional in-person experiences into new online opportunities.
In order to do so, he followed 5 essential steps to grow his email list and pivot his business to an online format.
The 5 essential steps to growing your list
Step 1: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is a process of optimizing your website to get organic (or unpaid) traffic. Maher drives traffic by regularly providing unique, engaging, and free content on his site for people interested in learning about photography.
For example, he gives away a free New York travel photography guide on his website. This free guide is an essential part of Maher’s SEO and content marketing strategy.
“Email and SEO together are the two backbones of my business. It is a vital way to reach my fans. I don’t think I could have as diverse of a business without it,” said Maher.
He also guest blogs on other photography websites that link back to a sign up form on his website to help drive traffic.
Step 2: Unique sign up forms
Each piece of content on Maher’s website is downloadable when a user enters their email address. Maher uses different signup forms for the various pages of his website that hosts unique content. The sign up forms connect directly to a list in Maher’s AWeber account.
Step 3: Automated email series
Depending on the content users download, Maher sends more in-depth information in an automated email series, which allows him to share information and tips, build relationships with new subscribers, and promote paid products.
Although each audience member will receive multiple emails in the sequence, Maher reminds them at the top of each email of the content they may have missed or that will be coming in a future email.
Each email includes thought-provoking images and step-by-step instructions for other photographers.
“My email list was always vital and incredibly important to my business, but it’s even more important now because I have started to transition to more online content,” says Maher.
Step 4: Let analytics be your content compass
AWeber’s analytics help guide Maher determine the type of content he sends and when. “It gives me a lot of information about how my information is perceived, and if the content is engaging,” says Maher.
Maher reviews regularly both the open and the click-through rate on the content that he sends. Sending engaging content has allowed him to attract new audiences to his email list.
Step 5: Expand your reach
Maher uses his downtime to set himself up for long-term success by creating content and online products to grow his email list.
His latest online product, “Editing and Putting Together a Portfolio in Street Photography,” drove revenue and allowed him to promote some of his other services like individual portfolio reviews.
While social distancing is still in place in New York City, Maher takes time to introduce himself to as many new groups of people as possible. For example, he gives photography zoom presentations to groups and camera clubs around the country. Most people who attend the presentation visit his website and join his email list.
Promote to your own email list
Maher also promotes the new online course to his email audience.
During this time, when many members of his audience have reduced income, Maher has adjusted his payment model to “pay what you can.”
The suggested price for the online class is $25. The average payment turned out to be about $25 because some people were getting it for free or $5, but some people paid $50 or $100.
“I’m going to do that going forward for more of my products now. It provides me some income and builds my emails list, so it is a win-win for everyone.” says Maher.
Take advantage of lower advertising rates to promote on social media
The rates for advertising are much lower than usual due to COVID-19, so it is a great time to promote posts on social media to stand out from the crowd.
Maher uses Facebook ads to target local photographers in the Northeast. They see the ad, download the photography travel guide, and are added to his AWeber list.
AWeber then sends an automated email sequence that lets them get to know Maher, learn photography tips, and get a sense of the type of content they will receive from going forward.
“I’m testing and tweaking the Facebook ad a bit now given that people aren’t really traveling to New York with COVID-19 going on. But I’m finding that it’s still doing very well at converting photographers, particularly with the cheaper ad pricing. If you provide them with good, interesting content, you can grow your list,” says Maher.
Short term cash needs can translate into long term growth
Maher has shifted his business’s focus toward creating online experiences that provide short-term revenue that keeps his business going. He created online classes about photo editing and online photography portfolio reviews. He even started working with photographers to help them create portfolio websites.
Every post, promotion, or email drives people to his sign up forms with the end goal of growing his email list.
The creation of each online product is just the first phase of its product life. “Each online product will eventually integrate into a bigger package in the long term. I’ve been building this business for about 17 years, and I had the formula down — but COVID-19 broke the formula,” says Maher.
“The silver lining is COVID-19 gave me the time to execute on ideas I always had in the back of my head. I believe my business is going to come out of COVID-19 stronger and more prepared for the future.”
Connect with your audience and start growing your email list today!
With AWeber, you’ll get everything you need to grow your own business online — including sign up forms, newsletters, landing pages, and access to our award-winning customer solutions team.
Photographers like to talk about golden hour photography and the beautiful, glowy light they find right before sunset or after sunrise. Golden hour is amazing. But for my money, you can’t beat blue hour photography for some peaceful, serene images. Don’t be so hasty packing up your gear after the sun has set. Stay a little while to enjoy the blue hour!
Exactly what is blue hour photography and how do you shoot it? Follow along below for our beginner’s guide on when, what and how to shoot to take advantage of this really cool period of day!
What is Blue Hour?
Blue hour is the period of morning or night when the sun is below the horizon but still casting light into the sky. The result is a beautiful, cool sky that makes a stunning backdrop for your photography. Blue hour skies are crisp, cool and full of gauzy shades from indigo to navy with hints of red and pink.
When is Blue Hour?
The general rule of thumb for blue hour is up to one hour after sunset or one hour before sunrise. Your blue hour might not last a full hour, though. Sometimes we only get 20-40 minutes of photography of beautiful blue before the skies turn completely black at night or the sun clears the horizon in the morning.
How long the blue hour lasts and what it looks like depends on your location, season, and the weather. The best blue hours, in my opinion, occur on nights with few clouds.
Why Should You Shoot Blue Hour?
Shooting during blue hour has several advantages. First, blue hour can add more visual interest to your images. The blue hue of the sky is a more appealing backdrop than a completely black sky, and is a great contrast to electric lights.
Also, blue hour photography helps add creativity to your photo by allowing you to convey motion. Because there is less ambient light, you can use a lower shutter speed like 1/60, 1/10, 5, or even 30 seconds. A slow shutter speed lets you convey motion by smoothing out water, creating light trails, or blurring clouds. Also, you aren’t fighting mid-day or late evening sun. So blue hour gives you more flexibility when it comes to adjusting shutter speed, aperture, and ISO in dim light.
What to Photograph During Blue Hour Photography
Blue hour is a popular time to photograph lots of different types of images, from portraits to carnivals. Try shooting any of these images as blue hour photography subjects:
Travel images like busy, winding roads or freeways
Landscapes like beaches, bridges, wharves, or marinas
To capture your own blue hour photo, make sure you’re ready with the following gear:
DSLR or mirrorless camera that shoots in manual mode and RAW. Your camera should also be capable of shooting in bulb mode to create long exposures.
Lenses that matches your intended composition. A wide-angle lens, such as an 18mm or 24mm, is a great choice for cityscapes and landscapes.
Tripod (to stabilize your camera)
Flashlight (to adjust settings in the dark)
Stopwatch or intervalometer (for a time-lapse photo)
Remote shutter release (cable or wireless)
Extra batteries and warm clothes if you’re shooting in cold temperatures
How to Capture the Blue Hour
Blue hour photography isn’t a hard concept to master, but it does take some planning and forethought to get it right. Here are my best tips!
Plan your blue hour photography shoot ahead of time. Scout out possible locations in the day and know when blue hour will occur for your location. An app such as PhotoTime or Photopills can help! Look for locations that have artificial light for interest but aren’t overwhelmed with light pollution. Too much light in the background dilutes your skies. You’ll get a sky that’s orange or pink instead of that tranquil deep, dark blue.
Pack your gear ahead of time. Make sure you have everything you need for a blue hour shoot before you leave the house. You don’t want to find the perfect location and have beautiful weather only to realize you’ve left your tripod at home.
Arrive early to set up your equipment. Allow plenty of time to set up your tripod, frame your shot, and dial in focus and settings. I always plan to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to sunset or 90 minutes before sunrise. The best blue hues can fade quickly, so you want to be ready to make the most of your opportunity.
Choose your settings based on your goals for the photo. Slower shutter speeds help create light trails or smooth out water or clouds. Wider apertures such as f/2.8 or f/1.8 can create beautiful bokeh orbs. Narrower apertures turn points of light into sun stars. Prioritize your settings based on what’s most important in your image.
Be patient! Don’t get in a hurry to start snapping pictures too early! You want to wait for the moment when the sun has sunk below the horizon at night. For morning blue hour, you’ll want to wait for the moment when the light turns from black to dark blue.
If light trails or buttery water/clouds are your goals, shoot in shutter priority mode. That way the camera will choose ISO and aperture for you, allowing you to focus solely on shutter speed, composition, and timing.
Turn off auto white balance. The camera gets fooled by the blues and tries to neutralize them, which kind of defeats the point of shooting gorgeous blue skies! I prefer to use Kelvin instead. Start in the 6500K range and adjust as needed.
Use a shutter release cable or remote to fire the shutter. This will make sure you aren’t jiggling the camera and creating blur in your images when you manually press the trigger. If you don’t have a remote or cable, you can also use the timer function of your camera. This lets the camera settle first before firing.
If you’re still getting blur even if using a tripod and remote, try shooting in live view or locking up your mirror. Occasionally the minor act of your mirror flipping up to expose your sensor is enough to introduce blur into your image. But if you shoot in live view or adjust your setting to lock the mirror in the up position, the mirror stays in place and helps eliminate shake.
Remember your other composition rules! Use the rule-of-thirds where appropriate. Look for leading lines to accentuate your subject. Shoot from different angles and perspectives.
Don’t be afraid to experiment! Try different combinations of settings to give your images a slightly different look and find what YOU like best. For example, I usually keep my ISO between 200 and 400. But you might find you really prefer the added grain of ISO 1000 better. Take multiple exposures with different settings and pick your favorites. Soon you’ll find your perfect blue hour setting combo!
Post-Processing and Editing Blue Hour Images
How you process your images will vary according to your personal style. I always shoot in RAW so I have the most flexibility in post-production. My style is bold and colorful, so I usually add some vibrance, saturation, and contrast to my images from the hour blue. Split toning helps enhance the color of the sky while keeping natural skin tones. Split toning also ensures you don’t wind up with all blue photos…remember it’s the contrast between blue and the other colors in the scene that add visual interest. Finally, adjusting the luminosity may give your photo the pop it needs! Try editing in your typical style first, then tweaking your blue hour images to find a style you best!
Don’t be such a slave to the golden hour that you miss photographing in the blue hour. It really can be every bit as magical as golden hour and lends a certain tranquil and calm spirit to your photo. You’ll love the tones and ethereal quality for landscapes, cityscapes and more!
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