Going on company retreats has many benefits that can help the overall productivity of your business. Having fun as a team can build a family-like atmosphere and can help workers feel more comfortable with one another. This leads to better overall communication. Kelsey Meyer, writing for Entrepreneur Magazine, suggested that company retreats can even help managers discover hidden talents in their employees. By using out-of-the-box team building activities, managers can get a better look at potential or hidden leadership skills.
If your company is ready to take a trip to the Caribbean to build a better team, Fare Buzz suggests that you consider these affordable destinations:
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is a great choice for company retreats because you won’t have to worry about making sure everyone has their passport. As long as everyone on the trip has a valid photo I.D., you shouldn’t have any problems getting to this fantastic Caribbean island. In San Juan, there are many excellent traditional resorts, but if you’re looking for something unique, consider taking your team to Old San Juan where you can explore beautiful streets lined with 16th century architecture. Use company bonding time for exploring shops and historic districts and enjoy your dinners near breezy, tranquil coastline. You may create a scavenger hunt where teams of coworkers find different stores to take selfies, or purchase and bring back cultural merchandise to feature at a post-game dinner.
U.S. Virgin Islands Another destination that doesn’t require a passport is the U.S. Virgin Islands. They offer more traditional resort opportunities, and you can use the meeting rooms at the resort to hold conferences and work on team building activities. Afterwards (or maybe in the morning before the meeting), your team can spend some time soaking up the rays on a white sand beach.
When you’re all ready to do some exploring, you can check out some of the great places the island has to offer, such as Blackbeard’s Castle, a tower built in the 1670s.
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Ready to sip on a coconut and relax in style? Then consider taking your team to beautiful Montego Bay. Here you can enjoy some Jamaica’s best cuisine such as jerk chicken, saltfish and curried mutton. You can even rent a boat for a day trip into the bay for a fishing adventure. The office will be the last thing on everyone’s minds by the time you get back to the hotel at the end of the day.
Want a unique way to bond with your team members as well as sea creatures? How about taking a dip in the ocean among the dolphins? In the Bahamas, visitors can swim with bottlenose dolphins and take a dive among the colorful sea life below the blue waves. When you’re not taking a dip in the sea, the Bahamas has a lot more to offer, including boat tours, art galleries, and historic buildings. These options lend to positive business retreat experience. Let Fare Buzz help you find the perfect resort in Nassau or the other locations in the Bahamas to host your stay!
When everyone gets back to the office, the feeling of camaraderie and friendship will be higher than ever. Not only will your team be fully relaxed and rested, they’ll be ready to get back to work and be more productive than ever. Now the only remaining question is: How will Fare Buzz help me find the perfect destination for my business retreat?
Answer: • Call the Support Team at Fare Buzz at 1.800.847.1963 for assistance and for an unpublished fare! • Sign up today to become a Rewards Member and start earning points towards future travel plans. • You can even book online for business travel with Fare Buzz & receive $100 cash back!
Cabo San Lucas is a resort town situated at the tip of the Baja California peninsula in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. A favorite with sun-seeking vacationers and celebrities including Jennifer Aniston, Will Smith, and George Clooney, Cabo San Lucas and its neighboring town of San Jose del Cabo make up the resort area, popularly known as Cabo.
As with most ocean-facing vacation hotspots, Cabo San Lucas offers a plethora of attractions. Numerous bars and restaurants line its beachfront and a multitude of water-based recreational activities set forth from its main Medano Beach. The resort city also has a large marina with yachting facilities and hosts famous landmarks such as the unusual natural formations at Land’s End; an outcrop located close to a small island that is home to two aptly-named beaches, the tranquil Playa del Amor or Lovers Beach and the tumultuous Divorce Beach.
As for accommodation, in Cabo, it’s all about grand, luxurious resorts, many of which offer all-inclusive deals ensuring that guests have no reason to leave their premises.
The Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf and Spa Resort
The Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf and Spa Resort is an adults-only, all-inclusive luxury boutique property located within a fashionable residential area of Quivira Los Cabos, a mere twenty minutes drive from the Cabo San Lucas Airport. The property is one of three properties that belong to the group that owns two other resorts in Cabo, namely the villa-only Monte Cristo and the all-inclusive Sunset Resort.
Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf and Spa Resort is an exclusive hideaway consisting of a 201-room boutique resort that offers easy access to both downtown Cabo San Lucas as well as a private hotel beach on the Pacific Ocean.
Guests at this lux enclave also enjoy exclusive access to the Quivira Golf Club and its signature Jack Nicklaus Golf Course.
The resort has a wellness retreat onsite in the form of the expansive Armonia Spa that offers a whole host of relaxing and detoxifying treatments, which are expertly administered using only the finest organic ingredients.
Other amenities at this design-forward resort include five restaurants, including a Japanese restaurant that offers fresh sushi and five bars, one of which is a beach bar with a fire pit.
The well-appointed air-conditioned rooms at the resort feature the essential amenity – free Wi-Fi – along with a balcony and a kitchenette. During the whaling season from December to April, you can book a whale-watching trip through the resort, which arranges these tours for their guests.
Marina Fiesta Resort & Spa
The Marina Fiesta Resort and Spa enjoys an enviable location in the heart of the resort city within proximity to Medano Beach. All the luxurious suites at this resort property offer marina or pool views and feature private balconies, kitchenettes and sit-out areas along with free Wi-Fi. The resort has a large outdoor pool with a swim-up bar, a full-service spa, and a fitness center as well as a business center.
The Marina Fiesta resort offers an all-inclusive dine-out concept at a selection of fine dining and casual eateries that are located in the Marina Golden Zone and at its sister property, the Hacienda Encantada resort.
The resort’s central location grants easy access to other Cabo attractions such as Puerto Paraiso Mall and the upscale shopping hub, Luxury Avenue.
Sandos Finisterra Los Cabos
This all-inclusive resort occupies a cliff top between downtown Cabo San Lucas and the Pacific Ocean. The Sandos Finisterra Los Cabos is a family-friendly all-inclusive resort, and the staff organizes an array of activities daily to keep young guests entertained.
If spa treatments are your priority while on vacation, you will not be disappointed with the natural treatments at the luxurious Spa del Mar. The beautiful spa offers a warm and inviting ambiance as it occupies a space carved into one of Cabo’s hills.
For discerning guests, the resort offers spacious, private, and luxurious accommodations with amenities like Jacuzzis and VIP pool access. The resort offers buffet as well as specialty restaurants and bars on site along with a well-equipped fitness center.
Grand Fiesta Americana Los Cabos
This large, all-inclusive lavish resort offers 527 well-kitted-out rooms and suites in the exclusive gated development of Cabo del Sol. The hotel has a private beach and is within proximity to the Cabo del Sol golf course to which its guests have access.
This extravagant resort also offers a full-service spa, nine diverse eateries, and six outdoor pools and Jacuzzis. All rooms at the resort feature private balconies, deep soaking tubs, free Wi-Fi and LCD TVs with a multitude of TV channels.
Other Cabo attractions such as the Arch at Lands End and downtown Cabo San Lucas are accessible via a short drive if you feel the need to leave the resort at all.
Get your trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico started
Spend a week or two at a luxury resort in the stunning resort town, Cabo San Lucas. With daily flights to Cabo, Fare Buzz travel specialists can find a discounted fare that matches your travel needs and budget.
Start here: ● Fill in the Request a Quote with your travel details and a travel specialist will research options and contact you shortly ● Call 1-800-847-1963 to speak directly with a travel specialist
We recently shared our forward looking for 2022 and are excited to talk about the latest improvements made to SmugMug for our photographers. Read on to learn more.
Announcing global navigation changes and browsing enhancements.
SmugMug is for more than just photos. We’re here for your videos and RAW files, too. Therefore we are making some terminology changes in our global navigation to reflect this. These changes include Photos renamed to Library and Photo Site renamed to Site.
Finding items in the SmugMug Library is done by browsing and searching. This release includes a number of features to enhance the search and browse abilities in the SmugMug Library, namely:
Focused Search Page.
A focused context-sensitive search interface allows you to filter, sort or refine your search results. Once you have found the items you were looking for you can select one or many items and take actions, such as deleting, downloading and modifying keywords.
Finding items in the SmugMug Library is done by browsing and searching. This release includes a number of features to enhance the search and browse abilities in the SmugMug Library, namely:
Focused Search Page.
A focused context-sensitive search interface allows you to filter, sort or refine your search results. Once you have found the items you were looking for you can select one or many items and take actions, such as deleting, downloading and modifying keywords.
Want quick access to the items you most recently added to SmugMug? Recently Added allows you to quickly access the photos and videos that you recently added to SmugMug.
Browse By Date.
Most users use dates to organize their SmugMug items, but run into problems finding a specific photo when they don’t remember exactly when a photo was taken. Browse by Date provides an interactive way to browse your SmugMug Library, surfacing the time periods when photos and videos were created and a simple way to visually browse your photos within that time period.
First, you are presented with a grid grouped and labeled by the year the item was captured.
You can further drill into a year by clicking the image and you are presented with each month that contains items.
Once you have clicked on the desired month, you are presented with a search page that displays all of the items captured during that month. From here, you can further refine your results, by filtering by type, sorting and entering search terms and results are generated in the context of that month.
This is just the start of an amazing year and beyond. We are dedicated to sharing out changes and improvements as they are made. Tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or start a conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
In the age of social media, a clear understanding of your rights as a photographer is crucial to receiving the credit you deserve. But with so much information out there, you might find yourself asking:
What laws are in place to protect photographers like me?
What do I do if someone uses my photo without permission?
How long do photographers have ownership of their images?
Copyright law in the United States prohibits the unauthorized copying of a “work of authorship.” In 1988, the following amendment was added to address visual works including photography:
“Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works” include two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of fine, graphic, and applied art, photographs, prints and art reproductions, maps, globes, charts, diagrams, models, and technical drawings, including architectural plans. Such works shall include works of artistic craftsmanship insofar as their form but not their mechanical or utilitarian aspects are concerned; the design of a useful article, as defined in this section, shall be considered a pictorial, graphic or sculptural work only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article.”
Phew. That’s a mouthful of legalese! So what does it mean in English? Basically, copyright law says that when you take a photograph, you become the copyright owner of the image created. This means you hold exclusive rights to:
Reproduce the photograph
Display the image in a public space
Distribute the photo
Create derivatives of the image
Seems straightforward, no? But what’s considered a “derivative?”
A “new version” of a work that is already copyrighted falls under the term of a “derivative” work. Special re-edits of movies, art reproductions, and literary translations all qualify as derivatives. A film based on a book or play is another common example.
In the realm of photography, any time someone creates a photograph that is a copy or “substantially similar” to another copyrighted work, they are potentially infringing upon the original owner’s rights.
By comparing and evaluating a derivative work to the original, a court of law can determine if any copyright laws have been violated. In other words, a photographer who went to great lengths to recreate an original work’s composition, lighting, and other creative elements would be more likely to be found guilty of copyright infringement than a photographer who simply takes pictures of subjects that already exist in other photos (i.e., monuments, nature). This means many different photographers can take photos of, say, the Golden Gate Bridge without infringing on each other’s artistic rights.
In addition to looking out for your own rights, you as a photographer need to be aware of ways you may unknowingly infringe upon another artist’s rights. The last thing you want to do is misuse another creative’s work!
Take for example Mercedes Benz’s 2018 ad campaign featuring the company’s new vehicle “barreling through Detroit’s boho Eastern Market district past commercial buildings painted with vibrant murals.” Cool concept, no doubt. But the artists who created those murals that contributed so much color and atmosphere to the campaign were never asked permission to use their work, let alone credited:
“While Mercedes sought municipal permission to make beautiful shots of its vehicles on public city streets, it did not seek the muralists’ permission to make and post images of their works on Instagram. Copyright infringement? Mercedes thought not. The muralists—James Lewis, Jeff Soto, Maxx Gramajo, and Daniel Bombardier—thought otherwise.”
It shows the importance of being aware of how others’ work appears in your photographs
It serves as an example of how your work may be misused
The exception to copyright law is when the reproduction of a photograph or visual work is deemed “fair use.” The next section digs deeper into this term.
Fair use is an exception when it comes to copyright law. Journalism, critiques, research, and teaching materials are examples of specific types of writing that allow the reproduction of copyright-protected works without the permission of the “author”.
For example, if you exhibit your photography in a gallery, an art publication generally does not need permission to reproduce your image if they’re using it as part of a critique. Or, conversely, a newspaper may publish photographs of works and use them as part of an article. Both of these are examples of copyrighted work being used under “fair use” guidelines.
When considering whether a reproduction of a work is fair use, the U.S. Copyright Act says “the factors to be considered shall include whether:
The use is of commercial nature or if it is for nonprofit education purposes
The copyrighted work is highly creative or if it is fact-based
Part of the entire original work was reproduced or just a part of it
The reproduction reduces the value of the original work or has no effect
One important thing to keep in mind is that social media marketing’s use of images very rarely falls under “fair use.” If your photographic work is being used without your permission, check out the resources from PPA below for help determining if you need to take further action.
Remember: If a company uses one of your images in their marketing—on social media or otherwise—without your approval, they are violating your rights as a creator. So, what do you do if you suspect your work of being used without your permission? PPA has resources to help you understand copyright law, and even a Copyright Infringement Tool to leave no question in your mind whether or not your rights as a creator have been violated.
Seven in 10 Americans are planning to take a leisure trip in the next 12 months, according to a recent survey by NerdWallet conducted online by The Harris Poll. More than 2,000 U.S. adults were asked how the COVID-19 pandemic has and continues to effect travel plans; beyond the 70 percent planning to travel, nearly half of respondents (47 percent) said they were planning on taking two or more leisure trips in that span.
When it comes to those hitting the road more than once this year, Generation Z (ages 18 to 25) and Millennials are more likely to do so than members of earlier generations (60 percent of Gen Zers and 58 percent of millennials, versus 41 percent of Gen Xers and 40 percent of Baby Boomers).
Nearly one-quarter of Americans who have a travel rewards credit card (23 percent) are saving points or miles to pay for a luxurious or special occasion trip; 17 percent are saving them to pay for an international trip; and 16 percent are saving them because they want to visit a destination not currently accepting tourists due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
About two-thirds of Americans who don’t plan on traveling for leisure in the next 12 months say their reasons are COVID-related: 37 percent say it’s because they don’t feel safe traveling due to current or future COVID variants; 19 percent say it’s because they are concerned about COVID-19 case rates at their planned destinations, and 12 percent say it’s because the COVID-related restrictions at their desired destinations are a hassle. Among those not planning on traveling for leisure in the next 12 months, Baby boomers (ages 58 to 76) are more likely to avoid travel for COVID-related reasons than are members of later generations. A little over three in five Boomers (61 percent) cite COVID as a reason for not planning travel, versus 45 percent of Millennials (ages 26 to 41) and 43 percent of Generation Xers (ages 42 to 57).
From a sea of blue flowers and pink blossom to new life and an uptick in celestial activity, spring brings photographic opportunities galore
Flowers in bloom. Rushing waterfalls. The birth of new life. After a long winter, the beginning of spring is the ideal excuse to dust off your camera and get creative outdoors.
Nature comes alive in spring, with the longer days and warming temperatures leading to colorful sights such as wildflower displays and cherry blossoms, young animals frolicking, and even a little-known uptick in ‘space weather. Here are some of our top tips for taking full photographic advantage of the change from winter to spring…
1 Bluebell woods
A carpet of bluebells is an evocative image of spring, but like cherry blossoms, the season for capturing bluebells is short and sweet. They flower in April and May in the UK – home to over half the world’s bluebells – so you’re only going to get a short window to visit a bluebell wood to photograph them.
Although it’s a classic spring shot, bluebells can be tricky to capture. The options are endless. A wide-angle lens will help you create a dreamy scene, though you’ll need a very thick carpet of bluebells for that to work well. A telephotos lens can help you zoom in on a section of bluebell growth for a more luscious look. You can also attempt some macro shots of the flowers themselves. Close-ups are best done after rain when you can see droplets on the flowers, but you’ll likely have to be very patient because even a breath of wind can make a macro shot very difficult.
Be really careful when in a bluebell wood because the flowers are very sensitive despite being perennials; they take many years to colonise a wood and if you stand on one it’s likely to die. So stick to paths and if attempting macro shots be very careful where you put your feet. There are actually two types of bluebells in the UK; the sweeter smelling British bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) and the less scented Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica).
Lambs gamboling in meadows and ducklings following their parents across streams and rivers; both are classic springtime photos, but they’re not particularly easy to get. A mistake a lot of casual wildlife photographers make is standing up. For a more interesting point of view crouch down to the eye-line of the animal. That way you’ll get a more natural-looking shot.
What lens to use depends on how far away the wildlife is, of course, but count on at least a mid-telephoto lens such as 300mm. Once you’re in position you have another problem because young animals move fast! So you have two choices; use a really fast shutter speed to make the animal sharp (but the background likely blurred) or a slightly longer shutter speed – and a smaller lens aperture – to keep both the subject and the background reasonably sharp. Exact settings will depend on your lens. For ducklings, go near sunset for more chance of activity and both reflections and silhouettes. For lambs, try to capture them in mid-gambol and be careful not to oversaturate their pure-white wool.
There are ethics to consider before you stake-out a young family of animals to photograph. The golden rule is never to disturb wildlife, and that applies as much in your local park or a farmer’s field as it does when on safari. Firstly, don’t wear luminous or garish clothing. Secondly, keep as still as you can. Thirdly – and perhaps most importantly – don’t get too close to them. Your focus should be on making yourself as invisible as possible. That way you won’t disturb your subject and you’ll also get more natural behaviour.
3 Cherry blossoms
The sudden flowering of cherry trees is a sure sign that spring has sprung. Incredibly photogenic, you’ll find the beautiful, fleeting pink blossom across the world everywhere from Europe and Asia to North America. Surely one of the more iconic places to head to photograph cherry blossoms in Japan, where the sakura tends to bloom from the last week of March until the middle of April.
The fleeting flowering of the country’s thousands of cherry trees is a national obsession and there’s even a blossom forecast on the TV to track the blooms from south to north as spring unfolds. The most popular, and therefore most crowded, places to capture the sakura are Kyoto’s Philosopher’s Walk canal, Osaka’s Okawa River, and Tokyo’s many urban parks, though it’s much quieter – and just as impressive – in the southern state of Kyushu and even in South Korea, which have far fewer tourists.
Since blossoming cherry trees are so bright they tend to work really well as foregrounds in nightscape photography. Easily reflecting any ambient light or moonlight, they can work well against a starry background, and thus also as the centrepiece of a star-trails composite photo. In manual mode and on a tripod, put your camera in front of the cherry tree and set it to ISO 800, the lowest f-number your lens has, and use a 30 second exposure. Make adjustments then take the same image repeatedly for at least an hour (put your camera on continuous mode and use a shutter release cable in the locked position). Then use the simple and free StarStaX software to produce a drag-and-drop composite photo.
4 Northern Lights
Not many people know that the aurora borealis – also known as the Northern Lights – are at their most intense around the equinoxes in late September and late March. It’s because the axis of our planet is perpendicular to the Sun, which makes its solar wind – the cause of the optical phenomenon – more likely to push charged particles down the field lines of Earth’s magnetic field.
However, before heading for 66-69° North latitudes (or thereabouts) to pray for clear skies in northern Scandinavia, northern Canada, or Alaska for March ’20s vernal equinox do check the phase of the Moon. Displays tend to be easier to photograph away from a full Moon. Once you’re there the manual photography side of things is simple; wide-angle lens, tripod, 10-25 second exposures, ISO 800-1600, and infinity focus.
If you’ve always wanted to photograph the Northern Lights then get ready to start planning. We’re now entering a once-a-decade period when they’re going to be at their most frequent and intense. That’s because we’re in a new solar cycle and the Sun is waxing towards ‘solar maximum’, which will probably occur in mid-2025. The Sun has a 11 years cycle, with solar maximum being when the most sunspots are seen on its surface. That means more charged particles being hurled at Earth’s magnetic field, so more Northern Lights.
5 Waterfalls in full flow
Like a lot of spring subjects, timing is everything if you want to capture a waterfall at full throttle. That’s mostly likely after heavy rain, of course, but there’s something else you want if you want to create that classic ‘milky’ motion. Clouds. Since you’re going to have to use a long exposure – between a second and two seconds – it massively helps if there is no direct sunlight on the waterfall, which instantly over-exposes your shot.
On a dark day, you can get away with stopping down your aperture (using a bigger f/ number) or using the shutter priority mode on your camera, and even using a circular polarizer. All will reduce the amount of light coming into your camera, but the easiest technique is to use a 1-stop or 2-stop Neutral Density (ND) filter, which lets you increase the exposure time.
If you want to capture something special alongside a waterfall then head for Skógafoss on the Skógá River in the south of Iceland. This 60 metre waterfall is south-facing, which means three optical phenomenon are possible; rainbows (and even double rainbows!) in its spray, the Northern Lights behind it at night (best seen between September and March), and Moonbows or lunar rainbows when a full Moon is low in the sky. If you’re really lucky you can get the latter two together!
Jamie Carter is a journalist and author focusing on stargazing and astronomy, astrophotography, and travel for Forbes Science, BBC Sky At Night magazine, Sky & Telescope, Travel+Leisure, and The Telegraph.
They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I mean look at Groundhog’s Day. Every year furry aficionados gather on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania in the freezing cold at sunrise and look to a cute little rodent named Phil to tell them if there will REALLY be 6 more weeks of winter. Trust me folks, regardless of what Phil wants you to believe, there is still 6 weeks left of winter, and nothing he says or does is going to change that!
As photographers we have a tendency to fall back on our favorites too – a favorite lens, a favorite subject, or a favorite style of shooting – and then we cannot understand why our art is not growing and evolving as fast as we would like.
To break free of the creativity hamster wheel (get the rodent reference?), use this Groundhog’s Day to try something new to spur your artistic growth.
Imitation is flattery
We all want our art to be original, but the idea of finding inspiration from the past is an age-old tradition. Every art student studies art history and is encouraged to go to museums to view and even sketch masterpieces of old. Use that same concept to study other photographers to hone your skills and gather some inspiration.
Look here on Dreamstime.com at the Editor’s Choice area, or choose your favorite topic and sort by best selling images. Study your favorite pictures and ask yourself:
1)What is it about this image that I like? This could be the composition, lighting, color scheme, special effects, etc.
2)How can I use that in my next image?
3)How could I recreate this image?
4)What would I like to do differently to this image?
5)How could I cover the same topic in a completely new way?
Every month Dreamstime.com hosts a new assignment focusing on a different topic or theme for stock photos. Challenge yourself to cover every single assignment from as many different angles as possible – you have up to 10 entries in each contest. Then go back afterwards and look at how others covered the same topic – see which ones won and look at those that were voted highly by the contributor community and ask yourself the same questions as above. If you have the time, try your hand at recreating your images using the answers you glean.
Speaking of challenges, try your hand at a 365-52-12 challenge this year.
A 365 Day Challenge is just what the name implies. Challenge yourself to take a picture (or video or illustration) a day for 365 consecutive days. Some people have taken this to mean take a picture of the same place/theme/topic everyday, while others take it to mean just create an image of SOMETHING everyday.
A 52 Week Challenge takes a little of the daily pressures off while still providing a creative jolt to the system. In this challenge, you have a new theme every week designed to motivate you to shooting or drawing.
Dogwood Studio has created a 52 week challenge that can be started at anytime during the year. Choose the original version, or the advance challenge or combine the two to meet your own needs.
Or make up your own list of weekly themes entirely. Shoot a single image, a series of images over a few days, our use this as your guide to shoot daily around one theme or topic for a full week.
Create your own 12 month challenge. Having a full month to cover each different theme allows for lots more time to develop and explore the theme or concept. Google the topic of 12 month photography challenges to get a suggested list of themes – or make up your own.
Every month has one or more holidays, falls within a season, is either hot or cold, will have food/drink specific to that time of year, etc. etc. etc. Anything can be used as your monthly theme. Try shooting through out the month to tell a more complete story. See how creatively you can cover one single topic or theme.
Creativity is a lot like muscles in your body – the more you use it the stronger it will get. So set up a schedule to try one or more of these creativity exercises on a regular basis.
1)Take 12. Stand in one spot and take 12 unique images of what is around you without moving.
2)Take 10. Choose one small object and take 10 unique or abstract images.
3)Take 4. Shoot one subject framing it in each of the four corners of the image without moving locations.
4)Make it artificial. Try restricting yourself to shooting for a week (or day or month) with a lens, or in a location, or at a time, or using a composition style, or any other restriction you can think.
5)Shoot a roll. Limit yourself to shooting only a “roll of film” (24 or 36 exposures) during any outing.
6)Take baby steps. Choose a number of steps (5,10,100) and shoot one picture for every step you take.
7)Take your subject. Take the same object to different locations and see how creatively you can shoot it.
8)Use a Favorite. Recreate your favorite photo. Or take a photo from an ad or a magazine and see if you can recreate it exactly.
9)Shoot only B&W.
10) SOOC. Shoot only straight-out-of-camera without post processing to force yourself to control all the aspects of the image in camera.
Hopefully one or more of these ideas can get your creativity juices flowing again for this Groundhog’s Day and beyond.
This time of year, escape the winter blues and adventure to AMR™ Collection’s newest resorts in Mexico. This winter alone, AMR™ Collection is offering three all-new ways for adults to experience Unlimited-Luxury®, and add some anticipation to their 2022 planner
Breathless Cancun Soul Resort & Spa
Since opening its doors on December 7, the all-new Breathless Cancun Soul Resort & Spa has caught the eye of chic travelers searching for their next beach retreat. Singles, couples, and friends alike will want to experience the Hotel Zone’s hottest arrival. From its two towers, each of the 429 junior suites and suites gazes out at Nichupte Lagoon or the Caribbean Sea, with nearly half giving oceanfront views.
Dial down the energy and unplug at another highlight: the two-story relax Spa by Pevonia®. Hydrotherapy, a sauna, steam room, juice bar, and treatments like the Tropical Escape Body Wrap set the tone to full bliss. Ramp it back up to renewed “Energy” at the activity pool, or wait for sunset for the fire pit plaza to come roaring to life. Beach parties, acrobatic shows, and live music keep the vibe vibrant all night.
For the best panoramas, though, head to the top of xcelerate Tower. Your clients will go for the backdrops—the resort’s most breathtaking—but stay for the scene. Daytime parties, DJ-spun tunes, and a rooftop infinity pool make it the place to be.
Secrets Moxche Playa del Carmen—Two Resorts in One!
Located on a white-sand beach ten minutes from the famous Quinta Avenida, Secrets Moxché Playa del Carmen and resort-within-a-resort Secrets Impression Moxché will welcome their first guests just in time for Valentine’s Day, on February 11. Suites designed to create an atmosphere of earthy sophistication add refinement to romance, while unexpected touches like a rolling in-room bar hint at Secrets’ fun side.
Eleven restaurants in total, including three at Impression, means plenty of variety for all guests, encompassing the flavors of Southeast Asia, France, Mexico, and more. Nightly entertainment at Moxché Theatre continues the global experience, as does the spa. Couples can make an afternoon of wellness; shared treatments take them on a “journey.”
Over at the boutique Secrets Impression Moxché, a rooftop pool, along with lounge and restaurant, brings the exclusivity as it serves up 360° of ocean panoramas. Open only to guests staying in an Impression suite or villa, access is just one of the upscale perks. Private concierge service—plus butler service for higher room categories you’ll earn 2% more on when booking through Apply Vacations—taco and tequila tastings, and upgraded amenities prove the luxury really is limitless.
Of course, that’s all in addition to the standard inclusions of the Unlimited-Luxury® that keeps sun-seekers coming back AMR™ Collection. The gourmet, reservation-free dining. The pool and beach wait service for top-shelf drinks. The endless entertainment. Nearly everything you’ll find on-property is included, leaving your clients free to spend their getaway doing what they like—without ever worrying about costs.
Booking with Apple Vacations gives your customers even more peace of mind. Secure an Exclusive Nonstop Vacation Flight for an extra 2% bonus commission that enhances your client’s experience. Roundtrip airport transfers with Amstar DMC are always included, taking care of getting there in comfort, while Travel Protection Plus lets clients get back the full value of their vacation (minus the plan cost) if they cancel—for any reason. Extensive medical and quarantine coverage provides extra reassurance.
So what will this winter be like for your customers? Will they bundle up against the cold, dreaming of getting away? Or will they live their best vacation life under the Mexican sun? Learn more with Apple Vacations today.
AMResorts recently announced that 35 of their properties throughout Mexico and the Caribbean were honored in Tripadvisor’s 2020 Travelers’ Choice awards. Twenty-seven resorts were awarded with Traveler’s Choice and eight resorts earned the Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best title. From AMResorts’ an
You most likely have clients traveling to Mexico – Cancun and Puerto Vallarta-Riviera Nayarit are some of the top-booked destinations on VAX. Want to make it even easier for your clients to get there and get through immigration? Just like for travel to Aruba, the government in Mexico requires touris
Dear USA Video The U.S. and Mexico are natural-born friends. We may be different, but our connection is unbreakable. The U.S. is brave and adventurous, while Mexico is fearless and colorful. But we both share a deep passion for freedom. And while travelers from the U.S. may think they know Me
The Dominican Republic has become the latest nation to drop its COVID-19 restrictions, as the popular tourist destination joins many of its Caribbean Island countries is welcoming travelers back to bolster tourism.
Despite not meeting a previously announced target of having 70 percent of the country’s adults vaccinated against the virus, the Dominican Republic government nonetheless rescinded public health restrictions, according to Reuters News Service.
That includes the mask mandate as well as vaccine checks in public areas such as restaurants and hotels.
“It’s time to recover all our freedoms and way of life,” Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader said on social media and in a televised address.
Health Minister Daniel Rivera said a worldwide drop in positive cases and in the death rate convinced Dominican Republic officials to rescind the restrictions.
The D.R. was not the only Caribbean nation to start loosening COVID-19 rules in order to boost tourism, the lifeblood of most island countries.
Children 12 years and older will still need to provide a negative COVID-19 test (antigen or PCR) conducted within 72 hours prior to the date of travel at check-in.
The island of St. Maarten also has a March 1 target date to transition from pandemic status to endemic. All fully vaccinated visitors or those who have recovered from COVID-19 in the last nine months no longer have to show proof of a negative test upon arrival. Unvaccinated visitors will still be required to provide a negative PCR test within 48 hours arrival or an antigen test within 24 hours.
A common question photographers ask is which photo editing software is best. Well-known applications are Photoshop, Gimp, and Affinity Photo. Factors are a combination of cost, level of editing functions needed, and to some degree, personal preference.
Virtually everyone is familiar with Photoshop and many dislike the subscription fee though it can be as low as $9.99/month. Photoshop is extremely powerful and even high-level professionals do not need or use everything the software is capable of. Having a multitude of functions at your fingertips is an enticing reason for getting Photoshop because you never know when you might need to take advantage. However, the $9.99/month can be a lot for the casual photographer.
The advantage to Affinity Photo is while it’s not as robust as Photoshop, it still is a powerful image editing package. The price is more than reasonable and it’s a one-time purchase. There is also an even lower-cost version that runs on an iPad. Affinity Photo can open Photoshop files so if someone sends you a PSD file, you will be able to open it and edit.
Gimp is an open-source application and free of charge, there is no cost to use it. It’s regularly updated, mostly by volunteer programmers. Gimp is extremely popular, primarily because of the cost and it is capable of performing professional-grade editing.
For the majority of photographers, either Affinity Photo or Gimp will suffice if cost is an issue. However, cost is not the only factor for choosing software. The time it takes to learn a complicated software package can also be considered an investment. Working with layers and performing high-level edits along with other advanced features can take years to learn. Photoshop has been around for decades and is considered to be the premier application among professionals, so it stands to reason that it will be around for a long time. Many software applications have succumbed to Microsoft products which has forced individuals and companies to start over when their software of choice was no longer available.
You also have to consider the support that is available. The internet has a virtually unlimited supply of tutorials on how to use photo editing software. There also are many different forums where users can ask questions and get help. As you may have guessed, most of these resources are going to be geared towards Photoshop. Finding a way to do something in other software packages or get an answer to a question may prove to be difficult for non-Photoshop products.
In addition, many universities and colleges have evening or weekend courses for Photoshop. Formal classroom training can be beneficial for many by having an expert user providing guidance and you can learn from other students by seeing what they’re doing and learning from the questions of others. Again, the advantage with these options is toward Photoshop.
In professional settings, Photoshop is going to be the norm. If you have aspirations for your photography to generate any kind of income or to work in settings with other professionals, you will need to speak the language of Photoshop.
As you can see, the advantages are great for going with Photoshop. Regardless, Photoshop is still not right for everyone. Affinity Photo and Gimp provide professional-level photo editing and if you’re a photographer who is not looking to move to higher plateaus, then a non-Photoshop product will be more cost-effective. This is a subject that is endlessly argued on the internet, but in the end, Affinity Photo and Gimp are the better products to use for certain individuals. But there is another option, too. Photoshop has a product called Photoshop Elements which is similar to Photoshop but is less powerful in what it can do. It can be purchased for a one-time fee. If you want to stay in the Photoshop world then this fourth option might be something to consider.
“I am very lucky to live in a place that has distinct changes of seasons. Once September hits, we start seeing a gradual shift from greens and blues to the rich and warm tones of fall: tawny brown, red, orange, mustard yellow. Autumn in New York is a wonderful place to observe the changing colors,” says Lindsay Silverman, senior product manager for the Nikon professional DSLR line.
Silverman, who has had his hands around a camera since 1974 in order to meet college course requirements, reasons he’s produced several tens of thousand images over the course of his career—from the U.S to Latin America, around Europe and throughout Asia. Loads of locales indeed, yet one of his favorite photo venues will always be New York. Silverman sat down to offer inspirational thoughts, while dishing up some autumnal pointers.
Where do you capture autumn’s finest?
I start by exploring what is within a few blocks of my house here on Long Island. There’s always something to catch my eye over the course of the day. I favor early morning light. It has a beautiful, yet soft quality that I really like. I also revisit locations several times to observe how things alter.
Water draws my attention. It’s a medium that can dramatically change over the course of the day, most notably this time of year since the sun is lower in the sky. I like to frame images that clearly show reflections. I also seek to create photo abstracts that display lots of texture. If you are a DX shooter, I suggest lenses with focal length ranges from 18mm to 300mm. DX NIKKOR lenses are portable and versatile. For the FX photographer, I suggest going with wide to telephoto. My favorites include the AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR and the AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR. For traveling light, I recommend the AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 ED VR. All of these lenses allow ample compositional freedom.
What are some must-get seasonal shots?
Wide views that showcase nature are a must. Highlight the immense variety of tones and bluer skies; frame to convey a story. Also, a tripod and/or lens with VR image stabilization can reduce blur in your images. To intensify richness in the sky and help draw out textural variety and depth, consider an aid such as a Nikon circular polarizer filter. Fall brings dew to foliage, especially in the morning. I actually use my polarizer to help saturate colors when dew is present, or after the rain.
Fall mornings can get chilly here, and as the air moves over a water source it often produces a low-hanging mist. Conditions such as this offer opportunity to create landscape views that contrast sharp to soft (branches and foliage against fog) and warm aside cool (harvest tones against steely liquid tones). When framing, consider building distinct levels within your depth of field. Here, I love how the sharp patch of trees frames the edge and that you observe the rock jutting out from the water. There is a pleasing contrast between the softness of the mist areas and the strong colors of foliage and nature. For ultra-wide views with a full frame camera, the AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED and the AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR work well. For the DX-format, I suggest the AF-S DX NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED.
How do you frame an autumn image?
Nothing says, “It’s fall” better than harvest. Think pumpkins, gourds and wonderful apple pies observed at roadside stands. I’ll hop out of the car to photograph the display, and of course buy a pie. First to attract me is color; second is contrast and texture variety. When framing, pick a key element and be judicious about aperture setting. To really isolate the subject, shoot with a wide aperture that is anywhere from f/1.4 to f/4, depending on the lens. If you want the viewer to see more details, shoot at f/8 to f/16. Chances are you will be shooting handheld and close-in, so watch where shadows fall. Keep clutter out of the frame and consider any leading lines or curves that can outline.
Close-up and macro shots tend to put a lot of emphasis on a very small point in the frame, so focus and sharpness are important. Nikon cameras offer many options for point of focus determination. Some of the newer cameras really make it easy when using Live View, courtesy of the touch screen functionality.
Rich and warm tones are everywhere in autumn. How do you make color pop in an image?
Make fall colors even more brilliant by setting the in-camera Picture Control to Vivid. Pay heed to the White Balance setting too. The Auto White balance on many Nikon models has evolved. In addition to the “Auto” setting, newer cameras permit you to select “Keep White,” which reduces warm colors. A new favorite of mine is “Keep warm lighting colors.” This setting makes a lot of sense for fall photography! You also have the option to set the white balance to Kelvin and apply a specific color temperature. I capture images as RAW (NEF) files. Working in RAW permits me to run files through Nikon’s Capture NX-D software, then play with the setting to see what I like best. Shooting in RAW and using Capture NX-D is a great way to learn more about photography and your camera. The software is a free download and offers many tools to help fine tune your images.
No matter where you live or travel within the United States, the harvest season is a great time of year for photography. The light hangs lower in the sky and foliage turns dramatic. Not everyone resides in the Northeast, but I hope these few tips will help you create your best-ever seasonal photos. When setting out on your journeys, be sure to pack a camera.
Lindsay is a former Sr. Product Manager, Pro DSLR for Nikon. Early in his career Lindsay served as general manager of Nikon House in New York City’s Rockefeller Center, where he hosted some of the world’s finest photographers as well as photo enthusiasts and photo writers, editors and educators from around the world. He has held technical, marketing and product management positions for the company, and for 19 years was a contributing writer, photographer and editor of Nikon World magazine.
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.
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!
SmugMug users of the Pro level plan can now more easily share photos with their clients. Simply select, click, and share. Keep reading to learn more.
SmugMug Pros, you’re in for a treat. Your clients can now pick their own photos from a gallery of your choice, and download them for free. No back-and-forth, no complex coupons or discounts to navigate. Just choose the number of downloads, generate a link, share it, and get back to your photography.
Portrait photographers: If you include a limited number of photos with your sitting fee, this feature will be a lifesaver.
Can’t my clients already download photos?
If you have it enabled, then yes — but so can everyone else with access to that gallery! Client downloads make it possible to craft single-use links that specify a number of downloadable photos, meaning you don’t have to manage any passwords, permissions, or promotions to get those photos into your clients’ hands.
How do I share client downloads?
In any gallery, open the overflow menu in the upper right and click “Create Client Download”. You can set a limit for how many photos your client can select and download, or let them download the whole gallery.
Then just copy the link and share it with your client. It’s really that simple. For example, you could offer clients 20 downloads of their favorite photos from a recent shoot as part of your fee:
Each client download link is meant for an individual client. Once they finalize their selection, they won’t be able to choose and download different photos. But you can create plenty of client download links per gallery, so everyone can choose and download their favorites.
Your client can visit the client download page from multiple devices, making it easy to download the photos where they need them. All the downloaded photos are full-resolution and without watermarks.
Give it a try yourself to see what your clients will see! And as always, you’ll find additional screenshots and info on our help page.
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