Archive for the 'Portrait' Category

EXposed Videos Will Having You Seeing Light Like Never Before.

It seems the months of work were worth it. It’s finished and the new EXPosed series is  now available as a download or a DVD. It’s like no workshop you’ve seen and it can take your photography to a whole new level. But rather than listen to us chatter on, just take a peek at the trailer. EXposed is as good as it looks and it’s finally available. Don’t forget to use code PPS when you pick up your copy. It will save you 15%.

EXposed – The Light Workshop

Pro Photo Podcast #85 – Photos Are Not Free

No not even this photo is free – King of the Valley – Valley of the gods Utah

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Today’s Panel... Gavin SeimBarry HowellNina BeheimScott & Adina Hayne

This month the panel looks at a few news bits, understands that photos have value, reviews Photoshop CS6, our favorite lenses and more.

PPS #85 Forum Discussions Here. Share Your Opinions.

Main Time Indexes:

  • 00:00 Introductions.
  • 04:50 News and Chat.
  • 10:10 Free Photos for Alter Bridge?
  • 27:45 Photoshop CS6 Group Review.
  • 49:00 A larger format future.
  • 1:09:55 Lenses Lightning Round.
  • 1:32:55 Picks of the show.
  • 2:04:08 The After Show. Business and beyond.

Links…

LIghtroom 4.

Creative Suite CS6.

5DMK III is good. So is the Nikon D800. You decide. And check out the value of the D3200.

A pack of free LR develop presets for video.

Glif iPhone tripod mount.

The Brenizer Method. An stitched approach to the large format look (thanks to Vincent P for the link)

Bands don’t need to pay for your photos?

PICKS…

 

 

Finding a Style – And Why Most Photographers Don’t Have One.

By Gavin Seim, Updated 10/11

Something one often hears tossed around in this industry is the word ‘style.’ “It’s my style” or “love your style.” Sometime it can get pretty funny: “My style is, uh, everything.” Now, this is not a bash session. We’re all at different levels, and that’s OK. This is just another post to get us thinking, something to get us all to raise the bar. I think the idea of style bears consideration and refinement. So let’s start where I often start, with the word, itself.

Webster’s Dictionary – Style.
1. a distinctive manner of expression (as in writing or speech)
2. a distinctive manner or custom of behaving or conducting oneself
3. a particular manner or technique by which something is done, created, or performed.

Hunters Bridge - 2009, HDR Portrait.

SO perhaps a photography style is just what you thought it was. But look carefully. “Distinctive, distinctive, particular.” I see photographers (especially new ones) frantically trying to define their style. But they don’t. It may change from week to week and month to month. If you go to their site right now, that high contrast, over saturated look is their style. But really, it’s probably because they know nothing else or saw someone else doing it. Your style is a big part of your brand. But developing it is not quick or easy. It’s a process.

NEXT let’s get one thing out of the way. Just because you do something does not make it your style. The most common “style” I see is “high contrast” or “edgy” or “bold” or “fun”. Now all those things can be a style, but they’re generally non-distinctive and used by people who don’t really know their style. Sometimes these vague styles are used by photographers who are inexperienced and use “art” or “style” as an excuse for their work. (I.e. “The high contrast look is my style” or “The flat light is my style” or “The blown out highlights are part of my style”)

NO. Those are not your style. You just don’t know what you’re doing. The first step in developing your style is to STOP trying to be something you’re not. It takes years and years to become a good craftsman. If you’re a new photographer, stop trying to fake a style that you don’t really have or convince people that that thing you do (because you don’t know any better) is your style. Don’t do it. Using style as an excuse just slows your career because it allows you to make excuses and avoid learning to things properly.

BUT can’t high contrast, blown out, journalistic, be a style? Sure. But often it’s not, because people who are comfortable, experienced, and have really found a style generally know better than to take the cliches and call them a style, because the result tends to appear like a generic copy of everyone else.

SO WHAT makes a style? Sure, it can be somewhat subjective, but let’s go back to the dictionary for the facts. A style is “distinctive.” It’s “particular.” That means it has the ability to stand out on its own. So based on that, if your style looks like 80% of the rest of the world’s photographers, it’s not much of a style. That is, not unless you call your style generic, which does not sound too appealing.

Now, I’m not saying a style can’t be inspired by the work of another photographer. In fact, it’s almost impossible to do something completely new. But there’s inspiration, and there’s outright copying. Most photographers don’t have a style because they have not yet taken enough time to refine their craft and develop that style. This can apply to a newbie as easily as to a 25 year veteran.

A STYLE is not simply taking photos. It takes something more. It requires thought, planning, and skill. But even further, a style is your brand. It can be combined with your personalty, the products you make from your photos, and the way you present them on your website. It does not mean being in a rut or always being the same or applying a particular technique to everything. It’s a process.

WHAT is my style? I’ve been making photos for over 14 years now, and in just the past few, I’ve started feeling I understand my style. It took me that long. I know what I do, and I know how to make it come out nearly every time. I feel I have a style, but I’m still improving on it.

If you were to go to my portrait or wedding site, you might see me describe my work as “A natural cinematic style inspired by the masters and tempered with modern flair.” But the text is merely the beginning. I have an visual in my mind of the kind of image I make, and while every one is different, I have a focus. Also, the way I display my final prints as carefully crafted wall portraits is a very relevant part of my style. It’s taken me about 13 years to pin myself down this much. And I’m still discovering and refining my style.

WHAT does all this this mean? Well, my goal here today is not to say you can’t have a look, or that you can’t describe your work. It’s not to make this style thing abstract and confusing. Maybe you’ve truly found your style, maybe not. But my intent is to get us all thinking. To raise the bar on our style, study, and practice, and become such proficient craftsman that we truly understand our medium and our style. Maybe you’ll be faster than I was, maybe not. But either way, it’s a process. A valuable one.

SO, STYLE is important. But it’s not something you can simply make up. Before you can really define your style, you have to know your craft well enough to understand what you’re doing with it. You have to have worked enough to find that distinctive consistency in your images. Imagine a singer. A singer does not have a style until they learn to sing and perform. It takes time. They have to work it out. Photography is no different.

WHY do most NOT have a style? Because they’ve not refined their craft . It does not mean they’re all bad photographers. But in truth a lot of photography today lacks distinction. Admittedly, it’s hard. Finding your style take more than just doing a wedding every weekend. It takes more than copying the latest trend you see your friends using.

I often see photographers who are really busy with jobs, but it’s all they can do just to keep up and get the jobs out. They’re generic. If you’re paying the bills that way then fair enough. If volume is your business approach, it may work for you. But it’s not usually distinctive. Rushing offers too little time to experiment and define your work. You probably want something more. To define a unique style, you have to take your extra time to study and refine what you’re doing until you draw out something unique about it. Until there’s a pattern. Until it becomes a style, not just the latest fad.

How to Find Your Style. A style is images, personalty, presentation, branding, and more. Really finding it takes enough experience to know what you do and how you make it unique. I think the way to find your style is to stop looking so hard. Stop trying to rush to having it all figured out, and spend more time figuring. Study your craft and be content with the fact that you’re making good images and improving. Forget about your style for a while and learn how to style better. In time, you’ll find your own unique approach. You’ll find your STYLE naturally.

WHAT AM I GETTING AT? Stop having confidence? Stop charging for quality? Heavens, no! I’m not even saying at what point you have a style. I’m just saying slow down and think about it. Take the time to make images just for the joy of it. Explore ideas and techniques, read books, go to workshops. Do that, and your style will blossom, as will the quality of your work. Photography is not a quick journey. It’s a long one. It’s OK to be starting out. Just be honest with yourself. Keep working on your craft and always raise the bar.

Keep styling,

Gav

Midnight Seattle - 2009. 2010 PPA Loan Collection. 2011 PPA Magazine Feature.

 

A bit of Gavin’s work below. You can see more on his website, seimstudios.com

Continue reading ‘Finding a Style – And Why Most Photographers Don’t Have One.’

Old School Meets New School. Getting an edge:

by Barry Howell: I have been a professional photographer since the early 80’s and am in the throws of embracing change like I never could have imagined. I have photographed hundreds of weddings and thousands of high school seniors. I was honored with the first ever Haga Wedding Album award for the best wedding album in Minnesota, and have entered many competition prints over the years. I began shooting weddings for a couple of studios, worked part time on my own for several years, and bought a very large studio operation in 1995.   My first digital camera was a Fuji S2 and that is where my journey into the digital world really began. A good friend (and former employee) encouraged me to take a look at Lightroom and then Gavin Seim’s presets from Seim Effects.

My years of experience (and significant volume) causes me to very careful how much “post production” we commit to. Having studied with the likes of Monte Zucker, Frank Cricchio  Don Blair, David Ziser and others, I learned to produce near perfect images in the camera. There just wasn’t much editing we could do with our C-41 in-house lab printing from medium format Hasselblad negatives. I am the “techie” guy that loves everything shiny, new and cool, but I didn’t jump into digital until I felt the cameras and output options rivaled film quality.  My journey from film to digital has been a long and at times very frustrating path. If you are just starting out (i.e. have never shot a roll of film-I know you’re out there), appreciate my story and be glad you can develop a workflow without  transitioning from anything else. Take the time to think about ways you can do it right from image capture to customer delivery.

Continue reading ‘Old School Meets New School. Getting an edge:’

50+ Twitter Length Photography Tips.

by Gavin Seim. Updated 05/2012:
I enjoy quick bursts of information and chat frequently as @gavinseim on twitter.  I’ve made this list of my favorite tips that I plan to update it going forward. You can add your favorite and tips in the comments with your twitter name. I might even RT them myself.

I give credit to the speaker when I can, using names in parenthesis. Many of these are my own musings from Twitter and I’ve indicated myself with an (S). If there’s no name then I probably don’t know the source. These are not always exact quotes, but ideas I’ve re-formed to fit in under 140 characters on Twitter

Random Things:

  • Every image needs a subject. Just one. If it has less or more, than that it’s probably time to reboot. (S)
  • Presentation is as much part of a photo as the image itself. An image on a disk means little to the world. A well presented wall piece does. (S)
  • Don’t wait for the photo establishment to show you how to stand out. Because if you do, you won’t (S)
  • The line between a snapshot and a quality photograph are lost when everyone is a “photographer” but have not actually learned to be one! (S)
  • I’m not afraid to change my opinion, but I am afraid of not having one. (S)
  • Competition. A powerful tool that makes you stronger. Complaints about it are often cop outs from photographers not motivated enough to excel (S)
  • In photography rules mean conformity, and to conform is the opposite of creativity. (Whitmire)
  • Be Positive. It’s not just a blood type. (S)
  • Each time I think I’m really good, I learn that I’m not as great as I thought. Then I actually start getting really good (S)
  • Always do the best you can with what you have, but always push yourself to the next level. (S)
  • As photographers we often overlook the power of just practicing. It’s like giving ourselves our own workshop for free. (S)
  • Photography is painting with light. So if light is paint, why do we spend more time pressing buttons than mixing our paint? (S)
  • It’s not the location you take your photos in. It’s the photos you take in your location. Anything can be a good background. (S)
  • Being edgy is cool until everyone is doing it. Then it’s not edgy. It’s just boring and usually annoying. (S)
  • Every really good photograph I manage to make is a class in making the next one. (S)

Posing n more:

  • Portraits. Guys tilt the head towards the low shoulder = macho. Girls tilt head towards high shoulder = pretty (Celentano)
  • Bridal Portraits, Hold that bouquet on the hip to look thinner. Hands (and bouquets) held in front from make the bride look bigger. (Celentano)
  • Group portrait. Just before the shot have everyone lift up their shoulders and lean towards the center. (Celentano)
  • Portrait Tip: Look for triangles in your group poses. Use bodies, sitting, head position etc to form triangles. (Celentano)
  • If posture pose and light is correct it does not matter where the camera sits. The pose is still set. (Gardener)
  • Posing tip: If it bends, bend it. Play around with joints, elbows, fingers, everything.
  • Posing tip: Leave some open space between those bent elbows and the waist. Helps make your subject slim n trim. (S)
  • Don’t over pose the subjects in your groups. Their not solders, their free people. (Whitmire)

 

Continue reading ’50+ Twitter Length Photography Tips.’

How To Market & Sell Your Photography:

By Gavin Seim:  Being a fabulous photographer is great, but if you want to pay the bills with your passion you have to make sales and take great images. Here’s some great content from PPS and some other great sites to help out. I’ll be updating this post as I find great content on how to market and sell to your clients and a few posts dealing with shooting itself. If you know of some great articles on selling, post em up in the comments. For more good stuff see the Best Of Pro Photo Page

Good reads.

14 Steps To A Successful Sales Presentation:
Another good Ziser post. Fourteen steps David uses in his presentation to help him make great portrait sales.

How to Logo & Brand Your Images:
Branding is important and if you’re sending portraits out the door without it you’re throwing away money.

Selling to an out of town client:
Another Ziser classic. Full of tips on how you can keep sales high, even when you can’t meet in person.

The Portrait Consultation: Part1, Part2 A multi part series from David Ziser (we’ll update it as he publishes them). Selling a portrait is not just about getting a session booked. It’s about selling large prints and making the session profitable.

Large Wall Portraits. Why the 8×10 is stealing your thunder.
One of the host hotly discussed and perhaps the most valuable marketing articles ever on PPS. The ideas may be bold, but they absolutely work. whether you choose to listen or debate them is up to you. Join the discussion.

Copyrighting Your Images: It’s a part of the business that we tend to avoid, but it’s important and once you get the hang of it it becomes easy.

20 Ways To Appreciate Your Customers:
Can’t go wrong making happy customers.

Podcasts…

Pro Photo Show #60. Not Wearing Pants: A good episode overall, but starting at 1:34:10 we start getting into standing out and being something more than a weekend warrior. Then we move right into selling large portraits and how key it is. Be prepared for a few Gavin rants.

Pro Photo Show 53: This episode is a favorite and it’s full of good stuff. The whole show is well worth a listen, but starting at time index 44:28 we’re joined by Kevin Swan. Listen through to the end because the longer he talks the more you’ll glean.

Pro Photo Show 51: Another fun roundatble. At time index 52:33 guest photographer Scott & Adina Hayne talk about the marketing they used to build their wedding business in record time. This is also where they share info on leveraging Facebook to held build your business.