Tag Archive for 'product'

Why So Many “Professional” Photos Look So Bad!

by Gavin Seim (rev 03/14): I’m seeing so many bad photos posted as professional these days. People are trusting us with their time, dignity and money as they are photographed looking awkward, uncomfortable and often downright foolish. I am genuinely embarrassed. Not only for my industry, but for people and their families. They look ridiculous.

I’ve realized why these poor images are often even worse than snapshots: A snapshot is not pretending to be something artistic, creative, or edgy. It’s role is simply to be a memory, and it fulfills that role quite well.

I post this to remind those with experience to make sure we’re offering quality to our our clients. We are supposed to produce art they will want to keep, but I see and endless stream of bad images. Sometimes so-called professional images are so bad that a child could do better. People are pointing cameras and thinking they will do the work for them.

We cannot simply pull ideas for posing, lighting and composition out of thin air, with no aesthetic understanding of our subject. That is like builders throwing hammers at a pile of wood and expecting a mansion to appear. I see mothers who look fat, babies who look like Oompa Loompas, kids who look angry and dads who look like slobs because someone who was poor at their craft propped them up like badly drawn cartoon characters.

I love helping people learn. I’m not posting this to be hurtful, just to be real. It’s important that we’re honest with ourselves and clients. A doctor does not open their practice until they’re trained. A carpenter that opens a home improvement business without knowing how to improve homes is doomed to failure. Digital has not made great photography easier. It’s only made taking pictures easier.

These days it’s not easy, no matter how much experience you have. But some the best advice I can give to people starting out is don’t become a professional photographer until you are professional level. Having that camera means nothing. I’m not defining exactly when you become experienced enough. For most of us, it takes years, just like it does to become a doctor, a carpenter or just about anything else. You learn the basics first. Then it becomes your job and you keep learning.

This applies to all fields. A person should not be in business until they can make the product they claim they can. They should not have a website with prices offering services they are not qualified to give. They should not claim the title of those who spend years and decades mastering a craft, when they have no experience in that craft. There are different levels of professionalism and we don’t need to be perfect to go pro. But we do need to actually be photographers before we call ourselves photographers. We need to know the fundamentals of how to make quality images of whatever our subject might be.

If you don’t know the difference between f16, ISO800 or 1/160th, if have no idea how to light a 3:1 ratio or how to key strobes for a blue sky at noon, if you don’t know how to make your subject sharp enough for a thirty inch print, how to pose a woman so she feels beautiful and a man so he feels strong, if you don’t know what to do with the clutter in the background or how to compensate your exposure value, chances are you’re not ready to be a photographer professionally – There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with snapshots. There’s nothing wrong with being an amateur. You’re learning and that’s just fine. Keep at it. If you want to call yourself a photographer, take the time to learn how first.

You don’t start as a photographer. You start learning to become one – Gavin Seim

Further Reading…


Lightsphere Review: Cool Gadget Of The Week

Gary Fongs Lighsphere

by Gavin Seim. Updated: For this weeks CPPOTW I want to talk about something really simple and useful. Many of us photographers use hotshoe flashes for light on the go. I use a Canon speedlights myself and though their great flashes, the light is still really harsh. The Lightsphere is quite simply a diffuser for that harsh light. It helps me have control.

It’s made by Gary Fong. I’ve never met him personally, but a lot of you know of him. I’ve tried more than one diffuser, and the Lightsphere (often called a Fong Dong) has worked the best. Many photographer will vouch for this, and I’m no exception. Yes you can tape a Tupperware container to a flash and probably get a similar result, but the Lightsphere is well designed and just works. For me, saving fifty bucks is not worth the headache every time I use my flash.

It’s simple and straight forward. Put it on your flash, and get better light. It’s kinda like a tiny softbox for your flash. The bottom line it that it works good. You can one up for around fifty bucks. I have both the clear and cloud versions myself (either will work fine), as well as most of the handy accessories and top pieces that help me gain further control of my light. I can light pretty big area with just a single on camera flash using this simple tool.

The classic model (pictured) has always worked great for me. There’s a new universal model now that uses a Velcro strap. I have both styles and both work well and are secure. The new version being universal is a tad more clunky, but I find it easier to attach and generally like it better.

The bottom line is that it works well and does what it’s supposed to without hassle. Besides all this it’s looks so weird that it’s become a great conversation starter. You can find it here on Amazon.

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CPPOTW – Remote Cable Release For Your Camera. You need one!

 canon-rs-80.jpg nikon-mc36.jpg
This weeks Cool Photo Product(s) Of The Week

This weeks gadget comes in various types, but you’ll find plenty of links to various options. The bottom line is that you should ABSOLUTELY have a cable release in your bag.

The release is basically a button that connects to your camera (occasionally wireless, but usually wired) that allows you to trip the shutter, and often allows you to lock it open (using Bulb mode on the camera) for long exposures. It’s also important for long exposures as you don’t have to “touch” the camera.

The lock button is invaluable for night images and if you’ve never done long exposure night photography, you owe it to yourself to try it. It’s pretty amazing what can come out of a camera after a multi-minute exposure. I’ve shot exposures to over 60 minutes with some neat results.
The release is also perfect for the portrait, commercial, or any other type of photographer; allowing you to set the camera on a pod, and shoot without leaning over it. Great for shooting while interacting a subject.

Last but not least I almost always use a release for shooting my HDR sequences because again I don’t have to touch (and thus shake) the camera. So now that you know you want one, here a few options…

Canon RS-80N3: Is what I use. It’s fits most newer Canons, has a lock, and works great. Runs about 50- on B&H

Canon TC-80N3: Is the big brother to the RS80. It runs close to 150- but offer a digital screen with a timer, This is perfect is you plan on a lot of long exposures.

Nikon MC30: This is for most of the Nikon line N90-D3 range. Again at about 50- it’s simple but effective.

Nikon MC36: This is the big brother on the Nikon side. Display, timer, and other cool functions for about 130- Again a good choice to the person who does a lot of long exposures.

Now there’s other models available, some from third parties as well, and also if you shoot other camera brands. Just search around. This is one piece if kit you should not be without.

Gavin Seim