Month: August 2015

How to Build Relationships in Photography

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What’s the most important thing to maintain in any business? Confidence, market knowledge, technology? Sure, keep any one of those at the top of your list. But there’s also something else. Perhaps the most sought after and powerful asset you can ever hope to have when it comes to making yourself successful is – strong relationships.

JD Hancock

By JD Hancock

That’s right, good relationships with those who you are seeking to do business with is the most most crucial aspect of any type of business venture. This is especially true when you become a photographer. No matter what kind: landscape, commercial, portrait, wedding, lunar, Martian. It is the cultivation of relationships with other people that will make or break you in this industry – and make no mistake, it is an industry.

Gentlemen and ladies, before we begin, take a moment to congratulate yourselves on an accomplishment that is at the very least extraordinary. We, as photographers, are the jockeys of an art that has been melded with a science. We possess the skill to take time, hold it in our sometimes shaky hands, and pass it on to our clients to be forever held. We don’t just capture light, or moments, or events – we capture memory. Memories, that without us there to tend, would surely shift out of sight, and out of mind.

Amanda Tipton

By amanda tipton

Now, back to what we’re here to discuss – why relationships are so important in photography. Thank goodness you’ve found this article on dPS if you don’t already know the answer to that question. The purpose of this writing is not to give you any ironclad formula of success. In fact, I feel I should remind you that you will most likely meet with more failure than success if you plan to become a photographer of any magnitude. It is our failures that teach us, that enable us to move forward, not our successes. So, if you’ve got the guts, keep reading.

We are nothing on our own. True, I often make photographs that I never show (or intend) to show to anyone other than myself. I keep some places where I go to photograph secret, and return to them sometimes even without a camera. This is all well and good. Honestly, I usually advise such exercises because they often spark more creative thinking down the road. In this case, what I mean is that we cannot realistically be successful as photographers without the support of other people.

Portrait photographers need subjects to sit. Wedding photographers need brides and grooms to direct their cameras. Epic landscapes pass from dawn to dusk in extraordinary light without a camera to capture them and put them on walls. What I’m saying here is that we cannot reach our own potential, both artistically and commercially, without some type of audience.

Thomas Hawk

By Thomas Hawk

How do you get that audience? Well, that’s the difficult part of the photographic equation. The answer, fortunately, is fairly simple. Here are four steps to ensure you are doing your best to cultivate and maintain the relationships that will help you build and grow a career as a photographer.

STEP ONE: Be nice

When dealing with the public, and make no mistake, you WILL inherently have to deal the public, be sure to ALWAYS be polite. Even in the face of the most insulting and anger conjuring client – you must always be polite. Smile, be firm, and always remain true to yourself and your personal policies, but always be polite. This is where most new (and even experienced) photographers run into trouble. Overt politeness can go a long way in maintaining and building relationships with those who are willing to exchange money for your services. Learn to accept that you will have conflict, and that not everyone will like or appreciate your work. When you come to the realization that you don’t need to meet hostility with more hostility, you will be able to remain much calmer and relaxed. Remember, you are better at everything when you are relaxed and focused.

Roberlan Borges

By Roberlan Borges

STEP TWO: Be humble

Just as you will certainly run into those people who test your patience and civility, you will also encounter those who think you hung the moon. The bride who just can’t stop complimenting your work, or the Facebook friend that likes and comments on every single image you post. This is an unexpected accompaniment of being a well-liked photo maker. Train yourself to take a compliment with grace. Say thank you and don’t play out the situation more than it needs to be played. The key here is to stay humble. Of course, in the back of your mind you know when you make an exceptional image, or pull off a one in a million shot. That doesn’t mean that you have to be boastful or even worse, brag about your prowess. Take it from me, no client wants to deal with a photographer who is pompous or inflexible – well, most clients.

Tanakawho

By tanakawho

STEP THREE: Be honest

Hopefully, we all follow some ethical subscription be it in life or in our careers. As photographers, we must know what we can and cannot do, and in turn be honest about those facts. If your client requests you to cover a wedding and you don’t physically have the speedlights or lens to cover it, be honest. Never promise what you you can’t deliver, and most definitely don’t accept compensation for a job you’re not qualified to perform. Granted, the only way to learn is by doing. By all means, stretch your photographic legs and push the boundaries of your skills. However, always be mindful of your weaknesses, and when it comes down to it, you’ll know your limitations. Always be sure to let your employer be aware of what you can do. It will go a long way in building a lasting business relationship. That leads us to step four.

Thinkpublic

By thinkpublic

STEP FOUR: Be willing to step outside your comfort zone

This is perhaps the most difficult part to decipher as a fresh new photographer. When do you draw the line between expanding your skill and having no idea about what you’re doing? This can be troubling, yes. It can also be absolutely exciting. The bottom line, be willing to step outside of your comfort zone for your client. If it’s something you simply cannot do (and you will know), refer to the honesty principle above. That being said, most likely you are your own worst critic, and you can do more than you ever dreamed. So don’t be afraid to try something new. Your client will remember you as the photographer who was honest with them about your abilities, and communicated your willingness to try something unique.

The Shopping Sherpa

By The Shopping Sherpa

It’s tough to start out in a new field. It’s extremely tough to be a new photo maker in a market saturated with photographers. Get the best gear you can afford. Learn as much as you can. Do as much as you can. At the same time, don’t forget that you are a provider in an industry that caters to the wants of others. As such, your success is dependant on the good graces of those with whom you do business. Be honest, humble, and competent. Be bold, but never be reckless. Build relationships with your clients based on mutual understanding, and I guarantee you be a more satisfied, and dare I say a more successful photographer.

The post How to Build Relationships in Photography by Adam Welch appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Categories: Digital

Tips for Depth of Field Control in Macro Photography

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Depth of field is the amount of distance between the nearest and farthest objects that appear in acceptably sharp focus in a photograph, it varies depending on camera type, aperture and focusing distance. If you are into photography you probably already know this and how critical it is when you photograph in macro distances.

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This image was done with a 100mm macro lens with a life-size converter attached, at a distance of 4 inches to the object to achieve this type of magnification. The Depth of Field you see here is impossible to achieve, as there is no way to have the whole ring in focus with this focal length and this distance to the object.

Here are a couple of test shots to show a comparison between an f/8 and an f/32 exposure of this image:

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In this particular image f/8 would give you a very shallow Depth of Field, so if you would like to have more then f/32 would seem to be a better choice, right? But if you take a closer look, you will realize it is just not that easy.

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The magnified image shows you that f/8 has shallow Depth of Field but, because it represents the sweet spot of this lens, it gives you great detail in the focused areas. On the other hand f/32 gives you more Depth of Field, but it lacks detail overall.

This lack of detail is due to diffraction, that is the slight bending of light as it passes around the edge of an object giving the photographed image a soft focus effect. So, sharp focus and deep Depth of Field are impossible to achieve in this image due to optical limitations.

A great work-around for these limitations is Focus Stacking (also known as Focal Plane Merging, Z-Stacking or Focus Blending), which combines images photographed with different focus distances into one final image with a greater Depth of Field.

This technique is only possible if the camera, and all the elements on the image are perfectly still, so the use of a steady tripod is really important.

Another important factor is to shoot, and focus without touching the camera. In this particular image the camera was tethered with a computer and a remote shooting app was used to focus the image.

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The best way to capture these images is to start by focusing on the closest area first, then keep shooting, making sure you cover all the focusing length (move focus farther away from the camera with each successive shot). Just use the controls of your remote trigger and app to fine-tune the focus for each shot.

The final number of shots depends on how detailed you want your image to be, but keep in mind that the more images you have, the harder it will be to process later on. This particular image was made with a merge of 21 images.

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After the images are captured it’s time to process them. There are a lot of software options on the market for focus stacking; this image was edited with Adobe Photoshop CC. Here are the steps:

  1. Open Photoshop, go on File > Scripts > Load files into a stack
  2. Select all the pictures and turn on “attempt to automatically align layers”
  3. Select all your files in the layer panel on the right side
  4. Go to edit > Auto-Blend Layers and select “stack Images”

You will end up with a stack of layers with associated masks that look something like this:

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Each layer mask reveals the best of each focused part of the image, and they can also be manually adjusted for more controlled results. The final images are usually very impressive and allow you to achieve effects that would be impossible to reach any other way.

The post Tips for Depth of Field Control in Macro Photography by Ivo Guimaraes appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Categories: Digital

2 Clumsy Mistakes To Avoid When Meeting With Potential Customers

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You recently received an inquiry from someone who really likes your work, is interested in hiring you for a shoot, and wants to meet in person (or on the phone) to discuss more details. Naturally, you’re pretty excited. The thought of booking an event is something that thrills all of us. Then, as soon as the meeting starts, the two cardinal sins of salesmanship rear their ugly heads. What are they?

Talking too much and not listening enough.

Two Clumsy Mistakes Banner

Sure enough, once the prospect asks you a question, it’s as if you’ve suddenly been put in front of a classroom with the responsibility to lecture on photography for the next 25 minutes, flood gates thrown open. And because you want so badly to make the sale, you don’t leave anything out – linking your statements from one benefit to the next, emphasizing personal strengths, advantages, until you’ve suddenly dominated the conversation with what YOU wanted to say and talk about, not what THEY needed to hear.

This is the first massive mistake, and is actually the primary cause for the second mistake. Whether you are just starting to charge for your photography services, or wanting to increase and grow your existing photography business, you cannot allow yourself to command the conversation. When you do this, you miss uncovering the real concerns of the client, what they really want in the end, and ultimately it makes them feel as though they weren’t really heard. Remember, it’s not about YOU – it’s about THEM.

One way to turn this scenario around is to start asking them questions, turn the table. Get them talking about what their vision for the shoot is, what concerns they may have, how they view the end result. A great trick to get them to start talking is to say something like this, “____ (name), I’m fully prepared to discuss the event/project in detail with you, but first I want to get your perspective on it so that we can focus our time together on the things that interest you most.”

Meeting Cafe

By announcing that you’re prepared, you demonstrate your competence and responsibility – and by demonstrating your preparation, you build immediate credibility. Furthermore, by inviting your customer to articulate what’s most important to them, you recognize and validate their importance. In other words, it shows that you care about their thoughts and concerns, and that you want to work together to provide a solution that works for both of you.

The next step is to keep them talking. Again, this is all about them, not you. An easy way to do this is to keep asking questions that are easy to answer such as:

  • Tell me more about
  • What else should I know about?
  • Could you please expand on..?

It’s imperative that you uncover as many of their fears, concerns, wants, desires as you can. Consider asking questions like:

  • What worries you most about this?
  • I can tell that you are frustrated about that – how come?
  • You mentioned that you tried that in the past. Why didn’t it work so well that time? What could have been done differently?

Meeting Consult

The primary benefit of asking all these questions is to uncover what’s really important to them. This is the treasure chest, what they are really after. Once you know what’s most important to them, you can then frame your offer according to the specific desires of that client, which will skyrocket your chance of booking the shoot.

But all of these questions are worth nothing – if you don’t listen to what they’re saying. There are four primary elements to Active Listening:

  1. Attentive body language (nod, make eye contact, smile, etc.)
  2. Verbal attends (uh-huh, okay, sure)
  3. Ask leading questions (open-ended questions that encourage them to talk more)
  4. Restating back to the person what they just said

Meeting

Active Listening is not simply waiting for your turn to talk, and it’s certainly not interrupting them to demonstrate that you already know what they’re talking about. Active Listening is nothing more than allowing the customer to completely share their story with you, then playing back that story to them asking for confirmation and clarification. “Is that right? Did I miss anything?”

With any new skill, it takes time to get down pat. But this is something that will have an immediate effect on your ability to book more events because you are validating the concerns of your potential clients, and linking your services to their exact wants and goals.

The post 2 Clumsy Mistakes To Avoid When Meeting With Potential Customers by Mark Thackeray appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Categories: Digital

How to Compose Brilliant Black and White Photos

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Composition in black and white photography

Brilliant black and white photos are created in two steps. The second of these is post-processing, and is very important. But before you get to that stage, you have to learn how to see and compose photos in black and white. This is just as important as processing – it doesn’t matter how creative or clever you are in Lightroom or Photoshop, if the image is badly composed, or the subject just isn’t suitable for black and white, then you are going to struggle to make a half-way decent monochrome conversion, let alone a great one.

I thought it would be interesting for you to look at some of my favourite black and white photos and learn why they work in terms of composition.

Wooden boats – Puerto Aysen, Chile

Composition in black and white photography

Puerto Aysen is a small port town in south-west Chile. The weather is often cold and miserable, even in summer. It rains a lot. I was wandering around the outskirts of the town when I came across these old wooden boats. Initially I was attracted to the atmosphere of the scene – there was a soft rain, and in the original uncropped photo you can see the hills on the horizon fading through the drizzle. The scene worked in colour (see below), but in the post-processing stage I also realized that it would come out beautifully in monochrome.

Composition in black and white photography

The reasons the image works well in black and white are:

  • Tonal contrast: The boats are painted light tones and the background is mainly comprised of dark tones. The eye is naturally pulled to the largest boat in the scene which becomes the focal point of the photo.
  • Texture: The weathered surfaces of the boats and the grass are beautiful textures which tend to be more effective in black and white than colour. This image wouldn’t have worked nearly as well if the boats were brand new.
  • Lines: The position of the boats in the scene creates two diagonal lines. The first moves from the bottom left through to the top right, and the second line, formed by the rowboat, creates a second diagonal line that meets the first. Diagonal lines pull the viewer’s eye through the photo and help add a sense of movement to the composition.
  • Panoramic crop: I decided the hills in the distance were a distraction and cropped the photo to concentrate attention on the boats. This took place in post-processing and strengthened the composition by focusing attention on the boats.

Chairman Mao watch – Shanghai, China

Composition in black and white photography

I went to Dongtai Road antiques market in Shanghai, an open-air street market comprised of stalls and shops where you can buy a variety of genuine and fake antiques, plus kitsch ornaments and souvenirs. I found the watch that this vendor was offering quite amusing. I didn’t want to buy the watch, but I asked if I could take a photo. The answer was yes.

Why the image works in black and white:

  • Strong use of shape: The watch face is a circle. It is placed in the centre of the composition and dominates it.
  • Lots of texture. The textures of the watch and the vendor’s hand are very strong.
  • Strong diagonal lines. The vendor’s fingers create lines that pull the viewer’s eye up from the bottom of the frame. I deliberately framed the photo so the fingers ran at an angle across the frame rather than parallel with the edges. This creates a more dynamic composition.
  • Simple composition. I moved in close to create a simple composition that emphasized shape, line and texture, the dominant elements of the photo. Another benefit of moving in close and using a wide aperture was that the background went out of focus, eliminating potential distractions.

John – Wellington, New Zealand

Composition in black and white photography

I got in contact with John via Model Mayhem and we arranged a portrait shoot. The setup was simple – I used an 85mm lens (with a full-frame camera) and a wide aperture of f/2.8 to blur the background. The portrait is lit by natural light – John stood underneath an archway so the light fell from his left (camera right).

Men can be great subjects for black and white portraits because there is no pressure to retouch skin. Black and white emphasizes texture – the texture of skin can be a beautiful thing that doesn’t (or perhaps shouldn’t) need retouching as often as some people think it does.

Why this photo works in black and white:

  • Strong eye contact. The strength of this portrait is in the eye contact. John is gazing directly at the camera which creates a powerful connection with the viewer. His face is level with the camera so I could use a wide aperture to defocus the background, while keeping both eyes in sharp focus.
  • Texture. The texture of John’s skin, especially in the sharpest areas around his eyes, renders beautifully in black and white. The background is out of focus and lacks texture, and this sets up a contrast between the sharp areas of the model’s face and the heavily blurred background.
  • Tonal contrast. The model’s face is a lighter tone than the background. Light tones pull the eye, and the tonal contrast here (combined with the strong eye contact) establishes the model’s face as the focal point of the composition. The side lighting effect, created by asking the model to stand in an archway, means that one side of his face is lighter than the other. This creates depth, by revealing the shape of this face.

Common themes

Analyzing these photos is a simple exercise but it brings up several elements that work well in most black and white photos – texture, line, shape, tonal contrast, and simple composition. When you find a subject where these elements come together, you know you have the potential for a great black and white photo.

What do you think is important for a brilliant black and white photo? Please let us know in the comments. I’m looking forward to hearing what you think.

Editor’s Note: We recently ran a series of articles this week featuring black and white photography tips. Look for more on this topic below.


Mastering Composition ebookMastering Composition

My new ebook Mastering Composition will help you learn to see and compose photos better. It takes you on a journey beyond the rule of thirds, exploring the principles of composition you need to understand in order to make beautiful images.

The post How to Compose Brilliant Black and White Photos by Andrew S. Gibson appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Categories: Digital

Quick Lightroom Tip Using the Graduated Filter

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This video tip is courtesy of Anthony Morganti and shows us what you can do using the Graduated Filter tool in Lightroom. What if you’ve maxed out your basic adjustments and want to go farther? This little tip might do the trick for you, check it out:

Learn more about using the Graduated Filter in LR here.

A very cool tip, had you thought of that or done this before? Do you have any other Lightroom tips and tricks? Please share in the comments below.

The post Quick Lightroom Tip Using the Graduated Filter by Darlene Hildebrandt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Categories: Digital

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