11 Rules of Living by Dalai Lama to Help You Bring Zen to Your Photography

Note from the Editor: this article is a little different than our usual dPS how to tutorials, more in line with personal growth. But see if there aren’t some things you can use and apply to you photography to help you take better photos.

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama

Often times we feel a desire to start from scratch and achieve something remarkable. As spring is approaching, use this time of increased motivation to think about your goals as a photographer.

Jan Michael Ihl

By Jan Michael Ihl

Over a decade ago, The Dalai Lama shared with the world a set of simple guidelines to help you live a complete and meaningful life. In this article we look at 11 of those rules of living from a photographer’s perspective. Whenever you decide to take your time and set your priorities, read the advice of the world’s greatest wise man and project it on your own career and life activities.

1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

Quitting your day job to start a photography business is a risky step accompanied by doubts and fear of failure. But if you’re firm about becoming a successful photographer, you just need to step out of your comfort zone. The ride to success will probably be harsh, but on the other hand, it will be fun! Just listen to your inner superhero and try to enjoy the very process of taking risk.

2. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.

This advice isn’t as difficult to follow as you may think. These days blogging is a great way for people to spread their knowledge and exchange ideas. Being an active member on a photography forum, or supporting a photography related project (for instance, Defrozo calls all photographers to help them build the ultimate photography marketing platform) are also good opportunities for any photographer to do good for the community. After all, what goes around comes around.

MD. Hasibul  Haque Sakib

By MD. Hasibul Haque Sakib

3. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.

Screwed up a photo shoot? That’s not a reason for giving up, as failing can teach you so much more than success. Analyze your missteps, do your best to fix them, and prepare more carefully next time. Yes, that mistake can leave a bitter aftertaste for a long time, but after all, you would never feel good without feeling bad.

4. Follow the three Rs: Respect for self, Respect for others, Responsibility for all your actions.

Respect for self ensures determination, which is crucial to success. For instance, if you set your prices too low, people may think you’re not confident about your professionalism and thus, would not commit capturing their memories to you.

Even if you’re not sharing the values and interests of people you work with, there must be something they can teach you, respect that.

Even if you’re a solopreneur, being responsible and respectful is essential for running a successful photography business.

5. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

I have a friend who couldn’t afford a Canon 5D MarkII a few years ago, which pushed him to seek other ways to reach the image he envisioned. As a result, he improved his skills drastically and even won a prestigious photography contest. He now owns a studio now and his business is growing fast. My friend is pretty sure he wouldn’t have reached this point if he had bought that camera and let it do the job for him. The moral of this story is that something you consider a lost opportunity may in reality be a chance to win. Just stay positive and keep your eyes wide open.

Umberto Salvagnin

By Umberto Salvagnin

6. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

Did you know that Picasso mastered the illusion of volume just to learn how to flatten it in his paintings? Like with any art, in photography any rule can be broken – as long as it’s broken intentionally. If you’re looking for an innovative approach and want to go out of the box with your composition and lighting, you have to know where the box’s limits are.

7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

Everyone could make a mistake, but not anyone could immediately react and correct it. It’s all about taking responsibility for your own actions. If the final photos don’t meet the expectations of your customer and you know it’s your fault, do something to fix it and do it fast. A free compensatory session or a small sorry gift can help you own the situation. Quick reaction will speak of your integrity – it won’t be left unnoticed.

8. Spend some time alone every day.

I’m sure you know how it feels when creative ideas flow out of you like a stream. I think you can also remember the tough periods of creative block when it seems you’re unable to produce anything new or interesting. Every creative experiences these ebbs and flows of inspiration. Some solitude during your day can be a great practice to help you stay balanced and productive.


By jhoc

9. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.

Seeing new places and faces, discovering new cultures and atmospheres is extremely important for any photographer. So do your best to not get stuck in the routine, and go to a new destination at least once a year, even if it’s a small village not far from your habitat.

10. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

Success is always about making sacrifices and compromises. However, it’s up to you to decide how much to give up on the way to it. Your own photography business will require you to be a wearer of many hats, it will also soak up tons of your time and energy. But if it pushes you to compromise your loved ones or life values, stop and think whether it will be a success at all if it’s achieved this way.

11. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.

Change is an essential part of any business, especially when you work in the creative field. Embrace new technologies and don’t miss an opportunity to boost up your marketing, but don’t betray your values as they are the first to speak of your personality and brand.

Nick Kenrick

By Nick Kenrick

The Dalai Lama’s rules of living are not novelties, it’s something we’ve all heard at least once during a lifetime. However, we often forget or fail to apply these laws in our daily routine. So having these simple truths listed in one place which you can get back to once in a while may help you be a better person and achieve more in life. Do you agree? Share your own life lessons and favorite quotes in the comments!

The post 11 Rules of Living by Dalai Lama to Help You Bring Zen to Your Photography by Darlene Hildebrandt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Categories: Digital

Safety Tips for Travel Photographers (Particularly Women)

Let me first address the obvious that while this article talks about safety tips for women photographers, it does not mean that these tips don’t apply to men as well. Most are general tips that could be applied to both genders. Being a woman photographer who has started to venture out alone for photoshoots and solo photowalks, these are things that I notice and practice as I do travel photography.

Solo Hiking in the Appalachian Trail in Great Smoky Mountain National Park USA

Solo Hiking the Appalachian Trail – Great Smoky Mountain National Park, USA

It all started with a single trip. A couple of years ago while visiting Great Smoky Mountain National Park in the US, I decided to flex my muscles and go for a solo hike with my young kids. This was supposed to be a bonding experience as well as a confidence booster that I could do this alone. So off we went, water bottle and camera in hand to hike a two to three mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail.

Half way into the trail, my confidence took a nose dive, as I realized I had done several stupid things – I vaguely remember telling my husband the actual trail we were going to take, we only had one bottle of water among the three of us, I was carrying 20lbs of photo gear and I had no emergency kit or even a phone. My kids, then 7 and 3, were hot and cranky and there was no end in sight. In my paranoia of either being attacked by a bear or a crazy psychopath on the trail, we literally sprinted the entire way. Thankfully, my husband had started off at the other end of the trail and met up with us. While it was an adreallian pumping, nerve racking experience, it did make me realize that with a few simple tips, one can travel smart, safe and actually have a wonderful time.

#1 Research, research and then do more research

Bird Photography in Chennai India

A google maps satellite search revealed a bird photographer’s paradise literally five minutes from home when I travelled to Chennai, India

There is no lack of informational resources for someone wanting to travel anywhere in the world. Between maps, guide books and online forums we can pretty much take a virtual tour in our pajamas and not have to leave the comfort of our homes. But if you are anything like me, the wanderlust bug is very prominent and the urge to escape the clutches of everyday life too urgent to ignore. Make sure you know everything there is to know about the place you want to visit. Scope out all the possible locations that interest you in detail. There are many online photography and travel forums where you can post questions around photographic opportunities for specific locations.

#2 Record and insure your gear

This is one of those business expenses that may seem like it is discretionary but trust me, it is absolutely critical especially if you plan to travel extensively. Having that peace of mind that your gear is as protected as it can be is very liberating.

#3 Blend in as much as you can

Safe Travel Tips for Photographers DPS Article Memorable Jaunts

A simple bag pack to carry your equipment might be the best travel gear to blend in with the locals

With a camera in one hand and a map/guide book in the other, chances are you already stand out from the local crowd. Try not to make it more obvious in the way you dress or behave. The smart thing to do is to blend in with the locals. Dress like the locals wherever possible, then if you have done your research and planned out your excursion you don’t need to hold on to the map (a sure giveaway that you are a tourist).

#4 Keep an updated itinerary with family and friends at all times

Safe travel tips for women photographers DPS Memorable Jaunts Article

Have a plan of where you want to go and what you want to do and make sure you communicate that to the right people

This seems like a no-brainer but often times is easily overlooked. It’s one of those travel smart strategies that could literally save a life. This is one time when having a game plan for where you want to go, and when you want to get there is advisable particularly for solo travellers. Avoid changing plans on the fly – especially if you have taken the time to research and scope out the best photographic opportunities for your trip. If you have to change travel plans, make sure changes are communicated to the right people, at the right time.

#5 Plan for emergencies

Lets face it – this is life, not a scripted, rehearsed, movie set. Chances are things are going to go wrong – travel plans may change, equipment may malfunction, batteries may run out. Regardless, have a plan of action for some of the more obvious mishaps. Keep numbers handy for any local camera shops in case you need to use them in a pinch – definitely a much cheaper option than having things shipped or mailed to you, especially if you are out of the country.

#6 Listen to your gut

Words like “gut feeling” and “woman’s intuition” do actually exist, and more often than not, they are spot on. Trust your instincts. At the end of the day missing a photo opportunity is not as critical as being safe. Don’t do anything that you are not comfortable doing.

#7 Carry only the essentials

Safe travel tips for photographers DPS Memorable Jaunts Article

We photographers LOVE our gear and cannot imagine being away from it. Most of us feel we need every lens and gadget for every shoot for those what if situations. But challenge yourself to pack light. Maybe you only want to shoot with a wide angle lens or the nifty-fifty. Carry only what you need and not all the gear you own – your body will thank you.

#8 Carry personal protection equipment

No, I am NOT advocating carrying a gun or other such personal protection mechanisms. Personal protection can mean different things to different people and can also differ based on the situation. For a while I carried pepper spray in my purse. Then I switched to a swiss army knife. Then I decided that my 90lb german shepherd dog was my best defense mechanism especially for local sunrise and sunset photo excursions. Choose what is appropriate and practical for you.

Do you have any safe travels tips to share based on your personal experiences? Feel free to share…

The post Safety Tips for Travel Photographers (Particularly Women) by Karthika Gupta appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Categories: Digital

How to Get More Natural Smiles in Child Photography

A natural smile – the holy grail of child photography.

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A genuine, heartfelt smile is more than just turning up the corners of the mouth. A real smile radiates from your whole face, and particularly for children, is often felt with the whole body. Not only is a forced and fake smile easy to spot in photographs – we know that wearing a fake smile and having it photographed doesn’t feel too good at the time, and it doesn’t feel great for children either.

So while we want to photograph a child’s beautiful smile, we also want them to enjoy the process of being photographed. And as the photographers, we want to have a good time photographing them too.

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There is so much to discover with children – all their favourites, their take on issues big and small, how they feel about themselves, their family and this funny old world. Children are cheeky, fun, creative, enthusiastic and curious – they are also clever and can tell when someone is not genuinely interested. So make sure your heart and intention is in the right place.

If your small subject is feeling uncomfortable it will be impossible to garner a sincere smile. Placing emphasis on creating an honest connection with children so they feel at ease will lead to them sharing their best selves – most of the time.

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Following are four conversations that I love to have with kids that always result in joyous laughter and real smiles.

#1 Discovering their favourite toy or character

Favourite toys and security items are often important for small children. If your subject has a special toy (i.e. “Bunny”), I will use that as part of our conversation.

  • Does Bunny have a mouth?
  • Does Bunny have a belly button?
  • I wonder where Bunny sleeps. Does she sleep in this shoe? (holding up their shoe)
  • Hmm, does she sleep in the fridge?
  • I know, she must sleep in bed with Mummy and Daddy?

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or alternatively, Buzz Lightyear may be their favourite character.

  • Does Buzz Lightyear have Weetabix for breakfast?
  • Does Buzz go to school?
  • Does Daddy have Buzz Lightyear underpants?

Closed-ended questions are great for this age group so they don’t have to think too hard and can just nod or shake their head, and smile and giggle along.

#2 Animals

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Animals are something kids can easily relate to. I like to make the questions silly and fun.

  • If you could have any animal as a pet, what would it be?
  • What are all the things you know about this animal?
  • What would be a good name for this pet?
  • If you had a pet donkey, what would you name him?

I play around with lots of animals for that last question – if you had a pet giraffe, or caterpillar, or hippopotamus. Choosing animals that are not usual pets.

#3 When you grow up

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Conversations about jobs, growing up, and the work their parents do always get good reactions. Your questions can be light-hearted or more serious, depending on the child’s age and personality.

For the more carefree child, I might start with:

  • When you grow up would you rather be a ballerina or a princess? (for boys)
  • When you grow up would you rather be a mum or a dad? (for girls)
  • When you grow up would rather be a frog or a snake?

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For an older, more serious child you can ask things like:

  • Who has the best job in the world?
  • What job would be the most boring job?
  • What does Dad do when he gets to work?
  • When you grow up, would you rather be a chef or a dancer? Or, a builder or a truck driver?

It can be easier for kids if you give them an either/or question rather than just saying, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Asking kids to think of a detailed answer on the spot can be a bit difficult for them.

#4 Family rules

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This is also a really fun conversation topic – particularly for the parents who are listening in.

  • If you were in charge of your family, where would you eat dinner every night?
  • If you had to set the bedtime, what time would you go to bed?
  • If you had to choose the family breakfast, what would you have?
  • Who is the boss of your family?”

When photographing children, take your time and enjoy being with them. The time spent before you even pick up your camera is invaluable to gauge their personality – are they outgoing, reserved, tired, hyperactive, shy, giggly? Make intuitive decisions as to which conversation style will work best for each child. This gets easier with experience, so spend as much time with children as you can ,and fun conversations with them will soon become effortless.

The post How to Get More Natural Smiles in Child Photography by Angie Baxter appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Categories: Digital

Win One of FOUR Online Photography Courses from New York Institute of Photography

Over the past few years here at dPS, we have run some of our most popular competitions with a very valued partner – the New York Institute of Photography – to give away to dPS readers handpicked photography courses.

Due to popular demand, NYIP and dPS bring you yet another opportunity to win one of these valuable courses!

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For this competition, NYIP is giving away FOUR prizes

Each will be won by a different dPS reader. Here’s what you could win:

These are NYIP’s newest courses. They will teach you everything you need to know to take your skills to the next level in each category. These courses are all online. As a student you get access to videos and lesson materials prepared by experts in each field. You can access the course materials on any device, from anywhere in the world, and learn at your own pace.

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How to Win

To win this competition you’ll need to:

  • Visit each of the above four course information pages and choose which of the courses suits your needs best. Choose one that you’d like to win.
  • Leave a comment below and tell us which one you’d like to win and WHY you’d like to participate in the course. Please note: there is a limit of ONE entry per person.
  • Do this in the next 10 days and after March 13th, the team at NYIP will choose the best four answers – one for each course – and we will announce the winners in the following days.

The deadline to enter is March 13th, Midnight PDT (GMT-7). Comments left after the deadline will not be considered.

By best – we’re looking to see if you have an understanding of what the course offers and how it suits your needs, so you’ll need to check out the course pages to put yourself in the best position to win.

There’s no need to write essay length comments to win, but we’re looking to hear what you like about the course and how it would help your development as a photographer.

This competition is open to everyone around the world, no matter where you live, but there is only one entry per person.

To enter, simply leave your comment below.

Don’t forget to share this post with your friends and like NYIP on Facebook for special offers and announcements on all NYIP Courses

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Learn more about NYIP’s online photography courses.

Disclaimer: NYIP is a paid partner of dPS.

The post Win One of FOUR Online Photography Courses from New York Institute of Photography by Darlene Hildebrandt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Categories: Digital

How to Retouch a Portrait with the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom

Portrait retouching Lightroom

You have probably seen several portrait retouching programs advertised in magazines or online, and wondered if they were worth buying. The answer is no. I have tried out quite a few, and the truth is that the Soften Skin preset in Lightroom does just as good a job as any of them. For most photographers Lightroom’s retouching tools all are you will ever need. For high end retouching purposes you can go to Photoshop.

It’s worthwhile taking some time to think about your personal approach to portrait retouching. Some photographers seem to like the airbrushed, almost plastic look of heavy processing. It’s a style you see used a lot in commercial photography or movie posters.

Others will go for a more natural effect, and use the retouching tools with a light touch. That’s definitely my approach, and it fits with my preference for natural light and for creating portraits that capture character.

Either way,the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom can accommodate your needs.

Retouching portraits of women

When retouching portraits of women it is conventional to use a skin smoothing technique to make the portrait look more flattering. There are exceptions of course, sometimes skin smoothing is not necessary, especially if your model has good skin and you shoot in soft light, or use a wide aperture to throw some of the face out of focus.

Portrait retouching LightroomThe first step in portrait retouching is to remove any blemishes with the Spot Removal tool. To do so, click on the Spot Removal tool icon to activate it, adjust the size of the  brush with the square bracket keys on the keyboard, and click on the spot you want to remove.

Lightroom automatically selects another area of the portrait to sample from, healing the blemish. Sometimes Lightroom won’t select the most appropriate area – in this case you can click on the circle representing the sample and move it to a more suitable location.

Portrait retouching Lightroom

Click on a blemish with the Spot Removal tool (left). In this case Lightroom’s healing algorithm worked perfectly, but if it doesn’t then click on the circle representing the sampled area and move it to a location where the skin matches the tone and texture of the area to be healed (right).

Adjustment Brush adjustments

Now it’s time to look closely at the portrait and decide what other retouching is required. It’s important that you have already made the required adjustments to tone and contrast in the Basic panel before you get to this stage. Increasing Contrast and Clarity, for example, will emphasize skin texture, wrinkles and blemishes. On the other hand, you can move the Exposure or Highlights sliders right to brighten the skin, making wrinkles and skin texture less obvious. Retouching with the Adjustment Brush should be left until last, so you know what you’re working with.

I like to start with the area underneath the model’s eyes. The skin here is thinner than the rest of the face which is why people get dark patches there. There may also be wrinkles, and some people have a strong crease along the lower eyelid.

The idea is not to eliminate these completely (unless you’re going for the heavily retouched, airbrushed look) but to minimize them. They’re a natural part of the skin’s texture and it will look unnatural if they are not there.

Portrait retouching LightroomClick on the Adjustment Brush icon to activate it. Select the Soften Skin preset from the Effect menu. Lightroom sets Clarity to -100 and Sharpness to +25. Make sure Feather, Flow and Density are set to 100, use the square bracket keys on the keyboard to adjust the size of the brush and paint over the areas under the eyes. The Soften Skin preset blurs the area that you paint in with the brush.

If the effect is too strong, hover the mouse over the Adjustment Brush pin (a grey circle with a black dot in the middle) until a double arrow icon appears (below). Hold the left mouse button down and move the mouse left. Lightroom reduces the value of the Clarity and Sharpness sliders, effectively lessening the strength of the Soften Skin preset. Stop when it looks about right. You can also reduce shadows by moving the Shadows slider (in the Adjustment Brush sliders) to the right. Every portrait is different so you have to adjust the effect by eye.

Portrait retouching Lightroom

These are the results.

Portrait retouching Lightroom

A. Original, unretouched portrait.
B. Retouched, with Soften Skin preset at full strength.
C. Retouched, with strength of Soften Skin preset reduced and Shadows slider moved to the right (subtle difference only).

Enhancing eyes

You can also use the Adjustment Brush tool to enhance your model’s eyes. This is useful if the eyes are dark due to the lighting. Be careful of overdoing this effect as it may not look natural.

Click New at the top of the Adjustment Brush panel to create a new Adjustment Brush. Set Feather to around 50 and paint in the pupils of the model’s eyes. If you need to, press O (the letter) on the keyboard to see the masked area (it is displayed in red shown below).

Portrait retouching Lightroom

Now set Exposure to around 0.50 and Clarity to 30. The effect will vary depending on the colour of your model’s pupils and the amount of light on them. It’s a good idea to zoom out and look at the entire portrait to see if the effect is too strong. You can see this adjustment on the model’s eyes below, which I think is about right.

Portrait retouching Lightroom

You can make the effect stronger or weaker on your photo using the technique described above. Hover over the Adjustment Brush pin until the double arrow icon appears, move the mouse left to make the effect weaker, and right to make it stronger (you can also just drag the sliders one by one to change the settings)

The final step is to apply gentle skin softening to the rest of the face. Create another Adjustment Brush, set Feather to 100 and paint the entire face (use the O keyboard shortcut to display the red overlay). Then select Erase in the Adjustment brush panel, set Feather to 50 and erase the eyebrows, mouth and eyes. The idea is that you only want to soften the skin, not these parts of the face. It should look something like the mask below.

Portrait retouching Lightroom

Go to the Effect menu and select the Soften Skin preset. Press O to hide the mask overlay and you will see something like the screenshot below. Remember, this is the Soften Skin preset at maximum strength so it has a strong effect on the photo.

Portrait retouching Lightroom

Use the technique we learned earlier to reduce the strength of the effect. How far you go is up to you. I like to apply the Soften Skin preset subtly to retain as much skin texture as possible. Here’s the result with Clarity reduced to -20 and Sharpness to +5.

Portrait retouching Lightroom

This video shows how I retouched another portrait, using the Adjustment Brush tool to enhance the model’s eyes and facial hair.

I’ve only touched on the number of ways you can use Adjustment Brushes in Lightroom for portrait retouching. What techniques do you use? Please let us know in the comments.

The Mastering Lightroom Collection

Mastering Lightroom ebooksMy Mastering Lightroom ebooks will help you get the most out of Lightroom 4 and Lightroom 5. They cover every aspect of the software from the Library module through to creating beautiful images in the Develop module. Click the link to learn more or buy.

The post How to Retouch a Portrait with the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom by Andrew S. Gibson appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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