In many of the world's cultures, the coming of a new year is celebrated as a time of renewal and reflection. It is a time to share with family and friends, a time to celebrate, and for some, a time of contemplation. Although it can be a hectic time for many of us, with so many preparations and celebrations, it is also a great time to look back. I encourage each of you to use this month to reflect on your art from the year to date.
Fstoppers Original Articles
Portrait and Wedding Photographer Jordan Voth joins me for this month's exclusive chat, in which I ask him about his signature move of taking clients out into some of the most beautifully scenic backdrops I've ever seen.
There are a zillion photographers out there, but there aren’t a zillion clients. How do you make your work stand out? Success comes when a client will book you because it's you and not because you are just another good photographer. In the process, having a recognizable style might also make you a happier photographer. But how can you get there?
Gnarly Bay, who I wrote about a few months back, have just released their latest film, “SPACE.” It's a film that explorers the idea of space, but not in the conventional sense. I spoke with Dan over at Gnarly Bay who talked about the inspiration for “SPACE” and how it took almost six years to complete this video, using footage that was shot back in 2009 when he first traveled with a DSLR through New Zealand with his then girlfriend, now wife.
Shopping season is upon us, but let’s not kid ourselves. This isn’t entirely about giving to family and friends. It’s also about the sweet savings that are about to fall upon all of that gear. You can practically smell the stench of GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) wafting off of the photography masses. Our greed for new stuff reeks like the belly of a ship hauling squid legs from Tokyo to New York in mid-August. Long after the turkey legs are wrapped in tin foil and the gelatinous blobs of cranberry sauce are sealed up in the freezer, the deals will emerge. It might be a new lens or a camera upgrade that has you breaking down the door of Best Buy or your local camera shop like some geeky, sweaty villager storming over the moat of his local lord’s keep, but just make sure you don’t waste your time on a new bag.
The world’s best photographers are defined by their styles. For example, you can instantly look at an image by Martin Schoeller or Annie Leibovitz and recognize what you’re seeing. Their work is distinctly theirs. I believe that a big part of a photographer's success lies in finding this style. It may not come easily to everyone, however.
Happy Thanksgiving! Of course, the die-hard dealmakers are busy planning for their Black Friday shopping lists, trying to find the best last-minute deals that less money can buy. From deals on prominent gear and photography business services, to those on accessories and computer equipment, we have a few deals rounded up from around the Internet for you. Take it or leave it, this is some of the best stuff you'll find tomorrow (and in some cases, through the weekend and Cyber Monday).
Every photographer wants to be creating their best work each time that they touch their camera, but the reality is that inspiration ebbs and flows. No photographer can consistently create their best work every time they shoot. As photographers, our goal is often to steadily improve by continually expanding our body of work. Sometimes, however, a shoot becomes magical as creativity and motivation climax into one of those images that you know will sit proudly in your portfolio for years to come.
The much sought-after and elusive Vimeo Staff Pick is a badge of honor and a surefire sign you are about to get a lot more views. There is no specific type of video that is chosen by Vimeo as a Staff Pick and trying to become one can seem overwhelming and almost impossible. There is no secret sauce to guarantee you will be featured as arguably one of the best videos on Vimeo, but there are a few areas to focus on to ensure you have the best chance.
Ok, the average Fstoppers.com reader probably could use a new DSLR (digital single lens reflex camera) for Christmas, but I'm not writing this for them. I'm writing this for the average husband, wife, high school, or college student who wants a DSLR for Christmas to "take better pictures." You people do not need a giant digital camera for Christmas.
Last week we had the Fstoppers community submit their best composite images for the latest episode of "Critique the Community." There were some awesome composite submissions, including a wide range of genres. We chose a total of 20 pictures for Lee and Patrick to give feedback on. Add your comments and ratings to the pictures below. If we selected your picture, we'd love to hear about how you did it.
Are you struggling to make it as a professional photographer? Here are the top five warning signs that your career is headed for failure, and how to overcome your own self-defeating habits.
Back in October I posted a portrait of myself that quickly became the most popular photo on my entire Facebook feed for 2015. The image was never meant to be anything other than a test shot for a few lenses we were reviewing but people kept asking how I created it. In this Fstoppers video, I will show you a common lighting setup every photographer should know and how you too can achieve this simple look with your clients.
As mirrorless cameras get better and better, the temptation to lose the weight and bulk of the DSLR is becoming very large for many photographers. Wedding photographers like V Opoku are opting for the smaller footprint of the Fujifilm X-Series, as is famed Music and Editorial Photographer Zack Arias. Humanitarian Photographer David DuChemin also has them in the mix, and much of his beautiful work in northern Kenya was shot on these small and light cameras. I have had a slightly tumultuous relationship with these cameras, but have come to love using them so much that I have found ways to work them from a toy for personal work into business.
Today we are launching a great deal on our Flash Disc light modifiers for those of you living in the European Union. If you add 3 Flash Discs to your Amazon Cart, you will get a special sale price for only 2 (basically buy 2 get 1 free). The Fstoppers Flash Disc is basically a small softbox that folds up and fits into your pocket. It's perfect for photographers on the go who need soft light without the hassle that comes with using a large softbox. As we mentioned before, selling the Flash Disc in Europe has been a huge pain in the butt and once our current inventory is sold out we will not be replenishing any more in the Amazon.co.uk store.
Today, anyone may call themselves a professional photographer and practice photography. There is no degree that validates the use of the term "pro." So, why do we feel the need to specify that? What does it show about the way we see our work and our competition? Let’s put things in perspective.
Social networks are a good way to advertise a photographer's work. Sometimes, with all the different platforms available, it becomes difficult to keep track of everything. Tools such as Hootsuite are great to make that easier. However, when it comes to Instagram, there aren't many solutions for scheduling and uploading photos from a computer. But there is at least one, and it works great.
To celebrate our newest video tutorial with Elia Locardi, “Photographing the World,” Fstoppers has teamed up with our friends at ViewBug to host a landscape photo contest for your most epic images. The contest will run until January 5 and one of the judges will be Elia himself. Whether you win or not, all participants will receive complimentary access to the first lesson of “Photographing the World” for free! See the contest details below.
Over the years, camera companies have been going head to head in the battle for the best camera sensor. This battle has always focused around the amount of megapixels a camera has to offer, and as of lately, how high the ISO can go. Because of this most consumers, including a significant amount of photography veterans, think that megapixel count is the end-all be-all of sensor technology, with ISO following up as a close second. At this point in the game though, I wish the sensor battle would switch gears and focus more on the dynamic range.
Tis the season to go splurge on fantastic photography odds and ends that you can stuff into colorfully wrapped boxes and give them out to all your favorite photographer friends! So get ready to whip out that credit card, even if you end up getting a few of the gifts for yourself!
[UPDATE: A winner has been chosen. Congratulations to Verginiya Yancheva for getting 48 upvotes for her image! Check out her winning image below.]
We are teaming up with Moleskine and MILK to give away one of their new Leather Albums (valued at $795), and YOU are all judges! Submit your images, and the Fstoppers Community will upvote their favorite image which they believe "belongs in an album." There are just two simple steps to enter!
Facebook has recently made it easy for users to create Instagram ads through their platform. For some time, Instagram has been one of the best avenues for photographers to reach potential clients and vendors that they would like to work with. With the ability for anyone - small and large businesses alike - to create sponsored Instagram posts directly through Facebook, it is now easier to reach a wider scope of potential clients.
I'll be the first to admit it: As a videographer, I'm a sucker for a prime lens. While I love the versatility of zooms, nothing has forced me to learn more about what I'm doing in the heat of the moment than using primes. However, I always find myself going back to the 28mm prime. It is my go-to lens in many situations and when it's not it's still in my kit always ready to go. There are a few reasons I love my 28mm and I think they may persuade you to give one a go.
If, like me, you've found your niche within photography and now shoot a lot of similar projects, it's easy to fall into the trap of sticking with what you know. Here are some of the things I find helpful in staying inspired when shooting portraits.
There is an innumerable amount of articles and tutorials teaching parts and pieces of retouching portraits. However, finding the ones with quality techniques and information can take days. Furthermore, there is no singular tutorial that teaches a complete set of methods to retouch portraits free of charge. Finding the right tutorials for each aspect of editing can become very time consuming. This article contains 5 years of research for achieving the greatest methods to retouch a portrait.
As creatives, we have to stay inspired, focused, and always be moving forward. Aside from focusing on creating beautiful, desirable work, if you want to survive doing what you love, you have to have a good business sense. For some of us, this comes naturally, for others it is a learning process. No matter what your experience with business is, you can always learn more. Between books, classes, and mentors, the options for learning are endless but between our personal lives, creating artwork, and what our budgets allow, the option aren't always as broad. Podcasts are an awesome, free way to learn about the business side of your craft. They can be informative, inspiring, and allow you to learn while you work. While there are tons of podcasts out there here are my top three favorite when it comes to the business side of photography.
A couple weeks ago, we asked the Fstoppers Community to submit their swimwear images for a special episode of "Critique the Community" with Dixie Dixon. Patrick met up with Dixie and went through 20 images of the submissions to give their thoughts on the quality of each image according to the Fstoppers rating system and how the images could be improved. Check out the image selection below and add your thoughts and ratings to the comments below.
Photoshop is a veritable spell book of amazing and seemingly mystical tools that empower any digital sorcerer with the potential for creating visual magic. Adobe has done a pretty great job over the years at adding in tons of optimization and shortcutting that can make for a more pleasant workflow. Unfortunately, they often treat these workflow enhancements like Easter eggs by not making them obvious at all. In this article we will go through a few hidden spells to help you optimize your Photoshop workflow.
I love taking ring shots. I usually take them during a slow time on the wedding day when there isn’t a lot going on. I have full control of where I put the ring, how I light it, how I pose it, and how I frame it. This leaves a ton of options to really get creative. So it confuses me when people just place the ring on a bouquet of flowers and call it done. These shots are not bad, but they are average. I already did an article on how to get away from the average ring shot, but I didn’t explain how to take one of my favorite ring shots. The ring silhouette.
Once in a while, despite our due diligence and training, we all end up in circumstances where we must handle a difficult situation. As a model with a wide range of experience, I have a large network of professional photographer friends and have seen first-hand how unprofessional my fellow models can be. Here are a few ways to handle a variety of sticky situations without compromising your reputation as a respectable industry professional.