In May we published an article covering three of the most critical things your website should do well. The original post included several critical suggestions that could help improve your website but was, by no means, a definitive list. In this article we will expand on the first by adding three more items to the list.
Articles written by Ryan Cooper
It can be too easy to focus on giant light modifiers and expensive strobes as being where you should spend your money when optimizing your studio, but it can also be handy to consider some of the cheaper, less obvious, options that will help make your shoots go smoothly. In this article we take a look at five less common and cheap pieces of gear that can improve your next shoot.
As a society, we have a rather odd predilection against the act of doing something wrong by accident. As photographers, we often feel like even the smallest mistake is reason for self-condemnation. Not only are mistakes inevitable, they are also one of the most powerful tools that you have at your disposal.
So, you want to be a successful photographer? Or retoucher? Or art director? Or just about any other creative field imaginable? It is a treacherous road, ranging from emotional bliss to hopeless depression. Be prepared to battle the fiercest of foes with nothing more than obsessive determination and your arsenal of skills.
Getting started in photography is expensive. Sometimes frustratingly so. This expense tends to compound a bit if one has to pay professional models to build a portfolio. Fortunately, you don’t. Models also need to build a portfolio, so collaborating with photographers to create images becomes extremely valuable. TFP (time for print, or time for portfolio) has becomes a keystone of the beauty/fashion/glamor world.
Online creative marketplaces seem to pop up often. Most are laughable jokes that devalue creative work to the point of absurdity. They all seem to promise great things, in theory, but in practice they are just filled with potential clients looking for professional service for the price of a latte.
Buying used gear is always a balance between risk and potential reward. There is always a chance the lens will be defective in some way or another, but there is also the potential that you will get a perfect lens at a great price. When buying online, you are at the mercy of the seller, but when going out to buy used gear in person from local classifieds, there are several things you can do to decrease the chances of getting a lemon.
Creativity is the core building block of every great photographer. Those who know how to foster and stimulate the power of their creativity often can enjoy a tremendous boost in their work. Some methods such as listening to music or getting hammered are pretty common knowledge but there are also an endless collection of somewhat less orthodox methods that are also worth giving a whirl!
Gear, of course! Camera bodies and lenses galore! Nothing makes you a better photographer than dumping thousands of dollars on the latest technology! Right? No? Ok, I digress, I guess blowing all your hard earned (or borrowed) cash on the latest and seemingly greatest in camera equipment is probably about the least effective thing you can do to improve the quality of your work. So what SHOULD you be spending your money on then?
I’m often amazed by how many photographers don’t really know all that much about the technical aspects of operating their gear. While I’m not expecting everyone to go out and study how the mechanics of a lens works, I think it is utterly paramount when you are on a shoot that the actual act of operating your equipment to achieve a professional-quality image should be trivially easy so that you can focus on the more important aspects.
It has always driven me insane that I had to stock multiple sets of softboxes that are largely identical but designed for use with either studio strobes (of a specific brand) or speedlights (via some sort of proprietary bracket). I even jerry-rigged some disconcertingly terrifying setups over the years involving a few Justin Clamps to mount my speedlights onto speed rings. Unsurprisingly, things didn’t go very well. That is until I discovered Cheetah Stand’s Speed Pro MKII bracket, which is a hefty bracket specifically designed to help you mount a small flash into Bowens-style speed rings.
Photography is crazy hard to master. That difficulty becomes impossible when you start locking yourself behind walls of your own creation. Stop deluding yourself, those little restrictions that you keep using as crutches to excuse your lack of progress are only inhibiting your ability to grow. Shatter those internal lies so you can keep pushing your photography forward and become the photographer you dream of.
The morning of a shoot has arrived and you are running around frantically loading gear trying to make sure that you haven’t forgotten a lens, power cable, or battery that will be the key to making the shoot a success. In the haste of focusing on gear, it can be too easy to forget to load a few simple tools that can come to your rescue and make sure everyone is as happy as possible throughout the shoot.
Recently I was sent a YouTube video of an artist who spent a huge amount of time creating drawings using MS Paint. The end product was decent enough, even impressive if you consider the tool he was using, but if you were to eliminate knowledge of his method it would merely be a mediocre, unimpressive digital painting. How amazing could this guy’s work be if he didn’t arbitrarily limit himself? This is clearly an extremely talented artist that is limiting the quality of his work by stubbornly insisting on using an inefficient tool. Which, of course, got me to thinking about how as photographers, we have a tendency to do the exact same thing.
As beauty/fashion/glamour photographers the quality of our work is often largely driven by how well we can tell the story of an intimate moment within the frame. A big part of being able to do this is by building trust with the model to ensure that she feels safe throughout the entire shoot.
In Spring 2015, two photographers traveled to the rugged mountains of Iceland to collaborate with a pair of elite costume artists (cosplayers) to shoot some of fiction's most iconic characters in an unforgettable location. With only a piddly $180 in the “candy budget,” the team set out to plan 24 shoots over the course of 8 days.
The photography industry is beyond saturated. Everyone is clamoring for a tiny piece of the shrinking pie. Instead of battling for scraps, California-based photographer Hannah Ray is busy baking her own pie by crashing through the boundaries of conventional commercial photography.
Flare has become a huge part of modern photography for how it can add both depth and excitement to an image. Many of us have resorted to manually creating lighting effects using Photoshop or by layering pre-made textures above our photos. Red Giant, however, looks to replace and augment this rather tedious process with Knoll Light Factory.
We have all been there, that moment when your stomach slowly turns to drizzled mush as it discovers the harsh brutality of a critical comment. In a few short words your career, art, and passion is reduced to the strangling grip of failure. Receiving criticism is not for the faint of heart but with the right frame of mind you can get the most out of any critique, solicited or otherwise.
The critical value created when shooting a great portrait is tied to building impact that lasts. Psychologically, humans have evolved to take notice of sexually attractive people, focus on them briefly, then completely forget. This phenomena helps maximize genetic quality in a population but can also have an impact on how viewers remember your sexy photos.