how to tuesdays

How to Tuesday #34 - Learning Portrait photography sometimes starts with learning where and how to focus. by Zack Smith Photography

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As beginning photographers there's alot on our minds. Aside from going through our mental checklist of various Must Do's like:

How to Turn Camera On / How to Hold Camera Correct / Set Correct ISO / Where is  my Shutter Speed Wheel? / and the list goes on...

Sometimes it's the easiest factors of photography that escape us like - Where Do I Set My Focus? I think I can help in this department, so let's go through a few scenarios and break them down...

Where Do I set my Focus Point and which Focus Point do I use when photographing Portraits?

Most of the time, I mean 99.9% of the time, in portrait photography you will want to focus on the eyes of your subject. If they eyes are the stairway to the soul (as some may say) then you want your viewers to be looking directly into the eyes of your subject. If you have the ability to have your subject's eyes facing you then it will be easy to find the focus and lock in tight. 

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As  you see in my portrait of the lovely Jodi, my focus point is at her eyes. I deliberately set my Auto Focus Point at her eyes and set my Auto Focus there, then recomposed and snapped this shot. I was using my Paul C. Buff 60" octabank on her left side..and see that nice warm glowing hair light on her right side? Well that was the soft setting sun popping that warm glow for us! Two light set up...one artificial, and one natural. As you can see, photographing portraits at the Golden Hour in Louisiana is one of my favorite things to do!

How do I set my auto focus point for the eyes in my portrait photography?

In all cameras, we have the ability to get OFF of our Default Modes (these are modes of focus, ISO, and other features that come standard w/ the camera when we first turn it on) and customize our photographic experience. Keep in mind, when we first turn our cameras on, our Auto Focus default mode will be set on a "focus to nearest" feature, meaning the camera wants to focus on the "closest object". If our subjects are always the first thing we see in our compositions, this default feature would work perfect...but that's not always the case! In the terms of this How To Tuesday, we want to depart from the default setting, and go to the Single Point AF feature. In the Single Point AF we can move/toggle the focus point to the place we want our camera to focus...and in this case it's the EYES!

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In the above photo of Luke, you can see my how my multi point focus pattern lays over my full composition. Note the middle box is highlighted as that is my favorite focus point...but in this case I want to be able to utilize my focus points to find Luke's eye, then recompose the least amount of distance from Focus Point to Final Composition. This way I know I will be in focus no matter what aperture.

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I set my focus point to the box closest to his eye, then recompose, and shoot.

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Learning to properly auto focus during portraits will take some time, but you will learn!

This kind of technique doesn't come naturally for all photographers. Some of us hold our strengths in the creative aesthetic moments and we cringe when "another damn button" needs to be pressed or clicked to make our job easier. If you are a portrait photographer that doesn't want your subject's eyes to be in the middle of the frame every time, this is one feature you will need to learn! Practice! Practice! Practice! Practice your portrait photography on a tree, a house, a pet! Do whatever it takes to get comfortable so that you can utilize this feature as second nature!

If you think you'd like to learn how to use these tactics and much much more in a real life portrait setting, then you should check out my NEXT WORKSHOP - "Art of the Photographic Portrait" on August 20th in New Orleans, Louisiana.

How to Tuesday #24 Anatomy of a Commercial Shoot : Behind the Scenes with St. Charles Vision by Zack Smith Photography

I really do love a good creative collaboration. In the last few years I have had the opportunity to work with so many talented local creative industries, businesses, and individuals that I look at every working opportunity now as a collaboration and not just a job. When I am hired for a photoshoot I want to know what my client is thinking short term and long term. I want to know the deliverables will "feel" to them when the images are done and placed in an ad, on a website, or a brochure. Knowing how to use a camera and showing up with a bunch of lights is such a small part of the equation of a commercial portrait shoot.

Yes we do bring out all the gear for just a head shot! Curving & Carving Light! ©Zack Smith

Yes we do bring out all the gear for just a head shot! Curving & Carving Light! ©Zack Smith

I recently had the privilege of working again with New Orleans based St. Charles Vision and their Director of Marketing and Operations, Matt Rosenthal on a very exciting project. Matt and I met multiple times in person to discuss the finer details of what they were looking for. We discussed the overall goals of the campaign, backgrounds, lighting aesthetics and looked at examples of portraits that myself and other photographers had done for inspiration. I spent a day photographing some friends in my studio to get some lighting ratios and schemes for Matt to look at...even collaborated with my pals at Flavor Paper and Sarah and Alex for some mood board background ideas...

I really loved the fact that Matt and I talked about once a week, checking in on his model selections, lighting ideas and day of shoot schedule. I assembled an amazing crew consisting of two lighting assistants and a digital tech which we used to import the images directly into Lightroom so the client could view in real time. There really is nothing like tethering to Lightroom so the client doesn't have to look over your shoulder every shot. You really do feel like everyone is in on the creative process! We even created a custom Preset Edit for the images so the client could view the edits I would be doing later!

A Little Bit about Tethering Your Camera to your Computer

Tethering is very easy. Getting a long enough cord will help you spread out your work station and give you room between the camera and the computer. You want to have the freedom of space around your camera to help you compose and work with the model, and you want the computer in it's own world so that the client and the digital tech can talk and edit without disrupting the flow of the shoot. I use Lightroom, and there is an easy drop down menu that says "Start Tethered Capture", and you can get going. You can also tether capture in Bridge, Capture One, and other programs...Stay tuned for a future How To Tuesday on Tethering!

Behind the Scenes at NOLA Spaces

I chose to work with the wonderful NOLA Spaces again for many reasons. NOLA Spaces has great hourly room rates, window light, large open rooms, wifi, surround sound, and are always great to work with! I hired Susan Spaid for Hair and Makeup and she was wonderful working with our super talented New Orleans movers and shakers...T. Cole Newton (12 Mile Limit), Tarronia Ball (Tank of Tank and the Bangas), Lu Brow (Swizzle Stick Bar and Brennan's), and Brent Houzenga (Artist).

Tech Specs of our Lighting Setup - Trusty and Lightweight Paul C. Buff

The great thing about doing light tests prior to a big shoot day is that you can arrive on site and already have a solid game plan of how you are going to light your portrait. Sometimes you can't do early testing, but If you can I highly recommend it.

Our KEY light was a 1600 Paul C. Buff White Lightning with a 60" Octabox softbox. Our background was a "Fashion Grey" seamless lit by a 800 Alien Bee with a 10"x36" stripbox. We had ad 1600 White Lightning with a 30º grid for our hair light/rim light and a large 5 in 1 reflector on the white side bouncing light in the left hand side of the model. We also had a 4'x4' diffuser panel directly under the subject. We wanted to soften the light under the chin but also leave a little contrast there for the face.

The Hair Light was set at 2 stops above the Key Light so that it is almost over exposing the skin. The purpose of the Hair Light is to create contrast which allows the subject to feel like it's popping out of the background. 

For example: If the Key light metered at f8 @ 1/125 at ISO 100, then you would want your Hair Light to meter at f16. This means in order to get the Middle Grey exposure of light from the Hair Light you would need to be at f16. But since your camera is set at f8 (or near it) due to the Key Light..then the Hair light is 2 stops brighter....get it?

Sorry! You'll have to wait till next week for the final shots!!

Sorry! You'll have to wait till next week for the final shots!!

You'll have to wait till next week to see the final ads for St. Charles vision! Stay tuned to this blog for the final selects..in the mean time - get out there and shoot! experiment! have fun!

 

 

How To Tuesday #23 How To Create a Quick Logo Watermark In Photoshop by Zack Smith Photography

In today's How To Tuesday Photography Techniques and Tips, I will show you a very quick way to create a logo watermark in photoshop that you can use for any photo, any time. There are many ways to create a watermark and I find this the easiest.

Why Watermark Your Photos?

With the influx of new social media and sharing platforms that demand our photos constantly (and our precious time!) we want to make sure our images are out there in the world promoting our business but always remind folks where it came from. Even though most sites only require low resolution upload sizes, we are not setting a good precedent by putting our hard earned art out there without any way to identify it. Although it is the safest practice, some online publications and blogs require that you do NOT watermark your images. In this case, making sure that your images are enriched with identifying and clear Metadata within the file, and your file name has your name or business name in it. 

Go ahead, watch the video!

 

 

How to Shop for the Best Tripod and Head in this week's How To Tuesday Photo Techniques and Tips by Zack Smith Photography

WHY IS A TRIPOD IMPORTANT?

Tripods are undoubtedly important and are used in every type of photography, no matter if it is professional photography, or photographing scenery. If you've never used a tripod before, it may be a great thing to start doing. Many photographers don't realize the benefits of a tripod and choose to shoot in hand. Here are some of the reasons tripods are important to nailing your shot:

1.     Tripods help composition and horizon lines. When you compose a scene while shooting in hand, you compromise your shot each time you lower your camera to give direction or realign your subject. To avoid that, you can use a tripod so you can just step away from the camera and come back to the same frame you started with.

2.     Tripods keep your camera shot straight. How frustrating is it when you line up a shot, but a slight movement of the wind or your hand causes you to shift you shot. You come out with a photo that is either blurry from motion, or one that is crooked. Sure, you can fix that in editing, but cropping your image almost always results in losing other parts of your shot. Instead, try using a tripod to keep your angle straight on.

3.     Tripods reduce motion blur and vibration. This is a strange comparison, but it works just the same. Snippers often hold their breath when taking a shot because even the slightest motion can change where their shot lands. This is similar with cameras, only slight movement can compromise your shot's clarity. Image stabilizing with tripods is commonplace in the world of photography. It is always better to use a tripod than to return to edit your image to find one or more blurry spots on your shot, making them unusable.

4.     Tripods are great for time lapse photography. Are you looking to take a photo of an apple rotting, or maybe a flower blooming. Using an untouched tripod is great for this. If you don't use this, lining up your shot exactly the same will be impossible.

5.     Tripods are perfect for getting angles you can't otherwise reach naturally. With the aid of a shutter release button, you can use a tripod to get a perspective that can't normally get. This includes shooting subjects from a height taller than yourself, or macro photography where you can position your camera almost on ground level.

Not all tripods are created equally so how do you find the tripod that is best for you?

Besides getting to handle every tripod known to man, it's hard to get a grasp on how tripods work and how you can integrate them into your photography. I hope I can shed a little light on the subject by giving you some reasons why you absolutely need a tripod, then share some insight on which ones I like the best.

Why Do I Need a Tripod for Photography?

New Olreans' French Quarter after a rain, there's nothing like it!

New Olreans' French Quarter after a rain, there's nothing like it!

That's more like it....read why below!

That's more like it....read why below!

I probably don't need to tell you which image above I used a tripod on? You guess it, NOT the image on the left! If you are moving quickly and grabbing shots as you go, you may not be concerned with your composition as much as you are the content. But keep in mind, the more you have to correct your crooked horizon later in post, the more you will lose valuable resolution and "flow" in your image! Take your time and value every detail of your composition so that you are not 'fixing' it later!

Tripods Help Composition and Horizon Lines

I know they are bulky, get in the way, and are heavy, but tripods when used properly can help you lock down your composition and let you take it all in. Each time you compose an image without a tripod, you are changing your composition every so slightly when you Review and Playback your image. Why change every shot when you can lock down the background and direct your action?!

Tripods Help Reduce Vibration of your Camera

Tripods are great at helping me keep my camera shake down when shooting slow shutter speeds or very small apertures (f16 on up). It is important to know when we are shooting long exposure night photography we need to lock our backgrounds down so that there is no movement. Doing this allows there to be a fixed point of focus for the viewer, and a reliable background for our "subject" to move around. We will learn alot about how to integrate our tripods into the action in my upcoming "How to Photograph Fireworks" Photography Workshop!

GETTING A-HEAD....

Bogen 3001N legs + head..but get the MHXPRO-BHQ2 XPRO it's much better!

Bogen 3001N legs + head..but get the MHXPRO-BHQ2 XPRO it's much better!

a weathered Bogen #3047 w/ quick plate. This one's for my large format 4x5 Cambo

a weathered Bogen #3047 w/ quick plate. This one's for my large format 4x5 Cambo

Keep in mind each head comes with it's own proprietary quick release plate that attaches to the camera so you can easily snap off the camera and snap it back on. As you can see, there are many different tripod heads to choose from...and this isn't the half of it! I like these "knob" style heads so that it is easy to adjust without having to look at the head. The 410 Junior is my favorite for making fine tune adjustments to a composition. You only need to spin those knobs ever so slightly and the tripod head begins to pivot, tilt, or pan your camera. This head is great for macro photography as well as landscape photography and any time your subject is not moving. The Manfrotto 804-RC2 and the 3047 are very similar (and I am sure have updated models available) in that each has a quick release plate and large grip handles to pivot, tilt, or pan your camera. I like these models when my subject is moving (portraits) and where I land w/ the composition is not as important as macro or landscape.

THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO BUYING A TRIPOD

Tripods hold a lot of importance to photographer, but sometimes it can be hard to understand how it works and how to include them in your creative process.

The tripod dates back hundreds of years and has been used for cooking vessels, altars, ornaments, and decorative ceramic pottery. Because of the difficulty of choosing and using a tripod, this near-ancient creation is sometimes scarcely used by some photographers.

In this complete guide on how to buy a tripod, you will learn why a tripod is important to include in your photographer's arsenal, the parts of a tripod and what each one does, and some of the best tripods available and where to buy them. While this guide specifically addresses tripods for DSLR cameras, a lot of this information can be used to find tripods for whatever type of camera you have or are looking to purchase.

PARTS AND FUNCTIONS OF A TRIPOD

Just like people, tripods have parts from their heads to their toes. Here is a list of the top to bottom parts of a tripod and what each of those parts do:

1.     Head: This is the piece of the tripod that your camera directly rests on. In most cases, this part comes with a removable plate. You would remove the plate, screw it onto your camera, and then return it to the rest of the head. There are two main types of heads: the ball head and the three-way head. The ball head uses a ball assembly that comes with a button that allows users to quickly lock or release the head. The three-way head allows for more movement and gives you the option to control and level the camera.

Manfrotto 410 Junior Gear Head. I used this for table top macro and my bayou scenes.

Manfrotto 410 Junior Gear Head. I used this for table top macro and my bayou scenes.

Manfrotto 804-RC2 - my workhorse, been with me for many years!

Manfrotto 804-RC2 - my workhorse, been with me for many years!

2.     Center column and twist lock: Pretty much every tripod has these. The center column generally includes an attachment that connects the three legs of the tripod. The center column twist lock locks the center column in place to keep the tripod nice and balanced. Many center columns also have a leveler built in so you can be sure that your camera is as level as possible before you go to shoot your scene or subject.

These were similar legs to my first tripod..I'll NEVER get this kind again!

These were similar legs to my first tripod..I'll NEVER get this kind again!

3.     Legs: This is the part that puts the tri in tripod. Tripods have three legs that are height adjustable, allowing you to set your camera up to your custom height. Leg locks help with this as well, locking your tripod's legs in the place you want them. Many tripods now have features that allow them to fold the legs to convert the tripod to a monopod which can be useful to photograph things you don't necessarily need stability for.

...get legs and know how to use them!

The most frustrating thing about learning my tripod was getting used to the release mechanism on the legs. All tripods have legs that release to shorten, or lengthen each leg. When I given my first tripod I was reluctant to use it just because the legs were so hard to release...it was those "spin and tighten" kind...

I soon found out there were more ways to let your legs down. I found out there were many ways to spin, click, and flip my way to longer legs and locked down shots. Being drawn into the world of Manfrotto, (check out their great FB page!) I was blown away by how many choices they have for locking your next award winning composition down. You can spend some serious money (worth it) on a Carbon Fiber Tripod or save some dough on a more beginner model that is a bit heavier and not as indestructible. Either way...with a tripod you are on your way to being a better photographer. I would highly recommend getting the best on your first go-round - go for the Carbon Fiber and match it with the right head for what you do. You want solid excellence in stability under your camera.

Flip knobs!

Flip knobs!

Im a big fan of the "quick power lock" 

Im a big fan of the "quick power lock" 

Knobs that spin....

Knobs that spin....

Love that simplicity....

Love that simplicity....

4.     Feet: If you've ever had the foot of your tripod brake off, you know how essential the feet are. Your tripod's feet keep it stable and level. The feet of a tripod can sometimes be converted into spikes that can stick into the ground.

TRIPODS ON THE MARKET

Now that you know the parts of the tripod, you are probably wondering what tripods are on the market. Be sure to figure out what you want in your tripod and what you are using it for. To give you a starting point, you can check out some highly-rated tripods available for purchase on out on the internet. I have listed a few of my favorite!

1.     BONFOTO Aluminum Camera Tripod: This compact and sturdy tripod comes with a ball head assembly and is perfect for travelers who need to pack up the camera a lot. Available for about $68 on Amazon, the tripod comes with a carrying bag, an Allen key, a head bag, and a backup quick release plate.

2.     Vanguard VEP Aluminum Travel Tripod: This tripod is great for balance with its strong stainless-steel flip leg logs and adjustable tension technology. For around $120, this tripod includes feet that can be converted from rubber to spikes to keep it firmly rooted in your scene's rough terrain.

3.     MeFOTO Classic Carbon Fiber Globetrotter Travel Tripod: On the pricier end, this tripod costs more than $340. What makes this unique is the 360-degree panning features. In addition, the tripod legs can be folded to make it small enough to carry just anywhere. The price includes a carrying case and a five-year warranty.

4.     Vanguard Alta Pro: This tripod costs about $170 and includes magnesium die-cast canopy, non-slip, spiked rubber feet, removable hook for camera accessories, and quick-flip leg locks. This comes with a carrying case and has a max height of 70 inches.

Many purchasers commented that this tripod is great for studio work, or for those who don't travel often as it is substantially heavier than most traveling tripods.

5.     Albott DSLR Portable Tripod: For about $45, you can have this tripod along with a carry handle, foam grips, and a center column hook for hanging additional accessories to add weight to the tripod. The tripod also converts to a 5-section monopod.

CONCLUSION

So, no matter if you're looking for a tripod to take with you on trips around the world, or just looking for an additional tripod for your studio work, I hope this guide has helped you. Just as a helpful tip: be sure to read the reviews posted by fellow photographers. Odds are, if they weren't happy with the tripod, you won't be either. Don't be afraid to look in store as well, and consult blogs by photographers who have tested out these tripods.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Easy Portrait Photography Tips to help you Connect With Your Subjects! How To Tuesday #19! by Zack Smith Photography

You could be photographing a CEO's headshot or your own family Christmas photo, by connecting with your subject on a deeper level it will always result in a more powerful portrait.

Whether I am photographing a business person, a musician, or a family of six, I am always faced with the duty of making the best photographs of them that they will be happy with while still being creative. Over the last 15 years photographing people in the loudest most awkward situations to the subtle and quiet intimate times, there are a few techniques and practices I use to make sure I am confident in my approach and that my subjects react to me in the most natural way possible. 

Artist Melissa Bonin with one of her paintings at Lake Martin, Louisiana in 2015. Through many days of research and conversations we knew we had to be at the lake one hour before sunrise to be setup and ready for the magic of the morning 'golden hour'.

Artist Melissa Bonin with one of her paintings at Lake Martin, Louisiana in 2015. Through many days of research and conversations we knew we had to be at the lake one hour before sunrise to be setup and ready for the magic of the morning 'golden hour'.

1. Do Your Homework and Know Your Subject

Anytime I am about to photograph someone, I always do my research on them beforehand. Even if it's only to review what the shoot is about and why we are heading out to a remote swamp (yes!), it always helps me to get my mind and intentions focused on my subject and the story. I like to research my subject's likes and dislikes, review their latest album if it's a musician, or even request mixed songs from the album cover we are shooting the next day. I always like to have topics to talk about with my subject so that we can establish a rapport and maybe even a friendship along the way.

2.  Prepare to K.I.S.S. and Make it Count

Hey now! By reviewing your gear the night before and detailing your intention behind your shoot, you will know what gear to bring and what to leave behind...Keep It Simple Stupid! When I only bring the gear I need for a particular shoot, I can manage my conversations with my subject much easier and not worry about the hassle of gear I will need. I find that when I am able connect with my subject and not be concerned too much about light modifiers and stands, we can both find a place that is collaborative and comfortable much faster! QUICK TIP: If you don't feel comfortable yet with a new light you just bought, don't bring it until you can change it's settings with your eyes closed. Just because you got some new gear and are chomping at the bit to use it and impress the new big client, doesn't mean you need to bring it out right away.

Washboard Chaz photographed at Chaz Fest in 2010. I used 1 camera, 1 lens. No lights no nothing. I made it easy and comfortable amidst a loud music festival!

Washboard Chaz photographed at Chaz Fest in 2010. I used 1 camera, 1 lens. No lights no nothing. I made it easy and comfortable amidst a loud music festival!

3. Shoot with Intention and Have a Goal in Mind

I always make a point to meet with my subjects in person before our shoot. If all my subject has time for is a phone call, I'll take that as a great opportunity to talk with them about Why we are shooting, Where the images will go, Where we are going , and How I want to make this photograph the best thing they have seen. Detailing my intention and sharing ideas on photographic techniques I have to meet their goals, I have begun a unique collaborative environment that has already started to build a relationship. 

4. Bring a Familiar Face and Familiar Place

Having your subject bring a friend join the photo shoot can create a comfortable support system for your subject if you feel there may be some nerves present when the big shoot day happens. I like to always review our location together so that if we need some privacy and less of a public place, we can easily find that at the last minute if need be. 

5. Most Importantly - Have Fun

If you really do enjoy what you do as a photographer it should be present in the way you walk, talk, and hold the camera. Make a new friend, experience life through a strangers eyes and practice empathy! Do these things before you put that camera in between your face and theirs and I guarantee a level of comfort and trust will begin to emerge in your work, and thusly in your subjects eyes and pose!

I've been shooting musician  Luke Winslow-King  for a few years now and we have a comfortable rapport. This image above is from our first shoot together and by following these tips...we were able to get some great shots and start a great relationship of creative collaborating!

I've been shooting musician Luke Winslow-King for a few years now and we have a comfortable rapport. This image above is from our first shoot together and by following these tips...we were able to get some great shots and start a great relationship of creative collaborating!




Learn how to Photograph a Silhouette and more in this week's Photography Techniques and Tips - HOW TO TUESDAY #18 by Zack Smith Photography

Learn How to Photograph a Silhouette Portrait in any situation!

I have to say, this last week was a great week for Acadiana area artists. Being from Lafayette and living and working in New Orleans, I love when I get to work with Cajun and Zydeco artists in any way shape or form. I recently got to work one artist from Lafayette that I've been photographing for quite a while. 

Anthony Dopsie and the Jazz Fest Silhouette

After shooting as one of the staff photographers for The Jazz and Heritage Festival for 7 years, I have amassed an impressive archive of festival photography. In addition to doing my duty for the festival and getting the shots required to tell the story of the music, food, and fun - I make sure I get photos that I can use for later. I make sure I photograph my friends hanging out in the crowd, I do well lit backstage portraits of musicians, friends and strangers. One aside to this story, most young photographers are always asking me "can you get on stage?" as if being on stage you get the 'best' shots. I always tell them that you are more limited from the stage than anywhere else, and the best shot would be "15 feet in the air, in the middle of the crowd". It's funny, but kind of true.

There are a few moments when being on stage can really help you: The Backlit Over Exposed Crowd Musician Portrait. Say what!? One of my favorite stages to shoot is the Fais Do Do Stage, mainly because I love the music on that stage (mostly Cajun and Zydeco) but you can get some great silhouette photos (SEE the NEW Gallery) of the musicians since the crowd has more light on them than the stage. The best way to describe what a silhouette is when you set your exposure for a brighter background then the subject that is in front of it. If the subject is in a darker area, then it will be rendered as a silhouette.

I recently was contacted by the Louisiana Office of Tourism as they were looking for a silhouette or partially silhouetted musician playing at a non-descript music festival. Knowing that I had tons of this, I went straight to my Jazz Fest archives and looked up all the Cajun and Zydeco bands I photographed. I usually always get on stage when Rockin' Dopsie and the Zydeco Twisters play because of the ongoing relationship I have with them. Any time they see me shooting, I always get direct engagement, especially from accordion player Anthony Dopsie. I found one shot from a few years back of the PERFECT silhouette of Anthony, sent it to the agency working for the client and they loved it. The photograph ended up being used in their ad "Come for a Feast - Stay for a Fest"

Anthony was super excited as was I. As you see in the photo above, I exposed for the crowd in the back meaning I wanted the crowd to dictate what my shutter speed and aperture were, and just let my subject (Anthony) fall where it may knowing it would be underexposed. My exposure here was:

In this case of wanting a silhouette I could not set my camera on a Priority Exposure Mode like Aperture or Shutter Priority. Using Manual Exposure (always!) I can use my Spot Meter to read the light from the background to begin my exposure. I set my aperture at 2.8 so that the crowd would only be recognizable as a soft mass of people as I didn't want the viewers eye to go there. Once I set my aperture at 2.8, I read the Spot Meter and I could then bring my shutter speed to 1/800 which gave me the exposure I wanted which was had the Meter reading "0" or right at 2/3 of a stop below. Having my ISO low at 320 enabled me to crop the image without losing much detail. Here's the original image before the crop:

It was great working with the Louisiana Office of Tourism to help promote the greatest things about Louisiana! Food, Music, and Acadiana! Allons a Lafayette! 

How to use the Healing Brush and Clone Stamp Tool in Photoshop to clean up your images : How To Tuesday #17 by Zack Smith Photography

I am super excited to debut a new format for How To Tuesday : The Video Tutorial. Bare with me in the early stages of this new way of teaching, I may run a little long winded here and there but it's great information!

Today we will go "behind the scenes" on some of my favorite New Orleans festival photographs and show you how to use the Healing Brush and Clone Stamp tools in Photoshop to clean up and get your images ready for web or print. Enjoy!




Want to Improve Your Instagram Photography ? Instagram Tips for Photographers and First Timers! by Zack Smith Photography

Let's connect now - CLICK to Follow Me on IG!

Let's connect now - CLICK to Follow Me on IG!

https://www.instagram.com/zacksmith_photography/ - Get These Tips and More on my Instagram Feed! Let's Connect! 

I am sure by now you have all heard of Instagram. Photographers, if you are not on Instagram right now, that progress bar on your App download of Instagram should be inching closer to OPEN right NOW! Wether you use Instagram or not, you can't deny that it is the fastest growing photo sharing community out there. As of September 2015, Instagram has racked up over 400 million users surpassing Twitter (Source: CNBC), and is gaining steadily. The app has evolved over recent months from only showing your "square cropped" images to allowing 3rd party layout systems to integrate your natural rectangle compositions, collages, and multi-panel grid mosaics. Along with being able to write (not limited by characters like Twitter) about each photo, use hashtags, and Tag other photographers, Instagram is a must-have for photographers and visual story tellers who want to use the App as their "digital wall" and expand their online community. 

New "Layouts" 3rd Party App for Instagram!

New "Layouts" 3rd Party App for Instagram!

I was urged to join Instagram by my good pal Stirling Barrett over at Krewe du Optic ("dude, you're NOT ON INSTAGRAM?!), being the marketing guru Stirling is, it didn't take me too long to realize the engagement power of this wonderful app. 170 Weeks and 754 posts later, I am now able to update my followers/friends on my photography projects, my "How To Tuesday" blog, Behind the Scenes from shoots, and just about any cool life-event I care to post to my favorite Digital Wall. I want you to keep thinking of it as a Digital Wall...like the wall at your home or at a gallery, you only put up your BEST WORK. I hope these Tips to Improve Your Instagram Photography will do just that...

1. JOINING INSTAGRAM

If you are already on Instagram, skip to the next step. If you are ready to download, there are a few key points I'd like to share to make your experience worthwhile. When you first join, use one of your main email addresses so that you can easily login, change your settings, and authorize the App. You can also easily start multiple Instagram accounts but you will have to use other email addresses. Choose a User Name that says something about you, one of your main projects, or something fun you will remember. Adding your website in the "Link in Profile" will allow your friends and followers to hyperlink to your website or anywhere you'd like to take them. This is a great way to bring potential clients and friends to your "home" or wherever your customized photography experience (or pitch) can continue. Think of Instagram as just another pathway to your website! Make sue you don't click PRIVATE ACCOUNT if you want people to see your work!

2. HAVE FUN BUT BE SELECTIVE

Before you go off posting random shots of your burnt toast, breakfast, and the tips of your shoes all day...make a plan of how you want your Instagram Gallery to look to the viewer. If you want their experience to be a hodgpodge of images from your life, so be it. I like to use Instagram as a more calculated view of my many experiences in photography. I really to think about how the image will look when posted, what I can write about, and if two, or even three photos could tell the story better than just one. SHOOT FOR THE WALL!

3. COMPOSITION IS KING!

Photo using Converging Lines to lead the eye

Photo using Converging Lines to lead the eye

Using Rule of Thirds to simplify your Horizons!

Using Rule of Thirds to simplify your Horizons!

Leading Lines all over the CBD in New Orleans!

Leading Lines all over the CBD in New Orleans!

All the rules you learned with your DSLR or point and shoot remain the same. Converging Lines/Leading Lines, Rule of Thirds, Negative Space - all apply here. If you take the time to set your horizons straight, watch your backgrounds and always have a subject...you're on your way to Instagram Glory!

4. KNOW THE BEST TIMES TO SHOOT

It doesn't matter what kind of phone you are using Instagram with, if you are composing photos from in-phone you must have GOOD LIGHT. Always have the sun AT YOUR BACK, meaning the sun is shining from behind you and illuminating where you are pointing the phone/camera. The more even the light is on your subject and background the better the photos will be. Shooting during the GOLDEN HOUR (see my most recent gallery!) with the sun setting low will get you some beautiful warm tones and even light over your scene. Harsh overhead mid-day sun will still produce hard shadows and squinting subjects. 

5. EDITING FILTERS In-APP and THIRD PARTY EDITING APPS

2 Images put together in the PhotoBlender app

2 Images put together in the PhotoBlender app

2 Images put together in the PhotoBlender app

2 Images put together in the PhotoBlender app

Soft Focus, and Vignette filter in Instagram App

Soft Focus, and Vignette filter in Instagram App

Once you've gotten a good composition and pressed the blue shutter button, your app gives you some handy editing options. Below you will see some FILTERS from "Clarendon" to "Moon" and others. If you click one, it sets that pre-set color, contrast and vignette on your photo. You can scroll all the way to right and MANAGE your Filters and even add new ones! Pressing the middle button "FLUX" in your Instagram editing screen will adjust contrast. With the small WRENCH tool on the right you can open a whole new set of Fine Tune editing features like: Adjust, Brightness, Contrast, Vignette, and more...experiment and have fun!

++ You can also download some great 3rd party editing apps to breath new life into your images if you get tired of the Instagram presets. Some of my favorites are:

- Snapseed, PhotoBlender, PhotoCandy, Edit.Lab, Cinemagraph, iWatermark, and Lightroom. 

6. UPLOAD FROM OTHER CAMERAS

WiFi connected cameras make it so easy to shoot with your DSLR or fancy point and shoot then easily upload to your phone, and then Instagram! I do this alot when I am shooting with my Canon 6D and my Canon G7x. I like to be able to use any lens or exposure setting I can dream of and not be limited by my iPhone lenses and exposure shortcomings. Once you get the image saved in your camera, you can then use your Instagram filters and 3rd party apps to enhance your photos even more!

7. CONNECTED ACCOUNTS TO STAY CONNECTED

The SHARE button can bring you to other Apps

The SHARE button can bring you to other Apps

You can easily connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts to your Instagram feed and share directly to those accounts. This is a fast and easy way to let your friends on your other accounts know that you have something cool going on at your NEW Instagram account! Professional photographers like this feature so that they don't have to share the same photo three times on all of their accounts and can just click SHARE, and voila!

8. HASHTAGS AND CONNECTIVITY

If you don't quite fully understand what "hashtags" are..don't be embarrassed - none of us knew at some point. Now we know, and there you go. Using unique and both popular hashtags (all you do is press the # symbol before a word in your photo description) allows whatever app you are using (Twitter, Facebook etc) to collect and aggregate these tags and the photos they are associated with to one place for a collection. Unique hashtags allow you to locate images along the Instagram's history and you can just type in .... #neworleans and see what comes up. Giving your images descriptor hashtags can help others interested in what you do an easy way to find you..THUS helping you create a larger community. The more tools we have to connect us with other like minded or interesting image makers the better! We can all learn from each other and share our experiences through these applications. Join my Instagram feed to see how I use Hashtags!

These are just a few tips to help you get started or improve your use of the wonderful Instagram app. The key word here is CONNECTIVITY...this app allows us to connect to others with our images. The image is paramount, the image is king. It's on the WALL to look at for a reason! GET OUT THERE AND SHOOT FOR THE WALL!

February 2nd, 2016

Zack

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Tuesday #14 Our Guest Blogger Blake Haney Talks Creative Collaboration! by Zack Smith Photography


As photographers and imaging artists know, the word "workflow" can mean many things. Workflow for me is an evolving process of how I see my world and I how I relate the story to it's medium. There are so many ways to tell a story, and now with the increasing number of social media platforms; an endless amount of ways to show it. These are good problems to have as visual storytellers and I look forward to the new ways to share the world around me with each new online community.

My new workflow includes my understanding these new communities. I have to continually be aware of how these communities see, listen, and follow content. In learning how each community ingests images and stories, I see the components of my storytelling change...for example: I will compose each scene differently in my head to fit the the end medium. Images for Twitter may not be suitable for the way Instagram is laid out and.Facebook requires and allows more words to flesh out a story. These are things I am constantly thinking about....more on that later.

For the first time on my photography blog I am featuring a guest blogger. It's time for some fresh legs in this race, and some new eyes on this composition! Not only is Blake Haney an outstanding member of the local creative community, he has been a collaborator of mine for the last 15 years. I have learned so much from his insights on art, design, and community that I think his message is suitable for this week's HOW TO TUESDAY. 

Blake does many things...but as Creative Director of the Canary Collective, Blake's actual JOB is to offer ideas, creative execution and the tools his clients need to launch, revamp, and sustain healthy brands and growing communities. There's that word again, community! OK! let's let Blake talk...

Image from Blakes Twitter Account - @humidhaney

The opportunities for a photographer, like all visual artists, has increased over the past few years as new mediums for expression and story telling have entered the main stream. With the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, the landscape changed dramatically while the introduction of social media and the obsession of the image has become part of our mainstream culture.

These new tools are a double edged sword for the photographer. Used the right way, a photographer can connect with a much larger audience in ways that never existed just a few years ago. Yet with the smart phones, there now exists a mindset that anyone can be a photographer and anyone can freely express and share their images. The same goes for music, therefore, it has never been so easy to share your work and ideas with the world. One problem is that this world is now inundated with so many choice vying for our attention. Your work can be discovered by the world for almost no cost but there is a hidden cost. The work has the high potential to be lost in all the noise that fights for our attention.

If I were to give advice to a photographer, it would be to collaborate with others and offer your imagery to a writer or writers to help produce stories. Two online outlets I would recommend are medium.com and Exposure.co.

With each site there is a very intuitive editor to allow you to present your content without the clutter and noise of a template or surrounding advertising platform to distract the viewer. Each has a built in audience that appreciates quality work. Use them to post your images and share your insights and ideas. You can explain how it was shot, where, the equipment, the reasoning, and why it spoke to you...

1.     Be transparent in the process.

2.     Educate the public through your work.

3.     Work with an illustrator and writer to help spin a tale with your images.

4.     Collaborate on a story about a mood, place, event or person. Watch as those you work with take your work and add a new dimension!

5.     Spread the work via the free channels online and give everyone their credit.

6.     Use the shared audience and communities of all those you work with and respect. Watch as your work and name are engaged with and hopefully amplified by those that respect your work.

Blake Haney

Creative Director – The Canary Collective ,  Dirty Coast, and Locally.com

January 26th, 2016

Remember to click on the BLOG RSS feed to get these updates before anyone else! Photography techniques and tips, philosophies and best practices..all up in your FEED. Yum.

 

How to tuesday #12 - How you can keep Shooting for the Wall! Top Blogging Platforms that can help you share your work by Zack Smith Photography

If you've ever taken a class from me via the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts or one of my photography workshops, you have most likely heard me say "Shoot for the Wall". These three words have been fueling my inspiration for photography since my early days and since then I have made them my philosophy.

Full frame composition from my recent location scout in Baton Rouge

Full frame composition from my recent location scout in Baton Rouge

The meaning is simple: Since the early days of photography and visual storytelling we have put only our most treasured memories and moments displayed on our walls. The wall contains our most loved family members, our proudest moments, and our visual storyline. So if we only put our best stuff on the wall, why not approach every composition and photography as if it were a front runner to be on that wall?

Shoot For the Wall is a way of life and a way of seeing. Ultimately it is a way of slowing down and breathing in the creative moment and exhaling excellence. Inhale, Exhale, Create.

Since I started this blog back in 2006, I have used this digital medium as my Digital Wall to continue the dialogue that reaches more people than I ever imagined. I still do the occasional fine art show at a gallery or event space as I do feel that the Proof is in the Print (more on that soon...) and good photography should be actually printed and seen the way the photographer saw it. This approach is expensive and very time consuming. Although it is the ultimate Wall for me, I know that I can reach more people and tell more stories with my Blog. Oh, I mean my Digital Wall. Best of all, it's cheap..and sometimes even free. There's no excuse not to start sharing your work now as the digital wall is already built and ready for your moments.

BLOGGIN PLATFORMS I LIKE

Google Blogger - I started with Google Blogger. It's free, easy to use and there are so many cool templates to choose from. Much of my internet traffic was created here since I would regularly populate this Google Blog with a ton of content...which Google likes!

Squarespace - When I created this website, i migrated (via 301 redirect) all of my blog content over to this site. Even though it is not free (you pay for your Squarespace site and it's features) it's totally worth it. You get all the robust creative features of Squarespace built into your blog. 

Other Blogging Sites:

Tumblr, Word Press, Medium, and Live Journal. 

REMEMBER TO Subscribe to this RSS FEED! Get this blog when it posts, be the 1st on your block with a new strut i your step and a new 'tude.

Zack

 

HOW TO TUESDAY #11 - The Anatomy of an Advertising Photoshoot: Why Client Meetings, Location Scouting, and Prep Work is so Important. Part 2 of 2 by Zack Smith Photography

In HOW TO TUESDAY #9 we talked about how important it was to have face to face meetings with clients. I feel that no matter how large or small the client or how small or grand the budget may be it is so important to use face to face meetings as your #1 fact finding mission that will set the vibe of the entire shoot. Take a quick read of HTT#9 and then come back to this post when you are ready to move on to Part 2 - Location Scouting and Prep Work.

As we learned in HTT#9 I was working with the New Orleans ad agency Peter Mayer on a new portrait photography campaign for Hancock Bank on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. At our first meeting I found out we would be shooting at locations already picked out by the agency and their client, but unfamiliar to me. The locations were very specific: The Friendship Tree on the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park Campus and a lighthouse at the new Gulfport marina. I had never been to these locations and were unfamiliar about the surroundings, parking, accessibility, and if any permits were required. Luckily the agency had already taken care of the permitting, but it was up to me to visit the locations to determine a few Key Components When Location Scouting to insure a successful shoot:

1. Finding the Best Light - doing some prep work on sun direction will help even before you leave the house. Plugging in each location's address in Google Maps will tell the you the orientation of your location. From here you can even get an idea of some possible Backgrounds using the Streetview option. (more on Backgrounds later...) Using the LightTrac app on your smartphone will tell you the direction of light at your location at any time of day. It helps to notice the direction of light at each Magic Hour - Sunrise and Sunset. (Click the link for tips on Natural Light and Strobe Portraits in HTT#5) These are your ideal shooting times if you can make it work. 

2. See it for Yourself - the absolute best thing you can do after mapping out the Best Light for each location is to get in the car and hit the road to see these locations with your eyes and through the lens. By doing this you can put yourself in the right position and in the best light with the perfect lens before all the hustle and bustle happens on shoot day.

+ for my shoot with Peter Mayer, I was able to visit each location at both Magic Hours of Sunrise and Sunset. This provided me with first hand experience of what my light looked light, what backgrounds were available for each portrait, and it put me in a good position to figure out shoot logistics like travel time, gear load out options, and where the closest coffee shop was :)

+ I have a little tactic I call getting the Real Background. When I am location scouting for portraits I like to focus where my subject will be so that the background will appear as it should when someone is in front of it. Shooting a sharp and in focus background does nothing for you or the agency you are working with if you don't have a softer option to show what it will actually look like when your subject is in front of you.

3. The Walk-Around - When I have taken a few shots of the #1 Location, I always do a 360 degree turn, and then walk around the entire location just to be sure I am not missing anything. This is a great tactic to get you thinking out of the box and not just what's on the paper. I often find my best locations here as I can get outside the bubble and relax my mind. (hint hint, click for HTT#7 on this very subject!)

SHOOT DAY

We started the day at sunrise at the Lighthouse shooting to the West since the sunrise was in a perfect position to illuminate our subject and the structure evenly. We only added some hair light (Paul C Buff White Lightning 800x) and a large softbox for some fill light (White Lightning 1600x) but let the soft rising sun do the rest.

Here's the Peter Mayer team as stand-in's for a possible shot. Notice the dedication!

Here's the Peter Mayer team as stand-in's for a possible shot. Notice the dedication!

Here's the final shot with final editing treatment.

Here's the final shot with final editing treatment.

Here is the location we ended up using. The sun was rising just behind us with a warm glow, but to the West was our perfect soft blue light we could control!

Here is the location we ended up using. The sun was rising just behind us with a warm glow, but to the West was our perfect soft blue light we could control!

We ended the day with the low setting sun behind our subject at the College. We had to use a 4'x4' diffusion panel to shade our subject mostly to keep her comfortable but also to shield her from the direct sunlight. Controlling the ambient light in any outdoor portrait shoot is your most important element since it provides your background light source. You can only do so much to control your Subject Light Source but not alot can be done to control your Background Light Source if your background is big and especially far away. One great way to keep your Background Light in check is to shoot in times where the sun is lower in the horizon: Magic Hour Morning and Magic Hour Afternoon. ( I can't say that enough!)

I used the bird to act as a stand-in.

I used the bird to act as a stand-in.

Here is the location the client ended up choosing, which was actually not on the initial location list. This was found doing my Walk-Around.

Here is the location the client ended up choosing, which was actually not on the initial location list. This was found doing my Walk-Around.

Note: I did put a full power 1600w strobe right on the eagle in the background to give it some more detail. You can see the difference in these two images.

Note: I did put a full power 1600w strobe right on the eagle in the background to give it some more detail. You can see the difference in these two images.

Notice this image is out of focus.

Notice this image is out of focus.

This is not the Friendship Tree, but a much cleaner and open tree across the street that we ended up using for a second shot.

This is not the Friendship Tree, but a much cleaner and open tree across the street that we ended up using for a second shot.

There you have it. There are so many components to organizing, scheduling, and executing a comfortable and creative photoshoot. While many of these tasks even by themselves may seem daunting, by working on them one at a time and adding them slowly to your repertoire you will soon have your tool belt full of helpful techniques and tips for any shoot. Make sure you SIGN UP for my mailing list on the HOMEPAGE to get How To Tuesday in your INBOX! 

Take advantage of these short days and low sun! Shoot for the Wall!

Zack

 

 

How To Tuesday #10 - Taking Your Own Photo Medicine by Zack Smith Photography

First off - you guys will have to wait untill next Tuesday for Part 2 of "Anatomy of an Advertising Photoshoot" as I am still on a vacation and couldn't get it out in time. But I am happy to share that How To Tuesday really does work! 

I am able to really take my advice and get outside of my comfort zones of amenities and habits. After being able to disconnect fully from my work-life I felt immediately at ease. Bringing only my Canon G7x on this trip I was able to simplify my "camera eye" and go for very specific shots.  

Helen in Downtown Tulum

Helen in Downtown Tulum

a beach goer keeps her fire going on the Tulum beach

a beach goer keeps her fire going on the Tulum beach

I am eagerly awaiting being in the more colonial and less touristy areas of the Yucatan Penninsula... 

image.jpg

HOW TO TUESDAY #8 - how to get better photographs of the full moon on Christmas night by Zack Smith Photography

zack-smith-full-moon-navigating-the-night-how-to-tuesday

Did you know there will be a full moon on Christmas night? If you are like me, you'll want to make sure you get some practice in for when Santa crosses in front of the moon so you don't miss your chance to get a once in a lifetime shot. The choice is wether to silhouette Santa or exposure for him and his sleigh of mighty reindeer. What is a photographer to do? Why don't we start with the exposure on the full moon image above and go from there...

Conditions: August 10th, 8:20 pm Clear Sky, Super Moon

Settings Used: Canon 5D Mark3, 70-200 2.8L, 2x Extender, ISO 1000, 1/1000 @ 5.6 @ 400mm

Editing: Adobe Camera Raw 

There you have it. I have bared all for you to see, the gig is up, my secret is out. Why would I show you all my settings? For one: because the more information we share the better we all become - we raise the bar of our own community and everyone wins.

Getting back to Santa.....so if there is no light on Santa, then we should have a silhouette, right? I hate to tell you but, no. Factors such as: Atmospheric Conditions, Cloud Cover, and Time of Moon rise (and "Santa Sleigh Speed") can contribute to variations in exposure, composition, and our final image. The best way to approach this shot is to come at it like we do any tricky night situation:

1. Take our UV filters OFF - doing this will cancel any specular highlights from creating highlight spots in your image. 

2. Stabilize! Turn VR/IR On, Use a Tripod, or lean up against something.

3. Set the lowest ISO possible that gives you the best shutter speed. Remember the Earth is moving so our exposures can't bee too long.

4. If you are handholding, Double your focal length to get your shutter speed...ex: If you are shooting at 400mm = then your shutter speed should be at least 1/800 - get it?

5. Set your AF to Center Point, Spot Meter off of the Moon and "Find the "O"...take a test shot, then over expose or under expose depending on how you want your shot to look. I would suggest bracketing 1 stop Over/Under "0" (so that's 3 total shots) since the moon will be reflecting so much light we may want to composite in Photoshop later.

See that was easy! Be sure to post your photos and share them with me! Find me on Facebook or use the hashtag #zsworkshops for whatever you do..i'll find it!

 

HOW TO TUESDAY #7 - Finding Inspiration and Photographing Outside of Your Comfort Zone by Zack Smith Photography

I learned so much in the last year, doing research, visiting, and photographing the many talented artists that were featured in My Louisiana Muse. Not only did I get to photograph these Louisiana artists in their inspiring sacred spaces, I got to hear from the horses' mouths on what makes them "tick".

No other message rang louder than what musician Tommy Michot said about making Gumbo. Living in South Louisiana sometimes our greatest teachers are food. Tommy was recounting his days living in Utah and telling me that it was there, so far away from his hometown of Lafayette, that he learned to make his first gumbo. He recounted that being so far away from home made him adapt and learn the things that made him feel closer to home in a way. I feel the same way about photography. 

There are some weeks when I feel like I am in the circular whizzing treadmill of Bid, Proposal, Shoot, Edit, and Deliver.... Repeat, Rest, Repeat. This part of being a freelance photographer can wear on your soul and your creativity for sure! Now don't get me wrong, I find ways to be creative on the jobs I go for and the proposals I create and I do still feel in full control of my content and direction. But the grind wears on you! One technique I have used and often use is to "step outside the bubble".

In order to be able to step outside of the 'treadmill', I like to simplify my creative photographic approach on any given day. Here are several ways I change up my routine and find some creativity when life gets too much like the hamster:

1. One Lens. All Day. Try taking out just a fixed prime lens, like a 50mm or a 35mm and force yourself to document your day with one focal length. I find that by limiting my field of view, it forces me to find new ways to compose my story.

2. 'Feels Weird, Looks Good'. Try photographing subject matter which you don't normally shoot. If you are timid around people, ask a stranger to take their portrait. If you don't photograph landscapes, go on an "architecture walk" in the French Quarter and find some houses to photograph. It's funny the way new opportunities present themselves when you are "out of your bubble". (I often use 'feels weird looks good' when photographing portraits of people who aren't used to getting their picture taken. I can sense they are uneasy at times, and I say it....it really works, try it!)

3. Try New Editing Techniques. We all have a certain editing comfort zone we gravitate towards when putting the final creative touches to a photograph. Next time you are in front of some of your work, try a new edit - play around with some filters, clarity, and some contrast. When you shoot RAW you have no excuse NOT to experiment!

4. Put the Camera down and Pick Up a Book. I am a bonafide book reader. I love to read and I get so much inspiration from books. Books on artists, creativity, and non-fiction give me ideas that make me want to go and DO. Sometimes putting the camera down and picking up a book can lead to new projects or new insights on existing projects.

5. Go. See. Involve. Anywhere you live there is a gallery with some photography on the wall, a museum, or a great coffee shop exhibit. Art and photography are all around us even if we are not attuned to it in nature, someone else is. Spend a few hours at a museum or photography gallery or just pick up a photo book. I recently stopped by our friend Scott Edwards' gallery this week to pickup some early Christmas gifts. His new and used photography book collection is amazing. I had to buy some for myself!

These are just a few practices I use to mix up my status quo when the treadmill gets a little too monotonous. What are some tactics YOU employ to burst out of your Bubble??

Zack

Photography in the Lost and Found: Photographers..get a system now! How proper categorization of your work can lead to quicker dollars! by Zack Smith Photography

As a working professional photographer, proper organization of my digital files could make or break my next opportunity for income. I have learned this the hard way as I do most valuable lessons I hold dear!

SCENARIO A - Editor emails photographer (in this case, me) and asks if they have a certain file of Musician "A" performing at Music Festival "A" for a feature photo in an upcoming article. Job pays $$.

If you know anything about the current state of the editorial world where "we need this photo YESTERDAY" has quickly become "Can you REPLY to this email with SAID PHOTO?", and we think nothing of it. Photography acquisition has always been and still is the LAST segment to be put into editorial content, so when someone is looking for a photo, that means the deadline is looming and the copy editor has left for the day. As a freelance photographer you really have no time to spare in locating the image, checking the file names and rights, and sending the image over (if all checks out of course). BUT WHERE DID THE IMAGE GO!!! (that was me screaming)

Back in the film days finding an image (if you remembered to file it away) was easy. Walk over to the binder of Festival "A" from the year in question and by alphabetical order (or by day) find Musician "A", scan and send over. Well, yesteryears "yesterday" is now, RIGHT NOW!

Whatever post production software you use (Lightroom, Photoshop Suite, etc.) you must get with a program you can stick with and create a NEW HABIT OF ORDER. 

Above is my sample filing for any of my hard drives or cloud based storage. Most of my client work revolves around:

PORTRAITS / EVENTS / FESTIVALS / PROJECTS / WORKSHOPS / WEDDINGS

You have one of my main folders being PORTRAITS, and inside of it you have the person I photographed. Inside of that is a RAW folder where all of the RAW files go with their sidecars (.XMP files / metadata etc.), and along side of it are the different OUTPUT file types that are associated with any job. Sometime we'll have folders like PSD, RAW Select, or even TIFF. I like to keep my RAW folders separate so that I can always go back to the source files and edit out a different file at any time while my other folders remain untouched.

Whatever your system is, get one and stick with it!

Good Habits Create Good Muscle Memory!

While you are here..take a peek at my new E-COMMERCE Gallery where you can purchase prints and take some of my work home with you for the holidays. Order by December 15th and get your order in by December 24th!

 

HOW TO TUESDAY'S #3 - Tis the Season! Portrait Lighting Made Easy: Photograph great portraits in any situation! by Zack Smith Photography

Hello everyone! I first want to apologize for getting your edition of "HOW TO TUESDAY'S" out so late. I had a two day job this week that had me up early and working late. I will do better next week getting this to your inbox before noon so you can get started shooting.

Portrait Lighting Made Easy - Studio on the Geaux Holiday style!

Getting the family portrait right this month can be as crucial as how long to keep the oyster dressing in the oven. Whether you are about to shoot your own family holiday card photos or have been deemed "Thanksgiving Photographer", then this Zack Smith Photography HOW TO TUESDAY photo technique is for you. 

All you aspiring photographers out there will find these following techniques helpful as well as you begin to book more head shots and portrait commissions to round out your growing business. 

If you remember last weeks HTT on "Letting the Subject set the Settings", you can start setting your camera up for any portrait shoot before the situation arises. But let's make our starting point real easy and find a shaded area where the SUBJECT is in the SAME LIGHT as the BACKGROUND. This easy tip can help you get an even exposure throughout your shot so that there will be little editing of your RAW files and you will be able to see your end result pretty much straight out of the camera.

                                                

                                                

By choosing a shallow depth of field (f 3.5, f 2.8 and lower) you can blur out the background and make the viewers eyes go right to your subject. Let's look at a few more from my archives. Remember : SAME LIGHT ON SUBJECT AND BACKGROUND

                                                          

                                                          

                                                                                 

                                                                                 

You can use that same technique and apply it to portraits in the direct sun, making sure your subject is still in the SAME light as your BACKGROUND...

                                                             

                                                             

I guarantee these simple techniques will assist you out in your holiday portrait photography duties. Remember the key to ultimately SEE like your camera sees is to hit the street and practice these techniques. That's it for this week!

Keep Shooting for the Wall!

Zack