Successful photographs usually have one thing in common – an obvious point of focus or a subject that is the dominating element.
One of the main reasons a photograph falls flat is because there is no central or main feature to draw in the viewer’s attention.
One very easy way to combat boring, flat photos is to practice the simple idea of filling the frame.
Of course, you might say – I always fill the frame; it’s impossible not to!
With this idea, though, you are working on being a lot more intentional about how you compose.
When we “fill the frame,” we are attempting to make a photo’s intention completely clear. The viewer should have no doubt as to what the photograph is about.
Instead of getting fixated on your subject, and focusing your attention almost totally on that (something I see people doing all the time on my workshops), we are considering every single part of the frame.
We are looking at the corners. This is probably the most common thing many of my students don’t do – look at what’s in their corners.
Often there are things that don’t need to be there which you only realize afterward when studying your images.
We are considering what is running alongside the edges. What’s poking in that shouldn’t be there? It’s amazing how a stray branch or a bit of litter can make its way into your image without you noticing.
We become aware of every part of the frame to make sure that every single element is working to complement our subject.
Now, this is key. Every single thing in your frame needs to be working with, or complementing your subject.
If it’s not, you need to move around and try to work the subject and surrounding elements into a better composition.
Sometimes a photographer will react too quickly. They make a photo from where they are standing instead of thinking about the most favorable position to be in and how it can greatly improve the image.
I mention position here because I believe it is the first option when it comes to filling the frame with a subject.
Usually, what happens when we do not fill the frame with our subject is we end up creating a lot of space in the photograph. This is all fine if you are using this space with intent. However, if you are not, then it just looks vast and empty, and your subject is competing with the “bad space.”
Changing your position and getting closer to your subject is your best first choice. Remove that unwanted space by physically moving closer or zoom in if you must. (I will always prefer moving to zooming).
Have a look at the photos of mine that I’ve included in this article. They are all images where everything in the frame is 100% relevant. Even with a complex image like this, I have considered every part of it:
5 Simple but Powerful Ways to Improve Your Photos
1. Always think about your position
In general, bad photographs have way too much wasted space. You can easily remedy this by thinking about your position relative to your subject.
Do you need to get closer to reduce wasted space around your subject? This also has the added benefit of making a photo more intimate when you get closer.
2. If moving is not an option, then consider switching lenses
If changing position is not possible, then now would be a good time to switch lenses. This method is not as good (I think) as changing your physical position, but it can allow you to fill the frame, drawing interest to your subject.
3. Check the edges of the frame
This is a very common mistake for beginner-photographers.
Some do not put enough effort into looking at the entire frame and what lies on the edges of it. When you shoot this way, you find yourself cropping a lot more to remove those things you overlooked when shooting.
It is better to learn to see the whole frame than to get good at cropping because you didn’t see it in-camera.
4. Photography is a process of reduction
Let’s say you moved in closer to fill that frame. Now is a good time to ask yourself – is there anything else that does not need to be in the frame?
You can find the answer to this by asking if it is helping or hurting your subject. If you decide the element does not need to be there then take it out.
This usually requires a change of position or some movement from you!
5. Don’t fixate on your subject
If you are really dedicated to filling your frame and making better images, then my one ultimate piece of advice is to NOT fixate on your subject.
This is the #1 reason photographers are dissatisfied with their images later.
Sure, be in awe and wonder of what you are shooting, that’s part of the joy of doing photography. However, don’t lose yourself to the point your composition is not it’s very best.
Remember to always shoot with intent.
I would love to know what you think of my tips and ideas about ways to improve your photos. Please let me know in the comments below.
Is this an idea you practice? Alternatively, is this new and you think you might use this in the future?
If so, you’ll be happy to know that Canon continues to push the boundaries of camera gear innovation.
Because earlier this month, a Canon patent was published, one that detailed plans for a new lens: a 50-80mm f/1.1 zoom.
Yes, you read that right.
According to the Canon patent, the lens would have a fixed maximum aperture across its entire focal length range, maintaining its f/1.1 maximum aperture from 50mm to 80mm.
A fixed-aperture f/1.1 Canon lens would certainly make waves. None of Canon’s recent lenses have an f/1.1 aperture. The closest lens is the Canon 50mm f/1.2. So this lens will certainly appeal to those who enjoy unique equipment.
The f/1.1 aperture would be ideal for portrait photographers. The wide aperture would allow for stunning background bokeh. And it would also allow for photography in low light, which is perfect for those who shoot indoors or at night.
Plus, the 50-80mm focal length is great for portrait photography of any kind. At 50mm, portrait photographers can get some standard shots. At 80mm, you can go in for a tighter image.
Street photographers will also be a fan of 50-80mm, given how 50mm is often considered the fundamental street photography focal length.
A zoom lens such as this one would likely exist as part of Canon’s RF lineup, which is rumored to expand over the course of the next year.
Note that some patents never actually amount to anything. In other words, just because Canon patents the designs doesn’t mean that they will send the product to market. But it’s interesting to see Canon thinking about such incredible new equipment.
So keep your eyes peeled, Canon users.
And even if the Canon 50-80mm f/1.1 lens is never produced, it’s certainly piqued consumers’ imaginations!
Would you be interested in a lens like this one? What do you like and dislike about it? What would you use it for? Let me know in the comments!
Have you considered what might go wrong in your line of work?
Most street photographers don’t.
But maybe they should.
Joshua Rosenthal is your average street photographer. He goes out with his camera, photographs people in public places, and posts the photos on his website and Instagram. He does no harm, and nobody is bothered.
Until this past week, when Rosenthal’s actions attracted a lot of attention – and not in a good way.
Rosenthal journeyed to the Ventura County Fair in California. He walked around, taking photos of fairgoers. People noticed, became suspicious, and the police questioned Rosenthal. But doing photography in a public place is not a crime, and so nothing came of it.
According to the police department:
“The subject was contacted by police officers at the Fair on that date and has been contacted again today for questioning. No crime occurred during this incident.”
Rosenthal probably thought that being questioned at the county fair was the end of things; after all, he hadn’t broken the law.
So it was most likely a huge surprise when he awoke the next morning to find his name plastered all over social media alongside accusations of pedophilia and of predatory behavior.
As it turned out, a number of fairgoers took videos and photos of Rosenthal at the fair, which depicted Rosenthal snapping images of a young girl. These videos and photos were promptly distributed on social media, capturing intense attention.
One poster writes “Hey moms and dads, beware of this P.O.S. at the fair. He’s going around taking pictures of…little girls, in dresses.”
Another poster compared Rosenthal’s actions to child traffickers, while a third wondered whether he is a “perv.”
Rosenthal was questioned once again by the police but was not arrested. We can be confident that no legal action will be taken against Rosenthal.
Rosenthal has plans, however. He will be reaching out to the ACLU, which deals with civil liberty cases. He explains, “This is more about the First Amendment and doxing than it is about me.” He also apologized to the parents of the girl he was seen photographing.
For all the street photographers out there:
How would you handle this scenario? And how do you handle taking photos of children?
One way to prevent this kind of thing is to ask permission before photographing children. The parents might refuse, and that’s okay; there are plenty of people to photograph in the world!
Another way to protect yourself is to avoid photographing children entirely. As Rosenthal found out, parents are often extremely uncomfortable with their children being photographed, and for good reason. While there are plenty of harmless photographers out there, dedicated street photographers aren’t the only people taking photos of children.
What do you think? Do you have any tips for avoiding these difficult situations? Do you feel comfortable photographing children?
Your camera is capable of capturing intense, true color that is almost everywhere you look. So how hard could it be? Answer: It is actually quite easy to capture color. However, you need to practice a little more awareness when it comes to creating images with that extra “oomph.” Here are a few tips to help you capture vibrant colors in photography.
1. Keep it simple/details
As with other types of photography, simplicity is an art on its own. While details are can be essential too, sometimes scaling back on the amount of details is required. Thus, when working with vibrant colors in photography, your story may have more impact when you include only the key elements as opposed to having too much going on.
You can achieve simplicity in different ways. The first is by minimizing the number of colors in the frame. Yes, there are instances when many colors work well together in an image, but at other times it gets confusing. You need to direct your viewer’s eyes. Another way to keep it simple is to avoid too many details in your composition. It has the same effect as too many colors. When working with vibrant colors, simple works better.
2. Experiment with color combinations
Starting small is usually better with bolder colors. You can focus on one main color and build from there. When you start adding other colors in, determine if they work well together. Fortunately, you do not have to reinvent the color wheel and have tried-and-true color harmonies to use to your advantage.
Color harmony is a combination that is visually appealing to the eyes. Some of the options include complementary colors (those directly opposite each other on the wheel) and analogous color (those next to each other).
Both of these harmonies exist in the natural world. A sunset of oranges and blues is an example of complementary colors. Whereas a green tree against the midday blue sky is more along the lines of analogous color. When you are working with color combinations, spend the time to make the final image pleasing to the eyes.
3. Make colors stand out/playoff
Your scene may be full of color, vibrant and busy. If this is what you want to portray, then all is well. On the other hand, what if there is a subject in that chaos that you want to isolate? You can use color to make that happen. To do so, one of your options is to desaturate/tone down the colors that are not contributing to your subject’s story.
Another is putting a bright color against a dull one to help it to stand out more. Also, adjusting the hue and lightness of the colors next to your main color can help it pop.
Here are a few easy ways for you to help your colors play off each other:
Pay attention to your use of white balance when working with bold and strong colors. Your camera has several white balance options to deal with different lighting situations (Shade, Cloudy, Fluorescent, etc.). Each of these affects the overall color of your image. They either move your color to the warmer side (by adding yellow) or to the cooler side (by adding blue). Thus, white balance can enhance your colors or change the hue altogether.
Note: If you do not want your colors to end up looking too blue or yellow, you have the option of manually adjusting your white balance color temperature.
By default, Saturation is used to enhance the color intensity of every color in an image. However, you can use editing software and use Saturation selectively. When trying to make colors play off each other, you can increase the intensity of one color while desaturating other colors in the scene.
Vibrance vs Saturation (the same level applied)
When you change the Vibrance in an image, it is a little more specific than Saturation. Vibrance only adjusts the intensity of the duller colors in your image. When playing off colors, this tool can be very effective.
When working with vibrant colors, be aware of your palette. Keep your compositions simple by minimizing the number of colors and details in your image. Work with the color wheel and learn about the various harmonies that exist. When you pay attention to all the colors in your image, you get a better sense of how they work together. You also understand the way each color affects and plays off the other. Most of all, have fun experimenting while you learn about color!
Do you have other tips for using vibrant colors in photography? Share with us in the comments section!
Silky water effects, streaked clouds, motion-smoothed with an ethereal look; long exposure photography seems to be in vogue as photographers discover the looks that can be created. There are multiple ways to achieve this. The most basic is to buy a standard neutral-density photography filter which cuts the light, allowing you to use long shutter speeds without overexposing your shot. You can achieve exposures minutes long, especially when using 10-stop ND filters like the Lee Big Stopper or even the 15-stop Super Stopper.
I recently did an article on an alternative way to make long exposure photos, “Try this DIY Neutral Density Filter for Long Exposure Photos.” I encourage you to read the piece and learn how a piece of welding glass can be a budget substitute for more expensive photographic ND filters.
This is the same location I used for some of the other shots in this article but taken when the river was much higher and faster. The biggest difference is that I used DIY welding glass ND filter to achieve this shot. See my other article for this technique.
This article teaches you a third method of making long-exposure images with no filter at all. Unlike the welding glass trick which pretty much requires your final image to be monochrome so as not to have to fight the heavy color cast, this works great in full color, with no filter at all, and no color cast present. It’s a great method to simulate long exposure.
The technique uses a stack of multiple images of the same scene then processed with a Photoshop process called Image Averaging. It’s really quite simple and has some advantages over traditional methods with ND filters.
Advantages over the traditional ND filter method
When doing traditional long exposure photography with an ND filter you will be making long exposures. (Duh!) There are a few challenges with this:
If during the long exposure you bump the camera or things move in the shot you don’t want to be blurred, you will need to re-do the shot.
Long exposures can often be several minutes in length. Double the time if you also enable in-camera noise reduction. If it takes 2-minutes to expose and another 2-minutes for the noise reduction to work, you will only be making a shot every 4-minutes. This can really slow down your work, and if the light changes during that time, you could miss it.
With very dark ND filters, you won’t be able to see anything through the lens once the filter is in place. You will have to compose your shot, pre-focus, then mount the ND filter and make the image.
Determining exposure will take some calculation. You’ll check exposure without the filter then use a calculation tool to determine the new shutter speed the ND filter requires. Often this will need some tweaking after you see your shot and…yup, another re-do will be needed.
If back in editing you see the shots and wish you’d gone for longer or shorter shutter speeds to change the look, too bad. You’d have to go back and reshoot – if that is even possible.
In fairly bright sunlight, even with the ISO at 50 and aperture at f/22, 1/5th of a second was as slow a shutter speed attainable while maintaining proper exposure. This was with no filter.
The advantages of the Image Averaging method
The advantages of using the image stacking method are essentially the opposite of those things just stated above:
You’ll be making multiple images rather than one long one. If one of the images in the group has a problem, you may be able to eliminate it and use the rest to still successfully create the effect.
You can see what you’re doing! Not shooting with a dark filter means you’ll still be able to see, compose, use auto-focus, auto-exposure, and even image stabilization if you shoot handheld.
No calculation! Without the addition of a dark filter, you eliminate this step.
Adjust the length of your “simulated slow shutter” later in post-production. Want more or less blur? You can change your mind later.
Are conditions too bright for a standard long exposure shot? Maybe you only own a 6-stop ND filter, and daytime conditions are too bright to let you get the length of exposure you’d like. You can combine both methods to simulate a longer exposure than possible with the ND filter alone.
Are people in the shot you’d like to remove? Because they are likely to move during the multiple shots, when the averaging process takes place, they will vanish!
Make people disappear! Notice on the inset the people walking in the river, but on the completed shot, 15 images, each 1/5th of a second = 4 seconds simulated. They are gone.
Making the shots
Setting up and shooting the images you need for your image-averaged creation is much the same as any photography. Here are the factors and steps to keep in mind:
Composition still counts!
Because you introduce a long exposure blurred effect does not mean that you will have automatically created a good photo. Still consider how to carefully compose your image. Take into consideration that moving objects in the shot will blur and look simplified with less detail. Good long exposure shots often emphasize the contrast between static, non-moving objects (buildings, rocks, trees, etc.), and moving objects like clouds and water. Include both in your shot.
Shoot on a tripod
I mentioned you could do this handheld and, well…maybe you could. However, even with this technique, you will still want to shoot at the slowest shutter speed possible. That way, you won’t have to make too many shots for combining. Once you get much slower than 1/30th of a second (and faster than that if if you’ve just had coffee), handholding your camera is probably going to ruin your shots.
All Images ISO 50, f/22 . Top left – No filter – 20 images each 1/5 second = simulated total = 4 seconds. Top right – No filter – 35 images each 1/5 second = simulated total = 7 seconds. Bottom – 6-Stop ND filter – 15 images each 20 seconds = simulated total = 5 minutes.
How many shots?
This technique simulates long exposure by combining multiple shots. The simple formula is:
(# Shots) x (Shutter Speed of each shot) = Total simulated shutter speed effect (in seconds)
Let’s plug some numbers into that and see the result. Set your camera for the lowest ISO possible. I can get my Canon 6D down to ISO 50. Some cameras will have ISO 100 as the lowest. Use whatever you can. Set your aperture to the smallest aperture possible. Meter with those settings and see how long you can make each individual shot and have it properly exposed. Say we were able to do this in the shade: 1/4 second, f/22, ISO 50. To get a simulated shutter speed of one minute (60 seconds), we’d need to make 240 shots.
240 shots x 1/4 second (.25) = 60 seconds
That’s a little unwieldy, and stacking 240 shots in Photoshop may cause your computer to choke. So what to do? Perhaps you don’t have an ND filter in your bag, but you do have a circular polarizer. It will help reduce the light. You mount it and now find you’ve lost 2-stops. So your exposure can be 1 second, f/22, ISO 50. Plug that into the formula, and you get:
60 shots x 1 second = 60 seconds
If you’re shooting in lower light conditions, you may be able to get a slower shutter speed to start with. That will mean you can take fewer shots.
To make your job easier (and the computers as well), always try to get the slowest shutter speed you can for your shots. That will mean you can create the simulated long exposure with fewer shots.
Say you did have a 6-stop ND filter in your kit. You mount that, and now your settings are 16 seconds, f/22, ISO 50. Now, to get that simulated 1-minute exposure, you’d just need about four shots. Why not make 10 while you’re at it and you can simulate a 2.6 minute (160 seconds) exposure?
Had you done this traditionally, and had a 10-stop ND filter, you could take the unfiltered exposure down from 1/4 second, f/22, ISO 50 to 256 seconds (4.2 minutes), f/22, ISO 50. So, to get the same effect with a 6-stop ND filter as you could with a 10-stop by using image averaging, take 16 shots.
16 shots x 16 seconds each = 256 seconds (4.2 minutes)
35 images each 1/6 second combine to simulate a 6-second exposure. Shooting into the sun, it would probably be impossible to make a 6-second exposure without a filter.
Forget the math, make the shots!
If all that math made your head hurt (it did mine), here’s the simple way to get what you need so Photoshop can do its magic:
Use a tripod. You don’t want to do all this and get shaky shots. That will waste all your work.
Do what’s necessary to shoot with the slowest shutter speed you can get with the equipment you have. In the camera, that will usually mean setting the lowest ISO and smallest aperture.
If you have a polarizer or ND filter, use those to get the shutter speed even slower if you can.
Make lots of shots for each stacked image you will create. Depending on how slow you were able to get your shutter speed, a few dozen isn’t too many. You don’t have to use them all when you get into editing, but having more will allow a longer simulated effect.
Putting it all together
This recipe assumes you will be using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop in combination. You don’t have to use Lightroom. You can get your individual images into a stack in Photoshop another way if you need to (though using LR is much easier). Using Photoshop, however, is mandatory. Also, to use the Smart Objects function described, you will need a version of Photoshop that is Version 14.2 or higher. Older versions of Photoshop won’t have this.
There are ways to do this with older versions in a more manual process. If you have an older version, you will need to do a little online research to learn that technique. I used the latest version of Photoshop at this writing (Photoshop CC 20.0.4).
Let’s look at this step-by-step process visually…
1. From Lightroom, select the sequence of images you will use. Edit the first one in the sequence to your liking. Then select all of them and use the Sync function so all have the same settings as the first.
2. With all selected, send the images from Lightroom to Photoshop by going to Photo->Edit In->Open as Layers in Photoshop. (Photoshop will open, and the images will appear as layers in a stack). If you have a lot of images to be opened and stacked, this can take a while. Let it work.
3. With all the layers selected, in the menu select Layer->Smart Object->Convert to Smart Object. This can take a while to do its work. Be patient.
4. With the Smart Object layer selected, from the menu select Layer->Smart Objects->Stack Mode->Mean. This can also take a bit to work.
Wait for it…wait for it…and…
Presto! You will have a simulated long-exposure image made from your stack of shorter exposures. 20 images each at 3.2 seconds, f/22, ISO 50. No filter used. Simulated long exposure of 64 seconds.
The water in this section of the river was pretty calm anyway, but look at the before and after areas pointed out by the arrow where the original shots were 3.2 seconds vs the combined 20 shots x 3.2 seconds = a simulated 64 seconds.
5. To finish up, go to Layer->Flatten Image. Then File->Save As and save the finished image where you like. If you want to give the completed image some additional tweaking, you can do that with Photoshop or Lightroom as you would with any other image.
That’s the magic! Here are a few things to remember for best results:
Consider your composition. Look for a scene where you will have a combination of static objects that won’t move during the sequence and those that will. An image with both will be more compelling.
Use a tripod. You can do this handheld if you must, but know that any camera movement will be translated as a blur in the final result.
Do what you can to get as long a shutter speed with each image in the sequence as possible. Drop your ISO to the lowest setting, use a small aperture, and use polarizing filters or whatever ND filters you have. Longer exposures for each shot mean fewer images are needed to create a simulated long exposure.
Overshoot. You don’t need to use all the images in a sequence if you decide you don’t want as much blur. However, if you don’t shoot enough, you might later wish you had them.
As you work through the steps, some things can take a long time. Be patient and let your computer work. If the process crashes, it could be you don’t have enough computer resources and will have to settle for a smaller stack.
5 images, each 6 seconds = a simulated exposure of 30 seconds. No filter used.
10 images, each 1/4 second combine to give a 2.5-second simulated exposure. This can be a great technique to use for getting silky water effects when you don’t have an ND filter and only need a longer exposure of a few seconds.
Is this a better method than using an actual ND filter? Like so many photographic things, the answer is probably…it depends. Maybe you don’t have a filter or have one with you. Perhaps you don’t need a really long exposure, but just one a little longer than you can get with a low ISO/small aperture combination such as when seeking blur on a waterfall. Maybe you need to vanish people and don’t want to make a single multi-minute shot for various reasons. Alternatively, perhaps you have an ND filter but need an even longer exposure than it can give you.
There are lots of reasons to add this How to Simulate Long Exposure using Stacked Image Averaging Technique to your bag of tricks. Give it a try, and I’m sure you’ll have fun. Share your images with us in the comments!
If you spend any length of time within one photography genre, you come to the point when you wonder, what would take me to the next level?
Deepening your creativity often means making connections between unlikely things.
If you want to deepen your photography, one option is to take what you learn from one genre and apply it to another. Could you find something used in portrait photography and apply it to landscapes? How about taking an approach from birth photography and applying it to real estate photography?
Let’s explore the idea of combining approaches from different photography genres.
I had been out taking some landscape photos when I saw these canoes. A photo of the canoes on their own wasn’t working out for me. But when I saw this child come walking by it gave me an idea. I thought of all the street photos I had seen of people walking past interesting objects or backgrounds. For the fun of it, I adopted that concept here. I love the way the boots echo the yellow canoe.
What Portraiture can teach us about Landscape or Nature Photography
I’m a portrait photographer. What I love about portraiture is exploring the way people express their hidden selves through their body. You can see expression and gesture in feet, hands, and faces.
If you love to photograph nature and landscapes, you can take this concept of gesture (something we normally look for in people or animals) and apply it to your nature photography.
The more I focus on gesture in people, the more I see it in nature as well. Consider what Jay Maisel has to say in his book, Light, Gesture, and Color:
“Gesture is the expression that is at the very heart of everything we shoot. It’s not just the determined look on a face; it’s not just the grace of a dancer or athlete. It is not only the brutalized visage of the bloodied boxer. Neither is it only limited to age, or youth, or people, or animals. It exists in a leaf, a tree, and a forest. It reveals the complicated veins of the leaf, the delta-like branches of the tree, and when seen from the air, the beautiful texture of the forest.”
I believe something like gesture is what we’re after when playing with lines in a photo or even slow shutter speeds. Look at nature through the lens of gesture, and you’ll be more creative in your nature photography.
When I looked up at this tree, it was the gesture of the branches that drew me in. It takes decades for those branches to get there. Though they’re holding perfectly still, there is the feeling of gesture because of their shape.
I love to play with light. While photographing these flowers, a little lens flare struck my view. It’s very subtle, but on the right side of the photo, you can see a faint burst of warm light. It’s as if the flowers are reaching for the light.
What Wedding Photography can teach us about Food Photography
I’m not a food photographer, but if I photograph a wedding or event, I try to include a photograph of the dinner. Couples pay a lot for their meal, so why not add a photo? The problem is a stark white dinner plate full of food looks lifeless and uninspiring among all the other wedding moments. There was a disconnect between my candid event photography and my attempt at food photography.
Weddings are about writing a new story; joining families and sharing life. But I discovered that there is just as much of a story in the food as there is in the rest of the wedding. When I was able to chat with a chef as she prepared food for the guests, I came to learn how much she loves her craft. There is as much heart in the preparation as there is in the sharing of the meal.
So I began to photograph the meal just like I did the rest of the wedding. I took the heart of what I had been pursuing in all those candid wedding photos and applied it to photographing the food.
What Birth Photography and Real Estate Photography can teach us about each other
I can’t imagine two genres more opposed than birth photography and real estate photography.
If I tell a friend that I photographed a house for a real estate agent, they don’t care. They assume it’s just something boring I do for money. But when my wife tells people she photographs births, their jaws hit the floor and a passionate discussion ensues.
For most people, maybe photographers too, real estate photography is a boring necessity while birth photography is an exciting adventure. After all, one of those life experiences is about drama, emotion, and new beginnings, while the other is a series of appointments and paperwork until the ordeal is over.
Yes, but which experience is which?
Have you ever bought or sold a house? Then you know there is plenty of drama and emotion involved. Have you ever had a baby? Then you know there are plenty of appointments and paperwork. Both experiences – home-buying and having babies – are filled with the potential for adventure and emotion.
Try taking the obvious emotional excitement of birth photography and applying it to real estate photography. When you force yourself to flip everything on its head, you might see something quite different.
Many families have a negative birth experience. They’re treated like a commodity by their doctors and the hospital staff. A birth photographer knows that even if a laboring woman is given a bad experience by hospital staff, the photos still have to portray the unique beauty of the experience.
Even though real estate photography may often feel like a commodity, it can be a beautiful part of the story. First-time homebuyers are on an amazing life journey. Perhaps there can be more spontaneity and emotion in real estate photography than we first think – even if it’s hard to represent in typical real estate photos.
My wife, Naomi, made these birth photos. I love to see the range of emotion and depth of personality in her photos. But they certainly make my real estate photos look dull.
I know that my real estate photos are part of a larger story and every once in a while I have the chance to photograph that story. Sometimes that comes by being able to photograph the move-in day.
What Street Photography can teach us about Newborn Photography
If you’re tired of posing newborn photos, street photographers can be your guide. They are masters of spontaneity – taking whatever moments the situation gives to them. Street photographers are explorers of society. As a newborn photographer, you can be an explorer of human nature in newborns.
Wait and see what that baby will do. Take what the newborn gives you rather than forcing your vision and poses on them. There is nothing wrong with posing, but it can be exciting to explore other moments that happen naturally.
Do you know all those adorable photos of newborns wrapped in beautiful fabrics and placed in baskets? Well, this is the reality; a screaming newborn and bewildered older brother. Take the moments that come to you.
Think beyond your genre of photography
When you want to deepen your creativity as a photographer, begin with the principles of the genre of photography you’re working within. When you’re ready to go even deeper, go beyond the principles of your genre and consider what different photography genres might teach you.
I have finally started to change camera brands. I’ve been shooting Canon since my first ever SLR I got back when I was 16. I wanted to stay with Canon, but their current bodies do nothing for me. Also, the lens prices of the new R-mount system are insane. After spending a lot of time researching, as well as some hands-on time with the cameras I was considering (Sony, Panasonic & Fuji), I ended up moving towards Fuji.
I’ve purchased a Fuji XT3 with the kit lens and a 35mm f2. It has been a decision that I made on several factors, and so far I am really enjoying the images I am getting out of the Fuji. I haven’t sold off my Canon gear yet (nor will I likely do so in the immediate future) but I can definitely see me moving a lot of my kit in Fuji’s direction.
However, the move has thrown up a few surprises, which I wanted to share with you in this article. So without further ado, here are six things to consider before you change camera brands.
1. Know why
The question you must ask yourself is, what are you trying to achieve by moving camera brand? Changing brands is a long, sometimes painful experience that can be as frustrating as it is fun. It is also certainly going to be expensive. However, if you are considering a full-blown brand swap, there has never been a better time. The big two (Nikon & Canon) have changed mounts. This means, even staying with your current brand, you will eventually be changing your whole kit. So for many people, if you are going to move, the time is now.
Why did I move towards Fuji? Three reasons; the weight, the size, and the video functions.
I shoot weddings, and the appeal of lighter gear hanging off me all day is huge. Secondly, as I shoot in a documentary style, the size of the Fuji means the camera is not as intimidating as my 5DMkIV when in close situations. I have noticed in my son already that he is much more himself with the small Fuji camera, as opposed to my DSLR. This is what I see on paid shoots too. When shooting with the Fuji up close on a recent engagement shoot, the couple seemed to relax more. It is hard to put into words, but there is definitely something about the smaller form factor.
Lastly; video. Canon is purposefully, it seems, not putting the video features into its DSLR’s that Sony, Fuji & Panasonic are. I want to shoot more video and am starting to offer it to clients. Fuji beats Canon hands down here and was the deciding factor.
That’s not to say that other things such as Eye AF, a flip-out screen and 100% coverage with AF points are not things I want, they are, but they alone were not enough for me to make the switch.
You will find yourself shooting more to test your new gear out. Here I am testing the bokeh of the 35mm f2, whilst teaching my son to play chess. The smaller size means he acts more natural than when I point my DSLR at him.
2. Be prepared to start again
Unless you are willing to sell off all of your gear to fund your new purchase, you will no doubt (like me) dip your toe in the water first. As a professional, I simply cannot just go all-in on a new system. So it will be a switch over time. The lack of kit is in some ways quite refreshing. It is also making me think about what kit I will need as I begin to build up my new system. However, sometimes I do find myself reaching for my Canon as it has the lens option I want.
A change of system will be expensive and, in the interim at least, you will probably have less gear than you previously had. Remember, it is more than cameras and lenses – you will need to change things like flashes and flash triggers as well.
Little side note here. Pixapro (rebadged UK version of Godox) triggers for Fuji & Canon look identical. The method I’ve used to differentiate them is to color the little quality control sticker red on the Fuji trigger. A quick, simple way to overcome an annoying little problem.
Changing brands and starting again can definitely have a positive impact. As you begin to build a new system, you will think more about what gear you don’t use as well as what you find yourself missing. This means you can save some money in the switching process and lighten the load of your gear bag at the same time.
This was my new kit for 3 weeks. No high-end primes, no myriad of lens options. Just a kit lens. Frustrating, but it did make me think about photography in a way I hadn’t in some time.
3. Retraining the muscle memory
There is nothing worse than the downright dread of coming to grips with a new menu system. Trying to remember which button is the one you mapped for changing autofocus is somewhat frustrating. The remapping of your brain to work with your new camera system is one of those things that is initially fun and exciting.
However, that initial joy soon gives way to frustration. It is surprising how difficult it can be to move systems and retrain your brain to work with the new menu system. It gets easier quite quickly, but you will initially miss shots you would have got, simply because you forgot which button you needed to press.
This has been my workhorse for years. I can operate it in the dark without thinking. I will get there with the Fuji, but it will take time.
4. The cost of switching
It is easy to get carried away in thinking that if you sell off your gear, you will be able to switch systems without a huge outlay. Unfortunately, that isn’t usually the case. Moving camera system will come with a financial cost, and it will probably be more than you think. To move system and a new body and a set of lenses (24-70mm f2.8, 70-200mm f2.8, and a fast prime) you will be looking in the ballpark of £1000-£4000. You can reduce the costs of this by buying secondhand glass. However, with the new mirrorless systems by both Nikon & Canon, the price of secondhand glass is still incredibly high and hard to find.
To give an example, I own the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS I lens. I could look to get around £700 for this secondhand at current value. To move to the new Sony G Master of the same focal length, I would need an extra £1700. To pick up a secondhand copy, I would still need £1000, and that is simply for one lens.
When you look at the numbers like that you have to ask yourself, will a change of system for this function be worth £3000? Is eye autofocus, in-body stabilization, and 100% AF points coverage really worth that much? For you, it may be, but do not think there will not be a cost involved in getting the features you need.
Many of you (like me) will be considering a move to a mirrorless-based system. Even changing to the same brand is now going to come with considerable costs as both Canon & Nikon have new lens mounts. I know that you can adapt existing glass for both these systems, but it will not work as well as the new glass designed specifically for the new mounts.
In both cases, the lenses for these systems are commanding top prices. Over time, these will drop, and there will be a larger secondhand market. But at the moment, switching to a Canon or Nikon mirrorless system, complete with native lenses for the system, is no cheaper than a complete change of brand.
I think the mirrorless camera revolution will see many people taking the plunge with different brands. Switching from a 5D Mk IV to an EOS-R is, in reality, the same kind of investment you will make moving to Sony or Nikon.
Again, most brands now have good quality adapters to use glass from other systems, so it does help you take those baby steps. However, the native glass will always give the best performance. Unless you have a great relationship with your bank manager (and/or partner), you may need to transition slowly to cushion the financial impact.
This was meant to be shot on my Fuji. However, the battery died and I had no spares. Luckily, my trusty Canon (and 4 spare batteries) to the rescue.
5. Will the grass be greener?
There is the honeymoon phase in any relationship. I am currently in it with my Fuji. No matter what the sensible part of your brain says, having new gear makes you get out and use it. The more photos you take, the more your photography improves. So, therefore, changing camera gear will make things better right? Well, maybe. If you changed for a specific reason and your new gear addresses it, then, yes, it may be better.
What is more likely, though, is that after the honeymoon phase, your camera will get used no more than your current kit. Your photography will not improve simply because of your choice to change systems. You will again find things that you don’t like about your new system and things you miss about your old one. This is simply because there is no perfect camera.
6. Could you spend money more wisely to advance your photography?
The biggest reason to pause and think about changing systems is whether you could make a different investment that will improve your photography more than a change of brand. It is well documented that lenses are a wiser investment than a new camera body. I have seen countless photographers move towards a full-frame camera, rather than invest in lenses, which is definitely a mistake. Lenses hold their value, will instantly give you better results and will last you way longer than a new camera body.
If you look at a minimum of £1000 to change camera brands, then think of what else you could invest that money in to improve your photography. Portrait photographers, that could buy you a great off-camera flash system with modifiers that will take your portraits to a new level. You could invest in new lenses for your current camera that helps you shoot better in low light, or give you more reach as a wildlife photographer.
However, look beyond gear. What could £1000 worth of education do for your photography? How about spending £1000 on a trip to locations that you have always wanted to photograph? In many cases, changing your camera system is possibly the least likely thing to advance your photography.
For most of us, we simply got caught in the hype and Facebook chatter about a new camera. We think it will be a magic bullet that makes us take more photos or better photos. But in reality, it won’t. You will have a shiny new toy that you love, until the Mark 2 comes out and you will convince yourself again that you need to upgrade.
There are lots of legitimate reasons to change systems. There is also absolutely nothing wrong with switching to a new camera system simply because you want to. Just beware of the hype that it will make your photos better because it won’t.
The Fuji will make me money. Will I make more money than if I had kept my Canon? No. My back, however, will thank me for the lighter weight.
I’m not trying to convince you either way (you probably wouldn’t listen if I did). I am just giving you some things to think about if you are looking to move from your current camera system. Happy shopping.
Have you made the switch to a new camera system or considering it? Share with us in the comments section below!
In this video, Chris Turner reviews the Sony 35mm 1.8 FE lens.
Sony 35mm 1.8 FE
This is what Chris thinks of the lens:
While the build quality is quite good, it feels a step behind the 55mm 1.8 Zeiss lens. It’s about the same as the 85mm 1.8. It doesn’t feel high-end.
Has the function button on the lens which you can use to focus hold or eye focus. You can program it to a heap of different stuff.
It also has the AF/MF switch to change from auto to manual focus easily.
It is small – just slightly smaller than the 55mm 1.8 – with about the same thickness. It’s compact for travel unit.
Focus is speedy and performs flawlessly. It also works well in low-light and backlight situations. The video focus is also fast and accurate.
The lens isn’t weather sealed.
The Sony 35mm 1.8 takes high-quality images. While the 55mm 1.8 has some really weird flaring in certain situations, the flaring in the 35mm is well controlled with a nice glow. If you’re backlighting an image, it’s going to look really nice with this lens.
Chromatic aberration is definitely present. It’s not great in terms of aberration control. It’s quite bad at f/1.8
The lens is incredibly sharp. It is easily sharper than the 35mm 1.4 zeiss, especially wide open. If you stop it down, it just gets better and better. If you are putting something in the edge of the frame, it still is quite sharp.
The colors are very nice and have plenty of contrast.
Overall, the 35mm 1.8 is an impressive lens.
Chris says while the 35mm is a great lens, it won’t replace his favorite lens, the 24mm G-master.
Go out and capture absolutely anything that includes wires. It could be wires hanging off the side of a building, electricity wires, electronics, phone wires, washing lines, cable cars, chairlifts, wire fences etc. They can be color, black and white, moody or bright. Just so long as they include wires! You get the picture! Have fun, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with!
Check out some of the articles below that give you tips on this week’s challenge.
Tips for Shooting WIRES
7 Steps to Create Street Photography Silhouettes
How to Create Powerful Silhouettes by Telling a Story
Photographing Buildings [Composition Tips]
5 Tips for Developing an Eye for Details in Your Photography
8 Quick Tips to Improve Your Photos of Architectural Details
The Ultimate Guide to Street Photography
The Ultimate Guide to Zone Focusing for Candid Street Photography
Weekly Photography Challenge – WIRES
Simply upload your shot into the comment field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see or if you’d prefer, upload them to your favorite photo-sharing site and leave the link to them. Show me your best images in this week’s challenge.
Share in the dPS Facebook Group
You can also share your images in the dPS Facebook group as the challenge is posted there each week as well.
If you tag your photos on Flickr, Instagram, Twitter or other sites – tag them as #DPSwires to help others find them. Linking back to this page might also help others know what you’re doing so that they can share in the fun.
Getting started in wedding photography takes more than your camera gear. In order to really get an idea of what photographing a wedding is truly like, becoming a second shooter can be the perfect way to get you started.
Why it’s important to be a second shooter?
Getting started in weddings means that you should have a high level of photographic experience not only technically, like how to use your camera, but also what goes into photographing a wedding.
Second shooting allows you to shadow a photographer, photograph the entire wedding, and get real hands-on experience without having all the pressure fall on you to get every photo right.
A second shooter can get creative with angles, perspective, and photograph key guests at weddings.
Being a second photographer can also give you insight into the customer service aspects of weddings like keeping to a timeline, knowing what to expect if something goes wrong, and seeing how each photographer you second for handles the pressure.
As a second shooter, you can also determine if weddings and events are something you’d even like to pursue. You also don’t have the pressure of booking a wedding client and then not knowing what or how to go about photographing it or if you’ll even like it.
Working alongside an experienced wedding photographer can also let you in on industry tips and tricks that they’ve learned throughout the years. You can also ask questions and observe how they work at a wedding. This will help you when you start photographing events as the primary photographer.
Difference between second photographer and assisting
Although it may seem like there isn’t a difference between assisting and second shooting, there is. Assistants are just that. They assist the main photographer with anything from carrying bags and equipment, to helping with veils, styling, or running to grab something for a photo. An assistant is an extra pair of hands.
Assistants generally don’t help photograph a wedding. However, depending on the terms that the main photographer has set up for the position, sometimes you may.
A second photographer is someone who helps photograph a wedding in tandem with the main photographer. As a second shooter, you are usually responsible for photographing the in-between moments and get a different, more creative angle on photos.
Reach out to photographers
The first step in getting a second shooting gig is to reach out to photographers that inspire you, are looking for help on wedding days, or people you know who wouldn’t mind having an extra photographer at the wedding.
Your email can be simple and concise like:
My name is ____________. Firstly, I love your work and it’s an inspiration to me as a new wedding photographer. I was wondering if you needed a second photographer at events, as I would love to learn the ropes before jumping into wedding photography full time. I have the following gear: __________. You can see my portfolio at www.yourwebsite.com.
Thank you so much for your time!
Emailing a busy photographer a short and to-the-point email is best. They may say no, which is okay. You should respond with a thank you email along with the message that if they ever need anyone in the future, you are available. They can then keep your information on file should they need a second photographer in the future.
Also, there are many social media groups where you can look for second shooting jobs in your local area. Many photographers can hire on the spot just by looking at your website and gear.
Make sure to sign a contract
Second shooting with a contract is highly recommended. Not all photographers do this. However, you can draft one up for them just in case they don’t have one ready.
Include the details of the event, how long you’ll be second shooting, what you’re expected to cover, and finally, the delivery of the photos and payment.
Many photographers will want you to use your own equipment and will ask you what you photograph with. If this is the case, make sure to put this in the contract as well.
Just as an important note as well, when you second shoot, the images that you take may not be under your copyright. Most contracts will state that copyright belongs to the main photographer since their photography business is the one who was hired by the couple.
Often, second shooters get the candid photos during a wedding event, like this one above.
This means that you’re a subcontractor. Therefore any images you produce are copyright and property of the main photographer – even if you photograph the event with your equipment. Check your contract for copyright and usage rights, if any exist.
Some photographers want you to use their memory cards or even their gear. That way, they don’t have to worry about syncing times, converting raw files into the same format, or image delivery delays to the client.
Try and get a different angle than the main photographer so you can add variety, like these two images of the first dance.
Take your gear with you. Doing so gives the main photographer the choice to let you use your gear or their gear, or a mixture of both.
When you email the photographers, make sure you list all the gear that you know how to use at 100 percent. In the event you don’t know how to you use your flash in manual mode, for example, then put down “flash only in TTL mode.” This can help the main photographer know your photography experience and may even help you learn manual mode or another photography tip!
Being a second shooter means that you are there to help the photographer with photography. While some second shooters take this approach very seriously, I believe that second photographers should also be at the disposal of the main photographer – within reason, of course.
This means that you help fluff up the dress, put on the boutonniere, help with getting flowers to the bridesmaids, and yes, maybe handing the main photographer a lens or battery.
You’re a team, and it’s important to be all-in when you second. The main photographer is helping you gain experience and learn. It’s best that you also help as much as you can.
While the main photographer focuses on the couple, you can use your eye to focus on other key moments during the wedding!
Each photographer works differently, however. Showing initiative and being accommodating can also help you get more second shooting gigs in the future with the same photographer.
Take what works for you
Second shooting is really helpful because you get lots of experience with different photographers and get to observe all the different ways that each one works a wedding.
Perhaps you vibe best with one photographer and not so much with another. That is okay. Make sure to thank the photographer for having you along. Then, in the future, only go with photographers you have a good rapport with and like to be around.
Also, you’ll be able to take away tips and tricks that you feel work for you. If one photographer was excellent at customer service, take away what they said or did, and apply it to your business. Another photographer may have created a really interesting image during the reception that you can try at the next wedding event you have.
Take what works for you, your style, and your business and leave the rest. That’s one great thing about being the second photographer – you can observe all and still have fun photographing a wedding.
When you are highly experienced in photography and can create quality images every single time, you may get paid anywhere between $25-$50 or more per hour for second shooting. Some photographers also offer a flat rate for a set of hours.
If you’re just starting out, you might not get paid, but the experience is completely worth it. Getting your feet wet in the wedding photography industry is more important because you’ll find that weddings are a high-pressured, fast-moving, and a once-in-a-lifetime type of photography.
You don’t get do-overs, so second shooting is the best way to get experience without paying the price for unhappy clients.
That being said, definitely ask the main photographer before signing a contract what the payment will be. Then you can choose whether the pay is acceptable or not. You do have the choice to take on second shooting gigs for free if you wish or ask for a set rate.
Some experienced photographers help other photographers out and so their pay rate is higher. While others do it to flex their skills, practice, or just fill up their calendar in between jobs.
Becoming a second shooter is a lot easier than you would think. Reach out to photographers that you admire and spend time observing how they work. When you’re ready, you can then start to photograph your own weddings if you don’t already do!
Do you have any other second shooter tips? Share them in the comments below!