15 Quick and Easy Poses for Family Photographs

dps 15 poses for family photographs

In this article, we’re going to share 15 quick and easy poses for family photographs to try at your next family photo session to keep it moving smoothly. You will also have great poses to choose from when it comes time to deliver the images to your clients.

These poses are useful for all family sizes and types so that you have a great variety to deliver once complete.

15 Quick and Easy Poses for Family Photographs
Canon EOS 5D, Canon EF 85mm F1.8 USM, 1/250th, f/2.8, ISO 250

1. Standing poses

When it comes to photographing families, a standing pose is a great choice. This way, you’ll be able to see all family members in the portrait.

15 Quick and Easy Poses for Family Photographs
Canon EOS 6D, Canon EF 50mm F1.8 USM II, 1/1250th, f/2.2, ISO 400

You can vary the standing pose with the family close together, connecting in one way or another with hands. Having the family get close can help to create more of a connection between the family members.

15 Quick and Easy Poses for Family Photographs
Canon EOS 6D, Canon EF 28-105mm F3.5-4.5 USM, 28mm, 1/160th, f/8, ISO 400

Another great standing pose is where you give each person a little bit of space and take a wide shot. This works for small and large families!

2. Group squeeze

A group squeeze is another of the great poses for family photographs given that it can bring about some genuine smiles from the family, which is the real focus of the pose.

15 Quick and Easy Poses for Family Photographs

Ask your clients to get close and hug each other while still facing the camera, then ask them to squeeze tight and watch the laughter happen! Take as many photos as possible of the moment as the family will love to see these natural expressions caught on camera!

3. Sitting pose

Sitting is another great pose to try. First, ask if there is anyone who has problems sitting or getting low. If there are family members with issues, try and use a chair or a posing stool.

15 Quick and Easy Poses for Family Photographs

Otherwise, have the family sit comfortably and get variations of the family looking at the camera, looking at each other, perhaps sitting a little further apart, or try to have the children behind the parents sitting a bit taller.

15 Quick and Easy Poses for Family Photographs

If you are going to use a chair or stool, it can bring about many different levels in a photograph that will make the poses more interesting. Try people behind the person sitting on the stool, move the stool/chair to the side, and have everyone fill in around.

15 Quick and Easy Poses for Family Photographs
Canon EOS 5D, Canon EF 50mm F1.8 USM II, 1/1000th, f/2, ISO 400

If you’re photographing a big family, you can even pose family members beneath the stool/chair to add to the levels.

4. Walking together

When looking for poses for family photographs, you can’t go past them walking together. It is a great pose for all families, especially if they feel a little nervous or stiff. Have them line up and walk towards you while they look at each other and laugh.

15 Quick and Easy Poses for Family Photographs

Encourage them to talk and joke amongst themselves to make the shot look a little more natural.

5. Smaller groups

This pose is for big family sessions where you’re photographing smaller groups that make up the big family. Get each smaller family alone and photograph them in two to three different poses each. Use the same poses for each family to keep the session consistent. When all the family photos are put together in a wall gallery, for example, the photos fit well together.

15 Quick and Easy Poses for Family Photographs

You don’t have to use the same pose for all, you can change it up depending on the feeling each smaller group gives you. However, when we say keep it consistent, we’re talking about the lighting, background, and focal length.

6. All mixed up

A fun way to photograph the family is to have them mix it up and then get together for a portrait. This can get the family scrambling and laughing; allowing you to get more natural smiles from the entire family.

15 Quick and Easy Poses for Family Photographs
Canon EOS 6D, Canon EF 50mm F1.8 USM II, 1/320th, f/5.6, ISO 250

7. Jumping

Jumping is another of the great poses for family photographs. Capturing a jumping shot is a great way to loosen up client nerves. More than actually getting the best shot, the jumping photo is to get everyone laughing and having fun.

15 Quick and Easy Poses for Family Photographs

You can photograph the jump with the family facing you or away from you. Make sure you get low so the jump looks more dynamic.

8. Just the kids

It’s good to also get a few photographs of the children without any adults in the photos. For siblings, get them playing or hugging.

For larger groups of children, like grandchildren, get them all in a group squeeze or on different levels like piggyback, sitting/standing, or all lined up so that everyone is seen in the portrait.

15 Quick and Easy Poses for Family Photographs

You can also break down the groups of children into girls, boys, older and younger, and maybe all playing together.

9. Exploring

Nothing says meltdown like telling children to hold still and pose. To avoid a potential meltdown, allowing kids to explore their surroundings helps to keep them moving and engaged in the session.

15 Quick and Easy Poses for Family Photographs

Get the parents involved in exploring the location. It could be smelling flowers, picking up sticks, and taking in the surroundings.

This works perfectly for kids who are more sensory and for younger children. It can also help older kids feel less nervous and less focused on during the session.

10. Playful

Having fun is one of the best parts of the client experience. Making sure that your clients, especially the children, have a good time is really important.

15 Quick and Easy Poses for Family Photographs

Photograph the children building sandcastles, enjoying the playground, throwing a ball, or playing a game with their parents to help keep everything light and fun. It’s not a pose exactly that you direct, but you can choose where to have them play.

Having playful photos of the family completes the story of the session and also shows a more lighthearted side to the family. It also makes the session less stiff and serious.

15 Quick and Easy Poses for Family Photographs
Canon EOS 6D, Canon EF 50mm F1.8 USM II, 1/120th, f/5.6, ISO 400

Even if you’re in a studio, you can blow bubbles, play songs, have a dance party, and play with sounds to make the session more playful. Toys are a wonderful idea for smaller children.

11. Just the adults

While getting photos of the whole family is important, getting one or two poses of the adults by themselves also works to add variety to the whole session.

If the adults are a couple, pose them together in the same location. Take one with them looking at the camera and one looking at each other. Then have them walk a little while as they talk to each other.

15 Quick and Easy Poses for Family Photographs

If they are able to sit, get a couple of photos of the couple sitting, either on steps, benches or on the grass/ground.

12. Holding hands

Holding hands is a good way to show a connection among the family members. Choose different poses, either sitting or standing, where the family is holding hands. You can vary it with big groups where some are holding hands and others are not.

15 Quick and Easy Poses for Family Photographs

This works for children to get them to stand in the same place together. It can also help to hold hands with younger children so that they don’t stray too far and are engaged in the session.

13. Being themselves

Allowing your clients to simply be themselves as a family can be just the thing to calm nerves and help the session flow much more naturally. Help them by choosing where you want them to sit or stand and then have them talk amongst themselves.

15 Quick and Easy Poses for Family Photographs

Perhaps tell a joke, dance or play. Allow the family to get natural expressions, which adds more variety to the final gallery.

14. Kisses

Families love each other and often show affection for each other. Kisses are natural and can show a real connection. You can choose to have the parents kiss while the kids make funny faces, have siblings kiss and hug, or have grandparents give kisses on the cheek.

15 Quick and Easy Poses for Family Photographs

This works best with young children like babies and toddlers to show affection and draw the baby’s attention to the parents. It also works with group squeezes with smaller family units.

15 Quick and Easy Poses for Family Photographs

15. From behind

Complete your session images with a final shot of the family from behind. This can be a silhouette or have the family overlooking the location where they are, like a beach, for example.

15 Quick and Easy Poses for Family Photographs

It can be a great photo to finish your client’s gallery with a nice contemplative photo of the family simply looking and being themselves.

In conclusion

15 Quick and Easy Poses for Family Photographs

It’s great to have 15 poses for family photographs that work for all families and all situations. Use these 15 poses, and you’ve already got a great start to your client’s gallery! Do you have any go-to poses that work for all family sessions? Share in the comments!

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Weekly Photography Challenge – Mist

This week’s weekly photography challenge – MIST!

Mt Hotham and Mt Buffalo, Victoria, Australia by Caz Nowaczyk
Mt Hotham and Mt Buffalo, Victoria, Australia by Caz Nowaczyk ©
Fog on Mt Hotham, Victoria by Caz Nowaczyk
Misty Mt Hotham, Victoria by Caz Nowaczyk ©

I just returned from a trip to the Victorian High Country in Australia. It was, cold, snowy and misty, et incredibly beautiful. There is such a wonderment to the mist and the way it transforms a landscape.

So, if you are lucky enough to be somewhere you will find mist at this time of year (like here in Australia, go out and take some fresh mist photos. Alternatively, go through your catalog and show us your best mist photos!

Play with post-processing too – try split-toning, black and white or sepia. See if you can make your dramatic mist photos even more dramatic!

Slot photos together, like I do to see how images work together as a series too.

Take them with your camera or phone too (mine are just taken with my phone, as I am yet to find the time to edit my camera shots!)

The choice is yours! I look forward to seeing what you share 🙂

Fog on Mt Hotham, Victoria, Australia by Caz Nowaczyk
Fog/Mist on Mt Hotham, Victoria, Australia by Caz Nowaczyk ©
Bright, Victoria, Australia by Caz Nowaczyk
Bright, Victoria, Australia by Caz Nowaczyk ©

Check out some of the articles below that give you tips on this week’s challenge.

Tips for photographing MIST

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 #DPSmist2020 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.

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Canon’s New 1 MP SPAD Sensor Offers Potential for Highly-Sensitive Imaging

gear news - canon SPAD sensor

Canon has just announced the completion of a 1-megapixel single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) image sensor, making it the first of its kind.

Traditional CMOS sensors work by capturing photons (i.e., particles of light), and converting them to charge (which are ultimately transformed into digital pixels).

That way, when you press the shutter button, your camera’s sensor starts capturing photons, with each photon equivalent to a very small amount of light. These photons are turned into pixels, so that areas of a scene that produce or reflect more light are rendered brightly compared to areas of a scene that produce or reflect less light.

Now, CMOS sensors only offer a certain level of sensitivity. If you shoot at 1/8000s, unless the light is unusually powerful, you’re not going to capture many photons at all, resulting in a completely black image.

(That’s essentially what underexposure is, after all: The failure to capture a sufficient number of photons for a bright image.)

Anyways, that’s how a standard sensor works.

But as explained by Canon, a SPAD sensor works differently:

“When a single light particle…reaches a pixel it is multiplied – as if creating an “avalanche” – that results in a single large electrical pulse.”

In other words: Each photon gives you far more charge to work with, resulting in much greater sensitivity overall.

While Canon’s current SPAD sensor only captures 1 megapixel images, an imaging device that sensitive could offer plenty of benefits in terms of scientific technology. For instance, Canon’s SPAD sensor can expose its pixels in 3.8 nanoseconds, which makes it possible to capture events and features that were previously considered impossible.

Canon argues that “thanks to its ability to capture fine details for the entirety of events and phenomena, this technology holds the potential for use in a wide variety of fields and applications including clear, safe and durable analysis of chemical reactions, natural phenomena including lightning strikes, falling objects, damage upon impacts and other events that can’t be observed with precision by the naked eye.”

There are also applications in terms of 3D imaging, due to a SPAD sensor’s capacity to record precise exposure times.

While it doesn’t sound like SPAD sensors will be reaching consumer sensors any time soon, it’ll be interesting to see how this technology gets utilized!

Now over to you:

What potential applications can you imagine for SPAD sensors? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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The Nikon Z5 Will Be Announced on July 21st

nikon z5 announced news

If you’ve been hoping for a more affordable full-frame mirrorless option from Nikon, you don’t have long to wait.

According to Nikon Rumors, we will likely see the launch of the new Nikon Z5 on July 21st, a camera that will be positioned beneath both of Nikon’s current mirrorless models, the Nikon Z6 and the Nikon Z7.

Any new Z-mount camera would be a welcome addition to the Nikon mirrorless lineup, which currently consists of two full-frame bodies (the Z6 and Z7), as well as the APS-C Z50. And while all three of these cameras are worthy of praise, the lineup still contains quite a few gaps, such as an action-centric “professional” body, a true entry-level APS-C body, and a more affordable full-frame model.

Enter the Nikon Z5, a camera with the potential to energize Nikon fans, especially shooters that are on the fence about switching to mirrorless.

What can you expect from the Z5?

Nikon to release Z5

While there is no official word from Nikon on the camera, rumors suggest that the Z5 will offer a lot of the same features as the Z6, including:

Interestingly, it’s looking like the Z5 will also offer dual SD card slots, perhaps in response to the criticism Nikon took over the lack of dual slots in the Z6 and the Z7.

Of course, for the Z5 to stay reasonably priced, Nikon will be making some cuts, including continuous shooting speed (expect 6 frames per second, rather than the 12 fps you get with the Z6), the loss of full-frame 4K video (there will likely be a substantial crop), as well as no top LCD.

But the Z5 is still looking to be an impressive camera, even if it’s not as action-capable as the Z6.

What’ll be interesting to see is how Nikon’s new camera stacks up against the Canon EOS R6, which will debut just weeks before the Z5, and will be positioned below the Canon EOS R5, as well as (likely) the EOS R. There’s also still the Canon EOS RP, which is very much a lower-priced full-frame option, even if it may become far less interesting after the launch of the R6.

Bottom line:

If you’re a photographer hoping to go full-frame, or you’re already a Nikon full-frame photographer seeking a mirrorless option, then keep an eye out for the Z5 announcement; if the rumors are true, then it’ll be one very impressive camera!

Now over to you:

What do you think about the upcoming Z5? What do you expect it’ll offer? What do you hope it will offer? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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7 Shots to Incorporate for Better Drone Photography

better drone photography tips

Flying drones has become an extremely popular pastime in recent years. It can be both incredibly exciting (and also a little nerve-wracking) to see your drone take to the skies for the first time. As your flying skills grow and improve, it’s time to think of the range and variety of aerial images you shoot. Whether you’re coming to drones from a model aircraft background, a photography background, or with no previous experience, here are seven types of aerial shots you can incorporate in your repertoire for better drone photography.

Seven shots for better drone photography

So why seven different shots? The truth is, there’s no magic number of image taking techniques in any photographic situation, but I have highlighted seven different shots that I use on a regular basis that you can try out the next time you’re out flying.

One thing is for certain: buying a drone (like buying a camera) is not a sure-fire way to produce stunning images. It takes hard work and experimentation to get it right.

1. The horizon shot

This is one of the most common images beginner drone photographers take, where the drone is high above the ground and points straight ahead for a spectacular horizon shot. As with all photography, lighting is important for these shots – I’ve seen many horizon shots taken at the wrong time of the day, which does not flatter the landscape.

It’s also good to keep in mind the rule of thirds (and other compositional rules) for your shots – try to remember them when you position your drone camera angle.

I often see images with both the sky and land taking up half of the frame each. However, all rules are meant to be broken – I didn’t stick rigidly to the rule of thirds when I took this image of a remote beach in New South Wales.

Horizon shot of the stunning coastline in northern New South Wales.
Horizon shot of the stunning coastline in northern New South Wales.

When you’re taking your horizon shots, also make sure you take them in both portrait and landscape orientation for maximum versatility. You can even consider doing a large panorama of the horizon made up of multiple images while your drone is at that height.

2. The long overhead shot

Another common photo many beginners take is the long overhead shot. Ascending up to the maximum allowable height limit, pan your camera down towards the ground and take an overhead shot straight down towards the ground. Objects such as cars and boats appear tiny and you will barely be able to make out people in the image.

Long overhead shot at low tide on Brisbane's Bayside by Matt Murray - better drone photography
Long overhead shot at low tide on Brisbane’s Bayside.

Although these first two shots are an important part of your repertoire, there are many other possibilities for better drone photography, so remember to take a range of images when you’re flying.

3. The short overhead shot

Many drone photographers, especially beginners, think the higher up the better. This is not necessarily the case, as stunning, unique perspectives can be had from quite low altitudes.

Having your drone at even just 5-10 meters above the ground provides an opportunity to take an image with lots of interesting detail from a completely different perspective than you would usually see.

The image below is a close up of boats on Brisbane’s Bayside. I had just finished taking the long overhead shot and decided to bring the drone down to capture a close-up of boats from a much lower height. With a short overhead shot, you can capture a lot more detail of objects in the scene.

Better Drone photography by Matt Murray
Short overhead shot of boats on Brisbane’s Bayside.

People in the landscape

People in the landscape can often make captivating images. By placing one or more people in your scene, it adds interest and variety to your landscape images. With the added impact of having the unique aerial view from a drone, this is one way for you to create stunning drone images.

In the first image below, I watched as my daughter took her surfboard out into the sea off Iluka in New South Wales. Her presence adds interest to what would otherwise just be a shot of the beach.

a person entering the surf at the beach taken by a drone
Figure in the landscapes add an extra dimension to landscape photos.

In this next image taken in neighbouring Yamba, I took an overhead shot of the historic Ocean Baths. The image shows someone enjoying a morning swim, and a surfer heading across the beach.

Matt Murray's drone photo of Yamba Ocean Pool. Better Drone Photography
Figures in the landscape at Yamba’s Ocean Pool.

Leading lines

Leading lines are a common compositional technique. It’s where a line or lines lead your eye through the various elements of the photograph. I took this image of Urangan Pier in Hervey Bay, Australia an hour after sunrise. The lines of the pier lead your eye through the image to the mainland in the distance. The rule of thirds is also in play here.

There are lots of leading lines that you can use in your compositions for better drone photography – both natural and human-made. Look for them next time and make them work for you.

Leading lines in action - Urangan Pier at Hervey Bay in Queensland.
Leading lines in action – Urangan Pier at Hervey Bay in Queensland.


Sometimes when you fly your drone over repetitive landscapes, you may feel like there’s nothing worth photographing, but that isn’t always the case. Keep your eyes open for scenes that show textures in the landscape, such as the pine forest in the image below.

When I flew my DJI Mavic Pro over this area in rural Queensland, I was amazed by the textures of the pine needles on the trees below me, punctuated by the brown soil and the tree trunks.

Look for areas with repeating patterns of trees, sand, crops, anything!

Textures of a Queensland pine forest. 
 Brisbane drone photography by Matt Murray
Textures of a Queensland pine forest.

Abstract shot

One of the fantastic things about flying a drone is that it opens up new ways of seeing our beautiful world. I am constantly amazed by how landscapes look from an aerial perspective. With this in mind, look for better drone photography opportunities via abstract shots where there is a mix of colors, lines, and shapes on the ground below.

I took the image below at the beach in New South Wales. I love the yellow, whites and greens of the sand and sea.

Better drone photography
Beautiful abstract colors, shapes and textures of the beach in New South Wales.


Better drone photography is a combination of many things. Not only do you need to build your skills and confidence by improving your flying, but you also need to add variety to the types of images you take with your drone.

In this article I’ve featured some of the different types of shots I like to take when I’m flying my drone. Horizon shots are a staple among many drone photographers, as are long overhead shots. If you haven’t already, look for opportunities to take short overhead shots, textures, abstract images, and use leading lines. If it’s safe to do so, also look to incorporate people in your landscape images to add more interest and variety.

What other types of shots do you like to take for better drone photography? Tell us in the comments below. And if you haven’t bought a drone yet, be sure to check out my photographer’s guide to buying a drone.

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Nikon Photo Contest 2020-2021 Officially Confirmed


The 2020/2021 Nikon Photo Contest has been officially confirmed by Nikon.

For both amateur and professional photographers alike, and now in its 38th Edition, the Nikon Photo Contest has been running since 1969. During its life, it has seen over 440,000 photographers enter the competition, and had over 1.71 million photographs submitted.

In 2018-2019 (the 37th edition), the Nikon Photo Contest celebrated it’s 50th Anniversary, with around 33,000 photographers from 170 countries around the world entering over 97,300 works!

Nikon states:

“The environment surrounding the image-making culture is constantly changing with the times, and it always inspires us with new perspectives. We are pleased to provide a place for creators to discover new creations by adapting to the latest methods and styles of expression and deliver important stories through the common language of imaging.”

To keep up with the competition details, head over to the official competition site.

What do you think of Nikon Photo Contest? Have you entered before? Will you be entering this year? Let us know in the comments!


You may also like:

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Starting with Off-Camera Flash in Photography: Techniques

Starting with off-camera flash feature image

In my last post, I showed you what equipment you needed when starting with off-camera flash. This time, I am going to be looking at the technical side and what you actually need to learn in order to take great photos using off-camera flash.

It’s hard

This is the part where you need to really get to grips with how this all works. When starting with off-camera flash, this will be something that frustrates you. I’m not going to lie, it involves hard work and practice to get right.

In order to start, you really should have a good idea of how to shoot in manual mode, or at least a good awareness of aperture, shutter speed and ISO.

For someone new to off-camera flash, the technical aspects are the part that is the most daunting. Not only are you working with the camera in manual mode, but you are also adding things such as flash power and flash-to-subject distance. Then there is a model for an extra layer of pressure. That said, a good model is vital.

Fuji camera close up showing dials and shutter button
It’s time to move to manual mode. It’s not that scary. Promise

Working with a model

Finding people to pose for you while you learn is always hard. For this article, I managed to get an awesome model. She is incredibly patient and did exactly what I asked her to do every time. Here she is:

A mannequin is great when starting in off-camera flash. This image is shot with a soft box against a blue background.
Always hits her mark perfectly and never complains. A great investment.

Honestly, a mannequin head is a great investment when starting with off-camera flash. I only paid £4 for this hairdressers mannequin on an Amazon flash sale. Using a mannequin really allows you to build confidence and test lighting setups without worrying about annoying friends, family or models. 

You can always use other inanimate objects, especially if you are not interested in portraits, but a hairdresser mannequin is one of the best investments you can make to help you master off-camera flash for portraits.

Learn the technical rather than letting the camera do it

With modern cameras, flashes and triggers, you can easily stick with letting the camera do all the hard work. Call me old school, but I think it is hugely important to learn off-camera flash manually. By doing this, it is easier to understand how everything works. It also means you are in total control of what is happening.

Just like learning to photograph in manual mode, using off-camera flash manually allows you to get the exact results you want every time. Even if you then go on to shoot in auto mode, you will have the knowledge to still get the shot when the camera plays up (which they tend to do when you need them to do it least).

As you shoot more, you will become more confident, so I would always suggest using an inanimate object whilst you practice. There is nothing worse for knocking your confidence than having your subject in front of your camera and having a total mental meltdown, because you changed the position of the flash but you can’t remember how to adjust the exposure in your camera to make it look right. 

Modern Cameras are incredibly smart. But getting started in off-camera flash requires you to do the hard work.

The five variables

Unlike shooting in ambient light, where you only have three variables that can control the image, shooting flash ramps this up to five.

However, it is simply a case of working through them methodically. With practice, it becomes easier. However, your first few times, it may be trial and error (and possibly frustration). 

The five variables are:

  1. Shutter speed
  2. Aperture
  3. Flash power
  4. ISO
  5. Flash-to-subject distance

Let’s start with the two elements that are present in every photograph: shutter speed and aperture. 

1. Shutter speed

A model bride shot against a dark backdrop in a dimly lit venue.
The ambient light for this shot was awful, so I removed it. I left my shutter at 1/200th and found an aperture to kill the ambient light. I then set the flash power accordingly to create this.

The main use of shutter speed when using off-camera flash is that you can darken or lighten the ambient light. This includes your background and any other light sources, such as room lights and candles, etc. By using your shutter speed, you can alter the amount of ambient light in the shot without altering any other variable. 

The reason for this is that a flash will put out all of its power in the smallest fraction of a second (as quick as to 1/20000th second on some flashes). Your shutter speed will be less than this and, therefore, will not affect the power of the flash itself.

There is also one other thing that affects the use of shutter speed, the flash sync of your camera.

The flash sync is the maximum speed that you can shoot the flash at. This is usually around 1/200th of a second. There is a technical explanation for this and ways to shoot faster, but I won’t get into it within this article as I don’t want to overload you with information. Just remember, you cannot put your shutter speed faster than your flash sync.

Shutter speed in practice

When thinking about using the shutter in off-camera flash photography, the thing you need to decide is how much of the surroundings you want to include. If shooting portraits outdoors against a beautiful sky or backdrop, you may want to balance the exposure with the flash to make the most of the location.

However, if you are doing an indoor shoot with ugly or unflattering lighting, you may want to totally remove all ambient light. Shutter speed is your key to doing this. 

Let’s look at this with a series of images.

In all of the images, the only thing I will alter is the shutter speed. Everything else will remain identical. The Aperture is f/16, ISO 100. My flash power is 1/4.

For the first shot, I set the shutter speed to the maximum sync speed (1/200th). As you can see in this image, the background is underexposed for effect and the model is lit by the flash.

Starting with Off-Camera Flash in Photography: Techniques
The model is lit by flash. Areas where the flash does not hit are much darker (left side of her face)

As I slow the shutter, this time to 1/100th second, you can see the sky is lighter and the darker areas of the model that are not hit by the flash are less harsh. I have allowed one more stop of light into the camera, but only for the ambient exposure due to the speed of the light coming from the flash.

Starting with Off-Camera Flash in Photography: Techniques
See how the sky is brighter and the darker areas are not quite as harsh. This is due to the shutter allowing more natural light into the camera.

Finally, I slowed the shutter down to 1/60th to give the correct ambient exposure for the sky and using the flash as a fill for any shadows on the model.

A photo off a mannequin used to illustrate getting started in off-camera flash. The doll is shot against a cloudy sky.
With a balanced ambient and flash, the flash fills in any shadows on the model’s face.

Notice how the lighting from the flash has not changed. That is because aperture controls flash exposure.

You can also use your aperture or ISO to increase or decrease the natural light coming into the camera, but remember when you alter them, you will also need to alter your flash power too.

2. Aperture

When starting out. The easiest way to think about things is that shutter speed controls the ambient exposure and your aperture controls your flash exposure. I know it is a little more nuanced than that in reality, but when learning, you want things to be as simple as possible.

We know that your shutter speed controls how long your camera shutter is open. Your aperture, however, controls how much light enters your camera, not for how long.

As flash power is too quick to be affected by shutter speed, you control it by changing the aperture. If the image is overexposed, you need to close the aperture down, and if it is too dark, you need to open your aperture up.

Setting aperture in practice

To show this in action, look at the images below. In all images, I will keep the shutter at 1/200th of a second and my ISO at 100.

Firstly, I set the flash at f/4. As you can see, the image is overexposed. This means I need to close the aperture a little. 

A photo of a doll against a blue backdrop. The image is overexposed.
f/4 is overexposed. I need to change the aperture.

Next at f/8, you can see I have closed the aperture down too far. The image is too dark, so I need to open the aperture a little more.

An underexposed image of a dolls head against a blue background.
At f/8, the image is too dark. I need to change the aperture.

Finally, here is the shot at f/5.6. As you can see, this is the correct exposure.

A dolls head against a plain background exposed correctly
Finally, at f/5.6 I have the correct exposure.

As you can see, I have not changed any other exposure variable, just the aperture. Changing the shutter speed would have no impact because the flash discharges its power so quickly. Now I have locked in my exposure, my lighting will be identical every time.

Bonus round

Here is the same image shot with the same aperture and a shutter of 1/100th of a second. A you can see, the change of shutter speed has made no difference to the exposure.

Starting with Off-Camera Flash in Photography: Techniques
Changing the shutter to 1/100th has made no difference to the final exposure.

3. Flash Power

Flash power is simply how much power the flash can put out. This varies from flash to flash.

In terms of getting started, a Speedlite is more than fine. It will mean not shooting in the brightest part of the day (unless you are in shade), but it is super affordable, and the best way to start with off-camera flash.  

As with shooting in manual mode, you want to learn with your flash in Manual mode. This helps with consistency.

If you set your flash to 1/2 power, every single pop of that flash will be half power. This consistency is key to mastering flash. 

In terms of power, you start with full power, which is sometimes also known as 1/1. This is the largest amount of light that your flash can produce. Most modern flashes work in small 1/3 stops, but to simplify things whilst you learn, you really need to concern yourself with the following outputs:

  • 1:1
  • 1/2
  • 1/4
  • 1/8
  • 1/16
  • 1/32
  • 1/64
  • 1/128

Each of these settings equates to 1 full stop of light the flash produces. So changing the flash from full power (1/1) to half power (1/2) reduces the amount of light coming out by one full stop. Changing it from 1/1 to 1/4 reduces it by two full stops, etc. 

Remember, the stops it refers to are your aperture, as this is what controls flash exposure. If you look at the table below it will explain it more clearly.

FLASH POWER 1/1 1/2 1/4 1/8 1/16 1/32 1/64
APERTURE f/16 f/11 f/8 f/5.6 f/4 f/2.8 f/2

As you can see, if the flash at full power gives you a correctly-exposed image at f/16, half power will bring you down to f/11 and so on. This relationship is the key to mastering flash. Half the power = 1 stop of light. 

4. Where does ISO fit into all this?

Shooting a flash at full power is less than ideal. There may be some circumstances where you cannot avoid it, but it will kill your batteries quicker, take longer to recharge between shots, and, in some cases, it may overheat the flash, causing it to not work at all. Ideally, you want to be working at 1/2 power or less.

ISO is where you can make that happen.

By doubling your ISO, you allow one more stop of light into the camera. Therefore, you can reduce the flash power and still get the look you wanted. For example, an image at ISO 100 and a flash power or 1/1 will be the same as an image at ISO 400 and 1/4 flash power.

ISO in practice 

I have decided I want to shoot at f/8 and ISO 100. To do this, the flash has to be at 1/1. To get to 1/4, it means I will lose two stops of flash power.

When starting in off-camera flash, your ISO is something you need to reduce flash power. Here is an example at ISO 100 and flash power or 1/1
Here is the image at ISO100 and flash power 1/1.

To keep the same aperture, I turn my ISO from 100 to 400, therefore, giving me two more stops of light into the camera. The image is virtually identical

Starting with Off-Camera Flash in Photography: Techniques
At ISO 400, the exposure and the flash at 1/4 power, the image is almost identical.

It is all a juggling act, and ISO is there to help you fine-tune. However, upping your ISO comes with more noise. But, most DSLR and mirrorless cameras can easily go up to ISO 800 and still be of great quality.

ISO can also help with getting the correct ambient exposure whilst keeping a required shutter speed – especially as light drops. A simple tip is – if you need to double your ISO to get more ambient light, drop your flash power by one stop to compensate.

5. Flash-to-subject distance

I have saved this for last. This is the most technical when it comes to understanding flash (and involves the laws of physics). 

The distance of your flash to your subject is governed by The Inverse Square Law. This law states:  

The intensity of an effect such as illumination or gravitational force changes in inverse proportion to the square of the distance from the source.


Now, I am sure you are reading this thinking, what the heck does that mean? Well it means the amount of light is reduced by distance. See the diagram below courtesy of Wikimedia:

Starting with Off-Camera Flash in Photography: Techniques
Every time the distance doubles, the power drops by 3/4.
Image: Borb / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

The easiest way to look at this in a photography sense is every time you double the distance between your light and the subject, the amount of light will be reduced to 1/4 of what it was.

What also happens is that every time you double that distance, you get more space to work in. This is really useful if you are doing a group shot. Again, whilst this is hard to explain with words, look at the diagram below.

A diagram of off-camera flash and how distance is affected by the inverse square law.
If you are doing a group shot, you want to get the flash further away from the subjects to avoid issues with exposure across the image

Flash-to-subject distance in practice

Now we understand the inverse square law, we can use it to our advantage. All of the images will be shot on the same blue background.

For both images, I will set the exposure at 1/200th, f/16 at ISO 100. I will keep the exposure the same by changing the flash power. The model is 1.5m from the background.

I start with the flash close to the subject (30cm). You can see the background is black. This is due to the light being close to the subject. Therefore, the difference in exposure between the subject to the background is huge due to the inverse square law. 

A dummy head showing the inverse square law in action. The head is close to the flash darkening the background
With the flash 30cm away from the model, the background gets virtually no light due to the inverse square law and light fall-off.

Now, as I move the light back, the difference in the power of light between the subject and the background is much less due to the inverse square law.

The distance between the model and the light is now around 2m.

To keep the exposure the same, I have had to increase the power of my flash a whopping 6 stops. In this example, it has gone from 1/128 power to 1/2 power to keep the same exposure. 

As you can see in the image below, the final model and background are both well-exposed due to moving the light further back.

Starting with Off-Camera Flash in Photography: Techniques
With the flash further from the background, the exposure covers the model and the background.

Let’s recap

So hopefully, you now have a good understanding of the basics for getting started with off-camera flash. But let’s recap the basic points to remember:

  • Aperture controls the flash exposure
  • Shutter speed controls the ambient light
  • Doubling or halving the power of your flash moves the power of the flash by one stop of light. 
  • When the flash is close, the light falls off incredibly quickly
  • As you move further away, the fall-off is much slower.
  • Get yourself a model that isn’t human to practice on. Try the model head or bottle of whiskey.
  • Practice, practice, practice. 
  • It isn’t easy to get your head around, but I promise that one day it will just click. The only way for this to happen is if you practice. So, what are you waiting for?

There are more variables you can throw in, such as modifiers, high-speed sync, etc. but right now, that isn’t what you need to learn.

Master these basics and then push things further. The only thing I would suggest to add is an umbrella to diffuse the light and give more flattering results.

Now it’s time to practice

An article about starting with off-camera flash that tells you to shoot fully manual. You might be thinking “I can’t do this.” You can – you just need to practice.

It may sound daunting to some of you, but I promise it is easier than you think. I always compare starting with off-camera flash to learning your time tables. When you are learning them, they feel really difficult. Then it clicks, you suddenly understand it and you wondered why it took so long.

All together class, sing along. Two times two is four…

Do you have any other tips or questions you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments.

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Sony to Potentially Announce Sub-$1000 Full-Frame A5


Yes, it’s possible:

Sony may announce an entry-level full-frame mirrorless camera, potentially called the a5, positioned at a price below $1000 USD.

This information comes from Sony Alpha Rumors, which labels the rumor as “wild” and notes that it comes from an indirect channel. However, Sony Alpha Rumors also acknowledges a few pieces of evidence:

First, Sony recently registered a pair of cameras, one of which “is a high-end camera” while the other is “a more consumer-oriented camera.” Both will launch in the coming months; a more recent rumor suggests that the high-end model will debut toward the end of July, with the consumer-oriented model released in the August/September timeframe.

We already know that the high-end body is the Sony a7S II successor, likely called the Sony a7S III, and positioned as a professional video/stills hybrid.

The Sony a5 may be announced

But what about the other camera?

Well, if this rumor is correct, it would be the A5. A reliable report does suggest that Sony will be releasing a “new kind of full-frame camera,” and an entry-level full-frame model would surely fit the bill.

A sub-$1000 full-frame camera is certainly within the realm of possibility. Canon’s EOS RP is currently available for around $900 USD, and the EOS 6D Mark II comes in at $1200. But up until now, Sony has been focused mainly on three distinct camera lineups:

The full-frame a7X series, including the a7S II, the a7R IV, and a7 III models.

The APS-C a6X00 series, including the a6400, a6100, and a6600 models.

And the full-frame a9 series, which consists of the a9 and the a9 II.

This means that an a5 would offer a lot of potential for Sony, assuming the company can position it well. An a5 could allow long-time Sony a6X00 users to upgrade for improved image quality, offering a bridge between the a6X00s and the a7Xs. And plenty of Nikon and Canon photographers looking to jump on the Sony bandwagon could be enticed by such an affordable full-frame option, giving Sony the opportunity to pitch its higher-end products to more customers.

Of course, this is all speculation, but I can’t help but feel excited at the prospect of a Sony a5!

How about you? What do you think about the possibility of an a5? Is it a camera you’d be interested in? And what do you think it would offer? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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8 Vital Tips To Crop Your Photos For Stronger Compositions

Tips to crop your photos better

Even the best photos can be ruined if they are not cropped properly. It’s easy to get carried away with cropping since you can take away more and more of what may seem like a useless portion of the image. This can quickly lead to cropping way too much. Or, the opposite can happen if you are worried that you’re taking away too much. Believe it or not, sometimes even the professionals need tips to crop their photos better. So here are 8 tips to crop your photos better so that you can avoid making mistakes.

f/2.8 – ISO 160 – 1/100 sec

1. Tell the complete story

If you’re taking a photo of two people
playing catch, you would never dream of cropping out one of the people or the
ball. The photo would no longer make any sense!

Take the subjects into consideration when
cropping out elements. Are they interacting with anything in the frame that
would change the context of the subject’s actions if removed? This is a
surefire way of knowing whether or not you are cropping too much from the

f/8 – ISO 100 – 1/100 sec

2. Remove partial elements

There may be something in your frame that isn’t fully in view, like an elbow or a stray tree branch. Without the entire element in the frame, sometimes these partials can be distracting from the subject and should probably be cropped out.

Just like your image is trying to tell a complete story, you don’t want any unnecessary details distracting the viewer from what you are trying to get across in the image. Photobombs are funny, but only in the right context, so consider removing that random person in the background that you didn’t intend to be there in the first place.

The cropped image on the right removes the distracting elements.

3. Keep the subject at eye level

A portrait becomes much more engaging when the subject seems like they are at a more natural eye level. Concerning portraits, this may actually be one of the more important tips to crop your photos.

Cropping too tightly on the subject will
create a close-up shot that seems unnatural and even uncomfortable to look at. Keep
things in proportion by allowing the subject’s eyes to stay at a more natural
level in the frame.

Additionally, your subject will seem to want a little breathing room. When cropping at eye level, make sure that you are giving the frame enough space so that their gaze doesn’t seem interrupted by the edge of the frame.

f/3.5 – ISO 100 – 1/100 sec

4. Centering the subject is not a requirement

Just like you’re trying to tell the entire story by keeping important elements within the frame, that might also play into your composition as well. Apply the rule of thirds (or other compositional rules) to help you determine where your subject should rest within the frame. This will help you lay out other elements in frame as well, making sure that you don’t accidentally cut something out or when you don’t realize that you have centered your subject.

In fact, when cropping appropriately, you can even fix any composition problems that you might not have considered when snapping the image in the first place.

Using the rule of thirds, you can ensure you crop your images better.

5. Try to avoid cropping limbs

While it may be a good idea to crop out part of your subject, try to avoid cutting off the limb of your subject. Cropping limbs creates an eerie effect and shows that you hadn’t considered your framing when taking the shot. Similarly, you wouldn’t want to cut off any piece of your subject that doesn’t make sense, like half of their ear or the tip of their nose.

6. Crop out the errors

You might think that a true photo would include leaving the image as it stands, mistakes and all. However, cropping properly can mean that you cut off portions of an image that distract from the subject or are just simply wrong.

For example, maybe you have accidentally captured your camera strap in your shot. Would you really want to leave that in?

So one of the best tips to crop your photos is to remove anything that wasn’t your intention to include. Of course, ideally, you should spot these errors when taking the photo, but if you didn’t, and you can crop to correct, then you should.

Havana Cuba
f/8 – ISO 100 – 1/250 sec

7. Crop consistently

If you’re shooting a series of portraits, landscapes, or anything else of the same subject, then it’s important that you crop all of the photos in the series consistently. The series is supposed to be a coherent, consistent set of photos aesthetically, which means the composition and cropping should all work together as a set.

Without uniformity, when the photos are looked at in a group, if they are not composed and cropped consistently, then it is going to have a jarring effect. For scenario shots, like a landscape, keep the rule of thirds of the Golden Triangle rule in mind as well to help with consistency.


8. Cropping doesn’t always have to be right-angles

The majority of the time, cropping will involve right-angles to give you square and rectangle shapes. However, there is no hard rule that says this is the way it has to be. To wrap up these tips to crop your photos, you can also be creative and crop an image as an oval, hexagon, or any other shape that may lend itself better to the image.

Depending on the subject, the composition, and how you want your final image to look, cropping in various other shapes than right-angles may look intriguing.


Sometimes the difference between a good photo and a great photo comes down to the way you crop it. The great thing about digital photography is you can adjust photos without fear because you can always return to the original by using software like Lightroom. So experiment with your cropping, and you may see a big improvement in your photography. Also, share your before and after results in the comments section!

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Olympus to Quit the Camera Business, Sell Brands to Investment Fund


Olympus is leaving the camera business.

After three years of financial struggle, the company has decided to sell its camera division to Japanese Industrial Partners (JIP), a firm known for its ability to successfully restructure unprofitable businesses.

In recent years, Olympus has become more heavily invested in other aspects of its business, and while the company attempted to keep its camera division moving forward, it has struggled to compete with players on either end of the spectrum. Smartphones have eaten into profits generated by hobbyist cameras, while APS-C and full-frame cameras have maintained an edge against Olympus’s semi-professional and professional models.

Then, last fall, rumors of an Olympus camera division shutdown were denied by the CEO, though it’s clear that the company was on a firm downward trajectory; as indicated in the official announcement, Olympus was hit hard by an “extremely severe digital camera market, due to, amongst others, rapid market shrink caused by the evolution of smartphones.”

And while Olympus’s mirrorless lineups were praised for their compactness and sharp lenses, the company struggled to find a habitable niche, especially as “small-but-powerful” became a common refrain of Google Pixels, iPhones, and more. And the release of higher-end bodies such as the OM-D E-M1 Mark III and the OM-D E-M1X wasn’t enough to pull more serious photographers away from leading brands such as Nikon, Canon, and Sony.

So what comes next?

JIP plans to take over the Olympus camera brands by the end of 2020. The announcement indicates that a “definitive agreement” will be signed by September 30th, with the two companies aiming to “close the transaction by December 31, 2020.”

JIP will then “succeed and maintain the research and development functions and manufacturing functions globally…to continue to offer high-quality, highly reliable products.”

This is technically good news for Olympus photographers. JIP will at least attempt to rebuild Olympus’s camera division in the interests of its current consumers. But if the camera market continues to bleed, it may be impossible for JIP to turn things around, leading to a more permanent end for the brand.

And here’s another important question:

What does this mean for the camera industry as a whole? Is Olympus an anomaly? Or is the first of many? At present, even leading camera companies are struggling to find footing, which makes me wonder whether we might witness the fall of at least a few more camera brands before the market stabilizes.

Now over to you:

What do you think about Olympus’s decision? Will it impact Olympus consumers? And will we see the decline of other major camera brands? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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