Stanley’s Photo Tutorial: Using Colored Gels for Backgrounds

In my previous videos, I offered tips on using auxiliary lighting and natural light for outdoor portraits. In today’s post, we discuss the use of colored gels to create striking backgrounds for your photos.

Neon Signs Are an Endangered Species; Photograph Them While They Last

Neon tubes have been a fixture of outdoor advertising and signage in the United States since the early 1920s. Neon naturally produces a red color, but through the use of argon, mercury and phosphor, more than 150 colors are possible in gas-filled signs.

To Find the Best Wedding Photography Clients, Learn More About Them

In my last video, I offered advice on how wedding photographers can build referral-generating relationships. In this post, we look at how to find our target customers — the “ideal” brides for your wedding photography business.

Can Photographs Create Their Own Demand?

Last week in a post on Black Star Rising, Paul Melcher asked, “Are You Carving a Photography Niche – or Digging Your Career in a Hole?” He argued that instead of trying to find an undiscovered niche, photographers should “shoot what they love” and make their niche “talent” — something “no one can copy.”

Photographers, Here’s What to Do with Your Online Leads

At Cayton Photography, we are fortunate to receive 150 to 200 inquiries from wedding couples each year through our website. Some of these leads turn into paid work and some don’t — but we always strive to leave a positive impression with those who contact us. In this video, I describe how we manage our online inquiries.

Notes from the VisCom Classroom: The Knight Case Studies Initiative and Photojournalism

Last January, I wrote about the Knight Case Studies Initiative, a method for teaching journalism developed at the Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University, and funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

When and How to Convert Color Images to Black and White

Part of presenting your work is deciding how to process it. While color is the default choice for most photographs, sometimes the simplicity of a black and white image is compelling. Because we see and interpret our world in color, creating black and white photographs is really an art in itself.

Predicting the iPad’s Impact on the Photography Business

When the Wired app for iPad launched in June, it sold 105,000 copies — 25,000 more than the print issue of the magazine that month. The total circulation on which the advertising rate was calculated was more than double that of the print magazine.

Are You Carving a Photography Niche — or Digging Your Career in a Hole?

From stock photography old-timers to newly minted microstock experts, all the gurus will tell you the same thing: the key to succeeding in today’s market is to carve out a niche for yourself.

Shoot stuff no one else shoots. Bark at others upon approach. Defend your turf so no one else can take pictures of your subject.

Applying the 10,000-Hour Rule to Photographers

Malcolm Gladwell famously asserted in his best-selling book Outliers that for a person to truly excel at something, he or she must have approximately 10,000 hours of practice at it. It’s become known as the “10,000-hour rule.”

Sometimes, Photographers Are Their Own Worst Enemies

An email requesting photographic work recently landed in the inboxes of eight Taiwan-based photographers. Seven of them accepted the gig. One did not.

The one who said “no” was me.

I’ll tell you the offer — and you can tell me who’s crazy.

To Become a Better Photographer, Learn from Your Failures

We all have good days and bad days in our photography — successes and failures.

By failures, I don’t mean commercial failures. In fact, when I was shooting a lot of assignment photography, I never lost a client because I delivered photos I didn’t like. Typically, what I thought was crap, the client loved.

To Increase Referrals, Post Wedding Photos on Facebook — Right After the Ceremony

In this video, I discuss one way I use Facebook to drive referrals — posting client wedding photos a day or two after the ceremony. It’s a great way to beat amateurs to the punch and ensure that your photos are the ones used in the Facebook profiles and albums of participants and guests.

Notes from the VisCom Classroom: Are Journalism Teachers Failing?

How Journalism Teachers are Failing, and How to Stop It” is the title of a provocative column by Wayne MacPhail on the PBS website MediaShift. MacPhail has worked as a newspaper and magazine journalist, and currently runs w8nc inc., a Canadian marketing and communications company specializing in emerging technology. He also teaches online journalism at the University of Western Ontario and Ryerson University.

Ask the Photo Business Coach: How Do I Stay Positive in a Negative Environment?

In my last installment of “Ask the Photo Business Coach,” I offered some tough love for photographers who are always complaining about the business — basically advising them to adapt or get out. This month, I answer a question for those who want to stick with their photography careers, but need some positive reinforcement: “How do I stay positive in a negative environment?”

The Joy of Photographing People: Moods

(The following is excerpted from The New Joy of Digital Photography, a new book by Black Star Rising contributor Jeff Wignall.)

While it’s probably rude to photograph a person when they’re experiencing their worst moments, photographing a person’s many other moods can make for enticing and emotionally rich portraits.

The Joy of Photographing People: Relationships

(The following is excerpted from The New Joy of Digital Photography, a new book by Black Star Rising contributor Jeff Wignall.)

Often the best photos of people interacting, particularly parents with children, are the ones where neither of the participants knows they are being photographed.

The Joy of Photographing People: Kids

(The following is excerpted from The New Joy of Digital Photography, a new book by Black Star Rising contributor Jeff Wignall.)

While getting kids to pose for the camera can be difficult, getting them to play is easy — after all, playing is what they do best.

The Joy of Photographing People: Babies

(The following is excerpted from The New Joy of Digital Photography, a new book by Black Star Rising contributor Jeff Wignall.)

The great thing about photographing babies is that there is almost no one who doesn’t think every baby is completely cute. Even if they don’t know the baby, people will coo and purr over how cute she is. And if they do happen to be related to the baby, then naturally, it’s not only cute; it’s the cutest baby alive.

The Joy of Photographing People

(The following is excerpted from The New Joy of Digital Photography, a new book by Black Star Rising contributor Jeff Wignall.)

The great photographer Edward Steichen once said that photography’s job was, “to explain man to man and each man to himself.” And each time we photograph another person, whether we are aware of it or not, we are fulfilling Steichen’s credo.

How Can Photographers Escape Copyright Thieves? Michelangelo Had the Right Idea

In the 16th century, Michelangelo worked on commission. Without his many patrons, there would be no Sistine Chapel ceiling, no Pietà, no David.

Maybe it is time for photographers to return to the Renaissance model for financing their efforts. Because for many creative professionals, the current way of doing business seems doomed.

Photographers, Be Sure to Watch Out for Online Scams

Photographers marketing their images online should be alert to e-mail scams that seem to be growing in frequency. This is particularly true for those selling fine art prints.

The scam usually works like this:

Five Relationship-Building Tips for Wedding Photographers

Editor’s note: Natalie Bradley is a consultant who helps wedding photographers and other wedding professionals attract new business. In this video, she shares five tips for earning referrals from vendors and brides.

Composition for Landscape Photography, Part 2: Perspective and Balance

The following is adapted from Creative Landscape Photography, an e-book by Guy Tal.

A visual composition is the arrangement of elements within a frame. In yesterday’s post, we discussed framing, one of three interrelated considerations in landscape photography composition. Today, we’ll look at the other two: perspective and balance.

Composition for Landscape Photography, Part 1: Framing

The following is adapted from Creative Landscape Photography, an e-book by Guy Tal.

A visual composition is the arrangement of elements within a frame. In this post we’ll cover some essential guidelines and “rules” of composition that may help guide your thinking and provide you with options to consider in your landscape photography.