Add Drama to Your Photos with Colored Gels

Often in my work as a photographer, I am challenged with settings that are less than exciting. My client wants a dramatic photo to illustrate a story for a magazine article, or for use in an annual report — and I am left to figure out how to make this happen in mundane surroundings.

VIDEO: SEO for Photographers — the Ins and Outs of Inbound Links

In this video, I depart from my ongoing series on Google Analytics to discuss an important aspect of search engine optimization for photographers — attracting appropriate inbound links, or backlinks. As you’ll learn, some inbound links are more valuable than others.

Making a Difference Is Easier Than You Think

Photography is a great and powerful thing. It has the potential to change people’s lives. We should always be aware of the power we hold in our hands as we focus the lens.

Our pictures make people think — and react. An image from the battlefield might stir a reaction that culminates in the end of a war. An image of pretty people on a beach might culminate in a consumer buying a new pair of sunglasses.

Sometimes, It’s OK Not to Keep Your Eyes on the Road

Some of the best photo settings in the world are in places you only discover by accident. Which means you should always carry a camera with you, so you’re ready when a great photo reveals itself.

This is true whether you’re traveling near or far from home.

Are You Adding Context to Your Photos?

Ted Koppel once said that during his years at ABC News Nightline, his staff spent the majority of their pre-broadcast prep time on the first 10 seconds of the show. That’s how important a “lead” or “hook” is to stimulating interest in a story.

Five Reasons War Photographers Are an Endangered Species

You would think that in a world where technology has made the timely transmission of images simpler than ever, international photojournalism in all its forms would flourish. And yet, when it comes to conflicts like the Gaza war, the war in Sri Lanka, or the ongoing protests in Iran, just the opposite has been true.

Can a Company Blog Use Images the Way a Newspaper Does?

These days, it can be difficult to distinguish between a commercial Web site and an editorial Web site, as more companies add blogs to attract visitors. This has led to questions about the use of photography, such as -–

How I Created a Second Income on the Speaking Circuit

When I was young man, I sang in a pop group. My trademark was the ability to kick my purple trousered leg high in the air. I would have a hundred teenage girls screaming and a hundred teenage boyfriends scowling at me.

Notes from the VisCom Classroom: Integrating Video into the Curriculum

What if you could design a university program in visual communications from scratch? What would such a curriculum look like?

Which courses would you absolutely need to have, and which would be nice but not necessary? How would you determine the core body of knowledge that every graduating student must master, and how would you project far enough into the future to include courses that would prepare your students for the work-a-day world?

How to Stop Bloggers from Hotlinking to Your Images

We ran posts by Jeff Wignall and Tony Blei last week describing two ways to protect your copyrighted images. But while it’s valuable to understand your recourse under the law, it can be just as useful to know how to use technology to protect your content.

In the Rush to Video, Don’t Get Caught in an Endless Upgrade Cycle

“Convergence” is a great buzzword, and even a good thing. But if you’re not careful, you can “converge” your photography business right into the poorhouse.

Everyone, it seems, is falling in love with the notion of being able to capture HD video as well as high-resolution stills from a single capture device (the artist formerly known as “camera”). I’m excited, too. But I’ve followed technology long enough to see the dangers ahead — most notably, the trap of the endless upgrade cycle.

How I Scared the Wits Out of a Copyright Infringer — and Why You Should, Too

I photographed a super-groovy young actor named Taylor Kitsch at the X-Men Origins: Wolverine premiere in Tempe, Ariz., in April. Taylor is so super-groovy that his fans express their undying love by doing stupid things like breaking the law.

Sometimes, Poking Your Camera into People’s Lives Just Doesn’t Feel Right

As a photojournalist, are you ever embarrassed, uncomfortable or even ashamed of what you do?

I recently spent a week at the Arrupe Center in northern Cambodia documenting the lives of villagers. The center works with people who are mostly landmine victims, but it also helps villagers who suffer from polio and HIV/AIDS.

Six Steps to Becoming a Green Photographer

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to “green up” my photography business in 2009. Six months later, I am proud to say that I am still sticking to that resolution. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised to learn that being environmentally conscious has led to real cost savings for my business.

How to Add a Copyright Notice to Your Photos

All of the photos I post online include a copyright symbol and my name or Web address. No, this won’t prevent everyone from using my images without permission — but it will stop some people from doing it.

What You Really Lose by Giving Away Your Copyright

Photographers make a lot of excuses for surrendering their copyrights to the publications that hire them for assignments. I often hear this tired refrain: “What are the photos worth, anyway?”

Well, let’s take one example. Let’s say you are a photographer and a magazine called Washington Life hires you to take pictures at a party. You readily hand over the rights to your images because, you rationalize, “They’re just party pics. Who would want them?”

Five Tips for Dealing with Unreasonable Client Requests

I met recently with a prospective wedding client who was on a very tight budget. The groom, an art director, asked if I would allow him to help with the photo editing in order to save some money. I had to tell him no. I operate a full-service studio, and letting the wedding couple do their own editing just isn’t an option for me.

Eye on Image-Making: Robert Frank, the Essential Outsider

In his introduction to Robert Frank’s photographic book, “The Americans,” Jack Kerouac wrote that Frank “sucked a sad poem right out of America onto film, taking rank among the tragic poets of the world.”

10 Ways to Fight for Your Digital Rights as a Photographer

Fighting for your digital rights would seem to be an uphill battle these days. Let’s face it; the rights of photographers have been badly battered.

First came Google, when it won the case to publish images in its search results without paying anything. Then came National Geographic and others, republishing entire issues on CD-ROM without paying additional fees. Even today, the magazine industry poor-mouths its way to paying pennies for images on Web sites that now have bigger circulations than the corresponding print editions.

Perfection Should Be an Aspiration — Not an Expectation

Like most photographers, I’m intensely self-critical. I can be absolutely merciless when it comes to analyzing what went wrong or right in my pictures.

And yet, I pretty much hate it when other people critique me. Perhaps that’s why I’m usually more positive and encouraging when I review the photos of others.

Build a Tribe for Your Photography

First came the Web. Then came blogs and podcasts and Facebook and Twitter.

Most of us think of these innovations as new ways to communicate. But we should also think of them as new opportunities to lead.

Expanding the Boundaries for Photo Editors

I’ve decided to start Photo Editor Awareness Day. Who’s with me?

Not long ago, it didn’t occur to me that such an event might be necessary. When I lived in New York City, I enjoyed a successful career as a photo editor. I loved what I did and for the most part found steady work in the publishing industry — whether full-time employment, contract work or freelance assignments.

For Freelance Photographers, There’s No Such Thing as After Hours

It’s 7 p.m. on a Monday. My office manager, postproduction manager and intern have all gone home. I am still working. The phone rings.

It’s a prospective client — and she’s in a jam. She had asked her organization’s PR firm to arrange for photography of certain attendees at a Senate hearing the next day. Apparently, the PR firm originally planned to just snap some photos with the office digital camera. Then, they scrambled to find a last-minute assignment photographer. They ended up with one who did not have a lot of experience.

When Covering Protests, It Pays to Do Your Research

I was recently asked to show some pictures at an informal get-together with photojournalists in Oslo. In January, we had some fairly rowdy demonstrations here — by Norwegian standards anyway — with demonstrators clashing with police as they protested the war in Gaza.

Black Star Rising: Now Available on Your Kindle

If you use Amazon’s Kindle e-reader and enjoy reading Black Star Rising, we’ve got good news for you. We’re now available for download.

When you subscribe to a blog’s “Kindle edition,” you can read it even when you’re not connected wirelessly. The feed includes all text and images from the blog, updated daily.