Taking candid group photographs is all about timing — and patience. You have to choose your moments carefully.
I was at Connecticut’s Mystic Aquarium and had been watching a small group of people interacting with a Beluga whale, and I thought it would make a great shot. Provided, of course, that I could get everyone–including the whale–to look attractive and do something interesting at the exact same moment.
As a wedding photographer, I like the seasonality of the business. With my work concentrated in the summer and pleasanter months of the year, I can take some time off in the winter months. I still have meetings and portrait sessions, but I can get away with working a few hours a day versus eight to 12.
Here’s the situation: You’re head of corporate communications for a Fortune 1000 company. You just received a directive from the CEO to coordinate the creation of new office and leadership photos across your entire organization for use in your next annual report.
First in a series.
‘Tis the season for couples to begin their search for the perfect wedding location, dress, florist — and, of course, photographer. Over the years, I’ve read a lot of the advice offered in wedding magazines, and I thought this year I would provide my own set of tips.
What is a portrait? I thought of this question as I wandered through an exhibition of portrait photography at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. The exhibition, called “Portraiture Now: Feature Photography,” runs through Sept. 27 and contains the work of six cutting-edge photographers: Katy Grannan, Jocelyn Lee, Ryan McGinley, Steve Pyke, Martin Schoeller, and Alec Soth.
How many of you out there have received an e-mail this week about a workshop, seminar or convention that you just “can’t miss” because it is going to change your whole life? I seem to get one or more a day, each promising to hold the key to a successful photography career. So, how do you decide which of these are worth your time and money?
Getting close to birds and animals is probably the toughest part of capturing good wildlife shots. Most animals see us as predators, so at the first sign of a human being, they’re gone. Interestingly enough, though, animals generally don’t see automobiles as a threat, which allows you to get much closer to animals if you shoot from inside your car.
Does anyone really like having their portrait taken? With the exception of movie stars and rich heiresses, most people don’t relish the idea of getting dressed up and posing for the camera. Sitting under the lights and turning this way and that can be downright intimidating.
On Christmas Day 2008, I joined the more than 150 million active users on Facebook. I did so because Google search results for my name displayed another Sean Cayton’s Facebook profile on the first page, about three listings from the top. Since I didn’t want people to mistake my doppelganger for me, I set up an account and embarked on my Facebook adventure.
Say what you will about the RIAA. Ultimately, it made the trains run on time.
The Recording Industry Association of America, the trade group for the U.S. music industry, has made many enemies in the Web world for its draconian approach to copyright. It killed Napster and has tracked down and snuffed out one peer-to-peer file-sharing service after another. It has also famously sued random college students for their file-sharing misdeeds, scaring the bejesus out of parents everywhere.
A successful company may be the sum of its employees, their work and its products, but the human face of a company will often be represented by a small number of people: the CEO, the members of the board, and the officers who make the key decisions. Shareholders, clients and partners may love a company’s brand — but they still want to know who lies behind the strategy and who is setting the direction. They want to know who they’re doing business with.
In my last post, I described how I turned my Web site into a business driver by dispensing with my Flash template in favor of an HTML-based site that was more search-engine friendly. Now I’d like to share five other important steps I’ve taken to drive visitors to my site.
In recent years, an increasing number of corporate photography buyers have been left embarrassed — or worse — after using images from microstock sites like iStockPhoto.com or photo-sharing sites like Flickr. In some cases, major companies, including direct competitors, have used identical photos in their respective marketing materials. In other cases, corporations have been sued for using photos pulled from the Web without obtaining a model release or meeting other legal requirements.
“I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.”
– Norma Desmond, Sunset Boulevard
While we see a proliferation of photography in our everyday lives, we also see it diminishing in size. Before the advent of the Web browser, our primary interaction with professional photography was in print magazines, billboards, catalogs, brochures and point-of-purchase displays. Professionals would use a loupe to visualize slides in order to see the details. Some, like Life magazine, would use projectors against a big screen to select the images they would publish.
If you want to expand your photography career to include teaching at a community college, four-year college, or university, you may need to decide whether to teach full time or part time. Because I have done both, I thought it might be useful to share some of my experiences. First, however, a few general observations about the profession of teaching.
One of the things professed geeks like me know is that we’re not model material. As such, we’re usually careful not to judge others based on their physical appearance — to avoid the “pot calling the kettle black” comeback. So when I came upon two geek blogs that bashed the appearance of a model wearing a product, I knew the issue wasn’t with the geeks doing the blogging. It was with the photography.
In 2007, I had been managing a successful wedding photography business for three years. My new clients came primarily from referrals from past clients. I had a Web site — but while it gave my business a professional identity, it wasn’t doing much to generate leads. I wanted to turn my Web site into a business driver. But where to start?
Seeking out opportunities for collaboration with others has a number of benefits. Not only does it broaden your network, it can also challenge you and help you grow as a photographer. Webster’s Dictionary has a few definitions for collaboration. The one I’d like to use for purposes of this post is “to work jointly with others or together, especially in an intellectual endeavor.”
Most of the time I try to make my photos as sharp as possible, and I go to considerable pains to be sure they are sharp. Occasionally, though, I like to soften an image in Photoshop just to give it a gentler, more romantic look.
The photo below marks my 20,000th upload to Flickr. My first photo uploaded to Flickr was on January 2, 2005. Over the past four years, sharing photos online has redefined how I view my own work. I have found inspiration from other photographers daily, and I’ve met some truly, truly amazing artists, photographers and people participating in this new world of social photography along the way.
The most recent issue of Picture Magazine includes a column by consultant Selina Maitreya on the subject of affirmations. The piece quotes Deepak Chopra: “It is not ‘you are what you eat’, rather it is ‘you are what you think’.” Maitreya goes on to encourage photographers to use affirmations as a way of marketing themselves.
Here’s an interesting question from a photography user:
I recently added a Flickr photo by a professional photographer to my blog. It had a Creative Commons Attribution License, so I linked back to the photographer’s page. A few days later, I got an email from the photographer saying the photo was copyrighted and that I couldn’t use it without his permission. I checked back and, sure enough, the Creative Commons license had been replaced by All Rights Reserved! I removed the photo rather than have an issue with the photographer — but what are my rights in this situation?
Most wedding photographers are guilty of producing complex price lists that are hard to understand. Pricing that is indecipherable to the first-time photography buyer is a stumbling block to making a sale. Your goal should be to make your price list as easy to read and digest as the menu at a fast-food restaurant.
Since my last post on Twitter photographers, I have blessedly extended my network on Twitter. Most of my new followers/friends on Twitter are photographers, and every day there are more surfacing.
I’m always preaching that the fastest way to better photos is to keep things simple. Filling the frame with a single, obvious subject, getting as close as you can and using plain backgrounds are all good paths to simplicity. Another really fun way to make things simple — especially with opaque (non-transparent) subjects that have easily recognizable shapes — is to silhouette them against a bright background.