December 14, 2017

Photography Workshops Help Hone Your Skills

Classes In Photography For Beginners

Photography workshops are worth the investment maybe more so than the price you paid for your expensive camera. Because if you do not know how to properly use the camera then you just wasted your money. But there is help for the beginning photographer. Photography programs such as photography workshops taught by professional photographers are available on all skill levels. In most major cities you can take a photography lesson at a school sponsored by adult education. Some professional shooters put on their own classes and you can also find online photography workshops.

Yes you can read books. Yes you can experiment on your own, but there is nothing like hands on instruction from people who have mastered their craft. Popular photography workshops that are not held online usually take up a two day weekend or with the more expensive ones can run you through a full week.

Teaching workshops to beginner photographers is a labor of love for the professional. At this stage in his career giving back knowledge is worth his time spent, especially when the students heed his instructions. Sometimes a professional photographer may have an intern assistant help him on assignments, but these scenarios are limited. And if you already have full employment especially in another line of business then what? What all this means is that there are few opportunities to learn photography from a pro. The exception is photography workshops.

Classes are usually themed based. For instance, if you just want to learn how to take better pictures, then you would seek out a class in photo composition. If you wanted to learn the basic fundamentals of your camera, then you would take a class in such. And there are advanced classes too for those that have a good knowledge of photography but want to raise their skill level up a notch.

Taking pictures is fun. So check out photography workshops. It's a great way to spend a few days with fellow comrades.

The Art Of Fine Art Photography

The art of fine art photography to a creative photographer revolves around a personal vision. An artistic journey in which case the artist himself leads the viewer down. The photographer who works on his art does it without any commercial intent. But sometimes art and commerce meet. And when it does the photographer can gain some financial rewards.

Sling Shot

Sling Shot © Frank Marchese

Over the years I have seen many advertising agencies take the work of fine art photographers and use this work for their client's campaigns. Even if the artist's photograph is never used for commercial purposes, the work can spin off other create ideas for the ad agency creatives. Ideas regardless if they are original or not are often copied and exploited. Even if the artist isn't hired to shoot the paying assignment, sometimes the work is still adapted to look somewhat similar and in some cases blatant plagiarism rears its ugly head.

Many photographers enjoy commercial success as well as reigning fine art photography status. Photographers who make their living shooting assignment work often make time for themselves working on their personal vision. They will seek out opportunities to show off this new work sometimes in their commercial portfolio and other times to gallery owners. Fine art photographers usually stay clear of selling their work commercial to agencies. One reason may be the lack of desire to do so, or their lack of commercial contacts. Yet sometimes as luck would have it for the fine art photographer, commercial possibilities can find them.

If the fine art photographer gets awarded commercial exposure of his work chances are the artist has found a new audience. And with exposure may come creative fame.

Model Portfolios

Model Portfolios


Model Famicia © Frank Marchese

I am often asked by parents looking for information about how to get their children into modeling. Many young children do not have to go through the process and expense of putting together a portfolio of pictures of themselves. Because a young child grows up fast and changes from year to year a recent picture of the child is in most cases good enough for a modeling agency to review. If the modeling agency has interest in representing the child, they may ask the parents to provide to them a professional head shot to be considered for their website.

Some agencies may suggest to the parents that the child do a series of shots in order to put together a composite card. Usually these are oversized postcards printed on both sides. The pictures here may be a series of the child wearing different outfits showing different poses and expressions. One side of the card is usually reserved for the head shot. When it comes to selecting a child for an advertising shoot, most agencies will submit these composite cards to clients for selection. In most large cities, a child might have to go to a casting call where a casting agent would take the child's picture and measurement information. And they do this with good reason. Like I mentioned, children grow up fast. Their composite card might be out of date. The child has just recently cut her hair. The child might be missing some of her baby teeth and if she were to smile...well, you get the picture, right?

Most parents think their child is beautiful to be a model. But be careful what you wish for. Just like soccer moms running every which way chauffeuring their child to practices and games, a mom taking her child to casting calls isn't any more fun. It's time consuming. Yet if the mom and child are very committed then they're rewards. A child selected to be part of a still ad or brochure or a television commercial gets paid. The modeling agency acts as the representative handling the monetary compensation. The child becomes part of a photo shoot. The shoot itself can be a fun experience for the child and if the child doesn't lack self esteem most likely the child will have a great experience.

Sometimes these child actors or models as they grow up into adults may continue to pursue a career in the modeling or acting field. In my sample this actress needed new shots for her portfolio. She is custom to go on auditions so having a body of work to present to casting directors is a must. But in most cases actors just need a good head shot to go along with their personal resume.

So how does a parent go about getting decent pictures of their child? One is to hire and pay a professional photographer. The other is to see if a professional photographer would in exchange for money photograph the child to be used in the photographer's own portfolio.

This is called testing. Over the years if I had an idea for a picture or I wanted to put something together for a specific portfolio, I often sought out talent willing to be photographed in exchange for prints to be used for their personal portfolio. This type of agreement works out for both parties.

If this sounds like a good direction to take then seek out commercial photographers in your area. See if they are interested in testing with your child, and if so take a meeting. Another way is to research the professional modeling agencies close to you (not modeling schools), and check out their website. Ask the agent what is needed for your child to be considered to become part of the agency. Ask to refer names of some photographers they have relationships with.

Lastly, the same advice applies to the parent as well. Many modeling agencies welcome new faces. A young mother may have the bug to model herself once she sees what is needed to get into the business. It could be a source of extra income. And a boost in self esteem. Enjoy the journey.

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Thinking Of Shooting Stock Photography

How Best To Sell Your Stock Pictures


Girl Feeding Horse © Frank Marchese

Thinking of developing a stock photography library with the intention of selling images to stock photo agencies or directly to advertising art buyers or magazine photo editors? Consider shooting what you know first.

Shoot What You Know

If you are already shooting in a specific category already say sports where you know in this category clients do in fact buy images, then it would be smart to stick to what you know best. As an example, if you are an avid snowboarder or skateboarder, then you probably have access to other boarders just like yourself. Board sports is a great niche. Honing your photographic skills and doing it with something you love makes perfect sense. Here's why. If you love what you do you're more than likely to invest oodles of hours into your craft. And because you're investing time, you'll more than likely whether it becomes obvious or not to you, develop your creative eye. Your attention to detail will be sharper. Your sense of composition becomes more refined. You'll improve your editing process.

Shoot Variations

Shoot close-up. Shoot pulled back. Shoot with different lenses. Shoot different angles. Change your depth of field. Vary the focal point of interest. If you are shooting skateboarders shoot non-action as well. Faces. Individual and group shots. Shoot different emotions. Give your potential client as much dramatic POV shots you can. Don't be one note. Get your client excited about your work. The more variations you provide the client the less likely he will be bored. And right now you may only be thinking of selling stock, but don't be surprised if your work is good enough to warrant a paid assignment. It happens.

Keep It Simple. Keep It Real

Watch your composition. Try not to junk up the shot. Shoot real moments. Watch out for fake expressions. Too many times photographers often think and shoot as if their finger is glued to the shutter sending the motor drive ripping forward. There still is a thought process taking place while you shoot. Slow down your caffeinated self and think before clicking the shutter. Remember you're the one who will be editing your files.

Know What Sells

Again referencing skateboarders. Look at what is being published in magazines. Learn from it. But avoid shooting cliches. Cliches are overdone, tired, and should never be portrayed in your work if you ever really want your work to stand out. If you haven't already start a Tumblr account. Tumblr is eye candy. Here you can show off your images and hook up with other photo junkies who may re-post your work. And get yourself a Flickr and Facebook account. Build a WordPress Blog. And don't forget to tag your photos. Agency art buyers and art directors along with photo editors are always looking outside the normal stock agencies channels. It's their job to find images to use. Shooting what you know and loving what you do will take you far in stock photography.

Winning Composition On Location Photography


female portrait on location © Frank Marchese

When doing on location photography especially when shooting a portrait where you elect to show the full body, it is extremely important to be aware of your composition because you'll be exposing more real estate. I like to think of it this way. If I were to remove my subject from my field of view and was only left with the background, would the composition still hold up on its own? If so, then placing your subject back into the frame should lend itself to a much stronger visual.

That said let's take a look of my thought process doing on location photography in particular this photo. The white fence really stood out against the tall grass field and the set back wooden area. I knew it would be my focal point within the composition. The three stiles gradually running out of frame in perspective was a strong graphic shape. I immediately then knew that my subject needed to stand tall against this fence. Question was should she be in front or behind the fence. Once I saw her position herself behind the fence, with her bent knee, arms locked, elbow resting on the post while she gazed off in the distance, I saw it all unfold before I even snapped the shutter. Sometimes if you shoot enough portraits, and you allow time to pass before you over direct them, you just have to watch what your subject's body language is doing.

Woman In Field

Woman In Field © Frank Marchese

Here is another example: "Woman in Field" where it looks similar to the woman leaning on the fence. This time I came in close. I placed the woman the the extreme right side of my frame, and I left the background somewhat ambiguous. If you lived all your life in the urban city and never ventured out to the farmlands you may at first have no idea what this background is let alone what a bale of rolled hay looks like. The hay like the white fence is a holding device not to distract or take away anything of my portrait, but to compliment it. With the woman leaning against the hay, noticed my use of selective focus. Just a hint of the hay is actually in focus. The rest fades off as part of the landscape.

I shot this with a restored 4x5 Deardorff view camera I purchased when I lived in New York City. The camera came in a box in pieces. I didn't even know if I had all the parts. I had to call up the company for the missing parts, but once I had them all I was able to put back the camera in one piece. It was a great large format camera to take on location, and especially to use it with shooting portraiture. Yes. it's old school. But since I began my professional career shooting studio still lifes with the large format, taking one on location to shoot people wasn't too difficult of a choice. Just for the record, the photo at the top of the page was shot with a medium format Hasselblad.

Making The Case For Shooting Continuous Lighting

Shooting continuous lighting is different than shooting with strobe lighting. From professional advertising photographers to wedding photographers, strobe lighting is the preferred choice for dependability and ease of use. Usually non-professional photographers get their start with buying cameras with built-in flash. Later as they grow into their craft, they most likely will shift depending on the type of photography they go into buy portable flashes or studio strobes. Fashion photographers are the one professional group that enjoy the use both continuous and strobe lighting for their still shoots.

Male Boxer

Male Boxer ©Frank Marchese

Movie studios use a continuous light source system. If you see any behind the scenes look at a movie being made you will see these "hot lights" on the set. Back in the days of old Hollywood, contract stars had their glamour publicity shots photographed this way often with large format cameras. Back in the 30's George Hurell made the Hollywood glamour portrait famous. These striking black and white photos made dramatic by the use of how Mr. Hurell shaped his light. Shadows fell it just the right spots shaping angular faces, bringing sparkle to fixed eyes that stared at you.

So what advantages do these lights have over strobes? For one unlike strobe you get to see the shape of your light on your subject. And you can shoot fast without the wait time a strobe needs to recharge. With ARRI lighting and fluorescent tubes making a comeback with advertising photographers, it might be worth the time for you to experiment with this type of lighting. These lights are expensive. Bulbs are not cheap. The equipment is heavy and cumbersome. But depending on where you live rental units are available. Who knows, continuous lighting just might add a new dimension to your photographs?

Photography Props: Using The Stool In Corporate Photographs

One of the best photography props to use when shooting a studio portrait is a stool. Okay so you tell your subject - take a seat. Now what? Most times your subjects will sit the way they always sit on a stool and in most cases you will be directing them to get what you want because subjects will slump, sway backwards and generally look uncomfortable in their seats. They want to be directed.

If you are shooting the standard head and shoulder shot so often sought after by most corporate clients, positioning your subject to lean slightly toward the camera instead of away from the camera makes for a more compelling portrait. You want to avoid your subject leaning back. If this happens the head gets smaller, the body looks bigger and the photo becomes less engaging. The more your subject looks confident and comfortable the better the photograph. Here's a simple technique that will help you shoot a better head and shoulder portrait.

Pamela Williams ©frank marchese photo

Pamela Williams ©Frank Marchese

While sitting on the stool, have your subject put one foot forward on the floor with the other foot resting on the stool. If your subject can't reach the floor with his foot without looking strained, set a wooden box on the floor in front of him. Next try to shoot some variations in body positions. First ask the subject to keep his shoulders square to you - very frontal. Have him sit profile, ask him to open up his shoulders and start clicking away as he continues to open his shoulders up. Do the same from the other side. Do all this always watching the angle of the subject's head. Chin up. Chin down.

If your subject wears glasses watch for reflections. Even non-glare lens may be problematic. You may have to adjust the height of your light source, your camera angle, or the position of your subject's head to correct any unwanted glare.

Still doing all this technical stuff still won't guarantee a good portrait, unless you have the personality to make your subject relax. Make the portrait session fun. With all of your directives, chin up - chin down - look here - shoulders back - turn your head toward the light - take a deep breath, a little humor wouldn't hurt. And by the way, you can always pull back and show a little of the stool.

Having Fun With Product Photography

Product photography can benefit from showing the product in use just as much as the physical product itself. The image of the young woman with rollers picking food from her teeth with her finger is just one way to dramatically show off a client's product which in this case being nail polish. Notice how the color red balances the starkness of the model's pale white skin and her dark mahogany hair all against a white background. In advertising the product, the photo works well next to the bottle of polish itself otherwise one wouldn't be sure of the story here. Nonetheless, it's still a cool pic. Then there is this one.

Cat Cam Photography Makes Seattle Cat A Rising Star In Artworld.

cat cam photography by Seattle based cat/artisit Cooper.It seems that humans are not the only ones on the planet that are photo-ninjas.

Take the case of Seattle based cat cam artist Cooper, who over the last three years has seen demand for his fine art cat cam photographs catapult his career as a fine art photographer to new heights. With personal appearances on Animal Planet, Today Show Australia, and rave reviews in People Magazine, Cooper the fine art cat cam photographer is the darling of the media.

Coopers fame, fortune, and notoriety continue to grow upward daily. Just so you know, we became aware of Cooper through an article on the Huffington Post Art Info section that caught our eye. You can see by the title,
Is This Cat A Great Photographer? The Seattle Art Scene's Feline Phenomenon, why we had to read it.

While at first it is easy to see how this could come off as a joke, it got me thinking hmmm... maybe there's something to this. Let's see what happens when I Google " Best Cat Cam Photos " to my surprise over 180,000,000 search page results came back and Cooper's photography was right at the top of the listings in position number 2.

While there may not be that many people searching for cat cam photography, there are enough and that has allowed Cooper the ability to concentrate on his art work more, and further develop and grow his career as a fine art photographer. Recently he expanded the demand for his framed fine art photography prints into several other merchandising products. Like many successful contemporary fine art and commercial artist before him have done ( Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Gary Baseman to name just three.) he has tapped into a fan base that continues to support him regardless of what medium he works in, or what the critics may say or do.

After looking at this work more I can somewhat understand the clamor that has been created by fans trying to purchase it, and see why Cooper's fame as an artist continues to grow.
cat cam fine art photography by CooperWhen I look at the fine art photos taken with the cat camera by Cooper they remind me somewhat of the work produced by abstract expressionist artist, very spontaneous and free flowing yet with a very distinct and identifiable point of view.

Despite digital photography's ability to easily manipulate the viewer into a false sense of reality using tools like Photoshop, one does not get that feeling when viewing these fine art cat cam photos by Cooper. The reality that Cooper's cat cam photos present is more in line with what many of the great documentary photographers and photo realist of the 20th century have produced, yet remains unique and original to Cooper's photographic vision and sensibilities.

When all of these factors are combined it is no wonder that Cooper is causing such a buzz in the fine art photography world, and it leaves me wondering if I should try to buy one of his paw signed prints before the demand for his work and the price it commands escalate from reach.

To read more about Cooper and see a collection of his work click here