January 24, 2018

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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Lifestyle Pictures Of Senior Citizens

Making Life Images Fun

At times lifestyle pictures of senior citizens can be fun and playful. Hence the case in this photo. The assignment was a road trip. Spend a few days on a bus with a group of senior citizens from a retirement resort touring a few tourists spot in south Florida. Check out the alligator farm and pirate ship boat ride to name just two. As part of their advertising campaign, the home wanted to show in their brochures that their elderly residents know how to have a good time. And party they did. More so on the bus. But try to borrow a newspaper from any one these spry creatures with the thought of taking away their precious crossword puzzle and you got cold stares and grunts. You'd think you were taking away their Lobster Pot special. Fierce bunch they were I must say.

So you can see spending hours on the bus still brings up fond memories. This photograph of two male buddies tooting on their kazoos and I'll be honest here, took some bribing. The women were more eager to put away their crossword puzzles although guarded and safely secured out of my reach. I think their enthusiasm just made the men more annoyed. To combat the female charge, the men resorted to loud, vigorous playing of assorted ballads that overlapped causing just plain noise. But once I became band leader I righted the ship a sing-a-long erupted to my delight.

Why am I telling you all this? A lifestyle photographer needs to direct the action or at least get the ball rolling. If I had left it up to my new pals chances were they'd go back to their puzzles or nap. Once off the bus and boarded the pirate ship they group were good sports and partook in most of the ship's activity director's plans although once again I had to take the lead. When the dance music started it was like watching a elementary school dance where men and women sat opposite each other. So I asked a lady to dance and along the way I started to take her pictures. Well, that started the stampede. More women ventured out on the deck and joined the dancing with a few men who quickly saw an opening.

And then one of the sweethearts pinched me!


kazoos ©Frank Marchese

The right personality of a lifestyle photographer is so important. Without being so outgoing, a photographer can miss the shots. It's good for a photographer to have more energy than the subjects he's shooting. Obviously in the case of this shoot it wasn't too far stretch.

Shooting Kids In Advertising Campaigns

Advertising Strategies That Work

One of the joys of being an advertising photographer is to work shooting kids in advertising campaigns. This photo was done for a furniture company. It's obvious that your eye goes to the little painter and that the furniture is an after thought. This type of passive advertising works because of the bold yellow colored shape that frames the boy. Using a strong graphic in a composition sets the mood of the picture. This photo would have been less successful if I had chosen to shoot without the color paint leaving just a monochromatic field of off-white.


© Frank Marchese Photography

At the top of the photo is room for a headline or if the art director chose to run a spread ad this photo could take up one full page leaving the other page for the client's message. All of what I just said has to be worked out before hand. Knowing graphic design helps photo composition. How important is it to place our little painter in the center of the the chairs? Take a look at the ladder. It sits in the center of the frame like a rocket pointed toward the sky. The composition works because with the help of the ladder, your eye is drawn upward at the boy. That's where the action is.

The boy is doing something in the photo. He's believable. It's as if a moment in time has been captured. And it has. A parent of young children might be thinking the worst is yet to come. When will the boy spill paint on the chairs? There's already a paint can on one of the chairs. Horrors indeed! In advertising you want the consumer to react to your visual. How long can you hold the consumer's attention? Keep them there looking at the picture long enough and it will be remembered.

Good graphics, color and creativity holds good composition together. Shooting kids in advertising campaigns can be memorable. It just starts with a simple idea. Then you need to execute that idea.




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.

Location Photography – We Love Tomorrowland

...Commentary by Be A Photo Ninja

Whether you're into location photography or not, a good idea of finding the right place to make your photographs can often make all the difference in the world in making successful and unique images that are recognized as unique to you and your way of seeing as a photographer. If you are serious about learning how to make better photographs then you really can't leave things to chance. You need to think about what you need to do in order to create a photographic image that takes it from being a lucky snapshot to one that is more compelling, inspiring, wondrous or mysterious to those that view it.

I recently came across a great photo shoot series called Tomorrowland by Paris based photographer Ben Sandler. The Tomorrowland shoot was inspired by the TV show Mad Men and was shot at the mid century modernism masterpiece Maison Carre outside of Paris. With a sharp eye for detail Sandler captures the feel of the upwardly mobile swing sixties in this series of photographs. While first observation is that these are straight forward photographs, perhaps typical of what one would expect to see in a fashion layout, closer observation reveals that they are in fact location photography from a very altered perspective of reality.

Tomorrowland is a glimpse into a world that only exists in the mind of the photographer/artist who dreamt it up and was able to create a credible facsimile of it based on his skills as a very good photographer/artist, and his dedication to finding the right location to make the photographs appear credible

One of the best things that has happened to photography in the last 10 or so years is the ability to manipulate your imagery in the computer with all kinds of software to create photographs that appear to be real yet are made up fantasies where the event being recorded might never of occurred but the ability to composite in a realistic manner leads us to see and believe we are looking at an actual event or place where the image was made.

While its important to remember that the photographs made by Mr. Sandler were actual places and events that he modified with the aide of the computer, the credibility of the photography is due in large part to the location he chose and how he used the place to achieve the desired look he wanted.

I know I often find myself photographing empty scenes or locations that I find interesting with the hopes of being able to use them down the road either for a commercial assignments or with the hopes that I can use the shots down the road to build an altered reality photographic image of some kind.

In a perfect world photographers would have the ability to develop an idea for their photo shoot, getting the right models and props together and just go the location to make the photographs but things don't always lend themselves to that. You may find yourself in a great spot sometime with no model or a clue as to how you might use the shot, only knowing in your gut that it is a location or place you should photograph right then. You might not have a clear use for the photograph of the place or the location when you take it, but it might prove to be the missing link you need to create a photo masterpiece of your own.

See more of Ben Sandler's photographs where the place tells a story from his unique point of view.


Tomorrowland_ ©Ben Sandler

...Commentary by Be A Photo Ninja

How To Photograph People Of Different Color

Studio Lighting And The Effects On Skin Tone

Many amateur photographers can get hung up on how to photograph people of different color when taking a portrait using studio lighting. If you know how to control your lighting then it really isn't that hard. If you just think about the problem you will come to realize that for dark skin people you will need to use more light since the skin will absorb it more than let's say a person with light skin. When you find yourself in a position where this issue may be problematic, the best way to handle it is to be prepared.

Let's say you are doing some individual corporate shots where you created one set-up where you expect people will be walking onto the set throughout the day. You do a lighting test with your pasty white skin assistant, correct your exposure and declare to the powers-at-be that you're ready to go - so send them in one at a time. Everything is going smoothly until people of various colored skin stand posed under the lights. Well if you're not paying attention, your next exposure for the face is going to be dark. Maybe a half stop, maybe a full stop. In any case you need to pay attention.

Sure you can make corrections with your digital file, but that isn't the point. You want to become a master of your lighting regardless if its in a studio or out on location. If you simply rely on the easy way out, you're won't improve your skill level. Now let's say you'll be shooting men with suit jackets on and men without suit jacks on. All men are wearing crisp, starched white shirts. Do you see a potential problem here? A Caucasian male wearing just a white dress shirt shouldn't be too much of a problem in your exposure settings. You might have to scrim the light on the shirt a bit without blowing the shirt out. But the real problem lies when you shoot an Afro-American wearing a white dress shirt. If you expose for the face, the shirt will blow out. If you expose for the shirt, the face becomes to dark. Yes, you're probably reading this and thinking there is always Photoshop. Don't rely on that fix. Improve your craft as a photographer. Be a master of your lighting.

So what do you do when faced the the problem I just mentioned above? Find a way to reduce the light on the shirt without sacrificing your light on the face. If you're shooting studio strobes, use one small diffused light on the face, and use another just for the shirt. Either adjust the power of your lights or adjust the distance of the lights to the target area. Or use additional diffusion material to cut down the power on the shirt.

One final note on how to photograph people of different color. If the client doesn't want to pony up for a make-up artist, pay attention to the shine on the faces. And it doesn't matter what color the person's skin is. Bring along a small make-up kit with some powder and pads. Use enough just to kill the shine. Some men might get squirmy but most will go with the flow. It all depends how you approach the issue of shine. Yes, we all shine under the lights.


Black-White-Portraits ©Frank Marchese

Urban America – Street Photography

Here is a little bit of Vienna from my travel photography log. It's street photography meets landscape photography in an urban setting. The photo was taken years ago when I was shooting only film. Yes, it's a lot of grain, but that adds to the nostalgic charm. Today in the digital world we see less grain. Cameras are built to give the photographer maximum resolution. Larger files. Tighter grain. And course you'll always have Photoshop. It's not the same as film grain, but it's something if you are going for this type of look in your photography.

I did most of my street photography while I was studying photography in school. Back then as now I am influenced by photographers who skillfully craft their unique vision, who stand out from the crowd, who make their photographs their art.

Vienna ©Frank Marchese

Vienna © Frank Marchese

Garry Winogrand

One of my favorite photographers who took his eye to the street and made it his canvas was Garry Winogrand. The man was an animal with the 35mm Leica camera, shooting quickly and freely capturing the American urban lifestyle landscape.


Women Are Beautiful © Garry Winogrand

Winogrand often captured the energy of the events he was witnessing. While his unique style has been imitated by many photographers who followed after him, myself included, there was no denying Winogrand's visual style, the use of the wide-angle lens, the tilted camera, the different use of angles. He seemed to have documented it all; street performers, press conferences, country fairs, the social elite, the country poor, the working class to beautiful women.

Vivian Maier

Another great street photographer who was just as prolific a shooter as was Winogrand was a less known, amateur who did her business on the streets of Chicago. Vivian Maier may have worked as a nanny but her talent as a photographer shooting Urban America in the second half of the twentieth century is seemingly beyond belief. Equipped with her twin reflex camera, her compositions using the full square frame, Maier puts much of her emphasis to the center. Often you see portraits center similar to her self-portrait seen here. Like Winogrand in New York City, this Chicagoan took advantage of the city architecture and the stark light that often cast shadows across faces, objects and buildings. Her eye trained to focus the action to the center of the frame has in itself made us the viewers force to see this first before we venture out to the ends of the photo where shapes and figures compliment the story.


Self Portrait © Vivian Maier

Winogrand and Maier did all this before the digital world. A time of the black and white negative. The hand held light meter. Shooting styles change, our society has changed, even technology advances make up a different landscape for the today's photographer. Yet creativity in today's photographers are off the chart. This is the age of photography. It's a great time to be a photographer.