Conversation #3 with Ibarionex Perello about Inspiration

Today, I enjoyed a conversation with photographer, author and podcaster Ibarionex Perello. Based in California, Ibarionex launched The Candid Frame podcast 6 years ago. It has been one of my favorite podcasts for years and one that has inspired me while listening to photographers from all walks of life. During our conversation, Ibarionex and I discuss some memorable podcasts. We also chat about ways to get out of the occasional creative rut that every artist seems to go through.

I cannot recommend The Candid Frame podcast enough, check it out on iTunes! You can also find out more about Ibarionex and his work by visiting his website.

Podcast episodes that we mentioned during our conversation:

#214 Sam Abell 

#182 Angelo Merendino

#101 Chris Porsz

#105 William Albert Allard

Some of my favorite episodes:

#210 Elliott Erwitt

#87 Jay Maisel

#113 Richard Koci Hernandez

(I had the honor to be his guest on episode #154!)

Thank you for visiting this blog, please leave a comment and let me know if you enjoy it!

Question #28: About Feeling Uncomfortable To Shoot Street Photography

Q: "I recently discovered your work and what you capture is simply amazing. I have ventured the streets of Chicago a time or two with my D700 and find myself uncomfortable in a way. I feel like I am doing something wrong, is that a normal feeling? I usually do portraits and music photography but I see so much on the streets, I feel the moments need to be captured. What advice would you give to feel comfortable shooting on the streets? I often see moments when walking around but for somereason, I let them go by. Thank you for taking the time to answer." Jr Wyatt

A: " Thank you for your kind words Jr! This is a very normal feeling and most street photographers feel more or less uneasy at first. It's a matter of getting to the point when the desire to document life in the streets becomes stronger than the fear of doing it. 

There are several things you may want to consider:

  • First, as long as you are respectful of others and you are in a public place, you're not doing anything wrong! I make a point to never photograph people in an embarrassing or vulnerable situation or in a moment of crisis.
  • Hit the streets with a friend until you gain enough confidence to go out on your own. Even if your friend is not a photographer, having another person with you will embolden you. 
  • Practice in a busy place, a fair or a market. It's easier to blend in.
  • You may want to consider going out with a smaller camera or use your camera phone. You will attract less attention to yourself than shooting with a dslr.  
  • Join one of my street photography workshops, shameless plug :) I'll be in Chicago in May! Many workshop students shoot their first street photography during the workshop, it's amazing how much confidence they gain in just two days!
  • Here are some articles I recently wrote for dPS that may give you some useful tips on getting over the fear of photographing strangers.

How to Approach Street Photography in 12 easy steps

How to Make a Portrait of a Stranger in 8 Easy Steps

Get out there an have fun, don't hide behind a big lens, get close and enjoy the experience. Good luck!

©Valérie Jardin

©Valérie Jardin

Please leave a comment below and share your experience with the community. If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions! 

Conversation #2 With Frederick Van Johnson About Marketing For Photographers

Frederick_Headshot.jpg

Hello!

I'm excited to share my conversation with photographer, TWiP podcast host and marketer extraordinaire Frederick Van Johnson.

Frederick is not only the familiar voice behind the microphone on TWiP, he is a busy photographer and the founder of Mediabytes.

 

 

During this fun conversation Frederick shares some nuggets of information about social media marketing, blogging, branding, etc. I hope you enjoy it as much I did!

Follow Frederick on Google+ and Twitter

    

 

 

Question#27: About Photographic Skills

Q: "Hi Valerie, I have always wanted to learn photography. Though I'm far from being even a novice in photography but have a very strong urge to learn it. My question is whether photography is for those born with a seed for it or can a person develop it as a skill from 0 (like me) ?

In addition to it, what must be my approach to learn photography because at present all I have is a point-and-shoot camera. Do I need to start with a workshop or any other way?  Thanks." U. Kartikey

A: "That's a great question and a topic that many probably wonder about but never ask! There's never been a better time to learn photography. Everything that you need to learn about the technical aspect of the craft is available online and mostly for free. This is a huge advantage what didn't exist 15 years ago even! For some, a classroom setting is better than learning online and there are photography classes offered everywhere through community colleges, etc.

You are also raising a very good point about 'natural talent' and the part it plays in the outcome. Learning the technical aspects of photography is the easy part that is accessible to all. Everyone can take a technically great picture but not everyone can make a compelling image. The rest of the ingredients you need is a combination of passion, determination and LOTS of practice. I do believe in natural talent but that comes in various forms. We are all talented at something. Some will see a perfect composition right away without ever having to think about composition rules. Others will have the ability to see a story in a frame and, with the technical skills they acquired with experience, will be able capture that moment flawlessly. Some new photographers have such great people skills, they can position themselves as portrait photographers because they have a natural talent at interacting with their subject, etc.

If you are just starting out, try a lot of different things until you find one genre (or several) that you are truly passionate about. If you focus on what you love, you're half way there! With passion, determination and experience you will grow and develop a style. 

About gear: Your point and shoot probably has some manual settings that you can experiment with. Start with what you own. Remember that the camera doesn't make the photograph and you can take killer shots with any point and shoot or camera phone. As your skills improve and you start to feel limited by your gear, then consider upgrading. Go to a camera store, rent or experiment with a friend's camera to determine what feels right for you. It may not be a DSLR system, there are hundreds of choices out there. There are no bad cameras. Take your time to figure out what you really want to spend your money on.

©Valérie Jardin

©Valérie Jardin

About education: As I mentioned above, most of what you need to learn on how to use your camera is available for free, you can also learn a lot about techniques and composition online. Join a local photo community or photo walk group. Start a photo project such as a 365 day challenge. Anything that will make you want to go out and shoot everyday! Photo workshops are also a great way to learn in the field with like-minded people. There are many options available that range from a few hours to a few weeks.

Most importantly, shoot for yourself. Do not worry about pleasing others with your pictures (or we'd all be photographing kittens and puppies to post on Facebook...) Follow your heart and your vision. As long as you are not shooting for clients, make yourself happy first! As you grow, get some honest and reliable critique of your work in order to improve on it.

Remember the number one rule: Have fun with your camera! I hope this helps and I wish you the best." Valérie

Please leave a comment below and share your experience with the community. If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions! 

Question #26: About The Cold And Your Camera

Question #26: About The Cold And Your Camera

I received two questions today related to cold weather and how to protect your camera. Since it's very cold over here in the Midwest, I thought I would write a quick post to answer them right away.

Q: "How to protect the camera from the cold and condensation when bringing it back indoors" Maria Cecilia

And

Q: "Equipement protection and care in very cold conditions and back into the warmth." Bruno C

A: "Living in Minnesota, where the hottest temperature ever recorded was 114°F (46°C) and the coldest temperature on record was a chilly -60°F (-51°C), I think I am semi qualified to answer those questions...

Cameras don't like extreme temperatures, photographers usually don't like them much either... This post is about the cold so here is my advice:

Your main worry is a mirror lock up when the lubricant that helps activate the moving parts freezes. Cameras can usually handle cold temperatures. For example, the Canon 5D Mark II has a cold rating of 32°/104°F (0°/40°C). I've had mine out for extended periods of time at much colder temperatures and never had a problem. Check your manual to find out the cold rating data for your camera model.

Another thing to worry about when the temperature dips: The battery will wear out much faster so make sure you carry a spare or two that you keep in a pocket as close to your body heat as possible. Smaller cameras don't have as many moving parts, and no mirror freeze up to worry about, but their batteries will drain even faster so be prepared for that. 

When out in the cold, your camera doesn't need any special protection as long as it is dry. In case of a heavy snowstorm, any camera rain sleeve will do. The key is to keep moisture and condensation from building up on your camera and lens. Excessive moisture on your lenses can cause mold to form inside the lens, which will ruin it. To prevent damage from condensation, here is what you need to do: Before you go back inside your house or car, make sure you seal your camera in an air-tight plastic bag. This will allow the camera to reach room temperature while the condensation builds on the outside of the bag, not on your precious gear. One more thing: Avoid changing lenses in adverse weather!!

If' you're on a 'photo drive' and make frequent stops. Don't even bother turning the heat on in your car in between photo stops. You're already dressed for the cold weather, so keep the gear as close to the same temperature as the outside temp as possible to keep the lens from fogging up, then put it in a plastic bag when you're ready to pack up and head home.

You also need to take care of yourself. Frostbites hurt! Dressing in layers is key. Keep extra feet and hand warmers pouches in your camera bag. They don't always stay warm for as long as it says on the package... If you've never heard of feet or hand warmers, they are small pouches of iron powder, charcoal and saw dust that, when combined and exposed to air, react and create an oxidation that produces heat (there may be another ingredient or two, I'm not a chemist!) They stay warm for about 6 hours. Those little pouches are a life saver when you spend time outdoors during the Minnesota Winter. 

Photographers also need be able to have full use of their fingers to adjust camera settings but, in extreme cold conditions, you just cannot take your gloves off safely. I wear touch screen gloves under my super-warm mittens. They are well fitted to let me adjust camera settings and to answer my iPhone with the special touch screen finger tip technology. 

Skin freezes very quickly, leave as little of it exposed as possible. Wearing a balaclava and good sunglasses will protect you. I wear boots that are rated for extremely cold temperatures but my feet will still get cold if I don't keep moving. Warm socks and feet warmers really help keep you comfortable. This doesn't sound very fashionable you may say... Well, you're on a photography mission, not a fashion show. And frankly, when it's that cold, I doubt you run into too many other people ;)

I hope this helps my photographer friends who are currently living cold places. Please share your experience and/or tips in the comment section. Stay warm and happy shooting!"  Valérie

©Valérie Jardin

©Valérie Jardin

©Valérie Jardin

©Valérie Jardin

Winter driving... No worries, I was shooting from the passenger seat! ©Valérie Jardin

Winter driving... No worries, I was shooting from the passenger seat! ©Valérie Jardin

If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions! 

Conversation #1 With Street Photographer Fokko Muller

Bonjour!

This is the first of a new series of conversations with photographers from all over the world. I will continue to answer questions on this blog as well, so please keep those them coming!

profile photo fokko muller.jpg

Today I would like to introduce you to Dutch Street Photographer Fokko Muller. Fokko lives in Emmen in The Netherlands. He has been shooting street photography since 2010. He is the co-founder and member of The Street Collective . He also gives lectures about street photography and teaches workshops in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. His work has received awards and was exhibited at the State Center of Fine Arts in Novosibirsk. Fokko also writes for Fotoclub, a Dutch online publication.

You can find out more about Fokko Muller by visiting his website.

I invite you to view the conversation on the video below:

My Conversation With Street Photographer Fokko Muller

©Fokko Muller

©Fokko Muller

©Fokko Muller

©Fokko Muller

Question #25: About The Ethics Of The Street Photographer

Q: "Hi Valerie! As I explore the art of street photography, (viewing various social media boards, reading blogs, beginning to develop my own eye,etc) I wonder about the ethics of picking a shot and posting/publishing. This is not a question on the legal issues. I see photographers shooting the homeless, troubled, disabled, and often times it feels exploitive. I wonder sometimes if these photographers in some way feel superior to their subjects or that this is the modern social media version of a carnival freak show to them. Recently I saw a photo posted on a Street Photography board showing two clearly overweight women sitting on a wall near a beach and the photographer titled it "A big day out." This was followed by some rather snarky comments that suggested to me the photographer and these viewers were mocking the women photographed. I find these photos troubling and I would love to hear your thoughts." Joe C.

A: "Great question Joe, thank you for submitting it. This is a point I discuss with my students at length at the beginning of my street photography workshops. I am a street photographer, not a photojournalist. I always stress the fact that I do not photograph people is an embarrassing or vulnerable situation. The same applies for people in a time of crisis or a moment of ridicule. I put myself in the subject's shoes and if I feel like I would have a problem with a picture of me in that same situation being published, then I don't shoot it. Street photography is all about respect.

I don't believe in photographing the homeless just to get an easy shot. On the other hand, for the purpose of telling a story, the subject in his/her environment can make a powerful image. I would then have an interaction with the subject, share a few words before making a street portrait. This would more likely be part of a photo essay with a series of images.

Humor is an important part of street photography but humor does not mean ridicule. Humor can be subtle and tell a story. Making fun of someone just for the sake of getting a good laugh is not something I condone. There again, how would you feel if the situation was reversed?

Street photography is recording a moment in time, a slice of life. Respect is the number one rule. Anything else is of disservice to the community and only makes it more and more difficult for street photographers to do their job.

I would love to hear what others have to say about this topic. Thanks again for your question Joe!"

Please leave a comment below and share your experience with the community. If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions! 

Question #24: About Watermarking Images

Q: "I am interested on your views on watermarking images. In todays market theft of images seems to be a growing concern of some photographers. Also some countries seem to be changing their laws which will make use of "author unknown" (i.e. the users doesn't look too hard) images without payment, permission or acknowledgement of copyright easier. Contrary to this many photo editors do not wish to see images with watermarks yet throughout history painters have always in some way signed their art and these signatures have been used to verify authenticity of their work. Should we as photographers not be allowed to authenticate our work? What are your views on watermarking and protecting the copyright of our work?" Derrick M
 

A: "Great question Derrick! I also like your analogy with signatures on paintings. I do watermark my images most of the time for social media use. The reason why I do it is not to prevent theft, it's to leave 'an address' in case someone wants to see more of my work. My name is small but visible and they can just Google it to find me.

Watermarks can easily be removed and they don't seem to stop anyone from using your images. You are the copyright owner of the image the minute you press the shutter. You can certainly pursue someone for copyright infringement whether your images are registered at the copyright office or not. Registration will give you a lot more leverage. The question is: Do you want to spend all that energy doing it? Is it worth it? Some photographers actually make a nice side income by suing for copyright infringements. My theory is that there are more well-intentioned people out there than dishonest ones and the latter are not worth wasting my energy on them.

Watermarks are not a bad thing if they are very unobtrusive, almost transparent, and located in a corner where they are the least distracting.

I don't like to see watermarks on a professional website portfolio. Why? The client is on your site, they know who the photographs belong to, they should be able to see your work without the distraction of a watermark.

I really dislike seeing watermarks in the middle of a picture. Why? It reminds me of the old proofs that were stamped ten times with the word 'Proof'. A watermark anywhere on or next to the subject of the photograph screams: "I don't trust you" and is very distracting. 

To sum it up, I don't mind discreet watermarks as a form of identification. They are not a deterrent to theft. If you share you images on social media, you run the risk of someone posting them as their own. It's a risk you take. Now it's up to you to determine if the benefit of showing your work to thousands of people is worth the risk of a few of them using it without your consent...

I hope this answers your question Derrick. Happy shooting!"

Please leave a comment below and share your experience with the community. If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions! 

Question #23: About Presets

Q: "I would like to hear your thoughts on software for photo-enhancing beyond Lightroom and Photoshop. Are they helpful and do they add something the basic editing software does not? Also, the same question related to presets for Lightroom or Photoshop? And if you do find them helpful, how in the world does one decide which ones to purchase as there seems to be so many available?" Melanie Barrett

A: "Hi Melanie and thank you for your question! There are some wonderful enhancing software programs and presets out there, I just don't use them... I find programs such as PS, Lightroom or Aperture so powerful that I don't see the point of adding anything else to my workflow. I like to tweak my images myself to reflect the emotion I had when I took the picture. No preset can really do that for me.

That said, I am not a portrait or fashion photographer. They may use some tools beyond the traditional photo editing software programs in order to help them achieve a final image faster. It would be interesting to find out more about that if someone wants to leave a comment below.  

The type of photography I do requires very little post processing and I like a very natural look to my images. Anything that looks over-processed turns me off, especially in street photography or in nature. But photography is an art form and art is subjective. Presets are obviously popular and I believe that anything that boosts the artist's creativity is a good thing!

The presets available in LR are a good starting point to experiment with. I think you have to make it your own by adjusting a few sliders to achieve a final look and feel that works for you.

I think that many photographers rely on plug-ins or presets to try to make a mediocre image look better. Reality is, no preset or amount of post processing is ever going to turn a bad picture into a good one. Yet, skillful editing (via a preset or not) can definitely turn a good image into an even better one!

If you want to try some of the many products available on the market I would recommend a free trial to see if that is something your work is really going to benefit from.

 I hope this helps. Thanks again for submitting a question for the blog Melanie!"

Please leave a comment below and share your experience with the community. If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions! 

Question #22: About Lens Correction In Lightroom

Q: "First I really love your photography/blog and I'm learning a lot from you so thanks. My question is: What is your take on Lightroom lens correction? I can't stand uneven lines and I tend to start processing every single picture with the lens correction! Do you think it's important? Or is it fine if the lines are inclined as long as the subject is well composed?" Faisal Al Fouzan

A: "Thanks for the kind words, I am glad that you find my posts useful! 

That's a great question! Lightroom lens correction is a powerful tool and we are very lucky to have it. Especially in the latest version. With years of experience as an interior photographer I can assure you that the slightest diversion of a vertical line will draw the eye right away. Even more so than a slanted horizontal line! With LR5, minor vertical corrections are just a click away with the Basic Vertical adjustment. Some images may require manual corrections, which is all you could do with earlier versions of the software. Those adjustments are quick and easy to do and will make the biggest difference in the resulting image. Your lens may also be recognized by the software, so I would recommend that you enable profile corrections as well. 

That said, there is nothing wrong with slanted or curved verticals are long as it is the intended effect. In that case the slant will usually be more pronounced and the artistic intent of the photographer will be obvious.  

So, in one word, my answer is: Yes! Use the lens correction function in Ligthroom, it's an image saver!"

Please leave a comment below and share your experience with the community. If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions! 

Question #21: About Digital Downloads For Purchase

Q: "I've been asked for some of my photos to be purchased via digital download for use in crafts fabrication and to be sold. I'm not sure how to price accordingly as the reason for the purchase is to make money off of them. Your thoughts are much appreciated. Thanks." Vin

A: "Hi Vin, I'm a bit confused regarding the use of your images. It sounds to me like your images would be sold for commercial use, not private use. I am also unclear what you mean by 'crafts fabrication'. No matter what, there is no 'one answer fits all' when it comes to pricing photography. There are many factors that will influence the price you can charge, such as your geographical location, the current state of the economy, the specific type of photography, just to name a few. 

Also, one single image will be worth a different amount depending on its usage: print and/or online, size, high res, low res, size of the audience, etc.

In order to determine a licensing fee (keep in mind that you do NOT release the copyrights), you need to know what your image is going to be used for: Editorial, commercial, retail, advertising, etc. If it's single or multiple use, the amount of time, etc. The more the image is going to be used, the higher the licensing fee is going to be. 

You also need to consider your creative fee, as in your cost of running a business. Also, what production expenses did you incur to create the images? This would include anything from equipment rental to processing/retouching fees, hiring an assistant, gas mileage, etc.

If possible, find out what your client's budget is first. When it comes to negotiating your fee, stay flexible but remain confident!  If you have something unique that your client needs and cannot easily find through a micro stock agency, then they will expect it to come with a significant price tag. Don't undersell yourself. It would be detrimental to you and the industry. Remain flexible by offering a discount for a certain quantity of licensed images for example. Make sure that your contract and invoice state that the licensing agreement will only take effect once the invoice is paid in full.

For all information regarding licensing images I highly recommend that you visit the American Society of Media Photographers. You can also find a software to help you determine pricing, fotoQuote is one of them. I hope this helps shed some light on the subject. Good luck!"

 

Please leave a comment below and share your experience with the community. If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions! 

Question #20: About Neutral Density Filters

Q: "Do you ever use ND filters?" Jonty B, Australia

 

A: "Hi Jonty! Nice to hear from you.

Since I rarely shoot landscapes or nature photography I don't have much use for a neutral density filter. For those who are not familiar with ND filters, they are a grey piece of glass that fits in front of your lens and reduces the amount of light that hits the sensor of your camera. ND filters are typically 3 stops in strength, some go as far as 10 stops! By slowing the shutter speed, ND filters will allow you to capture motion in water, clouds or any moving subject in daylight with a creamy or blurry look instead of freezing the action. With the use of an ND filter you can set the shutter speed and aperture you want, without having the actual light conditions dictate the settings.

In street photography, the use of an ND filter can be useful in order to add motion blur to a street scene for example. My new Fuji X100s is equipped with a 3 stop ND filter in camera which I use to reduce the amount of light hitting the sensor when I shoot wide open in bright daylight.

ND fllters are expensive and come in two forms: screw-in or slot-in. The screw-in filters are small, light and easy to fit on the lens. The drawback is that you need one for each lens diameter you own and stacking them can cause vignetting problems. The advantage of the slot-in filters is that they are also stackable and you can adapt them to different lens sizes by using an inexpensive adaptor ring for each lens you own.

 I hope my answer is useful and helps shed some light on ND filters."

 

 

 

 

Please help me spread the word about this new blog. I helps if you leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you!  

If you have a question about photography in general, about the business side of things or anything else that is photography related, please use the contact form to send it.   Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you! 

 

Question #19: About Post Processing

Today I answered two questions related to post processing:

Q1: "I've been in digital photography as a hobby for about 1 1/2 years. I use Lightroom 5 for post processing. I don't alter my photos much, just giving them that little extra look. Some friend say that I could do more in Photoshop CS6. Do you think it is worth spending the money?" Jean-Guy G

A: "Bonjour Jean-Guy! In my opinion you'd be better off going on mini photo trip rather than investing in CS6! Unless you want to get into some heavy duty portrait retouching or work with layers all day, there is not much CS6 will do for you that LR5 can't. Even if you want to use PS tools not available in LR5, all you need is PS Elements for under $100 and I can guarantee you that it will be much more that you'll ever use! This will save you a few hundred dollars that you can spend on a trip, a photo workshop or even a new lens! My 2 cents, I hope it helps!"

 ~

Q2 : "What is the percentage of photos you need to post edit ? I work very hard NOT to need post editing..." 

A: "Thanks for your question. For my commercial work: I import my RAW files into LR5. If some major work is needed (adding fire in a fireplace, or landscape around a building for example) then I send it out to my local Photoshop guy. That's all he does and he does it right. I would hate every minute of the process, I'm a photographer, not a retoucher, and I want to keep it that way!

For my personal work: I import all my RAW images into LR5. I quickly weed through the ones I don't want to keep then I adjust a few sliders. B&W conversion a lot of the time, contrast. etc. I don't use presets. Generally a few seconds per picture is enough, especially for street photography. A little bit longer if it's a landscape for example. I try to get it right in camera, saves me time! Post processing is a wonderful thing and we have some very powerful tools that can my great images even better. But the fact remains that if it's not a good picture to start, there is no amount of post processing that is going to turn it into a great photograph!"


Please help me spread the word about this new blog. I helps if you leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you!  

If you have a question about photography in general, about the business side of things or anything else that is photography related, please use the contact form to send it.   Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you! 

 

Nostalgia!

Nostalgia!

Question #18: About Upgrading Camera

Q: "I'm a huge fan of your photography. I've been a constant follower of your page and I get to learn a lot. I've been doing photography with a point and shoot camera for like a year and a half. I tried to get as much as I could from it and I'm jumping to get a DSLR. So what would you suggest to beginners like us. How do we take on photography and give our picture's a professional touch ? How much is post processing important ?" Sahil M B

 

A: "Thanks Sahil! Sounds like you've outgrown your point and shoot and you are ready for something a bit more challenging. That's the best reason to upgrade, good for you! So many photographers upgrade because of gear lust when they don't even make full use of their current camera.

 

First, do you really want to go with a DSLR? Just because the camera looks 'professional' doesn't mean it's going to be the best fit for you. I would certainly look into a mirroless system before making the decision. Smaller cameras are now coming out with some amazing sensors. If you do buy a DSLR, you're better off buying the camera body only and the lenses separately. Kit lenses are usually not that great and glass is what's going to make the biggest difference. Good lenses for DSLRs are super expensive, keep that in mind too.

 

If you are stepping up your game you will probably start shooting RAW. I would definitely invest into a really good processing software such as Lightroom 5. You can't beat the value of LR ad it's all you'll need. It's a bit overwhelming at first but learn it step by step with some online tutorials. You will soon be able to give your images some pop with just a few slider actions. It will make a huge difference if you haven't used any image processing software in the past. So, to answer your question: YES, post processing is very important but it doesn't mean that you need to spend much time doing it. I never spend more than a minute on an image. Just remember, post processing will not turn a bad picture into a good one. But it will make a good picture even better!

 

Remember the famous quote by David DuChemin: "Gear is good, visions better!" Good luck with the upgrade Sahil!" 

Time for an upgrade?

Time for an upgrade?

Please leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you! 

If you have a question about photography in general, about the business side of things or anything else that is photography related, please use the contact form to send it.   Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you! 

 

Question #17: About Organizing Photo Tours

Q: "Hi Valerie, I think it's great that you do the informal walking tours and have such a relaxed style about it....wish I was closer I would join you for sure! However you are successful and make your living (I assume) from photography. I'm going into photography - have been an amateur for about 4 years now (selling a few here and there) but now want to take it up a level and try to make a living at it. So I would love to travel more, and understand that cruise ships take speakers on several subjects (I have a half a dozen subjects including how to take better travel photo's) and take small group walking tours for photographers. Any suggestions on how to organize/market these and how much should I charge?" Carol K
 

A: "Thank you for your question Carol. First let me clarify that there is a difference between photo walks and photo workshops/tours. I lead casual photo walks in my area during my time off, they are free and everyone can join. The photo walks are strictly a social time for photographers to hang out together and shoot, there is no teaching involved at that time. Everyone who joins is respectful of that as they know that I make a living as an educator. 

The photo workshops, on the other hand, involve a lot of work and research. The week long international photo tours are extremely demanding as I make sure they are as much a cultural experience as a photographic one. If you plan on going that route, you need to build an international audience. Of course, your photographic skills are of the utmost importance but you also need to love teaching and have solid business and marketing skills. 

The price will vary with your fixed costs and the number of participants. Fixed cost may be higher than you think, don't forget tour operator liability insurance which can be costly but a must have! The best way to promote your workshops is via social media, hence the importance of a large audience. It's like any other business: If people are happy, they will become repeat customers, and they will talk to their friends about their adventures

It's a demanding business but extremely gratifying. As a teacher, there is nothing more rewarding than witnessing those 'Aha' moments. Just remember not to get into this business only for your love of travels, but for your love of teaching first." - Valérie

 

Please leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you! 

If you have a question about photography in general, about the business side of things or anything else that is photography related, please use the contact form to send it.   Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you! 

 

Question #16: About Real Estate Photography

 

Q: "I'm trying to expand my photography to commercial and residential real estate photography and I was wondering what your advice for diving into this area might be? Should I network with real estate agents or just approach businesses and individuals directly, or a little of both? Thanks! P.S. I LOVE your street and travel photography!" Melissa M.

 

 

A: "Thank you for your question Melissa! I shot interiors for the real estate industry for a number of years and I quite enjoyed it. If this is a new field you are trying the brake into, I suggest treating it in a similar way you would portraiture for example. By that, I mean the you may have to do a few freebies to build a portfolio. You probably have relatives, friends or co-workers who are planning to put their house on the market. Offer your skills to photograph their property and use your best images to showcase your work. Once you can produce consistent quality work, start by approaching real estate professionals in your area. You'd think that, with the poor quality of images we see on the MLS, selling your service would be easy. Well, it isn't so. Real estate has suffered a great deal in the past few years and most agents don't want to spend the extra money to hire a photographer. Many also think that they know what they are doing because they have a decent camera... Fortunately, things are slowly changing and many recognize the value of quality images and are ready to hand that responsibly to a real professional. The higher the selling price, the more likely the agents will hire a pro photographer. The best way to price your service is to base it according to the property square footage. The bigger the property, the higher your fee.

You may also consider teaming up with interior stagers and offer both services as a package. Most real estate professionals will appreciate the time he or she will save by not having to deal with several subcontractors to get the property on the market in a timely manner. Be aware that this is a fast pace job. Many times, your real estate client will expect the shoot, the processed images and the virtual tour to be completed in 24 hours or even 'yesterday'! Make sure that you make it clear before taking the job if you cannot deliver it within an unrealistic timeframe. I hope this helps. Good luck!"

 

Please leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you! If you receive this via email, click on the title to be redirected to the actual blog post and have access to the comment section.

If you have a question about photography in general, about the business side of things or anything else that is photography related, please use the contact form to send it.   Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you! 

 

Question #15: About Model Releases

Q: "I'm guessing that when you do street photography you are not asking all these folks to sign model releases? Or in many cases even asking their permission to photograph them? When is verbal permission required or is it just a courtesy/ friendly thing? When are model releases required? I like to take photos in the local park -- I'm working on a gallery that will eventually be on my website where the photos are for sale as prints. Am I going to need model releases? Do I have to tell the people I verbally ask permission to photograph that they might show up on my website or that I might sell the image I am shooting? What about places where things are for sale? Stores, Farmer's markets, Garden Centers, etc.  Any guidance would be helpful. Thank you." Phyllis H

 

A: "Hi Phyllis. Thank you for submitting a question to the blog. Unless I am doing a street portrait, where the intent is to interact with the subject before pressing the shutter, then no one usually knows I took their picture. As a street photographer you need to work fast and know how to capture the right moment without attracting attention to yourself. Also, I make a point to never photograph people in vulnerable or embarrassing situations. Respect should always be the number one priority to any street photographer. If someone objects to havIng their picture taken, even if I am in my rights, I always respect their wish.

In many countries, it is perfectly legal to use pictures of people taken in public places for editorial and fine art purposes. Note that I am not an attorney and you should check with the local authorities to make sure that your state or country doesn't have laws against it. If you were to use the images commercially (in an ad to sell a product for example) then you would need a release signed by the subject and usually one witness.  Whenever possible it is a good idea to get permission but if it is pure street photography, we all know that it would not be feasible as it would kill the candid moment. Also, honestly, would you sign a release if a stranger on the street asked you? I recently answered a question about street photography and privacy laws which you might find interesting. I hope this helps, good luck with your exhibit! "

Valerie

 

Please leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you! If you receive this via email, click on the title to be redirected to the actual blog post and have access to the comment section.

If you have a question about photography in general, about the business side of things or anything else that is photography related, please use the contact form to send it.   Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you! 

 

Question #14: About Landscape Photography

Q: " Recently, I visited Uetliberg, the top most point in Zurich Switzerland. I wanted to capture a landscape picture of the city and since there was ample light (around 
8:30 AM). I was quite excited that I would be getting some good shots. But to my surprise all my pictures looked very dull, the brown, white buildings looked over exposed, green trees which are all around city were not sharp at all. The EXIF info is as follows f/7.1, 1/160 sec, 200 mm focal length, ISO 100, Camera Nikon D7000." Vishwas
 

A: "Hello! Thank you for your question. Being more of an urban and people shooter, I will still attempt to give you a few tips to help you achieve better results. 

You mentioned that you set up for your shot at 8:30 am. Depending on the season, it may have already been a bit too bright if it was a cloudless day. Colors quickly look washed out in the bright sunlight. Try to get to the location before sunrise and capture the blue and golden hour. Of else, when possible, shoot on an overcast day. The most adverse weather conditions usually make for the most dramatic landscapes. I usually only photograph landscapes when it's stormy, rainy, foggy or snowing, those conditions make for more interesting and moody images.  Avoid a boring blue sky! In this case, you may have preferred dry weather to get a good shot of the city below. Unfortunately, cloudless days are not our best friends and, in order to get the shot, one must be able to get up early or stay out late.

Most nature photographers will favor the use of a sturdy tripod and a remote release. This will allow you to shoot at a smaller aperture (large number) such as f/11 or even f/22 in order to get the entire scene in focus. The shutter will remain open longer to let more light in, thus the need to use a tripod to steady your camera. Remember to focus 1/3 into the frame in order to get most of the scene in focus.

You may want to shoot RAW in order to maximize on quality. If you use a software such as Lightroom, adjust the white balance and add a little clarity and vibrance. You may also find the graduated filter very useful to adjust the exposure in some areas of the scene. The trees in the foreground will usually be darker and lack details, you can bring a lot of that back in most editing software if you shoot RAW. If you like a high dymanic range look, you may want to try to shoot several exposures of the scene and use a software, such as Photomatix, to process them. A tripod becomes indispensable for this technique. You can now achieve great results in Lightroom with a single exposure.

Activate the 'blinkies' or overexposure warnings in your camera menu (many cameras have that option). The back of your LCD will blink black in areas that are over exposed. You can then make the necessary adjustments in exposure compensation and try the shot again. 

These are some basic tips that can make a great difference. I'm not going to get into composition since that was not part of the original question and it would be an entirely new chapter. 

Just remember that it is all about harnessing the light, taking control of your gear and practice, practice, practice. Good luck!" 

 

Please leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you! If you receive this via email, click on the title to be redirected to the actual blog post and have access to the comment section.

If you have a question about photography in general, about the business side of things or anything else that is photography related, please use the contact form to send it.   Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you! 

   

Question #13: About Going Pro

A: "Big fan, love your work. I am an enthusiast photographer but would like to begin to go pro. How would you suggest that I go about getting my work out there? I've been a photographer for a long time and need something else to do other than my "day job". I've been taking some online courses and just want to get out of the humdrum and into the mix of living what I feel. And that, of course is photography.
Any input that you can give would be greatly appreciated.

Regards,
George W. A.


A: "Hi George. Thank you for reaching out!  I'm sure you've already done your homework about what turning pro entails and you've heard many times that it's tough out there. Well, it's ten times tougher than that. Yet, do not get discouraged, if your work is consistently good and you know how to sell your skills, you have a good chance of making it! 

First of all, it is imperative to keep your day job while you start making money with your photography. Also, unless you have a spouse or partner with a good income to support you as well as medical coverage, you should really save enough money to live on for at least a year. Being self employed is both nerve racking at times and extremely rewarding. I often say that I work 60+ hours a week so that I don't have to work 40 hours for someone else. I wouldn't want it any other way. If you are used to a good steady income, making the jump can be really scary. You have to trim the fat in your expenses and not plan on buying a new car for a few years... If you are willing to make the necessary sacrifices and you can't keep up with the demand while working a full time job, then maybe you're ready!

You probably heard that being a working photographer is 80% marketing and 20% shooting... That's on a good week! No matter what field you choose, it takes a few years and a lot of happy customers before you can breathe easier. Persistence is key! Although you don't need to attend any formal schooling for photography (your portfolio is your CV), you do need some solid business skills. That said, you don't need to be good at everything. I hate numbers and I give that part to an accountant. It's important to know your strengths and weaknesses and surround yourself with the right people. It is also important to have a plan and be honest with yourself as to why you want to be a pro photographer.

As a working photographer, you will soon learn that you need to derive your income from several different streams. Unless you are a busy wedding photographer and you make enough money with one market (many do), you will have to tap into several different genres for a while and take whatever comes your way. This may also help you determine what you are good at and what you love to do. Many photographers are under the impression that they will make a living selling prints. Well... That is not happening! Yet, fine art or stock photography may be a nice way to make extra money as a passive income.

One more thing to consider, that very few people who turn their hobby into a profession do, is how not to lose the passion when your hobby becomes a regular day job. The answer is: Keep the personal projects going all the time. Shoot for yourself, often, and you will keep the passion for the craft alive. If you don't, trust me, there will be a time when you start leaving your camera at home on your days off. Don't let that happen.

I could write 10 more pages about turning pro regarding portfolio, renting vs. buying, style development, people skills, etc.  but I already wrote several articles on the subject that you can read by visiting my publications page.

I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck. Surround yourself with people who support you 100%. It's tough enough to make the leap without having to deal with naysayers on a daily basis!

Valérie

Please leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you! If you receive this via email, click on the title to be redirected to the actual blog post and have access to the comment section.

If you have a question about photography in general, about the business side of things or anything else that is photography related, please use the contact form to send it.   Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you! 

  

 

 

 

 

 

Question #12: About Focusing for Street Photography

Q: "Hi Valerie, Thanks so much for offering your help via this Q&A blog. My question is when you are out on a walk about for street photography, do you set the Fuji x100s to auto focus and rely on the camera or do you set the camera to manual focus and rely on zone focusing and shoot hyper focal (ie Aperture priority set to say f5.6 and allow for depth of field 1-5m)? I hope my question makes sense." Paul G.

A: "Hi Paul, this question actually just came up during my street photo workshop last weekend in Minneapolis. I tend to let the camera do the focusing for me in most cases. It's fast and accurate (and better than my eyes too!) I shoot street photography mostly in Aperture Priority. If there is one genre of photography where you need to let the camera do some of the work, it is definitely when you shoot street. It's all about being ready to capture a fraction of a second that will never happen again. In my opinion, street photography is more about your ability to anticipate and see the decisive moment than proving your skills in manual mode. That said, there are instances when manual focusing comes in handy and the use of zone focusing gives you a clear advantage to get the shot (and I need to use it more often!)

Zone focusing consists in manually pre-focusing your camera to a certain distance. This is particularly well suited when you shoot from the chest or hip without looking through your viewfinder. Another instance when zone focusing is recommended is when you find a stage (such as an interesting background) and wait for the right people to enter the frame. This is even faster than auto focus because there is absolutely no delay.

Street photographer and friend James Maher with whom I will be co-leading the New York City Photo Workshop in April 2014, recently wrote an article about zone focusing titled The Ultimate Guide To Zone Focusing For Candid Street Photography. I invite you to read it. I hope this helps! "

Valérie

 

Please leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you! If you receive this via email, click on the title to be redirected to the actual blog post and have access to the comment section.

If you have a question about photography in general, about the business side of things or anything else that is photography related, please use the contact form to send it.   Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you!